THE Silay revolutionary leaders had their meeting at the residence of Leandro Locsin on the eve of November 4, 1898. The “hacendero” rebel leaders confirmed and approved the appointment of a fellow “hacendero,” General Aniceto Ledesma Lacson as the commander of the revolution in north Negros.
The final decision to revolt on November 5 was ratified to make the move official. The “hacendero” general who was trained only to give work orders to his “jornaleros” was already giving authority and go-signal for the “hacenderos” in Silay to become troop commanders to command the uprising at noon time on November 5.
The agreement was for each “pueblo” in the north to be responsible for the capture of Spanish headquarters in its locality. The Silay force had been tasked to join later the contingent of General Lacson in Talisay who were preparing for the capture of Spanish forces guarding the portion of Matab-ang River leading to Bacolod. Before the most-awaited-day, the “cat rebels” from Silay climbed the posts and cut off telegraphic wires in town. A repairman was sent to Silay but a flock of Silaynons drove him away.
At 2 p.m. of November 5, the Silaynon rebels mostly “jornaleros” (sugarcane workers) assembled in front of Farmacia Locsin (now known as Cinco de Noviembre marker at Cinco de Noviembre St.). The “capitan municipal” of Silay then was Luciano Severino. The preparation was like a zarzuela to be presented on stage. The “hacenderos” became “capitanes” who donned their well pressed “uniforme de la batalla” as if ready for the “campo de batalla.”
The rebels marched to the plaza in fiesta mood. The flag embroidered secretly by the “doñas” of Silay was proudly raised while the crowd was cheering with glee. The women in focus were Olympia Severino, Eutrophia Yorac, and Perpetua Severino. After the flag ceremony, Vicente Gamboa y Benedicto and Lt. Juan Olaybar attacked the Spanish garrison.
The stronghold (now the city hall) was under the command of a lieutenant, Don Maximiano Correa y Calero. He got 10 Spanish soldiers and “guardia civil” (natives) armed with Mauser and Remington rifles.
Shots were fired and the rebels demanded for the surrender of the Spaniards. The rebels threatened to burn the surrounded garrison. The families of the Spaniards were inside the building and that caused fear among the defenders of the Royal Crown.
Juan Viapalana, a respected Spanish businessman, talked to Correa and the Spanish commander agreed to surrender. In the signing of the Act of Capitulation, the conditions were “scripted” just like in the Treaty of Paris.
“That the Spaniards surrendered only after there was a crucial fight climaxed by the hand to hand combat; that the field of battle was littered with many dead and wounded.” The signing of the Act of Capitulation was witnessed by about 5,000 Silaynons. Those who signed were Maximiano Correa on behalf of the Spanish forces… Nicolas Golez, Melecio Severino, Leandro Locsin and Serafin Perez. (There was no representative from the “jornaleros”… as expected.)
The revolutionaries organized a temporary government with Leandro Locsin as mayor, and Vicente Gamboa y Benedicto as local military chief.
(Olympia Severino married later Generoso Gamboa.) The residents of Silay joined the rebels in the victory parade around town. The brass band led the march, and some got pot covers to join the band.
Closed doors and windows were opened to welcome the heroes of Silay in that “zarzuela revolution.” Food was served in silver plates to those who wanted to partake the recipes prepared by the “buena familias.” The “jornalaros” and the “hacenderos” went back to the haciendas to continue eating and drinking. This could have been the origin of “Silay Kaon Ta Festival” that is celebrated at “jardin de Balay Negrense” on November 4 and 5.
General Aniceto Lacson ordered Timoteo Unson to proceed to Talisay and assist Lacson’s forces in the attack of the bank of Matab-ang River occupied by the Spanish forces. The combined forces from Silay and Talisay assaulted the Spanish forces in Bacolod. On November 6, 1896, the Spaniards surrendered to the combined forces of General AnicetoLacson (from north Negros) and General Juan Araneta (from south Negros).
That ended the Spanish rule in Negros that lasted for 328 years. The Cinco de Noviembre zarquela in Silay has been repeated several times theatrically, and the “Kaon Ta” with “Inom Ta” is always remembered by gastronomes and non-gastronomes.
The Cinco de Noviembre marker in Silay reminds the Silaynons that in life we have to fight for what we think is right. To live, we have to eat; to celebrate, we have to drink, and to survive, we have to believe and trust God.