The Passing of Spanish Dominian

Forbes-Lindsay, C. H.: The Philippines under Spanish and American Rules. Philadelphia, 1906: pp. 161-200

The Tagalog Rebellion

In August, 1896, the smouldering fire of discontent burst into flame. At the time of the outhreak of the Tagal Rebellion, General Blanco, the Governor-General, had but ftifteen hundred European troops and six thousand native auxiliaries at bis command. Of the former only seven hundred were in Manila and the loyalty of tlhe latter was doubtful. Under these circumstances the General was forced to confine his operations to the defense of the city, around which several skirmishes took place during the first few months following the inception of the rebellion. Meanwhile the rebels were making good use of the respite. They established their headquarters in Imus, of the province of Cavite, which became the most important center of the rebellion.

In November Blanco had received from Spain additions to his force, which brought the European contingent up to ten thousand, and he began to extend his operations, but he was recalled before any considerable headway bad been made against the insurrection.

In the meantime the prisons of Manila were crowded with natives suspected of sympathy with tlhe insurgents. All process of law was disregarded in their arrests, and their disposition by court-martial was equally summary. This military tribunal is strongly suspected of extortion in collusion with some of the civil authorities. Hundreds of the wealthiest natives and mestizos of Manila were brought before it and many of them are known to have purchased their release, in some instances only to go through the process again in a few weeks' time. Shiploads of prisoners were consigned to the Caroline Islands, Fernando Po, Ceuta, and other penal colonies. The Manila volunteers were allowed to make domiciliary searches without warrant and to perpetrate the worst kind of outrages upon native residents of both sexes. Numbers of suspects were executed without trial and not a few were tortured so that they became cripples for life. In fact, the acts of officials during this reign of terror equaled the deeds of the Inquisition at its worst.

In December, Blanco was succeeded by General Polavieja, who brought with him two thousand fresh troops and who was rapidly reinforced until the number of European soldiers under his command amounted to twenty-eight thousand.

Several engagements were fought with the result that the insurgent forces in Cavite were dispersed after fifty-two days of hard and continuous fighting. TIhe scene of the insurrection now shifted to the north of Manila. During the operations in Cavite a halfcaste named Llaneras had raised a body of a few thousand in the provinces of Pampanga and Bulacan and had contrived to withstand the Spanish force sent against him. He was now joined by Aguinaldo with the remnant of the rebel army from the south. Immediately following the junction of the two chiefs the area of rebellion spread over the provinces of Pangasinan, Zambales, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, and Ilocos. Meanwhile General Polavieja had retired on account of failing health and his place was taken by General Primo de Rivera.

In July, 1897, the rebels circulated a proclamation in which was set forth their demands as follows:

  1. Expulsion of the friars and restitution to the townships of the lands which the friars have appropriated, dividing incumbencies held by them, as well as the episcopal sees, equally between Peninsular and Insular secular priests.
  2. Spain must concede to us, as she has to Cuba, Parliamentary representation, freedom of the press, toleration of all religious sects, laws common with hers, and administrative economic autonomy.
  3. Equality in treatment and pay between Peninsular and Insular civil servants.
  4. Restitution of all lands appropriated by the friars to the townships, or to the original owners, or, in default of finding such owners, the State is to put them up to public auction in small lots of a value within the reach of all and payable within four ears, the same as the present State lands.
  5. Abolition of the Government authorities' powers to banish citizens, as well as all unjust measures against Filipinos; legal equality for all persons, whether Peninsular or Insular under the civic as well the Penal Code.

The conflict dragged on without prospect of termination. Each day made it more dear to the Governor tlhat, even if the rebels failed to make any headway, they could at least hold out indefinitely. In this dilemma General Rivera decided to resort to diplomacy. He employed a Filipino, named Pedro Paterno, to open negotiations wirth the insurgent chiefs. After pourparlers extending over three or four months the Pacto de Biac-na-bato was signed, December 14, 1897, between Emilio Aguinaldo and other chiefs, representing the rebels, and Pedro A. Paterno, as attorney for the Captain-General. The terms of this agreement remain in dispute. The surgents, whilst charging the Spaniards with bad faith in tihe matter, never publislied anything purporting to be a literal copy of, er extract from, the compact. The Spaniards have always claimed that the monetary consideration was the only one conceded. The insurgents have persistently maintained that reforms and a general amnesty were conditions of their surrender, and it seems highly probable that the latter at least must have been promised to them. lt is a singular fact that the originals of this treaty have never seen the light. The most likely hypothesis appears to be that the Governor-General cunningly inserted a clause to the advantage of the rebel leaders which they dared not divulge to their followers, and that the Spaniards, having broken their part of the compact, were equally concerned in keeping the details of it secret.

The insurgents gave up their arms and on the 27th of December, 1897, Aguinaldo and thirty-four other Ieaders embarked for Hongkong. One instalment, representing about one-fifth of the total amount of money promised, was all that the insurgent leaders ever received. A wholesome persecution of those who had taken part in the rebellion followed the surrender and many executions took place.

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created: November 20, 1997
updated: November 23, 1997
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