Extended holiday for Negros Occidental
THE SOUTHERN BEAT  - Rolly Espina () - November 6, 2007 - 12:00am

Negrenses had an extra holiday. November 5 was not a regular working day. It was a provincial holiday, Cinco de Noviembre. Not just a celebration or a revolution against Spain but a commemoration of a bloodless revolution.

It is better known as the “Grand Deception” that commemorates the spectacle of Filipino troops having staged the great bluff that prompted the outnumbered Spanish garrison in Bacolod City to surrender to forces under the Filipino Generals Aniceto Lacson and Juan Araneta, the latter commander of the Southern Forces.

The saga started in Silay City where the Spanish garrison commander asked that he be granted the privilege of fighting a sword duel with the commander of troops under General Lacson.

 Honor having been satisfied, the Spanish garrison head then turned over his sword and the entire garrison to the Filipino forces under Lacson.

The Northern army then marched towards Bacolod City where the bulk of the Spanish forces on the island were billeted at the Bishop’s Palace with sentries posted at the Cathedral belfry.

After an initial skirmish at the Matab-ang River, at the boundary of Talisay and Bacolod, where a Spanish officer got wounded, the Northern Army moved to the island’s center.

Later, the Southern Army under General Juan Araneta also marched towards Bacolod. Earlier, the Spaniards had been led with rumors of landing of brand new Morata rifles from Japan. And the Southern Army marched with glistening rifles and brand new cannons drawn by carabaos.

The beleaguered Spanish garrison, with Eduardo Luzuriaga acting as negotiator, subsequently capitulated.

It was only afterwards that the Spanish troops discovered the arms were actually crafted coconuts fronds, painted black.

And yes, the cannons where rolled amakan (rattan) made to look like heavy weapons mounted on bullcarts.

But it was too late. They had already surrendered and the victorious Filipinos were already marching in front of them with their rifles and bolos.

But Bacolod folk had more reason to celebrate. They had just seen their best friendly city almost become the city that went under.

The torrential downpour that pummeled the city last Wednesday, Oct. 31, almost threatened to foil the November 1, All Saints’ Day celebration of the Feast of All Souls’ day.

Low areas of the city went under water. Posh villages like Sta. Clara, Villa Valderama and Capitolville, enclaves of the most prominent and famous Negrenses, were for the nth time, inundated. So with other areas of the city. That situation only highlighted the failure of the city public works department to remedy the sewage and drainage problems of the city, compounded by the construction of diversion walls of some waterways like the Banago River.

Lacson Street, front the Robinson’s mall in Mandalagan saw the Amity Fire Brigade volunteer rescue team with their hands’ full rescuing stranded motorists and commuters forced to abandon vehicles.

In Sta. Clara II, residents found their homes knee-deep in water. But even in Bata, another nearby subdivision, residents also had to bail out pails of water for the rest of the day.

But even otherwise “safe” areas were flooded. I passed from Capitol Heights to De La Salle Avenue and found the waters spilling from canals along the Montevista-Capitol Heights junction. Streets around the University of St. La Salle were also flooded. But the worst sight was the bridge across the creek leading to North Drive where waters were knee deep – and the river had not yet risen that far.

The North Drive area was also flooded down to Lacson Street where jams occurred on several major intersections, as motorists warily creped forward. Later, news reports said around 40 vehicles were stranded by rising water.

 The basement of Doctor’s Hospital, where computers and cabinets holding important medical information are located, also went under.

But luckily for Bacolod, the rains lifted up late in the evening.

 And the celebrators proceeded to the cemeteries.

* * *

Cinco de Noviembre highlights were the Kanlaon Theater Guild of Colegio de San Agustin’s performance of a play with the same name at the Provincial Capitol Park. The group will perform excerpts from Dr. Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo” at the Balay Negrense in Silay City on Wednesday.

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