Bonifacio, Aguinaldo, Malvar’s recruitment for the Revolution
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - June 12, 2019 - 12:00am

After the Cry at Pugad Lawin the revolution quickly spread to Cavite in September-October 1896. The Caviteños were poorly armed. Most bore only spears, arrows and bolos. Their few Mauser rifles had been captured from isolated Spanish detachments. Yet they were as intrepid as Andres Bonifacio’s ragtag band that in late August had tried to take the hilltop Spanish armory in San Juan.

Emilio Aguinaldo concentrated his fighters in Kawit and Noveleta towns in Cavite. Spanish gunboats constantly bombarded them from Manila Bay. Other vessels dashed up the Pasig River to cut off Cavite contact with rebels from north of Manila. Still the rebels’ morale was high, as they busied themselves making cannons and ammunition. They freely crossed enemy lines to confer with fellows in Manila. Moves were coordinated with those in Bulacan to Ilocos.

The spunk of their leaders must have been infectious. Not a military genius, Bonifacio was an ideologue, a passionate recruiter, and a tireless organizer. He had set out for San Juan with a thousand remnants of the skirmishes at Pugad Lawin. Marching from Krus na Ligas, Diliman, their ranks swelled with volunteers from Marikina, Mandaluyong, and Santolan. They wielded only knives, axes, lances, a few shotguns and old revolvers. Spanish troops decimated their flanks. Finally charging the fortress in what is now called Pinaglabanan, they mercilessly were mowed down. Unknown to them crack Spanish troops had been transported there on the new electric tramway. Bonifacio was left with 50 men standing. The wounded were hunted down in neighboring towns and bayoneted in front of their families. The San Mateo and Langka rivers turned red with blood. Word spread of the massacre. So incensed were Filipinos that they rose as one for “Kalayaan”. (Carmen Guerrero Nakpil, “Heroes and Villains”, Cruz Communications, 2010)

Aguinaldo too was charismatic. He instantly was adjudged general of the Katipunan in Cavite. Historians quote Aguinaldo’s peers extolling his courage and firmness. Aguinaldo, the capitan municipal of Kawit, was among the first of Cavite’s “principalia” (local elite) to take up arms against Spain. Others were his brother Baldomero Aguinaldo, justice of the peace of Kawit; Pascual Alvarez, former capitan municipal of Noveleta; and Emiliano Riego de Dios, capitan municipal of Maragondon. (Glenn Anthony May, “A Past Recovered”, New Day Publishers, 1987)

“Robust, friendly, courteous” were additional insights about Aguinaldo. This was from Spanish chronicler Jose Maria del Castillo y Jimenez. At one point early in the fighting in Cavite, two Spanish friars accidentally were wounded in an attack. Aguinaldo rushed to the scene to apologize to them, one of whom died soon after.

Del Castillo had picked up snippets of the revolution in Cavite and Batangas from Spanish journalists’ dispatches. As well, from a captured Filipino courier between the Cavite and Manila Katipuneros. Del Castillo did not hide his Spanish bias in his accounts, calling the rich Filipinos “ingrates” who deserved punishment for turning against Spain. Still he detailed Aguinaldo’s arms buildup and battlefield successes. Like, the rebels in Imus at the start had only three firearms, two of which were out of order. Spanish General Aguirre attempted to recapture the hacienda house in Imus from the rebels. When Aguirre’s column approached, the rebels filed out and climbed the roofs to taunt them. Then they fired volleys of well-aimed culverins that nearly wiped out the enemy. Another time two Spanish army units suffered casualties from friendly fire in the dark. The rebels picked up the Mausers from the fallen enemies. Along with weapons from Spanish defectors and surrenderers, the rebel arsenal soon grew to 1,500 rifles. (Dr. Augusto V. de Viana, history department chairman of the University of Santo Tomas, “Stories Rarely Told, Volume 1”, New Day Publishers, 2013)

Miguel Malvar also was deemed by peers as the leader of the revolution in Batangas. This was partly due to old ties in Malabanan Secondary School, which Malvar attended in 1881-1883. Of the 120 young men, mostly Batangueños, in the Tanauan campus then, 14 became ranking officers in the Batangas military units. Aside from Malvar was his brother Potenciano. The others were: Cipriano Calao, colonel, from Lipa; Jose Castillo, major, Santo Tomas; Gregorio Catigbac, colonel, Lipa; Jacinto Dimaculangan, lieutenant colonel, Bauan; Rufino Goyena, captain, Rosario; Anastacio Marasigan, colonel, Taal; Timoteo Marella, lieutenant colonel, Calaca; Juan Mayo, major, Lipa; Alfonso Panopio, colonel, Bauan; Vivencio Pilapil, major, Santo Tomas; Benito Reyes, major, Lipa; and Arcadio Sanchez, major, Santo Tomas. (May, “A Past Recovered”)

The Spanish blockade of Cavite failed. Aguinaldo’s men infiltrated Batangas. Anti-Spanish agitation was hot among the province’s political elite. In Taal town Flaviano and Felipe Agoncillo, Nicolas Encarnacion, Martin Cabrera, Ramon and Teofilo Atienza, and Ananias Diocno were at odds with the Spanish authorities since the 1880s. They resisted the Spanish priest and government physician’s relocation of all cholera-ailing residents to the ill-equipped barrio of Caysasay. Most of them were jailed for intransigence. In Tanauan the gobernadorcillo Ruperto Laurel defied the friars’ wish to arrest his predecessor Eusebio Gonzales and son for sedition. In Santo Tomas gobernadorcillo Miguel Malvar and family also openly opposed the friars in election after election. They were natural recruits for the independence fight. (Glenn Anthony May, “Battle for Batangas”, New Day Publishers, 1993)

Aguinaldo also found adherents in Morong (now Rizal province). Recruitment was heavy in Pateros, Pasig, and what is now Taguig. Quick to join as well were disgruntled indios in Laguna, Tayabas (now Quezon province) and Camarines.

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