The nation needs another Tres de Abril
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - April 3, 2020 - 12:00am

If Bataan has its Death March, and Caloocan has its Pugad Lawin, while Bulacan has its Malolos and Biak-na-Bato, and the Cordilleras has its Tirad Pass, then we, Cebuanos, have our Tres de Abril.

Today is the 122nd anniversary of the famous Battle of Tres de Abril, that day in our history that made us all proud of our heroes at the time that a superior power was subjugating the whole archipelago. The third of April 1898 was two months before General Emilio Aguinaldo declared in Kawit, Cavite, the first independence of a colonized nation in the whole of Asia. Today, our nation, and the world is being attacked and being subjugated by COVID-19. We need to stand as one people like the Cebuanos on April, 3, 1898. Our new “colonizer” is an invisible microorganism whose ability to kill might even be more destructive than the Guardia Civil.

Tres de Abril is a symbol of daring, of boldness, of bravery in the face of a very strong and powerful enemy. On that day, some local revolutionaries led by a Negrense, Pantaleon Villegas, alias Leon Kilat, from Bacong, Negros Oriental, dared to attack the Spanish guardia civiles, and met them in what is now the corner of Vicente Rama Avenue and Tres de Abril Street. Considering that our heroes were armed only with bolos and spears, and a few firearms snatched away from previous ambushes and attacks. It was therefore a very important milestone in our struggles for nationhood and freedom. It was like EDSA, Bataan, Pugad Lawin, Tirad Pass, or that glorious day when a native chieftain, Lapu-Lapu put an armored conquistador, Magellan, in his proper place.

Today, we need the boldness of Leon Kilat, along with his Cebuano second-in-command, Arcadio Maxilom and the other leaders: Florencio Gonzales, Florencio Llamas, Jose Ignacio Paua, and Bonifacio Aranas. Because of that bloody encounter in that historic spot, near what is now the Taboan Market, on the following day, the fourth of April, the Spaniards in Cebu were forced to “lockdown” and “quarantine” themselves inside the Fort San Pedro. It was a rare moment in our national struggle for freedom, when our forces gained control over the entire province of Cebu. The Spanish forces under General Montero were locked inside the fort.

But on April 7, the cruiser Don Juan de Austria arrived as reinforcement from Manila, carrying the 73rd Native Regiment from Luzon (native collaborators subjugated by the Spaniards) and 500 cazadores fully armed with guns, and one gunboat. Our forces were in control only for four days, and they were driven out from the seat of power and retreated to San Nicolas then to the mountains towards Balamban and Toledo. The tragedy was that Leon Kilat was slain treacherously by his own aide-de-camp in Carcar, where he has a monument today.

The killer of Leon Kilat, like the killers of Andres Bonifacio, and the native collaborators from Luzon are represented today by Filipinos who keep on bashing the president, and keep on complaining, while refusing to lift a finger to help. Today, we need another Leon Kilat and Arcadio Maxilom. We need another Tres de Abril.

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