eK! is electronic Kabalen (eksite.com), a web-exclusive Kapampangan journal of ideas

j. reylan bustos viray
reylan b viray I WAS born along the marshy banks of Pampanga River, probably in the same banks where the Macabebes thrived. The Macabebes were my ascendants. [1] These Kapampangans were unfairly portrayed in Philippine history as iniquitous if not wicked. This most derided bloodline, perhaps, prodded me to travel back in time; to rummage some brittle pages of old books in my mother-in-law's library; and to surf the Internet to be able to answer some queries which bothered me ever since I was in college.

It is to be emphasized that this article does not glorify or deify the Macabebes. It just seeks to provide a different perspective in looking at these mostly long-haired poor brown little guys from Pampanga.

1. The War That Was (1899-1902)

The suspicions of the Filipino people about the true motives of the Americans were confirmed when the United States bought the Philippines from Spain under the Treaty of Paris for a whopping amount of 20 million dollars. Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States. The treaty was ratified by the US Senate but not without objections from some prominent Americans like former President Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie, and Mark Twain. Their main objection was grounded on the fact that the Filipinos did not want to be under American rule. This fact was manifested by the outrage the treaty generated among Filipino nationalists.

The US thought everything would fall into proper places despite the outrage. For Americans, the Philippines was another territory to be snagged and held up. It was ready for the picking. However, the Americans were surprised with the reactions of an enormous number of Filipinos. A furious insurgency arose which turned out to be more noxious than the previous war itself.

The election of Emilio Aguinaldo, a Filipino rebel leader, as the first revolutionary President of the Republic was at a discomfort to the US. The US never recognized Aguinaldo's presidency. In 1901, the then President Roosevelt, succeeding former President Mckinley upon the latter's assassination, compared Aguinaldo to an Apache chief who kept on sowing trouble and disorder. Aguinaldo was challenged by President Roosevelt's disparaging remarks. Bravely, although admittedly inadequate in weapons and funds, he formally organized an insurrection against the United States. Aguinaldo convinced a large number of Filipinos, mostly Tagalogs, to force the Americans out of the country. Aguinaldo's struggle from 1989 to 1901, with his troops employing whatever means they could, resulted to approximately 3,200 dead, with 2,779 Americans wounded (figures included both combatants and non-combatants). The number even surpassed the casualties recorded during the official war. The Americans retaliated against the insurgents. The United States estimated at least 20,000 insurgents killed during its nationwide retaliatory assaults. Filipino civilians were never spared. An approximately 200,000 civilians died during the early phase of US occupation. [2]

How did the Phil-Am War start?

It started on February 4, 1899, when an American sentry, by the name of Private William W. Grayson, with another companion gunned down two Filipino soldiers on a bridge in San Juan Del Monte, Manila (now, Sta. Mesa). The Filipino troops fired back, and fighting between US and Filipino troops broke out.

Private Grayson recalled the incident vivildy:

"About eight o'clock, Miller and I were cautiously pacing our district. We came to a fence and were trying to see what the Filipinos were up to. Suddenly, near at hand, on our left, there was a low but unmistakable Filipino outpost signal whistle. It was immediately answered by a similar whistle about twenty-five yards to the right. Then a red lantern flashed a signal from blockhouse number 7. We had never seen such a sign used before. In a moment, something rose up slowly in front of us. It was a Filipino. I yelled 'Halt!' and made it pretty loud, for I was accustomed to challenging the officer of the guard in approved military style. I challenged him with another loud 'halt!' Then he shouted 'halto!' to me. Well, I thought the best thing to do was to shoot him. He dropped. If I didn't kill him, I guess he died of fright. Two Filipinos sprang out of the gateway about 15 feet from us. I called 'halt!' and Miller fired and dropped one. I saw that another was left. Well, I think I got my second Filipino that time..." [3]

Ironically, a few shots started a great colonial war. Accounts have it that months prior to said incident, the Filipinos had been provoking the Americans because of (1) the Filipinos' discontent over what happened in the treaty of Paris and (2) the Americans' denial of Filipinos' independence. The war took the lives of many Filipino soldiers. Although both sides suffered losses, the cost in Filipino troops was by far greater. There were only 50 to 60 American soldiers who died, while the Filipino troops suffered 2,000 casualties. The reason for this perhaps was that Filipino troops, for the most part, exchanged fires without any leader. Except for Generals Mascardo and Luna who kept to their posts, most of the high ranking Filipino soldiers were in Malolos, Bulacan to celebrate the victory over Spain. Although these officers arrived to the battle field they contributed nothing. They even tried to stop the fight. There was even an account that Emilio Aguinaldo sent an emissary to General Elwell Otis to try to curb the fight. The American general did not yield to the request. General Otis even said: "Fighting having begun, must go on to the grim end." [4]

Turmoil within the Filipino military hierarchy

After the defeat, Aguinaldo and his troops moved from the city to Northern Luzon (in Pangasinan) and tried to reorganize and gather strength anew. Reorganization, however, was quite difficult because the Filipino troops were divided. Loyalty of individual soldiers was not to the troop but rather to their respective generals. They were loyal to Aguinaldo, Gregorio del Pilar, Baldomero Aguinaldo, or Mascardo, while a good number to Antonio Luna. The rivalry between Aguinaldo and Luna was not only palpable but fatal.

On June 2, 1899, General Antonio Luna received a telegram from General Aguinaldo ordering the former to proceed to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija for a meeting at the Cabanatuan Church Convent. Three days thereafter, upon the arrival of General Luna at the meeting place, he was surprised to see not even the shadow of Aguinaldo. Before Luna was able to depart from the appointed place, he was shot and stabbed by Aguinaldo's men. Aguinaldo never exerted any effort to hold those who killed Luna responsible. This was the very reason why Aguinaldo would become unpopular and would eventually lose to Manuel Quezon in the Commonwealth presidential election of 1935.

After the death of General Gregorio Del Pilar in the famous Battle of Tirad Pass, Aguinaldo was captured on March 23, 1901 in the mountains of Palanan, Isabela by General Funston with the aid of Macabebe trackers.

2. The Macabebes

Kapampangans are stereotyped as an "untrustworthy" people. This is the impression that most Tagalogs have about Kapampangans. The impression was said to have originated from the supposed treacherous acts of the infamous Macabebe Mercenaries (Scouts) in Palanan, Isabela during the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo. The morality of the acts is debatable among historians and writers even to this day. However, even if the participation of the Macabebe Scouts is proven as vile indeed, it will be extremely unfair for the rest of the Kapampangans to be maligned for acts committed by a few among their number. It will be highly illogical, if not idiotic, to attribute an act perpetrated by one member of the class to the rest of its members.

The opening statement of a 2005 unpublished research paper by Christian Paul Ramos, an MA History student of UP Diliman, reflects on this impression. Ramos writes: "Whenever someone comes across with the words 'dugong aso' and 'traitors,' the Macabebes are remembered." However, Ramos continues, "These terms were... coined by some narrow-minded historians." [5]

This widely-publicized (supposed) treachery of Macabebes was given more attention than the treacherous acts committed by other notable Filipino nationalists such as Pedro Paterno, Felipe Buencamino, Cayetano Arellano, etc., who, according to General Funston, offered their services to the Americans and who, in fact, turned their backs on Aguinaldo. [6]

The Macabebes' military history

Macabebes have always been known for their military prowess. Their historical reputation as brave and intelligent soldiers dates back to the early Spanish regime. In 1571, a group of Macabebes and some inhabitants of Hagonoy were assembled under the leadership of Tarik Sulayman, a Macabebe warlord, against the Spanish forces in Tondo. In spite of a truce existing between De Goiti and Rajah Soliman, Tarik Sulayman valiantly clashed with the Spanish troops, but was defeated. However strong the resistance of Kapampangans was against the Spaniards, the latter was able to conquer the province. Tarik Sulayman died in battle.

In 1574, the Spaniards recruited and employed Kapampangans, who were mostly natives from Macabebe, and from its offshoot municipality Masantol, to guard and defend Manila against a Chinese pirate named Limahong. This was said to be the start of Kapampangan military service. [7]

From 1603 to 1640, these Kapampangans successfully assisted Spanish troops to get rid of Chinese control over a portion of Manila. The Macabebes, likewise, served Spain in its military campaign against the Moros in Mindanao and the Moluccas (known as "the Spice Islands"). A Kapampangan contingent, mostly Macabebes, was also a prominent force in repelling the British invasion in the 1760s. [8]

The Macabebes were also sent to Vietnam to conquer the country. They joined the Spanish and French contingents in defending the Catholic mission in Vietnam. According to Larkin, little has been said about the military pursuits of the Macabebes. [9] The event took place in the 19th century, when French missionaries were being killed in the now Vietnam. The French government asked the Spanish government to assist the former in exacting "revenge" against the Vietnamese. (Spain and France were allies in those times; the former ordered the colonial officials in the Philippines to send an "expedition" to Vietnam.)

Other ethno-linguistic groups, such as Cebuanos, Ilocanos, Negrenses, Samals, and even Tagalogs, were also recruited to serve the Spanish regime under the Spanish military command. However, in the eyes of the Spaniards, the most professional and respectable among all these groups were the Kapampangans. In 1660, Francisco Laxamana and Don Juan Macapagal of Arayat were recognized, awarded with substantial amounts of money, and honored after their Kapampangan troops protected colonial Manila from the threatened invasion of another Chinese pirate Koxinga. [10]

Recognition from King Charles II

In December 31, 1677, King Charles II of Spain sent a letter to all provincial superiors of all religious orders in the Philippines recognizing the great contributions of the Kapampangan contingent in Spain's war against Holland (and the British forces there) in 1660.

The letter, in part, says:

"Ipinaalam sa akin ni Don Diego de Villatoro, proctor heneral ng lungsod ng Maynila sa hukumang ito, na isa sa pinakamalawak na lalawigang sakop ng aking kaharian sa mga islang iyon ay ang Pampanga, na nasa loob ng arsobispadong iyon. Iniulat niya na mahalaga ang kontribusyon nito sa pagtatanggol ng buong kolonya, dahil nakabuo ito ng ilang hukbong nakidigma laban sa mga Olandes na lumulusob sa karagatang iyon, sa mga Moro ng Ternate, at ng iba pang kalabang lahi; nagbigay ito ng buong regular na inpantriya upang bantayan ang kabisera ng kaharian doon, ang moog nitong Santiago, ang mga moog ng Cavite, Cebu, Oton, Cagallar (Cagayan), Caraga, at iba pang tangulan ng mga islang iyon. Palaging tapat na maglingkod sa akin ang lahing Kapampangan; at pinamumunuan ang mga hukbo nitong maayos ang organisasyon ng mga sarili nilang pangkalahatang opisyal, komandante, at kapitan. Lubusan nilang pinahahalagaan ang mga posisyong ito bilang gantimpala sa kagalingan, at bawat isa'y naghahangad na makamit ang mga posisyong ito upang maipamana sa kanilang mga inapo ang karangalan. Ikinararangal nila ang isilang nang mataas sa lipunan, kumilos bilang Espanyol at magsalita ng ating wika." [11]

No less than the King of Spain in 1677 recognized the bravery of the Kapampangan soldiers. He mentioned their courage in defending the entire colony. They organized armies which fought against the British invaders. They defended the colony against the Moros in Ternate. They provided a regular infantry to guard the capital of the colony, the fortresses of Santiago, Cavite, Cebu, Oton, Cagayan, and Caraga. According to the letter, the Kapampangans remained very loyal to the King and that the leadership and discipline they manifested were really commendable. One of the leaders being referred to in the letter was Don Juan Macapagal of Arayat. He was even appointed later as maestre-campo.

In the same letter, the King instructed the provincial superiors and the Archbishop of Manila to be good to Kapampangans. He said that the Kapampangans should be spared from all forms of exploitation by alkalde mayors, police, court officials, and parish priests. He further said that anything received by any Spanish official from these natives must be paid in the most reasonable amount. Bandala [12] system was also put to a halt.

Eugenio Blanco and his mercenaries

When the Filipino Revolution erupted in 1896, Colonel Eugenio Blanco, a wealthy Spaniard who owned a vast estate within and around Macabebe, organized an army mostly from the town of Macabebe. Blanco and his mercenaries defended the cause of the Spaniards against the revolutionaries. Blanco's main reason for organizing the mercenaries was more a vocation than politics, and personal interest than loyalty to Spain. There were, however, two reasons why the Macabebes joined Blanco: (1) they thought they owed allegiance to Blanco and that it is their duty to protect him; and (2) they viewed soldiery as a fine livelihood.

During the American period, these mercenaries evolved into the Macabebe Scouts, which comprised the bulk of the Philippine Scouts. According to Larkin, most of these mercenaries stood tall in defending Bataan and the Philippine Commonwealth. [13] From the Spanish period to early post-Fil-Am war era, the Macabebes characterized themselves as professionally experienced soldiers.

Larkin noted a quotation from Marcelino Paras in describing this professional soldiery of the Macabebes:

"It is with deep pride to note that this is a town of bold warriors and brave soldiers. As early as June 6, 1570 (sic), when the Spaniards under the leadership of Martin de Goiti came to Manila to impose the Spanish sovereignty in our country, they were met by Rajah Soliman, reputedly a native of this place, and a handful of bold warriors from Macabebe. The Masantoleņo as a soldier saw action in three wars, namely, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. As a soldier, he is second to none in gallantry and bravery under fire, earning for himself medals of honor which he could leave as worthy legacy to his children. With the coming of Americans who implanted the seeds of democracy in our soil, he served under the American flag in all these wars. He saw action in Bataan and Corregidor. He joined the infamous 'death march.' During enemy occupation, he joined the guerilla movement, more particularly the two outstanding guerilla organizations, the 320th Squadron (LGAF) under Major Robert Lapham and the Banal Regiment under Alejandro Pablete, alias Jose Banal. It is no wonder that today, there are some 570 checks that pour into the town monthly, amounting to P250,000, more or less. These are pensions for our disabled veterans and their dependents." [14]

The Macabebes, even until now, really take pride in the role these mercenaries played in the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. An interview conducted by this writer with a former high school principal of the San Miguel Academy in the town of Masantol revealed that the Masantoleņos are proud about the exploits of the Macabebe scouts. The principal, however, is alarmed by the negative consequences generated by the unfair representation of the Macabebe scouts in high school textbooks. [15]

3. Aguinaldo's Capture

At the start of February 1901, the United States forces in Northern Luzon focused on the capture of General Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy, the "most prominent" figure of the Philippine struggle for freedom against the American oppressors. The capture was led by General Frederick Funston of the 20th Kansas Infantry of the United States.

General Frederick Funston

Frederick Funston was born in Ohio in 1865 and was raised in Kansas. After his stay in the University of Kansas, he was employed as newspaper reporter, coffee planter in Central America, and a special agent of the US Department of Agriculture. As a special agent of Department of Agriculture, he was taken to places like Death Valley and Alaska. [16]

While in New York in early 1896, Funston volunteered in the American war against the Spanish troops in Cuba. He enlisted as an artillery officer despite his lack of knowledge about artillery. He trained himself for a period of 7 days in an attic where he read a manual of instructions with a small artillery in his hands. [17]

In August 1896, he went to Cuba. He survived four major battles and a lot of smaller skirmishes. Funston's war experiences in Cuba taught him much about strategy and tactics in guerilla warfare. [18] He was eventually promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in less than two years in the service.

When the US declared war against Spain, Funston was appointed to lead the 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry. The unit went to Tampa for debriefing by Major General William Shafter, who commanded the US Forces which was set to invade Cuba. Upon the unit's arrival at Tampa, they received cold reception from the Regular Army Officers. [19]

In November 30, 1898, Funston's group was shipped out of Tampa to the Philippines. During this time, hostilities and fighting were greatly reduced. Funston's group was assigned to guard and occupy Manila. The unit, for months, did not engage in any fight. Funston planned to go back to America, however, he changed his mind at the outbreak of the rebellion organized by Emilio Aguinaldo. Funston won several battles against the rebels. In fact, he was awarded a Medal of Honor for his bravery in the Battle of Calumpit, Bulacan. Subsequently, upon the recommendation of Gen. Arthur MacArthur, Funston was promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteers. [20]

Funston and his unit went back to America in September 1899; but in December he returned to the Philippines and was assigned to command the US Forces in the 4th District of Luzon. By this time, conventional warfare gave way to guerilla operations. [21] Funston's war experiences in Cuba helped him so much in his counterinsurgency campaigns against the Filipino rebels. The rebels' strength gradually diminished. Funston's unit was able to destroy supplies and armories. He was able to establish a very reliable intelligence network. However, the elusive group of Aguinaldo remained at large. Funston was motivated to capture Aguinaldo to put the insurgency to closure. [22]

Cecilio Segismundo provides the clue

Early in February 1901, without the knowledge of Aguinaldo, Lieutenant James D. Taylor secured the surrender of several guerillas. One of these guerillas admitted to have met the Aguinaldos in Palanan, Isabela in December 1900. The unnamed guerilla brought in another rebel, a close officer of the Supremo, by the name of Cecilio Segismundo. Segismundo surrendered enciphered documents and correspondence from Aguinaldo to other rebel leaders. Lieutenant Taylor, on February 10, sent these documents to his commander, Gen. Funston. In just two days, Funston decoded the messages. He discovered that Aguinaldo was requesting other rebel leaders to provide his contingent with reinforcement of 400 men.

Segismundo was a native of Dupax, Nueva Viscaya. He served as a member of the constabulary during the Spanish period in Manila. Later, during the insurgency, he became a corporal under the command of Major Nazario Alhambra. He was, at the time of his betrayal of the rebellion, the official courier to El Presidente Emilio Aguinaldo.

The Province of Nueva Viscaya justified what seemed to be a betrayal by Segismundo in an article it posted on www.newvizcaya.tripod.com.

According to the article:

"Segismundo's tale explained his general dishevelment. A small party of insurgents consisting of Segismundo, one sergeant, and four privates had made a punishing trek, traveling in a generally southwest direction for nearly one month through unforgiving mountains and jungles without adequate supplies or civilian support. They had attempted to slip around the American patrols at the garrisoned Pacific coastal village of Baler, but, characteristic of the bad luck that had plagued them throughout the journey, they had strayed into an ambush by an American scouting party on the Plain of Tuntunin, near Baler. Two of them were killed. The survivors ran out of food, became desperate, and clambered through a high mountain pass through the Sierra until they finally came down onto the Central." [23]

In the same article, Mark Twain's version of the incident appeared:

"(C)abebes fired on those men and two fell dead; the others retreated, firing as they ran, and I might say here that they retreated with such great alacrity and enthusiasm that they dropped eighteen rifles and a thousand rounds of ammunition.

"Segismundo rushed back into the house, pulled his revolver, and told the insurgent officers to surrender. They all threw up their hands except Villa, Aguinaldo's chief of staff; he had on one of those new-fangled Mauser revolvers and he wanted to try it. But before he had the Mauser out of its scabbard he was shot twice; Segismundo was a pretty fair marksman himself." [24]

Twain's account emphasized Colonel Simon Villa's [25] misfortune and subsequent capture, which further demoralized the rebels. Many of them voluntarily surrendered to the Americans.

Moreover, in Mark Twain's version, the Macabebe soldiers prominently figured in the surrender and treachery of Segismundo and his group. However, the authenticity of his claims remained until now doubtful. In most documents, there was no mention about the participation of Macabebe troops in the said incident. Reports only say that it was a group of American Scouts that was responsible for the ambush.

Aguinaldo's version

In an article written by Emilio Aguinaldo for Everybody's Magazine in 1901, the Supremo narrated his own version of his monumental capture. [26] He adored the scenery of the place and the reception of the community in Palanan. In his description, the place was so strategic that no one could ever have access to it. He wrote:

"... It is one of the most isolated places in the province of Isabela, in northern Luzon. The are no ways of communication with the outside world except rough trails or footpaths that lead over the mountains to the west, to Ilagan, or south to Casiguran, and its peaceful population of some twelve hundred souls has heard very little of the tide of war which for four years has desolated our country." [27]

Aguinaldo further wrote:

"Nevertheless, when I first went there with my companions and our little band of followers, in the month of September 1900, I was received with enthusiasm by these simple, hospitable people, and everything they had was placed at my disposal." [28]

Aguinaldo seemed to enjoy the reception and acceptance of the community. His group was treated by the folks as visitors. The Supremo, for several weeks, enjoyed a quiet and comfortable stay in Palanan. He and his group amused themselves with music, and dance.

Aguinaldo recalled vividly:

"We lived here quietly for several weeks, enjoying the few diversions in the way of amusement that the village could offer. There was a fairly capable band of music, and on Saturday and Sunday, followed sometimes by a dance in the parish house, next to the church, for the young people of the village." [29]

In November 23 of the same year, Aguinaldo's group was alarmed by the information it received, that about fifty American soldiers were apparently heading towards Palanan. Aguinaldo was forced to leave the village and proceed to the nearby mountains. After the Americans left, Aguinaldo's group returned to the village and he and his men continued their tranquil existence. With this development, the contingent was augmented by the forces sent by Colonel Nazario Alhambra, numbering about forty soldiers. [30]

In January, Colonel Villa's boredom drove him to request Aguinaldo to be assigned in the fields. Villa wanted to go back to the battle zone. He was so tired of the uneventful and peaceful life in Palanan. Aguinaldo planned to appoint Villa to command the military district of Cagayan Valley. The district is comprised of Nueva Viscaya, Isabela, and Cagayan. Villa's post as Chief of Staff of Aguinaldo was decided to be fielded by Brigadier General Teodoro Sandiko.

Aguinaldo ordered Cecilio Segismundo to deliver several communications to effect his plans to a number of rebel leaders that included General Sandiko, Colonel Lazaro Baldomero and General Baldomero Aguinaldo.

Aguinaldo's account read:

"Accordingly, with this in view, I sent, on the 15th of January, Private Cecilio Segismundo, a man thoroughly acquainted with the country in Central Luzon, to deliver several letters addressed to the officers who were in command of our guerrilla forces in that territory. Among these letters were one addressed to General Sandiko, and another addressed to General Baldomero Aguinaldo, to whom I gave orders to assume command of our forces in Central Luzon, and also to send two hundred men, under the command of Colonel Lazaro Makagapal, to the province of Isabela. Colonel Villa also gave the messenger, Segismundo, a pass, directed to the local presidents of the towns through which he might travel, ordering them to render him every assistance possible, and to supply him with whatever he might need. Segismundo left for Nueva Viscaya under directions to go by way of the towns of Casiguran and Baler." [31]

There was no news heard about what happened to the mission of Segismundo until the 20th of March. It was during this time that two packages of letters were received by the Supremo. One package was from General Urbano Lakuna and the other one was from Lieutenant Colonel Hilario Tal Placido. General Lakuna said in his letter that he was sending the best company from his unit under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Placido and Captain Lazaro Segovia. On the other hand, Placido's letter contained his story about the ten American soldiers they ambushed in Pontabangan. Five of these Americans were killed and five were taken as prisoners. Placido's force had custody over the American prisoners. Placido also informed the Supremo that they decided to stay in Casiguran, a few kilometers away from Palanan, to forage for provisions which they lacked. [32]

Upon receipt of Placido's letter, the Supremo was alarmed. He directed Colonel Villa to reply. According to Aguinaldo:

"Immediately upon the receipt of this letter I directed Colonel Villa to reply to it, and to say that in view of the circumstances it would not be wise to permit these American prisoners to come into Palanan, for the reason that in the event that they were set free, or contrived to escape, they would be able to serve as guides to bring their countrymen down on us. It seems better, therefore, and Colonel Tal Placido was so directed, that the prisoners should be left at a place called Dinundungan, which is about five miles from Palanan, under a guard of eleven soldiers commanded by a sergeant, who should be instructed to take the prisoners of Ilagan, the capital of the province of Isabela, under cover of darkness. Once in Ilagan, they were to be liberated." [33]

This indicated that Aguinaldo, early on, had already felt the impending danger that might be caused by these American prisoners. Despite Colonel Villa's instructions not to proceed to Palanan, Placido still insisted. On March 22, when Placido's force was only about six miles from Palanan, he informed Colonel Villa about this through a letter. Further, Placido said that his people were already worn out and hungry. He requested from the Supremo some food supplies. Aguinaldo sent Negritos to deliver the supplies the force needed. [34]

In the following morning of March 23, Placido's men were already parading into Palanan. Aguinaldo described the scenario as follows:

"About two o'clock in the afternoon I saw Tal Placido's men crossing the Palanan River in small boats, and at once directed Colonel Villa to send Captain Tomas Magsarilo to salute the newcomers and welcome them in my name. Colonel Villa also arranged that the soldiers of my personal guard who were not on duty should fire the proper military salutes.

"It was not long before the new troops, some eighty-five in number, entered the village of Palanan and halted in the plaza in front of my house, where about twenty soldiers of my guard were drawn up waiting to receive them. It was about three o'clock. The newcomers were dressed in the regular uniform of the Filipino army, and were armed with Mausers, Remingtons, and one or two Krags. The officers, Colonel Tal Placido and Captain Segovia, the latter a Peninsular Spaniard, then came into my house. After the usual salutations I asked them what sort of a journey they had had. To this Segovia replied that it had been exceedingly hard, and that they had not twenty-four hours' rest since the 24th of February, the date of their departure from Nueva Ecija." [35]

In no time, after short conversation with the Supremo, Segovia went out of Aguinaldo's house and shouted orders to his men. Aguinaldo could not quiet distinctly understand the orders. Subsequently, Aguinaldo was surprised upon hearing gunshots. Thinking that those were just from blank cartridges, he peeked through a window and was aimed at by Segovia's men. He also saw that Segovia's men directed their shots against his guards. He then realized that he was in great danger. Aguinaldo rushed to another room to get a revolver. He described the scenario as follows:

"I hurriedly left the window and ran into another room in the hope of finding some means of escape, but I saw at once that the house was already surrounded. Then I seized a revolver, intending to defend myself, but Dr. Barcelona threw both arms around me, crying out, 'Don't sacrifice yourself. The country needs your life.' Thus I was prevented from carrying out my intention. Colonel Villa ran from the house in an attempt to break through the lines of the enemy and rally our men, but he was shot three times and finally taken prisoner." [36]

Aguinaldo was surprised upon knowing that Tal Placido and Macabebes were part of the ploy. He described this as follows:

"When the firing commenced, Tal Placido threw himself down on the floor to avoid the bullets, but now he got up and told us that we were the prisoners of the Americans, who, he said, were on the other side of the river with four hundred American soldiers, and would soon be here. Just at this time several of Tal Placido's soldiers came into the house shouting, 'Hurrah for the Macabebes!' and surrounded Barcelona and myself. A little later five Americans, all armed with carbines, came into the room where we were. They came up to us, and one of them asked, 'Which one of you is Aguinaldo?' As soon as I had been identified by the Americans I was placed, with Dr. Barcelona and Colonel Villa, in one of the rooms of the house, and guards were posted at all the windows and doors, under command of one of the Americans. The other four Americans then began to search the house for whatever papers and documents might be there." [37]

Aguinaldo was told later that the American captors were General Funston, Captains Newton and Hazzard, and Lieutenants Hazzard and Mitchell.

[1] Sgt. Pedro Bustos, whose loyalty was tested by Gen. Funston, was a lineal blood relative.
[2] Roger A. Lee, www.historyguy.com/american war_casualties/, accessed on December 4, 2006.
[3], [4] As described in Aguinaldo: A Narrative of Filipino Ambitions, (E. Wildman 1901, Norwood Press, Norwood, MA).
[5] In the Eyes of the Masters: A Tentative Reassessment of the Macabebes from the Perspective of the Americans, submitted to the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines Diliman (2005).
[6] See Frederick Funston, "Memories of Two Wars: Cuban and Philippine Experiences" (New York: C. Scribner's Son, 1911), 319.
[7], [8], [9], [10], [13], John Alan Larkin, "The Macabebe Scouts and their Reputation," http://www.malit.com/macabebes_reputation.htm, accessed on February 5, 2007.
[11] As cited in "Mga Babasahin Sa Kasaysayan ng Pilipinas" authored by Horacio De la Costa, S.J. Trans. Rofel G. Brion, (Manila: Far Eastern University, 2000) 93.
[12] This is a system devised by the Governor of the colony to augment the collection of revenues. It is done by compelling natives to give 20-30 thousand fanega (equivalent to 551/2 liters) of rice grains. This system was invented by Don Sebastian Hurtado de Corcuera.
[14] As cited in Larkin's article. The original quotation appeared in "The 1964 Masantol Yearbook" during its town fiesta.
[15] The interview was conducted on January 6, 2007.
[16], [17], onwards to [22] Matthew J. Seelinger in "A Desperate Undertaking: Funston Captures Aguinaldo," Army History Foundation, www.armyhistory.org accessed on February 7, 2007.
[23], [24] In "Moments in Dupax History," appeared on www.newvizcaya.tripod.com , accessed on February 7, 2007.
[25] Col. Villa was the Chief of Staff of Aguinaldo. He belonged to the contingent which camped in Palanan, Isabela.
[26], [27], onwards to [37] "The Story of My Capture," vol. V, Number 24, August 1901.

[About the author. J. Reylan Bustos Viray teaches Philosophy, Literature, and Humanities at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Sta. Mesa, Manila. He is a native of Masantol, Pampanga. He is a lifetime member of the International Society for Philosophers based in the University of Sheffield (UK), Philippine Association of Teachers of Culture and the Arts, and Philippine Association of Teachers of History and Rizal. He is also a member of Pinoy Poets, Philosophical Association of the Philippines, and Society of Asian Comparative Philosophy (USA). Some of Mr. Viray's poetry appeared in published journals and online journals in the country. He has published monographs dealing with Postmodern Philosophy, Jean Francois Lyotard's Philosophy, Epistemology and Filipino Philosophy. Mr. Viray lives in Fairview, Quezon City with his wife and two bubbly daughters.]

-Posted: 1:12 AM 3/12/07 | More of this author on eK!

Alfonso Leyson Jr writes...

Kabalen: I read it on your article about Col. Blanco and you said that he owns a lot of land in and around Macabebe. There was a big lot in San Isidro, Macabebe and it was named Coronel, in reference to Colonel Blanco. According to my father, Don Juan Blanco is married to Simona Leyson, our wealthy relative. Their children were Eugenio (Tenyong) Blanco, Augusto Blanco (married to Senyora Bebeng with daughter Adaling Blanco who was later married to Marcelino Bustos with son, Tony Bustos), and third child Margarita Titang Blanco. When Simona Leyson died, my father told me that Grandpa told him that the road from Manila to Macabebe was lined up with people waiting for the horses that carry Simona. The narra front doors that was in their house was transferred to our house because the Blanco eventually went back to Spain after the Spanish-American war. With no more Spanish government, Colonel Blanco was offered the land that belonged to us to finance their stay. One by one, the land was sold. Even some Leysons tried to gain back the Coronel land in San Isidro but bad luck comes to them and they died early. Now the place was full of squattes and later becomes a village. Gone was the days when we used to fly kites when we were young. Our uncles were the ones who used to harvest the bamboos there. The land was bordered by big acacia trees and only the concrete structure of the house was still standing. The Macabebe band that belongs to Colonel Blanco died one by one and I think my uncle was the last survivor. My father told me that when the Katipuneros invaded Macabebe, they took all the men inside the church and lined it with bamboos to burn them all. The Sunga's begged the insurrectos to spare the men and just burn the church. But they took with them our big bell that was famous for its size. One time, our uncles were selling clothes in Nueva Ecija? and it rained. They hurriedly went inside a structure and found it as a big bell. When they read the names inscribed there, they found the famous Macabebe bell just lying in the ground on the side of the church. I wonder where is that bell now.

-Posted/Via Email: 23 May 2007

Alvin Blanco Sunga (of Brentwood, CA, USA) writes...

I'm one of the Blanco's of Macabebe, my mother's name is Herminia Blanco married to former Public Service Commissioner of the Philippines Judge Zacarias V. Sunga during the Diosdado Macapagal administration. Eugenio Blanco and Augusto Blanco are my uncles, and there were 11 more sibling besides the three. Jose Blanco who became a mayor in the town is my Grandfather who was married to the Bustos of Batasan. Col. Eugenio Blanco and Don Juan Blanco are my great grandfathers.

I would like to know more about the Blanco's of Macabebe and hopefully Mr Leyson will able to send me his email address or let me communicate with him.

-Posted/Via Email: Sun, 23 Mar 2008 01:57:42 -0700

Arturo Lacanlale Garcia (of Batangas, Philippines & Tacoma, Washington, USA) writes...

I don't know or if I am sure if I'm related to you. My lola (Terrie or Theresa Santos Lacanlale) always talked about the Macabebe Scouts. Which I don't know anything about it. And my T'yo Toteng Santos mention to me also that the brothers of my lola's mother which is Bustos also were tought Filipino Scouts that captured Aguinaldo together with my other uncle's name Atanacio Lacanlale. Does does names ring the bell? My other relative is the Punla's Family that served with my Father with 45th Inf Regt (PS).

We are having a "Army Day" here at Ft. Lewis, Washington on 17 May 2008. We will be wearing the Early Filipino Scouts Uniforms Similar to Teddy's Rosevelt Rough Riders. We will be representing the Filipino American War w/c nobody's around here knows anything about it. They all knew the Spanish American War but not the Philippine American War. This is the first time they'll have this event and we are representing the unit of my grandfather. The Macabebe Scouts.

-Posted/Via Email: 2008-05-06 03:13:13 PDT

Alfonso Leyson Jr. (of Oxnard, CA, USA) writes...


Thanks for the update.

-Posted/Via Email: 2008-05-07 21:50:34 PDT

Rolando C Bonifacio (of Canada) writes...

My grandfathers to my father and motherside were both Macabebe Scouts of 1901 or 1902. That is why they were both pensionados. Unfortunately, I never saw my two grandfathers since they died very early. Anyway, do you have any list of the first philippine scouts names and any pictures of them? I just want to figure out their faces if any one of them has a semblance of my lineage as a descendant of Macabebe Scouts.

-Posted/Via Email: 2008-07-12 21:07:20 PDT

Filemon Yumul (of Pasig City, Philippines) writes...

It seems that our patently discriminatory educational system made you a little shy about your lineage. "...however if the participation of the Macabebe Scouts is vile indeed, it will be extremely unfair for the Kapampangans to be maligned for acts committed by a few..."

My dear sir, I beg to disagree. There is nothing Vile about the Macabebes. They were mercenaries. And loyal mercenaries as historically proven. Prized and looked up to by the Americans. You don't have to hedge your bets by pandering to a few narrow-minded people that what the Macabebe people did was any worse than what other indios did to their fellow indios.

And I see no reason for the actions of the Macabebe scouts that impugn or malign the Kapampangan people.

Heh heh. As you can tell by my name, My family hails from Macabebe. And after years of searching have come to accept with pride our place in history. My Grandfather, MAMERTO YUMUL was a Macabebe Scout and as oral tradition dictates, he was indeed one of the famous 81 who captured Aguinaldo.

He was also one of the fabled recipients of US Government pension checks as you so noted.

I like to tell my wife that my family participated in the Philippine American war. Except that we joined the WINNING side. ;-)

My brother continued the family tradition of "canine loyalty" to the gringo by serving with the US armed forces. After 20 years he retired, and like our famous Kabalen, is now the recipient of a US government pension check. What goes around...

Peace to all

-Posted/Via Email: 2008-07-30 04:06:42 PDT

Lilibeth Sta Maria Lacanlale (of Masantol Pampanga, Philippines) writes...

Hi there to all my Kabalens!

and Big Hug (^_^) to my first cousin Arturo Lacanlale Garcia whom you have also blog on eK site! It's been ages that I don't hear about you and your family.

It's so nice to reminisced the old good things before, I remembered my Lola Terrie Santos who always take us to Masantol Pantalan {of course not to mention the Hanging Bridge - I think it's unique} and my Dara Felisa will bid for the fishmongers the higher bidder for "dalag and hito name it alimango and suwaheng shirmp". Those were the days! hppss. no tear please.

Kuya Arthur Lacanlale Garcia hope to communicate with you through this eK site we'll be in touch, now I am in the Middle East - Country Kuwait since 1986 [take note wala pa ring ipon he,he,]

-Posted/Via Email: 2009-02-09 03:29:42 PST

Jun Viray (of Austrailia) writes...

Kabalen, I am like you a true blooded kapampangan, my parents both grew up in Masantol and Macabebe, my mother's family are the Baluyut and Yabut clan of Macabebe and my father's famly are the Lagazon and Viray of Masantol. Actually I have relatives who are also Bustos of Masantol, if I clearly remember one of them was a Doctor who had a clinic in Guadalupe Nueve, Makati.

I am a graduate of history at Dela Salle University and like you I am also concerned about how history books and other people coined us Kapampangans as traitors. I first heard this thing when a friend and classmate of mine at DLSU in 1986 who was from Bicol that told me about the bad heritage of the Kapampangans and since then I tried to research about this and truly found that we were termed as traitors by some historians. And I am glad to see and read this article you wrote about our heritage and to clear the misimpression given to our fellow Macabebes and Masantol folks.

In your article, the actions given towards the Kapampangans were just a form of sour graping by the people who were close to the El Supremo, however, looking deeper in the article you wrote I am truly proud to be a Kapampangan because it just show one magnificient trait that we can be proud off and that we loyal and trustworthy individuals to whom we served.

This is the reason that many of our kabalen are noted successful individuals in the own respective fields such as Justice Jose Abad Santos, Cardinal Santos (First Filipino Cardinal), Mayor Nemesio Yabut (the person who brought Makati to its glory), Fe Panlilio and Trining Oledan (respected jewelers), Manuel Pangilinan (CEO of PLDT) and President Diosdado and Gloria Arroyo (even if I am not a avid fan of the latter president , she still was able to overcome all the storms that befell her administration and also shows her determonation to fight for her administration until the very end, her ability to developed means of over coming all her critics and expose's just show how intelligent she is)

-Posted/Via Email: 2009-05-15 13:04:23 PDT

Joseph Lacanlale (of Bacolor & Masantol, Pampanga/Victorville, CA) writes...

Mayap aldo kekongan kabalen ampo kamaganak. Well written article about the Macabebe Scouts and the Kapampangans in particular. It just shows that the Macabebe Scouts are not "traitors" or " dugong aso" after all as being depicted in the early philippine history but brave and loyal soldiers to whoever masters they had served.

To Arturo and Lilibeth- magkamaganak tamu. Atanacio Lacanlale was my great grandfather and he was one of the scouts that had captured Aguinaldo, according to my Apo Quiel (Apo Tana's son and my grandfather) who told me stories when I was growing up. My father, Lino is a U.S. Army retired and if I am not mistaken was stationed in Fort Lewis, Tacoma, Washington and also engaged in WWII, Korean and Vietnam war. The Punla you are referred to was Apo U.S. Army Captain Macario "Aca" Punla who passed away last year or 2 years ago.

My family is related to the- Gaddi, Punla, Canilao, Yamat, Viray, Bonifacio, Lacap, Gatdula, Ibay, Bernarte, Yumang, Yumul, Torno, and Dechico families.

-Posted/Via Email: 2010-01-22 17:06:38 PST

Elle Leyson Rosendahl (of Laguna Niguel, California) writes...

Hello J Viray, Great research and detailed history! Thanks for sharing your article. I was also researching my roots when I came across your article and Alfonso Leyson's entry.


Who was Simona Leyson? Where was she from? Any relatives/brothers/sisters in Leyte? Our great grandfather was Eustaquio Leyson of Southern Leyte and we are trying to trace his family history. We have not been able to trace his parents at this time. According to our grandma, they used to own land holdings including the historical landmark in Limasawa Island. We are planning on visiting the Philippines and would like to know more about our ancestors.

Appreciate your feedback if any.

-Posted/Via Email: 2010-05-21 21:52:39 PDT

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