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j. reylan bustos viray
reylan b viray PRESENTED HERE are five arguments in defense of the Macabebes and their "infamous" contribution to Aguinaldo's capture. They are interrelated and at some points overlap each other: (1) Aguinaldo's revolution was not national and homogenous. (2) The capture of Aguinaldo greatly reduced hostilities and death. (3) Disloyalty to Aguinaldo was not disloyalty to the country; neither Aguinaldo nor his revolution was the country. (4) Aguinaldo's quick swearing of allegiance to Washington was an express affirmation of the Macabebes' justifiable act. (5) Macabebes were not traitors in the strictest sense of the term.

1. Aguinaldo's revolution was not national and homogenous

In the late 19th century Philippines and earlier, there was no concept of "nation" to speak of. Attitudes of people then were more regional than national. The regional characters and color of each uprising that transpired in different parts of the archipelago were palpable. This is notwithstanding claims to the contrary, such as the interpretation of a Cavite scholar named Alfredo Saulo, who said that national unity was made possible by Aguinaldo. [1] Saulo mistakenly premised his argument on the observation of General Arthur MacArthur that "Aguinaldo held the whole people in the hollow of his hand, because he was their recognized leader, the incarnation of their aspirations." [2] Arguably, this testimony could not be enough proof of national unity. MacArthur's statement, if pitted against documented events, would prove to be false. Besides, his statement was not even clear whether he was referring to the entire Filipino people or he was just referring to the people (particularly and mostly the Tagalogs) who believed in Aguinaldo's cause. Generally, Filipinos then did not think of themselves as one homogenous race. [3]

Indeed, there was diversity in the "Revolution." For example, the revolt in Cavite which begun in 1896 was principally religious, while the revolt of the Manila-based Katipunan of Bonifacio was political. [4] The article which was published by the University of Hawaii, through its Office of Multicultural Student Services, to show this point, has this account:

"In the first two years of the Revolution, battles raged mainly in the Tagalog provinces. Outside the Katagalugan, responses were varied. Pampanga, which was close to Manila, was uninvolved in the Revolution from September 1896 to the end of 1897, perhaps because the conditions which drove the Tagalogs to rise in arms were not totally similar in Pampanga. For instance, friar estates or church monopoly of landholdings which triggered agrarian unrest in Tagalog areas was not pervasive in Pampanga." [5]

Ethnic, cultural, and regional distinctions were rooted on the policy of divisiveness of the Spanish conquerors. [6] The Spaniards diluted the concept "Filipino" by calling the natives Indios and by identifying them according to their regional and ethnic affiliations such as Tagalog, Kapampangan, Cebuano, Ilocano, Ilonggo, etc. [7] Aguinaldo tried to popularize and promote the Tagalog brand of revolution by encouraging his military officials to return to their native provinces and solicit sympathy and support. However, Aguinaldo failed in his vision because most revolutionary groups in the provinces, including the Ilonggos, suspected his motives and agenda. They preferred instead a federal arrangement composed of the three main island groups. [8] Accordingly, Iloilo leaders changed the name of their provisional government and called it the Federal State of the Visayas since they did not recognize the supremacy of Aguinaldo and the Tagalogs.

Celedonio A. Ancheta, a noted historian, identified at least 100 revolts against the Spanish regime. He pointed out that at least 12 of these revolts were political in nature, 16 religious, 23 socioeconomic, and 30 miscellaneous. He identified the political revolts---those aimed at the overthrow of the Spanish Colonial Regime---as follows: (1) the Lakandula Revolt of 1574; (2) the Pampanga Revolt of 1585; (3) the Tondo Conspiracy of 1587; (4) the Muslim-Filipino War of 1602; (5) the Gaddang Revolt of 1621; (6) the Sulu Revolt of 1628; (7) the Battle of Punta Flechas of 1638; (8) the Lanao Revolt in Lamitan of 1637; (9) the Sultan Bungsu War of 1638; (10) the Mindanao Revolt of 1638; (11) the Ilocos Revolt of 1661; and (12) the Katipunan Revolt of 1898. [9]

Ancheta said that the following were religious revolts: [10] (1) the Muslim-Filipino Skirmish near Cebu in 1569; (2) the Muslim-Filipino Encounter in 1570; (3) the Jolo Jihad of 1578-80; (4) the Muslim-Filipino Resistance in Cotabato in 1597; (5) the Igorot-Filipino Revolt in Northern Luzon in 1601; (6) the Bankaw Apostacy of 1621; (7) the Tamblot Revolt of 1621-1622; (8) the Kudarat Revolt of 1625; (9) the Cagayan Revolt of 1625-1627; (10) the Sulu Revolt of 1628; (11) the Lanao Revolt of 1639; (12) the Corralat Revolt of 1649; (13) the Tapar Revolt of 1663; (14) the Ilocos Norte Revolt of 1811; (15) the Revolt of Hermano Pule of 1840-41; and (16) the Muslim-Filipino War against Admiral Jose Malcampo of 1876.

The revolts due to social and economic causes were [11]: (1) the Ilocos Norte Revolt of 1589; (2) the Cagayan Revolt of 1589; (3) the Basilan Revolt of 1614; (4) the CARAGA Insurrection of 1639; (5) the Sultan Salibansa Insurrection of 1639; (6) the Cagayan Insurrection of 1639; (7) the Zambales Revolt of 1645; (8) the Pampanga Revolt of 1645; (9) the Revolt of the Pintados of 1649-50; (10) the Sumuroy Rebellion of 1649-50; (11) the Maniago Revolt of 1660-61; (12) the Malong rebellion of 1660-61; (13) the Revolt of the Zambals of 1660; (14) the Zambal Revolt of 1681-83; (15) the Cagayan Revolt of 1718; (16) the Dagohoy Rebellion of 1744-1829; (17) the Agrarian Revolt in Bulacan of 1745-46; (18) the Agrarian Revolt in Batangas of 1745-46; (19) the Agrarian Revolt in Laguna of 1745-46; (20) the Agrarian Revolt in Cavite of 1745-46; (21) the Agrarian Revolt in Morong of 1745-46; (22) the Palaris Revolt of 1762-64; (23) the Revolt of Diego Silang of 1762-63; (24) the Gabriela Silang and Nicolas Carino Revolt of 1763-64; (25) the Camarines Revolt of 1762-64; (26) the Revolt of the Cebuanos of 1762-64; (27) the Isabela Revolt of 1763; (28) the Kalinga Uprising of 1785; (29) the Ilocos Norte Revolt of 1788; (30) the Nueva Viscaya Revolt of 1805; (31) the Basi Revolt of 1807; (32) the Sarat Rebellion of 1815; (33) the Cavite Revolt of 1872.

Most if not all of these revolts failed. However, their worth and impact were unquestionable. The Katipunan, for instance, which was designed to have a national character, also failed. The failure was attributed by most history books to the leadership struggle between Bonifacio and Aguinaldo. [12] Further, the conflict between Aguinaldo and Bonifacio metamorphosed into a class conflict in the organization because of the diverse backgrounds of the two leaders. Aguinaldo, being an illustrado and a former gobernadorcillo, represented the cause of his class; Bonifacio represented his proletarian class (working class). The organization was divided into two factions: the Magdiwang and the Magdalo. The conflict even resulted in the arrest and execution of Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio, pursuant to Aguinaldo's order on May 10, 1897. With this, Bonifacio became "a victim to the ambition and self-serving interests of the illustrados as personified by Aguinaldo." [13] To strengthen this point, Apolinario Mabini wrote in his memoirs: "The death of Andres Bonifacio had plainly shown in Mr. Aguinaldo a boundless appetite for power…" [14]

Arguably though, as premises offered above showed, we can logically assume that there was no concept of "nation" in the late 19th century and earlier. Hence, if there was no nation, a national revolution could be considered improbable. This argument, however, does not deny that there were revolts that occurred, albeit regional. Further, it is to be noted that the regional and ethnic character of the revolts did not make them lesser effective and important. Accordingly, the Tagalog "revolution" of Aguinaldo was equally important and effective as that of the other "revolutions." Likewise, Aguinaldo's "revolution" was as important as the counterrevolutionary forces within and against it as historian Alfred McCoy noted in his article published in 2001. [15] Thus, the national and homogenous revolution, as claimed by the followers of Aguinaldo, was only imagined or phantasmagorical.

If there was no concept of nation to speak of and there was no national revolution that occurred, then betrayal to one brand of revolution such as the Aguinaldo "revolution" could not be considered betrayal to nation.

2. The capture of Aguinaldo greatly reduced hostilities and death

Generally, the capture of Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela was an important event which led to the end of the Fil-Am war. Of course, minor skirmishes [16] still happened but hostilities were greatly reduced and thousands of lives were significantly spared. [17] The capture, however, did not mean the end of Filipino's fight for independence, albeit in a different form, perhaps less violent.

Independence and freedom, which the revolutionaries sought, could be achieved in so many ways. This was an advocacy of many patriotic leaders. After the capture of Aguinaldo, the 125-strong Federalists Party led by Pardo de Tavera decided to work for Philippine statehood. [18] The Federalists Party soon got the confidence of Taft and they were declared a semi-official government party. [19] By being so, the Federalists Party was able to forge Philippine-American relations which redounded to the benefit of the Filipinos. Gradually, municipal administration was left in the hands of local elite and leaders. Arcilla observed "(t)hat the first attempts at local autonomy were not completely successful was perhaps to be expected. Three centuries of Spanish colonial rule had not prepared the Filipinos for any active share in government. And the new American political system... was rather a novelty." [20]

After Aguinaldo's capture, it was apparent that the Filipino people were steadily gaining control of governance---local and, later on, national administration. Sadly though, during the first phase of Filipino control, corruption and abuses were abounding. [21]

It is to be emphasized that even prior to Aguinaldo's capture, several Filipinos already realized that violent uprisings against the Americans proved futile. According to Arcilla, in his book Recent Philippine History 1898-1960, "... Their love for their country was no less ardent than that of the men actually fighting and dying in the trenches, but patriotism had to be tempered with the harsh reality of superior American military strength. And because individually their capabilities and talents would not amount to much, they decided to form a political party to unify their efforts in order to serve their country better..." [22]

In 1916, the Filipinos, pursuant to the Jones Law, were given the assurance that self-rule and sovereignty was already on the horizon. The provision was, however, subject to conditions and one of which was that the Americans would "withdraw" as soon as a "stable" government was established in the Philippines. And in November 1918, Governor Harrison declared that the Philippines was already enjoying a stable government, thus implying that the country was ready for its long yearned-for independence. [23] Years later, independence was finally given. [24]

If the same objectives could be achieved by less violent and equally effective means than by bloody resistance, then putting the Aguinaldo "revolution" in the trash was not only an act of patriotism but also a humane act. [25] Hence, protecting lives and property and preventing death to millions of Filipinos were perhaps primordial duties of patriotic citizens, Macabebes included. Further, it would be anti-life if one says that independence of the country from alien invasion is more important than millions of lives. The preservation of human life could never be equated with aspirations to sovereignty, independence, or freedom.

3. Disloyalty to Aguinaldo was not disloyalty to the country; neither Aguinaldo nor his revolution was the country

True, the contributions of Aguinaldo to Philippine independence were undeniably overt. Saulo, a staunch supporter of the hero, enumerated with clarity, but not necessarily with historical correctness, some of these contributions. According to Saulo, Aguinaldo's achievements were: (1) Aguinaldo was the first to secure the national unity of the Filipinos; [26] (2) Aguinaldo was the first brown man to vanquish the best of the Spanish generals in fair combat; (3) Aguinaldo set an example of honesty, integrity, and incorruptibility in government service; etc. [27] Despite these notable achievements, it would be contrary to logic to infer that his stature and person correspondingly elevated the country.

Moreover, Aguinaldo might have been very successful in a number of his military and war exploits against both the Americans and Spaniards, but these would not suffice to say with confidence that he symbolized a national revolution. [28]

4. Aguinaldo's quick swearing of allegiance to Washington was an express affirmation of the Macabebes' justifiable act

In less than a month after his capture, Aguinaldo quickly pledged allegiance to the American government on April 1, 1901. [29] And later, in April 19, 1901, he propagated a manifesto which said, among other things, that bloodshed must finally stop. [30] No less than Aguinaldo himself convinced all revolutionaries to lay down their arms and end the resistance. He pointed out that peace was essential to the welfare of the country. [31] Hence, even Aguinaldo admitted that what Macabebes did in Palanan was for the country's welfare inasmuch as it was an instrument towards a lasting peace and an end to bloody resistance.

5. Macabebes were not traitors in the strictest sense of the term

Conveniently, I will reiterate here an argument posed by a Kapampangan scholar and writer named Robby Tantingco, in his article entitled "Dugong Aso No More," published in the Sun Star newspaper on May 22, 2007. [32] Tantingco states that the real traitors in the Palanan incident were not the Macabebes but Segovia, Placido and Segismundo.

"... (T)he real traitors in that sorry, sordid episode were not the Macabebes, who were merely foot soldiers, but the three key players: Spaniard Cecilio Lazaro Segovia, who had defected to Aguinaldo's camp and defected again to the American side; the Ilocano Cecilio Segismundo, Aguinaldo's emissary, who had revealed to the Americans Aguinaldo's hiding place; and most significantly, the Tagalog Hilario tal Placido, another defector from Aguinaldo's army, who led the entrapment of his former leader. It was the hapless Macabebes who later bore the full brunt of the nation's anger, but they were never defectors and definitely never traitors, because they had consistently been against Aguinaldo right from the beginning."

Rightly, a person can only be considered a traitor if: (1) He or she enjoys trust and confidence of his superior; and/or (2) Obligations and duties of loyalty and allegiance are either voluntarily assumed by him/her or arbitrarily imposed upon by his superiors/allies. The Macabebes maintained a distasteful relation with the Tagalog revolutionaries. [33] They were never allies. In fact, the Macabebes suffered so much in the hands of the Tagalog revolutionaries, especially by the group of General Luna then stationed in Calumpit, Bulacan. [34] The group suspected the Macabebes of having connived with the Spaniards leading to the defeats of Luna's major campaigns.

Clearly, Macabebes owed no allegiance to the Tagalog revolutionaries and to Aguinaldo. They could not, therefore, be considered traitors in the strictest sense of the term.

[1] Alfredo B. Saulo, The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes, Quezon City: Phoenix Publishing House, p. 195, 1987.
[2] U.S Senate Document 391, 1902, p.1926, as cited in Saulo’s The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes. [3] Cf. "Ethnicity and the Creation of National identity," published by the Office of Multicultural Student Services (OMSS) of the University of Hawaii, www.opmanong.ssc.hawaii.edu. Accessed on October 7, 2007.
[4] See John Schumacker, The Religious Character of the Revolution in Cavite, 1896-1897, in Philippine Studies 24 (1976): 399-416; Prof. Raul Roland Sebastian, in an interview with the author said, grounding his observation on the works of Reynaldo Ileto’s Pasyon at Rebolusyon published in 1975 as a PhD dissertation at Cornell University, that Schumacher’s assumptions are debatable. [5] Ibid. OMSS, University of Hawaii.
[6] Cf. Manuel L. Quezon, Messages of the President, vol.2, Part I, 26-27, cited in Eliadoro Robles, The Philippines in the Nineteenth Century, 288. Here, Pres. Manuel L. Quezon in a 1937 speech to the Filipino people said: "(W)e owe to Spain... the foundations of our national unity."
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Celedonio A. Ancheta, "One Hundred Revolts Against Spain," a paper read at the 5th Conference on Asian History by the International Association of Historians of Asia, 1971.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid. OMSS
[13] Ibid. OMSS
[14] Apolinario Mabini, Philippine Revolution (Eng. Trans). [15] Alfred McCoy, "The Colonial Origins of Philippine Military Traditions in The Philippine Revolution of 1896: Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times," edited by Florentino Rodao and Felice Noelle Rodriquez, 83-124: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2001.
[16] Jose S. Arcilla, Recent Philippine History 1898-1960, Manila: Ateneo De Manila University Press, p.78, 1990. According to Prof. Arcilla: "By the first half of 1901 (after Aguinaldo's capture), fighting between the Filipinos and the Americans was officially over. But there were still pockets of resistance in various points of the country..."
[17] See Arcilla, p 36. Here, Prof. Arcilla pointed out that fighting continued even after the call for peace by Aguinaldo, but by June 1901, it was clear that civil government could be established all over the country. Since, it was relatively peaceful, the American forces were reduced from 71,237 to 42,138 enlisted men.
[18] Pardo de Tavera justified their act of going over the side of the Americans by saying that caudillism was already rampant, and the Philippines would suffer the same fate of South America if it got its independence prematurely. He was actually referring to different military leaders, like Aguinaldo, who were trying to control the people the way a dictator runs a specific territory.
[19] Ibid. p 140.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Arcilla, pp. 38-39.
[23] Ibid. p.94.
[24] See Arcilla, pp. 95-110.
[25] Aguinaldo's call for peace, after barely a month from his capture was indeed patriotism. In fact, Lukban surrendered in February 1902; Noriel surrendered a month later; and then Malvar's group finally surrendered in April 16, 1902. See Arcilla, pp.78-79.
[26] This I vehemently refuse to believe.
[27] Saulo, p. 195-197.
[28] Ibid.
[29] Arcilla, p. 78.
[30] The manifesto was quoted and translated in Filipino in Teodoro Kalaw's "Ang Himagsikang Filipino" Trans. By Virgilio Almario. Quezon City: National Historical Institute, p.179, 1989.
[31] Ibid.
[32] This argument was set as background for his presentation of important contributions of Kapampangan figures in Philippine history and development. It, likewise, disproved the accuracy of the term "dugong aso" (an invention of Tagalogs).
[33] Gen. Jose M. Alejandrino, The Price of Freedom, Trans. by Atty. Jose M. Alejandrino, Manila: Solar Publishing Corporation, pp. 134-135,1949.
[34] Towns of Calumpit and Macabebe are adjacent to each other.

[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: 10:01 AM 10/29/07 | More of this author on eK!

Leo Lee (Philippines) writes...

Aldo maslag G. Reylan Bustos Viray!

Your article summarizes a clear justice to the misunderstood Macabebes. masanting la pu dng puntung mengabanggit na magpamalino karing nung nanu la tagana dng meging dake panyapat da ring Macabebe ketang panawun da ri Aguinaldo. makanyan muna man pung manyad kaming upaya na ipalwal miya naman sana ing makuyad a bersyun na niti ketang metung a magazin a regular a lulwal keti Lalawigan Kapampangan. Sana pu apaunlakan ye ing kekaming pakisabi.

Dakal pung salamat.

-Posted/Via Email: 2009-04-03 00:28:36 PDT

Toelitz Miranda (Philippines) writes...

I have been searching over the net some articles about Philippine history, the real deal! Well, I've seen a lot of the works you mentioned in your footnotes and studied it correctly. I don't really like Aguinaldo and his renowned men in office after what they did in their so-called election (the infamous pre-ballot signed, eventually won Aguinaldo as the next supremo.) However, the establishment of Katipunan led to a more collective consciousness of having a goverment free from Spanish sphere of influence. I think this is good, notably since that Philippines is an archipelago, adding to the fact that communication is somewhat very very slow that day. In an effort to unify all Filipinos must be a great deal! You're point has been laid, however, as I look at the matter in the eyes of a foreigner. Filipinos will take a thousand of years to learn and enjoy the benefits of unity. Men! you did struck the Cavitenos', Tagalogs' and some half-breed Spanish hard.

-Posted/Via Email: 2009-07-02 20:00:17 PDT

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