Leon Kilat and Cebu's Revolution (1st part)


  • Recruitment and Beginnings
  • Arrival from Manila
  • The First Martyrs
  • Amulets and Anting-anting
  • April 3, Palm Sunday
  • Massing of Forces
  • First Encounter

Recruitments and Beginnings

FRANCISCO Llamas. Nicolas Godines. Eugenio Gines. Luis Flores. Luis Abellar. Candido Padilla. Jacinto Pacaña. Andres Abellana. Lucio Herrera. Mariano Hernandez. Nicomedes Machacon. Alejo Miñoza. Ambrocio Peña. Hilario, Felix and Potenciano Aliño. Estanislao Larrua. Pascasio Dabasol. Wenceslao Capala. Daniel Cañedo. Silvestre and Simeon Cañedo. Regino, Nicanor and Jaime Enriquez. Pantaleon Villegas (aka Leon Kilat). Bonifacio Aranas. Juan Climaco. Justo Cabajar. Florencio Gonzales. Arcadio Maxilom.

Sound familiar? They should be. After all, many Cebuanos today bear the same family names, being their descendants. Streets are named after many of their ancestors. They - and several hundreds of others who participated in the Cebuanos' struggle against 400 years of Spanish colonial rule - are your local heroes.

A hundred years ago, they put their lives and limb at stake so that their children and great grandchildren could be free from tyranny. Many of them died to make freedom and independence a reality at a time when only fools dared to dream dreams.


The beginings of the revolutionary movement in Cebu is still not very clear. There are reports that Tagalog katipuneros had a strong influence in shaping the events leading to the uprising which finally drove out the Spaniards in December 1898.

Some local historians credit Anastacio Oclarino for the formation of the local chapter of the katipunan. He was from Sta. Cruz, Laguna and worked in the ships "Mariposa" and "Bohol". That was where Gil Domingo and Hermogenes Plata recruited him into the movement and later ordered him in the later part of 1897 to form a chapter in Cebu.

Domingo and Plata were identified with the faction of the Bonifacio brothers which opted to continue the revolution after Aguinaldo's compromise agreement at Biak-na-bato.

The order was given despite the truce between the Filipino revolutionaries under Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and the Spanish authorities. Those oppposed to Aguinaldo's compromise disseminated propaganda materials that urged Filipinos to continue the fight. Some of these materials were brought by Oclarino to Cebu in Jan. 1898. Oclarino was also helped by another Tagalog Gabino Gabucayan.

In Cebu, Florencio Gonzales met Oclarino who recruited him to the KKK. Gonzales was interested. Since he was going to Manila to settle a case being a procurador (a helper of a lawyer), he decided to meet Gil Domingo and Hermogenes Plata. The two appointed Gonzales to spearhead the katipunan in Cebu, with Oclarino as courier.

But in the accounts of Gregorio Abellana, a participant of the revolution, the first chapter of the katipunan was formed in Cebu even before Oclarino came. This was organized by natives of San Nicolas in June 19, 1897. Their leaders were Gavino Padilla, Teofisto Cavan and Frisco Abriyo.

The group sent a letter to Gen. Gil Domingo who replied that a man known in the locality to be an expert in firearms will be sent to Cebu. In the meantime, they started recruiting other members to the katipunan.

Like their counterparts in Luzon, the local katipunan chapter used the cell system of organization. Each head of the cell known as "cabecilla" would recruit their own members who would not know members of the other cells. By mid February 1898, the cabecillas recruited were: Mariano Hernandez, an operator of Smith Bell and Co., Luis Abellar, Nicomedes Machacon, Alejo Miñoza and Ambrocio Peña.

Mariano Hernandez was later appointed colonel by Domingo and Plata upon the recommendation of Oclarino.

Very soon, the katipunan was making inroads to Cebu's middle class. Francisco Llamas, Nicolas Godines, Eugenio Gines and Luis Flores were some of its early members.

Leading members of the San Nicolas community likewise began to feel the pulse of the revolution throbbing. Prominent among the early recruits were Luis Abellar, a former teniente; Candido Padilla, former capitan and currently juez de paz; ex-capitan Jacinto Pacaña; ex-capitan Andres Abellana; Lucio Herrera, a wealthy Chinese; and Spanish mestizo lawyer Isidro Guibelondo of Mabolo.

But the Cebu chapter seemed to lack a solid leadership. It had to have an outsider to provide the organization an adequate leadership.

Leon Kilat

The man who was expected by the locals was Pantaleon Villegas or more popularly known as "Leon Kilat."

Villegas was born on July 27, 1873, in Bacong, Negros Oriental, to Don Policarpio Villegas and Doña Ursula Soldi. His grandfather was Don Pedro Villegas, a native of Spain, and Dorotea, a daughter of a capitan of Bacong.

His trip to Cebu in 1897 was not his first because he was here two years earlier working in Botica Antigua . This was located in the corner of Calle del Palacio and Calle Legaspi (Burgos and Legaspi). It was a well known drug store frequented by many Cebuanos.

With him were Ciriaco Murillo and Eulogio Duque who told the writer Manuel Enriquez de la Calzada that Pantaleon actually used the name "Eulogio", instead of Pantaleon. Because there were two Eulogios working in the drugstore, the German owner had to call him instead "Leon". Why he used the name "Eulogio" was not known.

Villegas did not stay long there. He transferred to a bakery in Pahina. From there he moved on to a circus owned by Tagalogs on their way to Manila. The circus happened to be owned by a katipunero. It was there that he was recruited into the secret council of the KKK which also taught the occult sciences, magic, and other esoteric practices.

It was possible that he was also brought to Cavite, Malabon, Calamba, Pasig and Malolos which were centers of the revolutionary movement in Luzon. He was known for his bravery and daring, his firm defense of his comrades and his stand on issues.

He was likewise known to follow orders and suggestions of superiors in the movement. Comrades in Luzon were always surprised at his courage to be ahead of the group whenever there was an encounter. In San Roque, Cavite. In Binondo. In Malolos. Very few demonstrated such courage, they noted.

All these were related by Eulogio Duque. It was in his house in front of the Roas in General Serrano street (later called Martires, now M.J. Cuenco Ave.) where Villegas lived when he arrived from Manila. From here he carried his mission in Cebu for the katipunan.

The Spanish authorities later visited Duque in that house to arrest him, suspecting that he was Pantaleon Villegas. But he told them that his name was Teodorico - thus, the nickname "Dikoy" - and his family name was Duque, not Villegas. Fortunately, the botica owner vouched for him. Thus, he lived to tell his story.

Although Plata and Domingo had already an appointment for Gonzales to lead the revolt in Cebu, that order must have been supplanted by a new one. When Villegas arrived here, he was able to show a letter from the katipunan leaders endorsing his appointment.

Gavino Gabucayan was supposed to have been sent here, but the Visayans in Luzon would not permit him to go because he was also needed there. He was credible and had leadership capabilities. They were in a quandary. But after learning that Villegas was from the Visayas, they lost no time in sending him to Cebu. That had to be done in utmost secrecy because by now the Spaniards had become extremely suspicious of persons coming from Manila.

Arrival from Manila

Before Leon Kilat's arrival in Cebu, the Cebuanos were already organized under the following structure: Candido Padilla, chief; Teofisto Cavan, secretary; Alejandro Climaco, treasurer; and Atilano Lopez, Frisco Abriyo, Luis Flores, Eugenio Gines, Florencio Gonzales, Lucio Herrera, Jacinto Pacaña, Francisco Llamas, Arsenio Cabreros, Justo Cabajar and P. Toribio Padilla as members.

They would often meet in secret places, sometimes in the house of Cabeza Llamas or the Chinese Lucio Herrera. Or at Jacinto Pacaña's place or at the house of Capitan Candido Padilla. Andres Abellana would relate that the house of Paulino Solon in Sambag (where the Don Vicente Sotto Memorial Hospital is now located) was used often because it was secluded and had plenty of trees. Solon (also known as Paulino Bungi) had a huge front yard where a tamarind tree stood and benches made of wood or split bamboo.

No exact date is given when Leon Kilat arrived for his final mission in Cebu. Some sources say he arrived in Mid-February or late March of 1898. But according to Andres Abellana in 1928, Kilat visited him sometime in December 1897. Afterwards, he was introduced to other cabecillas and leaders of the local chapter.

But before him, Kilat had already met Mariano Hernandez, one the organizers of the katipunan. Kilat had hesitations about Abellana being a former capitan who might report him to the authorities. Abellana in turn had his own apprehensions about Kilat whom he suspected of being a spy who was just fishing for information.

Thus, Abellana told him he did not want the Spanish regime to fall. Still Abellana would introduce him to other ring leaders like Candido Padilla and Florencio Gonzales who, like Abellana, refused to trust him.

"Nagkinidhatay lang ug mibalidad," recalled Abellana.

Finally, they brought him to Mariano Hernandez who showed them Aguinaldo's letter introducing Leon Kilat. The letter erased all their doubts, and they were happy that the man they had waited for was here at last.

In the meantime, the propaganda materials prepared and compiled by Domingo and Plata reached Cebu through Anastacio Oclarino and Gavino Gabucayan in January 1898. The latter had instructions to organize the katipunan in the Visayas and Mindanao and prepare the plan of establishing a dictatorial government. But this would not materialize due to the arrest and execution of Cavan and Gonzales.

In the instruction of Plata and Domingo, the persons appointed to lead this government were: Florencio Gonzales, as general in chief; Luis Flores, general for war plans; Jacinto Pacaña, supplier of weapons; Lucio Herrera, treasurer of war; Solomon Manalili, auditor; Candido Padilla, captain of the army; Fortunato Gonzales, lt. col. of the army and Bonifacio Arenas, division colonel. Mariano Hernandez was the supreme military authority who appointed the members of the macheteros (bolomen) against the cazadores, the bodyguards of Gen. Montero.

Aguinaldo's letter must have superceded the order of Domingo and Plata because it was Leon Kilat who had now assumed the leadership of the katipunan. He met with Luis Flores, Florencio Gonzales, Alejandro Antequia and Crisologo Franco Bermejo in whose presence he organized barangay no. 1 with Flores as chieftain in Sawang, Cebu City.

In the town of San Nicolas, he made contact with Teopisto Cavan in his house, then requested him to fetch Gregorio Padilla. In a meeting with the latter, Leon Kilat asked the latter not to divulge the plan of the revolt if he valued his own life. Then he organized barangay no. 2 with Padilla as chief of San Nicolas.

Leon himself assumed command of the katipunan army in the same locality, ordering every person to produce bladed weapons following certain measurements and telling each one to remember him only as Leon Kilat.

The katipunan was growing fast. While Leon Kilat was in Cebu, many young men were drawn to the organization. In the workplaces where abaca was being processed and in commericial houses, very few were not members of the katipunan. The young men of San Nicolas and the city Cebu were one in their aspirations for the motherland. In practically all places, there were groups headed by their own jefes, ready to fight.

Then an important meeting took place on March 11, 1898 at the sugar cane field of Jacinto Pacaña where it was decided to start the revolt on April 8 (Good Friday).The suggestion was brought up by Catalino Fernandez who argued that the all the Spaniards would be joining the procession on Good Friday and their guns would be facing down and without cartridges. They could take all the leaders in one blow with the least resistance.

Present in that meeting were the leaders of the katipunan in Cebu: Leon Kilat, Candido Padilla, Luis Flores, Eugenio Gines, Florencio Cavan, Jacinto Pacaña, Atilano Lopez, Francisco Llamas, Alejandro Climaco, Justo Cabajar, Alejo Miñoza, Hipolito Labra, Placido Datan, Alipio Barrera, Alejandro Villona, Nicanor Avila and others. They resolved to keep their agreements in secret that not even their wives, parents or brothers and sisters would be told about their fateful decisions that day.

They also conspired with the members of the voluntarios leales (royal volunteers) that in case of a shooting match with katipuneros, they would fire over their heads. Or they would aim their guns at the Spaniards should the latter refuse to surrender. Everybody in the meeting agreed.

That same March 11 meeting decided to send three leaders to Manila for military training. Francisco Llamas was told to leave immediately, bringing money and bladed weapons with him. Nicolas Godines and Eugenio Gines would follow later. This they did to avoid detection by Spanish authorities who were getting more and more suspicious of people going on boat trips to Manila.

But these activities could not go on without being detected by the Spanish authorities. By the middle of March 1898, they began to notice certain conditions in the city and San Nicolas. Rumors floated about the existence of a secret society. Many of the katipuneros, especially those who frequented Manila, were placed under surveillance.

The First Martyrs

A social upheaval, like that which happened in Cebu in 1898, always has its share of casualties. As so often in the past, the first casualties were those who had minimal involvement in the planning and execution of the events fast shaping up.

The Spaniards were looking for something to start with - the names of persons involved. To verify their suspicions, two guardia civil fetched teniente Januario Gabrillo of Basak, San Nicolas from his house to find out who went to Opon for the mass at the church of Virgin sa Regla. It was reported that the ones involved in the katipunan prayed at the church prior to launching their revolt. The Spaniards felt uneasy about it.

So Gabrillo was brought to the tribunal of San Nicolas and subjected to interrogation. This tribunal was made of five persons who looked threatening enough with their looks, their voices and their eyes. Gervasio Padilla interceded for his release for not having done anything wrong, to no avail. The arresting officers simply refused, saying they were under the orders of Captain Revilla, chief of the local volunteers of Cebu.

During this time, the members of the voluntarios locales were: Florentino Rallos, Francisco del Mar, Francisco Sales, Arsenio Climaco, Manuel Roa, Jose Ocampo, Juan Borres, Esteban Manuel, Angel Iriarte, and very few Cebuanos. It was Remigio Gutierres, registrar of Cebu, who made efforts to set it up, bringing with him Fidel Moa, Pedro Royo, a certain Cuito, Eduardo Lopez and others.

Complete with firearms, each one had a Remington, were trained and also training others. They were fulltime in their job, made to believe that they would be fighting the North Americans, but they would be used against their fellowmen instead. Many of them joined the revolutionaries when the Spaniards left to fight against the Americans.

In behalf of the chief of the guardia civil district, Gabrillo was brought to Fort San Pedro where Captain Revilla was waiting. Again, Gabrillo was interrogated by Revilla through an interpreter, asked about his name, age, civil status and profession as well as the names of his companions who went to Opon for the mass at the Virgen sa Regla church. He was promised freedom if he revealed their names.

The ruse worked. Gabrillo revealed 15 names. Among the prominent ones mentioned were Teopisto Cavan, Presco Abreu (Frisco Abriyo in some accounts), Florencio Gonzales, Gregorio Abellana, Gavino Padilla and Andres Abellana.

But instead of being released, he was tortured some more until he died. He was buried on the right side of the fort. The incident happened on March 21, 1898, a Palm Sunday.

According to local historian Manuel Enriquez de la Calzada, many bad things happened on a Palm Sunday in the storied past of San Nicolas. It was a Palm Sunday in March 21, 1521 when 800 natives were baptized in Sugbu (the old name of San Nicolas).

On April 3, 1898, a Palm Sunday, the bell in San Nicolas was raised up, the same day that Sanicolasnons took up arms against their colonizers. (On another Palm Sunday, March 26, 1945, American planes bombed the church and destroyed it. Was Palm Sunday a jinx in the history of San Nicolasñ)

On the early morning of March 22, the list was secretely delivered to the Tribunal of San Nicolas by a certain Sargeant Mastache and two soldiers. An order was issued to arrest all suspected members of the katipunan, prompting all katipuneros to go into hiding.

But unfortunately, not all were informed. Among those caught unaware was Pinsoy (Florencio) Gonzales. He was also tortured and made to reveal the names of the other katipuneros. However, Gonzales kept his mouth shut.

His arrest was made possible through a woman informer of Labangon who told authorities about their presence in the area. Then Candido Padilla, Julio Llorente and the Regis brothers were also nabbed while asleep.

A few days later, Pisto (Teopisto) Cavan followed Gonzales to the fort. Upon his arrest, he was politely told that they were investigating something and needed to ask some questions. His family was even assured that he would return soon. A few days later, his parents went to the authorities, only to be told that Pistoy would go home in due time. But he never did.

Gonzales and Cavan were imprisoned inside the fort which was hot during daytime and made to sleep on stone floor which had the suffocating smell of urine. The food given was often stale, and they could not sleep. Interrogation came at the most unexpected hours. They were often breathless because of the rapidity with which questions were asked. They were boxed, kicked and slapped during these sessions.

When the tribunal was finished with them, it sent a summary of their "crimes" to General Montero who never knew what transpired. As usual, Montero would issue a sentencia de muerte (death sentence). This order could not be revoked, rescinded or opposed. Montero's decisions were always absolute.

So Gonzales and Cavan followed the fate of Gabrillo, becoming the first martyrs of the revolution in Cebu.

The wealthy Chinese Lucio Herrera was also summoned to see General Montero at his office. He was questioned about his relationship with Francisco Llamas, his brother-in-law. The latter replied that he knew nothing about Llamas' activities. Despite several slaps and kicks from the governor, the latter was still allowed to go home because of his strong connections with his countrymen and the influential Chinese community.

In the meantime, some leading members of the katipunan managed to escape the dragnet of the guardia civil. Gregorio Abellana left his house at Mindanao St. (now B. Aranas), luckily, just a few minutes before the arrival of the soldiers.

Then he met Crispin Echevarre, servant of Gervasio Padilla, who accompanied him to the latter's house. Padilla advised Abellana to leave immediately for Kabkab (Carcar)and stay there until April 7 (Holy Thursday), the eve of the revolt. So Abellana, accompanied by Severo "Iray" Padilla, left for Kabkab on horseback. They stayed with the Enriquez family of Miguel, Apolinaria and their sons Regino, Nicanor and Jaime who all became members of the Katipunan.

Unknown to them, their companions met on Friday (March 25 or April 1) to thresh out their plan of preparing a revolt against the Spanish government. They finalized the April 8 revolt, and agreed to place the quarters of the Carbineros, infantry and the guardia civil under watch with 50 men each. The signal for their attack would be the sky rocket to be launched by Jorge Nombrado.

At this time, the schedule for their uprising was still on Good Friday, April 8, 1898.

Amulets and Anting-anting

Amulets are part of the Filipino's arsenal of defenses against unknown forces in a world he knows very little about and which he is afraid of. In the Cebuanos' struggle against the Spanish tyranny, the odds were stacked against the local katipunan forces. They barely had time to organize themselves before they were discovered and some top leaders were arrested. They were ill-equipped to fight against a better-organized, better-armed and better-fed Spanish troops.

Rather than plunge into suicidal attacks against their enemies, it became necessary for the local revolutionaries to have a psychological prop to strengthen their resolve to fight. With Leon Kilat who had shown an extraordinary prowess, their handicap was solved.

Relatives in Bacong, Negros Oriental would testify that Leon Kilat had the uncanny ability to appear in places from seemingly out of nowhere and disappear, using his handkerchief like a magic carpet. Thus the name "Kilat" (lightning).

"Si Leon Kilat dunay hiyas nga nabantug ug gikaintapan sa mga kaaway (Leon Kilat had this quality which was reknowned and feared by his enemies)," recalled Andres Abellana 30 years after the revolution.

"Ako, nakakita gayud. Moasdang siya sa mga kaaway bisan naghadyong ang mga bala. Makuli nga maigo ug kon maigo man gani, maorag dili siya dutlan kay mamapha lang ug dili maunsa," added Abellana.

(I really saw it myself. He would advance towards his enemies even with bullets buzzing around him. It would be difficult to hit him. Or, even if he is hit, he simply dusts himself and he is not even hurt.)

But unlike others who are said to possess amulets, Leon willingly shared his ability with fellow katipuneros to shield them in battle. Whether or not these were actually effective did not seem to matter then. The katipuneros apparently believed they became invulnerable to bullets like their leader, and that kind of belief was important if they were to win their battles against the superior weapons of the Spanish guardia civil, cazadores and voluntarios locales.

First was the vistidora, a chasuble-like cloth worn over one's clothes. Printed on it were synbolic words and religious pictures and corrupted Latin and Spanish words and phrases.

The frontal part had God the Father's image at the upper portion, accompanied by images of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, heads of the Three Persons, the heads of the 12 Apostles, angels, archangels and seraphims carrying swords and chalices.

Corrupted Latin and Spanish words - like Cruz passion y muerte cruz de Cristo salva mi tress Ave Maria, Adit Dium Empacturom en visto virgo Jesus Jesus - completed the chasuble's front.

The back part of the clothing also bore the image of God the Father at the uppermost portion, with the images of St. James the Apostle and St. Michael, both riding horses and carrying swords, occupying the lower part. While at the center lowermost portion was the palm of the right hand which had the usual Latin and Spanish inscriptions.

Another amulet was a triangle-shaped clothing inscribed with several words and numbers and divided into nine smaller triangles. "Gibison Gaodio magnobaldi contra bala epica egosom pactom Dominom Diom Pactom Jesom Pleom Tom Jesus" were some of the words found in that piece of clothing. This was wound around the katipunero's head to shield him from head injuries.

A substitute was a small triangular piece of cloth or paper on which the magical words have been written. This was attached to the brim of the hat.

A third clothing, about two fingerbreadths in width, had the image of an angel carrying a kris, with the following Spanish words: "Salvate Deus, Los que defienden de la patria como nuestro defensa en la patria celestial contra los demonios."

The local katipuneros were also made to place inside their mouths a round piece of paper about the size of one peso, with the following words inscribed in the center: Hiesus lamuroc milano. Around the paper were written: "Panes teurom nam butrates luz itirre quetram bobis viva buturiam." At the other side of that paper was written the letters K.K.K. It was called hostia redentora and believed to be powerful in preventing feelings of hunger or thirst during a long fight or long journey.

Entrusted with the task of writing the magical formulae, after receiving special instructions from Leon Kilat, was the young katipunero from San Nicolas, Francisco Ma. Labrador. To hasten this task, he used a wooden stamp marker.

Others who helped him with this task were Elpidio Rama, Anastacio Rama and Simplicio Alaura. Rama was entrusted by Kilat with the task of giving out the correct measure and appearance of the vistidora.

All those who were given these objects were repeatedly warned not to carry money or other metal objects, aside from their weapons, and not to allow themselves to be touched by women, else the effectivity of the anting-anting would be jeopardized.

April 3, Palm Sunday

The untimely arrest and execution of Gonzales and Cavan on April 2 changed a lot of things for the katipuneros of Cebu. Both were deeply involved in the revolutionary movement and knew a lot about its leaders. It was only a matter of time before all of them would be caught and executed.

So an important meeting took place to change the original plan to start the uprising on April 8, Good Friday. Among those who attended this meeting were Leon Kilat, Eugenio Gines, Arsenio Cabreros, Mariano Hernandez, Francisco Labrador, Justo Cabajar, Catalino Fernandez, Rufo Abella, Francisco Llamas, the Pacaña family, the Abellanas of Dulho, Atilano Lopez, Benito Aves and many others. This meeting was said to have taken place in the house of Isidro Guibelondo at Carreta (possibly near the present Roman Catholic cemetery along Gen. Maxilom Ave.)

In this meeting, one leader forewarned about the danger of being arrested because the list of the revolutionaries was in the hands of Canvan and Gonzales, and this might be discovered by the Spaniards. Thus, it was impossible to wait for Good Friday.

Change of plans

Gregorio Padilla suggested the change of date to Arpil 3 in order to rescue Gonzales and Cavan alive from prison. Fernandez and others objected for reasons not explained. But Kilat approved of the proposed date. Luis Flores, chief of Barangay 1, had to be informed only because he was not present.

With the revolt being on the next day, Leon ordered the making of all the needed weapons. The man incharge of preparing the exact measurements of the dagger was Crispin Echevarre. In charge of printing the words of the anting-anting with the use of a wooden marker was Francisco Labrador, while Anastacio Rama was assigned to take charge of the measurements and shape of the chasuble that bore the magical Latin and Spanish words.

These were supposed to protect them against the bullets of the Spanish forces. Everyone present was told to inform others about the change of plans.

Talisay ambush

Unknown to the Cebuano katipuneros, the group in Talisay could no longer wait for the uprising to begin. This was composed of the Aliño brothers (Potenciano, Florencio, Felix and Januario), Pascasio Dabasol, Silvestre Cañedo, Simeon Cañedo and Wenceslao Capala. They were surprised when someone informed them to get ready. So they waited at the junction of Tabunok until 12:00 noon.

In Talisay at that time, six guardia civil were assigned, headed by a Spaniard named Sgt. Moscoso, with another Spaniard Engeniero Baldomero and four other natives. That evening of April 2, at around 9:00, three of them were patrolling the area when suddenly they were ambushed by katipuneros coming from Tabunok in barrio San Isidro and their arms were confiscated. These the katipuneros used to kill the two Spaniards who were resting at their headquarters.

In the meantime, at San Nicolas at 2:00 early morning of April 3, the guardia civil raided the house of Presco Abreu at El Pardo St. (now C. Padilla) corner Aragon st. (now Figueroa). Presco was a neighbor of Teopisto Cavan. He was taken by the guardia civil hogtied.

When discovered by the katipuneros, a member immediately went to Candido Padilla but he was no longer at his house having gone early to the cockpit. It was Gregorio Padilla who took the responsibility of informing his comrades in the katipunan about Abreu's arrest.

That very same day, the town officials woke up all the men in the locality to let them attend the first mass and ask their help in raising up the new church bell in place of the broken one in the belfry. But the authorities had other reasons. They wanted to check on all the men in the area.

Earlier, General Montero was informed by Father Tomas Gimenez about the surprise attack of the katipuneros through a confession of a certain Potenciana from Pardo. Thus, he instructed his cazadores, guardia civil, voluntarios locales and carraveneros to watch the men of San Nicolas grouping themselves together without the presence of soldiers and shoot them if necessary. He had now assumed command of the Spanish forces, not trusting his men completely.

At the San Nicolas church that morning, people came in their Sunday best. After all, it was palm Sunday. The officials (capitanes, pesados, tinientes and subalternos) were dressed in black "americana abierta con chalico y corbata", "adolfo" hat and "sapatos con charol". While others of lower social classes "igo lang sa sinina nga dublawo, camisa de chino, karsones nga puti."

After the mass, the Sanicolasnons converged around the new church bell which was to be raised to the belfry that morning. The palms were blessed, while the band played "Marcha de Cadiz". The sponsor of the bell at that time was Ceferina Llamas, who was then a young woman. While outwardly, things seemed normal, those who knew kept their own thoughts to themselves. The arrest of Abreu earlier that morning was already being whispered about.

At 9:00 o'clock that morning, as Luis Flores, Leon Kilat and Eugenio Gines were about to finish their breakfast, they were startled when Gregorio Padilla on horseback suddenly stopping at the doorstep of the house they slept in at Carreta. The night before, the three leaders had transferred there (probably in the house of Isidro Guibelondo, a Spanish mestizo lawyer who helped the katipunan) because the guardia civil were looking all over Cebu for them. Now Padilla arrived, breathless. They invited him inside and told him to sit down. Then Padilla gave his account of Abreu's arrest, which saddened the three.

Leon was the first to speak up: "Kon mao kini, kitang tanan mahanaw. Kinsa pa ma'y mopatuman sa atong mga planoñ" (If that is the case, all of us will perish. Who is going to implement our plansñ)

Flores took it hard upon himself, while Gines was speechless. A lot of questions came to their minds. Who will advance in battle when nobody knewñ Who will come in so short noticeñ Who is going to follow if the agreed time has not arrived yetñ Who will fight unpreparedñ

Leon who was firm in his resolve said: "Tana, moalsa kita karong adlawa. Kadtong saad ayaw na'g hulata, dili ta kini palabyong adlawa. Kay usa ka gutlo nga paglangan, libo ka dupa ang kadaugan sa atbang." (Come, let us start the uprising today. Let's not wait for the promised help, we will not let this day pass. A moment wasted means a thousand steps victory for the enemy.)

He ordered Luis Flores to prepare his forces in the city. Eugenio Godines was to go to Tinago, call a meeting and get inside the prison to free the prisoners. They would meet at the intusan (sugar mill) of Paulino Solon at Sambag in the afternoon to consolidate their forces. Leon Kilat himself would take charge of San Nicolas. The uprising would begin before 3:00 in the afternoon.

Massing of Forces

Three o'clock in the afternoon of April 3, 1898 was an exciting moment in Cebu's history. Whatever would be the outcome of that would decide the fate of Cebuanos in the next century.

But there were other events outside Cebu that were beyond the control of the protagonists here. Spain had entered into another war with the United States, and this was sapping her energies and resources. Unknown to the katipuneros in Cebu, the ships of the American Admiral Dewey were now patrolling Manila bay, threatening Spain's once-invincible armada.

Still that did not deter the Spaniards here from holding on to their colony. This they did with a fierceness of a cornered dog, ready to bite back when provoked.

But it was a different story for the civilian Spaniards, the aliens, the pro-Spanish Cebuanos and the non-aligned ones. They began to leave their homes, carrying their belongings with them to Fort San Pedro, the only place safe enough for them.

Others went to the government house near the fort, the bishop's palace, the seminario de San Carlos, the Colegio de la Immaculada Concepcion (at its old site near the cathedral) and the offices of foreign business firms.

At the fort, Gen.Adolfo Montero tried to calm down the evacuees, telling them that the insurrectos would soon be crushed with the might of the Spanish arms. It would be foolish for the 'indios' to fight, he said confidently.

The turmoil among the Spaniards did not pass unnoticed. On their part, the katipuneros started to mobilize their own forces. According to one source, after the group decided on the 3:00 o'clock uprising, Leon Kilat rode a flecha (a horse-driven cart) owned by Simplicio "Titoy" Salcedo around San Nicolas, informing katipuneros of their final decision.

He rode towards Labangon, shouting the first names of katipuneros in the street and announcing that they should proceed to a place near the San Nicolas cemetery along Guadalupe river. From Labangon, he proceeded to Carlock, pasing through Paseo de Labangon (now Tres de Abril) until Tisa, turning at Punta Princesa, then to Basak and back to the house of Paulina Padilla (Ulinday), sister of Fr. Toribio Padilla, where he ate his lunch. It was one of the houses where Leon Kilat lived.

In response, the men who were called to the uprising immediately put on their clothes, without telling their wives, families, parents, not knowing where the movement was taking them.

At Paulina's house, Leon Kilat urged the women gathered to go inside and pray the rosary, leading the prayer himself. He finished it until the Litany. After the prayer, the women could not control themselves and started to wail (nagdanguynguy), while one of them fainted. Kilat had to tell them to shut up, chiding them and saying their actuations would only cause their defeat.

At that moment, a group of guardia civil passed by the house. Afraid that the troops would hear the women crying, he threatened to lunge at the enemy from the window if they did not stop wailing. They stopped when he made motions to open the windows.

Apparently, the loyalist soldiers were on their way to Talisay to reinforce the guardia civiles who were ambushed the night before. The other katipuneros with Kilat were Andres Abellana, Leon Cabase, Floro Echevarre and others. The men wanted to attack the troops but Kilat prevailed upon them and told them to wait for a more opportune moment. The two groups, Barangays 1 and 2, still had to meet at the designated place near the Guadalupe river.

Other katipuneros soon joined Kilat on the way to their assembly point: the Padillas (Gavino, Especioso,and Gregorio), Estanislao Sarion, Doroteo Bacayo, Gregorio Abellana, Leon Cabase, Agustin Ylaya, Pascual Ybuna, the Cabarrubias (Catalino and Miguel), the Calinawans (Brigido and Severo), Lucas Abellana, and others.

At corner of Rosalia (now Carlock) and Mindanao (now B. Aranas) streets, the group was joined by Isabelo Zabate, Julian and Teodoro Villona, Eulogio and Eleuterio Abellana, Anacleto and Francisco Cavan, and some others. The group was swelling.

In the meantime, Barangay 1 under Luis Flores passed by Catalona St. towards Guadalupe road (now V. Rama ave.) until both Barangays would finally meet under the mango trees near the San Nicolas cemetery in Calamba.

At this point, the two group leaders agreed on their respective plans of action against the Spaniards. Final instructions were given. Barangay 1 under Flores was to assault San Pedro and to free all its prisoners, while Barangay 2 would attack the Spanish troops in city and San Nicolas. Eugenio Gines would gather Katipuneros from the northern parts of the city and join the bigger group.

Another group lead by Machacon was also gathered at Paulino Solon's intusan (sugar mill) in Sambag (near the present Urgello). They had no guns, but had bolos, spears and knives. They were in high spirits, confident that the habak and anting-anting given by Leon Kilat would protect them from the Spanish guns. They crossed the Guadalupe river and started marching eastward towards San Nicolas poblacion, following the present V. Rama Ave. They would also join the bigger group massed at the cemetery. Their number had now swelled to an estimated 2,500.

In the meantime, the parish priest of San Nicolas, Fray Pedro Medina, informed Gen. Montero that the residents of San Nicolas were moving towards Guadalupe. Then more detailed reports came from Santiago Ferraris and Luciano Bacayo, both from San Nicolas. They confirmed that a big gathering of San Nicolas residents were in the cemetery in Calamba. Apparently, the two were also recruited into the katipunan but for reasons of their own betrayed it. Montero was mad and threatened the two with death if a revolt erupted in area.

Gen. Montero lost no time and ordered Capt. Joaquin Monfort and Capt. Ciriaco Gutierrez to lead a mixed company of soldiers - guardia civiles, carabineros, cuadrilleros, violuntarios and vigilantes of the ayuntamiento. To assist the captain were Sgt. Cueto, Sgt. Pedro Pedro Royo and Cpl. Fidel Moas.

Among the Cebuano violunteers were Jose Atillano, Eduardo Lopez, Manuel Maldonado, Arsenio Climaco, Apolinar Kabilbil. Godofredo Lago, Simeon Padriga, Pedro Sanson, Juan Borres, Raymundo Enriquez (father of Manuel Enriquez de la Calzada). They were instructed by Montero to proceed to the area and find out what the people were gathering for.

First Encounter

The katipuneros were ready to fight their battle of a lifetime. It was as if their anger, repressed in three centuries of docility and subservience, was now bursting from its shell.

Loyalist troops upon orders of Gen. Montero arrived at bridge of the southern end of Colon (Puente de la Revoluccion), then divided itself into two groups. The first group led by Capt. Monfort and Sgt. Cueto followed Tres de Abril St. (then called General Weyler St.), while the second group under Capt. Gutierrez and Sgt. Pedro Royo followed El Pardo (now C. Padilla) for a short distance, then turned right following V. Rama Ave., going towards the cemetery in Calamba.

The two columns of loyalist troops converged at the crossing of Tres de Abril and V. Rama Ave., then stopped to ascertain the whereabouts of a crowd reported to have gathered near the Calamba cemetery.

The guardia civiles assigned for patrol duty in Basak and Labangon encountered Gines' men on the road leading to Mambaling near Candido Rama's residence. Another group bound for Talisay also failed to reach their destination for the same reason.

Meanwhile, Leon Kilat was informed that soldiers had arrived near Pahina bridge. He met Justo Kabajar and his men at the northwestern end of the JM Basa st. which intersects V. Rama Ave., hiding behind trees and other structures. They were preparing to ambush the approaching loyalist soldiers marching westwards along Guadalupe road (now V. Rama Ave.). Kabajar did not know that another column of soldiers was at that time also marching along Tres de Abril St.

Kilat ordered Kabajar not to attack prematurely, and instead wait for other katipuneros coming from the cemetery. He also instructed the latter to surround soldiers when attacking.

Knowing the movement of the enemy, Leon Kilat went in haste towards the main body of the katipuneros, avoiding Guadalupe road as he moved towards the Calamba cemetery where the huge group of katipuneros was concentrated. He did not have to walk far when he met them. Immediately, he assumed command, leading them to the location of the enemy troops.

At intersection of V. Rama and Tres de Abril st. where the enemy troops had stopped, Kilat deployed his men. The left wing of katipuneros was placed under Eugenio Gines and Francisco Llamas, to be assisted by Arsenio Cabreros, Rufo Abella, Pio Lopez and Dionisio Abellar. The center column, commanded by Kilat himself and assisted by Alejo Miñoza, took position at the intersection itself.

The majority of the katipuneros were massed here, using as cover the stone corner of the house of Nicolas ("Lasay") and Antonio Lopez. The distance between the katipuneros and the loyalist troops were now only 15 meters.

Loyalist soldiers saw them, noting their lack of arms. Sgt. Pedro Royo shouted: "You stupid people. What do you wantñ Return to your homes. Go away before you are hit by the bullets and killed."

The katipuneros answered back, taunting them with their own challenges. Evidently, they were not afraid of the Spaniards' rifles. So the loyalist troops started firing. At the same time, Kilat told his men to lie flat on the ground, knowing that the rifles of the enemy would be good for only five shots. After that, they have to load their rifles again. Those brief seconds would give them enough time to rise up and swing their bladed weapons.

After five shots from the Spanish rifles, Kilat personally led his men to a hand-to-hand skirmish, resulting in the beheading of Lt. Cueto by his kris. Another Cazador, trying to run away, also met his death after his shoulder was sliced from his body by Kilat.

Spaniards retreat

Colon St. during Spanish timesIn due time, the soldiers realized that they were no match for the bolos of the katipuneros. The retreated towards the Puente de la Revolucion (Colon bridge) with the katipuneros close in pursuit. The loyalists' second column shooting effectively managed to protect the retreating soldiers. Then both Spanish columns retreated beyond the bridge, taking up another position with their rifles.

While this battle was going on, Baragay 1 under Luis Flores heard the gunshots and this led to join him with Barangay 2, thus failing to reach his objective which was the fort. It would have been possible for him to take the fort easily as it was defended by very few soldiers.

From the scene of battle, Leon recovered one Remington rifle with several rounds of ammunition; Abellana got one Mauser; and others firearms of different calibers from dead Spaniards, or a total of 15 rifles and several hundred rounds of ammunitions.

Seeing the number of dead companions, the voluntarios locales at the San Nicolas Tribunal retreated towards the direction of Calamba st. leading to Ermita but were pursued by a group of rebels led by Justo Cabajar, Miñoza, Gines, Rufo Abella and others. Near this place, Cabajar shot one of them with a rifle earlier confiscated, forcing others to escape towards the city. Kabajar's group brought along five newly captured rifles.

Afterwards the voluntarios beat a hasty retreat towards Puente Forbes (at the southern end of Magallanes st.), just within sight of Recoleto barracks where they could hide in case the fighting got worse.

Another group of cazadores on their way to reinforce the guardia civiles in Talisay was surprised by rebels at Dulho. At Basak the group led by Arsenio Cabreros chased one group of guardia civil on its way to Labangon.

At the Puente de la Revolucion (Colon bridge), the confrontation and exchange of fire between the two groups continued for some minutes. But the Spaniards, sensing that they would be overpowered, withdrew to Fort San Pedro to make their last stand against the victorious katipuneros.

They brought their dead and wounded companions to the infirmary of the Colegio de San Carlos (now the University of San Carlos) on Martires st. (now Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco Ave.) where all the wounded, numbering about 30, died within a week of confinement and treatment.

On the side of the katipuneros, Doyong Flores, Atilano Lopez, Gregorio Salazar from Sangi, San Fernando, died on the spot. Titoy Saceda died later from wounds suffered in the battle. Eight KKKs were wounded including Eugenio Gines who was hit with a bullet from a Mauser, and Martin Cabreros who was hit by the same caliber with two bullets near his heart.

See also