Leon Kilat and Cebu's Revolution (2nd part)


  • Revolutionaries Gain Ground
  • The Retreat Begins
  • Betrayal and Death
  • Regrouping in the Mountains
  • Final Victory

Revolutionaries Gain Ground

The Spaniards were finally on the run. The troops of Gen. Montero were fleeing for their lives to Fort San Pedro before the sharp bolos of the katipuneros under the leadership of Leon Kilat. With the newly seized rifles from the fleeing Spaniards, they gained new weapons and renewed confidence to win the war.

By 5:00 in the afternoon of April 3, 1898, Capt. Monfort who held his ground near the Puente de la Revolucion (Colon bridge) had no choice but to order his men to the fort. Just to show that they were not yet beaten, loyalist soldiers shouted while on their way:"Viva España!" Not to be outdone, the katipuneros shouted back:"Viva katipunan! Viva Filipinas!"

At the fort, Montero was mad. He ordered all government military personnel to leave their stations outside to come to the fort. Only those areas which had munitions and food, like the San Agustin church and the cathedral, were not deserted totally.

Many Spaniards who did not heed Montero's order were executed by the katipuneros. One was a Spaniard Enrique Carratala from Dulho, San Nicolas. A group caught up with him, then killed him.

Outside the fort, the katipuneros had a heyday. On the suggestion of Severo Padilla, telegraph lines were cut. These were the city's connection to Balamban, then across the sea to Escalante in Negros Oriental. From escalante, the lines continued to Iloilo and to Manila. Reinforcements could come from these two places with the lines open.

Katipuneros led by Llamas, Abellar and Hernandez freed all prisoners at the carcel without any objection from the chief warden Telesforo Salguero, who was himself a katipunero. Then they proceeded to Carreta where the Hospital de Lazarinos was located and freed the lepers.

In the meantime, Leon Kilat ordered some of his men led by Elpedio Rama and Gregorio Padilla to buy medicines for their wounded from Botica Antigua. The drugstore owner Andres Krapenbauer allowed them to enter the premises upon knowing that their leader, Leon Kilat, once worked for him. He gave the medicines for free, saying it was his contribution to the movement. The wounded were treated in the residence of Jacinto Pacaña at Labangon which was now converted into the general headquarters of the katipunan and infirmary. Among the wounded were Gines and Cabreros.

That night, the katipuneros of Talisay, led by the Aliño brothers, attacked the guardia civil detachment, killing the Spniards, the administrator, his wife and children. The parish priest Fr. Valerio Rodrigo (Fr. Pedro Medina in another account) managed to escape on a banca to Cebu and sought refuge at the fort.

The rebels also captured the cartilla teacher, Maestro Hilario Gandiongco. But he was subsequently released upon learning that he was not known to mistreat Filipinos.

In Pardo, the parish priest Fr. Tomas Jimenes was murdered by the rebels of Tabunok. The cartilla teacher maestro Mariano Crisologo was taken prisoner.

At the fort that night, the Spaniards still felt they could defend it indefinitely. Their confidence was bolstered with the presence of two gunboats, Maria Cristina and Paragua, which bombarded areas in San Nicolas, burning some houses there. The latter arrived from Iligan that afternoon.

The Spaniards reasoned that the two could guard the two sides facing the sea, leaving only one side to be defended by those at the fort. However, during a conferece with his officers, Montero admitted that a massive attack by the insurrectos could overwhelm them since they were vastly outnumbered. They had to ask for reinforcement.

At around 10:00 pm, Montero sent out a patrol to verify if the katipuneros were still in the city. They were met by a group of katipuneros at at the corner of Escolta and Lutao st. (now M.C. Briones), who were only too eager to fight. The soldiers beat a hasty retreat to the fort.

The next three days

The next three days, the rebels were in complete control of the city. The formed a temporary government under Leon Kilat because new recruits had to have a semblance of organization. The katipunan had spread throughout the province when it was learned that the Spaniards were on the retreat and holding out only in the fort.

New recruits had to undergo training in miltary tactics and reconnaisance, but they could not be trained to shoot due to the shortage of ammunitions. At this time , the katipuneros had swelled to 2,000 in Cebu province. They also appointed Fr. Toribio Padilla as their chaplain even if he was still under house arrest in the Seminario de San Carlos.

With more recruits coming in, discipline had declined. Looting was reported in establishments known to be strongholds of the Spaniards: at the Recollect convent, in the houses of Spaniards, Chinese stores at Lutao and mestizo-Chinese at Parian. The Recollects reported a loss of P19,000 in cash, while the Campaña de Tabacos (Tabacalera) P30,000 and an undetermined property destroyed.

In the meantime, the victorious katipuneros conducted patrols in the city. Groups were sent to various parts - to Carbon, Tinago, Parian, Zapatera and San Roque - keeping a safe distance from the cannons at the fort and the riflemen stationed at the church towers of San Agustin and the cathedral and the David Sommer building.

Attack on the fort

But the leaders of the katipunan were uneasy. As long as the Spaniards were at the fort, they had something to worry about. They wanted to finish them off. So on Tuesday, April 5, Leon Kilat riding a horse led a group and attempted to stage a breakthrough. But the attack failed due to the rapid firing of rifles and a volley of cannon fire. He fell off his horse, stood up, dusted himself, and continued riding his horse. The legend of his invulnerability was bolstered.

The news of that incident not only proved to other rebels that his "talisman" was reliable, but it also served as a rallying point for them to continue their struggle against the enemy.

So they did not give up the seige of the fort. Instead, they tightened their watch so as to cause the death of Spaniards from hunger or thirst sooner or later. At this point, the rebels captured one Cebuano who stayed inside the fort and revealed to Leon Kilat its actual situation. The occupants were suffering from food and water shortage, he said. So the katipuneros decided to attack the fort the next day, Wednesday.

The Retreat Begins

Three days after katipuneros drove the Spaniards to Fort San Pedro, the former still wanted to storm it. The Spanish occupation of a portion of Cebu made them uneasy. But the problem was how to get inside. And there was no way to get there except by scaling the walls, which meant they had to have ladders.

Moreover, they had to face the bullets of the fort's defenders, which did not look too inviting to the revolutionaries. They knew a lot of lives would be wasted. No one, except Leon Kilat, appeared willing to risk his life this way.

In the meantime, unknown to revolutionaries, the arrival of steamer Venus brought some good news to the beleaguered Gen. Montero. The Spaniards in Iloilo had sent a message to Manila asking for reinforcements for Cebu, offering some bright hope for their salvation.

But by Wednesday, April 6, their supplies inside the fort were dwindling rapidly. Montero tried to remedy the situation by sending some soldiers to Lutao to secure food. But they were seen by katipuneros who were only too eager to gun them down. So they beat a hasty retreat to the fort.

In other places, the success of the revolt in the city and San Nicolas prodded on residents in other towns to take up arms also. In Carcar that Tuesday, April 5, shouts of "Viva Katipunan!" and "Viva Filipinas!" were heard in Valladolid.

The Carcar uprising was led by the Enriquez brothers (Severino, Nicanor and Jaime) and the Regis brothers (Magno and Eliseo). One of their trusted man was Apolinario Alcuitas who was later to go down in history as a traitor to the revolutionary cause.

The Carcar group swelled as it marched up to the tribunal and the Catholic convent. There they looked for the priests and were able to capture three Agustianians, while two others escaped. A few guardia civil defending the tribunal in were killed and their rifles seized.

A group subsequently went to Sibonga where they captured the parish priest Fray Emiliano Diez who had escaped from Carcar. The group was led by Jaime Enriquez and Antonio Miñoza.

Miñoza went farther to Argao 18 kilometrs away with another group. The parish priest Fr. Antolin Frias was nowhere to be found. Some of the guardia civil surrendered, while others joined the katipunan.

In Barili, the most important town in the western coast of Cebu, the pro-Spanish officials fled to Cebu city by sailboat. One of the prisoners there, Aguedo Batobalonos, broke out of his cell and freed other prisoners. Then they burned documents of the court and the treasury. The guardia civil also surrendered. By Wednesday, Batobalonos had a few hundred followers. By Thursday, they were joined by the KKK from Dumanjug led by Nicolas Godines and Saturnino Echavez.

In Opon and Cordova, katipuneros led by Pascual Tuada and Pio Lopez also took up arms against the Spaniards. The guardia civiles detailed in Opon could not be found, while the priest also fled to the fort.

But the priest of Cordoba, Fray Jose Baztan, could not escape the angry residents there. Earlier, he had aroused their anger by requiring them to carry massive rocks for building and lashed them if they did not follow his orders. He was captured by the revolutionaries and executed at the town plaza on April 4, 1898.

In Mabolo, Mandaue and Consolacion, residents also took up arms after the learned of the successful April 3 uprising. They were led by Francisco Llamas, Luis Abellar and Mariano Hernandez. In Mandaue, the guardia civil and priest also fled. The same was true in Consolacion. The priest Fray Agustin Martel had beaten them to the draw.

The tide turns

By early morning Thursday, April 7, unknown to katipuneros, the cruiser Don Juan Austria chartered merchant steamer Churruca arrived from Manila. Aboard were loyalist troops commanded by Gen. Celestino Fernandez Tejeiro. These were seasoned veterans.

Much as the katipuneros tried to prevent them from landing on the beach at the northeastern end of M.C. Briones st., they appeared helpess. Immediately, the mood at the fort changed. Their morale was boosted. There was shouting and rejoicing among the fort's occupants.

Then the two generals Montero and Fernandez sat down to plan a counterattack. All non-combatants (the Spaniards, mestizos, pro-Spanish Flipinos) were to stay inside fort. Then three groups would be deployed by the soldiers. Others were to remain to guard fort.

The gun boat Paragua and Don Juan Austria took positions at sea between Kawit island and barrio Pasil of San Nicolas. To the shock of San Nicolas parishioners, the two boats started bombarding huts in San Nicolas, resulting in the panic of many residents.

After a few hours, the gunboats changed targets. They began hitting Lutao, Carbon, Ermita, areas facing the sea, putting these places in flames. Katipuneros had in the meantime retreated. But the boats avoided hitting the Recoleto barracks, apparently acting on instructions from Recollect priests holed in at the fort.

The Parian residences of the Chinese and and a few Spanish mestizos were also burned down by loyalist soldiers. They were mad because some of them gave assistance to the katipunan.


Sensing that they were up against a better-armed enemy, the katipuneros started a retreat, with a lot of them finally looking for refuge in the mountains of Cebu. They abandoned their positions in the city. Those from Lutao joined the large group from Recolletos and took positions beyond the Forbes bridge. The cruiser would later drive them off by massive bombardment, leaving behind a good number of casualties.

Those at Parian and Tinago retreated towards Puente de la Revolucion at the southern end of Colon st. Here they tried to hold their ground. In the early afternoon of Thursday, the counter-attacking Spaniards renewed their attacks against the two groups, inflicting a large number of casualties on the latter. The bolos and massed attacks now proved to be ineffectual. So were the amulets given by Leon Kilat.

The massive attacks forced the Katipunan forces to disperse outside the city. A group led by Leon Kilat proceeded to Kabkab (Carcar), thinking that because there was a group there, they would not starve. Kabkab was also far from the sea, thus, making it difficult for the ships to bombard them. Little did Kilat suspect that his retreat would end tragically.

With him in Kabkab were Andres Abellana, Gervacio Padilla, Luciano Bacayo and Nicanor Enriquez. They were tired and sad due to the deaths of their relatives. Many of them were wounded.

The others, like Luis Flores and Candido Padilla, found sanctuary in other towns. Some went to the mountains of Sudlon, while others fled as far as Negros and Camotes island, thinking that the hand of the Spaniards would not reach them any longer.

Betrayal and Death

The retreat of the katipuneros from San Nicolas and the city paved the way for the widespread arrests and executions of other civilians, whether or not they were involved in katipunan. Among those captured when the Spaniards retook the city were Alejandro Antioquia, Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, Prudencio Camara, Lucio Herrrera, Placido Datan, Jose Abelgas, Raymundo Jurado, Agapito Nadela, Andres Abellana who was recaptured after his release in Carcar, Januario C. Veloso, Carlos Castañares, Pedro Cui, Pascual Antonio, Epitacio Agustin, Cristino Lopez and Isidro Guibelondo (who was arrested in Talamban).

Also taken was Fr. Toribio Padilla, parish priest of the cathedral. He was placed undr house arrest at the Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos.

Later, these were released by the Spaniards. The lesser known civilians were summarily executed. The cousins Olimpio and Emilio Regis tried to use the "amnesty pass" offered by Gen. Montero, convinced that they would be granted clemency because they were not involved. Instead, the two were arrested and executed together with Candido Padilla.

Padilla, an ex-capitan of San Nicolas, could not save himself despite the petition of Fr. Jorge Romanillo, the parish priest of the town at this time. During the last hours of his life, he was however given the privilege of having his confession heard and allowed to visit the Santo Niño at the San Agustin church.

Another pro-Spanish Tagalog who served as a spy, Crispulo Valderrama, was also arrested and shot to death without trial. With him were Raymundo Jurado and Jose Abelgas from Carcar. The two were also executed.

So fierce and swift was the jeuz de cuchillo of Cebu's colonial masters that all adult males met by patrols in the streets were considered enemies who were to be shot if they did not know the password.


But of all the katipuneros who met their end, it was their leader Leon Kilat who died most tragically not only for the manner of his death but for the betrayal by one of his men in Carcar.

Even before the katipuneros' arrival in that southern town, Kabkab (Carcar) residents already learned of their defeat at the hands of the Spaniards, following the arrival of reinforcements from Manila. They had mixed feelings about accepting Leon Kilat, afraid of retaliation from their Spanish masters.

Kabkab leaders, like kapitan Florencio Noel (Tan Insyong), Timoteo Barcenilla, kapitan Kadyo Jaen, kapitan Jacinto Velez, kapitan Simeon Paras, told Andres Abellana: "Tell Kilat to finish fighting in Naga, not in Kabkab."

To which Abellana retorted: "Sa wa pa mosibog si Don Leon nganhi, ang mga tawo gipahibawo una nga anhi padangpon sa Kabkab kay anhi tapusa ang away. Ug karon nga anhi na ang mga tawo, malisud na ang pagsulti kanila sa tagsa-tagsa nga ang away adto usab tapusa sa laing dapit."

(Before Leon retreated here, people were informed that they should proceed to Carcar because the fight will end here. Now that people are here, it is difficult to tell them that the fight will be somewhere else.)

In the story of Vicente Alcoseba who was with the group of Kilat at that time, the plan to kill the latter was actually hatched at the confessional in the church. The coadjutor at the time, a Fr. Francisco Blanco who was teaching Latin at the Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos, would not meet kapitan Florencio Noel at the convent because it would be suspicious.

Alcoseba said it was Blanco who suggested to Noel that the only way Kabkab could avoid the retaliation of the Spaniards was to kill Kilat.

Little did Kilat suspect what would befall him that fateful Good Friday in 1898 in Carcar because when he arrived in the evening of Holy Thursday, he was accorded a courtesy due a visiting dignitary. First, he went to the house of kapitan Paras, then later transferred to the house of kapitan Tiyoy Barcenilla where he and his men were tendered goat's meat, chicken and pork. After supper, he was offered coffee and ginebra at the sala.

While his men were telling stories of the uprising in Cebu, he asked kapitan Tiyoy if he could call a tailor who could make a "traje de rayadillo" which had become the katipunan's uniform. He wanted to change his clothes the next morning after he took a bath. Minutes later, a tailor named Segundo Alcordo came with his metrosan (a tailor's tape measure) to take his measurements.

Meantime, the plotters appeared ill at ease, said Alcoseba. Tiyoy Barcenilla could not stay put in his seat. Sometimes, he would confer with kapitan Kadyo at the back of the house and talk in whispers. Minutes later, he would shift to Kapitan Gundoy, as if something else was going on.

Then Apolinario Alcuitas, a recruit of the katipunan in Kabkab, shouted for everyone to hear: "Mga kaigsoonan, ipahibalo ko kaninyo nga karong gabhiona, may ihawon akong kabayo."(Brothers, I would like to announce that tonight I am going to slaughter a horse.) At that time, Alcoseba could not understand the meaning of all these.

Since Leon Kilat was tired, it did not take long before sleep was in order. The room assigned to him was the one near the stairs of the five-bedroom house of Barcenilla. A son of the owner, Vicente, curious about Kilat's exploits, had a brief talk with the latter. He was the last person to talk to him alive.

For a while, Vicente and his uncle Mariano Alfafara talked for some minutes in the corridor outside the room occupied by Kilat. Very soon, they too, went to sleep in another room. Mariano was persuaded by Vicente to stay that night.

Vicente would wake up a few hours later when he heard loud noises coming from Kilat's room. He awakened Mariano and both went outside at once, only to be met by Florencio Noel coming up the stairs, carrying a huge crucifix and asking excitedly: "Naunsa na? Naunsa na?" (Has anything happened yet?)

Then Noel shouted: "Viva España! Viva España!" Several others outside the house responded.

Vicente found the maid Kitay and both went inside Kilat's room from where loud noises came. There he saw to his shock the limp body of Kilat being pinned down by eight men, with some of them taking turns at stabbing it. The skull had been earlier smashed with with the butt of Kilat's own gun.

"Buhi pa ba?" (Is he still alive?) Vicente heard Vinsyong Cui ask.

"Patay na intawon," (He is dead,) answered Kitay. Vicente who was speechless leaned against the wall, in shock.

Then they took his body down the stairs till Cui told the other conspirators: "Ihunong. Ibutang una ninyo. Atong sulayan, ambi tuod dili ba dutlan." (Stop. Put it down. Let's see if he is invulnerable.)

Each one took turns at stabbing the dead body and breaking some of his limbs. Then they carried Leon Kilat's body to the center of the town where it was displayed for all residents to see. It was 5:00 early Friday morning.

Regrouping in the Mountains

Gen. Maxilom painting THE situation of katipuneros in other towns were not as desperate as that of the group which fled to Carcar that fateful Holy Thursday, April 7, 1898. Arcadio Maxilom and Emilio Verdeflor, earlier appointed as captain and lieutenant by the revolutionary government president Luis Flores, had just arrived Thursday in Tuburan.

It was his hometown and his power base, being a former capitan of that town. He did not know what happened to the katipuneros that day. Immediately, he went to Ernesto Tabotabo, one of the wealthiest residents of Tuburan, recruiting him into the KKK. The latter aceepted without hesitation.

Their first task was to make the guardia civil at the tribunal surrender. And surrender they did without firing a shot, including their firearms. In preparation for the battles ahead, Maxilom also urged the local KKK members to make bladed weapons and spears from anahaw (a type of palm tree). That was when he learned of the katipunan's defeat in the city.

Meanwhile, Bonifacio Aranas, one of the katipunan's early members, fled to the mountains of Cebu together with other members after San Nicolas and the city were recaptured by the Spaniards. His area of operations were now the mountains of Toledo and Balamban.

Then on April 11, Aranas and his men raided some barrios near the poblacion of Toledo, capturing local prominent men like Angel Libre, Jose Rodriguez, Francisco Villaester and Juan Climaco. Climaco was an ex-capitan of Toledo and owned large tracts of lands in barrio Madugo. His house was made into the headquarters of the katipunan in the area.

At that time, a farmer by the name of Claudio Bacus was also organizing his own group in the mountains of Toledo and Balamban. He soon established links with Aranas and agreed to cooperate with him in their operations.

On 12th of April, the guardia civil detachment of Balamban offered to surrender to Aranas. But the offer looked suspicious. So Bacus and Aranas approached the tribunal from two different positions, expecting to be tricked by the enemy.

They were right. Shots rang from the bell tower and from trenches near the church. The katipuneros returned fire, then engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand skirmish. The latter had to scamper to the forest. Sgt. Claudio Gomez who led the loyalists fell from the bolo of Bacus, while the priest escaped by boat to Cebu.

After that incident, Aranas left Balamban for Tuburan to coordinate with Arcadio Maxilom and Tabotabo. Bacus on the other hand went to Toledo to consolidate his forces.

Pro-Spanish residents had deserted the streets when the katipuneros led by Aranas passed by Asturias. Eugenio Alonso, the owner of 400-hectare hacienda near the problacion, also fled. Many Asturias residents wanted to join KKK.

Battle at Tuburan

In Tuburan, Aranas, Verdeflor, Batobalonos and their men were joyfully received by residents led by Maxilom and Fausto Tabotabo. Maxilom had earlier returned to Tuburan after he heard of katipunan reverses in the city. But instead of getting discouraged, he redoubled efforts to recruit new members.

For a while, Tuburan was a liberated town. The shouts of KKK members "Mabuhi ang Pilipinas" and "Mabuhi ang Katipunan" reverberated in the streets. At the house of Tabotabo, amulets like the ones introduced by Leon Kilat were being made according to specifications. Training of residents to fight against Spanish rifles also went on.

The Tuburan katipuneros were reinforced by the presence of Enemecio and Samuel Maxilom, both brothers of Arcadio, who had recruited members and assembled in the mountain of Anijao.

It would not be long before they would have their first taste of battle. On April 15, warning shots told them there were two boats slowly approaching Tuburan. Hastily, katipuneros assembled at pre-arranged places under their respective jefes and took their positions.

At 7:00 am, Spanish soldiers led by cazadores and Tagalogs of the 73rd regiment disembarked, marched to the town center and started firing at suspected hiding places. Then the katipuneros returned fire and surrounded the loyalist troops. A shooting spree erupted, resulting in several casualties from both sides. The loyalists had to retreat.

An hour later, the loyalists from the other boat disembarked, but they did not wade ashore immediately. The second gunboat trained its guns on poblacion, hitting houses and trenches which the katipuneros could do nothing about. The had to retreat to the mountains. With them were other civilians who had not evacuated earlier.

So the soldiers went ashore to an empty town. They started looting valuables and slaughtering domesticated animals for food. After raping the town, they carried dead Spaniards to their boats, but left the dead bodies of loyalist Filipinos. Then they burned the houses, sparing the convent, church and municipal building.

When the Spaniards left, the residents went back and treated their wounded comrades. It was their worst tragedy. They lost their properties and buried their dead, friends and foes alike. In the final count, 80 loyalist soldiers and three of their officers died.

On the side of the katipunan, 45 were slain here. The number included relatives of Maxilom, seven cousins and his own brother, Cesario.

On April 18, the Spaniards came to stay longer. Another boat asrrived, forcing residents to flee for their lives to the mountains. The loyalist soldiers took Tuburan and quartered themselves in the convent and church.

In Toledo

Claudio Bacus was less lucky. In the town of Toledo, he heard of pro-Spanish agitators led by capitan municipal Francisco Rodriguez, the former cuadrillo chief in force. In ensuing confrontation, he killed Rodriguez and his men.

Bacus then roamed the countryside, recruiting new members into the movement. One British couple, a certain Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, gave support to his group and allowed them to recruit among his farm laborers.

But an encounter with loyalist troops there left Bacus routed. He and 40 of his men were surrounded and massacred.

In Sudlon mountains

It was in Sudlon mountains west of the city that the katipuneros were finally able to regroup and consolidate their forces against the Spaniards.

That dawn of Good Friday in April 1898, Jacinto Pacaña, the wife of Candido Padilla and Eugenio Gines escaped from Labangon. The group went directly to Jacinto's farm in Barrio Bukawe, then transferred to another corn barn in Biasong where Pedro Abarca joined them. Gen. Montero had a P500 reward on the heads of each of the three.

Soon, they transferred to a cave but that too was discovered. They left for the wooded areas in Sudlon where they built trenches.

When the Tabal brothers (Rafael, Natalio, Quintin and Serafin) of Sudlon heard about them, they were invited to their place and offered a refuge. Jacinto was happy to accept Tabal's offer. He then persuaded his wife and children to leave for the foothills of Labangon and live there. The Spaniards were not noted for harming women and children.

The male members of group - Jacinto, his two sons Felipe and Dalmacio, a son-in-law, Eugenio Gines and Pedro Abarca - accompanied Tabal to mountains of Sudlon. From there, Jacinto got in touch with other revolutionaries, using trusted couriers.

Luis Flores was found in Arsobing mountains near Barrio Paril, while the Aliño brothers were at Bucatol, Talisay. Padilla remained at Buhisan hills six kilometers from the city proper. Addiction to opium prevented him from going up with the group. He was later captured and executed.

Flores arrived on the second week of May, followed by other leaders, among them Arcadio Maxilom. The latter had been hiding in the mountains of Anijao after the battle of Tuburan. On May 20, he left Anijao with his men and 12-year old son Emiliano and went to Sudlon to help reorganize the KKK. It was here that they plotted the second phase of the revolt.

Final Victory

To survive at Sudlon mountains, the revolutionaries now led by Luis Flores and Arcadio Maxilom had to have food. At first, the produce of the Tabal brothers, Jacinto Pacaña and Ciriaco Genia from their farms were sufficient. But that would last only for two months. There had to be other sources.

One source was the cedula. An imitation of the Spanish system, the katipunan cedula charged lesser. Possessing it meant that one was either a member or a sypampathizer. The task of collecting fees for the cedula was given to Anastacio Rama, having previously served as an employee of the public treasury.

Besides the cedula, sypathizers contributed cash, food, clothing and medicines. As the movement gained ground and turned against the Spaniards, the middle classes from the city also started contributing to the coffers of the katipunan. Philippine flag

Another element katipuneros felt they needed was the Philippine flag, the symbol of their nationhood. According to one source, Manila's KKK had spelled out the exact measurements and design of the flag in their regular letters to Cebu katipuneros.

Ambrocio Peña, known by the leaders as a secret follower of the movement, was then ordered to produce it. He in turn contacted three women - Mauricia Gahuman, Buena Ricardo and Justina Peña - to make the flag. Weeks later, a courier from Punta Princesa delivered it to Sudlon where it was raised near their headquarters.

Immediately after its arrival, some 300 katipuneros took their oath in front of it. All those who came to Sudlon would also take their oaths administered by Flores and other top officers. Those who could not come to Sudlon took the same oath before their officers, swearing their commitment to the struggle for independence.

Sudlon battles

One reason why the Spaniards could not penetrate Sudlon was its strategic location. Although no higher than 1,000 meters above sea level, it is located deep in the interior of the island, was forested and surrounded by steep gorges. Later attempts by the enemy troops to attack it failed because katipunan guerillas used the terrain to their advantage.

As soon as they arrived in the area, Flores immediately ordered work on its defense. Trenches were dug at strategic points, and piles of stones prepared to be rolled down in case of enemy attack. This was going to be tested soon.

On May 28, loyalists troops tried to climb the narrow passages guarded by the katipuneros led by Rafael Tabal at Bitlang hill. But the attackers could not reach the top of the before they were repulsed. Their guns were not of much use. Twelve loyalist soldiers were slain, while the katipuneros had nine casualties.

A few days later, the loyalists again planned to pass through another route at Ginkiutan hill. This time, the katipuneros were led by the Tuburan veteran Arcadio Maxilom. As in the first attack, the enemy troops were only frustrated. After this, Maxilom was promoted from captain to major.

In Talamban, Lorenzo Eje and Alejo Miñoza trapped the Spaniards in the forested areas, surrounded them and engaged them in a bloody hand-to-hand fighting with macheteros, outnumbering attackers. The Spanish cavalry retreated in disarray. One historian said about 70 loyalists lost their lives, while katipuneros had 10 wounded and six dead.

But in Liloan with the katipuneros under the command of Enrique Lorega, they were not as successful. They used the same tactics as in Talamban, using machetes and utilizing trees for hiding themselves. However, Spaniards learned their lesson. As a result, casualties were almost even on both sides. But the chief of the voluntarios of Liloan was slain, while one of their officers was captured.


It was not all victory for the reinvigorated katipuneros. In Minglanilla on September 28, 1898, the katipuneros encountered a large band of cazadores led by Ramon Villordon. Although they fought bravely, each side had a dozen casualties and scores were wounded.

In El Pardo (presently Pardo), the katipuneros had long wanted to attack the cazadores stationed in the parish. One Sunday in September 1898, Rafael Tabal led a few katipuneros against the group, expecting them to be unprepared. A bloody encounter followed.

But Tabal was not aware of a another group of cazadores coming from Minglanilla who had heard of the shooting. With the latter coming in, the battle turned against Tabal and the katipuneros, resulting in several dead and wounded. Tabal himself was killed. In Bogo and San Fernando, the KKK also lost their battles in November 1898.

But the katipunero general who had a big impact on the tide of events was Arcadio Maxilom. Given a contingent of some 300 soldiers and having Brig. Gen. Hilario Aliño, Col. Fermin Aliño and Col. Emilio Verdeflor as his adjutants, he scoured the mountains of Cebu from Aug. 28 to Sept. 4, establishing bases and offering protection against lawless elements, promising swift justice in case they served as spies for the government. Residents who attempted to take advantage of the abnormal situation were warned.

With a solid guerilla front up in the hills, Maxilom was ready to take on the towns and the city of Cebu.

The tide turns

The Spaniards at this late in the year were now under pressure from several quarters. The entry of the United States at the height of the revolution in May 1898, coupled with Aguinaldo's return from Hongkong to resume the struggle, only made matters desperate for the Spaniards.

By August 13, 1898, the Spaniards surrendered Manila to the Americans even if its forces in the provinces outside the capital fell to the revolutionary forces one after another. Tayabas, the last one to surrender, fell to Miguel Malvar's troops on August 17.

Here in Cebu, preparations were under way for the eventual evacuation of the Spaniards. They had lost their will to fight, letting the voluntarios locales and cazadores do the fighting for them in the towns surrounding Cebu.

In Mandaue they tried to hold their ground, but the forces under Lorenzo Eje and Anastacio Engayo, who had established their base in Tigib, a mountainous area, was threatening to overwhelm them and, subsequently, the city.

By December 8, the two leaders decided to attack the poblacion. They were met by local volunteers led by Cesario Mendoza, the capitan municipal of Mandaue. The fight did not last long. The voluntarios were routed by the katipuneros. Seven of them were captured, brought to Sudlon and tried for treason under the military tribunal headed by Maxilom.

Earlier, in Talisay on the 10th of November, the katipuneros had occupied the town without firing a shot. The Spaniards and their muslim volunteers occupying the town decided not to fight against the overwhelming number of katipuneros under Maxilom.

Instead of meeting rifles pointed at them, the katipuneros were welcomed by a joyous population. It was only seven months earlier that a small band of katipuneros under the Aliño brothers had overwhelmed the guardia civil detachment in barrio San Isidro.

Preparing to leave

As early as October, the Spaniards in the city had "seen the writing on the wall." One of the first to leave were the Spanish priests under the Agustinian and Recollect orders. They left in October and November of that year.

Still not all the priests fled. Among those left behind was Bishop Martin Alcocer who tried to brook the relationship between the revolutionary forces and the Spanish troops. When Maxilom started to occupy El Pardo, some residents who had heard all sorts of stories about the katipuneros pleaded with Alcocer to intercede with the revoltuionaries. They knew the presidente of the provisional revolutionary government Luis Flores was once a protege of Alcocer.

Here Alcocer tapped the services of Manuel Velez, a scion of the respected Velez family of Cebu. His arrival in Sudlon was eyed with suspicion. So they had him hostage in Sudlon while Maxilom and Flores sent a delegation to Cebu to confirm the situation. They released Velez when they learned the truth about the situation in Cebu.

In the meantime, the Spaniards had began their strategic retreat from the towns. Detachments in the towns of Barili and Carcar were disbanded and recalled. Voluntarios from San Nicolas were withdrawn to the Recoleto barracks.

Then sometime in December, the guardia civil and local volunteers were disarmed, leaving only the muslims and the soldiers of the 73rd regiment with arms.

Katipunan occupation of Cebu

Also that December, Flores called for a conference in Sudlon regarding the plans to establish revolutionary governments in the different towns, following directives from Aguinaldo. The report was received with enthusiasm. They would begin at once.

As for the Spaniards at the fort, some katipuneros wanted to besiege them if not for cooler heads who prevailed. More blood-letting was not necessary, they were told.

First to be organized was the Mabolo-Talamban government in Mabolo. Stories earlier circulated by the loyalists had created an atmosphere of fear among residents, because when the katipuneros arrived, the town of Mabolo was empty. They discovered that the residents had gone out to sea in their bancas, including capitan municipal Ceferino Borces. They were persuaded to come to shore only after their leaders were convinced of the sincerity of the katipuneros.

That very day, an election of officers were held after they were told of the directive of Aguinaldo. Elected presidente municipal (town mayor) was Celedonio Mina, an ex-capitan. Short acceptance speehes followed, then the residents were instructed how to defend themselves in case of an attack by the Spaniards. A platoon of katipuneros was left to defend Mabolo.

On December 16, about 50 soldiers under Col. Ravago threatened to attack Mabolo. Eje and Engayo took up positions at the bridge, ready to fight. But the loyalist officers instead came across the bridge and talked peace with Eje and Engayo. Both told the Spaniards that the katipuneros will fight back if attacked and that they had enough men and firepower to defend themselves.

After the organization of Mabolo government came Mandaue. Election was also held there. Practically the same persons who held the former town council under the Spanish regime were elected, except that the names of their positions had changed.

The next followed Consolacion, Liloan and Opon. Cordoba likewise organized its own junta popular. From Dec. 18 to 23, Emilio Verdeflor starting organizing the town juntas of Toledo, Balamban, Asturias and Tuburan. All these took place while the Spaniards were still holed up in the city.

While Eje and Engayo were organizing municipal juntas in the north of the city, Maxilom and his army of revolutionaries from Sudlon were preparing to occupy El Pardo in the south. It was a large force with the contigents under Eugenio Gines, Alejo Miñoza and Nicolas Godines under the overall leadership of Maxilom. Their mission: to force the spaniards to surrender El Pardo. If they refused, they would take the town by force.

Fortunately, the Spaniards saw no reason to defend El Pardo. The negotiations to end the Philippine-American war had started, and the Treaty of Paris annexing the Philippines to the US had been signed in Dec 10, 1898, although no formal order was received yet. So Montero ordered a retreat to the Recoleto barracks in the city. As in Talisay earlier, the katipuneros entered El PArdo without firing a shot.

The revolutionaries then occupied the church and convent, raising the Philippine flag there in simple but memorable rites.

After that, Flores appointed Maxilom as "gobernador interno" of Cebu province for as long as the Spanish government was still in the city. Two days later, KKK military officers and the junta popular confirmed Maxilom's appointment and also named him as general-in-chief of the city. El Pardo was designated the temporary capital of the province.

That very day, Maxilom sent a formal communication to the Spanish government and and other foreign consuls that a revolutionary government was installed in Cebu with its center in Pardo. Maxilom also demanded that the Spaniards surrender.

The Spaniards hastily answered Maxilom's letter, asking that they be given two to three days because they would be leaving the province soon.

Spaniards leave

By the morning of December 24, most of the Spaniards were ready to leave. A company of government soldiers stationed themselves at the plaza as some pro-spanish Cebuanos also stood nearby. At sound of trumpet, the Spanish flag was lowered. Spanish officers nearby tore the flag into pieces in their anger and frustration. Some Spanish and Cebuano women cried because it was their last moment in Cebu.

By mid-morning, Spanish soldiers and civilians and Filipio loyalist soldiers started boarding the boats with their belongings. With them were the muslim volunteers. By noon, Montero also boarded boat and the ships were soon on their way to Zamboanga.

Only three spaniards were left in Cebu: Bishop Martin Alcocer, Fray Lorenzo Perez of the San Carlos Seminary and Fr. Pedro Julia. The convoy of ships was still between Ermita and Kawit island when the Filipino flag was raised in Fort San Pedro.

Christmas in 1898

In their entire lives, the Christmas of 1898 was decidedly the most memorable day for Cebuanos. The revolutionaries roamed around its streets unperturbed, free at last to visit friends and relvatives. The fort became an instant tourist attraction.

The day before, the last batch of prisoners were released, including Pedro Cui, Julio Llorente, Pascual Antonio, Alejandro Valle, Florencio Camara and Isidro Guibelondo. Cebuanos flocked to fort and for the first time in their lives examined the dreaded prison cells.

By December 29, a thanksgiving mass was held at the Cebu cathedral officiated by Bishop Martin Alcocer, with the martial band of San Nicolas of which Justo Cabajar was a member. The cathedral overflowed with people. Joyous shouts of "Mabuhi ang katipunan!" and "Mabuhi ang Pilipinas!" broke intermittently with harmless shots from their rifles. At the end of the mass, the Te Deum was intoned in thanksgiving.

Priests, former government officials and employees, members of the Cebu's elite and heads of foreign business houses all came to greet Maxilom and Flores and the other leaders. They were now recognized as the new leaders.

Little did the lower-class katipuneros suspect that political power, which had eluded them for hundreds of years, would soon be seized from them by the local elite in legal maneuvers. All they wanted at that moment in their lives was to cherish the new-found freedom and independence from Spanish colonial yoke.

In a letter addressed to the new revolutionary government, Apolinario Mabini enjoined them to "pevent and repel all foreign invasion at whatever sacrifices." It was a portent of things to come. Cebu would enjoy at most two months of self-government before some of its leaders surrendered their sovereignty to the Americans in February 1899.

See also