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Monday, January 4, 2010

Alimodian During The Revolutionary Period

Philippine revolutionaries during the Spanish period

        There were many reasons advanced by the Filipinos in revolting against Spain. The Spaniards refused to introduce reforms in the government to make it efficient. They committed cruel acts against the Filipinos. The greed and abuses of officials and employees, intolerance of the friars who refused to recognize other religions but the Roman Catholic religion aggravated the situation.

        There year 1896 holds a prominent place in Philippine history as it was during this year when, through the concerted effort of the Filipinos, an unprecedented revolution exploded.

        The Katipuneros, with Andres Bonifacio at the helm of the fight, started the Philippine Revolution. It was the year of the revolution and it did win for the Filipinos independence from the clutches of the Spanish rule.

        The people of Alimodian, away from the battle arena, that centered in Central Luzon, felt soft repercussions of the independence victory.

The Outbreak of Revolution in Alimodian

         In the town, meanwhile, the first concerted insurrection against the Spanish rule took place on October 31, 1898, a Monday.

         Before that day, about 400 revolutionarios or insurrectos converged in Barrio Buhay, some four kilometers from the Poblacion, to wage a nationalistic battle against the Spanish government in the town. Some of those revolutionaries were Tagalogs who came all the way from Luzon to spread the Anti-Hispanic sentiments among the relatively complacent Visayans. The rest of the 400 were made up of Alimodian nationalists. The leader of this belligerent group was a certain Don Pedro Torres, a Tagalog speaking revolutionario.

Assault in the Convent

         Words of the impending attack reached Don Timoteo Alvior, the Capitan Interino at about 4:00 o’clock in the morning. The Capitan immediately informed Fray Lorenzo Labiana, the Spanish parish priest assigned in the town at that time. However, the priest still confident of his hold on the God-fearing people of Alimodian, did not believe in the news, so he opted instead to wait for further developments.

          Don Timoteo Alvior was more realistic. After he got hold of the notice of the convergence in Buhay, he immediately called on the citizen volunteers to the Municipal Hall and briefed them for any eventuality.

         When the revolutionaries reached the Poblacion at 6:00 o’clock in the evening, the voluntaries were at the plaza to meet them. But when the volunteer group saw how ferocious the revolutionarios were, they realized how futile their effort of suppressing the onslaught would be. Their machetes or pickaxe were nothing compared to the rifles and guns of the insurrectos.

          Demoralized by fear, they immediately took their uniforms and ran home to their wives and children and informed them about the impending danger.

         When the revolutionarios reached the town plaza, they immediately surrounded the convent because the target of their fury was actually the clergy in there. But they did not know that when the padre cura saw the throng nearing the convent, he left the convent and sought refuge in the house of Silvestre Amargo, a friend and supporter in Concepcion Street, now Magtanong Street. When the revolutionarios got in the convent, all they found was Fray Celestino Fernandez, an old and retired priest, who was too weak to escape with Fray Labiana. They brought the feeble priest to the Municipal Hall, locked him inside the prison cell and tortured him for hours. The friar nearly beaten to death by the angry insurrectos, pleaded that he be spared of their fury as he was already old and weak. With the intervention of Capital Interino Don Timoteo Alvior, Don Pedro Torres, the leader of the attackers, was finally convinced to free the old man.

         Fray Jose Labiana, meanwhile, stayed for two nights, fearing for his life, in the house of Silvestre Amargo before he was transported via raft to Iloilo City together with his co-adjutor, a Filipino priest Padre Ramon Amparo. When they reached Iloilo City, they immediately took refuge with the religious community at Colegio de San Agustin where Fr. Celestino Fernandez was also brought several days before.

        The revolutionarios, unable to locate the padre cura, vent out their anger by plundering the convent and the Municipal Hall, burning all the invaluable legal and religious papers there.

        The Tagalog fighters stayed in the town for about one week during which time they made foot paths leading to San Miguel and Maasin towns immediately bordering Alimodian, so they could recruit Filipino soldiers and sympathizers from these two neighbors.

        From the original number of about 400, the size of the group swelled with the joining into the Alimodian insurrection of Filipino soldiers from adjacent places. The group was ready to face not only the clergy, but the Spanish military forces as well.

The Victory and Defeat of the Revolutionarios

        When the Spanish authorities in Iloilo City heard about the insurrection in Alimodian and the subsequent evacuation of the three priests to the Colegio de San Agustin, they immediately dispatched a group of Spanish soldiers to reinforce the meager military might in the town. This reinforcement brigade arrived at about 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon of November 2, 1898, a Wednesday, three days after the fateful attack of the convent and the Municipal Hall.

         But the Spanish soldiers, uncertain about the number and capacity of the revolutionaries, decided to stop in the boundary of Barrio Banag, part of the town of San Miguel.

         The Tagalog revolutionaries, together with their Ilonggo comrades, banking on their success a few days before, advanced to the boundary, ready to fight the Spanish agitators.

        When the Spanish authorities got wind of the plan to attack them, they changed the course of their journey and instead of following the road, found an alternative path through Pacol, a sitio of Sulong, Alimodian from where they could ascend Igcaras Hill and proceed to the Poblacion. They were led through this unexpected change of course by a sympathizer from San Miguel.

        Unknown to the newcomers, the Filipino soldiers in town got information about their move, so when the Spaniards reached Igcaras Hill, the Filipinos were already positioned for their onslaught.

        Surprised but undaunted, the Spaniards faced the Filipinos on the slopes. Decidedly, lacking weapons and tactics, vis-à-vis their foes sustained with sophisticated guns and military tactics, the Filipinos learned that their initial enthusiasm and bravery could not get them through the lethal bullets of the men from the West. Downhearted, they retreated to Sitio Taban at the foot of the hill where the Spaniards caught up with them and drove them to the Poblacion.

        When the townspeople heard of the defeat of their brave men in Igcaras Hill, they packed their things and proceeded to their farms, afraid that once the Spaniards had infiltrated the Poblacion, they would go on a rampage and kill the people.

         The victorious Hispanics, on the other hand, wearied after that day, decided to take rest and spend the night on the slopes of Igcaras Hill. When they finally entered the Poblacion early in the morning of the next day, they found it virtually deserted as the people had scampered to their farms. Confident that the battle had been won, the troops left the town for the city the next day.

         Barely two hours after they had left, a fresh batch of Filipino soldiers who were to aid their battered Alimodian comrades came. Numbering a big 1,000 and coming mostly from the northern towns, they discovered that they were late as the enemy had already gone back to camp.

         When words spread that the Poblacion had returned to normal, the people started returning to their homes. From the experience, they learned a precious lesson that though their might may be meager compared to the white men, all they needed was more organization on the part of the revolutionaries, if not to win the war, at least to have their voice heard.

          Since the Filipinos did not have sufficient arms and preparation to challenge the mighty Spanish force in the islands, the revolt of the Alimodiananons came to an end. From then on, the Filipinos showed resistance to all foreign invaders including the Americans.

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