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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Cebuanos at war with the Americans

Cebu was a hotbed of Filipino guerrilla activities during the war of resistance against the imposition of American sovereignty in the Philippine Islands at the close of the 19th century.

Before the arrival of the American troops in Cebu, a Filipino revolutionary government was already established in December 27, 1898 after the Spanish governor of the province, Montero, abandoned the island and sought refuge in Zamboanga. Juan Climaco and Arcadio Maxilon were responsible for the establishment of the local government and its adhesion to the Filipino government in Malolos, assisted by emissaries sent by Aguinaldo, namely: Pantaleon E. Del Rosario, Melquiades Lasala, a Cebuano of Bogo, Andres Jame, Lorega, and an Ilocano named Mateo Luga who had served in the Spanish army. The military arm was placed under the supreme command of General Arcadio Maxilon, with Juan Climaco as second in command.

In late February, 1899, the American expeditionary force arrived in Cebu and the commander of the American gunboat Petrel demanded the surrender of the fort and city. The Filipino governor of the province, Luis Flores, wary of the superiority of American arms but remaining very loyal to the Filipino government under President Emilio Aguinaldo, yielded, but filed the following protest:
"In view of the verbal intimation made by the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Petrel, of the U.S. Squadron, to this government, demanding the surrender of the garrison and city of Cebu, to be accompanied by the hoisting of the American flag in the peremptory term of fourteen hours, the assembled magma, convoked for its consideration, and the members of which are representative of all the vital forces of the country, agreed unanimously to accede to said demand in view of the superiority of the American forces; but without omitting to point out that neither the government of the province nor any inhabitants thereof have the power to conclude decisive acts prohibited by the honorable president of the Filipino republic, Senor Emilio Aguinaldo, our legitimate ruler, recognized as such by virtue of his indisputable capabilities of just government and illustrious generalship and universal suffrage.

"Sad and painful is the situation of this city, without means to defense and obliged to act contrary to its own convictions: in view of which it declares before the whole world that the occupation of this town is not based on any of the laws which form the code of civilized nations, which could hardly expect to behold such scenes at the end of a century called the enlightened one.

"We are told of conquests, of protectorates, of cessions made by the Spaniards; as if the Archipelago, and especially our souls, were merchandise subject to barter, when a single one is worth more than a thousand worlds of that metal called vile, perhaps for the reason that it fascinates as the eyes of a serpent.

"But be that as it may, of all this the commanding office must treat as already stated, with Senor Aguinaldo, without whose acquiescence the act which is demanded from this government cannot be legal.

"A copy of this manifesto will be given to each of the consular agents established in this city, the greatest possible publicity will be given it, and we shall communicate with Aguinaldo, remitting him a copy of this document.

"Given in Cebu, the 22nd of February, 1899.
"Louiz Flores,
"The Commander in Chief".
(PIS-V1N08, 14-16)
Eventually, the Americans ran out of patience and resorted to extreme and harsh measures. According to John Foreman, a vigorous policy of devastation was adopted. Towns, villages and crops were laid waste; Pardo, the Filipino military centre, was totally destroyed; peaceful natives who had compulsorily paid tribute to the Filipino government at whose mercy they were obliged to live, were treated as enemies; their homes and means of livelihood were demolished, and little distinction was made between the warrior and the victim of the war.

In an effort to prevent further desolation and suffering of the people, the Filipino provincial governor arranged with the American authorities for cessation of hostilities, paving the way for the surrender of the leaders of revolutionaries after two years of heroic stand.

Here's an account by John Foreman, in his book, The Philippines:

“In July 24, 1899, Juan Climaco and Arcadio Maxilon, chafing at the diminution of their influence in public affairs, suddenly disappeared into the interior and met at Pardo, where the military revolutionary centre was established. Aguinaldo's emissary, Pantaleon E. Del Rosario, Melquiades Lasala, a Cebuano of Bogo (known as Dading), Andres Jame, Lorega, and an Ilocano named Mateo Luga who had served in the Spanish army, led contingents under the supreme command of theinsurgent General Arcadio Maxilom. In the interior they established a fairly well-organized military government. The Island was divided into districts; there was little interference with personal liberty; taxes for the maintenance of the struggle were collected in the form of contribution according to the means of the donor; agriculture was not altogether abandoned, and for over two years the insurgents held out against American rule. The brain of the movement was centered in Juan Climaco, whilst Mateo Luga exhibited the best fighting qualities.

“In the meantime American troops were drafted to the coast towns of Tuburan, Bogo, Carmen, etc. There were several severe engagements with slaughter on both sides, notably at Monte Sudlon and Compostela. Five white men joined the insurgent leader Luga, one being an English mercenary trooper, two sailors, and two soldiers; the last two were given up at the close of hostilities; one of them was pardoned, and the other was executed in the cotta for rape committed at Mandaue.

“The co-existence of an American military administration in Cebu City conducting a war throughout the Island, and a Philippine provincial government with nominal administrative powers over the same region, but in strong sympathy with the insurgent cause, was no longer compatible. Moreover, outside the city the provincial government was unable to enforce its decrees amongst the people, who recognized solely the martial-law of the insurgents to whom they had to pay taxes. The Americans therefore abolished the provincial council, which was not grieved at its dissolution, because it was already accused by the people of being pro-American. Philippine views of the situation were expressed in a newspaper, El Nuevo Dia, founded by a lawyer, Rafael Palma, and edited conjointly by Jayme Veyra (afterwards a candidate for the Leyte Island governorship) and an intelligent young lawyer, Sergio Osmena, already mentioned at p. 521. This organ, the type and style of which favorably compared with any journal ever produced in these Islands, passed through many vicissitudes; it was alternately suppressed and reviled, whilst its editors were threatened with imprisonment in the cotta and deportation to Guam.

“Meanwhile the Americans made strenuous efforts to secure the co-operation of the Filipinos in municipal administration, but the people refused to vote. Leading citizens, cited to appear before the American authorities, persistently declined to take any part in a dual regime. The electors were then ordered, under penalties, to attend the polling, but out of hundreds who responded to the call only about 60 could be coerced into voting. Finally a packed municipal council was formed, but one of its members, a man hitherto highly respected by all, was assassinated, and his colleagues went in fear of their lives.

“The war in Panay Islands having terminated on February 2, 1901, by the general surrender at Jaro (vide p. 518), General Hughes went to Samar Island, where he failed to restore peace, and thence he proceeded to Cebu in the month of August at the head of 2,000 troops. A vigorous policy of devastation was adopted. Towns, villages and crops were laid waste; Pardo, the insurgent military centre, was totally destroyed; peaceful natives who had compulsorily paid tribute to the insurgents at who mercy they were obliged to live, were treated as enemies; their homes and means of livelihood were demolished, and little distinction was made between the warrior and the victim of the war.

“Desolation stared the people in the face, and within a few weeks the native provincial governor proposed that terms of peace should be discussed. The insurgent chief Lorega surrendered on October 22; Mateo Luga and Arcadio Maxilom submitted five days afterwards and at the end of the month a general cessation of hostilities followed. A neutral zone was agreed upon, extending from Mandaue to Sogod, and there the three peace commissioners on behalf of the Americans, namely Miguel Logara, Pedro Rodriguez, and Arsenio Climaco met the insurgent chiefs Juan Climaco and Arcadio Maxilom. As a result, peace was signed, and the document includes the following significant words, viz: putting the Philippine people in a condition to prove "their aptitude for self-government as the basis of a future independent life." After the peace, Mateo Luga and P.E. del Rosario accepted employment under the Americans, the former inspector of Constabulary and the latter as Sheriff of Cebu.

“A few months later, the Americans, acting on information received, proceeded to Tuburan on the government launch "Philadelphia," arrested Arcadio Maxilom and his two brothers, and seized the arms which they had secreted on their property. On the launch, one of the Maxiloms unsuccessfully attempted to murder the Americans and was immediately executed, whilst Arcadio and his other brother jumped overboard; but Arcadio being unable to swim, was picked up, brought to trial at Cebu, and acquitted. Thus ended the career of General Arcadio Maxilom, whom in 1904 I found living in retirement, almost a hermit's life, broken in spirit and body and worried by numerous lawsuits pending against him.

“ On April 17, 1901, Governor W. H. Taft went to Cebu accompanied by a Filipino, H. Pardo de Tavera, whose views were diametrically opposed to those of the Cebuano majority. Governor Taft established civil government there, although the law of habeas corpus had to be suspended because the war was still raging throughout the Island outside the capital. The provincial government as established by Governor Taft comprises a provincial board composed of three members, namely the Philippine Provincial Governor, the American Supervisor, and the American Treasurer; hence the Americans are in permanent majority and practically rule the Island. The executive of this body is the provincial governor and his staff. The first provincial governor appointed by Governor Taft was Julio Llorente, who resigned the magistracy in Manila and returned to Cebu to take up his new office until the election took place in January, 1902, when, by popular vote, Juan Climaco, the ex-insurgent chief, became provincial governor, and on the expiration of his term in January, 1904, he was re-elected for another two years.”
(Foreman, 524-526)


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