Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Ray of Hope for Mindanao

Mike Banos - American Chronicles

I know this is a little late for our 108th Independence Day celebration but bear with me and my slipping memory for having maybe too much in my mind lately that I made the cardinal sin of forgetting it!

Like my advocacy to return the maya as the Philippines national bird, the addition of another ray in the sun of our Philippine flag has been another of my pet crusades since the centennial celebration of 1998 when I learned that what I’d heretofore known as the “Calaganan Mutiny” (from a story written by the late Dr. Blas Ch. Velez in a Museo de Oro publication edited by the late Fr. Francisco Demetrio, S.J.) was indeed a planned revolt instigated by the Katipunan leadership in Luzon.

I have never failed to resurrect the story at every opportunity, even going so far as to post it in an online U.S. publication where it caught the eye of Sen. Dick Gordon. I was informed a few weeks ago by his staff A.G. Alonto of the senator’s plan to file a bill in the Senate to petition the national leadership to add a ninth ray to the sun depicted in our Philippine flag, (which as every schoolboy and schoolgirl knows, represents the first eight provinces in Luzon which rose in the fight for freedom against Spain in 1896) in recognition of the “Mutiny at Calaganan” as the first Katipunan instigated revolt in Mindanao.

Imagine my surprise when I told Sen. Nene Pimentel about it and he told me this had already been his advocacy for “years back.”

“I have delivered speeches on it but I do not know whether I still have copies of the speeches,” he wrote in reply to my email last Monday. “Today at the Pinaglaban Independence Day Rites, I reiterated it. I said that the Moros of Mindanao deserve a 9th ray in the Flag.”

In fact, it was not only the Moros as represented by a group of Maranaos from Balo-i, Lanao del Norte, but in fact all three of Mindanao’s tri-people who joined in the revolt: the Christian immigrants, the indigenous natives in the person of 50 Higaonons from Bukidnon, and a group of Moros from Lanao, making it not only a Katipunan revolt, but one in which all three of Mindanao's tri-people joined in as well.

It was my good friend Antonio J. Montalvan II, a local historian of note and a former commissioner of the Cagayan de Oro City Historical and Cultural Commission, who first alerted me to the fact that the Calaganan Mutiny was indeed sparked by the Katipuneros of Luzon.

Montalvan admits a direct link between the Katipunan revolt in Luzon and the Calaganan Mutiny has yet to be established ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’, but there appears to be extant sources which appear to indicate that such a link did exist, and that Pio Valenzuela did indeed come to Mindanao on the instructions of Andres Bonifacio to foment a revolt against the Spaniards.

“Should a direct link be established between Bonifacio's Katipunan revolt in Luzon and the Calaganan Mutiny, then the people of Mindanao can rightfully petition the national government to add a ninth ray to the sun in the Philippine flag,” Montalvan said.

What needs to be done at this point is to verify primary sources such as the Consular Letters of the French Embassy in Manila to Paris where the Calaganan Mutiny is described in detail, Montalvan added.

The letters are now in the archives of the National Museum in Manila, as are other extant documents like the historical account of the Jesuit historian Pablo Pastells in which the "Calaganan Mutiny" is also described in detail.

The Calaganan Mutiny is also detailed in the letters of Vicente Elio y Sanchez of Camiguin to the Manila-based Spanish newspaper La Oceania Española and two other historical sources but has never been linked to the “First Cry of Balintawak” led by Andres Bonifacio.

One reason for this could be that Elio's letters never got past Spanish censors anxious to douse the flickering flames of revolution which had broken out in Luzon.

In late August of 1896, the Katipunan revolution against Spain had broken out in Luzon. Exactly a month later, or September 29, 1896, the mutiny exploded among the so-called Disciplinarios, a group of Filipinos from Luzon deported to the Spanish fort in Calaganan for training in military discipline to fight against the Moros of Lanao.

Upon receiving instructions from the Katipunan in Manila, they raided the Spanish armory and proceeded to Cagayan to attack the town, being joined by some Moros.

On the way, they ransacked convents and homes of Spanish peninsulars. However, a joint force of Spanish soldiers led by the Gobernadorcillo Juan de Pratts and Filipino Voluntarios (volunteers) repulsed them in Sta. Ana, Tagoloan. From Cagayan, they proceeded to Sumilao, Bukidnon where they were joined by a band of 50 Higa-onons.

They next attacked Balingasag, and raided the outpost of Gingoog on January 1897. By that time, news of Rizal's execution had reached Cagayan and Misamis, and this further stoked the anger of the town folk, fanning the flames of the local Katipuneros. It took the Spanish gunboat Mariveles, recalled from the Tercio Distrito de Surigao, to finally subdue the resistance in Gingoog.

This was the only known Katipunan revolt in the whole of Mindanao which occurred at about the same time as the general uprising in Luzon, but mi compoblano Tony Enriquez tells us there was one other which occurred later in Zamboanga which successfully ousted the Spaniards in that riconcito de España only to sputter later against the superior firepower of opportunistic American imperialists who made R.P. their first and only colony.

What appears to be remarkable about this particular mutiny is that besides happening at approximately the same time as the Katipunan revolt in Luzon, there is apparently a direct link between it and the Katipunan revolt in the person of Pio Valenzuela, a cousin of the woman amazon Arcadia Valenzuela of Lapasan, Cagayan de Misamis (as Cagayan de Oro was then known) who visited Mindanao during this period (ostensibly on instructions from Andres Bonifacio himself!) to instigate a similar revolt in Mindanao.

Augustinian Recollect chronicles confirm that this revolt was in fact instigated by a communication from Katipuneros in Luzon, making Mindanao the ninth province to join the Katipunan revolt, albeit not included in the eight rays of the sun in the Philippine flag which represent the eight provinces which first rose in revolt against Spanish tyranny.

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