Recruitment and Beginnings
Arrival from Manila
The First Martyrs
Amulets and Anting-anting
April 3, Palm Sunday
Massing of Forces
Revolutionaries Gain Ground
The Retreat Begins
Betrayal and Death
Regrouping in the Mountains
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.
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.