Huwebes, Setyembre 8, 2011


BEFORE Leon Kilat's arrival in Cebu, the Cebuanos were already organized under the following structure: Candido Padilla, chief; Teofisto Cavan, secretary; Alejandro Climaco, treasurer; and Atilano Lopez, Frisco Abriyo, Luis Flores, Eugenio Gines, Florencio Gonzales, Lucio Herrera, Jacinto Pacaña, Francisco Llamas, Arsenio Cabreros, Justo Cabajar and P. Toribio Padilla as members.
Part of the old Magallanes es St.They would often meet in secret places, sometimes in the house of Cabeza Llamas or the Chinese Lucio Herrera. Or at Jacinto Pacaña's place or at the house of Capitan Candido Padilla. Andres Abellana would relate that the house of Paulino Solon in Sambag (where the Don Vicente Sotto Memorial Hospital is now located) was used often because it was secluded and had plenty of trees. Solon (also known as Paulino Bungi) had a huge front yard where a tamarind tree stood and benches made of wood or split bamboo.
No exact date is given when Leon Kilat arrived for his final mission in Cebu. Some sources say he arrived in Mid-February or late March of 1898. But according to Andres Abellana in 1928, Kilat visited him sometime in December 1897. Afterwards, he was introduced to other cabecillas and leaders of the local chapter.
But before him, Kilat had already met Mariano Hernandez, one the organizers of the katipunan. Kilat had hesitations about Abellana being a former capitan who might report him to the authorities. Abellana in turn had his own apprehensions about Kilat whom he suspected of being a spy who was just fishing for information.
Thus, Abellana told him he did not want the Spanish regime to fall. Still Abellana would introduce him to other ring leaders like Candido Padilla and Florencio Gonzales who, like Abellana, refused to trust him.
"Nagkinidhatay lang ug mibalidad," recalled Abellana.
Finally, they brought him to Mariano Hernandez who showed them Aguinaldo's letter introducing Leon Kilat. The letter erased all their doubts, and they were happy that the man they had waited for was here at last.
In the meantime, the propaganda materials prepared and compiled by Domingo and Plata reached Cebu through Anastacio Oclarino and Gavino Gabucayan in January 1898. The latter had instructions to organize the katipunan in the Visayas and Mindanao and prepare the plan of establishing a dictatorial government. But this would not materialize due to the arrest and execution of Cavan and Gonzales.
In the instruction of Plata and Domingo, the persons appointed to lead this government were: Florencio Gonzales, as general in chief; Luis Flores, general for war plans; Jacinto Pacaña, supplier of weapons; Lucio Herrera, treasurer of war; Solomon Manalili, auditor; Candido Padilla, captain of the army; Fortunato Gonzales, lt. col. of the army and Bonifacio Arenas, division colonel. Mariano Hernandez was the supreme military authority who appointed the members of the macheteros (bolomen) against the cazadores, the bodyguards of Gen. Montero.
Aguinaldo's letter must have superceded the order of Domingo and Plata because it was Leon Kilat who had now assumed the leadership of the katipunan. He met with Luis Flores, Florencio Gonzales, Alejandro Antequia and Crisologo Franco Bermejo in whose presence he organized barangay no. 1 with Flores as chieftain in Sawang, Cebu City.
The old San Nicolas churchIn the town of San Nicolas, he made contact with Teopisto Cavan in his house, then requested him to fetch Gregorio Padilla. In a meeting with the latter, Leon Kilat asked the latter not to divulge the plan of the revolt if he valued his own life. Then he organized barangay no. 2 with Padilla as chief of San Nicolas.
Leon himself assumed command of the katipunan army in the same locality, ordering every person to produce bladed weapons following certain measurements and telling each one to remember him only as Leon Kilat.
The katipunan was growing fast. While Leon Kilat was in Cebu, many young men were drawn to the organization. In the workplaces where abaca was being processed and in commericial houses, very few were not members of the katipunan. The young men of San Nicolas and the city Cebu were one in their aspirations for the motherland. In practically all places, there were groups headed by their own jefes, ready to fight.
Then an important meeting took place on March 11, 1898 at the sugar cane field of Jacinto Pacaña where it was decided to start the revolt on April 8 (Good Friday).The suggestion was brought up by Catalino Fernandez who argued that the all the Spaniards would be joining the procession on Good Friday and their guns would be facing down and without cartridges. They could take all the leaders in one blow with the least resistance.
Present in that meeting were the leaders of the katipunan in Cebu: Leon Kilat, Candido Padilla, Luis Flores, Eugenio Gines, Florencio Cavan, Jacinto Pacaña, Atilano Lopez, Francisco Llamas, Alejandro Climaco, Justo Cabajar, Alejo Miñoza, Hipolito Labra, Placido Datan, Alipio Barrera, Alejandro Villona, Nicanor Avila and others. They resolved to keep their agreements in secret that not even their wives, parents or brothers and sisters would be told about their fateful decisions that day.
They also conspired with the members of the voluntarios leales (royal volunteers) that in case of a shooting match with katipuneros, they would fire over their heads. Or they would aim their guns at the Spaniards should the latter refuse to surrender. Everybody in the meeting agreed.
That same March 11 meeting decided to send three leaders to Manila for military training. Francisco Llamas was told to leave immediately, bringing money and bladed weapons with him. Nicolas Godines and Eugenio Gines would follow later. This they did to avoid detection by Spanish authorities who were getting more and more suspicious of people going on boat trips to Manila.
But these activities could not go on without being detected by the Spanish authorities. By the middle of March 1898, they began to notice certain conditions in the city and San Nicolas. Rumors floated about the existence of a secret society. Many of the katipuneros, especially those who frequented Manila, were placed under surveillance.



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.
A group of unidentified revolutionariesSounds 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.


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.
Vendors in Taboan at the turn of the 20th centuryLeading 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.

Leon Kilat

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.
An early picture of Leon KilatHis 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.

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