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Cinco De Noviembre: New evidence emerging that Spain knew all along of rebels’ plan

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It was a tale oft-told by history enthusiasts, hacendados, lolos with their apos on their knees, and history teachers reliving the story from books and tales handed down from generations: how our revolutionaries duped the colonizers into believing that they were force to reckon with by carrying rolled up mats and bamboo painted to look cannons, and pieces of wood carved to look like rifles.

The ruse was so effective that the Spaniards eventually ceded control, and the revolt where not a single shot was supposedly fired went down in history as Cinco de Noviembre, with two the leaders of that revolution having major streets named after them.

Cinco de Noviembre is the popular nickname attached to the 1898 Negros Revolution. The Revolution was led and joined in by notable names in Negros Island including the Aranetas of Bago, led by its patriarch Juan, as well as the Lacsons in Silay led by Aniceto.

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This was apparently triggered by the revolution in Luzon led by Andres Bonifacio and the Katipuneros. Historical accounts revealed that at first, Negros Island was not keen nor enthused about the revolt led by their Tagalog counterparts. But eventually, some of the sugar barons developed sympathies for the revolt led by the Tagalogs, and soon they themselves decided to stage their own revolt, and began arming themselves.

Official accounts said that the planners had intended on staging the revolt on November 3, with the revolt going province-wide on November 5. The revolt, which started in central and Southern Negros eventually was caught by neighboring towns and cities.

Hptina24, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Hptina24, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When civil authorities saw how the revolutionaries were determined with their cause, they surrendered. Things came to a head when the revolutionaries marched to the province’s capital, with Aniceto Lacson and Nicolas Golez leading about a thousand rebels and took their position near Lupit River. The rebels looked formidable to their foes with their cannons and rifles; unbeknownst to the enemy, these firearms were actually just rolled mats, bamboo, and pieces of wood made to look like cannons and rifles.

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The rebels eventually seized political power, and established the Negros Republic with Lacson as its first President.

The general narrative, according to Chairman of the Negros Occidental Historical Council Inc Neil Solomon Locsin, is that the Spaniards were caught by surprise.

But new and emerging evidence suggests that the Spaniards had an inkling all along about what the rebels were hatching.

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Locsin told DNX Negros Island at that time, the island especially in in the rural areas, the babaylanes were still very much influential as leaders.

“We know that the babaylanes are very much anti-friar, anti-establishment at that time,” Locsin said.

The hold of the babaylanes being strong in the Island was key in fermenting the anti-establishment sentiment which eventually fueled the Negros Revolution.

“They (the Spaniards) knew or at least had an idea about the plan,” he said, and this was not surprising given that the memory of the Katipunan-led revolt is still fresh.

And the rest, as they say, is history with Negros finally free from Spain’s hold and able to declare their own independence. Until of course the Americans came.

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Hannah A. Papasin
Hannah A. Papasinhttp://facebook.com/hannah.mariveles
Writer. Critic. Professor. She started writing since primary school and now has two published textbooks on communication. A film buff, she's a Communication, Media Literacy and Journalism Professor of the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, and has a Master's Degree in English.
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