Cebuano Heroes & History

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cebuano Heroes & History


The Philippines is Asia’s first republic. While its colonial history has afforded geographic unity to its more than 7,000 islands, it is still a nation divided by language, religion and culture. Mga Bayani sa Sugbo: Cebu's Contributions to Nation-building exhibit commemorates famous and lesser known individuals who have contributed to the making of both Cebuano society and culture and of the Filipino nation. It was opened last August 26, 2011 at the Casa Gorordo Museum in Cebu City.

The Culture and Heritage Unit of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation (RAFI) initiated a partnership with Cebu City Government and Cebuano Studies Center in celebration of National Heroes Day on August 29 and the Language Month in August.

It covers the achievements of these individuals from 1898 to 1930s in various fields from freedom fighting to statecraft to civic works. A Cebuano hero is a warrior, pacifist, agitator, priest, feminist, public servant, aging philantropist, a rich man, a poor man, an essayist, publisher and a poet among many others.

Quick Crash History of the Revolutions in Cebu:
Although the outbreak of the Revolution in Cebu did not begin until early 1898, as early as 1895, Andres Bonifacio, the Supremo of the Katipunan, was already making attempts to send representatives in the Visayas. When the Revolution broke out in the provinces in Luzon, tensions were high in Cebu, but the Spaniards took pains not to let any information through the masses. This, however, did not prevent Cebuanos from still hearing about the fights occurring in Luzon through merchants that came in ships coming in from Manila. Therefore, although Cebuano participation in the Revolution came a little later, an awareness of what was happening in Luzon already existed amongst the Cebuanos.


The outbreak of the Revolution in Cebu was marked by the revolt that occurred on April 3, 1898 at Valeriano Weyler Street, now known as Tres de Abril. It is said that what precipitated this event was the Camba incident in Binondo where fighting with the Spaniards led to the killing of about 70 Filipinos. This is significant to the Cebuanos because stories circulating at that time about this incident state that most of those killed were Visayan sailors.


Accounts describing how this outbreak on Palm Sunday, April 3, 1898 occurred reveal that tensions were mounting heavily in Cebu. A wave of arrests made by the Spaniards led the Cebuanos to think that the Spaniards were closing in on their plans. An attack by suspected Katipuneros on 3 Filipino Guardia Civil in Talisay on the night of April 2 led the Spaniards to turn on the offensive. This, in turn, made the Cebuanos feel the moment had come for them to rise in revolt. Therefore, although their original plans called for a revolt on April 8, the succeeding events led the Cebuanos to revolt earlier than planned.


A dramatic but interesting portrayal of the moments before the revolt is given in Enriquez de la Calzada’s work with Cebuano women bawling over their men as they prepared themselves for an upcoming battle. The men, in turn, took pains in wiping themselves with oil and other “supernatural” concoctions to ensure protection in the revolt. Enriquez de la Calzada’s account has been mentioned to be a romanticized account of the revolt in Cebu and caution is indeed needed when dealing with his work. Nevertheless, it affords mention because his accounts are said to be based on interviews he conducted with Cebuano Katipuneros.


Leading the Cebuano revolutionaries in this historic revolt of Palm Sunday was a legendary Katipunero hailing from Negros, Pantaloen Villegas or “Leon Kilat.” A mystical figure shrouded with stories about his feats and fearlessness in battles and all the more epitomized by his controversial assassination in Carcar, a town south of Cebu, Leon Kilat was sent to Cebu by Katipuneros in Manila for the purpose of heading the revolt here, with the assistance of the Cebuanos. See below for the list of Cebuano Heroes & History:.

Sergio Osmeña Sr. - Undoubtedly one of the well known Cebuanos, he was the most prominent statesman in his time. He came from a well-established family and served Emilio Aguinaldo as journalist and courier. He was appointed governor of Cebu and got selected as a delegate to the St. Louis World Exposition. He got elected vice president with Manuel Quezon for the Commonwealth government and assumed presidency when Quezon died.

Here are the other Cebuano Heroes (Just Click on the names for they are linked to a more detailed post):

Cebuanas in History:
Largely muted in historical narratives were the women who played supportive but no less crucial and dangerous roles during the revolution.

We know of Felicidad Climaco, sister of the patriots Juan and Arsenio; the Velez sisters, who brought food and supplies to the revolutionaries; and Constancia Alaura, Paz Javier and Juliana Reviles who distributed talismans to Katipuneros. There were also the Hermanas de la Caridad who took care of wounded Katipuneros and civilians.

This rich information about our local history is unfortunately not included in our curriculum when I was in elementary and highschool, but nonetheless, as part of my advoacy, I blog what I learn and I blog the things I discover to be interesting most especially if its about one's own culture and heritage.

Cebuanas involved in the Revolution. Largely muted in historical narratives were the women who played supportive but no less crucial and dangerous roles during the revolution. Most of the few mentioned in books were related to prominent Katipuneros. The women were sometimes arrested, together with their children, by both Spaniards and Americans in an attempt to get to the Katipuneros. We know of Felicidad Climaco, sister of the patriots Juan and Arsenio; the Velez sisters who brought food and supplies to the revolutionaries; and the Hermanas de la Caridad who took care of wounded Katipuneros and civilians.

Exhibits like this "shows our dynamism" as we just became the ASEAN City of Culture. And also, now we know where some of our street names came from and their profile and history accompanied as well!
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1 comment :

  1. thanks .... I Love Cebuano Heroes !!

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