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Photo of Rene Michael BañosWhat NHI should have done instead for Iligan
By Rene Michael Baños
The National Historical Institute recently did Filipinos in general and Iliganons in particular, a disservice by shamelessly declaring the Macaraeg-Macapagal House a "heritage site" -- with the sitting president, no less, presiding over the farce.

Even the wildest stretches of imagination cannot compare the historicity of that house to a nearby site where the only Katipunan-led revolt in Mindanao occurred 107 years ago.

Map of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro

Broad, red line shows possible path of Calaganan Mutiny. Extent of Bukidnon penetration is speculative.

Map is revised from Encarta World Atlas 1998.

Si, amigos! If only NHI did its research in Iligan historical sites better (which I doubt very much they did with the Macaraeg-Macapagal house, which was more pressed to them), they would have been aware that not very far away lay the remnants of the Fuerza dela Nueva Victoria which, once verified (as I am sure it will) could change the way the present Philippine flag looks like.

Local historians believe government should fund further research into determining if there is a need to redesign the sun in the Philippine flag with nine instead of eight rays. As every grade school student knows, the eight rays of the sun in the Philippine tricolor stand for the eight provinces in Luzon which first rose in revolt against the Spanish colonizers in 1896.

But my good friend, columnist and local historian Antonio "Nono" J. Montalvan II says extant historical sources indicates there was one other Katipunan-led revolt in the islands which occurred during that same period in 1896 but which has not been recognized by Filipino historians.

"The Calaganan Mutiny" is detailed in the letters of Vicente Elio y Sanchez to the Manila-based Spanish newspaper La Oceania Española and two other historical sources but has never been linked to the "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 smoldering flames of revolution which had started smoking in Luzon.

The mutiny broke out in September 29, 1896 (Iliganons, take note of this date!) among the so-called Disciplinarios or conscripts consisting mostly of convicts from Luzon, who were pressed into battle against the Moros in Lanao. They raided the Spanish armory in Fort Nueva Victoria in Kalaganan (present day Balo-i, Lanao del Norte) and proceeded to Cagayan to attack the town, being joined by some Moros.

On the way, they ransacked convents and homes of Spanish peninsulars in
Manticao, Naawan, Initao, Alubijid and El Salvador, Molugan and Opol. However, a joint force of Spanish soldiers and Filipino Voluntarios (among of whom was Don Apolinar Velez of Cagayan de Misamis) repulsed them in Sta. Ana, Tagoloan.

From Cagayan, they proceeded to Bukidnon where they were joined by a band of natives. 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 fanned the flames of the local Katipuneros. It took the Spanish gunboat Mariveles, recalled from the Tercio Distrito de Surigao, to subdue the resistance. This is the only known Katipunan revolt in the whole of Mindanao.

What appears to be remarkable about this particular mutiny is that besides happening barely a month after the Katipunan revolt in Luzon, there appears to be a direct link between it and the Katipunan revolt through a courier sent to Iligan with the object purpose of inciting the mutiny (Ruiz de Santa Eulalia, 1925).

Another version from the Jesuit historian Pastells contends that some Katipuneros captured from the Manila outbreak were deported to Iligan and it was this same group which instigated the Misamis rebellion (Schereurs translation, 1996).

Still another link was Pio Valenzuela, who was sent by Andres Bonifacio to see Jose Rizal in Dapitan and convince him to support and instigate a similar revolt in Mindanao. Valenzuela is believed to have made a side trip to Cagayan de Misamis (as Cagayan de Oro was then known) or at least sent contacts to see his first-degree cousin Baltazar Valenzuela of Lapasan, where he earlier migrated from Polo, Bulacan.

However, Montalvan cautions that a direct link between the Katipunan revolt in Luzon and the Calagan Mutiny have 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.

Another unique aspect of the revolt which merits attention at this particular time in Mindanao's history was the participation in it of Mindanao's tri-people: Christian immigrants, forty Bukidnon natives and Manobo baganis (or warriors) from Butuan, and ten Moros, making it not only a Katipunan revolt but one in which all three of Mindanao's tri-people was represented.

Montalvan concurs that 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.

What needs to be done at this point is to verify primary sources where the Calaganan Mutiny is described in detail, such as those found in the National Archives and other corroborative documents also found in various locations in Manila.

This, is what NHI should instead have done, rather than declaring the Macaraeg-Macapagal a historical heritage site without I am sure even a perfunctory evaluation of its historicity relative to other heritage sites nearby, such as the Fuerza de la Nueva Victoria in Balo-i.

I pray the tri-peoples of Mindanao, especially their historical and civic leaders, unite in petitioning NHI to further investigate the story of the Calaganan Mutiny. In the future, perhaps we can create a "Calaganan Mutiny historical trek" that would take Mindanaoans young and old through Balo-i; Manticao; Naawan; Initao; Alubijid; El Salvador; Molugan; Opol; Cagayan de Oro; Sta. Ana, Tagoloan; Bukidnon; Balingasag, and Gingoog.

As my Pilipino and Philippine History teachers used to say, "Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi darating sa pinaroroonan."


Michael Baños is a former journalist who worked as correspondent for Business World, TODAY, The Philippine Star, The Manila Times, Agence France Presse and the ABS-CBN's Sarimanok News Network (now the ABS-CBN News Channel). He also worked extensively in business promotion with the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc. (Oro Chamber) and the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Corridor (CIC) Special Development Project Management Office.

Published by the Heritage Conservation Advocates, Cagayan de Oro, Philippines, November 14, 2005.
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