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THE HISTORY OF DASMARIÑAS: SPANISH COLONIZATION

End of the Forest

This town was called Perez-Dasmariñas during the time that it was just a part of its mothertown Imus. It was once a modest part of a vast Recollect Hacienda that supported all the various missionary activities of the Recollects in the Philippines and in Spain.

An ensemble of nipa houses in the other barrios of the hacienda like Malinta, Nancaan, Salacay, Paliparan, Malagasang and Salitran were grouped and migrated into a reduccion in barrio Tampus in 1866. Reduccion which originally meant the religious and civic aspect of friar missionary activities, later, came to have an intention of a process of resettling and unifying a community, thereby creating a newly organized town or barrio. For the Spanish missionaries and friars, this process was very advantageous not only for evangelization but also for bringing people under the Spanish rule. Thus a new town called with its autochthonous name Tampus was formed. From that time on, the people of Tampus built their house within the hearing distance of the church bells – "bajo las toques de campana".

The word "tampus" means "end of the forest". Thus, the town at the end of the forest originally Tampus or Perez-Dasmariñas was created. It was here were Don Juan Ramirez was elected as gobernadorcillo.

Perez-Dasmariñas, as it used to be known during the Spanish rule, is situated about 32 kilometers south of Manila. It is bounded on the south by Silang, on the east by Carmona and San Pedro, Laguna and on the west by San Francisco de Malabon (General Trias). The old town could be reached through a good network of roads and bridges built by the best architects and constructors of the Recollect Order.

The old town of Perez-Dasmariñas was made up of several barrios. Salitran was considered the most important and famous during the Spanish regime because it was the site of the Recollect casa-hacienda as well as one of the fiercest battles between the Filipino revolutionarios and the Spanish army. Salitran came from the Tagalog word "sal-it" meaning "people from another town". It was also once named as Bayanan because of the large concentration of people in the place. Since it was a part of the Recollect Hacienda de Imus, there were a lot of people from different provinces who lived in the place working as farmhands. Layong Iloko, a place in Salitran, strengthens the belief that there were Ilocanos who settled in the place. Pasong Santol in Salitran got its name because of the abundance of santol trees in the place.

Tampus, the center of the newly formed town was located at the end of the deep forest of the place in contrast with one of the sitios which was called "Pintong gubat" or gate of the forest.

Sometimes, a name of a barrio is taken from its location as in the case of Burol which suggests the high location of the barrio. Sabang on the other hand means "crossroad" or "crossing".

Salawag is believed to be the old barrio Salacay. The word "salawag" refers to long bamboo poles to which nipa roofing are tied up. Salawag is sometimes also called "crossing" because it serves as a crossroad between Paliparan and Salitran.

Nancaan, now called Langkaan, was derived from the Tagalog word "langka" (jackfruit). It is the biggest fruit tree in the Philippines which was brought from India to Malaysia and found its way to our country. The presence of lot of jackfruit trees in the place must be the reason why it was called Nancaan.

On July 18, 1899, three more sitios of Perez-Dasmariñas were raised to the rank of barrios. Barrio Sampaloc owning to the abundance of tamarind trees in the place; barrio Tamban was renamed San Jose and Barrio Lucsuhin became San Agustin.

Interestingly, the foundation of the town Perez-Dasmariñas was quite unique from all other towns of Cavite. For the first time, a town was created not by a preceding petition of the barrio people and its local officials as required by legal procedures and custom at that time. Instead, high ranking church officials and the Cavite politico military governor were the prime initiators of its foundation.

As early as April 9, 1864, a council composed of the Archbishop of Manila, the politico military governor of Cavite, the Prior Provincial of the Augustinian Recollect Order and the parish priest of Imus met to discuss the creation of the new town and parish separated from Imus. At that time, there were only 643 inhabitants that lived in Tampus, the heart of the new community. After thorough discussions, the Gobierno Civil Superior of the Islands approved the creation of the new town on May 12, 1864. Two years later in 1866, the new town was to honor the 7th Governor General of the Philippines, Don Gomez Perez Dasmariñas (1590-1593), the new town was rechristened Perez-Dasmariñas.

Governor General Gomez Perez Dasmariñas, a Knight of Santiago was a native of Galicia, Spain and a former magistrate of Murcia and Cartagena, Spain. He brought a lot of economic improvements during the early days of colonization. From Spain, he brought Spanish experts on farming to teach people how to improve their crops. He ordered the construction of Fort Santiago, the strengthening of the defenses at the Royal Arsenal of Cavite in 1592. During his time, the first printing press was established with Tomas Pinpin as the first Filipino trained printer. He also promoted the inviolability of mails. I was during his time when more land grants were given to private individuals who later sold them to the friars. Hoping to obtain further glory for Spain, he made an expedition to the Moluccas. Unfortunately in this expedition, the Chinese rowers mutinied and treacherously killed the governor.

Toward the end of 1866, the new town Perez-Dasmariñas has complied with the requirements of a typical Philippine town: a spacious town plaza at the center of the town with the church and the convento made of stone and bricks; a casa tribunal made of wood and nipa; a primary school for children and various houses made of nipa were built on their designated places; and a cemetery located around 200 yards away from the church and surrounded with wooden fence.

According to Fr. Emil Quilata OAR, a historian of the Recollects, the friars saw to it that the children of Perez-Dasmariñas where taught the basic tenets of the Christian faith and the basic knowledge of counting, reading and writing. Parish priests were required to train and pay good teachers. They were to see to it that basic necessities for teaching purposes were provided. Later, the school was subsidized by the local fund of the town.

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The New Christian Community

Since Perez-Dasmariñas was part of the Hacienda de Imus, it had always been under the spiritual care of the Recollect Parishof Nuestra Señora del Pilar in Imus. Imus in turn was created as a separate independent parish in 1795 and was separated then from the parish of Kawit.

For the sake of the people of a growing town and for the interest of the Recollects, a petition was sent to Madrid for the creation of a new parish. Hence, on October 21, 1866, Her Most Catholic Majesty Queen Isabella II signed the Royal Order creating the new parish of Perez-Dasmariñas. The Royal Order states:

"Her Majesty, the Queen (Mary God Keep Her), conceded to approve by a Royal Order last October 21, 1866, the erection of a new parish in the new town of Perez-Dasmariñas, independent from Imus, its origin, in the province of Cavite. With previous instructions from the proceedings where the interested parties were and for reason of convenience and need that the said town should constitute an independent parish...with the use of all corresponding authority because of its sacredness and furthermore, in accordance with the Council of Trent, Chapter IV Section XXIV about Reformation which is in accord with Law No. XXX first book on Recopilacion de las Indias, we have established jurisdiction separate from Imus, her origin. The limits of this new parish shall be Religious Order of the Augustinian Recollect Fathers."

However, Royal Orders took sometime before it reached the Islands and its actual implementation. In 1867, the first Recollect parish priest of Perez-Dasmariñas, Fr. Valentin Diaz, ORSA was installed. Fr. Valentin came from Rincon de Soto Logrono, Spain. He was born on November 3, 1837 and was ordained in November 1860. This young missionary was immediately sent to the Philippines and one of his first assignments was Perez-Dasmariñas. He died in Manila on November 20, 1877.

The new parish of Perez-Dasmariñas was placed under the patronage of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, with the archbishop of Manila and the Recollect Prior Provincial as its main proponents.

Don Esperidion Arevalo of Sta. Cruz, Manila, a famous sculptor, was commissioned by the Recollect Provincial to curve the image of La Purisima Concepcion in 1867. Arevalo was the same artist who the new classical type of retablo of Imus in 1851.

The parish church had two old bells. One was acquired upon the erection of the parish. This bell, which is small, has the inscription "Perez Dasmariñas año 1867 approx. 14 libras". The second one was donated by the local principalia of the town. It was earld in 1890 by the famous fundicion de Hilario Sunico.

Very little data are available regarding the architectural design of the church. Old photographs taken toward he end of the Spanish rule showed that the church had a very simple facade without a bellfry. The convento is nicely built with a spacious veranda. Regalado Trota Jose Sr., an expert on Cavite Ecclesiastical History and former curator of Ayala Museum, mentioned in one of the conferences that he gave on "Church Expenses in 19th Century Cavite" that the parish of Maragondon lent the sum of $1,000 (Mexican) for the repairs and renovation of the church of Perez-Dasmariñas in 1874. Later in 1880, San Francisco de Malabon lent $500 (Mexican) to Perez-Dasmariñas for the same purpose. Mr. Aquino Garcia in his Masteral dissertation on Dasmariñas mentioned the existence of the record of that time. There was another recored regarding the death of a newly elected gobernadorcillo, Eugenio Ambalada, on November 1, 1885.

Apart from the Recollect friars assigned in the casa hacienda in Salitran, other Recollect friars were assigned as parish priest of the town until the outbreak of the revolution. Fr. Pedro Mollar ORSA succeeded Fr. Valentin. He was born in Huesca, Spain on April 5, 1838 and was assigned as missionary to various parts of the Philippines before he became the parish priest of Perez-Dasmariñas. Hedied in 1886 while he was sailing in Suez Canal on his way back to Spain.

Then, Fr. Toribio Mateo ORSA of Corella, Navarra, Spain. He was born on April 16, 1846. He too was assigned in various missions before and after Perez-Dasmariñas. He had two separate terms as parish priest. Unofortunately, he was the parish priest during the outbreak of the revolution and he was killed by the revolucionarios in September 1896.

Fr. Candido Puerta ORSA of Villanueva de la Torre, Guadalajara, Spain came to the town for the first time without parish assignment but just to learn the Tagalog language. However, he later became the parish priest from 1887 to 1894.

With the death of Toribio Mateo in 1896, Perez-Dasmariñas lost her resident parish priest Fr. Victor Oscoz ORSA, the parish priest of Imus simultaneously administered the parish of the town. After the Philippine revolution, the parish was given to the Filipino secular clergy.

 
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The People

From the original 643 inhabitants of the old Perez-Dasmariñas, the population grew and so did the town. By 1888, there were already more than 4, 576 souls. Gradually, the economic life of the people improved. The inquilinos (lessees) of the hacienda rose to become the middle class. Dasmariñas, 8, 664 hectares were all farmed in 1890 except for 3, 770 hectares (including parcels at Gatdula and Balimbing). Lessees paid the usual land rent base on the measurement of lowland and upland riceland set up by the "uldog" (friar administrator) of casa hacienda de Salitran. In 1880's, there were 200 quinones of dry and 50 quinones of wet ricelands yielding some 2,300 cavan4s of palay, 5,000 piculs of mucavado sugar, 50 cavans of corn and camote, 60 piculs of tao and 25 piculs of peanuts. Dasmariñas was a highly advanced town where not only textiles from Batangas and Bulacan looms, but also imported European cloth from Manila reached the town elites. Fish and other staple food however still came from nearby towns. Surprisingly until 1880, there was no public market in the town. There was a principal public dirt road in Perez-Dasmariñas that went to Silang which was passable to all kinds of vehicle only during dry season, but reachable only by foot and horseback during wet season. By 1870, mails from Manila were received at a central station in Cavite Puerto were it was sorted. Mails were brought via Kawit, then Imus then Dasmariñas.

Culturally, Perez-Dasmariñas was not too behind for by 1874 there were already two competing brass bands in the town. Don Valeriano Campos, an inquilino and a former gobernadorcillo of the town (1879 to 1881) organized one of the brass bands. He was popularly known as Capitang Vale. He was the highest taxpayer and owned a house made of cogon and wood on Calle Real with an appraised value of P300. His son Placido Campos learned his trade and also considered a man of means. Manuela Monzon, another well to do woman owned a house at the town's main street. The house made of nipa and wood was valued at P200 and was rented as a boys' school for P72.

Nonetheless in 1892, there was a noticeable decrease of the male population. As conflict between the friar-hacenderos, the inquilinos and casamas multiplied more people went into hiding in the deep forest of Perez-Dasmariñas. The rise of tulisanismo in Cavite was oftentimes connected with agrarian problems in the hacienda town owned by the friars.

Casimiro Camerino, a peasant leader from Imus was unjustly labeled as "tulisan" by the Spanish authorities. When the agrarian unrest resurged in the mid 1860's, Camerino as recognize head of peasants, organized a group that went to the hills. His gang of more than 50 men used the forest of Tampus and Salitran as their hideout. They scattered bamboo traps on the ground as shown by a basket filled with offensive spiny materials and empty jars of gunpowder found by Spanish authorities. No wonder that one river in Nancaan was called "Pasong Ladron" (ladron-thief). This river was usually used by the tulisanes.

In 1890, San Roque, Cavite was threatened by a 50 member tulisan band coming from Salitran under Jose Espiritu of Joseng Kastila. Through some connections with the principalia of Imus, the planned attack on that Good Friday night did not materialize. However, the night procession Sto. Sepulcro was already cancelled just in case the attack push through.

Perez-Dasmariñas' reputation as the haven of tulisanes was so notorious that even late in the early 1960's, people would not dare to travel in the dark along the highways of the town.
 
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Recollect Hacienda

On December 5, 1588, at the Agustinian Provincial Chapter of Toledo, a group of Agustinian in the Spanish province of Castille sought to live a more austere and perfect form of life. Thus a new reformed group was formed which came to be known as the Agustinian Recollects. The Rules of Life was approved in Talavera de la Reina in 1589. In 1602, the Holy See made the Recollects an independent province. Sensing the great need for missionaries in the Philippines, the Recollects decided to leave monastic enclosure and made the Philippines their mission territory.

At the beginning of the Spanish rule in the Philippines, royal land grants were given to soldiers and officers as rewards for their faithful services to the crown. In 1598, King Philip II limited this practice to cover only areas that had not been cultivated by the "indios". Royal land grants within 100 kms. Radius of Manila was given to the Spanish settlers. However the start of the Galleon trade between Manila and Acapulco, Mexico brought prosperity in the lives of those who participated the trade. Cavite Puerto, the center of the galleon trade and the second capital of the Philippines was not very far from Perez-Dasmariñas. The silver and gold that flowed from the fabled galleon trade attracted many encomenderos, who decided to sell their land to their fellow Spaniards who in turn either sold or donated them to various religious orders as they engaged themselves into more lucrative business.

In 1666, a few decade after the arrival of the Augustinian Recollects in the Philippines, they begun acquiring vast tracts of land. Its first acquisition was the Hacienda de San Nicolas de Tolentino, formerly known as Hacienda de Sta. Cruz in Bacoor. On November 4, 1666, Doña Hipolita Zarate Y Ocequera donated the hacienda to the Recollect Fathers of Intramuros on condition that masses would be said for her soul.

Then on July 4, 1626, Don Juan Oleas made a series of purchase that culminated with his complete ownership of the lands formerly owned by former Governor-General Santiago de Veyra and Luis Perez Dasmariñas. When Don Juan died, Doña Maria de Roa vda. De Olaes, who inherited the property located along the enclaves of Cavite Viejo, Binakayan and Imus, sold her land. This property known as San Juan del Rio, was auctioned by the Auto de la Real Audencia on December 1, 1865. Gen. Tomas de Andaya bought the land for P12,500 and took possession of it on January 18, 1686. It seemed that he was just a dummy because on November of he same year, he transferred the ownership to the Augustinian Recollect Order.

This was followed on October 3, 1690. when the secular priest B. Jose de Solis sacristan mayor de la Iglesia parroquial de Cavite Puerto, sold his property to the Recollects for the amount of P1,500. This was situated at Bagong Bayan de Calompang on Sitio Camarin.

Finally on June 12, 1812, Don Manuel frutos Andreis of Comercio de Manila sold his land too or P27, 000 to the Recollect Fathers. This land acquisition completed what was used to be known as Hacienda de Imus. The acquired total land area was 18,419 hectares, 56 areas, and 12 centiareas. Later, the recollects reconstitute the hacienda. All the properties in the town of bacoor, came to be known as Hacienda de San Nicolas de Tolentino while those which comprised Imus, Binakayan and Perez-Dasmariñas came to be known as Hacienda de Imus.

Various chapters of the Order justified the ownership of the hacienda as necessary support for their pastoral and missionary activities in the islands and in Spain. All the Recollect Seminaries in Monteagudo(1828), Marcilla(1865) and San Milan de la Congolla(1878) received financial assistance from the haciendas. Even the expenses of the Comisario General de los Recoletos in Spain was taken from the product of the hacienda.

In the beginning, the hacienda did not earn much. It suffered even worse setback during the British invasion. However by 1896, financial reports told part of the haciendas were prosperous. Rice and sugar became major product of the Recollect estates. And as the hacienda prospered, the best Recollect architects and engineers built various infrastructures. Friars were not only for the things of the spirit, they were also gifted in worldly affairs.

In Perez-Dasmariñas, a large casa-hacienda made of stone and bricks were built in Barrio Salitran. It was a canonical house with its own oratory and a chapel with belfry. The friar hacendero who usually stayed at the Casa Hacienda de Imus resided here during sugarcane harvest season to oversee the work. There were other religious brothers assigned to follow-up the work. They also took charge of the many servants employed at the hacienda.

Another large building in Salitran was the Camarin(storehouse) where crops were stored. It is solid material and quite big for it also served as a safehouse for the workers of the hacienda especially during the attacks of the tulisanes.

Dams were likewise built to irrigate the haciendas; San Agustin in 1835; Nancaan in 1837; Lucsuhin in 1870; and Salitran in 1882.

Though the friar hacendero seemed to be very powerful he was also strictly accountable to the prior provincial. Strict accounting and recording of everything was imposed. Based on the report sent to Madrid, lot of policies were made not only for the benefit of the friars but also for the good of the indios who tilled the land.

However what was on paper might have been different from what actually happened. Officially, the Recollect Order might have made politics beneficial to the very people that they wanted to save, but the particular conduct of the different friar hacenderos and those who led the work in the hacienda might have been less humane and Christian. Whether rightly or wrongly perceived, the maladministration of the friar haciendas was one of the major causes of the revolution in the Philippines and more particularly in Cavite. Caviteños were very religious people. This was very well manifested through the way they conducted themselves during the revolution. Masses and novenas were said not only for the success of the struggle but also for the eternal repose of those who lost their lives whether foes or friends. A very religious Cavite would not have laid its hands on consecrated people like the friars if not for the mounting grievances that had been stored for centuries. Based on the report of the Recollect casualties, 14 members of them were killed in Cavite at the height of the battle and fury. The parish priest of Perez-Dasmariñas, Fr. Toribio Mateo, Bro. Luis Garbayo and Bro. Julian Umbon of the Casa Hacienda de Salitran were killed by the revolucionarios.
 

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Wise as Serpents

In the 1890's, the major religious orders like Augustinians, the Dominicans and the Recollect who owned vast haciendas in Cavite had become anxious about the socio-political situation of the province. Widespread rumors of local leaders preparing for an armed revolution against Spain have made the friars worried about their properties. Wisdom led them to the decision of selling their hacienda. However, no businessman at the time was willing to risk his future in such an uncertain climate. Nobody was willing to buy the hacienda.

In October of 1893, the Recollects decided to sell their hacienda. Fr. Toribio Miguella, the Comisario General of the Recollects in Madrid approved the decision. When they found out no one was willing to buy the property, Fr. Miguella decided to create an anonymous company which came to be known as "El Fomento de la Agricultura en Filipinas". It was a dummy company formally instituted on February 24, 1894. Fr. Juan Herrero ORSA, the president and administrator of the hacienda, was appointed as manager of the said company. On March 4, Fr. Miguella fictionally sold the hacienda to the company for 4 million pesetas.

The Revolution of 1896 had devastated the Recollect Hacienda de Imus. Many inquilinos usurped the ownership of the land. Nevertheless, the Recollects remained the legal owner of the land.

With the forthcoming change of sovereignty, the Recollects' good foresight led them to the decision of putting the hacienda under the name and protection of an English company. The Procurator General Fr. Juan Cruz Gomez ORSA was sent to London to scout for a willing company. However, the mission was without success.

On July 18, 1898, Fr, Gomez, appointed Francisco Hernandez Fajares to form a new anonymnous company. Fajares contacted Ernest Ruffer, the bank president of A. Ruffer and Sons. After a series of melting, the British Manila Estates Company Limited was formed. It followed the statutes commonly used in England for anonymous company. This meant that the anonymous company was the legal proprietor of any property entrusted to it with no binding mercantile obligation. Ernest Ruffer, the director of the anonymous company was in reality, just a caretaker of the property in behalf of the real owners-the Recollects.

When Spain ceded the Philippines to the Americans on December 10, 1898, part of the treaty required the new government to respect existing Spanish laws regarding civil and ecclesiastical properties in the islands.

When the Americans had established themselves in the Philippines, they figured out how then can pacify the Filipinos. One of the causes of trouble was the agrarian problem which involved the friar haciends. Governor General Howard Taft presented a report to the President of the United States on June 30, 1901. One of the recommendations was for the American government to buy haciendas from the friars for future distribution to the people. Taft was appointed to negotiate with the Vatican regarding the purchase of the haciendas.

Once the Vatican and the US government had reached an agreement, the former had to deal with the various religious orders who owned the hacienda. After a lengthy discussion, the religious finally acceded to the proposal of the Vatican.

On December 23, 1902, Mr, McGregor, the manager of the British Manila Estates Company Limited signed the document of sale in the name of the Recollects. The Recollects recieved the amount of $1,331,437 from the Insular government as payment for their haciendas. The Recollects, being wise with the affairs of this world, lost theirs hacienda but not the fortune.
 

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1896 Revolution

By June 1896, the Spanish authorities in Cavite province had become suspicious of the local elite's activities. There were alleged top hierarchy meetings of the Recollects in the casa hacienda of Salitran and San Nicolas. Included in the meeting were General Bernardo Echaluce and other top military officials. The purpose of the meeting was to determine whether it was just to apprehend the notable elites who were "Masons". At the time, "Masons" were bitter enemies of the church and their liberal ideas coming from their counterpart in Spain were beginning to awaken the natives to fight for their rights and even for their freedom. Fortunately for the elites, no decision was during the meeting. Thus, the local leaders freely but quietly continued their subversive activities.

As soon as the revolution of 1896 brakeout, leaders of Perez-Dasmariñas took no time in taking up arms against the Spanish tyranny. Don Placido Campos, the current gobernadorcillo at the time and Don Francisco Barzaga, the secretario municipal gathered the people to liberate their town from Spanish control at the beginning of September 1896. They captured the casa tribunal and casa hacienda de Salitran, killing the religious who lived there. Eventually, the town was freed.

As towns in Cavite fell into the hands of Filipino revolucionarios, the Spanish government in Madrid felt that Governor General Blanco's offensive against the natives was ineffective. Thus, a more aggressive person took over the command of the islands. Don Camilo de Polavieja, el Conde de Caspe readily made more aggressive person the rebels sending Gen. Jose Lechambre as the head of the campaign. Gradually, the Spaniards regained the control of the province. After the fall of Silang, the Spaniards turned their eyes to Perez-Dasmariñas.

Knowing the strength of resistance he might encounter, Gen. Lechambre decided to surround the whole town. He sent to advance units headed by Brigadier Gen. Jose Molina who went to take the left. The troop under Col. Arutos who had taken Paliparan, went westward t cut the escape of the Filipinos to Imus and Carmona. Gen. Lechambre sent the main force toward the south.

The Caviteños suffered terrible defeat because of lack of arms and ammunitions. As the Spaniards approached the Poblacion, the revolucionarios retreated the stone building of the town. On February 25, 1897, the Spaniards decided to encircle the Poblacion rather go directly to the interior. They started burning all houses except the church. Seeing they were surrounded by fire, some of the rebels went out of hiding but were immediately met by open fire. Those who took refuge at the casa tribunal refused to come out and were all burned alive. Even those who took refuge in the church did eventually yield to the advancing Spanish forces. By March, Perez-Dasmariñas had fallen back into the Spanish hand.

Then Lechambre returned to Salitran. He was expecting a heavy resistance from the revolutionaries who occupied the casa hacienda but to his great surprise, they were able to take the place without any resistance. They hoisted the red and gold flag of Spain and converted it as their headquarters.

However, news came that there was a heavy concentration of Filipino rebels at Pasong Santol a short distance beyond Salitran. The Battle of Pasong Santol was one of the most significant even in the Caviteños desire to keep their province under their control. It was the bloodiest battle fought in Cavite. It was during these series of battles in Cavite when Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo was elected in absentia as President of the newly formed revolutionary government. While the most of the Magdalo leaders were busy fighting, in Pasong Santol maority of the Magdiwang faction under the leadership of Bonifacio himself were discussing the form of government and elected its officers in the Tejeros Convention in Rosario, Cavite. At the height of the battle Gen. Flaciana Yengko, Gen. Crispulo Aguinaldo, Lucas Camerino, Arturo Reyes and many more revolucionarios lost their lives for the dear motherland.
 

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Stalwart Defenders

Dasmariñas has the rightful claim to be the bloodiest battlefield during the 1896-1897 Revolution. It should be obeserved that the month of February was scheduled to be the month of an all-out offensive against Cavite. General Polavieja, a blood thirsty general, himself was directing the operation. The whole was a coordinated action to bring Cavite down to its knees. In the northern section, the forces of Marina was on its way to Cavite, protected by the naval batteries. On February 16, he attacked Binakayan on all its fury. He combined attacks from the ships and from the land, did much damage to the rebels. There were battles here and there, brought about by the intensive and all-out drive to Cavite from all directions. In each counter, both sides had the share of casulaties.

With Silang taken, the Spaniards next objective was the town Perez-Dasmariñas, some 12 kilometers to the northeast of Silang. In normal times, the town has a population of only 4,000 but on the eve of the battle, the defenders of Dasmariñas were strengthened by volunteers from the surrounding towns and villages as well as by the survivors from Silang.

The Spanish Commander did not underestimate the Filipino strength at Dasmariñas. Apart from their numbers, the town occupied a strong position, defended both by streams and ravines and by the Filipino trenches and redoubts.

Expecting fierce resistance, General Lachambre decided to surround the town. Advance units were sent from the first and second brigades to take positions to the east ans west of the town. Then a half-brigade under Colonel Arison, which had taken the village of Paliparan (some 4 kilometers directly east of Dasmariñas) marched westwards and took a position north of Dasmariñas to cut off the Filipino's escape to Imus or to Carmona. With Dasmariñas thus threatened on three sides, Lachambre brought up his main strength on February 24 to the fourth or south side and bivoacked for the night at a distance of three kilometers from the town. The following morning, February 25, the battle took place.

The present telegram was sent by Lachambre to Polavieja in Parañaque at 2:00 in the afternoon. By that time, the battle raged since 7 o'clock that morning. The section began with the bombardment of the town from three kilometers away. Then the Spanish troops moved in, against determined resistance. There was no let-up in the fighting until 2 o'clock. "The enemy casualties (i.e. among Filipinos) must be enormous", says Lachambre. He adds the reason: It has been necessary to take the town house by house.

Both from this and from other dispatches, they knew the details of the fighting. There were 150 men inside the "tribunal" or townhall. The Spanish away set fire to the building and all 150 were killed. Others took refuge in the convent. This also was set fire and the men were shot as they emerged.

Others hadshut themselves up in the church. The church was surrounded: Marina's Second Brigade on the left, Colonel's first brigade on the right. The mountain artillery was brought up into position. From a distance of 35 meters the strong doors of the church were bombarded and the troops went in through the breach.

The Spanich casualties, says Lachambre, were more numerous than of Silang. Twenty-one (21) Spanish dead and one hundred eleven (111) wounded in the battle of Dasmariñas.

In this section all-out attack of Cavite, on of the local heroes who stood out was Capitan Placido Campos, also known as Kapitan Idong, the leader of the local revolutionists with his able assistant, Francisco Barzaga. Their was exploits started on the month of September while Aguinaldo was busy engaging in the preparations for the enemy from Manila. Capitan Placido Campos and Francisco Barzaga rose against Spain. They attacked civil guards at their garrison and the priest at the convent. Those patriotic acts stimulated others who followed suit and succeeded in capturing the civil guards astaioned there. This news all over Cavite and for that matter, the whole province of Cavite revolted against Spain.
 



REPORT OF THE CAPTAIN TO THE MINISTER OF WAR

The Attack of Dasmariñas, Parañaque (February 25, 1897), 11:05 a.m.

General Lachambre today, at six in the morning started to fire at Perez-Dasmariñas where the enemy made a desperate resistance. Joined by the Arizon Column, they took possession of the town. The mountain artillery at 30 meters, demolished the convent where the defense was concentrated. The low terrain was imundated adding to the obstacles which were surmounted later on. The town was surrounded by a system explosive bombs with long strings attached to them but the fuses were cut off. The rebels suffered enormous losses.

The combined attack on the town of Dasmariñas by the column of Marina and Cornell was tremendous and as soon as the Arizon Villalon forces reached the vicinity they attacked the treasury house.

The mountain artillery cannons has opened a breach in the walls of the convent and bombs fabricated by the rebels had exploded causing numerous victims. Our soldiers crossed the ditches and advanced from house to house killing the rebels by bayonets until the glorious flag of our country fluttered over the enemy positions.

The Lacambre division triumphed at Dasmariñas as it had been in Silang and in Imus, overwhelming the fanatic rebel forces who fought furiously and made victory so costly.
 



The Taking of Salitran, Dasmariñas

Sometime before dawn, half of the brigade under the command of Arizon marched towards Dasmariñas forming the right flank. The Generals Cornell and Marina with all their forces followed. In order to hold fast the flanks of the road to Salitran, the 15th Batallion of Casadores took their position on the road leading to Imus. In this manner, all the trenches of the enemy were abandoned and littered with dead bodies. At this situation, it was necessary to repulse the rebel troops which was deciding to advance at all costs. About less than a kilometer from the treasury house, the artillery was placed and firing began with-aimed shots while General Cornell deployed his men to the right and General Marina to the left. Colonel Arizon in the meanwhile, crossed the Imus river with ease marching completely to the position which fell into our hands.

The rebels fled through Imus road. General Zabala pursued them and found out that the bridge over the river was blown and a formidable trench of about one thousand meters long was built along the road leading to Anabu, Imus. To the right of the trench, a strong redoubt was also built to reinforce it.

The first and second Batallion of Cazadores, with great determination and bravery run headlong to assault such formidable bulwark which fell into our hands right at the moment when Cornell together with Arizon arrived to be witnesses to the bold and daring venture of General Zabala, who upon reaching the trench, fell mortally wounded. Inside this trench which was occupied by Colonel Arizon were found 80 dead rebels, three Remington rifles, three shotguns, falsonetes, insignias, a great number of bladed weapos and ammunitions. However, although how fierce was the defense of their position, the rebels fled when they found out the incredible force of Lachambre's Division, an encounter they had never experienced before. No obstacle over obstruct its advance.

The treasury house was almost destroyed, the destruction of which was caused by the accumulation of defense especially on the portion facing Zapote from where the attack was expected.

A prisoner whom we had taken told us that the rebels had brought along with them in their escape an undetermined number of dead and wounded soldiers which they retired by all means, because they said that they would prefer to surrender their positions rather than their casualties.

We (the Spanish forces) had only few casualties-General Zabala and nine individuals met their glorious death. Slightly wounded were Lieutenants Fernandez and Castro and 25 of his men.

It is impossibleto describe these valiant soldiers. They had rivalled in valor and at the moment, it is difficult to understand each other because of the defending shouts of "Long Live" from everyone.

In the province of Cavite, there were 60,000 insurgents armed with all kinds of weapons and ready for the defense. They had Mauser, Winchester and Remington rifles, shotguns, revolvers, lances, arrows, machetes and bolos. Those who fought with firearms were at the rear guard in prone position on the whenever the holder died or was wounded. They depended most on these firearms. They possessed a fanatic enthusiasm and they said that they were invincible because they had the protection from God.

They had a treasury house in Imus with a deposit of so many thousands of pesos for the expenses of the army. For the soldiers, they usually pay 10 centavos daily with a ration of rice.

-Excerpts from the translation of Rafael Guerrero's Cronica de la Guerra de Cuba y de la Rebellion de Filipinas, 1896-1897, Vol. V)
 


 

 

 

 

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