On Monday, we’ll be celebrating National Heroes’ Day! Dr. Jose Rizal, Andre Bonifacio, Lapulapu, Melchora Aquino, Emilio Aguinaldo and several others laid down their lives to secure our freedom. We will continue to honor their memories and sacrifices.
But there were also those whose names do not receive the same veneration as the ones just mentioned but have also made great contributions to the fight for freedom like our own local heroes. Because on April 3, 1898, the revolution in Cebu broke out led by a passionate Visayan.
The revolt had already begun in Luzon and despite the Spaniards’ efforts to keep information from travelling to other regions of the country, word had reached Cebu. As the fights went on, tensions were rising. Fighting in Binondo was rumored to have resulted in the deaths of several Visayan sailors.
The revolt in Cebu was originally planned to take place on April 8 but word of the uprising had reached the Spanish government. Arrests and interrogations were being made in an attempt to foil the plans. Eventually, they were able to extract information by arresting and torturing Januario Gabrillo. After getting the names of the conspirators, Gabrillo was mercilessly killed. However, the government wasn’t able to get the exact date for the revolt.
To make sure plans pushed through, Leon Kilat launched the attack on April 3, now known as the Bloody Palm Sunday. Kilat led the Cebuano Katipuneros from the Calamba cemetery along the streets until they met the Spanish army at what is called today as Tres de Abril, named after that fateful day. That battle was the beginning of the Katipuneros victory in securing Cebu.
But victory for the revolutionaries turned out to be short-lived. When the colonizers’ reinforcements arrived, the opposition fled to Carcar, not knowing that several of the residents there were supporters of Spain.
In the early hours of April 8, 1898, Leon Kilat was repeatedly beaten and stabbed to death while in his sleep, not by government forces but eight of men led by one of his own, Apolinario Alcuitas and an influential member of society in Carcar, Florencio Noel. There are writers who disagree with exactly who led the assassination but it is accepted that his death resulted from betrayal. Though known to have possessed an anting-anting, a local amulet known to give the wearer protection from any harm, it did not prevent him from meeting a cruel death.
Photo credits: Mark Maranga