IN the morning of September 13, 1907 at around 8:30 am, two Malay-skinned men sporting long, uncut but luxuriant hair were led out of the bartolina in Manila in the Southeast Asian archipelago now called the Republic of the Philippines. The two protagonists were escorted by pale-skinned soldiers of the Bald Eagle nation from the North American continent towards the gallows to be executed by hanging. Upon reaching the platform, one of the long-haired Filipinos, the seeming leader, shouts from the top of his lungs:
“I face the Lord Almighty calmly but we must tell you that we are not bandits and robbers as the Americans accuse us, but members of the revolutionary force that defended our country. Long live the Philippines! Adios Filipinas!”
Who was Sakay?
Macario Sakay y de León was a Filipino military leader in the Philippine Revolution against Spain and in the Philippine-American War (1899-1914). He had fought side by side with Gat Andres Bonifacio y de Castro, Supremo of the secret-society-turned-revolutionary-government Kagalanggalangang Katipunan nang manga Anak nang Bayan (KKK). Following the second phase of the Revolution and the capture or surrender of most Filipino generals by the invading Americans, he later continued resistance against the new colonial enemy, the United States. He was initially caught and then released following the official declaration of the war's end in 1902.
The following year, Sakay became President of the Republic of Katagalugan (Philippines), the revived Katipunan during the fight for freedom against the invading Bald Eagle nation. Gen. Sakay proved to be a big, big thorn to the American imperialist agenda. In battling the vile Bald Eagles, his nationalist determination and vision showed his Tagalog Republic to be the true heir to the Katipunan government and him, the proud heir to the Supremo. A tough, determined, "organization genius" of a Filipino patriot, Sakay defiantly and, for a time, rather wondrously continued the anti-colonial mission of KKK and Gat Bonifacio.
Sakay engaged in guerrilla warfare against the imperialist Americans, utilizing crafty planning and organizational force to accomplish military victories. His government utilized "a large number of rebels against a small group of American soldiers to guarantee a successful ambush attack [and usually attacking] at night when most of their enemies are asleep." The Katagalugan freedom fighters would seize firearms and ammunition in their raid attacks in Cavite and Batangas and even San Francisco de Malabon. They had a big haul of ammunition and revolvers from a U.S. military garrison--a minor feat they achieved while disguised as Philippine Constabulary men.
Gen. Sakay made it known to the enemy imperialists that they were freedom defenders of a most patriotic and advance order. The Katagalugan Republic had its Katipunan-based flag, constitution and seal. The Republic's Declaration had the KKK character of the equality of every person regardless of race, skin color, wealth, intelligence and appearance as it exalts every individual's 'essential nature' (loob) instead. The Declaration also included the whole of the archipelago:
Ang mga Nayon, bayan Hucuman nitong Filipinas ay siyang tinatauag na Kapuluang Katagalugan, sa macatuid baga, ay gaya ng Jolo, Mindanao, Kabisayaan, Kailokohan iba't iba pang lupa na tunay na Tagalog.
(The villages and municipalities of this Filipinas are called Katagalugan Archipelago, which in effect, are the likes of Jolo, Mindanao, Visayas, Ilocos and all other different lands that are truly Tagalog.)
Unfortunately, Sakay would ultimately be conned by the vile Americans into coming down from the mountains on promise of amnesty for him and his officials, on top of the formation of Philippine Assembly composed of Filipinos that would supposedly serve as the "gate of freedom." The imperialist American Governor General Henry Clay Ide used Dr. Domingo Gomez, a Filipino labor leader and 'persuasive and charming ilustrado,' to lure Sakay into giving up their resistance.
Gomez met with Sakay at his camp and argued that the establishment of a national assembly was being held up by Sakay's intransigence, and that its establishment would be the first step toward Filipino independence. His surrender was made to be a prerequisite for a state of peace that would supposedly ensure the election of Filipino delegates to the (1907) American-sponsored Philippine Assembly. Sakay , in good faith, was convinced by the smooth-tongued Gomez that the struggle has shifted to constitutional means, with the Assembly as means to winning Philippine Independence. He finally agreed on the conditions that a general amnesty be granted his men, that they be permitted to carry firearms, and that he and his officers would be permitted to leave the country. Gomez assured Sakay that these conditions the would be acceptable to the Americans, and Sakay's emissary, General Leon Villafuerte, obtained agreement to them from the American Governor General.
Thereafter, Sakay and Villafuerte traveled to Manila, where they were welcomed and invited to receptions and banquets. One invitation came from the Constabulary Chief, Col. Harry H. Bandholtz. That invitation was a colonial trap and Sakay and his principal lieutenants were disarmed and arrested while the party was in progress. Sakay's group were naturally taken aback, with Gen. Villafuerte shouting: “We have been betrayed and we are trapped. Doctor, what is the meaning of this?” As Guerrero further recounts, Gomez could only reply with: “There’s no use fighting.” For his part, Sakay, with bloodshot eyes, exclaimed: “Tell the Americans to face us in the open field, in honorable battle.” Sakay also asked how the Filipino Constabularios managed to have no shame betraying their fellow Filipinos and being subservient to the colonizers.
Sakay and company were then forcibly brought to the Hotel de Oriente in Binondo before being incarcerated in Bilibid Prison. Captain Rafael Crame presided over their preliminary investigation before being charged of bandolerismo under the Brigandage Act of Nov. 12, 1902 that construed all acts of armed resistance to American colonial rule as banditry. The Katagalugan President and his men were defended by Attys. Felipe Buencamino and Ramon Diokno (father of the noted human rights lawyer Jose Pepe Diokno) but the colonial Supreme Court of the Philippines would upheld the decision.
In between, the nefarious Americans did not bother keeping their promise even towards the lower ranked men of Sakay. Inside the Bilibid prison, the North American colonizers secretly killed, nay, murdered 400 of Sakay's men by hanging and by lethal serum. As Guerrero notes, the prison atrocities perpetrated by the Americans against the Tagalog Republic patriots can be likened to the recent Guantanamo and Abu-Ghraib scandals.
As for the Filipino traitor character that was Dominador Gomez, it turned out that he allowed himself to be an imperialist tool of treachery in order to save his own skin. Gomez was a doctor who had been convicted of sedition and fined and sentenced to four years of hard labor. He had taken over the leadership of the labor federation Union Obrera Democratica de Filipinas and having participated in a big rally, he was arrested by the colonial authorities. He had his case under appeal when he negotiated for Sakay's surrender. Two weeks after Sakay was hanged, Gomez won the appeal as the Appeals Court judged the evidence against him insufficient no matter the "much suspicious proof."
Late A Hero Recognized
This author is among those who were virtually taught the American propaganda as to Sakay's identity. I remember that in my elementary or high school years, the history books' slant pictured Sakay as a Filipino bandit more than a hero. For about half a century after the US granted the Philippines "independence," imperialist propaganda against a valiant patriot who continued the anti-colonial mission of the "Father of Philippine Revolution," Supremo Bonifacio well persisted.
Carmen Guerrero Nakpil perhaps well describes Sakay's patriotic military career:
Sakay became the scourge of all his country's oppressors - the Spaniards, the Americans, the misguided half-bloods and compatriots - trying in every way he knew to secure freedom from injustice for his people. He was more determined than Rizal, more fortunate than Bonifacio, purer than Aguinaldo, more lyrically mysterious than Mabini. If Filipinos had won the war with America, he would probably have been our Simon Bolívar or our Ho Chi Minh.
It took a century and a year before the official recognition of the heroism, valor, and patriotism of Sakay and the Tagalog Republic cabinet and soldiers were made by his compatriots. Or a half a century and two years after the American invaders supposedly granted independence to the Filipinos on July 4, 1946.
It took long before it came--that rightful recognition to strike off the lingering American "bandit" smear campaign and to finally elevated Sakay to the pantheon of Philippine heroes, but came it finally did. In 1998, the Manila Historical and Heritage Commission unveiled a life-size status of Gen. Sakay at Plaza Morga in Tondo, his birthplace. Earlier, the University of the Philippines and the National Historical Institute unveiled a marker at the foot of Mr. Banahaw, part of the region where the Republika ng Katagalugan freedom fighters operated amidst the American Occupation of the archipelago.
On September 16, 1998, a sweet statement of a recognition was passed by the Philippine Senate of the 14th Congress when it passed Resolution No. 121 "HONORING THE SACRIFICE OF MACARIO SAKAY AND ALL OTHER FILIPINOS WHO GAVE UP THEIR LIVES IN THE PHILIPPINE-AMERICAN WAR FOR OUR FREEDOM."
The "Whereas" clauses of the resolution sets straight the facts of the circumstances of Gen. Sakay's activities and execution.
It was but natural for the imperialist American authorities not to have recognized Sakay's Republic. The Bald Eagle people, after all, did not even recognize the fledgling 1898 Philippine Republic led by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the man they conned into cooperating in the war against Spain and letting them freely enter the archipelago as they positioned themselves for the Mock Battle of Manila and eventual invasion/occupation.
According to the Senate Resolution, the <the Philippine Commission passed the Bandolerism Act which proclaimed all captured resistance insurgents to be tried in court as bandits, ladrones and robbers.> Sakay was then declared an outlaw under the Bandolerism Act.
However, Sakay was such a tough freedom fighter and an "organization genius." The resolution continues: <Despite the establishment of concentration camps by the Philippine Constabulary and Philippine Scouts in Cavite, Batangas and Laguna, this did not stop Macario Sakay and his companions to expansively fight in the Southern Luzon area.>
A day before the execution of Sakay and Col. Lucio de Vega, a big, emotional crowd demonstrated before Malacanang, then the seat of American colonial power. The people wished to convince the imperialist Gov.-Gen. Henry Clay Ide not to push through with the execution. They pleaded for clemency; however, Ide coldly refused to even see the people.
A day after the execution of the virtual second Supremo of the Katipunan government, the fourth de facto President of the Philippines (after Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, and Gen. Miguel Malvar), a larger crowd appeared before the Bilibid prison vociferously asking that they be allowed to wrap his and de Vega's bodies with the flag of the Katipunan. Again, the native supporters and sympathizers of Sakay and the Tagalog Republic were heartlessly turned down.
The subjugated Filipinos could make no such demand. The imperialist Americans won't allow honor of any kind to be conferred to the Filipino who defied and battled their immoral dominion and prolonged the non-Muslim component of the Philippine-American War.
Wicked, villification propaganda to project a patriot as bandit was certainly not enough for the Bald Eagle. Blatant deception by the colonial governor-general and the exploitation of another native in dire straits were not not enough either. The US Army's dishonorable violation of its own safe conduct pass was not enough as well. Not even the legalized murders of the leaders of the Tagalog Republic would suffice. Even in Sakay's death, North American imperialism showed no mercy.
But why is that? Why so much hate against Sakay, "Uncle Sam"? Sakay's history seems to show that the pale-skinned North American imperialists let out all their brand of wicked ammunition on him and the Tagalog Republic patriots.
Hard to imagine the powerful, Bald Eagle invaders vilifying a sagacious and determined freedom fighter like Sakay. Imagine democracy-touting Americans committing genocidal-level Guantanamo/Abu-Ghraib precedents on the Katagalugan patriots some 100 years before the administration of George W. Bush, the war-freak "Idiot Heir."
But con, vilify and murder the "bandit" Republic of Katagalugan freedom fighters they did. Imperialist American nefariousness, circa 1900s. A portent of Agent Orange, circa Vietnam War, and sheer imperialist terrorism, circa Iraq War.
By the way, merely seven weeks following their execution of President Sakay, the imperialists passed Act No. 1696, or the Flag Law that prohibits the public display of all Philippine and Katipunan flags, banners, emblems, and symbols....
Guerrero, Milagros, Emmanuel Encarnacion, and Ramon Villegas. Andres Bonifacio and the 1896 Revolution. In Sulyap Kultura. National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 1996. NCCA Site. 16 June 2003. http://www.ncca.gov.ph/about-culture-and-arts/articles-on-c-n-a/article.php?i=5&subcat=13.
Guerrero Nakpil, Carmen. "The mark of Sakay: The vilified hero of our war with America." Philstar. Updated 8 September 2008. http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleid=398995
Hernandez, Jet. MACARIO SAKAY AND THE STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. 17 Jan. 2008. http://banlawkasaysayan.multiply.com/photos/album/1/MACARIO_SAKAY_AND_THE_STRUGGLE_FOR_FREEDOM_mula_sa_jethernandez.multiply.com
Pomeroy, William J. The Philippines: colonialism, collaboration, and resistance. Publisher International Publishers Co, 1992. http://books.google.com.ph/books?id=vQPpEa02N5kC&dq=%22an+aspect+of+the+u.s.+educational+system+was+the+selection+and+elevation+of+national+heroes.%22&source=gbs_navlinks_s
Transcript from Philippine Senate Resolution No. 121, September 16, 2008, http://www.senate.gov.ph/14th_congress/resolutions/resno121.pdf