Bani‘s forgotten “13 revolutionary martyrs”

AS residents of Bani town routinely went to church last Sunday, little did they know or remember that a fierce battle took place in the area 123 years ago that Filipino revolutionaries won against superior Spanish forces.

Sadly, only a desecrated and worn-out marker across the church in Bani town

titled Krus ng Labingtatlong Martir, dedicated to 13 revolutionaries who died in the fight against the Spanish guardia civil was the only visible remembrance of that historic moment.  

The marker was installed on March 10, 1979 and the insignia of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines is already missing..

Melchor Orpilla, a local historian and translator, cited details from a book Sipiy Awaray Gelew Diad Pilipinas (Revolucion Filipina), written by Felipe Quintos, a high-ranking officer in the Katipunan from Lingayen town and an eyewitness to the successful revolt. He later wrote two volumes of said book – one in Pangasinan, and one in Spanish.

Orpilla said the 13 martyrs were never identified but were known to be under the command of Clemente Nebril, the local revolutionary leader of Bani, who served under the banner of Presidente Generalissimo Roman Manalang of Alaminos City.

“The battle was bloody. The battle waged from morning until the afternoon. The cazadores (aides of guardias civiles) were armed with rifles, while the revolutionaries were only armed with whatever they could pick up, including a talibong, a locally-made bolo”, said Orpilla.

Quintos book narrated how Roman Manalang called for the local revolutionary leaders of Northern Zambales (now identified as Western Pangasinan), and discussed the launch of attacks against the Spaniards. Orpilla said they were summoned to the mountainous area of Larragan in Alos (now part of Timmore, Mabini) on March 3, 1989 and decided to attack the tribunal, destacamento (local detachments), and convent of each pueblo on March 7, 1989.

The pueblos under Manalang’s leadership consisted of Alaminos, Agno, Anda, Alos (now a barangay in Alaminos City), Balingcaguin (now Mabini), Bani, Potot (now Burgos town), Bolinao, Dasol, Eguia (now a barangay of Dasol), Lingayen, Labrador, Sual, Salasa (now Bugallon), and Zaragoza (now a barangay in Bolinao).

It was Balingcaguin that first declared victory. Other pueblos followed later.

However, Bani revolutionaries under Nebril had a difficult time subduing the pueblo, they had to shoot flaming arrows at the cazadores fiercely defended their cuartel.

Walara met so inatey a Katipunan et agla nanunotay bilang da”, Quintos wrote. Orpilla simply referred to them as the 13 martyrs of Bani.  The revolutionaries killed 50 Spanish soldiers, and six friars. Quintos’ book said only the parish priest of Anda was spared in the aftermath of the revolution. 

After mourning their dead, the locals held a four-day celebration. But the freedom they enjoyed was not meant to last.

After the Spanish forces ceded control to United States of America, the occupying American forces, urged the Katipuneros and their leaders to surrender. Manalang and others resisted.

But that’s another story. (Ahikam Pasion) (To be continued next issue)

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