Thursday, March 10, 2005

Teresa Casas' paper on the Batangas revolt

Below find one of the best-written papers I got last semester.


The Batangas Revolt: Whose Revolutionary Feat?

by Ma. Teresa Salao Casas

The disparity between the elite and the masses has always been like the unquenchable flames of a raging fire; it simply burns more intense with time. Such conflict has left flickering flames in our country’s history, reflecting a timeless struggle between the haves and have-nots. Historical accounts would reveal that such a social rivalry is not limited to a fight for equality or freedom from prejudice, but extends to a competition in revolutionary history.

In Batangas, for instance, questions have been raised as to who wielded the mighty balisong in battle against the colonizers. Were the masses truly responsible for the revolution? Or was there another formidable force in Batangas that held its own might in the face of the Spaniards?


Renowned historians prefer the former. For many years, the concept of a mass-based revolution has appealed to many. People prefer the idea of a nation formed by the sweat and blood of the common people. The elite were presented as enemies who belittled the strength of the common people; they were portrayed as a mighty aggressor from whom the latter must gain freedom. Upper-class society was also depicted as traitors to their fellow citizens because of their condescending notion that the masses were incapable of a nationalistic movement and that only the educated could initiate reform for the country, thus explaining why they collaborated with the Americans (Agoncillo “Katipunan”).

Since historians lean towards the plight of the masses, Philippine history tags the Revolution against Spain as a “revolt of the masses” (Agoncillo “Revolt” 1) (Ileto 3-10). People have the common belief that impoverished provincials primarily led the Philippine Revolution. Historical texts claim that the Revolution was led by the uprising of lower-class society and that succeeding revolts were also powered by the masses.

Since the common man usually received the brunt of Spanish abuse particularly that of the friars, such a perception of the Revolution is understandable and much more convenient to believe. In Lian and Nasugbu of Batangas, peasants held uprisings against the friars who usurped their land and exacted taxes for occupying such land. The peasants refused to pay the amount demanded by the friars and attacked and plundered the houses of the Jesuit fathers in 1745 (Agoncillo “Revolt” 3). According to Dr. Jaime B. Veneracion, the 1745 Tagalog revolts that included that of Batangas were the most widespread revolts in the country. Such discontent was caused by the conversion of land from pastures to plantations where forced labor was thrust on the masses (Veneracion 103-105).

Teodoro Agoncillo, one of the advocates of the revolt of the masses idea, further states that the poor initiated the Revolution and constructed the idea of forming a sovereign nation, whereas the elite merely sought reform in the Propaganda movement. The masses were heavily taxed, had little livelihood opportunities, and were the objects of ridicule among friars. Because of this, they were ripe for the Revolution that was the goal of the secret Katipunan society. The elite joined the masses in the Revolution only when the former realized that the latter was succeeding in the battle against Spanish oppression where the former had not. Though their published writings awakened a patriotic fervor in many of the Filipinos, the ilustrados or the intellectual elite were unable to obtain the reform they sought (“Katipunan”).

In addition to this, it is normal to assume that the Revolutionary force in Batangas consisted mainly of lower class individuals, since the province’s elite made up only 4,500 to 6,000 individuals, or about one to two percent of the population. This is a considerably small number in relation to the hundreds of thousands of Batangueños who joined the battle. Even Glenn May acknowledges that there were only a few rich Batangueños in the province (19).
However, even if the elite were small in number, their participation in the Revolution was not minimal. Even Agoncillo admits that the wealthy engaged in the Revolution to become the “top bureaucrats of the revolutionary government and later of the Republic (“Katipunan”).

Another argument noteworthy to consider is the question regarding the reasons lower-class society participated in the Revolution. Widely accepted historical texts cite the masses as key actors in the Revolution because according to Reynaldo Ileto, they were aware that they were fighting for a “change in the nature of society” (Ileto according to May 51). They rebelled against foreign power and wished for freedom. However, he later expresses doubt over the masses’ perception of independence, and asks whether the peasants merely “blindly and irrationally reacted to oppressive conditions” (Ileto 5). May likewise indicates that the reason for the masses’ participation in the Revolutionary forces is highly questionable, and he claims that they took part in battles only because obligation to their wealthy patrons compelled them to do so (May 52). May uses Gen. Miguel Malvar of Batangas as an example and cites how his 75 men in the army were convinced to fight in the victorious reclaiming of Sto. Tomas and Lipa, and also Talisay, Batangas. May insinuates that it would have been impossible to form an army so quickly if Malvar had no tenants or retainers whom he could have mobilized immediately (May 50-52) (Ilustre 11).

Disagreement among historians regarding the greater prominence of either the elite or the masses connotes that, behind the belief of a mass-based struggle may lie a truth unrecognized by many. Disparity of conclusions on something as truthful as history must mean that something is amiss. Perhaps, in our country’s history, certain historical facts have remained cloaked by many years of scholarly denial.


Recent historical accounts, for instance, argue that the Revolution was not a revolt of the masses, but was a rebellion led by the affluent and influential as evidenced by the Revolution as it happened in Batangas. The Batangueño political and economic elite were the prime movers of the province’s Revolution; they were leaders in the army; they provided food, sustenance and “general support to the resistance forces” (May xii). To illustrate this, Teodoro Kalaw writes in his memoirs how the wealthy helped during the siege of the convent to which the Spaniards had withdrawn in 1897. The rich contributed their cattle, rice, and horses for the Filipino officials and forces at the time. The mansions of the wealthy were also used as bases in attacks of the Spanish garrison. One of those allocated for the occupation of Filipino forces was that of Señor Manuel Luz, who had one of the best stone structures in the town. (14-15).

Most of the educated individuals who were significant icons in the province’s political history belonged to rich and prominent families. Among those who obtained degrees in the University of Sto. Tomas were Lipeños Jose Luz, Sixto Roxas, Cipriano Calao, and Gregorio Catigbac, as well as Vicente Olmos and Pablo Borbon from Batangas City. A few other Batangueños like Galicano Apacible from Balayan, Gregorio Aguilera Solis, Lauro Dimayuga, and Baldomero Roxas from Lipa even went to Spain to pursue their studies. Once exposed to liberal ideas in Spain, some of these Batangueño elite like Solis and Dimayuga became propagandists (May 28-29).

Leaders of the Batangas Revolution also belonged to upper-class society. Among the most notable was Gen. Miguel Malvar who came from a political family in Sto. Tomas. Others were Arcadio Laurel who belonged to the Laurel clan of Talisay, Pedro Ruffy who was a one-time gobernadorcillo of Nasugbu, Santiago Rillo de Leon who was a gobernadorcillo of Tuy, and Ananias Diocno of the Diocnos in Taal (May 50).

One interesting point to consider is how the economic prosperity of Batangas affected the Revolution. Natives of the province believe that Batangas was one of the financial backers of the battles against the colonizers.

In relation to this, it is important to note that the province of Batangas was agriculturally and financially prosperous during the Spanish occupation. In fact, even before the Spanish arrived, Batangas was already economically wealthy. Taal, in particular, was a natural port to the outside world and to the lakeshore communities, thus making it the province’s center of commerce. It was the richest town in Batangas “until traders transferred businesses to Lipa and Tanauan because of the growing inland trade” (Yson 54).

In subsequent years, however, Lipa played a much more important role in the prosperity of the land of the barakong Batangueño. On the average, a doctor from Lipa would make more than P70,000 in fees alone. Calle Real, Lipa’s main road filled with many business establishments, was the town’s commercial center; it was, in fact, likened to present-day Manila (Kalaw 1). During the 1880s, Lipa had an annual income of P 4,000, 000 from the coffee industry alone. According to the Lipeño scientist Dr. Manuel Roxas, for about six months in 1886-1888, Lipa was the sole world supplier of coffee beans. This was because coffee plantations around the world were infected by a virus that killed virtually all the coffee plants globally (Katigbak “When Coffee Bloomed in Lipa”).

Money was flowing quickly and quite effortlessly into Lipa because of the coffee industry. Many businesses set up branches in Lipa to take advantage of the wealth the industry brought. People were so rich at the time that women would wear diamond buckles on their satin shoes and clothes with gold and silver accessories (Katigbak “Few There Were” 7, 85-86). Most women’s apparel was imported from France, Spain, and other European countries. Even the poor were not exempt from such ostentation. According to Retana, there was a poor woman in Lipa who wore diamonds worth six to eight thousand pesos during feast days (Katigbak “When Coffee Bloomed in Lipa”).

Now, how could have all this wealth aided the Revolution?

Fr. Tom Villafranca, one of Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales’ researchers of Batangas history, says that it could have been possible for the wealthy to contribute to the Katipunan in the province, but no existing written accounts could prove this (Villafranca). Kalaw notes in his memoirs, however, that during the strained years of the Revolution, the Lipa aristocrats were “in constant fear because several persons actually involved in the Katipunan, and many others under suspicion, were known to be their friends” (Aide-de-Camp 11). Even Agoncillo mentions that Andres Bonifacio sent his trusted men to wealthy individuals in order to persuade them to help the cause of the Katipunan, or join their society (“Katipunan”). Agoncillo did not mention, however, whether these wealthy individuals included those of Batangas.

Traditional sources claim, though, that the Katipunan was a purely mass-based society and that no elite or intellectual from Lipa joined it. Juanito Marquez, in particular, cites a few prominent lower-class individuals who were among the first members of the Katipunan in Lipa (Marquez 31) (Agoncillo 1). If Retana’s previous recount is to be believed, then even the poor were capable of contributing to the Katipunan whether in terms of manpower or financial aid. May nevertheless contends that the identified members of the Katipunan were not solely from the lower class; in fact, a few of the members Marquez cited were among the political elite if not notable families of the province. Prominent among those mentioned were Major Gregorio Leviste and Lieutenant Felix Leviste of the landed Leviste clan; these men were said to hold key positions in the Katipunan (Marquez 32) (Battle 39).

Glenn May even goes as far as to question the existence of the Katipunan lower-class society in Batangas; he claims that it cannot be proven that the Katipunan reached the province, but later concedes that neither can it be proven that it had not (Battle 39).

Such discrepancies in well-founded historical records and studies are enough to doubt the legitimacy of the belief of a solely mass-based Revolution. Upper-class society created an imprint in revolutionary history that was far from inconsequential and far from merely financial. Because the elite were educated and thus well equipped with liberal thoughts, they had powerful connections and means to manipulate the particulars of the battles for freedom. It was because of such education that the elite “were convinced of their capacity to rule, and were more likely to resist alien overlordship than the uneducated downtrodden masses” (May 30). Upper-class society knew that with the Spaniards out of political and economic power, the wealthy and educated would take the latter’s place in the country’s seat of power. It was for political, financial, and influential gain that the wealthy gambled their lives as well as their money, land, and possessions. Where the elite are believed by some to be the moving power behind the Batangas struggle, it is speculated that the masses were merely used as cannon fodder.

Nevertheless, from all these, the question of the nature of the Revolution remains undecided. Who really wielded the balisong to fend off foreign cruelty?


Evidence favors an elite-led Revolution; tradition holds firm to a revolt of the masses. But perhaps beneath the muddled facts and natives’ hearsay regarding the Revolution in Batangas, one thing has remained clear: the Batangueño role that marked the reclaiming of the province and the freedom of our country was not monopolized by a single force. Though scrutiny of historical truths and openness to what these reveal would confirm that the elite were the leading force behind the Revolution, Batangas could not have been regained were it not for the masses’ participation, however arguable the reasons for this. Likewise, the masses could not have reclaimed Batangas were it not for powerful leaders, most of whom were from the elite. The Batangueños of different social strata, but of similar patriotic spirit, together raised the balisong to severe the suffocating ties binding them to blind acquiescence to Spanish rule. The Revolution need not be the revolt of the masses nor of the elite alone; the Revolution was a Revolution because the elite and the masses played their respective roles in order to jointly yet differently put an end to Spanish oppression.

While the elite may have the canon, without the fodder, it will be a useless piece of equipment. Reductively, as the bow is to the arrow, so is the elite unto the masses; useless each without the other.

This is the balance of the reality of the Batangas Revolution.


Agoncillo, Teodoro A. “Katipunan: Army in the Shadows.” Filipino Heritage: The Making of a Nation. Ed. Alfredo Roces. Philippines: Lahing Pilipino Publishing Inc., 1978.

------------------------- The Revolt of the Masses. Quezon City: University of the Philippines, 1956.
[This book was responsible for the belief of a “revolt of the masses” and is one of the paper’s major sources for the foundations of such a belief.]

Ileto, Reynaldo C. Pasyon and Revolution: Popular Movements in the Philippines 1890-1910. Quezon Ciy: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1979.

Ilustre, Aurea G. Maikling Kasaysayan ng Lungsod at Probinsiya ng Batangas. Quezon City: Vibal Publishing Inc.,1991.

Kalaw,Teodoro M. Aide-de-Camp to Freedom. Trans. Maria Kalaw Katigbak. Manila: Teodoro M. Kalaw Society, Inc., 1965.

Katigbak, Maria Kalaw. Few there were (like my father). Manila: Teodoro
M. Kalaw Society Inc., 1974.

--------------------- “When Coffee Bloomed in Lipa.” Filipino Heritage: The Making of a Nation. Ed. Alfredo Roces. Philippines: Lahing Pilipino Publishing Inc., 1978.

Marquez, Juanito. “Lipa and the Philippine Revolution, 1896-1899.” MA Thesis. Ateneo de Manila University, 1969.

May, Glenn A. Battle for Batangas: a Philippine Province at War. Quezon City: New Day Publishers with permission from Yale University, 1993.

Veneracion, Jaime B. Agos ng Dugong Kayumanggi. Quezon City: Abiva Publishing House, Inc., 2000.

Villafranca, Fr. Bartolome. Personal Interview. Aug 2004.

Yson, Danny. The Birth, Growth and Demise of Kumintang: A Great Tagalog Nation in the 13th Century. Dannyson and Associates, 1997.


Janela said...

Hello my name is Janela (I'll give you my complete name once we get in personal contact of each other). For Ms. Casas, that was a very informative and awesome paper. I am the great-grandaughter of Pedro Ruffy, whom you mentioned in your paper. I am in search of all my ancestors history and information. I would really appreciate it if either Ms. Casas or Ms. Aguilar would reply to this so that I can possibly gather more information on my history. It's such a great feeling to read even a single sentence about one of you ancestors.

Anonymous said...

Hi Janela! This is Teresa Casas. Pedro Ruffy was mentioned in Glenn May's book. You can get the book from the UP Main Library. The public libraries of Batangas City and Lipa claim to have them (it's in their card catalog) but I was only able to get it from UP lib. They probably misplaced it.
Also, the National Library in Manila might be helpful, because many of the texts that Glenn May used were taken from that library. Some of them were even in Spanish.
You can also try the public records of Nasugbu since your great-grandfather was a public figure. Or, try interviewing the old elites of Nasugbu. They might remember a few things.
I know a priest from Nasugbu who knows a lot about Batangas history. I think I interviewed him for that paper too. The other books I used I obtained from him.
I thank you for your interest in my paper, and I wish you luck in your endeavor.

farol,ruel said...

my great-granfather was one of gen. malvar's lieutenants. i learned that the "battles" fought then were more of " fire-and-run assaults," or skirmishes in running fashion but nevertheless a "war" in point in time. like first-time revolutionaries most of the casualties belong to the masses,the fodded for cannons, as you say. yes, agoncillo has his masses, generally, if the bonifacio's revolt is now an accepted citizen-based uprising.but for now the fact remains that may's elite uprising in batangas , though not a new concept in other friar- run provinces, has created a new hierachic mentality among the rich patrons against the foreign oppressors. a rich patron can be a supporter of materials or services. but a patron who supports with equipment as well as his personal service is likely to be the "presidente" once the skirmishes is over. this is the personality imbued in the batangueno character unlike the tagalog character of bulacan, cavite and manila. FAROL of Batangas

mda said...

You're right, Ruel. But you can also look at it another way -- without the Batangas elite, who may have financed the whole revolution with their earnings from two years of being the world's sole coffee suppliers, the Philippine Revolution may not have won.

valter said...

Hi Tess,

May I inquire if in the course of your research, have you encountered the name of my great-great grandfather, Brigido Morada. He is one of the reformists of Lipa City and was exiled in Fernando Po Island in Africa. I once saw a picture of him along with Dr. Jose Rizal along with other reformist guys, but was not able to reproduce it.

Hope you can help me find this picture along with some articles about him. Btw, one of the main streets in Lipa CIty was named after him.


Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Jigger Gilera, M.D, I have a book of Glenn Anthony May
the Author of the Book entitled Battle for Batangas: A Philippine Province at War (Yale University Press, 1991) in which I bought from National Bookstore. I am deeply interested in the history of the Batanguenos.

mda said...

Hello, Jigger. I recommended that book to Teresa because it's the most conprehensive history of Batangas so far. Are you from Batangas?

Anonymous said...

I am from Batangas City, my hobby is reading and researching history regarding Batangas. She can order from this link

Anonymous said...

I am from Batangas City, my hobby is reading and researching history regarding Batangas. She can order from this link ---Jigger Gilera, M.D.

Anonymous said...

@Ruel: My paper was mainly about challenging the popular thought that the Batangueno revolution was solely a mass-based revolution. It's main purpose was to shed light on another less popular view: that the elite had something to do with it too. Yes, we may never really know each and every internal motive a revolutionary or elite financial backer would have had at the time. But that doesn't change the fact that without the elite, we might not have been freed.
That is a very interesting idea for research, though, if you ask me. Delving into the motives of the various members of the elite society then, in relation to freedom, power, and politics.

@valter: I do not quite recall if I've specifically come across his name in my research. I can dig up my old notes and see if I find anything, and I'll let you know. Also,if you're from Lipa, or from Batangas City, you can check out the public library. Public figures are usually well-documented in their own towns :)

@jigger: The UP library has that book, and that's where I got it actually, for my paper :)

-Teresa Casas

Anonymous said...

I also have a copy of "El Indio Batangueno" by Wenceslao Retana and Batangas Y Su Provincia (1895) by Manuel Sastron - Jigger Gilera, M.D.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm Vic Apacible Almanzor from Tuy, Batangas.Just came across Teresa Casas' paper on the Batangas Revolt. I am one of Santiago de Leon Rillo's great grandson.. Just a little info on him to update your knowledge about the guy.. as history wrote it.. He came from Maragondon, Cavite and migrated to Tuy, Batangas for strategic planning about the revolution. He stumbled upon a wealthy family and subsequently married Fernanda Apacible and had 3 children. Which one of them was my Grandmother.
Anyway, the other day I was having a chat with a friend of mine in Lemery and we talked about war heroes during the Spanish time. He brought out a book about war heroes. I think it was the Centennial Edition. There it stated that were it not for Santiago de leon Rillo, the presidency of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo would not have been possible. It stated that he vehemently protested Bonifacio's postponement of the Elections, thus the continuation of the elections. He was the Batangas delegate together with his troops. Aside from being a Revolutionary Colonel where he fought it out with the Spanish troops, He became a vital instrument to our nations history. Hoping that this piece of information could help you out in someway. Like what Janela said.. It,s such a great feeling to read even a single sentence about one of your ancestors

mda said...

Good data, Vic! Thanks for posting it. Batanguenos must know all these things about themselves.

Btw, if Jigger is still around: I have Manuel Sastron's "Batangas y su provincia" in my hard drive, digitized from a photocopy that I got from the U.S. Library of Congress in 1999. It comes up to only five pages; all Spanish, of course. Tell me if you're interested.

jigger said...

I already have that digitized copy of Manuel Sastron's "Batangas y su provincia" and Wenceslao Retana's El Indio Batangueno in which I already translated for publication. For more history regarding Batangas you can join my group

mda said...

That's great, Jigger! I've signed in to be a member of your group. Would you have particular information per town? Batangas City seems to be least chronicled.

jigger said...

@ Vic Almanzor, are you related to Vicente Almanzor and Vicente Paz Rillo the anti-imperialists who wrote a book about The Calamities of Balayan, P.I. as ab reply to a criticism made by the Taft Expedition of 1905. --- JIgger Gilera, M.D.

camz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
camz said...

@ms. casas, hello! i'm camille.. after reading this post i became interested in your paper. i am currently making a thesis about batangas and its role in attaining national independence. i just wanna ask if we can use your paper as a related study?

lara said...

gud morning,,i am lara,,,and i am a student from batangas,,i am currently having my thesis align with your topic..i would just like to ask if i could use your paper as my related study,,thank you,,i am hoping for your favorable response,,God BLess..=)

mda said...

Hmm, are you two different people, Camz and Lara? Ma. Teresa's paper is in the public domain, so you can quote it and use it as reference, but of course you're banned from plagiarizing it -- that is, lifting passages from or the whole of it without citing the source.

I would suggest, however, that you ask her personally too. She is on FB.

Btw, you might be interested to know that Teresa wrote this paper while she was still a freshman or sophomore in U.P. It really is the best research paper I've seen a student write. So take your hats off to her! She has long since graduated and is now working.

camz said...

we're 2 different people po, actually we're partners in the thesis..thank you very much..we're hoping to read the whole paper if possible. rest assured that we will not plagiarize it :)

camz said...

of course, we really are admiring her for being able to make such a good thesis. i just wanna ask if you know her e-add at fb because we're tryin to look for her in fb but we cannot find her account.

mda said...

I've already told Gellie how to find her, Camz. I hope she has. Tell her to look into her PM, the answer's there.

lara said...

i would like to thank you po for replying to me and Camz,,we are actually partners po in our thesis.. and we know that Ms. Casas' thesis will really be of great help..thanks po ulit..God Bless po..

Anonymous said...

Hi. I am Prospero Medalla Hernandez from Sto. Tomas Batangas. I am interested in acquiring a hard copy of Sastron's book about Batangas, and el Indio Batangueno. Any suggestions about where I can get these?