ANICETO L. LACSON
Ilonggo Revolutionary Leader
A well-known agriculturist and businessman, Aniceto L. Lacson gained fame in Negros as a
general during the Philippine Revolution.
He was born to a rich couple in Molo, Iloilo on September 6, 1858. In search of the
proverbial greener pastures, his parents, Lucio Lacson and Clara Ledesma, migrated to Negros
Occidental. There they acquired a vast sugar plantation.
Lacson went to schools in Molo for his elementary and secondary education. Afterwards,
his parents sent him to Manila. He enrolled at the Ateneo Municipal for a commercial course.
Returning to Talisay, Negros Occidental, he immediately embarked on farming and in
business. Soon, he became a prominent hacendero. His vast landholdings included tracts he
inherited from his parents and those he acquired by purchase from Nicolas Loney and Company.
On the second stage of the Philippine Revolution, Lacson, together with Juan Araneta, led
the Ilonggo uprising that is known today as the “Cry of Matabang” because it originated in
Hacienda Matabang. It came about as a response to the call of the president of the revolutionary
government in Iloilo province, Roque Lopez, for Negrenses to rise against Spanish tyranny.
The “cry” sparked the island-wide revolt in Negros. On November 5, 1898, the
revolutionists hoisted the Filipino flag at the Silay public plaza and in neighboring towns. Rebels
under the command of Gamboa Benedicto attacked the 170-man Spanish garrison under Lt.
Maximo Correa. That night, Lacson’s men vanquished Spanish cazadores during an encounter
near the Matabang River.
A Visayan historian recounts this glorious phase of the Negros revolt:
“…While Gen. Lacson was engaging the Spanish forces in Silay and Talisay, Gen. Juan
Araneta also took Bago and raised the First Filipino flag at the town plaza. In the north, Don Gil
Lopez, commanding hundreds of farmers and hacienda workers, conquered the town of Sagay.”
Later, Lacson and Araneta joined forces in taking Bacolod from its colonial defenders.
With Araneta’s men coming from the south and those of Lacson from the north, they pounced on
the Spanish garrison of 300 infantrymen. To compensate for their lack of arms, the gutsy rebels
simulated the use of nipa or coconut stems as rifles. Seized from the Spaniards in the aftermath of
the attack were 185 Remingtons.
Once the Spanish forces surrendered on November 6, 1898, the victorious Filipinos set up
a provisional government of Negros through an act signed by 45 prominent Negrenses, headed by
Lacson and Araneta. On November 26, the provisional government adopted a constitution, which
established a federal form of government. Elected to the executive positions were: Lacson,
president; Araneta, secretary of war; Antonio Jaime, secretary of justice; Simon Lizares, secretary
of the interior; Eusebio Luzuriaga, secretary of finance; Nicolas Golez, secretary of fomento, and
Agustin Amenabar, secretary of agriculture. Their election was followed by those of members of
the legislative assembly on December 19, 1898. The assembly was inaugurated on the same day,
with Jose Luzuriaga as the presiding officer.
Demy P. Sonza, in his book, Visayan Fighters for Freedom, narrates the fate of the Negros
struggle during the Filipino-American War:
“…When the Americans came to Negros after the fall of Ilo-ilo in February 1899, General
Lacson and his leaders had a conference with General Marcus P. Miller. The Negrenses decided to
collaborate with the Americans for two reasons: first, they knew it was futile to fight against
America, and second, the leaders being all rich and landed people, did not want their sugar estates
to suffer from the ravages of war. General Otis readily accepted their offer for cooperation and on
March 4, 1899, General James F. Smith came with a battalion of the California Volunteers to
occupy Bacolod. Except for the sporadic harassing activities of the fanatic “Papa Isio” in the
southern towns, peace came to Negros.”
The American governor-general, William Howard Taft, appointed Lacson as governor of
Negros. Lacson, however, declined the appointment. He preferred to concentrate on his business
and the management of his sugar plantation.
He was married to Rosario Araneta with whom he had eight children: Jesusa, Carmen,
Enrique, Perfecta, Isaac, Mariano, Aniceto Jr., and Dominador.
Lacson died in Talisay on February 3, 1931, and was buried in his hometown of Molo,
Gwekoh, Sol H. “Hall of Fame: Negros rebel government head”, The Manila Times
February 7, 1961, unpaged, NHI copy.
Sonza, Demy P. Illustrious Ilonggos. Volume I. n.p.: Iloilo Provincial Historical
____________. Visayan Fighters for Freedom. Iloilo City: Agustin Sonza and Sons,
photo in: Visayan Fighters; Eminent Filipinos