ANTONINO M. GUEVARRA
Revolutionary colonel Antonino M. Guevara was born in San Pedro Tunasan, “the first
pueblo” of the province of Laguna. His nom de guerre in the Katipunan was “Matatag”.
He was an unlikely revolutionary. He belonged to the land-owning elite and was educated
in Spanish. As an intellectual, however, he was influenced by the writings of Dr. Jose Rizal. He
became an active participant in the revolution, from its Katipunan days up to its dissolution during
the second phase.
In 1897, owing to the unjust practices of the Spanish hacienda overseer, Guevara chose to
vacate his land for the town of Muntinlupa, where he would find- or so he believed – respite from
authoritarian pressure. He was wrong, for not long after he had settled there, he was accused of
owning a copy of the banned Noli Me Tangere and supporting the Propaganda Movement by
disseminating the similarly banned La Solidaridad, the movement’s official organ. The Spanish
friar Jose Rodriguez hurled the accusations against him.
Guevara had actually joined the Katipunan a year earlier, on August 1, 1896, with the help
of one of its members, Mariano Crisostomo. Three days after the Katipunan’s discovery later that
month, he joined his comrades in leaving the Katipunan meeting house in Trozo, Manila to avoid
an impending raid, and marched toward Daang-Toro.
On August 25, they had an encounter with the Guardia Civil in Pasong Tamo. They were
greatly outnumbered. Fortunately, a timely rainfall, and the fact that the area was thickly forested
saved them. They then proceeded to Taguig, Pasig, and Pateros, to tell their other comrades that
the revolution was already underway and to be prepared for the planned simultaneous uprisings on
the 29th of August.
On August 30, Guevara left for his hometown. Learning that an order for his arrest had
been out for days, he fled immediately to the Paliparan forest, and hence to Pasong Buaya. It was
there that he received news of the successive military victories of the rebels led by General Emilio
Aguinaldo. Thus, he decided to go to Cavite, where he met not only Aguinaldo but also other
revolutionary leaders like Generals Vito Belarmino, Mariano Trias, and Artemio Ricarte.
After some time, Colonel Guevara returned to San Pedro Tunasan. Aguinaldo had
instructed him not to begin as yet the planned uprising in his hometown as this would only cause
its loss as a vital link of communication between Laguna and Manila. He was also instructed to
find at once a smelter needed for the manufacture of bolos in Cavite.
It was during this period that he established a Katipunan chapter, called “Katipunan
Matatag” after his own alias, in his hometown. Its membership expanded quickly since his brother
Jose happened to be the town’s captain. Through this unit, it became easier for him to aid and
promote the revolution by sending supplies of medicines and munitions to Cavite. He also foiled
the spies of the other side by raising more funds and, more importantly, recruiting more members.
He was able to produce 4,000 new bolos, manufactured from a huge smelter he himself had
In December 1896, he and his men helped General Crispulo Aguinaldo in building
trenches between the towns of Muntinlupa and San Pedro Tunasan. Later, he was also tasked to
aid refugees caught in crossfire by moving them to safer areas. Thus, he continued to work for the
revolution, often barely escaping death.
In early 1897, Guevara joined the group of Katipunan Supremo Andres Bonifacio, his
brother Procopio, Alejandro Santiago, Apolonio Samson, and others, in Indang, Cavite. He served
as courier for the supremo, to carry letters to Katipunan brains Emilio Jacinto. According to
General Ricarte in his memoirs, Guevarra was with Bonifacio’s group when soldiers loyal to newly
elected president Aguinaldo, attacked them. Guevarra wrote Jacinto in Laguna about the
treacherous assault, in a letter dated May 3, 1897. In another letter to Jacinto, he wrote about his
decision to request General Paciano Rizal for arms instead of the “Magdalo people,” so as not to
have “to recognize them as chiefs.”
After the execution of the Bonifacios brothers, it was Colonel Guevara who accompanied
the Supremo’s widow, Gregoria de Jesus, to San Pedro Tunasan, taking her away from lecherous
Guevara was directly under the command of General Rizal, who headed the Laguna area at
the time. He helped supervise the assignment of spies and the replenishment of funds for the
procurement of arms. In 1897, he successfully conducted elections for the Sanggunian (town
president) in various towns for fund-raising purposes. In December of that year, he was ordered to
organize the Sandatahan as the combat unit of the revolutionary forces in the provinces.
That same month, following the signing of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato, he was among those
who sent off general Aguinaldo and company to their voluntary exile in Hongkong. At that
moment, he was suddenly assailed by doubts about the future of the revolution.
In January 1898, accompanied by his old comrade Mariano Crisostomo, he met with
Apolinario Mabini, who was then already debilitated by polio and in danger of being captured, to
try to persuade him to leave Makati for Laguna and its hot springs.
In February, on his way to Sta. Cruz to deliver a letter from Aguinaldo to General Rizal, he
would have fallen into the hands of the local Guardia Civil were it not for the timely warning of a
fellow passenger on a boat bound for Biñan.
On May 22, together with Rizal, he attended a meeting of rebels in Biñan, where plans for
an attack against the local government forces on the 31st were being finalized. On the day of
reckoning itself, the rebels were able to capture to town of Biñan, followed by Sta. Cruz, Cabuyao,
and Calamba, where he rejoined his superior. They proceeded to Lipa, Batangas, to lay siege on
the enemy there, claiming victory on June 18, 1898. By this time, the revolutionary government in
Kawit had already proclaimed Philippine independence.
During the period following the fall of Manila, Colonel Guevarra served under General
Lukban. He was assigned to post duty in Nueva Caceres soon after rebel victory was declared in his
province, and the popular election records, with a check for P1, 500, were delivered to Malolos.
He also served as special commissioner of Ambos Camarines’ finance department, his duty being
mainly to inventory property left by the Spaniards, particularly in San Fernando, Pasacao, Bula,
Calabanga, Libmanan, and Maguiring.
Alvarez, Santiago . The Katipunan and the Revolution Memoirs of a General. Translated
into English by Paula Carolina S. Malay. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila
University Press, 1992.
Guevara y Mendoza, Antonino. History of One of the Initiators of the Filipino
Revolution. Translated from the Spanish with some notes by O.D. Corpuz
Manila: National Historical Institute, 1988.
Ronquillo, Carlos. Paghihimagsik nang 1896-97. Isagani Medina, Patnugot Quezon
City: University of the Philippines Press, 1996, p. 78.