Saturday, January 19, 2013


(Ca. 1660)
Leader of the Pampango Revolt
“The most warlike and prominent people on these Islands,” said a priest of the Pampangos
in the early days of the Spaniards conquest. With their known bravery in battle and their exposure
to European military methods, they became popular as conscripts for the Spanish forces.
Pampangos were often pitted against the Moros and others who resisted the Spaniards.
Pampanga itself, because of its relative wealth, drew the most concentrated attention from
the religious. It was also the province that probably bore the greatest burden of the tribute, forced
labor, and rice exploitation.
Early in 1660, a thousand Pampangos were conscripted to cut timber in the forests of
Malasinglo and Boco-boco (Bosoboso in other accounts). They were made to work for eight
months under oppressive conditions. Moreover, the government refused to pay them for their
hard labor, and for the rice purchased from them over a period of time, thus further stoking the
fires of unrest. Their patience strained to the limit, they mutinied and signified their intention to
revolt by setting fire to their campsite. They chose Francisco Maniago, a native of Mexico,
Pampanga as their leader.
With their vaunted European military training and combative nature, these Pampangos
could have shaken the then precarious hold of the Spaniards on the Philippines. At that time, the
Spaniards were busy fighting the Dutch, and their troop strength was badly depleted. However,
Maniago failed to grasp the magnitude of his opportunity.
Maniago was a master-of-camp. Evidently, he was also a clever and fiery orator. Firing
them with the idea of a life of freedom under an elected King, he succeeded in so agitating not only
his fellow Pampangos, but also the Pangasinenses, Cagayanos, and the Ilocanos to this end, that
the whole hispanized region seemed to resound with the clamor for revolt.
Maniago sometimes lied and made exaggerated claims to rally followers. He once told
them that an army of Pampangos had entered Manila and killed all the Spaniards. He was,
however, so confident of his moral suasion that he could ask the chieftains of each town in
Pampanga to kill the Spaniards and liberate the province from Spanish rule.
Under Maniago, a group of armed rebels gathered in Lubao while another group made
preparations in Bacolor. They closed river mouths, blocking these with wooden stakes.
How the Spanish governor, Manrique de Lara, neutralized the rebellion is a classic study
on the subtle use of psychological warfare.
Basically, what the crafty governor did was make use of the old “divide and rule” trick
utilized by conquerors, harnessing the existing schism between the principalia and the masses. He
began with a “show of force” directed at Macabebe, then, one of the more affluent towns in the
province. Quite intimidated, the Macabebe became friendly towards the Spaniards, who
responded in the same way. This turn of events aroused the suspicion of Pampangos in the other
towns, which had joined the revolt.
Meanwhile, De Lara’s next step was to entice Juan Macapagal, chief of the town of Arayat,
to be a loyal friend of Spain. Located at a junction between Pampanga and Pangasinan, Arayat
occupied a very important strategic position.
The Spaniards’ inducement of Macapagal aroused the envy of the rebels. As this
developed, the other chiefs of Pampanga likewise fell prey to the same ploy used on them by the
friars. Thus, the revolt lost steam.
In the end, Maniago and his followers agreed to make peace with Governor De Lara. They
demanded to be paid the remainder of the salaries due them for their labor in the forest project,
and of the cost of supplies that were brought to Manila for the use of the soldiers. The clever
governor, however, managed to persuade the credulous chiefs to accept an initial compensation of
only P14, 000 out of the total P200, 000 the government owed them. He also tricked Maniago into
leaving for Manila with the promise of appointment as maestre de campo of the Pampango
regiment in the city. Maniago was never heard from again. According to one account, Maniago
was shot months later in Mexico, Pampanga.
The Maniago revolt was a prelude to a much bigger and bloodier revolt in Pangasinan,
where a man named Andres Malong had heeded the early call of Maniago to rise in arms against
the Spaniards. After it, the fires of revolt would remain quiescent for a long time in Pampanga.
They would be stoked again, to conflagration, during the Philippine Revolution.

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Quirino, Carlos. Filipinos at War. Manila: Vera-Reyes Inc., 1981.
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Lahing Pilipino Publishing Inc., 1978.
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