JUAN C. CAILLES
Juan Cailles, revolutionary general, was born in Nasugbu, Batangas, on November 10, 1871 to Hipolito Cailles, a French musician from Paris and Maria Caupama, a Hindu from Bombay.
He received his early education at a private school conducted by Olvidio Caballero in Tuy, Batangas and studied at the Jesuit Normal School for Teachers in Manila. He graduated in 1890.
He became a schoolteacher in Amaya, Tanza and in Rosario, Cavite. He had been teaching for five years when the revolution broke out in 1896. Then he led the fathers of his pupils in joining the Filipino revolutionary forces. Among revolutionaries, he was known as Maestro Cailles.
At first, Cailles belonged to Bonifacio’s Magdiwang Council. Later, he joined Aguinaldo’s Magdalo forces and soon won generalissimo’s esteem
As commanding officer of Batallon Trias of the Regiment of Gen. Mariano Noriel, he took part in various bloody engagements against the Spaniards in Cavite and in the suburbs of Manila. He survived an encounter where Candido Tirona, Edilberto Evangelista, and Crispulo Aguinaldo fell.
Cailles later deserted the revolutionary camp and served as a scout and spy of the Spaniards. He led one of the columns which under command of General Jose Lachambre, operated in Cavite province.
Aguinaldo upon his return to the Philippines in may 1898, sought Cailles and appointed him lieutenant Colonel. At first, the other insurgents looked him upon with suspicion. However, he soon proved his loyalty by his hostility towards the American. From September 1898, until the outbreak o the hostilities on February 4, 1899, he was a colonel with an important command in the lines surrounding Manila.
Aguinaldo promoted Cailles to brigadier general and appointed him military governor of Laguna and Tayabas (Quezon province) in 1898-1899. As governor, he organized a separate brigade in Laguna, and established a military government in that province.
After the fall of Manila, Cailles wired Aguinaldo informing him of the condition of the Filipino forces in September 1899. “We have no more ammunition. I request his Excellency to order General Mariano Noriel who has a factory in Parañaque to send us ammunition. Ever since I took charge of these operations, I have not received a centavo to defray the expenses of the headquarters at Pineda. My wife feeds the officers at her own expense. She has no more money to spare. We do not smoke. I have a perplexed patience I suffer all these for my most beloved and unforgettable President.”
That same year, he again wired Aguinaldo: “An American interpreter came to tell me to withdrawn our troops from Maytubig, I shall not draw back one step but instead I shall advance forward. I said to the interpreter that did not want to have any dealings with the Americans. The Americans went away dumbfounded.”
His action was approved and applauded by Aguinaldo.
As acting chief of operation in the first zone of Manila during the Filipino-American War, General Cailles established his headquarters at Santa Cruz, capital of Laguan from where he directed operations against the Americans under General Henry Lawton. On September 17, 1900, he inflicted a sever defeat on Colonel Cheatam’s troops in the Battle of Mabitac, Laguna. However, on June 20, 1901,
he was forced to surrender to the United States authorities, and upon the cessation of hostilities he cooperated with the Americans in pacifying the country.
When he surrendered, his lieutenant named Caballes under orders from Miguel Malvar, declared himself the head of the province.
Cailles was appointed governor of Laguna in 1902, and served until 1910. From 1911 to 1916 he devoted his attention to agriculture. Again from 1916 to 1925, he was at the helm of the provincial government.
Governor General Leonard Wood appointed him representative for the Mountain Province in October 1925 until 1931 when he was elected governor of Laguna. He was re-elected to the same office in 1934 and served until 1937, during this term he established a 3,000-peso scholarship fund for deserving high school students. During his last two terms of office as governor of Laguna, he helped a number of deserving high school students in paying their tuition fees and other expenses. He also spent part of his salary for the services of extra physicians assigned in the free ward of the Laguna Provincial Hospital.
With the cooperation of the Philippine Constabulary and the town police, he suppressed on May 30, 1935 the Sakdalista uprising in Santa Rosa and Cabuyao, Laguna. He also took an important part in the campaign against the notorious bandit, Teodoro Asedillo, the “Terror of the Sierra Madre.”
After his term as governor of Laguna, he was appointed member of the National Defense Council. He was also a member, and later, chairman of the Board on Pension for Veterans.
Briefly in 1945, he was appointed governor of Laguna when the Commonwealth government was restored.
As one of the country’s most colorful personalities, “General Cailles is looked upon with faith bordering on hero-worship, inspired not only by his personality, kindly yet dominating.”
He died of heart disease on June 28, 1951.
Villaroel, Hector K. Eminent Filipinos. Quezon City: Textbook Publishers, 1965.
Quirino, Carlos. Who’s Who in Philippine History. Manila : Tahanan Books, 1995.