MARTIN B. DELGADO
Hero of Sta. Barbara
Great Visayan revolutionary leader, Martin Delgado was born on November 11, 1858 to
Don Jacinto Delgado and Doña Gabriela Bermejo. The second child of a rich and aristocratic
family, he finished his early schooling at Sta. Barbara Parochial School under Father Mateo
Rodriguez. Later, he enrolled at the Seminario de San Vicente Ferrer in Jaro. For further studies,
he enrolled at the Ateneo Municipal in Manila and obtained his diploma as a schoolteacher. After
finishing his studies in Manila, he returned to his hometown and taught in a public school for some
He was highly regarded by the people of Sta. Barbara and won the favor of the government.
At the age of 25, he was appointed teniente mayor of his hometown. Later, he served as capitan
municipal and juez de paz. He held these positions with distinction, apparently showing his loyalty
to the Spaniards. However, without their knowledge, he was conferring secretly with other Visayan
As a consequence of the defeat of the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Manila Bay, the
organization of the Filipino volunteer militia in the different regions of the Philippines was
decreed. Thus, General Ricardo Monet, the Politico-Military Governor of the Province of Iloilo,
ordered the organization of the Voluntarios in the different towns. To command the Voluntarios in
Sta. Barbara, Martin Delgado was named capitan with around 125 men under him.
His leading the Voluntarios was a blessing to the revolutionary movement, for when Gen.
Diego de los Rios arrived in Iloilo from Mindanao in the latter part of May, 1898 with all his forces
and equipment, Capitan Delgado was able to requisition for more arms.
On October 28, 1898 through his leadership, the men publicly renounced their being
Voluntarios and proclaimed themselves Revolucionarios. Headed by 'Tan Martin, as Delgado was
fondly called, the Revolucionarios marched to the town and took over the municipal building. On
the same day, uprisings were held simultaneously din several towns of Iloilo. These were arranged
in the convention of the Comite Central de Revolucionarios de Visayas held at the hacienda of Tan
Sabas Solinap in Sta. Barbara during the last week of August, 1898.
To secure further direction for the revolutionary movement, a group of men gathered in
Sta. Barbara on November 17, 1898 to organize a provisional government. Señor Roque Lopez
headed it and the military department was placed under the supreme command of Martin Delgado
who was promoted to lieutenant general on the same date.
For the purpose of organizing the Visayas into a federal state subordinate to the central
government, the revolutionary government was converted into a council of state for the Visayas on
December 12, 1898, Gen. Martin Delgado was appointed ex-officio member from the army and
The revolutionaries triumphed; General Rios and his men evacuated Iloilo on December
24, 1898. The following day, the revolutionary leaders of the Ejercito Libertador entered the city
without bloodshed. Tears of joy were in the faces of those who witnessed the raising of the Filipino
flag; General Delgado was the proudest man in the whole parade on that historic Christmas Day.
Unfortunately, their triumph was short-lived for on December 28, three days after
occupying the place, the Americans under Gen. Marcus P. Miller arrived to conquer Panay. The
invaders captured the principal seaport of Iloilo on February 11, 1899 assisted by warships from
Admiral George Dewey's squadron. Thereupon, detachments marched into the town of Iloilo and
hoisted the Stars and Stripes over the fort, signifying possession of the place in the name of the
To insure the greatest unity possible, Aguinaldo appointed Delgado politico-military
governor of Iloilo and general-in-chief of the army. He assumed both positions on September 21,
The Filipinos strongly abhorred the Americans. Before they left the city, they set various
parts on fire, simultaneously. The Visayans held their ground and heavy fighting continued in
Balantang, Sangley, Tacas and Jaro.
To launch a major offensive, General Miller asked for reinforcement. This forced the
Visayan defenders to retreat to the interior towns. By this time, Gov. Gen. Elwell Otis had decreed
amnesty for insurgents who would give themselves up. This led to the surrender of many of the
Visayan insurgents. But under the leadership of "the greatest general of the Visayan army" the rest
of the Filipino insurgents in Iloilo continued to fight believing in the efficacy of armed resistance.
To perpetuate the spirit of revolution, Delgado and some of his comrades-in-arms did not
surrender. They bravely undertook guerilla warfare against the Americans.
Delgado showed indomitable spirit and through his example, encouraged the rebel troops
to revive their nationalistic sentiments. As the politico-military governor of the province and
general-in-chief of the army, he made efforts to harass the invaders with the support of combatants
and non-combatants alike. He issued several decrees to safeguard the citizens of Iloilo and assured
them of an era of peace and prosperity. All possible efforts were exerted to see to it that all his
promises were carried out.
The Americans led by General Hughes did not stop. Delgado was pursued with the help of
paid Filipino guides through the hills of Maasin, Lambunao, Calinog and Passi.
Subsequently, the desire for peace began to grow so strong among the influential classes in
Iloilo that a circular letter was written by these leading citizens urging Delgado to surrender for the
benefit of “the victims of the useless resistance."
The formal surrender of Delgado and his troops took place in Jaro on February 2, 1901 in a
simple but dignified and impressive ceremony arranged by Father Praxedes Magalona, a priestrevolutionary.
Up to the time of his surrender, Delgado was not only the chief insurgent leader in the
island of Panay. The Americans also recognized him as "the ablest leader" in the island as proven
by his firm control of his men. To give him due honor, he was appointed the first governor of Iloilo
province upon the establishment of the civil government in May, 1901.
On March 3, 1902 during the first local election, Delgado was elected governor and served
until 1904. After his term, he returned to Sta. Barbara where he was again honored with the
highest government position that the town could give. He became its fifth municipal president.
Delgado married twice. He first married Carmen Barra of Cabanatuan, by whom he had a
daughter named Conchita, who died in infancy. His second wife was Lucia Hisole with whom he
had three children: Teodolfo, Jacinto and Consolacion. Jacinto, the only surviving son, was once
the municipal mayor of Sta. Barbara.
Delgado spent his last few years in the island of Culion where he died on November 12,
1918 at the age of 60.
Quirino, Carlos. Who’s Who in Philippine History. Manila : Tahanan Books, 1995
Sonza, Demetrio. Illustrious Ilonggos Volume 1. Iloilo City: Iloilo Provincial Historical Society,
Quirino, Carlos. Who’s Who in Philippine History. Manila: Tahanan Books, 1995.
Villaroel, Hector K. Eminent Filipinos. Quezon City : Textbook Publishers, 1965.