SERVILLANO A. AQUINO
Servillano Aquino was born in Angeles, Pampanga on April 20, 1874 to Braulio and Petrona Aguilar de Hipolito. “Mianong,” as he was called at home, was still very young when the family transferred to Concepcion, Tarlac where he grew up and learned the cartilla. At the age of nine, he was sent to the town of Mexico, to spend three years there as a boarding student in the school run by Felix Dizon.
In 1885, his father became the gobernadorcillo of Concepcion. It was during this time that his parents sent him to Manila to study under Enrique Mendiola, who conducted a school in Sta. Cruz district. After a year, however, he was transferred to the Colegio de San Juan de Letran as an interno. There, he not only completed his Bachelor of Arts degree, but also stayed on to pursue a course in land surveying. Then he moved on to the Universidad de Santo Tomas, where he enrolled in law. He dropped out of school later when he married Guadalupe Quiambao, daughter of Pablo and Lorenza Quiambao, a prominent couple from Murcia.
He and his wife had three children, namely, Gonzalo, Benigno, and Amando. Gonzalo and Benigno were born in the Quiambao house in Murcia in 1893 and 1894, respectively. In 1896, the family moved to Concepcion, where Amando was born in a house Aquino had built on Calle Real. They stayed there until 1897, when he joined the Revolution.
Aquino was then only 24-years-old. He was made a major in the Makabulos army and given the task of conducting hit-and-run raids on Tarlac town that finally forced the Spaniards to transfer their garrison there to Pangasinan. He also went to neighboring towns to induce people to join the revolutionary movement. As the capitan municipal of Murcia, he naturally had followers. He organized his men and took them to Sitio Camansi, in the dense forest of Mount Arayat, where they pledged allegiance to the Katipunan and signed their names in blood.
During the Spanish offensive, led by General Monet, in the Pampango region in September 1897, Aquino and what remained of his loyal men withdrew to Mount Arayat. By late November 1897 the Filipino revolutionist had been badly beaten with 93 other of them killed, but neither General Makabulos nor Major Aquino was captured.
After the fall of Sitio Camansi, Aquino hid in San Fernando but continued his recruiting work. Spanish spies were set on his trail, and a trap was laid for him. He was captured, taken to Manila, thrown into Fort Santiago, court-martialed, and found guilty of sedition. He was sentenced to death before a firing squad. The sentence was read on a Wednesday.
Aquino was to be shot on the Saturday immediately following the day his sentence was read. But between his sentencing and his execution, the Pact of Biak-na-Bato was signed (December 14-15, 1897). Automatically, the execution of condemned revolutionaries was stopped. He was not, however, set free until after the revolutionary assembly had ratified the pact on December 20, 1897 and the Spanish government proclaimed a general amnesty. Later Aquino joined General Aguinaldo in exile in Hong Kong. He stayed there for five months, and became a devoted Aguinaldo partisan.
In the summer of 1898, after Commodore Dewy had won the Battle of Manila Bay, Aguinaldo and his group returned to the Philippines. Aguinaldo ordered his fellow exiles back to their respective provinces, to rekindle the revolution. Aquino was promoted to full colonel and sent to rejoin Makabulos in Central Luzon.
From Cavite, Colonel Servillano Aquino rode a motor launch to Sexmoan in Pampanga, where two of his men waited to smuggle him back into Tarlac. He reached Concepcion, reorganized his troops, and was assigned by Makabulos to San Miguel de Murcia, the main front in the siege of Tarlac town. All the Spanish forces in the province had been concentrated in the capital. The siege of the town began June 3, 1898, and lasted 38 days.
The Spanish forces in Tarlac surrendered on July 9, 1898 to General Makabulos, who appointed Colonel Aquino as head of the commission that received their arms the next day. “The Spanish troops were lined up, the Spanish flag hauled down; then the officers yielded sword and gun to Colonel Aquino…” Collected were 2,150 rifles and 70 revolvers, together with plenty of ammunition. The Spanish friars were herded to Victoria. There, they were kept incommunicado, given black rice and dried fish to eat, and made to sweep the streets. The “army of liberation,” led by Makabulos, entered Tarlac in the afternoon of July 10. With a thousand of his troops, he later moved on to Dagupan to take charge of the campaign in Pangasinan. He left Aquino behind as the newly appointed military governor of Tarlac.
It was during the term of Colonel Aquino as military governor that the Guardia de Honor, a radical peasant movement, became the terror of landowners in the province. Their vicious attack on the family of Aquino was to arouse the greatest horror occurred when Aquino was away from home.
The Guardias killed his father-in-law, who was the town president of Murcia, as well as his wife, who was staying with her father. She was pregnant at the time, but she fought and killed seven of the Guardias before she was overwhelmed. Fortunately, their grandmother Lorenza managed to hide the Aquino children while the marauders ransacked the house, carting away everything they could seize – money, jewelry, chinaware, clothes, and even kitchen utensils. Upon learning of the incident, Aquino rushed back home and went after the killers, but was unable to track them down.
Aquino left his three little boys in the acre of his married sisters in Angeles when he enrolled in the military school put up by General Antonio Luna in Malolos, Bulacan. When the Philippine-American War broke out on February 4, 1899, he went back to Tarlac. Later he found himself leading the Pampango troops in the attack on Caloocan from the east and pushing into the city by way of San Lazaro and Sampaloc. When the attack against the American invaders in Manila faltered, he and his troops retreated to the woods of Balintawak, to Polo in Malinta, to the north over the Canada swamps, to Concepcion, then to Dagupan and to Tarlac.
It was in Sitio Lagundi in Mexico that Aquino was wounded in action. He was rushed to a hospital. Upon recovering, he was summoned by Aguinaldo and promoted to the rank of brigadier-general. He was also appointed deputy to the Congress, which reassembled in Tarlac. His brigade was made in charge of the Magalang area.
On November 5, the Americans sent a battery of artillery and a detachment of engineers to take the Magalang-Concepcion road. They drove the Aquino brigade out of Magalang. Aquino made one last futile stand. He then went underground and reverted to guerilla warfare. The Tarlac armies were disbanded in Gerona, and Aquino fled to the hills of Mount Sinukuan where he had about 500 loyal men.
The American expedition overthrew the Camansi outpost. Aquino was court-martialled after he surrendered “unconditionally” to Brigadier General Frederick Dent Grant.
Early in 1901, he was imprisoned at the Bilibid Prison as a life-termer. Two years later, however, President Theodore Roosevelt pardoned him, upon recommendation of Secretary of war William Howard Taft. On March 25, 1904, Aquino left the Bilibid. He was 30 years old and had spent over three years in prison.
Upon his release, Aquino returned to his home in Concepcion. He found his three boys in Murcia, with their grandmother Lorenza and aunt Petronila, the elder sister of his late wife. Petronila’s husband, Luciano Estrada, had died leaving her with two small children. The meeting of the widow and the widower at the Murcia plantation resulted in the marriage of the two before the end of 1904. After a year, the couple had a daughter, Fortunata.
Fortunata was only 18 years old when her mother, Petronila, died in 1923. Aquino divided what remained of the Murcia hacienda among the heirs. At 49-years-old, he devoted much of his time founding new farms and developing into rice or sugar land his estates, such as the Hacienda Tinang, Hacienda Lauang, Hacienda Pandakaki, and the Hacienda Paligue.
Aquino was already 72-years-old when word got around that the old general had fallen in love again. On October 10, 1946, at the San Miguel Cathedral, he married Belen Sanchez of Concepcion. The year after the wedding, his third wife conceived, but later had a miscarriage. After two tears, he was already 75 years when he became a father again. His wife bore him a son, whom they named Herminio.
On February 3, 1959, when Herminio was only nine-years-old, Servillano Aquino passed away at the age of 85.
Gwekoh, Sol H. “Hero of Tarlac,” The Manila Times, Feb. 4, 1966.
Joaquin, Nick. The Aquinos of Tarlac, Manila, 1983.