Saturday, January 19, 2013

Filipino Martyr: SIMEON A. OLA

In Guinobatan, Albay hailed Simeon Ola, the man who would lead the Bicolanos fight for
their freedom. He was born on September 2, 1865 to Vicente Ola and Apolonia Arboleda.
Ola was highly regarded in Guinobatan, being the teniente de cuadrillos and a trusted
confidant of Father Carlos Cabido, the parish priest of his town. These positions helped him carry
out his revolutionary works – recruiting men and acquiring firearms for the revolutionary army.
He connived with the jail warden in his town, Sergeant Loame, to free about 93 prisoners. The
prisoners soon joined his army.
In April 1898, he fought in the battle of Camalig. General Vito Belarmino, the Zone
Commander of the Revolutionary Forces in the Bicol Region, designated him the rank of a Captain.
Fully committed to the cause of the revolution, he also raised funds amounting to P42, 000.00,
which he turned over to General Mariano Trias, Secretary of Finance of the Revolutionary
On January 23, 1900, he was promoted Major after he successfully effected an ambush and
captured three American soldiers: Dubose, Fred Hunter and Russel. In February that same year,
his troops fought against the Americans in Arimbay, Legaspi. His cousin Jose Arboleda perished in
the bloody battle.
American soldiers’ mighty firepower and combat training did not dampen his spirit; he
continued to fight so that his men were encouraged and more men joined his army. With the army
of Colonel Engracio Orence, he fought valiantly in the battle of Binogsacan in Guinobatan, Albay.
His army rested for over a month in July 1901 when he accompanied General Belarmino to Manila.
He resumed his campaign in August by raiding the town of Oas, Albay. On August 12, 1902, he
ambushed the American detachment at Macabugos, Ligao.
Ola became a marked man to the Americans. Although his troops were easily repulsed
during battles, the Americans took him seriously. From March to October 1903, the Americans set
up the reconcentration system as a means to stop Ola’s activities. Because of the damage it caused
even to the innocent civilians, they turned into negotiations. They sent Ramon Santos and Major
Jesse S. Garwood of the Constabulary as emissaries to negotiate for his surrender, which he
politely refused. Instead, he carried on his battle. On July 15, 1903, he ambushed the 31st
Philippine Scout Garrison under the command of Sergeant Nicolas Napoli in Joveliar, Albay.
The persistent effort of the peace panel and his battle weary men made Ola realized that he
could never win the war. He became open to the agreement set by Colonel Harry H. Bandholtz, the
Assistant Commander of the Constabulary in Lucena, Tayabas, for his surrender. The agreement
included general amnesty, fair treatment and justice to his comrades in arms. On September 25,
1903 the negotiating panel composed of Ramon Santos, Eligio Arboleda, Epifanio Orozco, Frank L.
Pyle, John Paegelow, J.B. Allison and Joseph Rogers went to his camp in Malagnaton, Mapaco,
Guinobatan. Eventually, Ola surrendered to Governor Bette and Colonel Bandholtz.
Charged with sedition, Judges Adam Carson and James Blount presided over his case. He
was sentenced of 30 years imprisonment on November 10. 1903. Fortunately, he was granted
executive clemency so he was released from prison on October 8, 1904. In 1910, he entered politics
and won as town mayor of Guinobatan, which he served until 1913. He was again elected to the
same position in 1916. He served the term until 1919.
Simeon Ola died on February 14, 1952 and was interred at the Roman Catholic Cemetery of

Agoncillo, Teodoro A. History of the Filipino People. 8th ed. Quezon City: Garotech, 1990.
Eminent Filipinos. Manila: National Historical Commission, 1970.
Quirino, Carlos. Who’s who in Philippine History. Manila: Tahanan Books, 1995.

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