Saturday, January 19, 2013

Filipino Martyr: SIMPLICIO REYES

(d. 1897)
Revolutionary Martyr from Capiz
Simplicio Reyes was one of the first adherents of the Katipunan in Panay and one of the 19
martyrs of Capiz.
The unforeseen discovery of the Katipunan, which led to the premature outbreak of the
Philippine Revolution in Luzon, made it necessary for the revolutionary leaders to involve other
regions in the struggle for freedom. The Katipunan supremo, Andres Bonifacio ordered two of his
men, Francisco del Castillo and Candido Iba, both of whom hailed from Panay, to establish the
revolutionary society and lead the revolution on the island.
Upon setting foot on Panay on Christmas Day of 1896, they started recruiting men in the
town of Batang. One of them was Simplicio Reyes. Reyes was initiated to the Katipunan through
the practice called sandugo, in which blood, drawn from one’s arm, was used to enroll one’s name
in the roster of members. Later Del Castillo designated him as a cabecillo, or petty chief. Together
with the other original recruits – Teodorico Motus, Albino Rabaria, Isidoro Jimenez, Cornelio
Delfin, and Gabino Sucgang – he moved around the barrios of Malinao, Kawayan, Tambak,
Ochando, and Langatan in Capiz. The group was credited with having inducted a thousand
members into the Katipunan. While the revolution raged in Luzon, the Visayan revolutionaries
were busy gathering men and arms, and drawing their battle plans against the Spaniards.
The newly formed Katipunan in Panay was discovered on March 17, 1897 when the
Spanish navy captured documents revealing its existence on the island. Del Castillo, who had
designated himself as general, prepared to commence hostilities against the enemy. His plan was
to seize Kalibo, which was then the capital of Capiz, with Iban supporting the attack. The plan
failed because of the death of del Castillo, who was killed by a sniper and the capture of Iban in
Malinao. Meanwhile, sporadic fighting flared up in other parts of the province.
The Spaniards sent reinforcements under Colonel Ricardo Monet to quell the rebellion.
They landed in Dumaguit. Monet, however, was not aware of the rebels’ true strength. Heeding
the advice of the local friars, he promised to pardon all those who had taken up arms against Spain.
The poorly armed rebels under Reyes, Sucgang, and the others, on the other hand, were
demoralized because of the death and capture of their two leaders, as well as by their defeats in the
initial battles. Thus, 50 of them, including Reyes, surrendered in Kalibo on March 19.
The expected pardon did not come. Instead, they were made to form a line. From the
group, 20, including Reyes, were selected. They were either rebel leaders or very active
Katipuneros. With the exception of Nicanor Gonzales, the remaining 19 were herded to a camarin
or warehouse, on Amadeo Street on the night of March 23. There, they were severely beaten and
shot. The following morning, their bodies were paraded around the town and displayed at the
plaza. Later, their remains were buried in an unmarked common grave.

Gwekoh, Sol. “The Nineteen Martyrs of Aklan.” Hall of Fame, Manila Times. 1966.
National Historical Commission. Historical Calendar. Manila: 1970.
Sonza, Demetrio. Illustrious Ilonggos Volume I. Iloilo City: Iloilo Provincial Historical Society,
Zaide, Gregorio F. “The Nineteen Martyrs of Aklan.” Philippines Free Press. March 22, 1952.

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