Mutiny at Calaganan
It remains little known to this day, but Misamis was the only region in Mindanao which actively joined the Katipunan revolt against Spain.
On September 29, 1896, 350 revolucionarios, including 50 Bukidnon lumads, overwhelmed the Spanish garrison and raided the armory of the Fuerza Real de Nueva Victoria in Calaganan, (present-day Balo-i, Lanao del Norte).
Unable to seize Cagayan because of superior Spanish forces, the revolucionarios proceeded to Sumilao, Bukidnon and marched down the coast where they commandeered a boat and landed in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental.
From there the group stormed the Tercio Civil outpost in Gingoog where the uprising was finally put down in January 1897 with the help of reinforcements and a gunboat from Butuan.
It may have occurred 124 years ago but digging deeper into this event could change the way the present Philippine flag looks like.
Local history researchers believe government should fund further research into determining if there is a need to redesign the sun in the Philippine flag with nine instead of eight rays.
As every grade school student knows, the eight rays of the sun in the Philippine tricolor stand for the eight provinces in Luzon which first rose in revolt against the Spanish colonizers in 1896.
But Antonio J. Montalvan II. a Kagay-anon columnist, social anthropologist, university professor and heritage activist, says existing historical sources indicate there was one other Katipunan-led revolt in the island which occurred during that same period in 1896 but which has not been recognized by Filipino historians.
“The Calaganan Mutiny” is detailed in the letters of Vicente Elio y Sanchez of Camiguin to the Manila-based Spanish newspaper La Oceania Española and two other historical sources but has never been linked to the “First Cry of Balintawak” led by Andres Bonifacio.
One reason for this could be that Elio’s letters never got past Spanish censors anxious to douse the flickering flames of revolution which had broken out in Luzon.
The mutiny exploded in September 29, 1896 among the so-called “Disciplinarios” or conscripts consisting mostly of convicts from Luzon, who were pressed into battle against the Moros in Lanao.
In late August, 1896, the Katipunan revolution against Spain broke out in Luzon. Exactly a month after, or September 29, 1896, a group of Filipinos from Luzon deported to the Spanish fort in Calaganan for training in military discipline to fight against the Moros of Lanao, mutinied against their Spanish superiors upon receiving instructions from the Katipunan in Manila.
These Disciplinarios who numbered 300 soldiers belonged to the Third and Fourth Companies of the regular Spanish Army stationed in Iligan.
They raided the Spanish armory and proceeded to Cagayan to attack the town, being joined by some Moros.
On the way, they ransacked convents and homes of Spanish peninsulars.
Upon receipt of this bad news, Lt. Col. Juan de Pratt, the Military-Governor of Misamis Province, immediately mustered and trained Filipino volunteers for the defense of Cagayan with the approval of the Capitan General de Filipinas.
The provincial capital lacked sufficient troops for this purpose since reinforcements were badly needed to quell the Katipunan revolt in Luzon. At that time, the seeds of revolt against the Spaniards were sprouting and Luzon was in a state of unrest, especially in the provinces around Manila Bay.
The Filipino volunteers were grouped into a unit and divided into four sections of infantry named as the Tercio de Voluntarios de Cagayan. They Regiment No. 72 under the overall command of Col. D. Camilo Lasala.
One of these volunteers was Apolinar Velez, who took leave from his civil government duties as the Clerk for the Court of First Instance of the province of Misamis, Notary Public and Registrar of Commerce.
He was given the rank of 2nd Lt. of Infantry after his training and designated as the officer-in-charge for the defense of Cagayan, including all phases of defense as outposts, deployment of men, and the safety of Filipino and Spanish civilians and their families. The women were quartered at the convento of St. Augustine which was reinforced by army sentinels.
Meanwhile, the mutineers were on their way to Cagayan which was in a state of tension with the residents in constant fear: news was that the Disciplinarios were pillaging town after town, killing Chinese merchants, robbing the people and raping the women.
One midnight, twelve of the toughest rebels took advantage of the darkness and slipped in near the Fuente del General Blanco (present-day Ysalina bridge at Carmen) and killed the sentry. However, this alerted the whole garrison and an exchange of fire drove the rebels out of town.
Next day, a column under the command of Col. Lasala pursued the rebels and finally caught up with them in the town of Santa Ana, Tagoloan. The Tercio de Voluntarios de Cagayan had their baptism of fire and defeated the rebels, scattering those who were able to escape towards the mountains.
From Cagayan, they proceeded to Sumilao, Bukidnon where they were joined by a band of Higa-onons. They next attacked Balingasag, and raided the outpost of Gingoog on January 1897.
By that time, news of Rizal’s execution had reached Cagayan and Misamis, and this further stoked the anger of the town folk, fanning the flames of the local Katipuneros.
It took a Spanish gunboat, recalled from the Tercio Distrito de Surigao, to finally subdue the resistance in Gingoog. This was the only known Katipunan revolt in the whole of Mindanao.
What appears to be remarkable about this particular mutiny is that besides happening at approximately the same time as the Katipunan revolt in Luzon, there is apparently a direct link between it and the Katipunan revolt in the person of Pio Valenzuela, a cousin of Arcadia Valenzuela of Lapasan, Cagayan de Misamis (as Cagayan de Oro was then known) who visited Mindanao during this period (ostensibly on instructions from Andres Bonifacio himself!) to instigate a similar revolt in Mindanao.
Augustinian Recollect chronicles confirm that this revolt was in fact instigated by a communication from Katipuneros in Luzon, making Mindanao the ninth province to join the Katipunan revolt, albeit not included in the eight rays of the sun in the Philippine flag which represent the eight provinces which first rose against Spanish tyranny.
“We have yet to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the direct link between the Katipunan revolt in Luzon and the Calaganan Mutiny, but there appears to be extant sources which seem to indicate that such a link did exist, and that Pio Valenzuela did indeed come to Mindanao on the instructions of Andres Bonifacio to foment a revolt against the Spaniards,” Montalvan said.
Another unique aspect of the revolt was that it was participated in by Mindanao’s tri-people: the Christian immigrants, the indigenous natives in the person of Higa-onons from Bukidnon, and a group of Moros from Lanao, making it not only a Katipunan revolt, but one in which all three of Mindanao’s tri-people was represented.
“Should a direct link be established between Bonifacio’s Katipunan revolt in Luzon and the Calaganan Mutiny, then the people of Mindanao can rightfully petition the national government to add a ninth ray to the sun in the Philippine flag,” Montalvan said.
What needs to be done at this point is to verify primary sources such as the Consular Letters of the French Embassy in Manila to Paris where the Calaganan Mutiny is described in detail, Montalvan added.
The letters are now in the archives of the National Museum in Manila, as are other extant documents like the historical account of the Jesuit historian Pablo Pastells in which the “Calaganan Mutiny” is also described in detail.