First 100 Days of the 1896 Revolution

By Dr. Jaime B. Veneracion

Kamalaysayan Writers and Speakers

Founder and former President, Asosasyon ng mga Dalubhasa at May-Hilig sa Kasaysayan ng Pilipinas (ADHIKA); former chairman, U.P. Department of History; chairman, Lupong Sentenaryo ng U.P.; history consultant and creative committee member, BAYANI, weekly television program on Filipino heroism; resource person, BATTLE OF THE BRAINS, quiz show; and columnist, KABAYAN.

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REVIEW of the reports of Spanish war correspondents and military dispatches compiled by Emilio Reverter Delmas in El Diario de la Guerra published in 1897 might reveal the origins and misconceptions on the nature and results of the 1896 Revolution.

           The dispatches and reports of correspondents would tell us that there was only one national movement as proven by reports of skirmishes in various localities from Batanes, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, then Central Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao, particularly Jolo, Sulu, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Cotobato, not to mention Balabac, Palawan and Marianas. From the correspondents we learn that instead of separate movements, there was a sense of coordination and organization.

           Perhaps by chance or perhaps by design, the first 100 days of the Revolution also coincided with the Spanish military operations under the command of Governor-General Ramon Blanco from the third week of August 1896 to the first week of December 1896. Blanco was replaced by Camilo Polavieja after he was accused by monastic and civilian groups of failing to quell the Revolution.

           But in reality, the criticisms on Blanco were ill-founded. The obstinacy of the Filipino forces than the lack of vision of Blanco in the conduct of the war explain why the Revolution persisted despite its supposed lack of military organization and weapons. For as the next 100 days would show, Blanco's overall approach in thwarting Filipino objectives was the same strategy employed by Polavieja in his management of the war.

           Under Polavieja, from the second week of December 1896 to March 1897, the Spanish troops were more aggressive having been given the advantage of fresh troops arriving continuously from Spain. At the end of his term in March 1897, Polavieja commanded more than 26,000 Spanish troops which he himself estimated to be in a one-to-one ratio with the rebel forces. But even as Polavieja claimed thousands of Filipino rebels being annihilated in battles, new forces of resistance kept cropping up.

           In all these organization of military operations, the complex nature revolution was illustrated. People of various classes joined in. There were also the women units. While it may be argued that these dispatches and reports were made with the bias of enemies, they could provide us some perspectives not found in reading memoirs of Katipuneros. In a way not intended by their authors, we are allowed to see in these reports the general picture of what happened.

(Kamalaysayan Media Service)



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