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Ninoy, Pitongatan, Etc.


By Dr. Jaime C. Laya

Ninoy has his day, airport, and monuments.  Rizal is everywhere and Bonifacio at Monumento.  Lapu-Lapu has a city; Raja Solimán’s statue in Malate; and Sultan Kudarát and Gabriela Siláng at Ayala Triangle.

Battle of the heroes an imaginary view of Manila Bay prepared around 1600 by the Dutch who were then at war with Spain

Battle of the heroes an imaginary view of Manila Bay prepared around 1600 by the Dutch who were then at war with Spain

Among the etcetera are strange names:  Pitongatan, Amarlangagui, Magat Salamat, and Capolong, respectively remembered in two alleys, an elementary school, and a bridge across Estero de Vitas, all in Tondo.

They deserve better, being among the 24 chiefs of present-day Metro Manila, Bulacán, and Pampanga who in 1587-88 plotted the first uprising against Spain, anticipating the Katipunan by 300+ years, to which the chiefs have been compared.

From Cebu where the Spanish first settled, Martín de Goiti attacked and destroyed Rajahs Matandâ and Solimán’s Manila in June 1570. They returned to Cebu but came back in force a year later under Miguel López de Legaspi. Spanish victory was confirmed on June 3, 1571 when natives, led by an unknown brave from Macabebe, Pampanga, were annihilated in the naval Battle of Bangkusáy, a Tondo estuary.

Spanish missionaries, soldiers, and civil servants arrived. Towns were formed with natives relocated to live “under the bells” (“hamletted” we would call it today) and conscripted to build galleons, fortifications, buildings, and homes for the conquistadors.

Lakandulà, former chief of Tondo, was incommunicado in San Carlos, Pangasinán under the name Francisco Malang Balagtas. It appears, however, that he inspired and planned the newcomers’ expulsion. His sons Dionisio Capolong, Phelipe Salonga, and Magat Salamat were among the plotters.

The conspirators brought in Japanese ship captain Joan Gayo and fellow chiefs from Tondo, Bulacán, and Pampanga.  The idea was that Captain Gayo would bring soldiers from Japan and enter Manila under pretext of peace and commerce. With native chiefs and followers, they would set the city (i.e., Intramuros) on fire and in the confusion wipe out all Spaniards. Salamat, Agustin Manuguit, and Joan Banál were dispatched to seek support from Palawan (Calamianes and Cuyò) and Borneo.

The plot was betrayed in October 1588 by one Antonio Surabao, “servant and chief” of Calamianes’ Spanish encomendero Pedro Sarmiento. He had pretended cooperation but turned traitor.

The co-conspirators were arrested, tried, and sentenced. Heaviest punishments were meted on Agustin de Legaspi and Martin Panga (Tondo chiefs) who were “to be dragged [by horses] and hanged, their heads … cut off and exposed on the gibbet in iron cages; their goods … confiscated.” Also executed and their properties wholly or partly confiscated were Dionisio Fernandez (Japanese interpreter) and chiefs Omaghicon (Navotas), Geronimo Bassi (brother of Agustin de Legaspi), Phelipe Salalila (Maysilò), Esteban Taes (Bulacan), and Salamat whose wealth was used in building Fort Santiago.

Exiled to Mexico and heavily fined were Pedro Lainguit (Pandacan), Phelipe Salonga (Polo), and Manuguit (son of Phelipe Salalila).  Exiled from their respective villages and fined were Phelipe Amarlangagui (Catangalan), Daulat (Castilla), Juan Basi (Taguig), Dionisio Capolong (Candava), Luis Balaya (Bangos), Luis Amanicalao, and five chiefs of Tondo, namely Francisco Acta, Gabriel Tuambacar, Calao, Amarlangagui, and Banál. Alonso Lea was acquitted.

We should remember and honor them better.

Notes: (a) The principal source of this article is the Report of Esteban de Marquina, notary public of Manila, to Governor-General Santiago de Vera (Reprinted in Blair and Robertson, ‘The Philippine Islands,’ Vol 7, pp. 95 ff); (b) On the basis of old maps, it appears that the former Bangkusay Street (now F. Varona) was built at about the ancient Tondo shoreline.  The Battle of Bangkusay would have taken place west of the street and a few blocks north of the present Plaza Moriones; and (c) Manila was simply Intramuros at the time of the conspiracy and Tondo was then much of the present Metro Manila and Rizal Province.

Comments are cordially invited, addressed to DR. JAIME C. LAYA

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