National Museum launches virtual edition of ‘The Basi Revolt’

Published September 17, 2020, 5:48 PM

by Hanah Tabios

The National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) launched the virtual edition of the Treasures of Philippine Art publication “The Basi Revolt” by Esteban Villanueva which was made available and readable even for those visually impaired individuals.

(National Museum of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

The publication in commemoration of the 213th anniversary of the uprising in the Ilocos provinces is translated in three languages English, Filipino, and Ilocano.

“As we remember today the 213th year of the Basi Revolt (1807) in Ilocos, we are launching this digital version of the second series of our Art History and Conservation monograph focusing on The Basi Revolt paintings and the role of ‘basi,’ an alcoholic beverage from fermented sugarcane, in shaping and expressing the cultural heritage and identity of the Ilocano through ethnographic materials associated with traditional drink and its customs,” the NMP said.

The publication includes the chapters a historical appraisal of The Basi Revolt and Ilocano heritage, complementing the exhibition texts at the NMP Ilocos Regional Museum in Vigan City; the outcome of both historical and physical examinations of the paintings; and the results of the image analysis and digital scanning of the paintings.

Close-up images of the 14 paintings, as well as the index of the 72 Ilocano material culture included in the Containing the Cultural World of Basi exhibition at the NM Ilocos Regional Museum Complex, are also part of the monograph.

Famous for its heritage sites and other cultural properties, some tourists would flock to Ilocos region to appreciate artworks and experience the rich Philippine and Ilocano history.

The Ilocos Regional Museum Complex in Vigan City has, in fact, a dedicated gallery to the Basi Revolt paintings.

The Basi Revolt, “also known as Ambaristo Revolt,” erupted on Sept. 16, 1807 in the present-day town of Piddig, Ilocos Norte.

Led by Pedro Mateo and Saralogo Ambaristo and composed of townspeople from Piddig, Badoc, and other towns, they marched under their own flag of yellow and red horizontal bands and made their way southward towards the provincial capital of Vigan to protest against the abuses of the Spanish colonial government.

Historical accounts said in the year 1786, the Spaniards imposed a wine monopoly and prohibited the private manufacture of basi, a native sugarcane wine, forcing Ilocanos to buy from government stores.

Fueled by these abuses, the wine-loving Ilocanos were then prompted to start the uprising in Piddig town and later spread in the northern towns of Ilocos province.

The series of unrest also led the colonial government to divide the province into the now Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.