Cinco de Noviembre: Negrenses’ revolt against the Spanish colonizers

Published November 12, 2021, 12:20 PM

by John Legaspi

A glimpse of Negrenses’ fight for freedom through the homes of the Generals

Perhaps it wouldn’t be as stretch to say that among the most pivotal moment in Philippine history happened on June 12, 1898, when the Filipino’s quest for freedom was finally fulfilled. What many may not know much about is the revolt that continued months after the declaration of independence that took place in Negros, cementing Filipinos love and ownership of the country.

On Nov. 5, 1898, Negrenses took to the streets to claim their inalienable right to self-determination. No other story in the archives of Negros wields greater sway in the evolution of Negrense heritage than this historic fight for independence from Spanish rule, and the consequent establishment of the Cantonal Republic of Negros. Today, that moment is immortalized with the celebration of Cinco de Noviembre.

An annual event, Cinco de Noviembre province-wide holiday that aims to commemorate the brave spirit of Negrenses and let it not be forgotten. Established on the same day in 2020, Negros Season of Culture (NSC) honored the momentous event this year through the lives of Gen. Aniceto Lacson of Talisay, who led katipuneros from the north, and Gen. Juan Araneta of Bago, who organized farm workers in the south. The two converged in Bacolod to secure the surrender of the Spanish governor. The production team of Negros Season of Culture sat down at length with descendants of the two generals to derive insight about them at the time that they lived, straight from inside their homes.

The NSC team visited the actual set of the planning of the revolt. Gen. Aniceto Lacson’s Casa Grande, as it has been called, is a bahay-na-bato structure that sits in the middle of his sugarcane plantation in Talisay City. In this hacienda, katipuneros, or members of the Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK), were disguised as farm laborers awaiting the appointed day to start the revolution.

Gen. Aniceto Lacson Ancestral Home

When the smoke settled, the Spanish forces in Negros surrendered and Gen. Lacson was elected President of the Cantonal Republic of Negros. Casa Grande served as the country’s first presidential palace. At that time, Malacañang was being passed on from Spanish rulers to the Americans who, by virtue of the Treaty of Paris at the end of the Spanish-American War, subjugated the Spanish territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.

In 2002, the General Aniceto Lacson Ancestral Home was declared a National Historic Landmark by the National Historic Institute.

For Gen. Araneta, the NSC crew was welcomed into the General Juan Araneta Residence and Landmark Museum in Bago City. The house was given to the general by a relative shortly after the revolution. It is fondly called by locals as Balay ni Tan Juan, since the general was previously a Capitan Municipal, hence the nickname Tan Juan.

The museum celebrates the role of Gen. Araneta as commander of the southern forces. Here, one discovers the ingenuity of the general through stories of makeshift cannons, made out of rolled bamboo mats and painted black, and improvised rifles fashioned from nipa fronds. The silhouette of farm workers marching with artillery was enough to convince Spanish authorities to surrender.

Gen. Juan Araneta Ancestral Home

The museum also includes testimonies about illustrious children of Bago City, including a senator and a chief justice, who offered sterling service in all branches of the national government through the years.

In 1978, the descendants of Gen. Juan Araneta donated the property to Bago City. It was promptly declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission.

“On the eve of another election year, NSC inspires you to reflect on what enables the Filipino to hope and move forward from crises, year after year,” it says. “Negrenses have been spared by moments of integrity, industry, and innovation punctuating the lives of their courageous forefathers. Their stories, archaic if not forgotten, have the unenviable job of pleading with today’s young minds to pause, listen, and learn.”

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