MINALABAC, Camarines Sur: This Bicol province marked the 119th anniversary of the country’s independence with a reenactment of an event that highlighted native resistance to the Americans.
In Barangay Taban here, officials led by Gov. Migz Villafuerte and Minalabac Mayor Christopher Lizardo, witnessed the reenactment by a sizable number of Camarines Sur residents of how Col. Ludovico Arejola fought the new colonizers on March 10, 1900.
Prior to the play, government officials and descendants of the revolutionaries who were clad in Filipino costumes, laid a wreath at the marker commemorating the event. Philippine Army soldiers fired a volley of shots for a 21-gun salute to the heroes.
Provincial Administrator Angel Naval said moving the celebration out of the capital town of Pili, which is the seat of the provincial government, signals the start of bringing the commemoration of Independence Day to other Camarines Sur towns which figured in the fight for liberation.
Emilio Aguinaldo designated Arejola as Coronel de la Milicia Territorial and tasked him to organize the milicias in Ambos Camarines and Catanduanes when he and his father Antonio, returned from exile in Fernado Po, Africa in 1898, according to Evelyn Caldero Soriano, a grandniece of Arejola.
In her book, “Tomas and Ludovico Arejola: Bicol Revolutionaries,” Soriano said that the meeting in Taban was prompted by the ensuing chaos among Bicolano troopers after their defeat in the hands of the Americans on February 23, 1900 in Iriga.
At the same meeting, Arejola who had then assumed the nom de guerre, Francisco Roldan, was named commander-in-chief; while Elias Angeles and Bernabe Dimalibot were made lieutenant colonels. It was Angeles and Felix Plazo who led the rebellion against Spain in Nueva Caceres on the midnight of September 17, 1898.
In Taban, Arejola organized two columns of 15 tiradores or riflemen, and 110 macheteros or bolo men; as well as a signal corps (telegrafode banderas), food suppliers (cuerpo de factorias militares), spies (cuerpo de espias), finance (cuerpo de recaudadores de contribuciones), gun repairers (cuerpo de taller), trench diggers (cuerpo de ingenieros), farmer-soldiers (cuerpo de sementera); and a group of women volunteers called Damas Benemeritas de la Patria.
At the reenactment, some 100 participants called anitan, donned imitations of the carabao hide which Arejola’s soldiers wore as shields against the American Krag rifles.
Because of Arejola’s guerilla warfare, the Americans who were veterans of the Cuban campaign, resorted to more brutal tactics like burning of houses and re-concentration of the civilians population.
“In Concepcion (in Naga), 100 American soldiers captured several people, tied their necks with wires attached to horses and dragged them like animals,” Soriano wrote.
The brutality of war, the rising number of sick and starving troopers, and the capitulation of some of the resistance leaders, prompted Arejola to accept the Americans’ third offer of amnesty conveyed by 1Lt. George Curry and 2Lt. George Mosely who were accompanied by his brother Fr. Leoncio Arejola, on March 25, 1901.
On March 31, Arejola, accompanied by 800 of his men and officers marched to Nueva Caceres where they were met by the Americans with military honors.
Arejola would later serve as clerk of the Court of the First Instance in Nueva Caceres where he died on May 21, 1934.