The forgotten Battle of Kakarong



PANDI may be a very remote town in Bulacan but it is one of the more progressive municipalities of the province. A farmer even “ridiculed” Masagana 99 of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos, boasting that someone with a harvest of only 99 cavans of palay per hectare had no right to be called a farmer.

Number 99 used to refer to the target number of cavans of palay produced per hectare under the Masagana 99 program of President Marcos. To emphasize the importance of the program, one of the photos in a private collection even showed Marcos planting palay with a farmer at Bunsuran, one of Pandi’s 22 barangays.

The Marcos legacy for Filipino farmers has long been gone. The Yellow administration of Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino that followed erased every memory attached to Masagana 99 for greatly benefiting only the small Filipino farmers. Anything that was associated with the Marcos name was bad.

If after 43 years no one remembers Masagana 99 anymore, why expect Filipinos to know anything at all about Jan. 1, 1897? The date is significant because of the Battle of Kakarong that occurred 120 years ago. It is also an important date in history because of the heroic participation of the great Gregorio del Pilar, then only a lieutenant. He had his “baptism of fire” in that battle.

Aguinaldo’s journey home
It is unfortunate that Jan. 1, 1897 is a forgotten date in Philippine history. I remember having researched about it sometime in the 1970s when “Google” was not yet available as a source of information. I do not remember today if I had written anything about it as a writer for a government magazine.

Today, a question begs for an answer or answers: How come the Battle of Kakarong is never commemorated—nationally—in honor of Del Pilar and the place where he was reportedly wounded? He was at Kakarong de Sili on Jan. 1, 1897 to protect Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo on his way home from somewhere in Ilocos to Cavite from the pursuing Spanish soldiers.

What I had written in the first few paragraphs came from my recollections—with some help from “google”—of my interviews many years ago with Mayor Venustiano Roxas, whose son is now the vice mayor of Pandi. Tinoy Marquez is the municipal mayor.

When I googled for additional information about the Battle of Kakarong, I learned that the late General Aguinaldo visited the place, “this sacred battleground in the late fifties.” He must have had shared with the Pandi officials at that time his personal experience of his successful journey home due to the gallant stand of Del Pilar and Brigadier General Eusebio Roque. They and their soldiers eventually established the Kakarong Republic.

Religious festivities
Jan. 1, 1897 is a forgotten date in Philippine history because it has been overshadowed by Catholic religious festivities. When googled, I learned that Catholics commemorate on that date “the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.”

Don’t blame the Virgin Mary for Filipinos’ forgetfulness of the heroism of Del Pilar at the Battle of Kakarong. Rather, blame the traditionally long celebration of Christmas, which starts with the Simbang Gabi on December 16. It used to end on Jan. 6, or the Feast of the Three Kings, which is now celebrated every first Sunday of January.

Perhaps, only a few, including the historians among them, remember Jan. 1, 1897 and the Kakarong Republic that predated even the Malolos Republic on Jan. 23, 1899 and the declaration of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898 at Kawit, Cavite by Aguinaldo.

Will Mayor Marquez, who is from Manatal, one of Pandi’s barangays, take time in leading the celebration of the heroism of Del Pilar at the Battle of Kakarong?


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