Opinion: Bago City: Rich in History, Natural Treasures, Culture (Part V)
Tan Juan and the Propaganda
Arrests continued, despite the Pact of Biak-na-Bato. In February of 1897, theCommandant General of Panay and Negros, Col. Ricardo Monst., knew that Negros has not been pacified. The Silaynons became the forerunner of the propaganda movement and the organization of revolutionary committees started in that city. In November 1897, an emissary, Don Eugenio Veraguth was sent by the Revolutionary Committee of Negros Occidental to Aguinaldo in Hongkong to apprise him of the situation in Negros. Veraguth was a good choice because of his indirect relations to Doña Juana Montilla, an Aguinaldo supporter, not only ideologically but financially through her donation of P 7,000.00 to the cause of independence.
There are two essential elements in mass movement: an unquestioned leader and a devoted follower. While the revolutionary leaders of Silay, ‘Leandro Locsin and Melicio Severino prepared the grounds for revolution, Araneta became the focal point of the Revolt. Varona again speaks on this score: by that mysterious sign, or that unmistakable stamp with which fate sets its seal on certain men for their identification at the moment of their rendezvous with destiny, Juan Araneta buried in the solitude of his haciendas on the slopes of Kanla-on, had always been regarded by the Negros rebels as the man, the leader, above all, as the typical rebel, truly capable of demolishing an archaic order and to create over its ruins a new one.
The organization of the mass base went in earnest as the pact of Biak-na-Bato failed to stop the war. The haciendero became the captain and farm workers the army. The haciendero and the worker, perhaps moved by the same desire to rid themselves of a cancer, joined forces to dislodge an unwanted foreigner. Aniceto Lacson was elected by the provincial Revolutionary Committee head of the Northern Sector with Nicolas Golez second in command, and Juan Araneta head of the Southern Sector with Rafael Ramos as second in command. Then the people and the leaders tensely waited for the moment of decision as news of the success of the Panay Revolutionary Committees filtered through Negros despite the censorship of the news.
On November 3, 1898, a message was sent to all Municipal Committees. Araneta’s letter to the Southern forces reads: To all the Presidents of the Revolutionary Committees, Southern Negros: —
I have received from the chief military superior of the northern Zone a communique’ with reference to the message of General Roque Lopez of the Central Committee of the Visayas, wherein he informed (us) that the rebels have taken possession of Jaro, and that they are waiting to fall on Iloilo as instruments of Providence, to avenge the offenses inflicted on our country by those who had come to enslave us three centuries ago- Our brothers in the North, upon receiving this gratifying message from our rebel leaders are impatient and can no longer wait for the arrival of the weapons which are on their way, and they are desirous of starting the revolution on the 5' instant morning. It is our duty to lend them support. The supreme moment for action has come, and each planter should consider himself the military superior of his men, in the meantime that it has not been decided as yet by the Government which we will establish who will compose the Militia and the National Army. In these moments, all citizens should consider themselves at the heap of their men as military local chief of their (corresponding) towns. As presidents of the Revolu-tionary Committee of that (your) locality you are responsible for the organi-zation and success of the movement-God help us and the motherland inspire us-Long Live Liberty!
(Signed and Sealed)
Chief Military Superior of the Southern Zone
With this letter, it became the responsibility of every haciendero to deploy his farm workers and force the surrender of Spanish soldiers and officials within the jurisdiction. The speed with which the communique’ was sent via paths and mountain ranges to avoid Spanish detection is a wonder in organization.*