Leon Kilat: and then all went quiet on the Carcar front
a dummy’s guide to leon kilat, carcar and the philippine revolution (Second of Three Parts)
With that backdrop, by the 7th, the Spanish gunboat, Paragua, had already been dispatched for Carcar and was on its way, too.
The friar lays down the bottom line: “You know a bombardeo from the gunboat can annihilate your town – entonces, it’s Carcar or this Villegas. And it’s up to you.”
The story goes that the revelations were done through the confessional. The friar confessor may have been bound by the seal of the confessional but not the penitent – and was it even a confession? Be that as it may, it was up to Noel to gather together the important personages of his town to form a consensus. The ball was in his court, so to speak, and, so to speak, too, dumped there by a messenger from God.
Noel takes over the captainship of Carcar from Simeon Paraz on the 7th of April. After the perfunctory ceremony, he must have hushedly convened his local aristocratic clique to then bruit what the priest told him about the Quilat affair; if he didn’t, he should have, but the events that followed point to his having had, consulted his co-elites, and agreeing on a course of action. Not agreeing seems out of the question; as the coadjutor had put it so too must Noel have also put it to the big men of the town: Paraz, Barcenilla, Jaen, Velez — all former capitanes — and their closest allies: “It’s up to us.”
The Dons set about preparing a festive welcome for Don Pantaleon Villegas. A feast may soften the general and make him amenable to what they were going to propose.
That very day, Holy Thursday, 24-year-old General Leon Quilat arrives in Carcar. The townspeople and the townselite, known as the principalia[i] –Florencio Noel, Timoteo Barcenilla, Leocadio Jaen, Simeon Paraz, Francisco Velez, Nicolas Velez, Guillermo Galicano, Florencio (Vinsyong) Cui– welcome him like royalty, or at least a conquering hero, which he actually was, after tres de Abril, despite being already on the run, and fete him in the first big house as one enters the town, ex-Capitan Barcenilla’s. They even ask the best local tailor, Segundo Alcordo, to measure Quilat up for a new uniform. The wining and dining progresses until, per original plan, the ilustrados then ask of the general, “Don Leon, we must beg you to reconsider your plan. Make the fight in Naga or further up to Barili. Anywhere else but spare Carcar, the town cannot be held hostage.”
Quilat the commander firmly turns them down. Per original plans, too, men have already been coordinated for this fight and there was no changing of it, nor turning back. The commander in him must also have been of the mind that any change of venue or dilly-dallying of the action, any day longer, and the revolution would fizzle out as far as Cebu was concerned. So, no.
Stalemate. It had to be broken. Carcar or Quilat. Rebellion or status quo?
As the night wears out, is the resistance general oblivious to the gathering resistance against his cause? Is he oblivious to what was going on around him: that his own men from Carcar were already being swayed to choose the town over him? Or is he just too set on the agenda, or even too drunk? Or else, he’d have been quicker on the take, that when important people asked for reconsideration, and you turn them down, you’re in imminent danger and you’d better take the necessary security precautions and surround yourself only with your own trusted men. But Quilat must have been unfazed by, maybe they were elites, but he had the guns.
Leon Quilat excuses himself, “We have a busy day tomorrow,” and then retires to his room.
There to meet his fate. The henchmen of Ex-Capitanes Tiyoy Barcenilla, Kadyo Jaen, Simeon Paraz, Francisco Velez and the Capitan actual (current) Insyong Noel sees the deed through to its bloody conclusion. Bludgeon, stab, hack — name it, the blow must have been delivered on Leon Quilat. They drag the body out of the room and an eyewitness relates of Vinsyong Cui as shouting: “Ihunong. Ibutang unà ninyo. Atong sulayan, ambi tuod dili ba dutlan.” (Stop. Lay him down. Let’s try, let’s see if it’s true he’s invincible.)[ii]
Quilat’s vaunted amulet and invulnerability is shattered. But would his aura of invincibility also fade over time? Decades later, people will continue to evoke the general’s invisibility handkerchief and his white stallion, none of which has actually been found. And where is his sword now?
Carcar folklore would later ascribe to Apolinario Alcuetas, the Carcaranon assigned as Quilat’s own bodyguard, persuaded to turn around, as by and large having single-handedly starting the deed most foul.
They bring carry Quilat’s lifeless body to the church steps in a carromata for the waking townspeople to see as they trudged for the morning rites of Good Friday, April 8. This is what happens… Two more katipuneros who had arrived with Quilat are captured, tied to trees on the plaza and executed on the spot.
Quilat’s and his two Katipunero comrades-in-arms’ bodies were buried in a spot off the cemetery itself, with their names entered in the Burials record book of the parish: Rufo Pusay, indio, single, birthplace unknown, “afusilado por insurrecto” — shot by rebel. Lazaro Manapsal, indio, single, parents natives of Naga, “afusilado por insurrecto” — shot by rebel. Leon Quilat Villegas, indio, single, native and resident of Bacong, Negros, “asesinado por insurrecto” — assassinated by rebel. Since records in parish books are intended to stand for the ages, these particular items, as with the one of Eliseo Regis, must have been put on record to show for the ages that the three had been killed by rebels themselves.
There were only these two men with Kilat who were caught and executed in Carcar. Did he not even have an army?
Restored, the Spaniards were now on a rampage and many natives were imprisoned and executed. Prominent persons in the city were imprisoned on mere suspicion of being sympathetic to the Katipuneros. But…
My friend in the city told me that the bigger picture was that Spain is really facing a larger problem than the Philippine rebellion,” a Carcar escribaño told his colleague. “It’s the United States, a new power-player, and rich.”
“We know that. It’s on CNN (Cebu news nosiness).”
“The friend also related that the Americans had persuaded the presidente Emilio Aguinaldo in Hong Kong to return to the islands and continue the fight against the Spanish forces.”
“And, hell, Aguinaldo was actually gaining ground and only the actual taking of Manila was lying in store for his forces.”
“But the Spanish commander could not countenance surrendering to the indios, and so made a secret deal with the Americans. The two forces would just stage a mock battle as a result of which the Spaniards would surrender to the Americans. The native rebels would be none the wiser.” Still, although the bigger picture for Spain was the entire Americas, but the Philippines archipelago presented an interesting new strategic value for the Americans.
“As the conquerors, the Americans then told Aguinaldo and the latter’s forces: Keep away from Manila.” That’s it. The gringos are staying.
[Who’d have known, WikiLeaks was already operating then; how’d they know?]
Flash back around the time of the revolution, the Spanish authorities had been conscripting Filipino natives for military training. The vaunted purpose was to prepare resistance for any American invasion if the Spanish-American war ever arrived on these shores. Most of these guardia civil trainees therefore had taken no part in the Philippine revolution against the Spanish but were now the most primed to lead in this new resistance against the coming Americans.
Elsewhere in the country, the Spanish officialdom had all but left the countrysides and as the de facto rulers, the Filipinos themselves, were now masters of everywhere they surveyed, and executions were the order of the day.
It took a desperate but deft alliance between the haves and have-nots in Cebu city to stave off the indios from altogether over-avenging non-members of the Katipunan. Now, guardia civil-trained natives would take the cudgels against these invaders coming to trample our sacred shores. Meanwhile…