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‘How I captured Col. Velez’

A.Paulita Roa

THE American officer who captured Col. Apolinar Velez in Opol on Jan. 4, 1901 was Capt. Sidney A. Cloman, who then became the military governor of Jolo Province. Twenty-two years later, he wrote an account on how he captured Velez, the head of the Western Mindanao Battalion of the Liber Troop on the June,1923 issue of the World’s Work, an American publication. It was historian Filomeno M. Bautista who was able to obtain a copy of this article and he included this in his book, famously known as “The Bautista Manuscript” (1995). Cloman wrote:

“About this time, I had an interesting adventure which will bear relating. The commander-in-chief of the insurrectos forces against which we were operating was a Col. Velez, a prominent, educated and much loved citizen of Cagayan. He was a genius in guerilla warfare and gave us much trouble. Every expedition sent out against him was fruitless. Finally, a large force with mountain artillery was sent against his stronghold in Makahambus, only to find it abandoned. Once more, it discouraged the men who went home without results.

“His whereabouts remained unknown for sometime and we could not do anything but sit and yearn for his capture.This has became a sort of obsession with us that several times, I said at the mess that I had luck in that direction as I told of my capture of Indian murderers in South Dakota and jokingly gave as my belief that I would someday catch Velez. As the Inspector General of the Department, my joke was rather rubbed in on me by the commanding general and John Pershing. Suddenly, a native spy reported that Velez and a small detachment of insurrectos were in the town of Opol, about thirteen miles away.

“An expedition of forty mounted men was hastily organized to get him at daylight the next morning. Major James Case, a fine soldier and an old friend of mine, was designated to command it.He invited me to join the expedition and the General consented provided that I go as a private soldier and attend to my own business.

“After a hard early morning ride over the jungle trail,we neared the town, formed a half circle and dashed to the plaza.I was riding a hard mouthed brute of a horse that worried me all morning and I was craving to turn him loose. Finally, the signal was given and away we went at top speed.

“There was no doubt of the success of our surprise party. Men, women and children scurried for cover with screams of terror. Then the plaza was deserted. Some natives were rounded up and questioned by our interpreter, All said that Velez and his band were not in town.So, the detachment dismounted in the plaza to rest and enjoy their sandwhiches.

“But on the account of my unmanageable horse, I arrived in the plaza rather late. However, my horse this time was beyond control. It ran down a straight sandy road parallel to the beach. After running for about a mile through heavy sand,we reached a crossroad where I could see the bay. I tried to turn him back to town. Thinking that by this time friend horse will be willing to listen to reason, I put on my spurs and we silently clamped along through the deep sand finally emerging from the underbush on the beach.He was then going at full speed and I could not check him until he reached the water’s edge, during which a few seconds I realized that I had passed through the middle of a detachment of insurrectos.

“I turned him around to see the last of them scurrying into the bush for my sudden appearance could mean to them only the charge of American cavalry.I could have kissed them good-bye, but I found that I had cut off two disreputable looking specimens who were near a fisherman’s boat in the shallow water. These I put under my revolver and marched up the beach ahead of me inspite of their pleas that they were but poor fishermen and had nothing to do whatsoever with the acts of others. We entered the plaza and came within the sight of the detachment.

“Suddenly, our interpreter dashed out and clasped one of my disreputable captives with every indication of joy, finally turning to me and exclaimed, ‘Do you know whom you have captured? This is Col. Velez!’ The colonel’s only request was that he be allowed to change from his jungle clothes to a colonel’s uniform.

“Velez was soon released, help his country with his intelligent efforts at reconstruction and in time became a splendid governor of the province.”

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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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