A. Paulita Roa .
THE Kagay-anons in the 1920s and even after World War II would always refer to the 1900-1901 resistance war that was waged against the Americans as the “Mahimayaong Kagubot” or the glorious war. This descriptive term was heavily tinged with pride, patriotism and even nostalgia by the people who used to describe some local events as “antes sa kagubot” or before the war and “pagkahuman sa kagubot” or after the war. Reading several old documents that pertained to that period, I could not help but look for events that could bolster their claim that it was indeed one glorious war.
First, let me give a brief background on the historical events that led to the year long resistance war against the Americans. When the Spaniards ended their 333-year colonial rule in the Philippines in December 1898, the people in Misamis Province immediately held their first elections after they politically aligned themselves under the Aguinaldo revolutionary government. The newly elected local officials headed by Provincial President Jose Roa y Casas prioritized the creation of an army and the setting up of a defense system around the huge province.
They procured numerous guns and around 200 swords in Iligan and Cebu and this was paid for by wealthy Kagay-anons. Not contented with that, the local government set up its own arms and ammunition factory headed by Timoteo Baz who was an excellent gunsmith of his time. And so it was that most of the soldiers were armed with locally made guns now known as paltik. I would dearly love to obtain a gun made by Señor Baz for that would really be something!
In January 1899, the military force was organized into four divisions. The Infantry’s First Company of Sharpshooters was headed by Capt. Tirso Neri. The militia was headed by Capt. Apolinar Velez, the police by Capt. Cipriano Vamenta and artillery was headed by Capt. Leon Chaves with Lt. Juan San Jueco, a Spaniard. Military training was mostly held in the sprawling town plaza — today’s Gaston Park and the tennis courts.
The most prominent among the young officers was Don Tirso Neri who was the wealthiest man in town. According to his niece, Caridad Roa de Valdehuesa, Neri named his group of tiradores or sharpshooters the Somaten Company after his favorite horse who had a ruby and diamond pendant on his forehead. Neri also had a lancha a vapor or a steam-powered ship that he named after his wife Mercedes. He placed the ship at the disposal of the local government. The ship Mercedes patrolled the coastal waters of northern Mindanao and was the first ship that flew the Philippine flag. Government officials also went to Camiguin aboard this ship to bring the new flag to the island.
When the Kagay-anons and the Misamisnons heard that the American forces were advancing to the Visayas and Mindanao, they held a meeting in Club Popular also known as the revolutionary club where they took their oath to defend their land against in order to preserve their freedom. On March 30, 1900, US forces under the command of Gen. Bates came by way of the Cagayan River and took full possession of Cagayan de Misamis without firing a single shot. Gen. Bates together with Col. Godwin and Maj. Case immediately went up to Casa Real and relieved all local officials of their positions except for the Municipal President, Toribio Chaves.
On that same day, Nicolas Capistrano, a young lawyer, went immediately to Gango plateau with more than a thousand men. He assumed command of the revolutionary force called the Liber Troop. His wife Cecilia and his young children joined him in Gango shortly afterwards. Many wives of the soldiers also came with their children and camped there.
However, most of the important political personages remained in town like Manuel Corrales, Cipriano Vamenta, Pedro Roa, Tirso Neri, Pio Roa Alcala, Ramon Chaves and Hilarion Maandar. They regularly sent money and other forms of aid to Capistrano and his men during the year-long war. Others regularly gave food supply. The town’s foremost playwright and composer, Fabian Abellanosa, wrote and staged musicales known as operettas with patriotic themes. They never received any aid from the revolutionary government in Luzon or from Emilio Aguinaldo himself. The 1900-1901 war was entirely fought, financed and supported by the people of the Misamis Province.