Almazan Revolt

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The Almazan Revolt of 1661 (also known as The Northern Ilocos Uprising of 1661) was led by Pedro Almazan, an affluent local leader from San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte. Its ultimate goal was to cease the injustices perpetuated by the Spanish authorities stationed in Ilocos. Almazan formed an alliance with a leader from Bangui named Juan Magsanop by having his own son marry the latter's daughter.

Pedro Almazan

Sources describing Pedro Almazan's personal life are rather scant. It is known, though, that Almazan's hatred for the Spanish rule was evident, for he went so far as to stock up on iron fetters that he planned on using on the Spaniards (particularly the friars) that he would eventually capture.

Though a privileged member of society, Almazan still sought to avenge his fellow Ilocanos who suffered from the countless abuses hurled by the Spanish authorities. Him being a respected local leader made it easier to gather supporters. Almazan further strengthened his influence by collaborating with Juan Magsanop, a leader hailing from Bangui. He proposed a marriage between his own son and Magsanop's daughter, to which Magsanop agreed to.

On December 1660, news broke out that the people of Pangasinan started a revolt against the Spaniards. Eventually, Almazan and Magsanop received a letter from a revolutionary leader named Andres Malong, informing them that the people of Pangasinan emerged triumphant over the Spaniards. The success was shortlived, however. When Pedro Gumapos, one of Malong's trusted men, headed to Agoo accompanied by fighters from Zambal, they were immediately countered by Spanish soldiers who were ordered to bring an end to the revolt. In the midst of the fray, Jose Arias, the friar of Bacarra, managed to escape.

The marriage of Almazan's son and Magsanop's daughter was expected to take place at the end of December 1660. Magsanop also took advantage of the absence of the presiding friar; he wrote a letter to his friend Gaspar Cristobal, a leader from Laoag, asking if he was in favor of a revolt that he and Almazan are going to lead.

In response to the letter, Cristobal called for Magsanop's messenger and asked him to become the witness to the burning of the church in Laoag. It is said that Cristobal grabbed a flaming torch, and while setting fire on the church himself, instructed the messenger to relay what happened as a sign of his agreement.

Revolt

Aside from Cristobal, the leaders from Cagayan and Kalinga also echoed their support, and so did the Isneg (also known as Isnag) tribe. The fighters from Kalinga attended the wedding of Almazan's son and Magsanop's daughter. It was in the wedding as well where Cristobal proudly proclaimed Almazan as the "King of Ilocos" as he placed a crown of the Virgin Mary that he stole from the church he burned on the leader's head.

After all those present in the wedding pledged their loyalty to Almazan and to the cause, a flag was raised and paraded around Bacarra, thus signalling the start of the revolt against the Spaniards. The revolt reached Cabicungan (now known as Claveria) and Pata (now known as Sanchez-Mira).

On 31 January 1661, the revolutionaries went after Jose Santa Maria, a Dominican friar of Cabicungan. A record illustrates him being hastily informed by a Spanish soldier to hide. Not understanding the soldier's fear and wanting to scold the people who were suddenly causing an uproar, Santa Maria ventured outside the church, only to be met with revolutionaries headed his way. Santa Maria could no longer return to the safe confines of the church, as the guard already locked all possible entrances. The friar was then hacked several times before being beheaded.

In retaliation, the lone guard began to fire at the revolutionaries. He sought the assistance of Santa Maria's servants; they were given the task of reloading his weapon. From the vantage point of the revolutionaries, it looked as if they had to contend with several soldiers, which deterred them from burning the church. They instead settled with looting and vandalizing the house of Santa Maria.

The following day, 01 February 1661, nine friars from Narvacan held a celebration, for the Spanish troops finally defeated the revolutionaries from Zambal. The occasion was disrupted by news stating that another revolt was currently taking place in Ilocos. Fray Arias, the one who managed to evade Gumapos, immediately returned to Bacarra, determined to put an end to the revolt himself. Upon arriving, his servants discouraged him from pushing through with his plan, as he was highly at risk. Arias was then given temporary refuge at one of his servant's home. However, Juan, a messenger of the revolutionaries, soon discovered Arias' whereabouts, and threatened the servant to relinquish the friar lest he wanted himself and his family to be killed by the revolutionaries. This was enough for the servant to transfer Arias to another servant. It also prompted the rest of Arias' servants to ask help from the revolutionaries they were familiar with. Tomas Boaya, one of the leaders of the revolt, extended his hand by providing a rattan hammock that could hide Arias. He then instructed the servants to smuggle Arias to Laoag as soon as possible in order to escape the wrath of the revolutionaries.

The plan proved to be futile, as the servants accompanied by some of Boaya's men were stopped by a large number of revolutionaries. No longer shaded by the hammock, Arias was beheaded by the revolutionaries. The friar's head was sent to Magsanop, who then called for Almazan, Cristobal, and the other leaders to revel in their victory. Eventually, the other friars paid for Arias' head to be returned so that it could be buried along with the body.

Not long after the burial of the friar, the vice-governor (alferez) and chief of police (alguazil mayor) Lorenzo Arqueros arrived in Ilocos. Having been informed of the ongoing revolution, he was accompanied not only by Spanish soldiers, but also at least 1,000 fighters from Cagayan and some secluded parts of Ilocos. Arqueros and his men were able to stun the revolutionaries, all who were instead expecting General Francisco de Esteybar coming from Vigan. Almazan and Magsanop then had no other choice but to flee to the forest, as they were not ready to combat Arqueros.

Meanwhile, Arqueros did not give the revolutionaries respite, for he and his men immediately chased after them, owing to the fact that the native fighters on his side were also knowledgeable with regard to the terrain. One by one, hideouts were invaded and the revolutionaries were slaughtered.

Already cornered by Arqueros and his men, Magsanop grabbed a knife and stabbed himself with it. Instead of allowing the Spaniards to subjugate him, he decided to die as a patriot. As for Almazan, sources state that he perished in the middle of a battle. He mounted his horse and charged straight at the opposing party. Arqueros then had Almazan's entire family assassinated in retaliation for the revolution that he championed.

The other revolutionaries began to flee after learning about the deaths of Almazan and Magsanop. Meanwhile, prominent leaders such as Tomas Boaya and Cristobal Ambagan were executed by Spanish soldiers in Vigan. After the battle against the revolutionaries, General Esteybar arrived and promptly ordered the construction of a fort in Bacarra to discourage the formation of another revolution.


References

  • CulturEd Philippines. ‘’Pedro Almazan.’’ n.d. Accessed 25 March 2021.
  • Halili, Maria Christine. Philippine History. Rex Book Store, Manila, 2004. Accessed 25 March 2021.
  • Mga Kasaysayan ng PINAS: Pundar Pang-Pilipino. ‘’Ang Hari ng Ilocos.’’ n.d. Accessed 07 April 2021.

Citation

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