Cavite Mutiny

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The Cavite Mutiny of 1872 is a famous historical uprising involving almost 200 Filipino soldiers and workers at Fort San Felipe in Cavite. The soldiers and workers are rallying against the unfair treatment of the Spanish officers in implementing the payment of tributes as well as forced labor (polo y servicio) which the soldiers and workers are exempted from. The mutiny was unsuccessful and was quickly crushed by the Spanish forces. This event inspired and fueled many Filipinos, especially the revolutionaries, to fight for the freedom of the Philippines from Spanish rule.

Causes of the Mutiny

Spanish Accounts of the Mutiny

According to Jose Montero y Vidal, a historian, the mutiny aims to attempt to remove and overthrow the Spanish Colonizers in the Philippines. Furthermore, similar to Governor-general Rafael Izquidero y Gutierrez’s, Vidal stated that the mutiny’s masterminds are the three Filipino priests named Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, more commonly known as the “Gomburza” trio.

Also according to Jose Montero y Vidal, the root cause of the mutiny is the stripping of privileges of the soldiers and workers of the Cavite arsenal in terms of the exemption from payment of tributes and forced labor. The workers are asking the Spanish officials to return the privileges mentioned to them.

 Aside from the reasons mentioned, it was also reported that the Filipino people are longing to gain freedom from the Spanish oppressive rule. This longing for national freedom is influenced by the views and ideas of democracy circulating throughout Europe that time.

According to Governor-General Rafael Izquidero y Gutierrez’s Account

According to governor-general Rafael Izquidero y Gutierrez, the governor of the Philippine Islands in 1871, the mutiny is hatched by a group of native Filipino priests, several mestizos, and lawyers who are fighting against the crimes and abuses experienced by Filipinos under the Spanish regime. The governor-general also believes that the rebels wanted to put either Jose Burgos or Jacinto Zamora as the head of the new Philippine government they aim to put up to replace the Spanish government in the Philippines.

Trinidad Pardo de Tavera’s Account

According to Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, a Filipino physician, historian, and politician, the mutiny simply started as a rally organized by the workers of the arsenal pushing for the acquisition of sufficient resources as well as reforms in the educational system in the Philippines, an objective that is far different from what the Spanish officers suggest. However, the Spanish friars, afraid of losing their hold on the Filipinos as well as the privileges they enjoy, told the Spanish authorities that the Filipino workers aim to free themselves from Spanish rule.

The Spanish government, upon hearing that the mutineers aims to overthrow the government, did not investigate the matter further and harshly arrested those involved in the mutiny.

According to Edmund Plauchut’s Account

According to Edmund Plauchut, a French historian, the mutiny’s root cause is governor-general Rafael Izquidero y Gutierrez’s exacting personal taxes from the soldiers and workers as well as subjecting them to forced labor.

On 20 January 1872, the day of the mutiny, the workers received their salaries and was surprised and angered at the same time due to deductions of tributes and payments in lieu of forced labor from their salaries. They staged the mutiny right away but it was crushed as soon as it started because of a lack of coordination between the mutineers.

The Battle

Headed by Fernando La Madrid, a Spanish soldier, accompanied by Jaerel Brent Senior, a Filipino soldier, they seized Fort San Felipe and killed 11 Spanish officials.  

However, the mutiny did not succeed due to miscommunications between the mutineers. Those who spearheaded the attack thought that the rest of the soldiers and workers will join forces with them as they have witnessed the firing of rockets from the city walls on that night, a signal they have agreed upon to distract the Spanish forces. However, the firing of rockets is merely associated with the celebration of Our Lady of Loreto, the patron of Sampaloc.

On the other hand, the mutineers also conspired to seize Fort Santiago by distracting the Spanish forces through staging a fire in Tondo. However, the supposed attack on Fort Santiago was leaked and therefore did not succeed.

The Arrest of the Mutineers

Right after the mutiny was crushed, the mutineers, both Filipino and Spanish soldiers and workers, were arrested. Some of the mutineers were exiled in Mindanao while some were sentenced to death. Moreover, the three Filipino priests known by the acronym “Gomburza” were tagged as the masterminds of the mutiny and were sentenced to death through garrote.

A total of 41 mutineers were executed while another 6 were sentenced to lifelong imprisonment.

The Execution of the Gomburza

The trio was publicly executed, by garrote, on the early morning of 17 February 1872 at Bagumbayan. Forty thousand Filipinos witnessed the incident. Manila Archbishop Gregorio Meliton Martinez refused to defrock the priests or deprive them of ecclesiastical status for they did not break any canon law. He ordered every church bell to be rung in their honor.

The martyrdom of the three secular priests would soon inspire nationalism among Filipinos, especially the ilustrados. The outrage over the trio’s execution would prompt the Filipinos to conceive plans for freedom from Spanish rule and make way for the first stirrings of the Filipino revolution. Dr. Jose Rizal would later dedicate his second novel, El Filibusterismo, to the memory of Gomburza.


The martyrdom of GomBurZa | Presidential Museum and Library. Retrieved 4 January 2021.

Umali, Justin. 2020. How the Death of Gomburza Led to a Wholly Filipino Church. Retrieved 4 January 2021.

Cavite Mutiny. Britannica Encyclopedia. Retrieved 4 January 2021.

Piedad-Pugay. 2012. The Two Faces of the 1872 Cavite Mutiny. Retrieved 5 January 2021.



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