Ponciano Elofre, later called Dios Buhawi, was a cabeza de barangay (head of a barangay) in Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental who headed the babaylanes, a political-religious group who fought against the oppressive Spaniards in the late 19th century.
The “Dios Dios” Movements
The “dios dios” movements spurred in the early 1880s as messianic movements which were widespread in Luzon and Visayas. These messianic movements foretold the arrival of a just king which was portrayed by the leader hailed by his followers. These movements were widespread at the time as the Philippines suffered from the cholera pandemic, injustices, insecurity, and economic instability.
By the late 1880s, numerous peasants and natives in the Visayan region withdrew into the mountains to join armed communities led by prominent babaylans like Panay's Clara Tarrosa and Negros' Ponciano Elofre, a miracle worker popularly known as Dios Buhawi for his skill in rainmaking.
Elofre started as a cabeza de barangay in one of the rural towns of Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental in 1887. As a cabeza, his main job was to collect taxes from the residents. When he failed to do so, Spanish soldiers seized and beat his father, Cris Elofre, to death to teach him a lesson. After the incident, Elofre gathered the people and rallied them against the forced taxation implemented by the Spaniards.
Later, Elofre stated religious freedom as his main agenda and revived the rituals and practices of ancient religious leaders called babaylans or shamans. His group of almost 2,000 people were later called babaylanes. The group were reportedly dressed in female clothing and acted as though they were female. The group conducted raids and looted Spanish forces.
Alarmed by the activities of the babaylanes, Governor-General Valeriano Weyler of the Spanish government sent 500 soldiers and a battleship to Negros to quell the rebellion. On 22 August 1887, Elofre raided Siaton, the town adjoining Zamboanguita, and was killed in the encounter with the Spanish forces.
Flaviana Tubigan, Elofre’s wife, took over the revolt. She was later succeeded by Ka Martin de la Cruz, Elofre’s lieutenant, because she lacked her husband's charm and charisma. However, Martin de la Cruz’s leadership degenerated into banditry and he was later killed in a trap orchestrated by Alfonsa Alaidan, his mistress.
Impact of the Dios Buhawi Movement
The rebellion spearheaded by Dios Buhawi was said to be a precursor to the rebellion of Leon Kilat in Cebu, Papa Isio in Negros Occidental and the eventual march of Felipe Tayko to Dumaguete to join General de la Viña in the liberation of Negros Oriental.
Marco, Sophia. “Dios-Dios in the Visayas”. Philippine Studies, 2001. Ateneo De Manila University.
Bauzon, Leslie M. Modern Millenarianism in the Philippines and the State: Focus on Negros, 1857 – 1927. Accessed 1 Feb 2021.
Dios Buhawi. Accessed 1 Feb 2021.