Irraya Revolt

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The Irraya Revolt (also known as the Gaddang Revolt) was an uprising by the Irrayas of Northern Isabela that transpired on 06 November 1621. The revolt was in response to the oppressive rule of Spanish authorities, particularly the imposition of tributes and the forced introduction of new crops and farming practices.


The revolt was led by brothers Felipe Cuntapay (other documents name him as “Felipe Cutapay,” “Felix Cuntabay,” “Felix Cutabay” or “Felipe Catabay”) and Gabriel Dayag. Villages that rallied behind their cause included Abbuatan (or Abuatan), Batavag, Bolo, and Pilitan. A Spanish friar named Alonso Hernandez at first tried to convince the revolutionaries to lay down their arms, but he was unsuccessful as the revolutionaries could no longer stomach the abuses of the Spanish authorities and wanted to emancipate themselves. Being in an amicable relationship with the revolutionaries, Fray Hernandez and the other missionaries were told to leave before the revolutionaries executed their plan.

When the missionaries finally left, the revolutionaries began to target the houses of Spanish authorities, particularly the encomenderos. The encomenderos were the conquistadors given the task by the Spanish crown to manage the lands (which were, back then, “territories” called encomiendas) in the Philippines. They also had other responsibilities such as collecting taxes, ensuring peace and order in the encomiendas, looking after the welfare of the native masses, and helping the missionaries promulgate Christianity.

Houses owned by Spanish authorities were burned down by the revolutionaries. Many Spaniards were slain as well. After the bloody revolt, the revolutionaries headed to the Basili (other documents name it as “Balisi”) River. They then constructed ramparts on a hill.

Notable Figures

Felipe Cuntapay and Gabriel Dayag

Little is known about Felipe Cuntapay, except that at the time of the revolt, he was only 23 years of age. He was raised and educated by friars, and was even active at church, serving as a sacristan and a member of the choir. Cuntapay had a good past with friars, for he went so far as to warn Fray Alonso Hernandez about the impending revolt.

Not much is known about Gabriel Dayag either, save for the fact that, after much contemplation, he eventually surrendered to Fray Pedro de Santo Tomas, who was considered to be a “friend” by the revolutionaries. Dayag divulged to Santo Tomas the planned ambushes and the booby traps to be used against the incoming Spanish troops.

Fray Alonso Hernandez

Fray Alonso Hernandez belonged to the Dominican order. He was the friar of Pilitan, but then received the order to transfer to Abbuatan following the resignation of the friar assigned there.

Because of the considerable delay in his arrival to Abbuatan, the revolutionaries at first mistook him as an ally of the Spanish troops who would bring reinforcements with him.

Upon arriving, Fray Hernandez met with combat-ready revolutionaries. He attempted to dissuade them, but the revolutionaries were already intent on toppling the abusive Spanish rule in their land.

Fray Pedro de Santo Tomas

After the revolt in which Spanish authorities were slain and their properties razed, another Dominican friar named Pedro de Santo Tomas followed the revolutionaries to the new secluded community that they established. Fray Santo Tomas spent a year with them before finally leaving the community with 300 families that once belonged to the villages of Bolo and Pilitan. He helped the families resettle in a village near Makila River.

Fray Santo Tomas once again became embroiled in a revolt in Malguig, but he was surprisingly left unscathed by the revolutionaries. He died of natural causes in a Dominican convent located in Nueva Segovia (now known as Lal-lo).

Bernardo Lumaban and Agustina Pamma

Bernardo Lumaban and his wife Agustina Pamma were arrested and detained by the revolutionaries after they salvaged a mangled image of the Blessed Virgin Mary after the bloody revolution.




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