Sumuroy Rebellion

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The Sumuroy Revolt, also known as Sumuroy Rebellion, was an uprising led by Juan Ponce Sumuroy, a Waray, against the Spaniards on June 1, 1649, in the area known at present as the town of Palapag in Northern Samar. The rebellion was caused by the local Spanish officials implementation of polo y servicio system in Samar.

Directives from Manila

The system of forced labor otherwise known as polo y servicio evolved within the framework of the encomienda system, introduced into the South American colonies and in the Philippines by the Conquistadores and Catholic priests who accompanied them. Polo y servicio is the forced labor for 40 days of men ranging from 16 to 60 years of age who were obligated to give personal services to community projects. One could be exempted from polo by paying the falla (corruption of the Spanish Falta, meaning "absence"), a daily fine of one and a half real.

The colonial government in Manila directed that all natives subject to the polo system are not to be sent to places distant from their hometowns to do their service. However, under orders of the various town "alcaldes", or mayors, people of Samar were being sent to the shipyards of Cavite to do their "polo", angering the residents that eventually sparked the revolt. A Waray Juan Ponce Sumuroy summoned warriors from different neighboring towns to rise in arms against the Spaniards.

Spread like Wildfire

Bloody encounters between Sumuroy's army and Spanish soldiers erupted. Many were arrested in the town. In return, native warriors murdered the local parish priest of Palapag. The rebellion originally started in the towns of Palapag in present-day Northern Samar but gradually spread throughout the region.It is said to spread to Mindanao, Bicol and the rest of the Visayas, especially in places such as Cebu, Masbate, Camiguin, Zamboanga, Albay, Camarines and parts of northern Mindanao, such as Surigao. A free government was also established in the mountains of Samar.


The Spaniards, with superior weaponry and organized men, fought back and gradually defeated the native warriors. Sumuroy was eventually defeated and captured. He was executed in June 1650, delivering a big setback to the revolt. His trusted deputy David Dula continued the quest for freedom with greater vigor but in one of the fierce battles several years later, he was wounded, captured, and later executed in Palapag, Northern Samar by the Spaniards together with his seven key lieutenants. The capture of Dula marked the end of the revolt in its operational center in Northern Samar but the sporadic skirmishes and hatred with the Spanish authorities started by Sumuroy and Dula in some parts of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao continues, and pursued by new faces in the rebellion fronts. This is marked as the beginning of the end of the long Spanish rule in the country.




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