The Novales Revolt

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The Novales Revolt of 1823 was an uprising led by Captain Andres Novales, a creole who was dissatisfied with the treatment accorded to the creoles or insulares by the Spanish authorities. The revolt erupted on 1 June 1823, and was immediately ceased on the eve of 2 June 1823 or the following day. As punishment for betraying the Spanish crown, Captain Novales was ordered to be executed. It was acknowledged as the shortest revolt in Philippine history.

Andres Novales

Not much was known about Captain Andres Novales, except that some of the sources that mention the revolt he led labeled him as the sole Filipino emperor, or "emperor for a day."

French historian and writer Paul P. de la Gironiere recounted in his book Twenty Years in the Philippines that Captain Novales was supposed to be banished to Misamis for promoting the idea of Philippine independence among his men. However, Captain Novales' move to Misamis did not occur, and he instead carried out his final attack against the Spanish rule.

Long before becoming a captain, Novales had already been involved in politics and warfare. Some sources claimed he participated in the Peninsular War (otherwise known as the Napoleonic annexation of Spain) at the age of nine. Then, at just 14, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. Novales eventually became a member of the Los Hijos del Pais (known in English as "Sons of the Country"). Guided by Luis Rodriguez Varela, the movement championed reforms that veered away from the oppressive and anachronistic influence of the Catholic Church. What the members preferred was a focus on artistic expression and the advancing sciences.

The Revolt

The creoles in Manila were aware of Captain Novales' sociopolitical leanings, as he was rather outspoken about the injustices suffered by those who belonged to the same social class as he did. For this he was able to gain sympathizers.

It was on 1 June 1823 when Captain Novales attempted to alter the course of Philippine history. The newly installed Governor General Juan Antonio Martinez (who succeeded Governor General Mariano Fernandez de Folgueras) issued the transfer of Captain Novales to Mindanao. This, however, did not follow through due to a typhoon that was at that time besieging Manila. Captain Novales took advantage of the delay; he roused more than 800 supporters, and together they attacked the government offices, leaving several casualties that included Governor General Folgueras. The former governor general was slain after refusing to turn over the keys to the gates of the walled city of Intramuros.

Captain Novales was then declared "emperor" by his followers. However, they failed to infiltrate Fort Santiago when they were not able to convince Captain Novales' younger brother, Lieutenant Mariano Novales, to let the revolutionaries in. Captain Novales and his men were eventually overwhelmed by the forces sent by Governor General Martinez, aided by the Pampanga Regiment. They were defeated while confined in the Manila Cathedral.

Captain Novales yielded on 2 June 1823, just a day after he rose against the Spanish rule in the Philippines. Governor General Martinez headed a court martial that swiftly concluded Captain Novales guilty for inciting mutiny. The order for his execution was then handed down to the Spanish troops. Captain Novales died at exactly five in the afternoon on 2 June 1823.

The following day saw the hunt, apprehension, and execution of the others who aided Captain Novales. Meanwhile, distinguished figures such as Varela and businessmen Domingo Roxas and Francisco Rodriguez were deported.




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