Tondo Conspiracy of 1587

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The Tondo Conspiracy of 1587-1588 was a plot against Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines by the datus of Manila and some towns of Bulacan and Pampanga. It was led by Agustin de Legazpi, nephew of Lakandula, and his cousin Martin Pangan. The uprising failed when a Cuyo native betrayed the datus to the Spanish authorities.

Uprising in the making

Many datus resented Spanish rule and were keen to regain the freedom and authority they enjoyed before the foreigners arrived. The leader behind the plot was Agustin de Legazpi; nephew of Lakandula and son-in-law of the sultan of Brunei; and his first cousin was Martin Pangan, who was then the gobernadorcillo of Tondo.

Other prominent conspirators included Magat Salamat, son of Lakandula and chief of Tondo; Juan Banal, another Tondo chief and Salamat’s brother-in-law; Geronimo Basi and Gabriel Tuambacar, brothers of Agustin de Legazpi; Pedro Balinguit, the chief of Pandacan; Felipe Salonga, the chief of Polo; Dionisio Capolo (Kapulong), the chief of Candaba and brother of Felipe Salonga; Juan Basi, the chief of Taguig; Esteban Taes (Tasi), the chief of Bulacan; Felipe Salalila, the chief of Misil; Agustin Manuguit, son of Felipe Salalila; Luis Amanicaloa, another chief of Tondo; Felipe Amarlangagui, the chief of Caranglan; Omaghicon, the chief of Navotas and Pitongatan (Pitong Gatang), another chief of Tondo.

Secret arrangement

Augustin de Legazpi had sought the help of a Japanese sea captain, Juan Gayo, who had access to warriors to help them in their planned uprising. In a secret meeting, Gayo agreed to supply arms and Japanese warriors for the Filipino rebellion and to recognize Augustin de Legazpi as king of the Philippine kingdom. In return, Gayo and the Japanese warriors would receive half of the tribute to be collected in the Philippines.

Aside from the Japanese, the conspirators also sought to secure combat troops and ships from the sultan of Brunei before the plan for the rebellion could be finalized. There was also a need to obtain the support and participation of the inhabitants and warriors of Laguna and Batangas. Once a full commitment was received from Borneo, Batangas, and Laguna, the armed rebellion would begin once the sultan of Brunei’s warships arrived in Manila Bay. The conspirators and their forces would then launch a full-on assault and then set the city on fire to weaken the resisting Spaniards.


On the way to meet with the sultan of Brunei, Magat Salamat and his deputies stopped at Cuyo, Calamianes to convince its chief Sumaclob to join the plot. The chief agreed to support the conspiracy and pledged to contribute 2,000 of his men for the cause. Magat Salamat solicited the participation of another Cuyo native, Antonio Surabao (Susabao). When he learned of the plot, Surabao immediately revealed it to Captain Pedro Sarmiento, the Spanish encomiendero of Calamianes. Salamat, Banal, and Manuguit were apprehended, and Sarmiento hastily traveled to Manila on 26 October 1588 and informed Governor-General Santiago de Vera of a brewing conspiracy against the Spanish.

The governor-general immediately ordered the arrest of all persons involved in the plot. All were investigated, tried, and suffered cruel punishment including execution.


Augustin de Legazpi and Martin Pangan were hanged, and their heads cut off and exposed on the gibbet in iron cages. Their properties were seized by the Spanish authorities and their lands plowed and sown with salt so that they would remain barren.

The Japanese Christian interpreter Dionisio Fernandez was hanged and his property confiscated. Dionisio Capolo was exiled from his town and forced to pay a heavy fine. Governor-General de Vera eventually pardoned him. Later, he served as a guide and interpreter for two Spanish expeditions into Igorot country in 1591 and 1594.

The other five leading members of the conspiracy were exiled to Mexico — Pedro Balinguit, Pitongatan, Felipe Salonga, Calao, and Agustin Manuguit. They were the very first Filipinos to settle in Mexico.




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