Tuesday, September 9, 2008


ATTENTION! An unidentified Kapampangan military man, possibly a member of the Philippine Scouts, addressed his smart-looking photo to his lady love Celiang Pineda. Dated 14 June 1929.

Brave, loyal, daring, fierce and at times, reckless and misunderstood. Such are the characteristics of the Kapampangan as a soldier that have endured, as painted and mythicized by recorded history. Indeed, our men of the military are a breed apart, with their predecessors showing a predilection for the vocation of arms upon unwarranted provocation.

Rajah Soliman for instance, a Macabebe warrior, fought the Spaniards together with Rajah Lakandula in 1574, dying a here’s death while fighting for his people’s freedom. In 1660, the trio of Francisco Maniago, Nicolas Manuit and Agustin Pamintuan led Kapampangans in an uprising against Spain, stemming from unfair abuses in connection with the cutting of timber. Two years after, Francisco Laksamana led a 400-strong contingent to quell a Chinese revolt in Manila, killing many of them and capturing their trenches in Antipolo. And, when the British invaded Manila in 1764, a Kapampangan, Jose Manalastas engaged General Draper to a fight and stabbed him on the chest.

Much have been said about the loyalty of the Kapampangan soldier. When ordered by a superior to implement a course of action, he does so without question and without fail. When Macabebe town was besieged by revolutionists, the Spanish forces abandoned the town, except for Eugenio Blanco, a Macabebe native who was an honorary colonel of the Spanish Army. He organized a regiment of “Voluntarios Macabebes” to ward off the revolutionists and in so doing, suffered torture at the hands of his own countrymen who accused him of betraying his own people—but who was in fact, just obeying his orders.

Perhaps, it was this uncompromising loyalty of the men of Macabebe that led American military leaders to organize the first troop of 100 scouts in the said town in September 1899—the Macabebe Scouts. The troop was meant to help the American forces who were unfamiliar with the fighting conditions in the Philippines. Thus, the Macabebe scouts were used to engage the forces of General Emilio Aguinaldo, resulting in his ultimate capture.

Working with Americans became highly popular, resulting in an increase in enlistment. Thus, in this way, the Philippine Scouts under the command of Lt. A.M. Batson, was formed. The scouts participated in various campaigns throughout the country, and a large number of Kapampangan recruits were stationed at Forts McKinley, Mills and Stotsenburg—gaining a reputation as among the best soldiers in the Philippines.

Through the years, Kapampangan men in uniform have done our province and our country proud. In the days of the Revolution, we have Gen. Jose Alejandrino who became the chief commander of Central Luzon while Gen. Aguinaldo was up north. In 1934, he became the chairman of the National Defense Committee and a military adviser of Malacanang. Gen Servillano Aquino of Angeles was likewise a well known figure of the Revolution, but perhaps more well-known today as Ninoy Aquino’s grandfather. Gen. Maximino Hizon (Mexico), Gen. Francisco Makabulos (Tarlac) and Lt. Emilio Dominguez (Mabalacat) were all gallant Katipuneros who led offensives against our colonizers.

In more recent times, military notables have come to include: medical doctor Basilio Valdes (Floridablanca) who rose to become a Brigadier-General and Chief of the Police Constabulary in 1934. Lt. Gen. Gregorio M. Camiling Jr. (Bacolor) was appointed as the commanding general of the Philippine Army in 2002. Currently, the highest ranking Kapampangan in the military is Gen. Avelino Razon, head of the Philippine National Police.

(*NOTE: Feature titles with asterisks represent other writings of the author that appeared in other publications and are not included in the original book, "Views from the Pampang & Other Scenes")

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