13 Things that May Help Reina Hispanoamericana Winwyn Marquez Establish Her Spanish Connection

Reigning 2017 Reina Hispanoamericana Winwyn Marquez of the Philippines with some of her fellow candidates. Marquez’s mother, Alma Moreno, is from Macabebe, Pampanga, a place notable in Spanish History as the last colonial town to have remained loyal to Spain. Photo from Reina Hispanoamerican Facebook page.

I’m not sure if Winwyn Marquez, the newly crowned Reina Hispanoamericana, is aware that the province of her parents, Pampanga, gave Spain a wonderful kind of history of loyalty. Jose Felipe Del-Pan, a 19th century Spanish journalist described, the people of Pampanga (Kapampangans) as “the loyal companions of our disgraces and of our graces.” But the downside of it? The Kapampangans earned lasting racist tags from their fellow Filipinos: taksil” (‘traitor’) and “dugong aso (literally ‘canine-blood,’ actually a metaphor for the dog-like loyalty of the Kapampangans to their master or their adherence to the constituted authority). In his 5 November 2017 column in Abante, historian Xiao Chua made it clear that Pampanga just joined the Revolution on 3 June 1898 in Bacolor town, contrary to popular belief that it was among the eight provinces to first rise against the Spaniards in 1896. By the way, Winwyn’s father, Joey Marquez, is from Mabalacat, Pampanga, while her mother Vanessa Lacsamana, a.k.a. Alma Moreno, is from Macabebe, Pampanga.

But the most interesting of the Kapampanganess of Winwyn is her Macabebe lineage. Her Macabebe forebears were the first to resist Spanish invaders in Luzon in 1571 and surprisingly the last to defend the Spaniards in the Philippines in 1898 (and even joining them in repatriation to the Marianas and later to Spain in 1899). In honor of the Macabebe soldiers, a street in the Spanish capital of Madrid bears the name “Calle de Voluntarios Macabebes.”

A street in Chopera, Madrid named after the loyal Macabebe soldiers. Photo courtesy of Spanish poet and friend, Carmen Lafuente. Her great-grandfather-in-law documented the last days of the Spaniards in Macabebe in 1898.

Like Winwyn , I am partly Kapampangan by blood from Macabebe. Alma Moreno and I came from the same barangay, Sta. Rita. Carved on the decades-old door of Sta. Rita Chapel are the words “Donated By: Alma Moreno.” But as a Filipino currently in the discipline of History, it is indeed a struggle to integrate Macabebe to the history of nationhood which its people, particularly the Voluntarios de Macabebe, prevented to succeed. You may read part of Macabebe’s history in my 2016 book The Nameless Hero: Revisiting the Sources on the First Filipino Leader to Die for Freedom (published by the alma mater of Winwyn’s aunt, Melanie Marquez: Holy Angel University). (I cannot forget Melanie’s guesting on this morning talk show of GMA 7 in early 2000s, Sis, where she is ask why she hates History: “puro patay kasi pinag-uusapan” [‘because it is mostly about dead people’]. I was then in my Grade 6 or First Year High School in Macabebe when I chanced upon that episode.)

As my own way of celebrating her victory, I listed down thirteen things Winwyn should know about the Hispanic connection of her parents’ province, especially Macabebe.

1. Macabebes Almost Ruined Spain’s Asian Dream. The first mention of Macabebe and the Kapampangans in history is through the decisive Battle of Bangkusay of 3 June 1571. Bangkusay is a coastal community in Tondo facing Manila Bay. In that battle, 2,000-strong Muslim warriors from the ancient coastal communities of Macabebe and Hagonoy (Bulacan) fought the 80 well armed Spanish soldiers with around 500 Pintado (Visayan warrior) allies. (So when you stand at the Seaside Boulevard of SM Mall of Asia or by the bay walk along Roxas Boulevard, Manila, you are facing Macabebe and Hagonoy on the opposite side of Manila Bay.) Overpowered by firearms, Spaniards defeated the Muslim warriors, killing 300 of them including their captain; hundreds more were enslaved, while the rest managed to escape the wrath of the Visayans, their age-old nemeses in the sea according to 1694 Spanish chronicler Fr. Gaspar de San Agustin, OSA. If our forebears won that battle, [1] Mindanao would not be the farthest reach of Islamic world north of Southeast Asia but Luzon; [2] the Spanish Filipinas would be limited to the Visayas; and, of course, [3] Winwyn cannot join Reina Hispanoamericana.

tarik soliman small
Macabebe marytr of Bangkusay by Kapampangan artist Dan H. Dizon, 1979. From the book The Nameless Hero: Revisiting the Sources of the First Filipino Leader to Die for Freedom by Ian Alfonso. Original digital copy from the Juan D. Nepomuceno Center for Kapampangan Studies, Holy Angel University.

2. The First Filipino Martyr of Freedom was from Macabebe. Winwyn also bagged the Best National Costume. She wore an ancient warrior-inspired costume reminiscent of Lapulapu in the Battle of Mactan of 1521—how paradoxical. But if she knew beforehand her Macabebe lineage, she might consider imbibing in her presence in Bolivia the spirit of the first Filipino martyr of freedom from Macabebe: the nameless captain of the 2,000 Muslim warriors in the Battle of Bangkusay. Unfortunately, Spanish accounts of the battle are silent on the name of that captain. The very monument in Poblacion, Macabebe honoring that leader erected in 1934 has no name. In my book, The Nameless Hero, I used the word “pungsalang” to call the martyr, being the nearest archaic Kapampangan word for captain or war chief in the 1732 Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga of Fr. Diego Bergaño, OSA. (Pungsalang is from where Kapampangan surnames Punzalan, Punsalan or Ponsalan originated.) During the course of my book writing, Kapampangan linguist and a good friend Michael Pangilinan suggested to consider the term laksamana (or captain in Malay), the origin of the maiden surname of Winwyn’s mother.

The 1934 nameless Macabebe king of the Battle of Bangkusay. The monument was an icon of curiosity among us little Macs in the 1990s. Neither our teachers nor our parents and grandparents told us who was this man (then in off-white) formerly sitting under an acacia tree at the right wing of the Municipal Hall. I called him Datu Puti, as he resembles the icon on the packaging of a vinegar bottle of the balut vendor beside him under the tree. Photographed by award-winning Filipino photographer, Ruston Banal.

3. Obscured by Fictitious Names. Since the issuance of the textbook A History of the Philippines by Thomasite David Barrows in 1905, the martyr of Bangkusay began to be identified as Rajah Sulayman (Soliman), the heir to the throne of Manila when the Spaniards arrived in 1571. But historical documents will contradict Barrows and other textbooks and publications ascribing the martyrdom to that heir of Manila. Citing Xiao Chua’s 2014 commentary in his now defunct but beloved PTV4 show Xiao Time: Ako ay Pilipino: “Nakakaloka lang kasi after a few years, 1574, si Rajah Soliman ay makikita na sumabay sa pag-atake ng Tsinong pirating Limahong sa Mayila. Huh??? Patay nabuhay??? Ano yun multo??? (‘It’s enough to drive one crazy because after a few years, in 1574, Rajah Soliman would be seen revolting [against the Spaniards], taking advantage of the pirate Limahong’s attack on Manila. Huh??? The dead resurrected??? What’s that, a ghost???’). In 1908, the infamous, balimbing (turncoat) Pedro Paterno popularized another name: Tarik Soliman (in his five-volume book Historia de Filipinas). In the 1980s, historians Jaime Veneracion and Floro Quibuyen visited Macabebe and the former told me that they saw “Magat Salamat” written on the base of the 1934 monument in Macabebe of the Bangkusay martyr.

The popularization of the Battle of Bangkusay should be attributed to National Artist Botong Francisco. The battle seemed to be his favorite episode in Philippine history. But because of the erroneous history books he read during his time, he imagined the martyr of Bangkusay as Rajah Soliman, like in this great mural adorning the august Manila City Council Hall.

4. Forgotten for More Than Four Centuries. Historian Nicolas Zafra had no idea how the Filipinos can honor the nameless martyr of Macabebe in Bangkusay, as he aired in his monumental article about the 400 years of Manila in 1971, “Background of the Spanish Occupation of Manila, 1571.” But he left the posterity a caveat: “the Macabebe leader is fully deserving of an honored place in Philippine history… He laid down his life for a cause that he believed was worth fighting for, the freedom of his people to live and enjoy their own way of life. For sure, he was a man of heroic mould, worthy of respect and remembrance of posterity.” Until in 2016, after five years of research and deliberation, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) issued a historical marker for the nameless Macabebe martyr. It is the first of its kind case in the history of the agency that a nameless historical figure is honored by way of a marker bearing the coat-of-arms of the Philippine Republic. The marker is entitled “Ang Kabataang Pinuno ng Macabebe” (‘The Young Macabebe Chief’) installed on the pedestal of the 1934 monument in Macabebe of the martyr.

In her speech during the unveiling of the historical marker honoring the martyr of Bangkusay, former NHCP Chair Maria Serena Diokno (standing second from left) explains that silencing the martyr’s name was a tactic of the victorious belligerent in order to erase his memory. Diokno furthered that by way of this historical marker, the Filipino people recovers him from the oblivion and anonymity. Photo from The Business Mirror.

5. Macabebe under Baronial Rule of a Spanish Family. Described as the “flor y nata de la lealtad filipina” (‘bloom and fruit of Filipino loyalty”), the Spanish Blanco family of Macabebe wanted to impress the Spaniards during the Philippine Revolution of 1896. Conscripting their farmers and people in Macabebe who owed them, the infamous Voluntarios de Macabebe was formed. Historian and my mentor Dr. Jaime Veneracion told me that the “dugong aso” term could have been originated from Bulacan, and out of disgust to the Kapampangans who joined the Spaniards in cracking down the Bulakenyo revolutionary forces. Effective 16 June 1898, Aguinaldo appointed Malolos, Bulacan General Isidoro Torres to subjugate Macabebe where around 2,000 Spanish soldiers, civilians and friars from various Central Luzon towns sought refuge (which included the family of then Spanish Governor-General Basilio Augustin).

eugenio blanco
The Blanco brothers of Macabebe, Jose (left) and Eugenio (right). Eugenio was the organizer of the dreaded Voluntarios de Macabebe. Like his propagandist brother, Captain Augustin, Eugenio was a known liberal but opposed the separation of the Philippines from Spain. The death of Augustin, who was killed by Aguinaldo’s forces in Talisay, Batangas in 1896, made him hate Aguinaldo, leading to his organization of the Voluntarios de Macabebe in January 1897. Photo by Ian Alfonso from the collection of Celia Blanco in Sto. Rosario, Macabebe.

6. “Arrest Everyone from Macabebe.” Part of the subjugation policy of the revolution on Macabebe, on 16 June 1898, Pampanga Commanding General of the Revolution Maximino Hizon of Mexico town issued an order to all municipal heads of the province to arrest everyone from Macabebe, regardless of gender, age, and social status, and surrender them in San Fernando. This was after the Blancos refused to join the Revolution. On 28 June 1898, Spaniards in Macabebe and the Voluntarios de Macabebe successfully escaped for Manila via Pampanga and Guagua-Pasac Rivers (except for some 600 soldiers and friars whose boats were washed out to Hagonoy, Bulacan by the stormy Manila Bay). Torres captured Macabebe and Agapito Bonzon of Cavite–infamous for arresting Andres Bonifacio and, allegedly, raping the latter’s wife, Gregoria de Jesus–was named special commander of the town. Beheading and tortures in Macabebe committed by the revolutionaries were reported.

PIR Roll No 159_Folder No 96-102_9
Hizon’s order in Kapampangan to the municipal heads of the province to arrest all Macabebes, “male of female, elderly or child, whatever his or her social status.” From the Philippine Revolutionary Records of the National Library of the Philippines.

7. “Kill All the Macabebes.” The memoirs of revolutionary general Jose Alejandrino of Arayat, Pampanga mention this rumor that circulated before the outbreak of Philippine-American War in 1899 that Gen. Antonio Luna wanted to depopulate Macabebe. That rumor stemmed from the continuous refusal of the Macabebes to support the Revolution (which was a lie, as the Macabebe was among those who signed the Philippine independence in Bacoor, Cavite on 1 August 1898). The plan was to burn all the Macabebes alive in an old ship in the middle of Manila Bay. Alejandrino and a landlord from Apalit, Pampanga Macario Arnedo went to Luna in Malolos to avert the vicious plan. Luna himself refuted the rumor, visiting Macabebe town to calm down the people there.

General Antonio Luna and his “articulo unico” (not “articulo uno”). These were part of the traveling exhibit of the NHCP on Luna and Artemio Ricarte in 2016.

8. Genocide in Macabebe. Two days after the fall of Luna’s defense line in Bagbag, Calumpit, Bulacan, which is just a few kilometers from Macabebe, Bonzon set the centuries-old Macabebe Church ablaze on 29 April 1899. But inside the burning church was 300 Macabebes. (This story of the burning of Macabebe incident was alive in the consciousness of the Macabebes until 1953, when the school teachers of Macabebe submitted to the National Library of the Philippines the town’s Historical Data Paper, in compliance to the order of former President Elpidio Quirino.) Ill-treated since the capture of their town, the Macabebes marched toward American lines in Calumpit and to Gen. J. Franklin Bell in San Fernando to seek protection from Aguinaldo and his men. Some Macabebe men also offered their service to the Americans in tracking down the soldiers of the Republic, leading to the formation of the Macabebe Scout inaugurated on the feast day of Macabebe, 10 September, in 1899. In 1901, the said scouts joined in capturing Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela, resulting to the crumbling of the first democracy of Asia.

c2100 (19)
One of the biggest in the Philippines during the Spanish period, this church of Macabebe was reconstructed only almost after a decade through the contributions of the Macabebes who found soldiering under the Stars and Stripes a lucrative job. The U.S. Senate denied the war reparation claims of the town, while other Pampanga towns got theirs. Photo from the Luther Parker Collection of the National Library of the Philippines.

9. Macabebes Demonized. The Macabebes’ participation in the U.S. pacification campaign of the Philippines earned mixed reactions from various American politicians, scholars, and writers. They portrayed the Macabebes were uncivilized “mountain tribesmen,” “hereditary enemies of the Tagalogs,”and worse, “flea-bitten beasts,” “black devils,” and “monsters out of hell” that “eat babies and suck the blood of the dying.” Among these writings demonizing Macabebes are Mabel Wood Sander’s 1920 novel, Green God’s Pavilion, Dora Neil Raymond’s 1940 book, Captain Lee Hall of Texas, and Raymond Saunder’s 1995 historical fiction novel, Fenwick Travers and the Forbidden Kingdom.

U.S. Army Military History Institute 5
The new generation of Macabebe soldiers. Their brothers, the Voluntarios de Macabebe, abandoned Macabebe after the Spaniards escaped the revolutionary forces in 1898. They joined the Spaniards repatriated first to the Marianas and then later to Spain. Eugenio Blanco became the last Spanish governor of the Marianas, and his Voluntarios de Macabebe fought the German forces there. Photo from the U.S. Library of Congress.

10. Macabebes are Aztecs of Mexico. Part of the odd writings about the Macabebes is that they are not natives of the Philippines but Aztecs deported to the Philippines from Mexico. Historian Teodoro Agoncillo embraced this idea as his simplest explanation why the Macabebes lacked patriotism. No Spanish accounts can support this. The earliest literature to mention this alleged Aztec connection of Macabebes is William Sexton’s 1939 work Soldiers in the Sun: An Adventure in Imperialism. Since then H. Otley Beyer, Agoncillo, and even Aguinaldo popularized it. Kapampangan journalist Katoks Tayag of Angeles challenged Agoncillo in the 1980s to explain to the Filipino people that if Macabebes were from Mexico, who were those Macabebes who defied the Spanish invaders in 1571.

Do they look Aztecs? A stereo view of the town feast of Macabebe in 1899, which coincided with the inauguration of the Macabebe Scouts. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.

11. The Myth of Long-haired Macabebes. In The Nameless Hero, I acknowledged film director and friend Floy Quintos, who is also an anthropologist, for noticing the resemblance of the long-haired Tinguian warriors of the 19th century with these alleged long-haired Macabebes photographed in Cavite in 1899. American journalist Jose de Olivares published those photographs in his thick 1899 riddled-with-errors, white supremacist book, Our Islands and Their People, capturing the imagination of many that the Macabebes were tribes and really looked like the Aztecs. Examining various Philippine-American War photographs as historical texts reveals that those long-haired natives were used as models in other photos with captions either as “Igritos” or “Igorotes.” American Thomasite Luther Parker in 1911 tried dismissing the misconceptions that the Macabebes were tribes and Aztecs: “There is a popular misconception extant with regard to the Macabebes in that most people believe them to be a distinct tribe different from the Pampangans. This is not true. In fact the Macabebe is the true Pampangan… one of the original towns founded on the bay by the first settlers in Pampanga.”

Mysterious long-haired men mixed with (most likely) members of the Voluntarios de Macabebe waiting to be repatriated with the Spaniards to the Marianas. On 5 February 1899, there were 400 long-haired Tinguian warriors captured by the Americans in Caloocan and transferred to Cavite Arsenal. American anthropologist Albert Ernest Jenks reported in 1905, “The feeling of friendship between the Igorot and insurrectos was so strong that when the insurrectos asked the Igorot to go to Manila to fight the new enemy (the Americans), 400 warriors, armed only with spear, battle-ax, and shield, went a three weeks’ journey to get American heads.” Harper’s Magazine has an illustration of them joining the military parade during the inauguration of the Philippine Republic in Malolos on 23 January 1899. Photo from the U.S. Library of Congress.

12. Mabini: Stop Calling the Macabebes “Traitors.” And the “good Macabebes” found a champion in Apolinario Mabini, the moral compass of the 1898 Philippine Revolution and the most powerful Filipino of his time next to Aguinaldo. In his 1899 article “Seamos Justos” (‘Let’s Be Fair’), Mabini “noted with regret the spread, even the transformation into a true illness or widespread psychological aberration, of the practice to call makabebes those Filipinos, who, lured by the money of the Americans, work with them in the subjugation campaign either as spies or as soldiers or workers.” He further detailed that the “town suffers enough humiliation when it is home to residents who dishonor it by selling out to the enemy,” pertaining to the Blancos and their followers. He requested the Filipino people “not rob the good Makabebes of the chance to repair the damage brought about by their evil town mates, and restore them to our common cause to vindicate the honor of their native town.”

Probably the most illustrious and notable of all the Macabebes was National Artist Vicente Manansala (born in San Roque, Macabebe). Books about him are silent on how he confronted the stigma in him as a Macabebe, he who proudly wrote beside his name the infamous name of his hometown. Photo grabbed from Arts Management Service site. The quote is mine, by the way.

13. Macabebes to the Filipinos: Let’s Move On. Moving on entails acknowledgment of guilt and mistakes. In 1919, the people of Macabebe erected a monument of Jose Rizal, as their gesture of identification to the legacy of the Philippine Revolution—the concept of a Filipino nation that is free and independent. It was followed by presenting to the Filipino people a monument in 1934 of Macabebe’s martyr of freedom, the nameless Macabebe captain in Bangkusay. During World War II, they rallied under the flag of the Philippine Revolution as Hukbalahap, Philippine Scouts, and ordinary freedom fighters in their hometown. Together with her sister town Masantol, Macabebe gave the Philippines the biggest number of war veterans pensioning mostly in dollars.

Plaza of Macabebe in 1946, taken from the balcony of the Municipal Hall. Featured here are the 1919 Rizal Monument guarded by goats, and the pre-war Macabebe Church. Much have been changed in Macabebe through the years but one thing the town could not change: their problematic yet reflective past. Photo courtesy of Time.

Postscript: Maybe Winwyn did not experience the humiliation some of Macabebe student is suffering in a Philippine History class because they are from Macabebe. Teasing a Macabebe student a taksil or long-haired is still persistent and prevalent. With the power now vested in Winwyn as a queen, she’s now in the right place to prove to the Filipinos and to the Hispanoamericana region the meaning of moving forward and the price paid of her forebears for defending Spain.

Unpleasant past does not make one ugly; it is the denial and deliberate distortion of the truth that makes one ugly. But the Macabebes embraced the kind of past they have; and that past makes them even better by picking themselves up to prove their Filipinoness through times–the kind of beauty History can bring. Today, the Municipality of Macabebe takes pride of the slogan “Memalen Macabebe, Tapat Makiabe, Kabung Panaun, Kabang Bie” (‘People of Macabebe are Loyal, Forever and Ever’).

The question now is will Winwyn be proud of her lineage?

And till my ghastly tale is told,
This heart within me burns.

– Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, 1834

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Public servant, cultural worker, student of History, writer (of hugot posts, and some love poems and prose saved only in My Documents), brother to a Shih Tzu, hopeless romantic who believes in patience and consistency.

2 thoughts on “13 Things that May Help Reina Hispanoamericana Winwyn Marquez Establish Her Spanish Connection”

  1. The youth should hear you. Iam arranging a one- day festival of crafts and history for you and Ruth Giron in our school.
    It’s good to know the historical origin of Punzalan, of which clan I belong.
    Thanks Ian for the breath of fresh air you bring us old foggies. An encounter with you sets back time several centuries or so.

    Liked by 1 person

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