A CRY FOR CLARIFICATION: A Short Discussion on the Controversies Surrounding the Cry of Pugadlawin
Christian Bernard A. Melendez
Senior Shrine Curator, Museo ng Katipunan-Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine


The history of the Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan is inspiring yet intriguing. Scholars can choose from a wide range of topics to make a thorough discussion yet enigmatic due to scarcity of primary documents and reliability of sworn statements of witnesses, especially, the surviving katipuneros. One of the intriguing and controversial topics in the history of katipunan is the Cry of Pugadlawin.

The Cry of Pugadlawin as we know today

Since 1963, via the virtue of Proclamation No. 149, s. 1963, President Diosdado Macapagal declared every 23rd of August a special public holiday in Quezon City. Another Proclamation by then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1971 included the City of Caloocan in the celebration. Hence, citizens of the mentioned cities and other katipunan-minded citizens remember this momentous event as the Cry of Pugadlawin.

The Commemoration of the Cry years after the revolution

In 1907, years after the end of the Filipino-American War which resulted in the annexation of the Philippines as a United States’ territory, the Sedition Act was repealed. As a result, Filipinos were able to celebrate and commemorate anything that connects with the revolutionary ideals – and that includes the commemoration of the cry. The first time the cry was commemorated was in 1908, and a monument was built in Balintawak for that commemoration. In 1968, to give way for the Manila North Diversion Road (MNDR) which we now know today as the North Luzon Expressway, the monument was then transferred to the University of the Philippines.

The Moment they saw themselves Cry

Since the commemoration of the event, numerous surviving katipuneros publicly clashed as to when and where the event happened. Addressing each other, these katipuneros claimed and rebutted each other’s statements. In general, these were the katipuneros who claimed knowledgeable of the event:

Pio Valenzuela

A high-ranking official in the Katipunan, he claimed that the event occurred on the 23rd of August 1896. Further he claimed that it occurred in Pugadlawin.

His claim was agreed on by fellow katipuneros Briccio Pantas, Cipriano Pacheco, and Vicente Samson.

Pio’s claim was supported by historian Teodoro Agoncillo.

Guillermo Masangkay

On the other hand, Guillermo Masangkay, refute this claim. According to him, the cry took place in Balintawak and happened on the 26th of August 1896. He also refuted that the katipuneros mentioned above were in fact already not present when the said cry took place.

Of Terminologies, meanings, and interpretations

Part of why there was confusion was due to the usage of terminologies. The term cry denotes many meanings which also depend on different interpretations. Some refer to it as the moment the katipuneros made a resolution or decision to revolt. Others made an interpretation of the cry as the tearing of the cedula. For some, it was the first encounter between the Katipuneros and the Spanish Civil Guards.

Identifying the location is also crucial. Geography and political boundaries do change overtime. Hence, when identifying the exact location of the event, confusion arises. It should also be taken note if the katipuneros present in the said event were not aware of the names of the places they were in. 

Other contention

The constitution crafted and declared at Biak-na-bato stated that, in its introduction, the revolution started on the 24th of August 1896. The reliability of this statement is very strong since this was declared by the leaders of the revolutionary government (members of the Katipunan) and this was declared only after a year. The proximity if the date of declaration of the constitution to the ‘cry’ is reliable.

Resolution by the NHI

As mandated, NHI is tasked to resolve, clear, and declare historical controversies. As such, on 14 August 1986, through NHI Board Resolution No. 2, series of 1986, the NHI declared the event as the ‘Cry of Pugadlawin’ which occurred on the 23rd of August 1896.  

And on 2001, a panel was formed to review the case and it resulted in the reaffirmation of the previous declaration which is the Cry of Pugadlawin.


The Revolt of the Masses; Teodoro Agoncillo

The Cry of Balintawak: A Contrived Controversy; Soledad Borromeo-Buehler

NHI Board Resolution No. 2, Series of 1986