REMEMBERING THE ZENITH OF TARLAC NATIONALISM:
A Tribute to the Valor of Gen. Francisco Makabulos (1871-1922)
“Nasira na ang ating magandang ugnayan sa mga Amerikano at nararapat na makidigma sa kanila dahil sa masamang balakin ng mga ito na alipinin tayo at subukan ang ating mga banal na mithiin. Samakatwid, alang-alang sa dugo na nananalaytay sa ating mga ugat at sa kapuri-puring karangalang minana natin sa ating Bayan, inaasahan ko na ihahanda ninyo ang inyong mga sarili sa kanyang pagtatanggol.”(Dagupan, 4 February 1899)
The “Cry of Tarlac” on January 24, 1897 which followed a little later than the “Cry of Pugadlawin” of Andres Bonifacio and the raid of the Spanish cuartel in La Paz by the local Katipuneros, signified that the Revolution had reached Tarlac.
The eight rays of the sun in the Philippine flag stands for the eight provinces that first took arms against Spain. Although a youth province, Tarlac made history when it heeded to the appeal Andres Bonifacio to fight the Spaniards. The other provinces include Cavite, Batangas, Bulacan, Laguna, Manila, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga. For centuries, Tarlac which was still part of Pampanga and Pangasinan, lived under the abuses and injustices of the Spaniards. This disheartening situation led the Tarlaqueño to revolt against the Spaniards.
The emergence of the Katipunan and its proliferation in the province of Tarlac was attributed to Gen. Francisco Makabulos who was said to have formed a chapter in La Paz in 1895. The success of the freedom-fighting secret society in Tarlac paved to its emancipation from the yoke of colonialism.
The dashing General Makabulos who was acclaimed for his liberation of Tarlac and other parts of Pangasinan, was a poet and playwright who bequeathed a legacy of patriotism, gallantry, and justice as a revolutionary leader. This Tarlac’s champion of freedom was born on September 17, 1871 in La Paz, Tarlac, to Alejandro Makabulos, a native of Lubao, Pampanga and Gregoria Soliman of Tondo, Manila. His loving mother taught him the alphabet and he was sent to the parochial school in La Paz to where he was educated. Makabulos finds joy in the reading of Spanish classics and the popular vernacular corridos. This greatly enhanced his poems and plays written in “sonorous Tagalog or melodious Kapangpangan.” Being a great writer, his works were published in El Heraldo de la Revolucion. He held important positions before the outbreak of the Revolution in 1896 such as teniente mayor, cabeza de barangay and later, fiscal of the parish of La Paz.
In June 1897, he was appointed brigadier-general by Gen. Aguinaldo at the Mt. Puray Assembly. He took part in the battle against the Spanish forces under Gen. Monet in Mt. Kamansi but the Spaniards won. He signed the Constitution of Biak-na-Bato of 1897 as Francisco Soliman and surrendered his troops to Lt. Col. Miguel de Rivera of the Spanish Army on December 15, 1897. He could have joined General Aguinaldo in Hong Kong had he agreed so. It is important to note that Gen. Makabulos had dissenting view regarding the Pact of Biak-na-Bato.
Not fully convinced of the sincerity of the Spaniards on the provisions agreed upon in the Peace Pact, Gen. Makabulos decided to reunite his “disbanded” troops and began operating underground while Fr. Aglipay assisted in purchasing armaments with the money obtained from the amnesty. Makabulos established a revolutionary committee with him as president and Fr. Aglipay as vice president on February 17, 1898. The Makabulos Revolutionary Committee had transformed to a kind of Provisional Revolutionary Government of Central Luzon on April 12, 1898 with its jurisdiction comprising Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Pangasinan, La Union, and the Ilocos Region. The formation of a central government and the so-called Makabulos Constitution was his astounding legacy to his motherland as mentioned by Tarlac historian Lino Dizon. The return of Gen. Aguinaldo in the Philippines ended the Makabulos Provisional Government on May 17, 1898.
The struggle against the Spaniards was revived by Gen. Aguinaldo upon his arrival from Hong Kong in May, 1898. With the assistance of some Kapampangan revolutionary leaders, Gen. Makabulos freed Tarlac from colonial rule on July 10, 1898. The liberation of the Eastern towns of Pangasinan, namely, Binalonan, San Manuel, and Asingan was also attributed to Gen. Makabulos. Dagupan was captured from the Spaniards on July 22, 1898 led by Gen, Makabulos with the help of Daniel Maramba and Vicente Del Prado. Following the liberation, Gen. Makabulos pronounced the humane treatment of prisoners. Gen. Makabulos was appointed as the first Filipino governor of Tarlac and Pangasinan was also placed under his command.
The province’s peace and order situation was disrupted when an anti-revolutionists movement called Guardia de Honor spread terror among the local populace. Historian Rosario Cortes described this movement as ‘a friar-sponsored group, these groups had joined the Republic but after the Luna assassination, they appeared to have shifted their sentiments against the Aguinaldo government’. Upon the order of General Luna in November and December, 1898, Gen. Makabulos fought these bands of rebels to the libertarian movement. To preserve the gains of the Revolutionary Government in Tarlac, Pedro Che (Pedroche), an ex-Guardia Civil and leader of these anti-revolutionists had to be ruthlessly terminated with his band in Camiling, Tarlac.
The enjoyment of the liberty from centuries of Spanish rule was short-lived with the advent of the new Colonizers in the persons of the Americans whom the Filipinos thought as friends. He was ready to fight the Americans but the realization that continued resistance against the Americans was no longer necessary and the birth of his fourth child convinced him to succumb together nine officers and 124 men on June 5, 1900 to Gen. Arthur MacArthur in his last stronghold at Sitio Tangadan, Labney, Mayantoc, Tarlac.
He was designated as Councilor, then Vice-President and later served as Municipal President of La Paz. When he retired from the government service, he committed his time to farming and the writing of plays notably Uldarico and Rosario. On April 30, 1922, he died of pneumonia. A monument was erected in his honor on September 17, 1951 in recognition to his heroism.