THE PALARIS REVOLT OF 1762
A revolt presaging the Ilocos Revolt led by Diego and Gabriela Silang, and unique in the history of Pangasinan for being led for the first time by the common people broke out in Binalatongan, on November 3, 1762. It spread to the other towns of the province including Paniqui (then still a part of Pangasinan), Malasiqui, Bayambang, Manaoag, Santa Barbara, San Jacinto, Dagupan, Calasiao, and Mangaldan. Prior to this, uprisings in the province of Pangasinan including the Malong Revolt, which had been carried out against the Spanish government, were conceived and led not by the heretofore silenced masses but by the principalia, or the native officials, as well as the local aristocracy.
But whereas before, the common people found allies and even leaders, such as Andres Malong among the native officials, this time the 1762 revolt of the people of Binalatongan found very little sympathy among their local native officials. Their leader, though the son of a cabeza de barangay, turned out to be someone described as being of the timaua class- the ordinary people—Juan de la Cruz Palaris.
Several factors brought about the Palaris Revolt. Whereas the Malong Revolt, which occurred in 1660-61, had the Spanish-Dutch War as background, this time the Palaris Revolt not only transpired on the heels of British victory over Spanish Manila, then as now the center of national government, but can be said to have been facilitated by the same event.
The revolt sprang directly from the unmet demands of the common people: relief from compulsory labor1; the return of the already collected tributes; the banning of foreigners from holding local office; removal from office of civil and police officials- including the provincial governor, and the appointment of natives in their place2. The people considered the Spanish and Spanish-appointed officials as abusive and burdensome to them. The heaviest burden however was the payment of the tribute— in the form of rice harvests. For over 200 years from the onset of Spanish colonization, the farming folk of Pangasinan had reeled under the onus of paying the tribute which continually became harder to bear for even as the amount of harvests remained niggardly or at subsistence levels for the ordinary people, the tributes were regularly increased by the colonial masters in order to sustain the ever rising needs of both the church and the government.3 Thus by the time the British had invaded Manila, the spark of rebellion had long been lit among the simple folk of Binalatongan. News of British victory over the Spaniards in Manila merely turned the spark into a burning torch.
Immediately prior to the event, Manila had sought reinforcements from the provinces, and while the rest of Pangasinan was unable to make a quick response, a battalion of over a thousand men from Binalatongan was immediately formed upon the governor’s orders and dispatched to Manila. It was on their way there that the Spanish debacle at the hands of the mightier British occurred and news of this reached the troops. When the latter returned to Pangasinan the people interpreted the event as the end of Spanish reign that for them translated in turn into the end of their sufferings. In time there grew within the people’s hearts the resolve to finally end their misery by refusing to pay the tribute and to demand redress of their other long-held grievances.
The spirit of rebellion began to spread in Pangasinan, prompting the provincial governor to vacate the capitol and make ready for his and his family’s quick evacuation at a moment’s notice. An intermediary between the governor and the people came in the person of the province’s Vicar. He tried to convince the governor to continue in office and resume his round of the various towns and attempt a mutually satisfactory compromise with the people. He refused to heed the advice of the vicar constituting instead a commission that would embark on the year’s collection of taxes. This commission began to carry out its job smoothly throughout the towns until it came to the town of Binalatongan, whose people refused to pay the tribute, their town mates’ suffering at the march to Manila still a rankling wound. After several days they went out of their houses and began congregating to plan their next moves.
A leader arose in the person of Palaris, who was aided by one named Colet (which some accounts say was his brother); the Hidalgo brothers and Juan de Vera Oncantin. He led the people in assailing the Spanish officials headed by the governor and forcing him to give in to their demands. Aided by his town mates, he was able to seize the arsenal and get hold of the arms. Fortunately, the vicar and the priests managed to temper the fire of rebellion, but only for a while. In the meantime the demand of the people to have only native Pangasinenses to serve as local officials was granted; thus from 1762 to 1763, only the priestly profession was open to Spaniards.
Meanwhile, as the Spanish-British conflict came to an end with the signing of a peace treaty in Paris, the Spaniards reclaimed Pangasinan from the natives, the tribute system was re-imposed, and their military campaign against the rebels resumed. This final phase of the rebellion turned out to be the bloodiest, the rebels led by Palaris standing their ground employing “scorched-earth”4 tactics to inflict the greatest toll on the Spaniards– at one point burning the town of Binalatongan, and the Spaniards unleashing all their military might upon the rebels. In the end the rebels were routed, forced to escape into the forests, hunted down and captured. Many of them were executed, their bodies cut into pieces and exhibited to serve as warning and strike fear upon the people, the better to quench any future uprising. Said to have been betrayed by his own sibling, Palaris was caught and hanged on February 26, 1765. His hometown Binalatongan was later transferred and renamed San Carlos in the hope of erasing all memory of the Palaris revolt, but his legacy of fighting for justice and freedom lived on in the hearts of the Pangasinenses, spreading to the rest of his countrymen, and forming ‘another step in the right direction’5 towards the Revolution of 1896.
1 National Historical Institute, Filipinos in History, Vol. IV, Manila, 1994, P. 82.
2 Rosario Cortes Mendoza, Pangasinan, 1572-1800, Quezon City: U.P. Press, 1974, P.178.
3 Ibid., P. 179.
4 National Historical Institute, Filipinos in History, Vol. IV, P. 82.
5 Reynaldo C. Ileto, Pasyon and Revolution Popular Movements in the Philippines, 1840-1910. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, p. 7.
(by Ma. Cielito G. Reyno)