Arrival of Taft Commission in Tagbilaran, Bohol On April 19-20, 1901

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Part 2. American bias in their records

Proem

The minutes of the meeting between the members of the Taft Commission and the Boholanos is obviously biased in favor of the Americans.  The Americans were already acting as conquerors and could not understand why the Boholanos are fighting a war.

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The Americans already named the Boholano-American war as insurrection. An insurrection means that there is an established government by Americans but the Boholanos still called it as war against invaders.

Taft’s Opening Statements

“The civil commission has come to the island of Bohol to organize a civil provincial government.  It learns with considerable regret, however, that there are still people in the mountains engaged in warfare against the authority of the United States, and it appears that such persons, or most of them, in acting in the way they do, are simply seeking personal gain, for the Commission can not understand why a comparatively small force should continue to make war on the basis of establishing a Filipino government when the chief of the insurrection, Aguinaldo, has published a proclamation advising all patriotic Filipino to lay down their arms and accept peace and prosperity under the liberal government offered by the United States. At the city of Cebu yesterday the Commission met Chief Justice Arellano, president of the supreme court, who came direct from Manila, having conferred with Aguinaldo and bringing with him the text of the proclamation which Aguinaldo had signed, advising the people as stated.”

Comment: It is clear that the Americans admitted that the Boholanos were still fighting a war against invaders.  As a propaganda statement Chief Commissioner Taft said the Boholano force was small and simply seeking personal gain.

The real situation was that the Boholano patriots gathering at Cambaligâ, Carmen was a large force of about 2,000 fighters with reinforcement from Leyte. The relatively untrained American soldiers of the 44th California Volunteers of companies B and C under Major Henry Hale were no match to the Boholanos.

During the battle at Cambaligâ, Carmen on July 5, 1901 the Americans was defeated.  The Americans have to wait for the arrival of the main bulk of the 19th Infantry Regiment under Gen. Robert Hughes on Oct. 11, 1901.

When the Americans landed at Loay, Bohol they did not engage the Boholanos in battle.  The Americans did a “scorch-earth policy”.  They just marched from Loay to Loboc then from Loay up to Anda, Bohol burning and killing everything and anything in sight.  The old, the sick, and the children that could not run were killed or burned inside the houses.

There are many records in the Burial Books of Parish churches saying “parvula/o muerto violente – infants died violently”.  The traditional stories about children thrown in the air and bayoneted were actually done by the Americans and not during the Japanese time in World War II.

Proposed Provincial Government

Chief Commissioner continued: “The insurrection is in collapse, and the people who, like the insurrectos in this island, keep up the struggle and deprived people of the opportunity to practice their peaceful vocations are guilty of a crime and deserve no consideration at the hands of the people or at the hands of the American forces.  The question is whether the people of Bohol are going to continue to submit to the imposition of a few men gathered in the mountains, who pursue their present policy solely for the purpose of stealing cattle and living on the contributions imposed on a poor people, or whether they are going to assist the military in stamping out the remnant of ladronism uncler the mask of insurrection.  If you will organize among yourselves and determine that this war shall cease, and will have courage enough to inform the military authorities of what you know concerning the insurrectos and their methods, it will not be long before you have complete peace in this island.  I have the greatest sympathy with you, as you are between two fires — the desperate methods of the men in the mountains and the law of the United States, enforced by the military.  The time has come, however, when by courage and organization you can put an end to what would seem to me an unbearable situation.”

Comment: The organization referred to by Chief Commissioner Taft was the Federal Party of the Philippines.  It was organized in Manila on December 23, 1900.  The seven (7) members of the directorate were: T.H. Pardo de Tavera, Cayetano S. Arellano, Frank Bourn, Florentino Torres, Ambrosio Flores, Jose Ner, and Tomas G. Del Rosario.

In fact T.H. Pardo de Tavera came with the Taft Commission to Bohol in order to induct the Boholanos who will join the Federal Party.  As in any war situation there will always be collaborators.  The induction of some Boholanos into the Federal Party effectively divided the loyalties of the Boholanos.

Gavino Sepulveda

Gavino Sepulveda was a Cebuano lawyer who was assigned in Bohol as fiscal of the court of first instance.

He spoke during the meeting as follows: “He (Sepulveda) spoke in behalf of the Federal Party of the province of Bohol and also in behalf of all the presidents and principales of the province.

He first thanked the Commission for coming to Bohol to organize a provincial government, as this met the urgent desires of the people.  As to the men still in arms, he said the Federal Party had used every effort to induce them to come in, and that a messenger recently sent by the party was still negotiating with them.  He was convinced, however, that the organization of civil government would assist in bringing about pacification.  He asked, however, that the Commission grant a general amnesty to all those still fighting against the government.  He said the principal reason why the leader, Samson, was still out was that when he first took up arms against the United States, he was told that he would be held as a criminal and would never be pardoned.  For this reason he preferred to die in the field to being shot as a traitor.”

Comment: When General Pedro Samson surrendered on Dec. 23, 1901 he was brought down from the hills of Dimiao and brought to Valencia to board an American boat to surrender officially in Tagbilaran, Bohol at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon.

A party was tendered in his honor and he was not made to answer for the Boholano war.  However, a private case was filed against him and he was put in jail.  However when Speaker Sergio Osmeña, Sr. came to Bohol and knew of the case, Speaker Osmeña ordered the release of Gen. Samson.

To be continued: The situation according to other Boholano speakers.

 



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