During the Boholano-American War the leader of Bohol’s military force was General Pedro Samson. He was from Cavite, a Spanish mestizo, and a former Spanish soldier.
He was born on January 31, 1865 in Imus, Cavite. His father, Manuel Samson, was a Spaniard and his mother, Marcela Esguera, was a Filipina.
He studied at Colegio de San Juan de Letran but did not finish his Segunda Enseñanza (Now equivalent to High School, but during his time would lead to a Bachelor’s Degree). He went to Davao with his uncle who was a Spanish military officer.
He got married to a Cebuana, Cayetana Tabunda, on 4 October 1882 and had 3 daughters namely, Celestina, Clotilde, and Rosa (youngest). He joined the Spanish Army and rose to the rank of Sergeant. When his wife died, he married his 2nd wife Manuela Rodriquez but the union was childless.
When he was mustered out of military service he went to the town of Cotabato in Cotabato province and was elected Gobernadorcillo (Mayor). He did not finish his term and together with his first wife, he went to Cebu.
When Leon Kilat led the Cebuano to rebel against the Spaniards on 3 April 1898, he sided with the Spanish forces. After the defeat of the Cebuanos, he stayed in Cebu City.
Situation in Bohol
Gov. Bernabe Reyes was elected Provincial Governor of the Provincial Government of Bohol that was authorized by President Emilio Aguinaldo. Don Braulio Flores of Inabanga was the commander of the organized Boholano military force.
The Gobierno de Canton (Federal Government) de Visayas was defeated by the Americans in Santa Barbara, Iloilo. The Boholano government decided to convert itself into the Republic of Bohol.
Gov. Reyes went around the towns of Bohol to supervise the election of Gobernadorcillos to be delegates to the Constitutional Convention.
Don Braulio Flores had another viewpoint. His office as military commander was supposed to be higher because it was a time of war. He ought to supervise the elections. Both men knew that he who supervised the elections will become the President of the Bohol Republic; a conflict arose.
Invited to Bohol
The Provincial Junta, led by Gov. Reyes decided to eliminate Don Braulio Flores. Gov. Reyes, a former Alcalde de Ayuntamiento (Prov. Board Member) of Cebu invited Pedro Samson and his men to Bohol in order to implement the order of dismissal of Don Braulio Flores.
Don Braulio came to Tagbilaran with the purpose of killing Gov. Reyes, but he brought only his two sons named Pedro and Diosdado. When the group reached the top of the stairs of the Capitol Building (now: National Museum) they were met by Pedro Samson and his men. The order of dismissal was presented, but instead of accepting the paper, Don Braulio drew his sword and thrust it on Pedro Samson. The sword thrust was parried and Don Braulion and his sons were shot dead by Pedro Samson and his men.
Pedro Samson was appointed as commander of Bohol’s forces to replace Don Braulio Flores. He was given a rank of Sargento Mayor, which was equivalent to Major commanding an independently organized battalion.
On June 11, 1899 the Constitutional Convention was held at the Capitol Building. The Constitution was approved, the Republic of Bohol was proclaimed and elections were held. The same officials were elected but the titles were already President, Vice President, and Ministers.
Arrival of the Americans
On 17 March 1900 the 44th California Volunteer Infantry Battalion landed at Nagtubô (now: Miyacabac), Dauis on board the transport ship Elcano and led by Major Henry Hale.
The Bohol Republic filed a protest. For lack of instruction, Mayor Hale allowed the Bohol Republic to continue to exist. Sargento Mayor Pedro Samson suggested to Major Hale that his 540-men military force be converted as a police force. Major Hale agreed and supplied 40 rifles and training.
Eventually the American soldiers in the field became abusive and the Boholanos secretly planned for resistance. On August 20, 1900 the plan was finalized at the house of Fernando Reyes (note: The house still exists). Pedro Samson was appointed overall commander with the rank of Colonel. Second in command was Lt. Col. Luis Toribio (note: Father of Cong. Simeon Toribio).
Col. Samson brought his army to Calape, Bohol. The first battle occurred at the sugarcane field between Mandaug, Calape and Kugaw, Tubigon (now: Kahayag, Tubigon).
When the Boholanos attacked, they were moved down by artillery fire. Col. Samson brought his force to Agbonan (now: San Isidro town) via Mandaug. The forest cover made the artillery ineffective. They then proceeded to Batuan and finally in Carmen, Bohol. They were reinforced by the Boholano force from Som, Talibon under Maj. Miguel Balmoria.
An ambush site was prepared at Balikwing, Carmen (now: Vallehermoso, Carmen) and Col. Samson lured the pursuing Americans to pass by the site. The American were utterly surprised and defeated. The Americans retreated to Antequera, Bohol bringing their dead and wounded and left behind some war equipments. They vented their frustration with a Juez de Cuchillo (Judged by the knife) or killing all humans and animals that crossed their path.
Col. Samson dispersed his forces to their assigned zones and the main force was brought to Campo Verde (now part of Duero town). He then assumed the rank of General.
Campo Verde is a formidable cliff overlooking a wide area. The Americans attacked it eight (8) times and failed. On July 1, 1901 the Americans made their 9th attack using the 19th Regular Infantry Regiment and no longer the 44th California Volunteers. In a 3-pronged attack supported by big artillery, the Boholanos were dislodged.
Gen. Samson retreated to nearby Mayana, Jagna and issued orders for all Boholano troops to assemble at the prepared fortification at Cambaliga, Carmen (now; Barrios Cambigsi, Quezon, and Kabaknitan of Batuan, Bohol).
The Americans pursued the Boholanos but minus their heavy artillery. The battle started at 9 A.M. of July 5, 1901. Two companies of American soldiers against 2,000 well-entrenched and well-positioned Boholano soldiers fought. By 5 P.M. many Americans were already dead or wounded. The Americans withdrew when darkness approached because their unfamiliarity of the terrain will cause them more lives. The Americans were defeated.
After gathering the war materials left by the Americans, Gen. Samson ordered his men to dispersed and return to their areas of responsibilities. Gen. Samson and his staff went to a huge cave called Malapuk at Sitio Canlampong, Canhayupon, Dimiao.
To vent their ire, the Americans went on a burning and killing rampage. They burned 20 of the 36 towns of Bohol and killed 90% of the work animals. However the forests of Bohol sustained the needs of the Boholano soldiers.
On December 1, 1901 the American General Robert Hughes sent an ultimatum to General Samson. He must surrender by Dec. 23, 1901 or the whole town of Tagbilaran will be burned and laid waste.
Gen. Samson and Lt. Col. Toribio were not from Bohol but majority of the Boholano Officers were from Tagbilaran or have their families in Tagbilaran. They convinced Gen. Samson to surrender, especially that there was a promise of amnesty.
On the morning of Dec. 23, 1901 Gen. Samson and his officers came down to the convent of Dimiao with the aim to surrender. They were met with fanfare from the local band. The Boholanos were told that the formal surrender will be at Tagbilaran. They were brought to Valencia, Bohol where a gunboat awaited to bring them to Tagbilaran, Bohol.
At 3:00 o’clock P.M., Gen. Samson signed the formal surrender in a ceremony at the Capitol Building and thus ending the Boholano-American war. In the evening a Military Ball was held attended by Boholanos and Americans to celebrate the occasion.
After the war
After the war, Gen. Samson stayed at Valencia, Bohol where his youngest daughter, Rosa, got married to a Namocatcat. Later he transferred to Tugas, Candijay to engage in farming. He got elected as Municipal President of Candijay and served only one term because he got sick. He went to Manila for treatment and was told that he had cancer.
He returned to Valencia, Bohol and was cared for by his daughter. He died on May 6, 1920 and was buried at a Catholic cemetery. His grave is still there, but so far as I know, the Boholanos do not have a commemoration day for life of Gen. Samson who served and risked his life for the Boholanos.