The ‘Battle of Tanza del Norte’ in the town of Panay during the height of the Filipino revolution against the Spanish colonial regime has been viewed by local historians in Capiz as significant. Prof. Leothiny Clavel suggested that this “Spanish-Capisnon battle was the most important armed hostility because it was participated by local revolutionaries from different municipalities like Pan-ay, Pontevedra, Pilar, and Panit-an.” Clavel’s paper entitled, “Philippine Revolution in Capiz” published in Diliman Review of the University of the Philippines is a must-read for interested Capiceños, History instructors and students because this certainly deepens our appreciation of the protracted campaign of the Capiznon revolutionaries to dismantle the centuries-old oppressive colonial structures.
“Spanish-Capisnon battle was the most important armed hostility because it was participated by local revolutionaries from different municipalities like Pan-ay, Pontevedra, Pilar, and Panit-an.”
As History instructor, The armed confrontation between the revolutionaries and colonial troops in Tanza del Norte, Panay has caught my interest because of certain conflicting historical facts surrounding the story. The materials or sources that served as basis of this article are the following:
Philippine Revolution in Capiz by Prof. Leothiny Clavel which appeared in the prestigious academic journal, Diliman Review, in 1995;
“Heneral Juan Arce: Dakilang Hangaway ng KKK at Himagsikan sa Capiz” by Vicente Villan published in ADHIKA journal dated November 2000;
The Capiz Revolutionary Movement: The Contreras-led Uprising”, an undergraduate thesis by Ronald Amigo in June 1992; and
History of Panay by Felix B. Regalado and Quintin B. Franco published in 1973.
The above mentioned works have provided us interesting facts and interpretation about the participation of the Capisnon revolutionaries in the national struggle against Spanish colonial regime. This article aims to focus on a certain aspect of the famous ‘Battle of Tanza del Norte in the town of Panay because of the conflicting claims the different authors or researchers have provided to their readers particularly the complete date of the historic armed encounter.
Prof. Clavel claimed that the ‘Battle’ occurred on May 3-4, 1897. On the one hand, Amigo – in his undergraduate thesis in History – wrote that the ‘Battle’ happened only in one day on May 4, 1897. Another extremely interesting paper, dealing with the revolutionary experiences of General Juan Arce from Sigma, authored by Vicente Villan, insisted that the Capisnon-Spanish encounter in Tanza del Norte occurred on April 15, 1898. My confusion deepened when I learned from the book of Regalado and Franco entitled, “History of Panay”, that there was a military offensive made by the revolutionary forces led by General Esteban Contreras against the Spanish garrison in the town of Panay on May 4, 1898. The book did not mention that the attack took place in Tanza del Norte. I presumed that this bloody event was the famous ‘Battle of Tanza del Norte’ because General Contreras had also figured out prominently in the separate papers of Clavel and Villan. Moreover, Amigo confirmed that the ‘Battle’ in Tanza del Norte was initiated by Contreras and his forces by attacking a Spanish garrison. This also corroborated to Regalado & Franco’s in 1973.
So, Clavel and Amigo certainly would agree that ‘Battle’ occurred in May 1897 while Villan firmly insists that it happened on April 15, 1898. It is also interesting to note that Clavel believes that the ‘Battle’ lasted for two(2) days, May 3-4, 1897 before our valiant hangaways (warriors/soldiers) retreated. Amigo, on the other hand, supports the account that the bloody encounter only took one day, May 4, 1897.
These conflicting claims regarding the date of the ‘Battle’ may possibly result to a controversy and confusion to the students of Philippine History unless authentic sources would surface and resolve the question. When did the ‘Battle of Tanza del Norte’ really happen? Is this the local version of the longstanding controversy of the 1896 “Cry”? Was it in Pugadlawin on August 23, 1896 or in Balintawak on August 26, 1896?
It is a relief, nevertheless, that both Clavel’s and Villan’s have agreed in several aspects of the story. The following facts they have both corroborated are:
Around 150 Capisnon freedom fighters perished in the ‘Battle’;
that revolutionaries from various municipalities of Capiz (Ilaya section) like Panay, Pontevedra, Pilar and Panit-an consolidated their forces through the initiative of Juan Arce to launch a strategic offensive against enemy troops; and
the bloody encounter had reached to Barangay Lahab, part of Panay town, and the Spanish troops torched the area following the retreat of the ‘revolucionarios’.
Also, the said armed hostility, though it caused a big number of fatalities from the ranks of the freedom fighters, had provided them, particularly their leaders, fresh military techniques and strategy perfectly suitable to the local condition. The outcome of the Battle of Balisong in the town of Pilar on June 7, 1898 revealed how much the ‘hangaways’ learned from their previous encounter in Tanza del Norte, Panay.
By: Sarreal D. Soquiño
Member: Capiz Historical Institute