CABATUAN, ILOILO DURING PHIL-AM WAR
CAPITAL OF THE ESTADO FEDERAL DE BISAYAS
AND CAPITAL OF THE POLITICO-MILITAR GOVERNMENT OF GEN. MARTIN DELGADO Y BERMEJO
By Ronnie Miravite Casalmir
General Marcus P. Miller and his expedition of five ships (USS Baltimore, USS Arizona, USS Pennsylvania, USS Newport, S.S. Union) arrived in Iloilo harbor at 10 a.m. on December 28, 1898. His orders were to land and relieve General Diego de los Rios and the Spaniards who were supposed to sail for Zamboanga. But he arrived too late. The Spaniards had already left a few days ago, and Iloilo City was now occupied by Filipinos.
Treaty of Paris 1898
Otis sends Iloilo Expedition
Miller meets Potter
Transports remain in Guimaras
Expedition arrives in Iloilo Harbor
Miller meets Estado Federal
Benevolent Assimilation in Iloilo
Trip to Malolos
Estado Federal de Bisayas
General Elwell Stephen Otis had instructed Miller before the expedition left Manila that if this would be the situation, then Miller should try to land without conflict. In view of this, Miller requested permission from the Estado Federal de Bisayas several times to land but they were all refused.
Consequently, Miller remained aboard his ship for more than a month, bobbing up and down with the waves, smoking the time away, watching from his ship the Filipinos working at their fortifications, and wishing his 2500 men could get ashore at least long enough to stretch themselves.
February 4, 1899, fighting broke out in Luzon. The Phil-Am War had begun.
February 10, 1899, an order arrived in Iloilo from Otis, directing Miller to land as soon as practicable.
February 11, 1899, General Miller landed and captured Iloilo City.
February 12, 1899, two battalions of the 18th U.S. Infantry marched from Iloilo City to Jaro, and Jaro was also occupied.
February 12, 1899, Cabatuan, Iloilo became the capital of the Estado Federal de Bisayas.
With the fall of both Iloilo City and Jaro, the Estado Federal de Bisayas immediately transferred their capital to Cabatuan Iloilo. They sent a letter from Cabatuan dated February 12 1899 to Raymundo Melliza, their president, that his presence was now needed in Cabatuan.
From February 12, 1899, the Estado Federal de Bisayas was continuously capitaled in Cabatuan, Iloilo until September 23, 1899 when the Estado was dissolved.
On September 23 1899, the Estado was replaced by the Politico-Militar Government of Gen. Delgado whose capital remained in Cabatuan until November 23, 1899 when Gen. Hughes captured the town.
The Estado Federal de Bisayas was a fully functioning government. It held meetings, issued professional licenses, collected taxes and war contributions and so forth.
A few days after the Estado arrived in Cabatuan, Sr. Ramon Avanceņa and Sr. Adriano Hernandez came to town, requested a meeting of the Estado, and presented a report of their recent trip to Luzon.
[Original in Spanish. D. S. P. I. R., Books C.6.]
KABATUAN [PANAY], February 17th, 1899
Meeting held in Kabatuan, at 10 o'clock a. m., February 17th 1899. Present: the Councilors and ex officio members appearing on the margin, citation having been previously sent them in due form.
The President and Vice President being absent, Sr. Yusay, as Senior Councilor present, presided. The meeting was called to order and the minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved in all their parts.
Councilor-Commissioner of State, Sr. Ramon Avanceņa was, at his own request, given the floor and stated, for himself and for Sr. Adriano Hernandez, both of whom had been commissioned to Manila, that they arrived in Manila on the 29th of last month, on a Sunday night, and commenced business on the following day. On Tuesday morning, the 31st they, in company with Sr. Gregorio Araneta, were presented to the Honorable Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy, President of the Philippine Republic; and, as an humble tribute of gratitude and admiration to the Liberator of the Philippines, he wished to say that they had been received by him with paternal tenderness and affection, and that words can not describe his extraordinary gifts; while even in his most insignificant actions the hand of Providence, which points the road to happiness for his country, is shown.
He went on to state that they presented their credentials and stated the object of their mission, which was heard with kindness and interest. He also stated briefly to Senor Aguinaldo the colossal achievements of the revolutionary forces in this region, all the way from conspiracy to triumphant accomplishment, and that it was evident that Providence was with us. He then pictured in relief the most important events. On the whole, he said, it was plain to him and his companion that our President had not lost track of our revolutionary movement; in fact, he was posted on many of the facts, and considering the distance that separated us, they could not have been better understood by him, great though his interest might be.
Concerning the principal object of their mission, Senor Aguinaldo, after hearing them, referred them to his Council of Secretaries who had charge of such matters for its action. They were then presented to Seņor Mabini, President of the Council, who received them in the same fraternal spirit and heard them with the same interest.
The matter was taken under advisement by the Council, and, after extended conference, in which the President of the Republic took part, instructions were prepared which, however, they did not bring with them as they had been turned over to Sr. Jose Ner who had not been able to make the voyage with them due to the outbreak of hostilities with the Americans on the 4th ins. and to other difficulties that arose after he was commissioned.
On the 3rd inst. their business at Malolos was terminated the result of which, as has been stated, was the instructions which were to serve as a further proof of the interest the authorities took in this region.
On the following day, Saturday, they, in company with Sr. Ner, went aboard the Uranus, Sr. Ner taking the instructions with him but the ship could not leave port and they were obliged to spend the night aboard . About nine o'clock that night there was heavy small-arm and artillery firing in the direction of Caloocan, and on the following day, Sunday, it
was reported aboard that Uranus, which was at anchor in the bay that hostilities had broken out with the Americans. About 12 o'clock of the same day, without rhyme or reason, some American soldiers came aboard and took them ashore. They presented to these soldiers the permits given them by General Miller, commanding the American troops in the Bay of Iloilo, authorizing them to visit Malolos to consult with their Government; but these papers did not suffice, so they had to submit to this outrage. Once ashore, they were cast into prison and kept there until Thursday morning, when General Otis gave them an audience. In view of the papers they presented from General Miller authorizing them to make the voyage to Manila, they were sent aboard the American transport, San Pablo, the same on which they had come to Manila, with directions to be turned over to General Miller. Friday night (the 10th inst.) they arrived in this bay, and on the following day, Saturday, they were brought before General Miller aboard the transport Newport. Scarcely had they exchanged a few words with the General when the American cruiser Petrel, which was anchored in the Bay of Iloilo in front of the fort, began firing. The alarm spread aboard the Newport and other vessels. The Petrel continued to bombard the city, and the Newport joined with rapid-fire guns. About an hour later a fire sprang up in the center of the town, and it continued to spread until the greater part of the city was in flames. About 11 o'clock in the forenoon of the same day they were sent aboard a lorcha along side the Newport, in care of Sr. Chiene, and thence they were taken in the same lorcha to Guimaras, Salag, and thence to Navalas. On the following day, Sunday, at 12 o'clock, they went ashore at Bito-on (Leganes). True, they had been outraged; yet they were happy in their providential escape from the bombardment.
They then presented two letters, one from Sr. Aguinaldo and the other from Sr. Buencamino, both of which were addressed to Sr. Melliza, which were read.
Whereas they had not brought the instructions for the reason that Sr. Ner had not been taken prisoner with them; and whereas they had heard nothing from since the morning of the 5th inst., Sr. Avanceņa decided to give the context of said instructions from memory, which is as follows:
1. Oath to uphold the Constitution;
2. The organization of the entire region of the Visayan Islands into one General Command;
3. The appointment of the Commanding General to be made by three Military Delegates from Panay, two from Negros, and one from Kebu (Cebu);
4. Organization of a Council of Delegates for the Visayas Islands to consist of Delegates from all the Provinces, two from each, to be presided over by the Commanding General;
5. Deleates to be appointed by the Provincial Council and the Military Chief of the respective Provinces.
In each Province there will be a Military Chief immediately subject to the orders of the Commanding General.
Sr. Avanceņa wished it understood, however, that in thus giving the text of the instructions, they should not rely entirely on his memory.
After listening attentively and with great interest to Sr. Avanceņa's remarks, the Council resolved unanimously that a vote of thanks be extended to Srs. Avanceņa and Hernandez for the thorough discharge of their delicate and difficult mission, and, also, in view of the sacrifices they had made and the sufferings through which they had gone at Manila and in the Bay of Iloilo.
After considerable deliberation, the Council passed the following resolutions:
1. In view of the instructions from the Malolos Government, which were delivered to Sr. Ner, as stated by Sr. Avanceņa, and which may be at hand any moment, it has been decided to await said instructions and duly carry them out as soon as they arrive. * * * [Relates to reimbursements. - Translator.]
4th and last article: All Local Presidents of this Province are cited to appear on the 24th inst. to confer concerning the will of the people with Americans.
There being no further business before the meeting, the session was regard to a definite attitude towards the war now commenced against the closed and these minutes were drawn up and signed by all present.
To all of which I, the secretary, certify.
(Signed) JOVITO YUSAY,
(Signed) RAMON AVANCENA.
(And four other signatures.)