General Macario Leon Sakay 1870 – January 9,1907
Ladrone, Tulisan, Bandolero, Brigand, Bandit, Outlaw were all names used to define Philippine criminals in the early 1900s. Since the early American colonization of the Philippines for decades Filipinos allowed themselves to be brainwashed by the American victors in to thinking these men were also enemies to the Filipino people. Through the 1902 Bandolero Act, patriotic armed struggles for independence were deemed by the American colonial government as dishonorable criminal activities. Macario Sakay would be regarded as the greatest outlaw of them all. 100 years later many of these U.S. branded bandits are now regarded by Filipinos as Heroes and Patriots of the Philippines.
Macario Sakay was born on Tabora St in Tondo Manila in 1870. Hardly knowing his father, Sakay was given the surname of his mother. Just as both Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto were born and bred in the Tondo district, Sakay is regarded to be made from the same mold. The Tondo district in the late 1800s comprised of the working class and natives of the lower echelons of society. For those living within the area it became the norm to be skilled in several different professions. The early known adolescent years of Sakay were spent working as a barber, a tailor, and a stage actor for Komedya and Moro-Moro plays. In 1894 Macario Sakay joined the Katipunan alongside Emilio Jacinto. Initial work with the Katipunan were spent working closely with Emilio Jacinto and Andres Bonifacio. Gregoria de Jesus states Sakay also helped in operating the Kalayaan newspaper press of the Katipunan. Being an actor by profession and in the public eye allowed him to go unsuspecting from other districts and towns recruiting for the Katipunan movement and distributing revolutionary paraphernalia. From his dedication and sacrifices he quickly emerged as the leader of Tondo's "Dapitan Council" of the Katipunan.
August 1896 marked the beginning of the revolution against Spain. Prior to and during the initial outbreak, Sakay's movements in Manila are difficult to track. Although it is documented and witnessed by others he fought alongside Bonifacio in battles at Montalban, Marikina, and San Mateo. Sakay was also one of the leaders who retreated back to Balara with the Supremo after the loss at Nanka River. Interestingly enough, Sakay's good friends and cohorts; Francisco Carreon, Apolonio Samson, and Alejandro Santiago separated with Sakay and followed the Supremo in to Cavite until his execution. At this point it is unknown where Sakay separated off to. Once the 1897 Tejeros Revolutionary Government was installed and soon after the death of the Supremo; Jacinto, Carreon, and many other close associates of Bonifacio(particularly the Katipunan members in and around the Tondo area) faded from the revolutionary limelight. Hardly any are mentioned or seen; few historians believe they were disassociated, and/or perhaps they cut themselves off from Emilio Aguinaldo's Revolutionary Government.
One interesting notion of Sakay's whereabouts state he may have accompanied Emilio Jacinto to Laguna and stayed with him in that region. In April 1898, with over a year of hiding in Laguna, Emilio Jacinto died of Malaria in the town of Magdalena. Orlino A. Ochosa’s book ‘Bandoleros’ makes note of the Jacinto death photo and remarks on one of the uniformed soldiers standing in the background on how eerily similar he looks to a young Sakay without the long hair. Consider also years later Sakay would establish his own revolutionary government in Laguna, and specifically near the same vicinity where Jacinto was documented to have stayed and roamed. Sakay was able to evade Philippine Constabulary forces on several accounts for months on end while in Laguna. Possibly Sakay's time spent with Jacinto in Laguna could be how he became very familiar with the region, and the very reason why he established the territory for his own government. But that notion still remains inconclusive as there is no supporting documentation or evidence. Taking also in to account Pio del Pilars reference to Sakay, while Aguinaldo's Revolutionary Government was busy fighting, del Pilar states Sakay spent that time on 'recruiting missions'. Either way, Sakay's rank and association is completely unknown within Aguinaldo's Revolutionary Government.
Rise of Sakay
By early 1901 the Philippine-American War was now on the down slope as Aguinaldo's Malolos Republic had been picked apart by American forces. With Aguinaldo fully retreated beyond the Mountain Province and nowhere to be seen, Sakay's whereabouts re-emerge in the Manila area. Two interesting documents surface that are dated from early 1901. Both were turned in to John R.M. Taylor to be deciphered and later were regarded as material threatening enough to be classified under the Philippine Insurgent Records. One is dated Jan 6, 1901 Manila, the other is dated Feb 8, 1901 Manila. Both are official documents founding an entirely new form of government unassociated to Aguinaldo's Malolos Republic. The title of the second document read, "With a view of improving and perfecting the organization of the Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan", and goes on in to the establishment of a president along with a cabinet and council members. Both of these documents were signed "M.S. Dapitan". The only known “Dapitan” in Manila in regards to the Katipunan was the faction from Tondo. And the only known and last leader of the Dapitan Chapter was Macario Sakay. In essence, these two official documents from Manila were Sakay's early attempt of establishing a new revolutionary government under the Katipunan moniker separate from Aguinaldo's government.
Once the United States annexed the Philippines, the islands and their inhabitants were now benefited rights under the U.S. Constitution. One specifically being, the right to assembly and free speech. The Federalist Party (Partido Federalista) would be founded in 1900 and lead by Pedro Paterno and Trinidad Pardo de Tavera. It comprised mostly of illustrados and members of the upper elite class who favored American annexation with an objective goal of achieving 'statehood' of the United States. Also at this time the civil affairs of the islands were redirected from the U.S. Military Governor-General and assigned to the Philippine Commission headed by Howard Taft. The Federalist Party were heavily favored by the Taft Commission. The Federalist Party were also detrimental at mediating surrenders of Filipino patriots to the American forces throughout the Philippine-American War. However, not all Filipinos shared the same sentiments as the Federalist Party, few nationalists decided to form their own party with aims at securing complete independence from American sovereignty. On August 21, 1901 the Partido Nationalista was established at Calle Gunao in Quiapo Manila(not to be mistaken for the 1907 founded Partido Nationalista). This was to be a legal running political party whose primary goal and aim being Kalayaan[independence]. General Santiago ‘Apoy’ Alvarez and Pascual Poblete were the listed Presidents, and Andres Villanueva as Vice President; all 3 were members of the Magdiwang faction who were heavy supporters of Bonifacio. Sakay himself held the next highest position as Secretary General. All other party members were former Katipunan associates from around the Tondo Manila region and the Magdiwang chapter. The party consisted entirely of Bonifacio supporters.
The Taft Commission became aware of the goals and aims of the Partido Nationalista and placed them under heavy surveillance, which led to all members being investigated. The Philippine Commission quickly became informed of the backgrounds on these individuals and viewed them all as radical agitators that could lead the islands to civil unrest and more resistance. Thus, the Sedition Law was quickly passed; outlawing and prohibiting these types of parties and associations. Within a couple months the Partido Nationalista was completely disbanded. Its members were arrested and/or fled from authority. In retrospect, this was an attempt by Sakay to associate himself with a political party on means to gain independence through a legal medium. In January 1902, Macario Sakay was apprehended and sent to prison.
April 1902 saw the surrender of the last overall commanding general of the Philippine Army, General Miguel Malvar. He would be regarded as the very last serious threat to the U.S. colonial government and the U.S. Military. American President Theodore Roosevelt officially declared an end to the Philippine-American War on July 4, 1902. As a result and a show of good faith Pres. Roosevelt would grant amnesty to those soldiers who have surrendered, been captured, been imprisoned, and who have not committed heinous crimes during the war. It is because of this amnesty Macario Sakay is released from prison. After Sakay leaves prison, rather than stay in Manila, Sakay heads for the hills with intentions on fighting for Philippine independence and continuing the resistance against American rule.
The Roosevelt Amnesty was granted to those Filipino patriots who also surrendered after July 1902 but only for a short time period. Within 4 months from the end of the war, on Nov. 12, 1902 the Philippine Commission passed the "Bandolerism Act" into law, ending all eligibility to the Roosevelt amnesty and officially making anyone who had not surrendered a branded 'outlaw' of the Philippine civil government. Regardless if any of these left over Filipino soldiers were in uniform and held a military title in Aguinaldo’s Army, they were no longer labeled 'insurrectos' or recognized revolutionaries fighting for Philippine independence, but now considered hunted criminals. And because they were regarded as law breakers, the duties of hunting outlaws now fell under the responsibility of Taft's Civil Government's newly formed police force, the Philippine Constabulary. By this time, U.S. Volunteer soldiers who fought during the Phil-Am War were mustered out of service and shipped back to the States. Much of the U.S. military force were also sent back to American. The left over U.S. forces stationed in the Philippines were also no longer directly responsible for cleaning up the last of the resistance fighters, they were however reassigned and directed their operations towards pacifying the Visayas regions and the Moros of Mindanao.
The Establishment of the Republika ng Katagalugan Government
On May 6, 1903 Macario Sakay issues out his first manifesto establishing the Republika ng Katagalugan Government on Mount San Cristobal in Laguna province. The manifesto Sakay under signs, "Ang Presidente Supremo". The codes of the new government would follow closely the laws and regulations set forth by Bonifacio and Jacinto's ‘Kartilya ng Katipunan’. This was indeed regarded as return and resurrection of Bonifacio's old Katipunan. It should be noted, at this time the term ‘Filipinos’ in reference to all natives living in the Philippines was defined under the early U.S. colonial rule. While ‘Katagalugan’ originally meant the Tagalog people and their region, in truth ‘Katagalugan’ was now redefined to reference the new name and nation for all natives of the islands whom previously had no identity and went by ‘Indios’. Before the death of Bonifacio his official seal read "Kataastaasang Kapulungan ng Haring-Bayang Katagalugan", leading several scholars to believe Bonifacio had already established his own official revolutionary government prior to the 1897 Tejeros Convention. Sakay's government had its own flag similar to that of Bonifacio; a red field, multi-rayed sun, and the Babaybayin 'Ka' in the middle of the sun. Where Aguinaldo made 'Marcha Nacional Magdalo' the national anthem; Sakay on the other hand chose 'Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan', the song Bonifacio commissioned Julio Nakpil to compose in 1896 as the national anthem. Nearly all work Sakay used to build his new government directly paralleled the original Katipunan. The Republika ng Katagalugan would also drafted their own constitution with signatures from 90 members. Almost certainly, Sakay establishing Republika ng Katagalugan was in order to revive the old Katipunan and continue Bonifacio's legacy.