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Sacred Sites Siquijor

San Isidro Labrador Parish Church

Lazi started out as a visita that was regularly visited by priests based in the parish of Siquijor.

Augustinian Recollects, who administered the island beginning in 1794, would come to Lazi and hold masses in a makeshift structure of nipa and bamboo that served as chapel.

When its population reached over 7,000 in 1857, Lazi was created as the San Isidro Labrador Parish and Fr. Victor Garcia assigned as its priest.

The first church was erected in 1858 but the current stone structure that still stands today was made possible through the efforts of parish priest Fr. Toribio Sanchez who began his term in 1882. It was thanks to him that Lazi has the best church and convent in the island.

Grand church

Records said the Lazi Church was completed in 1884, a record time of a few years after Fr. Sanchez became parish priest. He started work on the church as soon as he took over and was able to immediately build the nave, part of the transept on the side of the “Epistola”, and the bell tower.

Historian Fr. Pedro Galende described the Lazi Church as “grandly conceived” in a book published in 2007.

He only had praises for the church’s wooden floorwork with its herringbone pattern, calling it “magnificent” and “among the best in the country.”

Cultural treasure

“The barn-like facade is a study in simplicity. The only references to elaboration are fluted rectangular pilasters that stand out in low relief, plain cornices that run through the wall expanse, and the saint’s niche flanked by small circular columns above the arched main portal,” he wrote in his book “Philippine church facades” to describe the San Isidro Labrador Parish Church.

While most of the church walls were fashioned from cut coral blocks, the triangular pediment was created using wood. The three-tiered belfry has a rectangular base while the upper layers are octagonal, featuring arched windows on each side. A cross sits atop its domed roof.

In 1972, the church was declared a “national cultural treasure.”

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Sacred Sites Siquijor

St. Francis of Assisi Parish Church

Siquijor was established on Feb. 1, 1783 and was the first and only parish in the island for more than 50 years.

Dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi for his love of nature, which the island has in abundance, the parish was administered by secular clerics until the Augustinian Recollects took over in 1794.

The choice of St. Francis as parish patron saint may have also inspired the appearance of the Siquijor stone church.

Simplicity of St. Francis

Started by cleric peninsular Fr. Setien in 1793 and continued by first Siquijor parish priest Fr. Alonso Delos Dolores, the St. Francis of Assisi Church may have been planned without adherence to a period historical style to reflect the simplicity inspired by its patron.

In his book published in 2007, church historian Fr. Pedro Galende describes its exterior as “plain and unpretentious” that “has one smooth wall built of coral blocks.”

Church of stone

When it was first put up, the church was just a simple nipa structure. Fr. Setien started the initial work to erect a stone edifice, a task that Fr. Dolores continued from 1795-1831.

The church was built using mostly limestone materials. Just a few meters away is the belfry that was added in 1891.

Historians believe the tower also served as lookout, from where the people of Siquijor first received warning of island intruders and other dangers.

In 2006, the Siquijor Church underwent repairs and renovation. The project was intended to preserve the grandeur of the church for generations to come.

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Siquijor

Welcome to Siquijor

A small island ringed by bigger neighbors, Siquijor is better known for its moniker Isla del Fuego. It is also known for a group of inhabitants known locally as mangkukulam that dabble in witchcraft and the mystic arts.

Just as widely established but not as publicized is its popular standing as a religious pilgrimage destination and pilgrims regularly follow a route of church visits, candle lighting, and prayers to ask for blessings and healing or plead for intercession.

It might seem hard to imagine sorcery existing alongside piety but this small island province of highlands and caves and waterfalls and coastlines has somehow managed to find harmony in the contradictions of mysticism and religion.

Siquijor beginnings

The Spaniards called it Isla de Fuego or Island of Fire because of the reddish glow created by swarms of fireflies that used to congregate in abundance on local trees, some stories say.

It later became Isla de Siquijor, from the name of the only town in the island at the time. Siquijor, the town, still exists today and it started out as a Catholic parish like all but one municipality in the province.

The founding of Larena (Cano-an), Lazi (Tigbawan), San Juan (Macapilay), Maria (Cangmeniac), and Enrique Vilanueva (Talingting) followed throughout the years.

Siquijor was separated from Dumaguete and turned into an independent parish on Feb. 1, 1783 under the patronage of St. Francis of Assisi, the first to be established in the island. The Diocese of Cebu ministered to the parish on ecclesiastical matters but civil administration of Siquijor was done by Bohol, which already had its own governor, and later by the Province of Negros Oriental. Siqujor became a full-fledged province on September 17, 1971.

Island parishes

The second island parish, Canoan, now Larena, was established on June 14, 1836 with St. Vicente Ferrer as patron saint.

A visita or district of Siquijor called Tigbauan was declared an independent town named Lacy, records in the National Archives showed, “by virtue of a decree of Governor General Manuel Pavia y Lacy on 31 May 1854.” The separation of the parish of Lazi from Siquijor followed in 1857. Fr. Toribo Sanchez, who became Lazi parish priest in 1882, was credited with the town’s current stone church and convent.

In 1863, the parish of San Juan was founded and had Fr. Nicanor Arciniega as its first priest. One more parish, now the town of Maria, became independent from Canoan in 1877. Talingting, meanwhile, was founded as the town of Enrique Villanueva in 1925.

Round Siquijor

The churches in these six Siquijor towns are part of the circuit that makes up the Round Siquijor pilgrimage.

Pilgrims go on Round Siquijor for various reasons, among them for thanksgiving or pray for blessings and healing, or to ask for intercession.

First stop
St. Francis of Assisi Parish Church

Many pilgrims start the round in the St. Francis of Assisi Parish Church, also known as Siquijor Church.

Devotees light seven candles just near the church where a chapel houses the image of St. Francis of Assisi, the town’s patron.

Prayers that accompany the lighting of the candles:
Patron Saint prayer
The pilgrim’s special intention

The Siquijor church is plain and functional and its style may have been inspired by the simplicity of its patron.

Second stop
St. Augustine of Hippo Parish Church (San Juan town)

San Juan is 10 kilometers away or 15-20 minutes by car from Siquijor town via circumferential road. The Spanish friars who named the town may have been reminded of the life and times of St. John the Baptist when they named the town of San Juan.

The fully renovated church, which overlooks a clear spring, still has its old coral stone belfry.

Devotees light another seven candles at a spot beneath the shade of a huge tree.

Prayers that accompany the lighting of the candles:
Patron Saint prayer
The pilgrim’s special intention

Third stop
San Isidro Labrador Parish Church (Lazi town)

Dedicated to the patronage of San Isidro Labrador, the town of Lazi has a grand church and an even grander convent.

Historian Fr. Pedro Galende describes the town’s stone church as magnificent and noted such design rarities as the triangular pediment made of wood instead of coral blocks and floorwork with herringbone pattern.

Candle-lighting is done at a spot by the sprawling convent patterned after the balay-na-bato, a building style introduced by the Spaniards. Pilgrims light another seven candles here.

They also say the:
Patron Saint prayer
Prayer for special intention

It takes around 30 minutes to reach Lazi from San Juan still following the circumferential road.

Fourth stop
Our Lady of Divine Providence Parish Church (Maria town)

The town of Maria where the church of Our Lady of Divine Providence Parish is located makes up the fourth stop in the Round Siquijor pilgrimage. From Lazi, Maria is only 12 kilometers away or about a 20-minute drive.

A mission of Spanish priests and laymen from neighboring islands went around spreading the faith in Siquijor, converting first the town that’s also named Siquijor, then Larena and Lazi, before doubling back to a settlement that later grew into what is now Maria.

The church in Maria is built on a plateau that is around 15 kilometers above sea level and the irregular terrain may have been a contributing factor to its conservation.

Devotees light their seven candles near the main church entrance. It houses an image of town patron, the Virgin Mother of Divine Providence.

With the lighting of the candles, they solemnly recite the:
Patron Saint prayer
Prayer for special intention

From Maria, pilgrims proceed to Enrique Villanueva.

Fifth stop
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish Church (Enrique Villanueva town)

Locals named the place Talinting after a kind of birds that made it their home. It was part of Cano-an, which later became the parish and town of Larena. After many years had passed, Talingting was also established as a town named after the late Governor Enrique Villanueva on January 1, 1925.

Enrique Villanueva, dedicated to the patronage of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is the fifth stop in the Round Siquijor pilgrimage.

As they light seven candles at a chapel that houses the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, devotees also say the following:
Patron Saint prayer
Prayer for special intention

The townspeople of Enrique Villanueva are mostly into farming and fishing.

Sixth stop
St. Vincent Ferrer Parish Church (Larena town)

Less than 10 kilometers away from Enrique Villanueva is the St. Vincent Ferrer Parish Church, the final stop in the religious undertaking that is Round Siquijor.

Larena is located on a hilly perch that has a clear view of the neighboring islands of Dumaguete, Bohol, and Cebu. Called Cano-an at one time, it was renamed after the late Gov. Demetrio Larena.

The St. Vincent Ferrer Parish Church is a modern structure. Devotees light their final seven candles and say their prayers before an image of the town’s patron saint.

The same prayers are said as candles are lighted:
Patron Saint prayer
Prayer for special intention

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Cebu

Nuestra Señora del Pilar Parish Church

Sibonga was originally a visita of Carcar starting in 1690. It was later annexed to Argao until it became a parish in 1830.

Sibonga’s first church was made of light materials. It was replaced by the present church of coral stones and bricks. Its construction was started by Fr. Juan Alonzo, who was the parish priest from 1868 to 1881. Work on the church continued until the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution in 1898. Construction continued until it was finished in 1907.

Its blessing was attended by a distinguished group of prelates including Archbishop Jeremias Harty of Manula and Bishop Thomas Hendrick of Cebu. They were accompanied by several priests from Cebu City, including Fr. Juan Gorordo, who would later return to Sibonga as the first Cebuano and Filipino bishop of Cebu.

The church’s ceiling painting was done in 1924 by Raymundo Francia, who employed a method called quadrature, a type of ceiling painting popular during the Baroque period. He painted fictitious architectural details like ceiling ribs meeting curved walls on flat surface, giving 3D illusions. The grandest feature is the seven-panel painting of the creation of the world by God.

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Cebu

San Guillermo de Aquitania Parish Church

The parish of San Guillermo de Aquitania in Dalaguete was established in 1711. The current church was built starting in 1802 and finished in 1825. Its facade is divided into three levels integrating a pediment almost devoid of decorations except for embellished niches for statues of saints.

The church has a 3-bodied bell tower connected to the church by the bell toller’s quarters, which has been converted into a baptistry.

The church’s ceiling painting was done by the famed Canuto Avila and his sons.

Attached to the church is a large convent. Its ground floor has as walls massive cuts of coral stones. Its second floor is made of wide planks of Philippine hardwood.

The church is recognized as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute.

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Cebu

Escuela Catolica

In a spot dominated by edifices of cut coral stones left over from Spanish colonial times, Escuela Catolica is set apart by its wood and concrete construction.

This two-level wooden building with an exterior double staircase set in concrete was influenced by the type of architecture popularized by the Americans during the US colonization of the Philippines in the early to mid-20th century.

When the Americans began constructing schools in the years leading to the declaration of Philippine Independence in 1946, the Spanish clergy also decided to put up their own, said Boljoon heritage and tourism officer Ronald Villanueva.

Escuela Catolica was built in the 1940s in Boljoon, according to the Cebu Heritage Foundation, which documented and mapped historical structures and sites in this town and four others in southern Cebu.

Religious teachings

An entry about this structure in the book Boljoon: Cebu Heritage Frontier said it served as a dorm for children about to take their first communion.

It was a place for religious teachings and had, at one time, served as a school, the book added.

Oral accounts claimed the Catholic ministry in Boljoon had, for a certain period, prevented Boljoanons from sending their children to American schools by threatening them with excommunication.

It was when the Augustinian priests relaxed this rule that the Escuela Catolica began to be mainly used to house children from the upland barangays taking instructions on their first communion, the accounts added.

Meeting place

Aside from the outside grand staircase, which is made of concrete, Escuela Catolica also used bricks and cement for the ground floor. It utilized wood for the second level.

The building is rectangular in design with a symmetrical facade. The double staircase, with concrete balustrades, leads up to the second floor landing and main entrance.

Bas reliefs decorate the roof pediment’s base, and still more richly carved designs can be found underneath it.

Today, Escuela Catolica serves as meeting place for the various religious groups of the parish.

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Cebu

El Gran Baluarte

Dubbed El Gran Baluarte, this two-level blockhouse of cut coral stone blocks served as both watchtower and bulwark in the early 1800s.

Built under the direction of warrior priest Fr. Julian Bermejo, it was one of the four bulwarks reinforcing a rectangular fort that served to defend the parish of Boljoon from frequent Moro raids in the early 19th century.

Paul Gerschwiler, in his book “Bolhoon: A Cultural Sketch, ” said the blockhouse completed the parish fortification in 1808.

In Fr. Bermejo’s days, he added, the ground level of the structure served as a storeroom for weapons and ammunition and held a prison cell while the upper floor was a defense station armed with cannons.

Sentinels of stone

Although it was just one of the many watchtowers built within viewing distance of each other over a stretch of 96 kilometers from Carcar in the north to Santander in the south, it was from El Gran Baluarte that the warrior priest oversaw an elaborate defense system that gave settlements early warning of an imminent attack and time to prepare.

These sentinels of stone in the south passed along the message using flags during the daytime and parola de kumbati (gas lamps) at night, said Boljoon heritage and tourism officer Ronald Villanueva.

Gerschwiler wrote in his book that when a warning of incoming Moro raiders reached Boljoon, women, children, and the elderly seek refuge within the parish fortifications, specifically within the fortress church of Patrocinio de Maria, while Fr. Bermejo’s team of warriors aboard fast-moving oared sailboats called the barangayanes prepare for counter-attacks.

Fr. Bermejo, according to Gerschwiler, considered it necessary to obtain weapons and teach the people how to use them. The blockhouse that the town calls El Gran Baluarte had its own cache of weapons.

Bell tower

Instead of cannons, El Gran Baluarte now displays the Spanish period bells of the Patrocinio de Maria Church. The bells are marked with the date of their founding and the name of the foundry.

From being a command post in the 19th century, it is now used for meetings and other town activities.

The ground floor is unoccupied and the prison cell left untouched. Visitors can still make out the drawings of galleons made by prisoners once detained here on the blockhouse’s walls.

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Cebu

Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio de Maria Parish Church

To the people living in the settlement of Boljoon in the 19th century, this church of the Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio served a dual purpose: that of worship and, at the same time, refuge.

The settlement’s location along a wide bay made it a prime target for Moro raids in the early 17th up to the 19th century, and a particularly vicious attack in 1782 reduced the town to ashes, its houses and church burned, and a big number of the population taken captive.

In the absence of clear written records, it is probable the current Boljoon Church was rebuilt on the ruins of its burnt-down predecessor a year after that disastrous raid, Paul Gerschwiler wrote in his book “Bolhoon: A Cultural Sketch.”

It may be that Fr. Ambrosio Otero, the parish priest, used the remaining foundations and charred walls by having them cleaned and repaired and replaced the parts destroyed by the fire, he added.

What’s clear is this edifice of stone in Boljoon, the only church in Cebu honored with the distinctions of being a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute in 1999 as well as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum in 2001, was considered finished during the term of warrior priest Fr. Julian Bermejo in 1841, according to the Cebu Archdiocese book “Balaanong Bahandi.”

When Fr. Bermejo started supervising the parish in October 1802 and hearing stories about the vicious attacks, he saw the need for a proper defense against the Moros.

Fortress church

He directed the construction of a quadrangle fort complete with bulwarks that enclosed the important settlement structures and turned the church into a fortress where people could seek refuge during the Moro raids, said Ronald Villanueva, the town’s heritage and tourism officer.

Gerschwiler, in his book, cited that the church’s high walls were fashioned from thick coral stone slabs stacked on top of the other and glued together by local mortar, and reinforced with 26 massive buttresses.

In Fr. Bermejo’s time, daylight entered the church through rows of very high windows on the side walls. The semi-circular windows underneath were cut out much later.

Villanueva said this allowed the people of Boljoon to find refuge within the church where the Moros could not get to them.

He added that 90 percent of the edifice is originally of the 19th century construction, and it is the only one in the country with an almost intact enclosure.

Although the pipe organ doesn’t work anymore, it has been preserved and is displayed at the original choir loft.

Style elements

Although the church has been tagged as Baroque-Rococo, it is not really of a particular style but a blend of different influences – medieval, classic, baroque, Moorish, and other elements modified by local and Chinese motifs, explained Gerschwiler.

He contends that the rebuilt church was completed in 1829, after which Fr. Bermejo modified it by constructing a crucero (transept) that considerably enlarged the floor area.

The surface of the transept walls is noticeably finer than that of the side walls, and this difference can be seen as well in a comparison of the original buttresses and the cover stones of the side portals, he notes, adding this shows the 1783 reconstruction of the church had most likely involved the reuse of the previous church walls.

Gerschwiler said the facade of the Boljoon Church, rather austere when compared to the lavishly decorated San Miguel Arcangel Church in Argao, may seem to be a mystery since the structures are only a few kilometers apart and built at around the same time.

This, according to him, is proof that the walls were of the previous structure set ablaze during the Moro raid in the late 18th century.

He said the Boljoon Church is one of five built by the Augustinians with a unique facade pattern: “two horizontal levels topped by a pediment, divided vertically into three segments by pilasters, which results in a total of nice facade panels.”

Ornamentation

Carvings and artwork that can be found on the church facade include:

  • A niche in the center panel of the second level that carries the statue of the Patrocinio de Maria, patroness of Boljoon. This niche has a trefoil arch and is framed by decorative carvings.
  • The intricately carved pilasters flanking the niche decorated with floral and fruit motifs.
  • Other pilasters on the facade repeating the carvings of flowers and hanging fruits with the biblical snake at the bottom.
  • The Augustinian symbol carved on the topmost part of the pediment; Spanish coat-of-arms beneath the niche.
  • The bas reliefs on the side segments of the facade’s first level: at right is San Juan de Sagun with his left arm crossed over the chest and the right arm holding a chalice while on the left is San Nicolas de Tolentino with bread on his left hand and a palm on the right.

Interior

Entrance to the church is through a semi-circular portal with a massive wooden double door.

Gerschwiler said the main nave plus the transept measures 65 meters long, 12 meters wide, and 12 meters high. On the buttresses by the side walls are the 14 stations of the passion of Christ.

The centerpiece of the interior is the retablo in the main altar which is made up of nine niches. It has five niches on the first level, three on the second, and one on the third.

Flanked by symmetric columns crowned by Corinthian capitals, the niches used to hold nine wooden statues of different saints but all except three were looted and sold. The three left are the images of Santo Tomas Villanueva, San Agustin de Hippo, and San Nicolas de Tolentino, and these are now displayed at the Boljoon Parish Museum.

Painted ceilings were quite the rage in the 1920s, and in Boljoon the parish priest commissioned not the well-known artists but a local one by the name of Mariano Villareal.

A replica of the original image of Boljoon patroness Patrocinio de la Nuestra Señora or Patrocinio de la Santisima Virgen is displayed inside a glass case at a side annex of the church.

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Cebu

San Miguel Arcangel Parish

Like other similar Augustinian structures built in the late 18th century in the archipelago, this church of Argao is an edifice of impressive dimensions.

This structure set in stone – called the San Miguel Arcangel Church – is 72 meters long, 16 meters wide, and 10 meters high.

With its vaulted wooden ceiling that covers a simple nave and a transept that gives it a cruciform shape, it is typical of other Spanish colonial churches in the Philippines.

Paul Gerschwiler, in his historical outline of Argao, described the construction as massive, with its “12 strong supporting buttresses reinforcing the walls and enhancing stability.”

The completion of this present-day church can be traced back to 1788, said the book Balaanong Bahandi, citing Archdiocesan records.

Although another historian, Pedro Galende, attributed the current structure to Fr. Mateo Perez, who served as parish priest for 33 straight years from 1803 to 1806, the date “1738” engraved above the arch of the church’s side door indicates it may have been completed during Fr. Francisco Espina’s time from 1782 to 1798, the book added.

An undated photo of San Miguel Arcangel Parish Church. (From Ernesto Chua’s Collection)

Argao was one of eight vicarages established in 1599 and, while it became a town or mission pueblo as early as 1608, it was only set up as a parish over a hundred years later or in 1733, said the Balaanong Bahandi, adding the reason for this oversight was never adequately explained.

Distinguishing features

Originally, the San Miguel Arcangel Church had the typical Spanish clay tiles for its roof but this collapsed during the typhoon of November 25-26, 1876, wrote Gerschwiler, citing Argao native Msgr. Pablo Alcarez as saying the tiles were replaced with galvanized iron in 1924 due to fear of earthquakes.

The church facade is a horizontal rectangle topped by a triangular pediment and divided into nine panels, a style that can be found only in five of over 160 documented Augustinian churches and all of them built along the southeastern coast of Cebu, according to Gerschwiler.

What distinguishes the San Miguel Arcangel Church, he added, is the high artistic quality and symbolism of its masonry, although Augustinian records had failed to identify many of the master carver-artists behind the structure’s artistic ornamentation.

He noted that an example of such one-of-a-kind feature is the four pairs of half columns that run up to the pediment and divide the facade into three panels.

“On the first level the paired columns stand on rectangular pedestals. The two outer pedestals depict lions sitting on their hind legs, holding a ball in each of their paws; a very typical Chinese motif,” wrote Gerschwiler in his historical outline.

The two pedestals flanking the main door each depict a bird, with its head down and wings spread out protectively, nursing three of its young that cling to their mother’s breast, he added in his description.

Rich ornamentation

Rich and elaborate ornamentation can be seen in the way the double cornices that horizontally divide the facade create an entablature when it intersects with Corinthian capitals richly decorated with floral motifs; atlante-angel carvings carry the paired half-columns running up to the pediment; a stylized peacock sits atop an orb; sequence of carvings of angels, fruits of the ivy, and a little snake run down the columns.

“In a cascade of motifs, the artist carved his message…(he) thought this particular message to be so important and essential that he repeated it with slight variations on all half-columns of the first level, no less than eight times,” Gerschwiler said.

Four of the nine panels in the front face are particularly prominent, including the central panel of the pediment where St. Michael the Archangel, armed with spear and shield, and flanked by two angels – one carrying his standard as light bearer and the other holding the Tuba Christi of the Last Judgement – is depicted.

Its massive front and side doors made of vertically joined hardwood planks are integrated with smaller semicircular doors and decorated evenly with bronze rosettes embedded on the wood.

The church, according to the Balaanong Bahandi, has been the recipient of Baroque and semi-Rococo embellishments like its wooden pulpit and its pipe organ in the choir loft reportedly brought in from Mexico.

A wooden retablo of majestic proportions dominates the altar section but this has unfortunately been unnecessarily gilded, including even the centuries-old life-size estofado statues of saints enthroned in its niches, added the book.

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Cebu

Leon Kilat Monument

His life was shrouded in mystery, this native of Bacong, Negros Oriental for whom this shrine was built.

People who knew him or of him talked about how his handkerchief could transform into a magic carpet, allowing him to suddenly appear from out of nowhere and disappear just as fast.

Pantaleon Villegas, in fact, got his nom de guerre “Leon Kilat” (for being lightning fast) from this alleged ability to breach the constraints of regular transport during his time.

He was rumored to carry amulets that made him invincible to bullets, a power useful in his role as the leader of the revolutionary forces of the Katipunan fighting the Spaniards in Cebu.

Shelves of artifacts dedicated to his life and death displayed at the Museo Sugbo include his mythical possessions, things that gave him abilities beyond those possessed by the ordinary man.

MONUMENT. A photo of the Leon Kilat Monument dated 1980. (Used with permission from the USC Cebuano Studies Center)

Unquestionable bravery

Beyond the myth, one thing was fact: his bravery was unquestionable.

Journalist Emil Justimbaste wrote in his book “Leon Kilat: The Story of Cebu’s 1898 Revolution” that Villegas, born on July 27, 1873, was sent to Cebu to lead the local Katipunan and carried a letter of appointment signed by General Emilio Aguinaldo.

Thirty years after the revolution, one of the first few recruits of the Katipunan in Cebu – Andres Abellana – recalled seeing with his own eyes how Villegas would advance towards his opponents even as bullets whizzed by.

He was rarely hit or unhurt if the bullet does get to him, according to Abellana, a former capitan of the San Nicolas District of old Cebu.

Tres de Abril battle

Villegas, depicted in this monument as astride a horse, staged what is said to be the most successful revolt against the Spaniards in Cebu on April 3, 1898.

Tres de Abril has been immortalized in the Cebu City street named after that triumphant battle.

Villegas initiated more attacks when Spanish forces started arresting local rebels but suffered setbacks a few days after the Tres de Abril incident.

Villegas and other revolutionaries arrived in Carcar on the 7th to make their last stand in the town.

Leon Kilat death

He was feted by the most powerful set of the town principalia but for the purpose of persuading him to move his resistance elsewhere.

Kilat refused, setting in motion plans that would lead to his death just a few hours from that night of the celebration.

He was assassinated in Carcar by the same people who wined and dined him, people who either feared Spanish reprisal if they did not themselves stop Kilat or simply sided with Spain or both.

Justimbaste’s book cited it was Fr. Francisco Blanco who suggested to kapitan Florencio Noel that Carcar could avoid retaliation from the Spaniards by killing Villegas. Blanco was then teaching Latin at the Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos.

Revolutionary government

Carcar was mostly a peaceful town free from the spirit of the revolution that plagued many provinces in Luzon as well as some places in the Visayas including Cebu.

Leon Kilat’s assassination on April 8, 1898 changed all this. Within a year after his ignominious death, Carcar joined the uprising and a Municipal Government under the revolutionary leadership of Don Florencio M. Noel was established.

He assumed the leadership of the new revolutionary government on January 15, 1899 through an election held among local leaders. It was short-lived though as American occupation forces had taken control of Carcar by July 2, 1899.