Meanwhile, in Bacolod, the Spanish authorities saw the rebel groups encamped by the Matab-ang River. Governor Isidro de Castro sent a force of 41 men to engage the insurgents. After a brief skirmish with two of their members dead, the Spanish force withdrew.
The governor then decided to take his stand at the Bishops Palace, a rectory of the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City. Why he did so is not clear, perhaps it was to protect the hundreds of Spanish families who had encamped in the Cathedral. It was a tense night that passed.
By the morning of the 6th, the forces of Lacson had crossed the Mandalagan River to meet with the forces of Araneta who also had crossed the Lupit River. The numbers of the belligerents on both sides are not known, but it is said that Araneta had a thousand bolo-wielding men who took their positions.
Severely lacking in weapons—notwithstanding some ten Mauser, seven Remington rifles and other light armaments confiscated from the Spaniards—the leaders executed a daring bluff. They lined their front with “cannons” constructed out of rolled amakan and bamboo--painted black--stacked with “cannon balls” made out of painted coconuts, and “rifles” carved out of painted wood. Perched at some distance in the Bishops Palace and armed with their binoculars, the Spanish authorities decided the Philippine forces were too strong and surrendered Bacolod without a fight.
The negotiation of surrender was mediated by Jose Ruiz de Luzuriaga deemed acceptable to both Spanish authorities and Filipino rebels. With the unconditional surrender, Spanish arms, communication, and all public funds were turned over to the rebels. Forty-seven eminent Negrenses then formulated and ratified a proposed constitution to create the Republic of Negros.
This was to last for approximately three months. On 2nd February 1899, the American forces marched into the island and took it un-opposed. The Republic of Negros was then annexed to the Philippine Islands on 30th April 1901.
The scholar Filomeno Aguilar claims that Cinco de Noviembre perpetuates the myth of the Negros sugar elite-led uprising. The story, he writes, contains “mythical dimensions that helped solidify the dominance of the local sugar planter class,” and that continues to dominate Negros today./5/ The implication is that celebrating Cinco de Noviembre would lead to more and similar myth-making that would prove dysfunctional to the modernisation of Negros society.
Despite the considerations mentioned above, I would like to pose the question to the Negrenses: is Cinco de Noviembre worth a yearly province-wide commemoration? Perhaps even merry-making akin to the MassKara street festival? Perhaps we need to regularly remind ourselves that nothwithstanding our problems, both within the province and beyond, we too can rise over them through sheer gumption? What if we move MassKara by a couple of weeks, from a date of now no significance to the start of November?
Notes: /1/Dios Buhawi and Papa Isio cited at militarywikia.org; /2//3/Earl Jude Cleope. "The Concept of Buut Og Gahum in the History of Negros". College of Education, Silliman University; /4/Modesto Sa-onoy. Negros Occidental History. Bacolod City, Today Printers & Publishers, 1992; /5/Filomeno Aguilar. "Masonic Myths and Revolutionary Feats in Negros Occidental". Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol 28 No 2.