Macabebe | @kapampangan.words


Happy Macabebe Day! Today we remember the Macabebe warriors of the Battle of Bangkusay which was the last local resistance against the Spanish occupation of the Philippines.

MACABEBE • (muh-kuh-BEH-BEH)
the southernmost town of Pampanga which is known for its warriors and military heritage
Demonym: Cabea (fem.) & Cabeo (masc.)

MAKABÉBÉ • (muh-kuh-BEH-BEH)
situated on the shore

Root Word
Tagálog (Filipino): baybáy

Macabebe throughout history

Macabebe is one of the original precolonial Kapampangan settlements. It comes from the Kapampangan word makabebe which means “situated on the shore”, from the word bebe, meaning shore. This describes the town’s location along the Pampanga river.

The Kapampangan’s of Macabebe have played a dynamic and at times conflicting role in the history of the Philippines.

Macabebes during the Spanish period

Voluntarios Macabebes

The Spanish Blanco fammily of Macabebe wanted to impress the Spaniards during the Philippine Revolution of 1896 and conscripted their farmers and people who owed them. This led to the formation of the infamous Voluntarios Macabebes who defended the last Spanish garrison against revolutionaries in 1898. Their services led to the naming of a street in Madrid in their honor: the Calle de Voluntarios Macabebes.

Subjugation of the Macabebes

Due to their loyalty to Spanish rule, Macabebes became the target of a subjugation policy by the revolutionist who sought to arrest and eliminate them. This included the burning of the Macabebe church when General Aguinaldo sent 7,000 mostly Tagalog soldiers to destroy the town, bombing the centuries old church and killing an unknown number of men, women and children.

Macabebes during the American Period

Macabebe Scouts

The Macabebe scouts were organized on September 10, 1899 by Major Matthew Batson, ignited by the townspeople’s desire to retaliate against the revolutionary forces under General Aguinaldo who destroyed the town and a number of people for supporting the Spanish government. Because of their knowledge on river routes and military skills, they helped smoothen Amerian operations in Luzon. On March 23, 1901, they helped capture General Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela. The Philippine Scouts originated from the Macabebe Scouts.


Due to their historical affiliations, Macabebes have earned the label of being “dugong aso” (Tagalog) or “dayang asu” (Kapampangan) or “dog-blooded” which is synonymous to “traitorous”. Macabebes have worked towards moving on from this historical image, such as erecting monuments of Jose Rizal and the Nameless Chief of Macabebe to signify their identification to the legacy of the Philippine Revolution and for a Filipino nation that is free and independent.

Sources for this post