Today, May 28, marks the National Flag Day in the Philippines. This commemorates the date that the national flag was unfurled for the first time after the victory of the Philippine Revolution at the Battle of Alapan, Imus, Cavite in 1898.
So in our Pistang Pamana series, let’s take a look at Imus’ Wagayway Festival, which celebrates that historical battle. The City of Imus is also known as the Flag Capital of the Philippines.
On May 28, 1898, the battle of Alapan between the Filipino revolutionary forces led by General Emilio Aguinaldo and the Spanish naval infantry led by Captain Pedro Castila, was fought in Alapan, Imus, Cavite. This was the first military engagement in the renewed revolution against Spain after the return of Aguinaldo from Hongkong.
Fierce fighting erupted at around 10:00 in the morning and lasted until 3:00 in the afternoon. The Filipino troops emerged victorious when the Spaniards ran out of ammunition and surrendered. The captured Spanish soldiers together with the confiscated firearms were brought to Cavite Puerto and were presented to General Aguinaldo.
In celebration of the first victory of the Filipino revolutionary army, Aguinaldo unveiled the Philippine flag he brought from Hongkong, and in the presence of his men, unfurled and hoisted it for the first time, amidst the tremendous applause and loud, spontaneous, and prolonged cheers for “Independent Philippines”, in front of Teatro Caviteño.
The event was witnessed by several officers and marines from the American Squadron. It was also witnessed by Felipe Buencamino, who was on the Spanish side at that time, an emissary of Governor Captain General Basilio Augustin, and a prisoner of the Filipino troops. Buencamino remained a prisoner until June 6, 1898.
The battle of Alapan was an unexpected event. On the evening of May 27 in preparation for the general uprising scheduled for May 31, 1898, the revolutionary army of Kawit started distributing firearms and ammunition in Alapan, Imus, Cavite. The following day, May 28, while still distributing firearms, the army saw Spanish Military columns composed of more than 270 Naval Infantry led by Captain Pedro Castila (Pedro Janolino). The troops were sent by Spanish Brigadier General Leopoldo Garcia Peña for the purpose of seizing the reported consignment of arms.
Earlier, after Aguinaldo left the American war vessel McCulloch and into the shorelines of Cavite Puerto, he meet the revolutionary forces from Bataan and ordered a general uprising in the provinces of Bataan and Zambales. In the night of May 20, Aguinaldo sent General Luciano San Miguel to the revolutionary armies of Manila, Laguna, Batangas, Tayabas (Quezon), Bulacan, Morong (Rizal), Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija and other parts of Southern Luzon to carry the order to raise arms against the Spaniards. Copies of the order were also circulated in the province of Cavite.
General Aguinaldo took temporary residence at the headquarters of the Naval Commander in Cavite Arsenal. When the revolutionary troops began to arrive on May 21 and May 23, he left the Cavite Arsenal and transferred his military headquarters to the mansion of Maximo Inocencio, at Calle Arsenal, Cavite Puerto. On May 24, 1898, at the same mansion, General Aguinaldo established a dictatorial, revolutionary government. According to his proclamation, the dictatorship was to last only “until the time when these islands, being under complete control, may form a constitutional republican assembly and appoint a president and cabinet, into whose hands I shall then resign the command of these islands”.
Aguinaldo later transferred his dictatorial government to the former Casa Gobierno Civil of the Spanish authorities, also in Cavite Puerto. It was while Aguinaldo was here when the arms shipment, from the Americans, consisting of 1,999 rifles, 200,000 rounds of ammunition, and other special armaments of war arrived at the dock of the Cavite Arsenal. The armaments were immediately distributed to various provinces; reserving a portion for the revolutionary army of Cavite El Viejo (Kawit troops).
The Filipino troops won their second victory in the planned general uprising of May 31, 1898, in Binakayan a barrio of Kawit, as they overran the Spanish Polvorin (powder magazine) and garrison with around 250 Spanish soldiers captured. The Philippine flag was again hoisted on this victorious day. The flag was also seen flying over the steeple of the church in Bacoor after a garrison of about 300 Spanish troops surrendered to the Filipino revolutionary army.
While the flag was unfurled and hoisted previously in each victorious battle, it was yet to be presented formally to the Filipinos. It was only formally announced to the general population on June 12, 1898, during the declaration of independence in Kawit, Cavite.
Flying and display of the Filipino flag was outlawed in 1907 by the Flag Law enacted by the Philippine Commission and was replaced with the American flag. In October 1919 the country’s was flag legalized and once again allowed to fly through an act of the Philippine Legislature.
Today the period, from May 28 to June 12, culminating in the celebration of Independence Day is celebrated as National Flag Days. Previously, though, Flag day was observed in October, the day it was allowed back to fly during the American era. It was also observed on June 12, the day of independence, and on May 28, it’s first unfurling.
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