Battle of Dagupan, PangasinanDAGUPAN CITY -- When the Philippine Independence was proclaimed in Cavite Viejo on June 12, 1898, the province of Pangasinan was still under Spanish sovereignty, till 40 days later following the famous "Battle of Dagupan" from July 18 to 22 of that year.
The 'Battle of Dagupan', fought fiercely by local Katipuneros under the overall command of General Francisco Makabulos, chief of the Central and Directive Committee of Central and Northern Luzon, and the last remnants of the once mighty Spanish Army under General Francisco Ceballos, led to the liberation of Pangasinan from the Spaniards.
The five-day battle was joined by three local heroes, Don Daniel Maramba from Sta. Barbara, Don Vicente Del Prado from San Jacinto and Don Juan Quezada from Dagupan, whose armies massed in Dagupan to lay siege on the Spanish forces, making a last stand at the brick-walled Catholic Church.
Unknown to the present generations, the three heroes in the 'Battle of Dagupan' who historians believed were the ones who sparked the flame of revolution in their own province, later emerged to become governors in different times and climes.
Maramba, who became governor of Pangasinan during the American regime, etched his name in the history of the province when he liberated the town of Sta. Barbara on March 7, 1898 following a signal for simultaneous attack from Makabulos.
Maramba was probably the most well-loved and most famous governor that ever ruled Pangasinan till today. Under his direction, Sta. Barbara became the first town in Pangasinan liberated by the Filipinos from the Spaniards.
Schooled at the San Juan de Letran in Manila, from where he joined the Kataastaasan Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan or KKK, Maramba placed the much-astonished Friar Tienza, parish priest of Sta. Barbara, under house arrest and handed the affairs of the parish over to Fr. Cadiz, a Filipino secular priest.
Hearing that Sta. Barbara fell into rebel hands, the Spanish forces in Dagupan attempted to retake the town, but were repulsed by Maramba's forces. Thus, after the setback, the Spaniards decided to concentrate their forces in Lingayen to protect the provincial capital.
This enabled Maramba to expand his operations to Malasiqui, Urdaneta and Mapandan, taking them one after the other. He took one more town, Mangaldan, before proceeding to Dagupan to lay siege on the last Spanish garrison.
Also on March 7, 1898, the rebels under the command of Del Prado, and Quesada attacked convents in a number of towns in Zambales province, located west of Lingayen, which now constitute the western parts of Pangasinan.
Attacked and brought under Filipino control were Alaminos, Agno, Anda, Alos, Bani, Balincaguin, Bolinao, Dasol, Egui and Potot. Then the revolt spread to Labrador, Sual, Salasa and many other towns in the west.
The towns of Sual, Labrador, Lingayen, Salasa and Bayambang were occupied first by the forces of Del Prado and Quesada before they proceeded to attack Dagupan.
At an assembly convened to organize a central governing body for Central and Northern Luzon on April 17, 1898, General Makabulos appointed Del Prado as politico-military governor of Pangasinan, with Quesada as his second in command.
His appointment came few days before the return of General Emilio Aguinaldo in May 1898 from his exile in Hongkong following the signing of the Pact of Biac-na-Bato in December 1897.
In her book, Dr. Rosario Mendoza-Cortez wrote that Aguinaldo's return gave fresh impetus to the renewal of the flame of the revolution. Thus, on June 3, 1898, General Makabulos entered Tarlac and from that day on, the fires of revolution spread.
So successful were the Filipinos in their many pitch battles against the Spaniards that on June 30, 1898, Spanish authorities decided to evacuate all their forces to Dagupan where a last stand against the rebels was to be made.
Also ordered to go to Dagupan were all civilian and military personnel, including members of the voluntarios locales of towns not yet in rebel hands. Those who heeded this order were the volunteer forces of Mangaldan, San Jacinto, Pozorrubio, Manaoag and Villasis.
Among those brought to Dagupan was the image of the Most Holy Rosary of the Virgin of Manaoag, which at that time was already the patron saint of Pangasinan.
When the forces of Maramba from the east and Del Prado from the west converged in Dagupan on July 18, 1898, the siege began. The arrival of General Makabulos strenghtened the rebel forces until the Spaniards, holed up inside the Catholic Church, waved the flag of surrender five days later.
Armed poorly, the Filipinos were no match at the very start with Spanish soldiers holed inside the Church. They just became mere sitting ducks to Spanish soldiers shooting with their rifles from a distance.
But the tempo of battle changed when the attackers deviced a crude means of protection to shield them from Spanish fires while advancing. This happened when they rolled trunks of bananas, bundled up in sawali, that enabled them to inch their way to the Church.
In her book, "Pangasinan: 1891-1900", Dr. Mendoza-Cortez said after the battle on July 22, 1898, all the Spanish provincial officials surrendered and were taken as prisoners of war.
There was so much jubilation in Dagupan and the rest of Pangasinan when the Spaniards surrendered. That was the time the Pangasinenses decided to reenact the proclamation of independence done at Cavite on June 12, 1898.
But the formal ceremony was done five days later on July 28, 1898 when the people assembled at the town plaza to hear the reading of the Act of Proclamation of Independence of the Filipino People which took place at Cavite Viejo on June 12, 1898.
The three heroes in the Battle of Dagupan continued to bear arms even during the Filipino-American War, with Maramba offering his help to General Antonio Luna.
A product of Ateneo de Manila, Del Prado was later elected representative of Pangasinan to the Malolos Congress, with Quesada succeeding him as governor of Pangasinan. During the Filipino-American War, Del Prado again went to war.
On orders of General Aguinaldo in Bayambang dismantling the Philippine Army, Del Prado waged a guerrilla warfare against the Americans. Thus, the latter branded him as a brigand. With the aid of a native bribed by the Americans, Del Prado and his men were captured in Sison.
Pangasinan's foremost historian, Restituto C. Basa, said Del Prado was brought to Dagupan and imprisoned. When the Americans asked for his allegiance to their flag, he spat on it. Thus, he was hanged at the Dagupan City Plaza.
When Aguinaldo retreated to Bayambang, Quesada -- as governor of Pangasinan -- met him. He was among the Pangasinenses who escorted him (Aguinaldo) in his further retreat to the north, culminating at Palanan, Isabela.
But on the way at Bangued, Abra, Aguinaldo reportedLy bade goodbye to his escorts so they could go back home. In his return trip to Pangasinan, Quesada reportedly got sick of malaria and died. (PNA Newsfeatures)