Cabuyao and the Sakdalista Incident

March 6, 2011

Cabuyao now is popular for its industrial complex. Their local government claims that they’re “The richest municipality” in the country. Looking at the list of investments from major companies verifies this to be true. The old Cabuyao, where ricefields dominates the land, is now an industrial haven. San Policarpio is an elegant church. I took this picture during our "mahal na araw" (lent) last year. The white small stone marker that looks like a mailbox on the right portion of the photo contains the name of the massacred Sakdalistas.

Like all of our old towns, Cabuyao’s history left a trail of a deep past and a vibrant culture. Evidence of this are the old houses and the Church of San Policarpio. Most of the old houses in Cabuyao are threatened by neglect and the inability of the local government and the families to conserve these gems of our past.
There are many reasons why these issues persist. Insufficient funding, inappropriate development or the lack of it are the most common ones you’ll hear.

One of the most popular uprising in our history made its mark in Cabuyao. The brutal ending of the Sakdalista’s that were holed up inside the church of San Policarpio (bullet holes can still be seen on the walls of the historic church) marked the beginning of the end of the peasant revolt. There’s a small memorial in front of the church where the names of those who perished are engraved.
The Sakdalista movement, although now long forgotten, was one of the most significant resistance during the American period. They advocated “absolute” independence from the US. Unfortunately for them they were up against a popular Filipino President in the person of Manuel Quezon (to them a man with “Dugong Kastila”). Going against American policy was increasingly becoming  unpopular during their time as there were “signs of progress” and wide acceptance of the Filipino led government.
The government (in Cabuyao, personally led by Gov. Cailles) forcibly retook  the town the Sakdalista’s occupied. They were said to protest inside the government buildings, refusing to vacate the premises while burning American flags.
The Sakdalista’s were all gunned with heavy firepower.  Benigno Ramos, who was in Nippon land allegedly seeking support from its militaristic leaders, hearing that his people were decimated in Laguna and Cavite, stayed in Japan as a political refugee. He went back home when the Japs came to our shores – reminiscent of another forgotten hero, Hen. Ricarte, who refuse to pledge allegiance with the Americans and fled to Japan.

The  Sakdalista was a legitimate organization at the beginning and personally, although history books tells us otherwise, until its end (They had members who were elected in official post) They were pushing the agenda of complete liberation from the Americans. Their ideals were more or less the same with the early revolutionaries who refused to accept American rule after the Spaniards left.
How can an organization seeking “freedom” be treated like they were a different people by their own people? Clearly, hands were forced so Filipino’s will have to take on Filipinos. Many resistance leaders were ratted out by their own “kababayan”  as were the case of Aguinaldo with the Macabebe.
To many, the group is synonymous to “populism” which appealed greatly with the peasants. For the  Americans and her Filipino allies the group were  extremist and dangerous – they were considered threat to “democracy” and “American interest”.
There were rumors circulating at the time that the Sakdal followers were planning to take over the government in Manila. When the Sakdalista’s finally made the bold move to take over local municipalities, the stage was set for the government to crash with all its force this rebellion.
If one is to revisit the rationale used by Ramos (he got the name Sakdal from French writer Emil Zola’s “J’accuse”) one will find that he believes in the democratic processes but he and his followers refused the powerful hands of the colonial government and the paisano leaders that he viewed as mere puppets and “not representing the lower class”. Like  Ricarte and Macario Sacay, he was made to appear like a shady figure, a mere bandit – up to this day, standard history books has backed up the notion that people like them were leaders of “small rebellions”.

If we are taught proper history these hero’s who went up and challenge the right of the Americans to rule the land should have never been deleted. Our history books are filled with lies and partial truths – There are many historians and writers that continues to trumpet the US occupation as our golden age. Filipinos suffered greatly under the Americans at the turn of the century but we continue to gloss over the facts, what we remember are the Fraile, the Kastila and all the evil deeds unfairly associated with them. There’s no mention of American brutality. Deaths during the Spanish revolution would turn pale in comparison to the genocide committed by the Americans.
Let us quote the WASP hero, US Army General Leonard Wood, speaking about the campaign against the Filipinos: “The present war is no bloodless, opera bouffe engagement; our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of ten up, the idea prevailing that the Filipino as such was little better than a dog.”

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ArnaldoCharles Bryant CarpioArnaldo ArnáizOboy AlconabaDe AnDA Recent comment authors
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Another great read on Philippine history. This part of our history should be known by Filipinos because it is not written by the victors who recorded their own version with much jingoistic crap. I believe there is much truth in this “alternative” form of history. I do not recall such events like the implementing of the zonas done by the US, in which a lot suffered and died being taught in schools. The white only policy in social clubs. Plus the Rescission Act. The rebranding of the surviving rebolusyonaryos that were still fighting the new occupiers as tulisanes or bandidos… Read more »


I visited Cabuyao about 12 years ago and was pleasantly surprised to find that around the vicinity of the church, there are still several ancestral houses. I wonder if much have survived today. Ironically, if Cabuyao is the richest municipality in the country, if the local government took any step in preserving its past and heritage. Somehow I feel that we have a distorted sense of progress. Wherein the signs of progress is a mall, fast food chains and traffic. Progress it seems is neglecting the past and demolishing it. Sad. By the way, were you able to visit the… Read more »

Oboy Alconaba

sad to say but i agree with your observation of my town – now a “city”-. it is indeed rich but yet, in history wise we are now poor. slowly our historical heritage is being decimated in the name progress. when i was young there are a lot of old houses in the town, now, i think there are about less that 5 houses in the city proper that are more than 100 years old.

Oboy Alconaba

If you look at the picture there is a white structure that looks like an obelisk on the right side. That is the marker commemorating the Sakdalista Uprising. On it you are the names of those who perished in the uprising. I am from Cabuyao and some of my distant relatives are listed on that block of cement. Unfortunately, the people don’t pay attention to it nor do they know or honor those who are in that marker.


[…] The last title I purchased is “Sakdalista’s Struggle for Philippine Independence 1930-1945” by Motoe Terami-Wada. I haven’t started reading this one but the book’s subject is of great interest personally. I’ve heard of the Sakdalistas at a very young age from my father.  In 2011, I visited the church San Policarpio in Cabuyao where some 61 of them perished during a batt… […]