Subject: sandatahan 'bolo-man'
Culture: Tagalog Filipino
Setting: Katipunan rebellion, Luzon 1890s-1910s
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Ileto 1979 p6
"[B]ecause of rural economic conditions and the persistence of traditional cultural norms, perhaps the peasantry viewed the nineteenth-century situation differently from that of their relatively more sophisticated and urbanized compatriots. The latter, toward the end of the century, noted a widespread provincial ferment, diagnosed it as popular antipathy toward Spain, and assumed that the rural masses would provide near unanimous support to essentially Western revolutionary aspirations. But what actually occurred during the tumultuous era of the revolution, Sturtevant writes, was the appearance of a large number of popular movements in Luzon, some led by local 'messiahs' and others by 'bandit' chiefs, who embodied rural aspirations such as freedom from taxes, reform of the tenancy system, and the restoration of village harmony and communalism. A few of these movements even turned agaisnt the Malolos republican government when ilustrado and cacique elements wrested control of it in late 1898."
* Ileto 1979 p75
"The armed uprising against Spain in 1896 was initiated by a secret society called Kataastaasan Kagalanggalang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (The Highest and Most Honorable Society of the Sons of the Country). The flame of rebellion that began in the outskirts of Manila spread quickly throughout the countryside of central and southern Luzon, as Katipunan chapters and other groups concertedly turned against the symbols and representatives of Spanish rule."
* San Beda Alebang Museum > Evolution of Philippine War Uniforms
"SANDATAHANES/BOLOMEN 1896-1902 Those Filipino patriots who have no guns used [SIC] to support the revolution & fight both Spanish & American enemies using bolo since the Katipunan until the end of the Philippine American War. Filipinos were known as great & notorious bolo fighters using different styles of martial arts like Arnis, etc..." ...
* Jones 2012 p141-142
"While the Americans had focused their energies on colonial rule and reconstruction, nationalist forces had organized a guerilla army with full-time regulars and part-time militia. Cells of the Katipunan, the underground organization that had launched the revolution against Spain nearly three years earlier, were revived in towns and villages to conduct espionage, raise funds and report on troop movements. Shadow governments funneled supplies to guerilla units and punished spies and collaborators.
"In each town, the revolutionary committee formed a unit known as the sandatahan, a company-size unit armed with bolo knives that assisted with military operations and carried out nighttime assassinations of pro-America officials, prominent citizens, spies and informants. One such company in Ilocos Sur killed about thirty americanistas around Vigan in 1900. Operating secretly at night, members of the unit seized victims one at a time and took them to a designated spot along the grassy beaches. The captives were forced to kneel at the edge of a grave dug by other team members, then stabbed to death with swords and bolos and buried. Their work done for the night, the sandatahanes would slip away to their respective homes and civilian lives."
* de Quesada/Walsh 2007 p47
"After the fall of Manila in August 1898, Aguinaldo's soldiers ransacked the Spanish military storehouses and armories to obtain much-needed supplies, equipment, weapons and uniforms. Within days, the formerly rag-tag Filipino rebels were appearing much more smartly dressed in Spanish rayadillo campaign or white linen everyday uniforms -- though still often barefoot -- and carrying military firearms like the Remington rolling-block rifle .... As supplies dwindled and guerilla warfare took its toll in 1900-02, Aguinaldo's army began looking much as it had in the days before the fall of Manila.
"A multitude of ex-Spanish headgear, minus the Spanish cockade and other insignia, ranged from the straw hat to the pith helmet .... Filipino officers preferred to wear officer-style jackets with shoulder cords and broad trouser stripes, and some acquired Spanish officers' swords."
* Rodell 2002 p115-116
"Quite ironically, the barong tagalog virtually disappeared during the revolt against Spain and during the entire American colonial era. It could only be imagined that the stigma of inferiority attached to the barong was so strong that the shirt was shed immediately as young revolutionaries sought to establish an independent nation, and during the relatively benign American period there was a desire to emulate the 'modern' ways that the coat and tie represented."
* Wiley 1996 p122
"Perhaps the most basic and widely used sword is the long agricultural knife known as the bolo. Primarily a working tool, the bolo became famous throughout the world during the Spanish-American War when Filipino servicemen formed bolo batallions -- troops armed with regulation firearms and bolos. The blades are generally rough or unfinished as the weapon was made primarily for agricultural use. There are many types of bolos so-named after their most distinguishing characteristic. The pinute style derives from the word puti which means whitened, after the white ray of light which forms along the edge of the blade when properly sharpened. The matulis style was named for its ability to maintain a honed edge for slashing and a sharp thrusting point, while the malapad style is named after the sheer width of its blade. The Bonifacio bolo style was named after the type brandished by Andres Bonifacio while initiating the Katipunan revolutionary movement against Spain in 1896."
* Sprague 2009 p48
"Feared throughout the Spanish occupation, the combat bolo has been the trademark of Filipino fighters for generations. A symbol of 'victory, heroism, and excellence,' it saw extensive use by civilians as a survival tool and by military personnel as a weapon. It was used during the Philippine Revolution of 1896-1898 against Spanish colonial rule, and in the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902. Filipino general Emilio Aguinaldo mandated, after a number of Filipino defeats, that 'throughout the archipelago all males aged sixteen to fifty-nine must join the militia and equip themselves with bolos.'"
* Ileto 1979 p25, 26
"[L]oób is intimately connected with ideas of leadership and power, nationalism and revolution. ... [T]he state of the inner being is traditionally perceived as the determinant of overt political phenomena. There is a continuity between a leader or group's success and its inner concentration of power. Seen in this light, the traditional Filipino attachment to anting-anting makes sense. These are not merely objects that magically protect their wearers. They point to a complex system of beliefs and practices that underlie much of the behavior of peasant rebels and to some extent their leaders. For the power that is concentrated in an amulet to be absorbed by its wearer, the latter's loób must be properly cultivated through ascetic practices, prayer, controlled bodily movements and other forms of self-discipline. For an amulet to take effect, the loób of its possessor must have undergone a renewal and purification." [...]
"[...] [T]hose whose loob are pure, serene, and controlled have 'special powers' granted to them by Christ. They can control the elements, cure the sick, speak in different tongues, interpret signs, and fortell the future. These are precisely some of the powers one hopes to obtain through anting-anting."
* Ileto 1979 p23 (quoting from Historical Data Papers on Paete, Laguna)
"Our great revolutionaries and rebels used various forms of anting-anting. The one possessed by Asedillo, Ronquilo and even our common 'beteranos' were in the form of medallions made of copper or bronze, wherein images of the Sacred Family were engraved together with Latin scriptures ... The only time these 'anting-anting' medals were acquired was during the ceremony of the church on Holy Friday."
* Ileto 1979 p26-27
"Ricarte, in his memoirs, tells us the story of how Eusebio Di-Mabunggo, head of the Filipino defenders of Cacaron de Sili, distributed among his men pieces of round paper with a cross written in the middle and surrounded by Latin words. As he uttered a magical formula, his men swallowed the pieces of paper, believing that this would keep them from harm. By doing this, they absorbed the power concentrated in the hostlike pieces of paper associated with the death and resurrection of Christ. No less important was the fact that Eusebio uttered a magical formula to 'activate' the anting-anting. Also, 'he told his men that whoever was reached by his gaze (tanaw) at the moment of battle, and was hurled his mysterious blessing (basbas), would be free from any danger and hardship in life.'"
* Menez 2004 online
"Most Filipinos are familiar with amulets and talismans, known as Anting-anting in Tagalog, Many still wear them as medals and jewelry to ward off evil, as well as to control the behavior of humans and spirits. The Anting-anting may take the form of crocodile’s teeth, black diamonds or religious scapulars. Peasant rebels during the revolutions first against Spain and then against the united states [sic] wore supposedly bullet-proof talismanic shirts inscribed with pseudo-Latin prayers."