Subject: comisionista gangster
Culture: Ilonggo / Hilagaynon Filipino
Setting: gang violence, Panay early-mid 1900s
Context (Event Photos, Period Sources, Secondary Sources)
* McCoy ed. 1994 p463, 465 (Alfred W McCoy, "Rent-seeking families and the Philippine state: A history of the Lopez family" p429-536)
"Before the war [World War II], the main roads and rail line on Panay Island funneled peasant passengers along the coastal plains, south towards Iloilo City's waterfront, where interisland ships took on travelers bound for Negros, Manila, and the rest of the [Philippine] archipelago. Many of the passengers on the profitable long-distance bus routes from Aklan and Antique provinces were sacadas, cane cutters who gathered in work gangs in Iloilo City at the start of every milling season to ride the ferries across the Guimaras Strait. In the competition for this trade, the city's bus and shipping managers paid the local waterfront gangsters, known as comisionistas, a 10 percent commission to deliver these valuable passengers. During the off-season, the comisionistas fended off the competition on the waterfront with bluff and blows, by means of boxing, baston stick-fencing, or bolo fighting. In effect, these comisionistas were Iloilo's organized criminal element -- entrepreneurs in violence who sold their services during elections and controlled their waterfront territory through physical prowess.
"[...] During the eleven months of its duration, the Panay Autobus conflict was exceptionally violent, with periodic public violence between rival comisionistas. When ships loaded with sacadas docked at the Iloilo waterfront, rival comisionistas rushed forward to shuttle them toward their vehicles, transforming the pavement between the bus door and the ferry gangplank into a battleground. [...] When the daily shoving erupted into sporadic violence, fighting often continued for ten or fifteen minutes before city police could assemble a platoon to wade into the melee of fists, clubs, and blades."
* Demetrio 1991 v2 p229 (citing Jocano 1969 p290)
"In Central Panay the custom of seeking revenge for wrongs done is practiced. The term they use is tukdo or revenge. This is a form of balos (kabaraslan) or reciprocation. Any person whose relatives or parents have been insulted, beaten up, or killed has the right to tukdo. He usually seeks revenge when someone hurts a loved one."
* Demetrio 1991 v2 p587 (quoting Jocano 1969 p52)
"Central Panay farmers use the bolo to clean the farm, to chop fuel, and as a weapon. No farmer is seen without a bolo hanging from his belt."
* Wiley 1996 p125
"While commonly known as 'escrima sticks,' impact weapons ... hold a number of shapes and designs, uses and names. For example, the baston is a straight piece of sugar cane about twenty-four inches long, while the yantok is a tapered, thirty-two inch length of rattan. Both impact weapons are used in much the same way, while some prefer the use of the yantok for its concentrated snapping action at the end of each blow. The garote, or flat stick, is used in such a way as to mimic the movements of the sword. It may be a mere flattened piece of hardwood or shaped to a specific sword-design. In general, these terms are often used interchangeably."