Philippines from 1900-1915
The Life and Times of Macario Sakay

Macario Sakay

For the average Filipino-American, when they hear the name, “Macario Sakay” nothing typically rings a bell. On the other hand, people such as Emilio Aguinaldo, Jose Rizal and Andrew Bonifacio are widely acclaimed. While it is important to recognize their heroic movements, Sakay is another noteworthy revolutionary leader who we can add to the list. Aside from Aguinaldo who was captured in 1901, Sakay also served as the Philippine general in the Philippine Revolution against Spain during the Philippine-American War. In doing so, he led several resistance forces fighting against American rule, calling for Philippine self-government and establishing the Tagalog Republic.

Sakay was an original member of the Katipunan movement which was a Philippine revolutionary society founded in 1892 by anti-Spanish Filipinos. During this movement, he continually fought for Philippine independence until he was captured. When the war ended in 1902 he was granted freedom and was released. He soon established, Republika ng Kataglugan (Tagalog Republic) in Luzon where he served as president. By “Katagalugan” he called for the freedom of all provinces, not just the Tagalog-speaking ones. In fact, Sakay detested calling the country “Philippines” due to its Spanish-colonial implications. As part of the Tagalog Republic, he created a manifesto stating the fundamental right for Philippine independence.

Sakay and his followersL to R: seated, Julian Montalan, Francisco Carreon, Macario Sakay, Leon Villafuerte; standing, Benito Natividad, Lucio de Vega

Moreover, he used his military tactics and seized ammunition and firearms, capturing United States military bases. Sakay and his men used guerilla tactics to attack U.S. enemies. His movement was made possible through contributions by lower class people who supplied food and money. As his movement grew, the American military formed searches to destroy Sakay’s missions. Since they were unable to suppress their expansion, the Philippine Constabulary (one of the four forces in the Armed Forces of the Philippines) and the U.S. Army forced relocation of villages in areas where Sakay gained access and assistance. In 1905, the American government presented Sakay with a letter promising that if he surrendered he and his men would not be punished for their seditious acts. On July 1906 they were invited to attend a dance where they were later captured, arrested and tried as “bandits.” On September 13, 1907 Sakay was hanged. Before his death he stated, “Filipinas, farewell! Long live the Republic and may our independence be born in the future!”

A company of the Philippine Constabulary.

Sakay’s direct involvement in the Tagalog Republic and his revolutionary movements makes him a noteworthy patriot of the Philippines. Today, his efforts in leading the Philippine independence movement is recognized through a life-size statue of him at Tondo, Manila where he was born. A famous biographical film honoring Sakay was already created by director Raymond Red.

Check out the “Sakay” (1993) movie trailer:

Posted by: Arianne Magat

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