History – Cebuanos Who Sewed The First Philippine Flag And The First Flag-Raising In Cebu

If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. – Michael Crichton

Ever since I was in high school, I’ve always been fascinated with anything that’s history related. So much so that I wanted to take up History in College! Ah good old memories… I still have that same passion for it even though I didn’t pursue that path.

Don’t you just love acquiring knowledge on the things, people and moments that made a big impact on our lives today? I hope more and more people too would want to educate themselves on matters that are history-related. Today, let’s discuss a little on Cebu’s history and be proud. Shall we?

Philippine Independence Day

After the Philippine Revolutionary Army won against the Spanish forces in Cavite, the Philippine flag was first unfolded on May 28, 1898. However, it was formally presented to the people during the official declaration of the Philippine Independence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898.

In line with the Philippine Independence Day, little did you know that the Philippine Flag was not only unfurled in Cavite but the Cebu KKK also did, in that same year.

The Cebuanos also sewed their own Philippine flag under an order given to the Samareño Luis Flores – who was the first President of the KKK (Kataas-taasan, Kagalang-galangang, Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan) in Cebu.

The order to make the Philippine flag was received by Flores on March 17, 1898 and they finished it on April 3, 1898. They already had the flag even before the uprising (better known as the Battle of Tres de Abril) of the Cebu Katipuneros against the Spaniards.

It was a Katipunero named Anastacio Oclarino who delivered the letter containing the design of the flag to Flores. He was from Sta. Cruz, Laguna and moved to Cebu to work as a machinist of Smith Bell Shipping. Oclarino also recruited the first Cebuano members of the Philippine Revolutionary Society.

Read: Battle of Tres de Abril

A man named Ambrosio Pena worked alongside Oclarino as a “practico del puerto” and was also a Katipunero from Luzon. Pena was ordered by Luis Flores to make the flag and he gave the sewing task to the following Cebuanas – Mauricia Gahuman, Buena Ricardo and Justina Pena.

The book “A Short History of Cebu and the Anti-Spanish Revolution in Cebu” written by Dionisio Sy, narrates the sewing of the flag by the three Cebuanas mentioned earlier. In Sy’s book, it also states that the flag was delivered by a Baking Ricardo to a courier in Punta Princesa so that it would be sent to Sudlon, the fortress of the KKK Cebu after their retreat days following the Battle of Tres de Abril.

Read: Jayme-Moncado Colony in Sudlon II

The first raising of the flag

We may celebrate and commemorate the Philippine Independence Day on June 12, in memory of Gen. Aguinaldo’s flag-raising in Kawit Cavite on June 12, 1898. However, the first ever flag-raising in Cebu happened on the 10th of April in 1898. Yup, we did it first!

Cebuano Historian – Manuel Enriquez dela Calzada wrote the book “Ang Kagubot sa Sugbo 1898” and was printed in July 1951. He compiled articles written by Cebuano patriots and veterans of the uprising and movement against Spain. One of those articles mentioned the flag-raising in Cebu was months before the ceremony that took place in Cavite by Aguinaldo.

It has been acknowledged that Cebuano nationalists launched the revolution against Spain on the 3rd of April in 1898. This is also the reason why we celebrate the Battle of Tres de Abril – wherein Cebuanos won in the beginning. However, things took a turn for the worse once Spanish reinforcements came in Fort San Pedro.

The Chief of Army of the KKK Cebu – Pantaleon Villegas (aka Leon Kilat), was executed on the 8th of April, 1898 in Carcar, Cebu. However, his death didn’t stop the revolution. The Spanish revolution went on because the KKK Cebu survived and they carried on with the struggle along with the majority of their officers.

An article within the book of Enriquez, entitled “Pasko sa Pagkabanhaw” or Easter Sunday – written by Don Elpidio Rama and Isidro Enriquez, unfolds the events of that day. In the Catholic church calendar, this day was called the Domingo de Pascua and fell on the 10th of April, 1898. It was a week after the start of the Battle of Tres de Abril. According to Rama, there was a mass that took place in San Nicolas – it was the place of residence for the majority of the revolutionists. He then narrates the events that happened up in the mountains.

In the lower parts of Sudlon and Bitlang – in TABLA, was where the leaders of the KKK appeared to the public. The KKK nationalists were led by Don Luis Flores, together with Don Alejo Miñoza, Don Elpidio Rama, and Don Anatalio Tabar. Bitlang is a very important historical site, called the Bitlang Pass – where the nationalists held their ground against the American soldiers in 1899.

Don Luis Flores who became the first President of the Provincial Revolutionary Government of Cebu was the one who ordered the nationalists to come and gather in Tabla to attend what was called “Jura dela Bandera”. The first Philippine flag sewed in Cebu was raised on that day or pagtitipon and the nationalists took an oath of loyalty to a country of its own, the Philippines.

It’s interesting to learn that the Cebuanos raised the Philippine flag first and proves how strong-willed our forefathers were. Maka-proud, diba? 🙂