Conspiracy Against the Spaniards (REACTION TO AN EXCERPT)


Testimony in certain investigations made by Doctor Santiago de Vera, president of the Philippines


            This article takes into an account of statements regarding such researches conducted by Doctor Santiago de Vera. Mandated by Thomas Perez, the testament is penned in Manila on May 20, 1589 and is eventually authenticated in the said city on July 13 of the same year. The document is then signed by the notaries verifying that Esteban de Marquina and his qualifications are reliable enough to report occurrences implying some issues.

“Conspiracy” according to an online reference dictionary is ‘a plot; an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons’. Also, it ‘usually involves a group entering into a secret agreement to achieve some illicit or harmful objective, especially with political motivation’ and is simply defined as “the act of making such plans in secret”.

If asked about the argument of this historical piece, one might definitely agree upon the written facts and evidences of the happenings in the past. Along with this reaction paper are proofs of cogent events based on the testimony written by the people who existed in the past and continually exist in the present due to the mark they had left in the Philippine society.

“In fulfilment of the command and decree of Doctor Santiago de Vera, governor and captain-general of these islands, and president of the royal Audiencia, I, Estevan de Marquina, notary-public for the king our sovereign, of the number [authorized] in the city of Manila, testify that a trial and criminal process has been conducted and is still pending before the said governor and captain-general.” – The first statement which introduces the claims that Estevan de Marquina is going to recount. It is on October 26, 1588 that Doctor Santiago de Vera found out that Don Agustin de Legaspi, Martin Panga, Magat Salamat, and other chiefs had stopped committing to the king of Burney who used to be presented with weapons and other articles. Often, these people had been gathering privately and had been selling land properties which added to speculations of betrayal. Witnesses came out during investigation. Don Agustin de Legaspi and Magat Salamat were discovered sending weapons to Xapon and to Burney’s petty king. They wanted these camps to be prepared because of the Spaniards’ plan of going there. They appear to be spies, notifying and warning people of the other side.

On November 4, Captain Pedro Sarmiento informed the colonizers about the three Indian chiefs Magat Salamat, Don Agustin Manuguit, and Don Joan Banal. His servant and encomienda chief, Don Antonio Surabao that the said Indian chiefs served as petty king of Burney’s ambassadors forming an alliance against the Spaniards when they attack. Amarlangagui had told this servant that all the chiefs of the colony “had plotted and conspired with the Borneans to rebel against the service of the king our sovereign, and to kill the Spaniards of this city, while they were off their guard. The plan was that when the fleet of Burney reached the port of Cavite, and the Spaniards trustfully called these chiefs to their aid, they would all immediately enter the houses of the Spaniards with their men, fortify themselves in them and thus take possession of them one by one. If the Spaniards took refuge in the fortress, Indian soldiers would follow them; and, being two to one, they would surely kill the Spaniards.” Don Antonio Surabao’s reason for knowing these plans is that “under the pledge of friendship and secrecy, he was made acquainted with all this, and was persuaded to join the said conspiracy”. After he confessed, it was immediately ordered that the chiefs involved be arrested.

Last year (1857), Captain Don Joan Gayo and Japanese merchandisers arrived from Xapon to Manila. Don Agustin de Legaspi showed camaraderie towards him and it was agreed with the Japanese interpreter Dionisio Fernandez, with Magat Salamat, Don Agustin Manuguit, Don Phelipe Salalila, and Don Geronimo Bassi, that the Captain should come “under pretext of peace and commerce” so the Spaniards would think of their peaceful intentions.

“It was also agreed that the chiefs of the neighborhood would help them to kill the Spaniards, and would supply the provisions and everything necessary. The said Don Agustin de Legaspi was to set out to meet them; and, in order that they might recognize one another, he would carry some of the weapons which the said captain had given him. After they had conquered the Spaniards, they would make him [Don Agustin] king of the land, and collect the tribute from the natives, which would be divided between Don Agustin and the Japanese. They swore this after their fashion, by anointing their necks with a broken egg.” – This just indicates that these people during the Spanish colonization were really arranging some plans that might help them escape from the tyranny of the people whom they wouldn’t allow into their governance. Don Agustin organized this plan with Amaghicon and kept it as secret. For them to recognize one another, Amaghicon must give Don Agustin de Legaspi weapons that the Japanese gave him.

Based on Dionisio Fernandez, Don Phelipe Salalila, Don Geronimo Bassi, Magat Salamat, and other witnesses attending the meet-ups, it appears that Don Martin Panga, Don Agustin de Legaspi, Don Gabriel Tuambaҫan, Don Francisco Acta, his son, and Pitongatan should help each other “with their person and property in all matters- be it concerning the liberty of their slaves, or in any other difficulty.”

Leaders would always come together privately in order to discuss some matters regarding their plans against the Spaniards. They must execute strategies gracefully so as not to widen the gap of curiosity that the colonizers had already been eyeing for them. “During this time they resolved to act in harmony and with one mind in everything. If their slaves demanded liberty, they were to help one another against them; for already they were not regarded or obeyed as before. They possessed neither slaves nor gold, and found themselves poor and cast down, ready to go to prison any day. Their sorrow was very keen because their wives were being taken away from them, and given to others to whom, they claimed, they had been first married. For all these reasons they were very sad, and they discussed and plotted, and took oath, according to their custom, that if an enemy came to Manila to attack the Spaniards, they would unanimously and with one mind aid the enemy against the Spaniards. Thus they would once more become masters, as they had been before, and exercise the old tyranny over the common people—who now were much favored by the Spaniards, being promoted to superior places by them. The said Don Agustin de Legaspi proposed to them the plan and compact which he had made with the said Japanese Don Joan Payo [Gayo]; and the other chiefs declared that they were ready to help him and to accede to his wishes.”

The ship “Santana” seemed to sail across the islands on February 1589. So the chiefs prepared. Another meeting was set to discuss the plans held at the former one. They made it a point that leaders would form connections and arrange their activities in strategizing. A move could bring them afar. They tried not to be quite obvious but as time passed by, suspicions got wider; and worse, they were caught.

These leaders of conspiracy were investigated and examined. They confessed separately. Charges filed to the crime they commit depend upon the intensity of their violations, such as: payment in taes, years of prescribed/ unconditioned exile, property confiscation, and death penalty. Lea Alonso was the only person who was acquitted on the trial while the sentence in the case of Amaghicon is yet to be passed. The following persons received punishment/s: Don Agustin de Legaspi, Don Martin Panga, Dionisio Fernandez, Don Pedro Balinguit, Pitongatan, Don Phelipe Salonga, Don Phelipe Amarlangagui, Daulat, Don Joan Bassi, Dionisio Capolo, Don Francisco Acta, Don Luis Amanicalao, Don Gabriel Tuambaҫan, Calao, Omaghicon, Don Geronimo Bassi, Don Phelipe Salalila, Don Esteban Taes, Magat Salamat, Don Agustin Manuguit, Don Luis Balaya, Amarlangagui, and Don Joan Banal.

Beyond these texts are the struggles of our fellowmen as they continuously fight for their principles. It might have taken off their lives battling for power, for freedom; but what keeps the fire burning is the love for our country that will undoubtedly conquer the colonizers and defeat the opponents who take advantage of the wealth of the nation- its people.


Blair, Emma Helen and James Alexander Robertsons, eds. The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898. Mandaluyong, Rizal: Cacho Hermanos, 1973.

DS 653 B63 1973 v. 7-9: pp. 95- 111 Volume VII 1588-1591

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