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Located in a secluded region of the Philippine Archipelago, on the eastern coast of Luzon, is the small town of Baler.   It was solitary and desolate hemmed by the Sierra Madre and Caraballo mountains upon the landward side.  The enormous Pacific spread before it, with shores extending north through south, undisturbed and dangerous.

The town stands on highly elevated land jutting out from the south shore of Baler Bay closely surrounded by tidal stream, which at times transforms it into an island, San Jose (Aguang) river flows to the north, and Kinalapan-Pingit river to the south.  To the west was Suklayin creek.

During the Spanish colonial period the town consisted of a church, the most valuable structure built of rude stone edifice, with convent for priest’s residence; a frame-and-concrete house for the Politico-Military Governor; barracks for the soldiers; a school for children of the Spanish administrators; residence for the schoolmaster; and a dingy tribunal or courthouse for the administration of justice.  

These outward and visible signs of Spanish sovereignty, group in the inescapable patio, formed the strong nucleus of the area.  A lone narrow lane, Calle del Ria (Bandholtz/Molina) street linked the town to the Bay. All supplies ferried by ship from the outside world to the town accessed through this road.   The north end of the church consisted of Calle de España (Quezon Street) and Calle del Cisneros (Rizal Street) to the south.  Along the roads shaded by verdant growth of palm and bamboo trees, were the scattered frail houses of the residents.

Baler is only about two hundred kilometers from Manila.  However, access by both land and sea is extremely difficult.  During certain times of the year, access by sea was impossible.   Cut off as it was from the outside world, it was the most important town in the region. 

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                                           Sabang Beach in 1897

Before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, Baler was part of the Empire of Pampanga under Prince Malang Balagtas, (Circa 1754).  Notwithstanding, when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi conquered Manila, the king of Spain had given him the honor to be the first assigned Adelantado (Governor) by virtue of conquering the Philippines in April 1565.  He established Manila as capital of the archipelago on 11 December 1571, congruent to the creation of Pampanga province at the same year.  

In 1591, when Kalilayan (Tayabas) was created into a province under Governor Gomez Perez Dasmariñas, Baler was obtained from the Empire of Pampanga and became a town of Tayabas.  Also included was Nueva Ecija, which was then a military district of Pampanga that was established in 1701 by Governor Fausto Cruzat y Gongora.  Around 1778, the military district’s Commander of Nueva Ecija, Colonel Manuel Monet, with approval from the Governor repartitioned the military district of Nueva Ecija.  The western area became the new military district of Tarlac and assigned to a new district commander.  The eastern part remained under him with Baler as its established capital. 

In 1785, the capital of Nueva Ecija was moved to Bongabong and later to Cabanatuan.  When Governor Rafael Maria de Aguilar took over as Governor of the Philippines, he decreed the separation of the military district of Nueva Ecija from the province of Pampanga and became regular province on 25 April 1801.  This included the town of Baler, acquired from the province of Tayabas. 

In 1853, Antonio de Urbiztondo y Equia succeeded Rafael Maria de Aguilar as the new Governor of the Philippines.  During his reigned, he created the towns and missions of Nueva Ecija along the Pacific coasts, as the new district of El Principe, which included Baler, the capital; Casiguran, Mision de San Miguel (Dipaculao), and Mision San Jose de Casignan/San Josep (Maria Aurora).

In addition to Baler, the only other town of importance in El Principe was Casiguran, a place of particular interest to the Americans because it was in Casiguran Bay where General Frederick Funston landed his forces on the night of March 14, 1901 on his way to capture the elusive General Aguinaldo.

It was in March 1901 when the first Civil Governor, William H. Taft, appointed Colonel Cornelius Gardener as Military Governor of Tayabas.  On June 12, 1902, by virtue of his appointment, he disestablished the district of El Principe.  Baler and Casiguran were once again incorporated into the province of Tayabas, along the two missions, Mision the San Miguel and Mision San Jose de Casignan/San Josep. 

In 1897, the Spanish Governor, General Fernando Primo de Rivera, sent a new assigned Politico-Military Governor; Captain Antonio López Irizarri, to govern the inhabitants of El Principe as its new master.  In addition to being the Military Governor, he also filled the offices of Judge of First Instance, Deputy Treasurer, Director of Post Office, and Collectors of Tributes (taxes).  His authority however, was ill supported and unappreciated by people, who had no regards for him as the new master.  Motivated by the imposition of new laws in conjunction with the injections of Katipunan ideology and strong Filipino nationalism, widespread disaffection against him was continually at work. 

For years the Filipinos had been in rebellion against the Spanish sovereignty.  Fortunately, it was only in Manila and the adhering provinces were centers of the upheavals.  El Principe was peaceful until around the end of August 1897, when backstairs stories began to circulate among the Spanish authority that insurgency among the Filipinos was at hand and getting stronger.  They were taking advantage of its isolation and unguarded shores to smuggle arms and ammunitions.

As the rumors spreading about the Filipino rebels smuggling arms, the Governor launched an investigation but to no avail.  His only source of information was the non-Christians/Negritoes, who could scarcely be persuaded or wheedled and often gave unreliable testimony.  To thwart the hearsay, cruiser Maria Christina was ordered to sail to Baler to patrol its littoral areas.

During the administration of Don Irizarri, Cabo de la Guardia Civil (Corporal of the Civil Guard) and five locals had been Baler’s only defense.   But in reply to the exigent plea of the Governor from the Army headquarters in Manila, a company of fifty men from Second Battalion of the Cazadores (infantrymen) stationed in Aliaga, Nueva Ecija which was recently recaptured from the enemy, were ordered to Baler under the Command of Lieutenant José Mota, a nineteen year old whose breast was already adorned with an accounted number of medals.

After a daring and difficult journey through the unfriendly and treacherous mountain of the Caraballo, the company arrived at Mision San Jose de Casignan on the 20th of September 1897.  Informed of their arrival, Don Irizarri made the trip to welcome them.  He took along Fray Candido Gomez Carreño, the parish priest, and Fray Dionisio Luengo who was in Baler acquainting and familiarizing himself about the inhabitants of the town.  They rested the evening at San Jose and continued their journey the following morning. They arrived in Baler on 21st of September 1897.        

Upon arrival in Baler, Lieutenant Mota wasted no time.  He laid down the groundwork of how he would protect the town based upon the intelligence reports provided to him by the Governor.  Accordingly, he posted 18 men of his limited force to the barracks, ten men to the schoolmaster’s home, and the rest was posted to the Comandancia (Residence and Office of the Governor).  Centrally located, he chose the school as his own quarter.  Consequently, his one big mistake was that he only posted one sentry into the entire plaza, unknowingly underestimated his enemy.  He had no conception that forces available to him were not enough to quell any unpredictable or unforeseen revolt.  Nonetheless, he prepared the garrison the best he could.

Don Saturnino Cerezo commented about Don Mota¾, “That he yielded to the trust that the Governor inspired upon the people and committed the imprudence by dividing his detachment.  His comments were unjustly recriminating.  First of all, the resident of Baler, until the middle of September, manifested an unambiguous proof of loyalty and respect for the local authorities and therefore there was no reason for the Governor  not to trust them; yet after the arrival of the detachment, he began to observe indifferent attitudes and discontent among the inhabitants.  He conveyed his observations to Frays Juan Lopez and Felix Minaya, the missionaries of Casiguran by letter.  He rephrased the following statements expressed by the residents of Baler, “Fifty infantrymen, they say fifty lions have arrived in this town, now I have complete confidence; they have already demonstrated their valor conclusively especially the Lieutenant, who is shown to have been honored with several citation won in the battle of Cavite Viejo.  He is only nineteen years old and already slated for promotion to captain.   The arrival of the infantrymen did cause a bad impression among the population characterized by their actuation.  And the governor feeling worried about it.

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                                            Baler Church in 1897

Don Mota constructed a circular trench where the church was at the center and an angular one that protect the church entrance.  This Don Mota reserved as their last stand in the event that the rebels overwhelm his troops from the outer trench until help arrive from Manila.  These pillboxes were completed on the 4 of October precisely a day prior to the revolt had started.  Not knowing, his every move was closely watched and alertly monitored by rebels.

About the middle of 1897 when the Filipino revolts were subjugated and almost crushed by the Spanish, Aguinaldo retreated and established his new Camp at Biacnabato in Bulacan.  From here he learned that a detachment of Spanish infantrymen were ordered to Baler.  With his defeat still lingering in his mind, he devised a plan in eliminating this small detachment.  To make his plan a reality, he appointed Teodorico Luna Novicio a native of Baler and educated in Manila of the Masonic Lodge as Commandant of the rebels unit in the district of El Principe.  With his appointment, Novicio abandoned the life of hiding in Biacnabato and proceeded to Baler.  On the way, he stopped by the town of Santol and recruited two men, and three others from Dingalan, four of them born in Baler and one from Binangonan de Lampon (Infanta).        

On the 20th September 1897, Novicio arrived in Baler from Biaknabato.  They camped in a place not far from the town, where it was inaccessible to the Iberian colonizer because it was well hidden and secured by the surrounding hilly jungles.  From here Novicio summoned his men to inform his relatives, their relatives and friends of their arrival, however keep them in secrecy.  He contacted an old friend the former governadorcillo (mayor) Antero Amatorio one of the most influential man in Baler.  He disclosed his plans and appealed to him for help.  He asked for his cooperation of liberating Baler from the Spanish enslavement and bondage, which had been going on for so many years.  He supplicated to supply and provide them foods.  Then he distributed and delivered copies of the instructions provided to him by General Aguinaldo concerning the importance of exterminating the Spanish detachment in Baler. Before them, he enunciated the abuses of the Spaniards and accusing them of their evil deeds. He witnessed so many courageous death imposed by the Spanish authorities upon the Filipinos.                            

He evoked in its favor the advantages with which the triumph of the Katipunan would bring to the country.  And¼, he continued, “the Spaniards let us suffer with oppression and humiliations; we will be free, and hateful taxes that crushed us will end.  We will be governing ourselves and all of us will be equal.”  Because of his abhorrent feelings against the Spaniards, he presented convincingly the advantage of being a member of the Katipunan and instilled to the residents of Baler the most detestable hatred against the Spanish.  With his formal address, Novicio was delighted and thought that he attained his goal.

In conducting the Katipunan, he advised them with cautiousness and extraordinary care in his “modus operandi” (mode of operation) and way of speaking with great secrecy.   He did not like to comprise their plan concerning the underground movement of the Katipunan, and that nobody could sense nor suspect anything about it.       

Before the gathering dispersed and concluded, Novicio carefully devised and formulated a plan of how they will assault the detachment.  And for the finale, they enacted a blood compact as a sign of fraternal unity, then composed and wrote their slogan or manifesto: “Ang Putok Sa Dikaloyungan”, meaning the revolt had just began, and signed it with their blood.

The following was the formal address of Novicio:

"Brothers, already you have had the happy idea of taking part in the revolution against the Spaniards and because of this,enjoy the privileges and the advantages which society offersto its supporters, it is necessary to admit at the same time, in the same manner, the burden that much brotherhood imposes. In its service you must not doubt for a moment to sacrifice our lives.  In a short while we have to undertake a risky operation from which if we came out successful, will do a great service to our country and we shall made one step more towards our freedom.  It involves the killing tomorrow evening (from 4-5) of all the Spaniards who have come to our town.  Brothers, do you find yourselves with the strength to follow me?”

At the same token, Antero Amatorio was appointed Administrative Captain.  Miguel of Infanta was appointed head of the Barangay, Norberto Valenzuela and Ricardo Novicio as Captains, and Moises Sison as Lieutenant.  Having done the appointments he stressed to them the importance of operating secretly as directed.    

However, no matter how members of the underground movements guarded their secrecy, the plan of Novicio was compromised through the conversation of Amatorio with his wife in the presence of an eight year old girl.  The girl passed along the conversation that she heard from the Amatorio’s to her parent, and the girl’s parent relayed it to the Spanish authority.  Likewise, three days after the eventful assembly, Novicio discovered that a copy of the instructions he distributed among the members was leaked to the hands of the Spanish authority.  It happened due to the inattentiveness of a member disposing a copy of the instructions on his way home. The thrown away copy was picked by a Negrito used it as tobacco wrapper and traded it with one the infantrymen for goods.  They were fortunate for some unknown reason the authority did not pay much attention to information they got from the Negrito and the parent of the little girl.  For the Spanish thought that both the little girl and the Negrito were not reliable sources of informations.

On the evening of 4 October 1897, Novicio and his men camped five kilometers outside the town to make a final and detailed preparation for the assault. He divided his men into three groups.  First group was under his command camouflaged in a uniform of the Spanish infantrymen to exterminate the lone sentry guarding the patio.  The second group under Captain Norberto Valenzuela was assigned to take the Commandancia.   Third group commanded by Captain Ricardo Novicio was charged of the schoolhouse.  Novicio’s last words before the attack;

          “If anyone of you fail me, I will shoot him without pity.”

Around 11:30 PM the groups proceeded their separate way and went to their specific assigned mission.  As planned, Novicio’s group entered the main entrance without being challenged.  They disarmed the lone sentry and clubbed him to death.  But before the sentry was knockout unconsciously, he was able to fire a shot, and yelled: “Alas armas cazadores” (Take arms infantrymen).  Novicio launched the attack.  The noise and the shouts of wounded woke up those who were sleeping and those who could grab their guns fight desperately to the bitter end.

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In the Headquarters when the fighting ceased, Don Irizarri who occupied the upper section of the stairs with a Remington in his hand tried to find out what happened.  He called Lieutenant Mota and having no response, he called Sergeant Serrano and hearing no reply either, called the soldiers.  Some of those who were hiding at hearing the voice of their Commandant dared not answer.  Don Irizarri inquired what happened.  Receiving no answer, he said to them, Come out my sons, and here together we could defend ourselves until daylight.”  One of the infantrymen who were captured was able to escape from the rebels and took refuge in the headquarters.  Thinking he was an enemy, his fellow cazadores shot him dead.  When he dropped they recognized he was one of them.  They were petrified but too late, he was dead.

Some of the infantrymen who survived the massacre spent the night hiding among the thickets, others in the convent, and some in the church belfry.  At daybreak those who were in the headquarters went out to the plaza and determined to find out what happened during the night. The first thing they notice were dead bodies of the infantrymen scattered all over the plaza, and some of the rebels.  While gathering the dead bodies of their unfortunate compatriots, they saw some of the unaccounted infantrymen coming from the street.  Most of them were wounded dragging their bodies moaning as a result of the skirmished.

Unknown to Mota, the guards he posted to protect the schoolhouse where he was quartered, was already silenced and captured by Captain Ricardo Novicio and his group.

Awakened and alarmed by the shot, He jumped out off the window with only his underwear firing his revolver and trying to find out what had happened.  He ran to the church for concealment, as it was the most secured structure in the compound.  Entering, he met Fray Carreño who was going to the church to receive the Holy Eucharist.  What’s happening the priest inquired him?”  “We are lost!” answered Lieutenant Mota: “They have slaughtered my detachment.  Do you have a revolver?”  Fray Carreño thinking that he was asking for it to defend himself¾ handed it to him.  Father Carreño went on towards the church and on the way he met the Corporal of the Civil Guard, Pio Enrique whom he stopped to inquire about the events.   While the conversation was going on they heard a shot; they went back together and in the doorway of his bedroom they found the dead body of Lieutenant Mota.  He committed suicide by shooting himself.  

Captain Valenzuela on the other hand, who was assigned to expel the infantrymen guarding the Governor’s residence were not fortunate.  Eleven of his men were killed.  Although they fought gallantly against the battle-experienced infantrymen, they were no matche for them.  Notwithstanding, with help from Commander Novicio’s group, they were able to quell the Spanish.  An accounted casualties of the Balerian rebels that died during the entire engagement, were: Francisco Angara, Isidro Angara, Eufracio Bitong, Aurelio Catipon, Julian España, Severo Gallegos, Felix Gonzales, Miguel Huertazuela, Luis Lumasac, Santos Lumasac, and Severo Palispis, and the Barangay Captain, Miguel from Infanta.    Teodorico Luna Novicio also received a gun shot on his ribs but not life threatening.

Around 2 AM, 5 October 1897, when everything quieted down, the rebels disengaged the fighting and banished into the misty night the same way they came and taking with them bodies of their dead comrades and fifteen prisoners including Fray Carreño and Corporal Enrique.

A day later the Captain of the transport ship Manila, cruising leisurely around the Bay decided to send the ship’s Auditor and Fray Dionisio Luengo ashore with an intention of exchanging news with the parish priest and Don Irizarri.  But on the patio they were confronted with shocking scene of dead bodies lying scattered all over the plaza unburied.  Don Irizarri and the survivors of the massacre came out from their fortification when they saw Fray Luengo and the Auditor.   Don Irizarri requested the Auditor to go back the ship and tell the ship’s Captain to send some help. Fray Luengo stayed with Don Irizarri to help collect the dead bodies. Immediately the Auditor returned to the ship and told the horrifying news to the Captain. He dispatched twelve of his crews and a doctor to the scene of the massacre, and hurriedly went underway to communicate the shocking news of the disaster to Army headquarters in Manila.

His message produced immense astonishment among the officials in Manila.  They decided to send the transport Cebu with a hundred men, under Captain Don Jesus Roldan Maizonada a force proportionately even more inadequate than the first company of fifty, to cope with the swelling forces of Novicio’s men, rendered doubly dangerous by their recent success to relieve the beleaguered garrison of Baler.  After four days of delay and a sharp brush with the Filipino rebels, who had returned and entrenched strongly along the beach, Maizonada succeeded in landing his forces and secured the garrison in Baler on 18th October 1897, while   Novicio and his men retreated back to the hinterland. 

When Cebu discharged all his cargo it steamed away for Manila with Captain Irizzari and survivors of the massacre embarked.  In the words of Baler’s heroic chronicler, “the capital of the district of El Principe was left reduced to the church, defended by a scanty force, and surrounded by serenely deserted town.”                  

As stated during the night of the assault the missionary of Baler and the Corporal of the Civil Guard lurked into the surrounding forest of Baler. The following day they found Sergeant Serrano hiding with other infantrymen.  Together they exchanged their own personal experiences what had happened the night of the attack. Believing they were the only survivors of the massacre, they talked and decided that should they be discovered by the rebels, they will surrender for further resistance was unthinkable.

The missionary, Fray Carreño separated himself from the group few meters away contemplating.  Suddenly he found himself surrounded by the rebels, however, they treated him with at most respect.   He was taken prisoner in company with the rest of the captured Spanish infantrymen and taken to the camp of the rebels hidden in the middle of the jungles in between the town of Baler and Mission San Jose de Casignan.

In the Camp Fray Carreño was well regarded by his parishioners particularly the women and was not restricted to walk around.  On the other hand, despite all the considerations they rendered him, his thought lingers that it is still his obligation to escape and free himself for the salvation of his co-prisoners and his duty to Spain.

On one occasions, the rebels went to an operation living only a few sentries to guard the prisoners. However, they left some of their guns unattended.  The priest seeing the opportunity of taking possession of the neglected arms spoke to one of the most competent Spanish soldier concerning his plan for the unguarded arms. He told him, “You already observed the liberty of which I can walk around and the carelessness of our captors living their guns freely at a certain period of time.  Early tomorrow if you will help me, I will disarm the sentry and when I yell, ‘Viva España’ (Long live Spain), you must rush and take the guns and together we march freely to Baler.”  Very well planned,” replied the infantryman.  I am glad that you approve of it; you speak to the others and make them ready for the occasion.”  But during the evening at the very same day, the priest was summoned by Novicio, and was greeted, “You Father made a fool out of yourself by planning to steal the guns. I don’t know why!” Fray Carreño replied pretending with surprise, “Yes sir!”   “You galvanized the infantrymen to rebel against us and get the guns!”  “Excuse Me! What you just told me is unthinkable.”  “Don’t pretend to be ignorant!” Novicio told him. “I know everything, the coronet told me.”  Fray Carreño defended himself the best he could, but in vain.  As a result, he was separated from the rest of the prisoners.  Aguinaldo upon learning this consequence ordered Novicio to send the parish priest to Biacnabato.

When the people heard about the orders, they pleaded with Novicio not to send their parish priest to Biacnabato.  Novicio admonishing presented Aguinaldo’s orders to the priest asking him how he would like him to reply.  Fray Carreño said, “Tell him, that we are all sick and can not walk.”  That’s what Novicio did; but after two days he received another dispatch stating that sick or wounded, the prisoners should be send to Biacnabato.   Again Novicio showed the communications to Fray Carreño, and asked him what would be the proper replay.  Nothing, tell him that when we could walk, we will set off.”  Novicio interrupted! “No Father, I’m thinking of sending the infantrymen, and they can explain to Aguinaldo that you’re very sick.”  When Novicio sent the infantrymen Aguinaldo was displeased and sent Novico another order threatening him that if at the return mail he didn’t send the priest, he, together with the priest will be tied elbow to elbow.  Fray Carreño also read the order.  He told Novicio, “You don’t have no other recourse but send me to Biacnabato, or present yourself with me in Baler.  I will speak to the new Politico-Military Commandant and we will arrange the matter the best way possible.”  To this Novicio disagreed for he was the instigator of the rebellion and already sent his prisoners to Biacnabato. He was strongly bothered by his conscience and pardon for him by the Spanish authority was above and beyond comprehension. In conclusion, Novicio finally opted to send Fray Carreño to Biacnabato with his parishioners in protest.  The priest calmed them down telling them everything will be all right.  He blessed them, bid them adieu and set off on his journey.  After seven days of painful journey on foot, bad meals and without being able to rest, he made it to Biacnabato on 1st November 1897.                           

At his detention at Biacnabato, Fray Carreño suffered unspeakable oppressions.  He was prosecuted, condemned to death by Spanish deserter, Celso Major.  Aguinaldo did not lay the final judgment, for at time Peace Pact is being negotiated between Pedro Paterno representing him and Primo de Rivera representing Spain.   After the Peace Pact was signed on 14 December 1897, Fray Carreño was set free and sent to Manila for hospitalization.  After he was discharged from the hospital he convalesced at an infirmary in the Convent of San Francisco del Monte.  From there he requested the Father Provincial if he could be assigned back to Spain.  His request was turned down.  He requested to be sent back to Baler.  Meanwhile, Aguinaldo left the Philippines for Hongkong on the steamship Uranus on 27 December 1897 as part of the conditions of the treaty.

As it was already foretold, on the 18th of October 1897, Captain Jesus Roldan Maizonada with two Lieutenants and 100 infantrymen was ordered to Baler by the Captain General and in antecedents received from Don Irizarri.   His order of defense were maintained by permitting only twenty-five infantrymen commanded by a Lieutenant to reconnoiter the area not to exceed twenty kilometers around the town. 

One day the cruiser, Don Juan de Astorias patrolling the Bay dropped anchor.  The sentry stationed at the church’s belfry saw the ship and informed the commandant.  Captain Maizonada sent his Lieutenant to meet Don Juan de la Concha, the ship’s captain.  While Fray Juan Lopez missionary from Casiguran debarked the ship with some sailors.  Fray Lopez went to the convent, while the sailors enjoyed their times with the infantrymen.  After sometimes the sailors went back aboard leaving Fray Lopez behind.  During the afternoon, Don Concha left his ship taking five sailors with him.  After spending some pleasant moment with Captain Maizonada he went back aboard his ship.  On route to the ship along with his dog and the five sailors, they heard a whistling sound of gunshot that killed his dog.  He spun around and returned the fire directed to an elevated sun dune on the beach where Filipino rebels were deployed.  The Filipino rebels retreated when the Spanish sailors fired back.  The following day Fray Lopez embarked the ship with no incidents.

Around the end of November returning from a patrol from the area of Mission San Jose de Casignan, the infantrymen noticed a white flag from a house and find out what the flag was all about.  A man came out to greet them.  He told them his name was Lucio Quezon, the schoolteacher of Baler who escaped from the Filipino rebels and would like to inform the authorities about it.  The patrols escorted him to the Headquarters.  There he related and gave details of the enemies hideaway.  With the new information on hand, Don Maizonada proposed to attack the camp regrettably he had a strict order from the Captain General that his roll was only defensive.  He wrote him explaining his plan, but received a negative reply.  No wonder, his order was in consonance with the peace treaty enacted between Aguinaldo’s representative, Pedro Paterno and Primo de Rivera, representing of Spain.

Don Maizonada commented: “This shameful and ignominious peace that the Spanish authorities made with Aguinaldo, did not do anything but provide money to those loyal to him with which they bought arms to Hongkong and Japan, and also, that the leaders of the revolution could organize their scattered armies.”   The effect of this made believe peace did not last in Baler.  On 15th January 1898, the infantrymen discovered a trench, which Novicio ordered constructed on the outer loop of the river by the beach.  They destroyed it, but the Filipino rebels rebuilt it.  The next day the infantrymen went back to check the site, they where fired upon which obliged them to stop.  They did not fire back for they were on the defensive.  Nevertheless, the Filipino rebels keep on firing wounding almost all the infantrymen.  Upon hearing the shots, Don Maisonada was forced to reinforce his men.  But the rebels on sight of the reinforcement vanished through the jungles.

Meanwhile the Spanish authorities in Manila have been celebrating the peace treaty that was signed, but the news did not reach Baler until the 7th of February 1898.  They learned about it from the new Politico-Military Commandant, Major Juan Genova who with 400 infantrymen presented himself in Baler on the same date.  With him were three Filipinos who served under Aguinaldo as his emissaries.  Five kilometers before arriving to the town, he sent them out to search and look for Novicio and to inform him about the order of Aguinaldo to surrender together with his Spanish prisoners and their arms.  Aguinaldo not trusting his own countrymen about his order of surrender sent his own representatives the following day to Major Genova.  Don Genova asked Aguinaldo’s emissaries when would he present himself and surrender?  Without waiting for his audience to response, he told them, “Tomorrow if Aguinaldo did not show up, I will march to his camp and I assure you that he will not be pleased with my visit.”  With those words from Don Genova, Aguinaldo’s emissaries immediately returned to their camp and conveyed the forceful words of the Commandant.  Finally on the 9th of February 1898, Novicio decided to present himself together with his commands to Genova obeying the order of Aguinaldo in accordance to the term of surrender to the representative of Spain.  After the signing of Novicio’s surrender in front of the altar in the church square, “Te Deum” (Oh God) was sung as an act of thanksgiving for peace was finally attained.

The authorities in Manila now withdrew Major Juan Genova’s battalion and replaced Captain Jesus Roldan Maizonada’s company. 

On February 12, 1898, a ship anchored in the inlet of Baler, which carried the relieving force under a new Politio-Military Commandant, Captain Enrique de las Morenas y Fossi; with Lt. Don Juan Alonzo Zayas, Lt. Don Saturnino Martin Cerezo, the parish priest, Fray Candido Gomez Carreño and a medical doctor, Don Rogelio Vigil de Quinoñes, plus 50 infantrymen.  This new detachment was the one that gloriously defended the garrison of Baler from the Filipino rebels for 337 days and made the Spanish flag wave over the steeple, eight months after the Philippines was transferred to the sovereignty of the United States under the treaty of Paris, 10 December 1899.


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