The Enigmatic Macabebes

June 10, 2008

The Enigmatic Macabebes

My draft on the blog launching of Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio last Saturday has been sidetracked by my fascination with the tour given to by the Juan D. Nepomuceno Center for Kapampangan Studies of the Holy Angel University in Pampanga.

Two (2) panels on the “Enigmatic Macabebes” caught my attention. On one side was a refutation of the much-maligned Macabebes – touted as traitors and labeled as “dugong aso” both by Filipinos and at times, even by their fellow Kapampangans. History has been unkind to them, particularly when they remained loyal to the Spaniards even at the height of the Revolution, when they were instrumental in the capture of General Emilio Aguinaldo, and when they fiercely served the Americans (a unit in the US Army – the Philippine Scouts – was formed in their honor).

Part of their enigma perhaps is because none from among them rose to speak and allow others to understand them. Their photographs make matters worse – with the long hair and a haunted yet piercing gaze, they are not easy on the eyes. The recent researches, however, show that the disdain is undeserved and they do have reasons – I am amused by the Tagalog (“Taga-Ilog” or river-dwellers) and Kapampangan (“Taga-pampang”, perhaps?) rivalry that begun when the Spaniards first came to Luzon.

Indeed, how can we even accuse them of treason to a country that still wasn’t in existence? The literature (Singsing – the Center’s publication) prods further that didn’t all ethnic groups at one time bound themselves into similar yet less publicized compromises with any of our colonizers?

We may never know what urged the Macabebes to have done what history claims they did. For this, their enigma continues.

Kudos to the Juan D. Nepomuceno Center for Kapampangan Studies for the wonderful job of preserving Pampanga’s heritage and thanks too, to Blogger’s Kapihan for bringing us to Pampanga.



  1. Actually, Aguinaldo formed the First Republic before the break-out of the Phil-American War. A sovereign nation, young and flawed however it maybe, existed in 1899 before the capture of its President in 1901 by an invading force. I think citizens of that nation who helped the enemy capture its President are, by common definition, traitors.

  2. finally found your blog. thanks to winona.

  3. Hello Justin Asking. I must warn you that my last exposure to history as an academic discipline was Kasaysayan I and II, half my lifetime ago. 🙂 This article was written in awe of the interplay of various social sciences in the story of the Macabebes – from someone without any background in the discipline.

    Your dissent, those of the researchers in the Center, and others in the academe may differ but it merely underscores the need to revisit history and look at it again from a different perspective. Perhaps you guys will agree to disagree but the debate will be history’s gain.

  4. Hello dear Wyatt. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by. Linked you up, hope you don’t mind.

  5. Yup thanks

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