Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Battle of Pulang Lupa/Battle of Masaguisi



Battle of Pulang Lupa commemorative stamp issued by the Philippine Postal Corporation in 2000.


 “The marker stands at the site of the famous battle won by the Marinduquenos over the well-armed American forces on Sept. 13, 1900. The Americans led by Capt. Deverieux Shields surrendered to the Marinduque Revolutionary Forces led by Col. Maximo Abad. They were held captive for a month and were released on October 14, 1900 upon orders from the Revolutionary Government in Cavite.” – says the Battle of Pulang Lupa Historical Park Signage in Poctoy, Torrijos, Marinduque, courtesy of the Department of Tourism, LGU Torrijos and Philippine Tourism Authority.

This battle has been commemorated from the early 60s when September 13 was first declared as ”Marinduque Day” under the administration of Pres. Diosdado Macapagal, then by President Ferdinand E. Marcos who issued a proclamation referring to it also as “Marinduque Day”. It was only during the term of President Corazon C. Aquino when a law was passed (RA 6702) in 1988 declaring September 13 of every year as “Battle of Pulang Lupa Day”.





Teatro Balangaw group re-enacting the battle.
This blogger composed and directed "Awit sa Pulang Lupa" performed by Teatro Balangaw and the Marinduque Provincial Capitol Choir in several commemorations from 1995-2007.

Up to the present, no study has been made on the origin of “Pulang Lupa” as a place-name. Stories, however, are being told that it refers to pulang lupa, red soil that could be found in the mountain range of Kambindol, (apparently an older name of the same mountain range that could be traced to older maps, there are stories that Kambindol's origin was "Kang Bindoy", in reference of Hermenegildo Flores, Kapitan Bindoy, a local revolutionary leader from Sta. Cruz executed by the Spaniards during the Philippine-Spanish war in Marinduque). Other stories attribute the origin of Pulang Lupa to that bloody battle that transpired there in 1900.

But where ‘there'?  That a historical marker stands at the site of that famous episode in local history, a site even listed as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute, is not evidence. Not evidence that the battle happened atop that rugged mountain which offers a great panoramic view of the north-eastern and south-eastern sections of Marinduque. All accounts of the battle (and there are numerous accounts now available from primary sources) contradict this repeated claim of where it happened, as well as books with stories of that battle written by some of the world’s foremost historians.

‘Pulang Lupa’ as a place-name does not appear in eyewitness reports, soldier’s diaries, nor in U.S. military records relating to that war, nor in newspaper articles published in the U.S. during that period. The name appears, however, in a very brief account of the battle written by local historian, Ramon Madrigal, in 1963. 



www.ulongbeach.com Battle of Pulang Lupa Page

A highly informative website that contains significant literature, first-hand accounts and photos of the American engagement in Marinduque available in U.S. libraries, that have been researched and compiled by a Marinduque history and culture enthusiast, Curt Shepard and his Filipina wife Dalia, could be found on www.ulongbeach.com. This will prove invaluable to historical researchers and may prompt a desire to know more.

In an earlier post entitled ‘Pulang Lupa: Scanning Masaguisi this time’ (Sept. 11, 2010), I pointed out a location mentioned in primary sources that the 'Pulang Lupa site' could not be the ‘battle site’ as we have been made to believe all these years. A place where, as described by Capt. Shields, he fell seriously wounded. This was a rice field near Masaguisi (written by the Americans as Massiquisie), where renewed enemy fire forced the Americans to take cover behind paddy dikes. Read Pulang Lupa: Scanning Masaguisi this time!

By his own account, Shields and his companions had to march in a brook and run over an extremely rocky bed. Then he took a direction that led to Masaguisi. There he was again wounded with the bullet passing through his neck and mouth, falling partly in a small stream until he was lifted out of the water. Carried by his men about two hundred yards farther until they were captured by the local forces. Some of his men were even captured in a swamp near the seashore.
“What began as a slow withdrawal quickly turned into a race down a rocky stream bed, as the Americans scrambled to escape the pincers that were moving to surround them, the beleaguered detachment entered a rice field near the barrio of Massiquisie” , (From American War Department Record).

Incontrovertible proof that the battle took place in Masaguisi



To the point, here now comes a publication, The Encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars: A Political, Social, and Military History – Spencer C. Tucker ABC-CLIO. 2009.  It is a book that covers the conflict between the U.S. and Spain and with the Philippines “with a depth and breadth no other reference work can match”.

BATTLE OF MASSIQUISIE (BATTLE OF MASAGUISI)
Event Date: September 13, 1900

Excerpts:
"In early September, the presence of the U.S. Navy (ex-Spanish) gunboat Villalobos gave Shields the opportunity to deploy his forces in Torrijos, located on Marinduque’s southeastern coast. Ordering First Lieutenant M.H. Wilson and 41 soldiers by water to land on September 11 near Torrijos. There the Americans scattered a group of 20 guerillas and demolished their compound.
"On September 13, Shields and his troops marched into the interior, intending to return to Santa Cruz. Abad then massed virtually his entire insurgent force of some 250 men with rifles and another 2,000 with bolos beside a vertical height overlooking the path. Shields led his detachment right into the trap. Following several hours of fighting, he ordered a withdrawal into a concealed gorge.
But this soon became a dash through a rock-strewn stream as he and his men struggled to flee the insurgent flanking columns that were attempting a double envelopment. After withdrawing for more than 3 miles, the harassed Americans took cover in a rice paddy close to the town of Massiquisie (Masaguisi); guerilla rifle fire compelled them to seek shelter behind paddy dikes. Shields was among the wounded.
"With no other recourse, Shields surrendered his entire force. Four Americans died in the action, and all others were taken prisoners, 6 of them wounded. The Americans estimated that 30 insurgents had perished in the fight, but this figure was never verified. Following months of stealth, in less than a day of fighting Abad had eliminated a third of the U.S. force on Marinduque.
"The Battle of Masaguisi, prompted sharp reprisals from the Americans, who reinforced their garrison on the island and launched a number of stronger punitive raids, which did little to cripple guerilla activities." - RODNEY J. ROSS




The truth, however, is that the guerilla activities were eventually crippled with the setting up, first time on a Philippine island, of five concentration camps for Marinduque's population of 50,000. The experiment was then applied in those days to various Philippine provinces.

Of the Marinduque episode, Governor-General Howard H. Taft, would be U.S. President said:

"The severity with which the inhabitants were dealt with would not look well if a complete history of it were written out".





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