The federal form of government is not alien to the people of Western Visayas. In the revolution against Spain, the leaders of this region had organized revolutionary committees by 1897 and after Negros, Panay and Bohol had expelled the Spanish government by December, the leaders in Panay organized the Estado Federal de Bisayas in Santa Barbara, Iloilo with Roque Lopez as president. The federated states were to be the three islands but they were not represented there. Guimaras was considered part of Panay.
We do not know the exact date when Occidental Negros formally organized its provincial revolutionary committee but we know it already began work as early as November 1897 when the committee sent Eugenio Veraguth of the Montilla family to Emilio Aguinaldo in HongKong to inform the latter of the existence of the central committee, that revolutionary cells had been organized and that they support Aguinaldo.
Occidental Negros rose in revolt in November 1898. It was coordinated with the attack of the Iloilo revolutionary forces against Jaro on the same day, November 5. The Iloilo forces has been gaining grounds forcing the Spanish forces to converge in Jaro to defend the capital. At this time the Spanish government in Manila had been evacuated to Iloilo. A coordinated attack would prevent the Spanish troops in Negros from helping Iloilo and vice-versa.
While fighting raged in Iloilo, the Spanish forces in Negros surrendered and the rebels established a Cantonal government that would form part of the planned Estado Federal de Bisayas . The federation was later organized on Dec. 2, 1898.
While the battle in Iloilo lingered, the situation and sentiments in Negros changed. Conscious of the presence of the American naval squadron waiting off shore of Iloilo and fears of possible return of Spanish regime in a trade off in the Paris Peace Conference between the United States and Spain, the Negros government sent a delegation to the American commander in Iloilo Bay.
The delegation asked for American protection. The naval commander relayed the message to his superiors that merely noted the petition. By then Oriental Negros had been freed of Spaniards and the two provinces rejoined to form the Negros Republic that was envisioned to be a state united under the Estado Federal .
But this was not to be. Negros shunned the Aguinaldo government and later the Estado Federal . This is the nature of a federation - the member states decide, not the central government.
When the Philippine American War erupted in February 1899, Negros reiterated its invitation for American protection, but this time against the Philippine government and the Estado Federal and their adherents here, especially Papa Isio who immediately resigned as jefemilitar de La Castellana to wage a war against the US and by extension, the Negros government.
The Estado Federal recognized Papa Isio as the legitimate armed opposition against American rule and the separatist Negros Republic.
The Estado sent a military force, a battalion-size unit to coordinate with Papa Isio. The expeditionary forces of the Estado operated in northern Negros while Isio waged a running battle in the south of the island. The plan of the Estado Federal was that the northern forces were to coordinate with and later join the forces of Isio in the south.
In July 1899, Captain Elias Magbanua led a company of soldiers from Santa Barbara, that landed in Manapla and moved towards San Isidro in Saravia where they intended to wait for the other units and recruit local supporters. Their presence, however, was detected when some prominent families in Victorias started buying large volume of supplies and several policemen from Silay and Talisay disappeared and were reported moving towards Guintabuan, Saravia.
In mid-August 1899, the Americans assaulted and routed the expeditionary force, leaving Isio as the sole armed opposition to the US. General Leandro Fullon of Antique communicated with Isio who was conferred the rank of colonel but Fullon could not send military aid. Fullon later surrendered with the other officials of the Estado Federal after the 1901 law granted amnesty to those who opposed American rule.
Isio continued the fight but in 1907 he surrendered on offer of life time pension and amnesty. When he did he was convicted as a bandit and sentenced to death, later commuted to life. Thus ended the dream of a federated Visayas.
The Spaniards ended the Panay confederacy; the Americans killed the Estado Federal .*
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