Battle of San Juan del Monte

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Battle of San Juan del Monte
Part of the Philippine Revolution
Date August 30, 1896
Location San Juan del Monte, Manila, Captaincy General of the Philippines
Result Decisive Spanish victory,
Start of Philippine Revolution in Luzon.
Philippine revolution flag kkk1.svg Katipunan Spain Spanish Empire
Commanders and leaders
Philippine revolution flag kkk1.svgAndrés Bonifacio
Philippine revolution flag kkk1.svgEmilio Jacinto
Philippine revolution flag kkk1.svgSancho Valenzuela
Spain Gen. Bernardo Echaluce y Jauregui
about 800[1] about 100 combined infantrymen and artillerymen[2]
Casualties and losses
153 deaths
about 200 captured[1]
2 deaths[1]

The Battle of San Juan del Monte, took place on 30 August 1896. It is considered the first real battle of the Philippine revolution, which sought Philippine independence from Spain. The first battle cry of the Katipunan coincided with the pealing of the church bell at nine on the night of August 29, 1896.[3]:43


At 5 pm on the 29th, The Supremo Andres Bonifacio and 500 Katipuneros met up with Katipunero Felix Sanchez, chairman of the Sapa chapter, at Hagdang Bato in San Felipe Neri.[3]:42 By 7 pm, with a thousand men, including the local police force, they attacked the civil guards, who surrendered immediately.[3]:43 However, the Tala chapter chairman, Katipunero Buenaventura Domingo, allowed the parish priest to escape.[3]:42–43 Troops under General Ramon Bernardo then took the town hall of Pandacan and by 11 pm, were dispatched to Santa Mesa.[3]:44 Troops under Santiago V. Alvarez, Artemio Ricarte and Mariano Closas Trias, were deployed in Noveleta and San Francisco de Malabon in Cavite.[3]:44 Bonifacio, along with Genaro de los Reyes and Vicente Leyba, proceeded to San Juan del Monte.[3]:44


After the discovery of Katipunan on 19 August 1896, Andrés Bonifacio became aware of the Spanish government's plans for military action. On 25 August, Bonifacio deployed several of his men around the Pasong Tamo bridge when he heard infantrymen and Spanish guardia civil coming to raid communities around the bridge.[1]

On the evening of 29 August, Bonifacio, with his aide Emilio Jacinto, led a group of Katipuneros towards El Polvorin, a Spanish powder magazine situated in San Juan del Monte. Spanish infantry and artillerymen, armed with German Mauser rifles, guarded Polvorin; the Katipuneros were generally armed with bolo knives, a few assorted guns, bamboo spears and anting-antings.[1]

After two successful skirmishes with the civil guards, Bonifacio was joined by 300 men from Santolan.[3]:45 The chapter chairman was Valentin Cruz.[3]:45

By midnight, a small second group of Katipuneros, under the command of Sancho Valenzuela, and coming from Santa Mesa, arrived at Polvorin. This group was composed of 100 Katipunan members, two of them women: Luisa Lucas and Segunda Fuentes Santiago.[4]

The next day, 30 August, at about 4:00 a.m., Bonifacio and his men launched their surprise attack, capturing the magazine several hours later.[5] The Spanish troops retreated to the nearby building of El Depósito, the Manila water works deposit office, after having lost their commander and another man killed.[4]

Before noon, the 73rd "Jolo" Regiment, composed of Filipino soldiers under Spanish officers, under the command of General Bernardo Echaluce y Jauregui, arrived at San Juan del Monte to assist in suppressing the rebellion. The 73rd Regiment, like most of the native conscripts in the Spanish army in the Philippines, were armed with the Remington Rolling Block rifle.[4]

The revolutionaries regrouped at Santa Mesa and engaged the arriving Spanish troops. The 73rd Regiment, together with the garrison of the magazine, almost wiped out Bonifacio's men, leaving about 150 dead and capturing over 200. This disastrous outcome forced Bonifacio to retreat towards the Pasig River.[5]


After the unsuccessful attack at Polvorin, an armed resistance spread towards Central Luzon and provinces along Southern Tagalog.

At 8:00 p.m. on 30 August, Governor-General Ramón Blanco y Erenas issued an executive order placing the eight provinces of Manila, Morong (now Rizal province), Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Tarlac under martial law.[6] As a lesson to revolutionaries, the Katipuneros captured at Polvorin were summarily tried and executed. One of them was Sancho Valenzuela, who was dragged off in chains together with his men, Modesto Rivera, Eugenio Silvestre and Ramon Peralta, towards the tribunal.[4] Arrests and interrogations were intensified and many Filipinos died from torture.

To ease the increasing tension throughout the colony, Blanco offered a pardon to Filipino rebels who would lay down their arms and surrender to the Spanish authorities. Dr. Pío Valenzuela, the chief physician and aide of Bonifacio, was one of the first Katipuneros who availed himself of this amnesty.[5] However, after his surrender, he was deported and imprisoned in Madrid, and later incarcerated in a Spanish outpost in Africa.[5]

Aside from granting amnesties to returning rebels, the Spanish colonial government also assisted on trying and executing several members of the Katipunan. Fifty-seven of the revolutionaries at San Juan del Monte were executed on 31 August 1896.[5] On 4 September, Sancho Valenzuela, Rivera, Silvestrre and Peralta were executed,[5] on the Campo de Bagumbayan, facing the Luneta Esplanade.[7]:369 On 12 September, thirteen revolutionaries were executed in Cavite.[8]


El Depósito, taken in 1900.
Detail of eight-ray sun of the Philippine flag

The present-day design of the Philippine flag features the eight-ray sun, which, some of the provinces that Blanco took under martial law on August 30, 1896 took a representation. The eight rays of the sun represent the eight provinces that initiated revolution against Spain: Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Laguna, and Batangas,[9] though historian Ambeth Ocampo listed Tarlac instead of Bataan.[10]

On July 25, 1987, former President Corazon C. Aquino signed Executive Order 292 which declared the last Sunday of August each year as a public holiday in the Philippines. This commemorates the Cry of Pugad Lawin and the start of the Philippine Revolution.[11]

In 1974, the Pinaglabanan Shrine was unveiled in San Juan, along Pinaglabanan Street. "Pinaglabanan" is a Tagalog word for "fought over". The present-day San Juan Elementary School stands on the former grounds of the ruined El Polvorin.[12] In 2006, a museum for the Katipunan was opened by the San Juan City government located by the shrine.[13]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Battle of San Juan Del Monte". Retrieved 27 October 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "The Philippine Revolution: First Shots of the Revolution". Retrieved 27 October 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Alvarez, S.V., 1992, Recalling the Revolution, Madison: Center for Southeast Asia Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, ISBN 9781881261056
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Quizon, Mona Liza. "Sancho Valenzuela: Hero of the 1896 Revolution". National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Retrieved 27 October 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Duka 2008, p. 114
  6. "114th Anniversary of the Battle of Pinaglabanan, San Juan del Monte". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 30 August 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Foreman, J., The Philippine Islands, A Political, Geographical, Ethnographical, Social and Commercial History of the Philippine Archipelago, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
  8. Nava, Jose. El proceso de los trece martires de Cavite. N.p.: Ilagan y Sanga Press, 1936
  9. Albert P. Blaustein; Jay A. Sigler; Benjamin R. Beede (July 1977). Independence documents of the world. Brill Archive. p. 570. ISBN 978-0-379-00795-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Ocampo 1993, p. 65
  11. "The Administrative Code of 1987. INSTITUTING THE "ADMINISTRATIVE CODE OF 1987"". Archived from the original on 12 October 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2010. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "The First Battle of the Katipunan". National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Retrieved 27 October 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Bordadora, Norman (30 November 2006). "Katipunan museum opens today in San Juan". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 27 October 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>