Mutiny at Calaganan : The Forgotten Katipunan Revolt of Mindanao

By Mike BaƱos
June 11, 2018


Map of Misamis tracing the path of the Calaganan Mutiny (courtesy of Elson Elizaga)


Many people have tried to win recognition for what local historians claim was the only Katipunan-led revolt in Mindanao at the time of the Cry of Balintawak in 1896, but to this day, the cloak of censorship thrown by Spanish authorities over the so-called Calaganan Mutiny has effectively stifled efforts to put it in its rightful place of honor in the annals of the Philippine Revolution against Spain.

Although it remains a little known fact to this day, Misamis was the only region which actively joined the Katipunan revolt against Spain in 1896. It may have occurred over 100 years ago but re-opening the archives on this forgotten chapter of the country's history could change the way the present Philippine flag looks like. Local historians believe government should fund further research into determining if there is a need to makeover the sun in the Philippine flag with nine instead of eight rays.

Every grade school student in the country is taught how the eight rays of the sun in the Philippine tricolor represent the eight provinces in Luzon which first rose in revolt against the Spaniards in 1896.

But Cagayan de Oro historian Antonio J. Montalvan II says existing historical sources indicate there was one other Katipunan-led revolt in the islands which occurred during that same period in 1896 which has not been recognized by Filipino historians.


Close up of same map.


The Calaganan Mutiny is detailed in the letters of Vicente Elio y Sanchez of Camiguin to the Manila-based Spanish newspaper "La Oceania Española" and two other historical sources but has never been linked to the First Cry of Balintawak led by Andres Bonifacio. Mr. Montalvan believes Mr. Elio's letters never got past Spanish censors anxious to douse support for the revolution which had broken out in Luzon.

The mutiny exploded in September 29, 1896 among the so-called "Disciplinarios" or conscripts consisting mostly of convicts from Luzon, who were pressed into battle against the Moros in Lanao.

In late August of 1896, the Katipunan revolution against Spain broke out in Luzon. Exactly a month after, or September 29, 1896, a group of Filipinos from Luzon who were deported to the Spanish fort Fuerza Real de la Nueva Victoria in Calaganan (present day Balo-i, Lanao del Norte) for training in military discipline to fight against the Moros of Lanao, mutinied against their Spanish superiors upon receiving instructions from the Katipunan in Manila. They raided the Spanish armory and proceeded to Cagayan de Misamis to attack the town, being joined by some Moros.

On the way, they ransacked convents and homes of Spanish peninsulars. However, a joint force of Spanish soldiers and Filipino volunteers led by local hero Apolinar Velez repulsed them in Sta. Ana, Tagoloan.

From Cagayan, they proceeded to Sumilao, Bukidnon where they were joined by a band of 50 Higa-onons. They next attacked the Tercio Civil outpost in Balingasag, and raided the outpost of Gingoog on January 1897.


Pio Valenzuela was the trusted aide dispatched by Andres Bonifacio to foment a Katipunan-led rebellion in Mindanao.



Women and children took shelter in the St. Augustine Cathedral while the menfolk joined the Spanish soldiers as Voluntarios to stop the incoming force of Disciplinarios from Calaganan.


By that time, news of Rizal's execution had reached Cagayan and Misamis, and this further stoked the anger of the local Katipuneros. It took the Spanish gunboat Mariveles, recalled from the Tercio Distrito de Surigao, to finally subdue the resistance in Gingoog. This was the only known Katipunan revolt in the entire Mindanao.

What is especially unique about this particular mutiny is that besides happening at about the same time as the Katipunan revolt in Luzon, there appears to be a direct link between it and the Katipunan revolt in the person of Pio Valenzuela, a cousin of the amazon warrior Arcadia Valenzuela of Lapasan, Cagayan de Misamis (as Cagayan de Oro was then known) who visited Mindanao during this period (ostensibly on instructions from Andres Bonifacio himself!) to instigate a similar revolt in Mindanao .

Mr. Montalvan maintains how Augustinian Recollect chronicles confirm that this revolt was in fact instigated by a communication from Katipuneros in Luzon, making Mindanao the ninth province to join the Katipunan revolt, albeit not included in the eight rays of the sun in the Philippine flag which represent the eight provinces which first rose against Spanish tyranny.

"We have yet to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the direct link between the Katipunan revolt in Luzon and the Calaganan Mutiny, but there are extant sources which appear to indicate that such a link did exist, and that Pio Valenzuela did indeed come to Mindanao on the instructions of Andres Bonifacio to foment a revolt against the Spaniards," Mr. Montalvan said.


Formation of Voluntarios who were made up of Cagay-anon volunteers led by local hero Apolinar Velez who routed the Disciplarios in Sta. Ana, Tagoloan with the help of Spanish soldiers.


Another unique aspect of the revolt was that it was participated in by Mindanao's tri-people: the Christian immigrants, the indigenous natives in the person of Higaonons from Bukidnon, and a group of Moros from Lanao, making it not only a Katipunan revolt, but one in which all three of Mindanao's tri-people was represented.

"Should a direct link be established between Bonifacio's Katipunan revolt in Luzon and the Calaganan Mutiny, then the people of Mindanao can rightfully petition the national government to add a ninth ray to the sun in the Philippine flag," Mr. Montalvan said.

What needs to be done at this point is to verify primary sources such as the Consular Letters of the French Embassy in Manila to Paris where the Calaganan Mutiny is described in detail, Montalvan added.

The letters are now in the archives of the National Museum in Manila, as are other extant documents like the historical account of the Jesuit historian Pablo Pastells in which the Calaganan Mutiny is also described in detail. (originally published in The Philippines Graphic Magazine)


The fortress Fuerza Real de la Nueva Victoria in Calaganan (present day Balo-i, Lanao del Norte) was ransacked by the Disciplinarios on Sept. 29, 1896 to start the only Katipunan-led revolt in Mindanao



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