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PAPA ISIO AND HIS REBELLION

FLAGS AND SYMBOLS FROM 1800 TO 1900 CENTURY

There is very little information about Papa Isio except that he was known to be a son of migrant farmers in the Visayas who lost their land to sugar hacienda owners. Upon his parents' death, he worked as a cattle herder where he got into trouble with the Spaniards, forcing him to flee t
o the mountains. There he became the leader of a group of babaylanes known as "Dios Buhawi" where he appropriated himself the name of "Papa Isio". He was later recognized as a dalaganan, the highest rank of the babaylan. With an armed group wearing amulets and charms to ward off bullets, he called for the return to the native religion as well as the granting of land to the natives and driving the Spaniards from Negros. When the Philippine Revolution began in 1896, it was said Papa Isio's group was the first who responded in the province. The Dios Buhawi could not be captured by the guardia civiles in Negros and the band roamed free until the province finally revolted and the Negros Republic under Juan Araneta was established. To prevent Papa Isio from causing trouble, the new government appointed him military chief of La Castellana. The religious leader agreed to this but his leadership did not last long. Learning that the Negrense leaders shifted loyalty to the Americans, he returned to the mountains and continued his fight. It was only later when Police Chief Gil Montilla (whose family Isio once worked for) asked him to surrender that the leader finally accepted his fate. But instead of giving him safe conduct in Bacolod, Papa Isio was betrayed, arrested, tried and sentenced to death. That same year, his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and he died in the Old Bilibid Prisons in Manila in 1911. (Photo posted by Vic Torres)
(Note: Papa Isio's story has been the inspiration of two literary works: The first is Eric Gamalinda's novel "My Sad Republic" in 2000. The second is the musical play "Papa Isio... Tingog Sang Kadam-an (Papa Isio... Voice of the Masses) staged by the The Kanlaon Theater and Dance Company during the Second National Theater Festival hosted by the Cultural Center of the Philippines in February, 1996.


DIONISIO MAGBUELAS A.K.A. PAPA ISIO IN 1907, PHOTOGRAPHED IN THE PROVINCIAL PRISON OF BACOLOD, NEGROS OCCIDENTAL

"It was found that a band of armed men infested the slopes of the Canlaon Volcano and the mountains to the east and southeast of Isaliela, under the leadership of a man commonly known as "Papa Isio." or, as he signs himself, "Dionisio, Papa," or "Dionysius the Pope."

The band, including all its members, male and female, numbered about 1,500 souls, of whom perhaps 400 men were considered as soldiers and were armed, a few with rifles, the remainder with spears and talibones. Isio has been fir years a fugitive from justice, hiding on the slopes of the volcano. He pretends to supernatural powers; he sells charms to bis followers which he affirms and they believe will protect their wearers from death by American bullets; he retains his credit when any are killed by saying that they did not fulfill the conditions imposed that no word must lie uttered during a fight. He marries and performs all other ceremonies of the church. He is the religious head of his party, and appears to command their implicit faith and obedience. He is opposed to all foreigners, especially to all Americans, since they are in control of the island. He assumes the title of political and military governor of western Negros, and in some documents of the entire island.

He collects taxes and prohibits natives from working in the mountains for themselves or for others without the payment of tribute. He levies tribute on all who are in reach of his forces. His documents are stamped "Katipunan" across the face. He confesses to no other allegiance than to the Philippine Republic and Emilio Aguinaldo, and is a declared enemy of the United States and to the existing government in the Philippine Islands. He is the commander in chief of military operations in the island of Negros. He disclaims the idea that peace prevails, and maintains that war exists and will continue to exist until the Americans deliver their arms to him. Under his command are about 15 "generals," each having his own following. These are uniformed in grayish blue with stripes of red and blue, ending in a triangle of white, in imitation of the insurgent flag. The soldiers wear straw hats with red band. Officers wear a blue chasseur cap with red band. These so-called generals are principally noted criminals. The rank and file are of the most ignorant and lowest classes of the island, and are considered by the natives generally as savages."


Annual reports of the secretary of war, Volume 9; The overland monthly v.41 (Jan.-June 1903); Bullets and bolos by White, John R.

PAPA ISIO FLAGS AND SYMBOLS

Kasaysayan: journal of the National Historical Institute - Volume 1, Issue 4 - Page 72
National Historical Institute (Philippines) - 2001 -

....Flor Entrencherado. As Negros continued to be disturbed by the babaylan movement of Papa Isio in the late 1 890's. the eastern part of ... Binalbagan town (Negros Occidental), that he raised the red and black flag, and annoyed his neighbors. ...


Negros Oriental: From American rule to the present : a history. ... Page 47
By Caridad Aldecoa-Rodriguez - 1989 -
.....The leader was Rufo Oyos from Occidental Negros, one of the subordinate leaders of Papa Isio. This incident happened on the 26th and 27th of July ... They carried red flags and black flags. The church bells of Siaton were rung continuously ...


Popular uprisings in the Philippines, 1840-1940 - Page 162
David Reeves Sturtevant - 1976 -
...For roughly the next half-decade, he worked quietly and efficiently in the campaign against Papa Isio.12 About 1905, ... Stalking back to his house, he raised a red-and-black flag and pronounced anathema on the entire village.13 Neighbors...


....For a fee of 50 centavos , Isio's followers pledged allegiance in a ritual in which, kneeling before a "Holy cross", they submitted themselves to Isio's "seven commandments". They then took and oath, swearing by their version of the philippine flag to defend the "Holy Fatherland " ( Santa patria ) and serve Papa Isio as long they lived ,..... .


From :Clash of Spirits: The History of Power and Sugar Planter Hegemony by .Filomeno V. Aguilar - 1998 .. - Page 181

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