Our town of Bamban had played in some significant roles in the development of our country as an independent and sovereign nation and in the fight towards independence at the height of the Philippine-American War of 1899. At times, this small town became the Presidential Office and Headquarters of General Emilio Aguinaldo on June 6, 1899 and as the General Headquarters of the Philippine Army at the time when General Venancio Concepcion, in command of the Filipino forces of the Paruao Line was busy preparing the defense and fortifications at Bamban area in September-October 1899.

Digging deeper into history, our own general from Tarlac, Francisco Makabulos Soliman who was in charge of the Filipino Revolutionary Forces of the provinces of Tarlac and Pangasinan had his headquarters at Bamban in May 1899. At the time, the battlefield of the Philippine-American War was concentrated in San Fernando areas including Sto. Tomas. As General Emilio Aguinaldo moved to San Isidro by way of San Fernando, Pampanga, the bulk of the Filipino Revolutionary Forces in Central Luzon was still intact numbering around 9,000 men from Bagbag River to Tarlac with General Makabulos forces anchored at his Bamban Headquarters. General Makabulos was more attached to General Antonio Luna who was then in charge of the Filipino Army in the fight at Sto. Tomas and later San Fernando, Pampanga.

It may be considered that Bambanenses participated in the fight for independence and freedom during the Philippine-American War of 1899 with the role of Bamban mentioned probably as “Sandatahanes” or in the regular army. One official document executed by General Makabulos dated May 20, 1899 shows that his brigade headquarters (General of Brigade and Commanding in Tarlac and Pangasinan) was located in the town of Bamban. Pablo Rivera who was the last “gobernadorcillo” of the Spanish administration in Bamban, became the leader of the local KATIPUNAN. It must be the Pablo Rivera who lead the local resistance fighters and later to fight against the Americans in 1899.

Bamban areas including the main front of the river Paruao with Bamban Bridge, eastern barrios bordering Concepcion, Tarlac and the Bamban-Concepcion Road would become the field of battle as General Concepcion’s Division consisting forces and elements of General Makabulos, Aquino, San Miguel and Hizon tried to stop the American advance to the north under the command of General Arthur MacArthur of the Second Division, Eight Corps in what had become the last battle of Aguinaldo’s Republic prior the disbandment of the Filipino Army on November 12, 1899 in Bayambang, Pangasinan.

Rhonie Dela Cruz, Bamban Historical Society/Bamban WWII Museum

Provincial Government of Tarlac

Tarlac Provincial Tourism Office
(1) “Report of the Lieutenant-General Commanding the Army”, War Department for the Fiscal Year ended June 30, 1900, Government Printing Office – Washington, 1900.
(2) “Proclamation of Senor Francisco Makabulos Soliman, Exhibit 883” The Philippine Insurrection Against the United States.
(3) Historical Data Papers for Bamban, National Library of the Philippines.

(a) “Proclamation of Senor Francisco Makabulos Soliman”, Exhibit 883, The Philippine Insurrection Against the United States. Bamban Historical Society/Bamban Museum collection.
(b) Portrait of General Francisco Makabulos
(credit to owner)
(c) Fortification and breastworks at the Bamban trench line, circa 1899.
Library of Congress Photographic Collection
Courtesy of Scott Slaten.

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