General Vicente R. Lukban- the most hated general of the Philippine Revolution
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Lukban was born on Feb. 11, 1860 at Labo, Camarines Norte to the couple Don Agustin Lukban of Ambos, Camarines and Dona Andrea Rilles. He died at the age of 56 on Nov. 16, 1916 at his residence in Manila. He finished his elementary grades at the Escuela Pia Publica in his hometown, then went to Manila to finish secondary course at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila. At the Colegio de San Juan de Letran he took up law, worked in the Court of First Instance in Quiapo, Manila, before becoming Justice of the Peace in Labo.
Adopting "Luz del Oriente" as his tag, Lukban was inducted into the Masonic Lodge in 1894. With Juan Miguel, he co-founded Bicol Lodge in Libmanan, Camarines Sur. That same year, he joined the Katipunan. He founded the agricultural society La Cooperativa Popular, after resigning from government service in 1896.
Caught and imprisoned
While in Manila on official business to attend a meeting called by an agricultural society, Lukban was apprehended by Spanish authorities on September 29, 1896 for his connection with the Katipunan. He was kept in a flooded cell that had caused him his permanent limp during his incarceration in Carcel de Bilibid. Despite tortures, Spanish executioners failed to get any admission about the katipunan from him.
He joined General Aguinaldo's forces
Among political prisoners released on May 17, 1897 by virtue of Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera’s amnesty program, Lukban decided to join the forces of General Emilio Aguinaldo.
Joined Aguinaldo in Hong Kong
With the capture of Aguinaldo came the signing of the Pack of Biak na Bato on Dec. 14, 1897, providing among other things the voluntary excilement of General Aguinaldo to Hong Kong. Lukban accepted Aguinaldo’s wish to join him in Hong Kong where he became an active part of Aguinaldo’s revolutionary junta.
Promoted general for Samar and Leyte
Five months after on May 1898 Lukban took a trip home and resumed his activities with the katipuneros. He was conferred the rank of a Colonel. Another 5 months after, on Oct. 29, 1898 Gen. Aguinaldo appointed him Comandante Militar of Bicolandia. On the same year, December 21, he was promoted General for Samar and Leyte. Lukban, a Bicolano arrived in Catbalogan, Samar, on December 31, 1898 and began acting as military-political governor of the area. While in Samar, Lukban met and married Paciencia Gonzales, a Catbalogan belle on February 11, 1901. The couple were blessed with 8 children: Lourdes, Jose, Ramon, Rosita, Fidel, Maria, Juan and Victoria. His first wife Sofia Dizon Barba died after their last child was born. His union with Sofia produced 4 kids: Cecilia, Felix, Agustin and Vicente, which he left in the care of his siblings so he could continue his underground activities.
Guerrilla activities and capture
When the Filipino-American War broke out on Feb. 4, 1899, Lukban installed his arsenal in the wilderness of Catbalogan and carried out guerrilla warfare.
He established a hideout at the rocky cliffs of the Sohoton Caves in Basey. The hideout overlooks Basey’s Golden River where American soldiers who were out on boats to get him were rolled on with big rocks by Lukban’s men to kill or frighten them. Lukban’s men defended this fortress until November 1901. He survived just as he did in August 18, 1901 in an attack along the Catarman River in Samar that resulted in the capture of his dear wife and a few officials. He suffered wounds but was able to escape. Lukban’s fall occurred on February 18, 1902 in Maleju. Samar. He was captured, not by the Americans, but by pro-Americans, a troop of native scouts from Leyte who were under the command of 1Lt. Alphonse Strebler of Company 39, Visayas, Philippine Scouts. He was imprisoned in Talim Island in Laguna de Bay until July 15, 1902 after he took an oath of allegiance to the United States.
Skirmish with US troops
When the US 1st Infantry regiment docked on Samar’s shores on January 1901, Lukbans’ suicidal bolomen met them. He was however forced to retreat to the hinterlands due to inferior arms. In the process native Samarenos caught collaborating with the Americans were summarily killed.
Encounters he led
Museo Bulawan listed the following encounters fought under the command of Gen. Lukban in Samar:
1) March 6, 1900, Borongan, assault under the command of Capt. Serrano.
2) March 29, 1900, assault led by rebel Lt. Severino Dacanay
3) April 15, 1900, Catubig, assault under Col. Claro Guevarra and Maj. Narciso Abuke, 31 Americans killed and 6 wounded.
4) April 30 and 31, 1900, Pambujan, 30 casualties
5) May 1, 1900, Catarman, rebels under the command of Lt. Hermogenes Valenteros and Matias Fajardo attacked American soldiers
6) From Gandara to Matuguinao, the Americans lost several lives including their commander Lt. Sweeney.
7) Aug 1, 1900, Matuguinao, Captain Basilio Diaz fought an American expeditionary force, 8 deaths.
8) Aug 1, 1900, Major Julio Abcede encountered American troops, 4 killed
9) Aug 12, 1900, Major Abcede’s forces ambushed the Americans in Catubig, 6 killed, 14 wounded.
10) Sept. 16, 1901, Near mouth of Gandara, river, Samarenos attacked Company “E” 9th Infantry, 11 killed, 12 wounded.
11) December 10, 1901, Dapdap rebels bolo rush vs Company ‘E” 9th Infantry, 18 Americans killed.
Brig. Gen. Arthur C. MacArthur, Jr. offered $5,000 for the capture of Lukban dead or alive. No one took the bait. He was offered the position of Samar governor. He refused the offer and vowed to fight to the end.
He ordered his men to lay down arms
After his fall on the 18th day of February 1902, American military officers convinced Lukban to let his men lay down their arms in peaceful surrender. At first blush, he found the order hard to swallow but for the sake of peace and order, Lukban – having changed his mind- buckled down to write surrender letters , which were swiftly dispatched by pro-American Filipinos.
His political life and death
Captivity was not the end of his career. Lukban went back to his regional birth place, ran and was elected governor of Tayabas now Quezon for 2 terms in 1912 and 1916.
On November 16, 1916 at age 56, Lukban died at his Manila residence
Most hated general
General Lukban’s war expeditions netted the highest number of American soldiers killed during the Philippine Revolution, making him the most hated general of that era. It is no wonder why his name is seldom mentioned in Philippine History books authored by Americans because his name was simply ignored.
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