Today in Philippine History, June 1, 1649, Miguel Ponce Barberan was killed by Sumuroy marking the beginning of the Palapag rebellion

Thursday May 31, 2012 () Last updated May 15, 2016 16:48:21

Sumuroy killed Father Barberan marked start of Palapag rebellion June 1, 1649

On Tuesday, June 1, 1649, Father Miguel Ponce Barberan was killed by Sumuroy by hurling a javelin (lance) at him, killing the priest instantly. This event marked the beginning of the uprising of the men of Palapag (in the present day province of Northern Samar).

Sumuroy was a skilled pilot of the sea and because of this account he was favored by the father and had enjoyed immunity from tribute and personal services.

Today in Philippine History, June 1, 1649,  Miguel Ponce Barberan was killed by Sumuroy marking the beginning of the Palapag rebellion

Earlier, due to loses of galleons, it was necessary to maintain a shipyard in Cavite. Through a decree issued by Governor-general Diego Fajardo, carpenters from Manila were drafted and additional carpenters and laborers from each province were demanded. Provinces away from Manila resented the decree and immediately made demonstration of displeasure.

The men of Palapag declared themselves against the order due to the distance that would result in leaving their families for a long time.

The eventual killing of the priest was followed by the burning of most churches of the neighboring villages in the Ibabao (in Samar Island) coast, which now also rose in revolt.

Other provinces proceeded to follow the boldness of the men of Palapag. It was said (by the Spaniards) that these provinces was in communication with the Dutch who had promised to support them in their rebellion. Camarines declared itself against the Spaniards, the Father guardian of the Franciscans banished from Sorsogon. In Masbate the alferez was put to death. The peace in Cebu was disturbed, the natives defied the authority. In the province of Caraga, the men of Linao (Lanao) revolted. In the province of Iligan, which borders on Caraga, the Manobos, seized the peaceable village of Cagayan. The entire coast of northern Mindanao, and the adjacent island of Camigin, followed their example.

Consequently, seeing that the revolt is continually gathering strength, the Manila authorities dispatched an armada from Zamboanga to subdue the Sumuroy rebellion. One of the captains of the fleet was Juan de Ulloa. He commanded Lutao soldiers along with his sargento-mayor Francisco Macombo.

The Lutaos - who lived in Basilan, Jolo, and other islands south of Mindanao aided the Spaniards to quell this insurrection

Meanwhile, upon the death of Father Barberan, Father Vicente Damian, was appointed to replace him. However, Don Pedro Caamug, who was one of the leaders of the uprising, descended from the mountain called Palapag Mesa (Table of Palapag, the locals calls it "Bubuyaon") where they have fortified themselves, along with about 200 of his men, and killed Father Damian and two of his aides and again burned the newly built church on October 11, 1649.

On May 1650, the area around the church was fortified by the Lutao soldiers. During the fortification Macombo made his famous speech of protest as recorded by a Jesuit chronicler, Francisco Combes:

"Why are you wearing us out with profitless labor? You weary yourself and keep your men exhausted on fortifications that are wholly unnecessary."

"We Lutaos came here from Zamboanga not to haul logs but to fight. If there is to be no fighting, then permit us to return to our homes."

"For the coxcombs and foppish adventurers from Manila, an assault may seem too dangerous an enterprise. But we are veterans and eagerly await the chance to distinguish ourselves."

"If you think us boasters, please assign to us the brunt of the battle that we may employ our courage in carrying out our own advice."

On the rainy evening of July 2, 1650, Macombo lead the assault on the fortification of Palapag Mesa, which eventually ended the Sumuroy rebellion.

The victorious Don Gines de Rojas ascended the hill with his whole army, and destroyed the insurgent quarters by setting fire to them. Having published a general pardon, those who had been insurgents before, presented themselves in peace including Don Pedro Caamug.

Sumuroy and his father survived the battle but refused to give up.

The Dutch who were headquartered in Formosa (present day Taiwan) never came.

Sumuroy was beheaded by his own men as demanded by Don Gines de Roxas. At first this demand was not taken seriously by the men of Sumuroy who would send a pig's head instead Sumuroy's head.

Later as a token of obedience, his head was presented by his men, without anyone asking for it.


  1. The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803, Emma Helen Blair, Volume 38
  2. Gems of Philippine oratory; selections representing fourteen centuries of Philippine thought, carefully compiled from credible sources in substitution for the pre-Spanish writings destroyed by missionary zeal, to supplement the later literature stunted by intolerant religious and political censorship, and as specimens of the untrammeled present-day utterances, by Austin Craig


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