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Pretending to be loyal to Spain, a Santa Barbara native secretly allied himself with Filipino revolutionaries and laid down the groundwork for the revolution in Iloilo.
His name was Martin Delgado and it was largely due to him that the seeds of the rebellion against Spain were planted in the Visayas and Mindanao in 1898.
The Spaniards never suspected Delgado and his brother Posidio, the captain municipal at the time, of being supporters of the revolution.
Basilio Agustin, then the governor general, even named Delgado the captain of the Volunteer Militia or voluntarios and placed under his command 125 infantry men.
Spanish authorities were recruiting Filipinos to help them fight the uprising through the Volunteer Militia, which was created through a decree issued by Agustin on May 1898.
The duty of the voluntarios was to help quell the rebellion against the Spanish government and to fight the Tagalog rebels in case they came to the Visayas.
Tan Martin, as he was called, had another agenda. He held secret meetings with Ilonggo leaders sympathetic to the revolution to prepare for a major offensive against Spain.
He diverted the firearms and other equipment intended for the voluntarios and gave them to the rebels.
At a meeting of the Comite Central Revolucionarios de Visayas at the hacienda of Tan Sabas Solinap, Tan Martin's uncle, the group agreed on a simultaneous uprisings in all the towns of Iloilo.
Santa Barbara was made the seat of revolution in the Visayas and Martin Delgado was chosen as the General-in-Chief of the Ejercito Libertador (Liberating Army). His brother Posidio composed a march for the revolution, the Marcha Libertador.
On the pretense of rounding up bandits and cattle rustlers in Jelicuon, Tan Martin brought his voluntarios to the barrio on October 1898.
At close to midnight, he gathered his men and told them he was supporting the revolution that had broken out in Luzon. Having been persuaded to come over to the cause of the revolution, they pledged their loyalty to Tan Martin and shouted “Viva Filipinas! Fuera España!”
That was the first Cry of the Revolution in Iloilo.
Gen. Emilo Aguinaldo, first president of the revolutionary Philippine Republic, heard of Tan Martin's efforts to further the revolution in the Visayas. In recognition of the revolutionary movement in the Visayas, he sent Tan Martin a Filipino flag and a saber through Roque Lopez of Jaro.
Since the roads from Jaro were tightly guarded by the casadores, rebel leaders foresaw some difficulties in bringing the articles to Santa Barbara. The Spanish infantry men were inspecting every person and baggage passing by these roads.
They decided to use a woman, Tia Patron, to bring the flag and saber from Jaro to Santa Barbara. Honorio Solinap, a trusted man of Tan Martin, volunteered to accompany her.
She wrapped the flag around her waist under her patadyong, hid the saber under bundles of bungalon grass, in their tartanilla, and acted out a script with Solinap when they reached a checkpoint at Barrio Sambag.
Tia Patron acted as a dominant and termagant wife, castigating and shouting unprintable words at Lt. Solinap. She pinched, boxed, and bit him in front view of the casadores.
Solinap groveled while Gamboa henpecked him. The scene so amused the casadores, they laughed so hard and just let the tartanilla (carriage) pass by without inspecting it. The Spaniards thought of Solinap as “under de saya.”
Tia Patron and Lt. Solinap reached Santa Barbara in time for the flag ceremony. The flag of the fledgeling Philippine Republic was raised in Santa Barbara to signal the launch of the revolution in the Visayas and Mindanao.
The event of November 17, 1898 became known as “The Cry of Santa Barbara.” It was a cry of victory, a cry of freedom, and Santa Barbara, Iloilo became the cradle of Philippine Revolution outside of Luzon.