Philippines Table of Contents
The tradition of rural revolt, often with messianic overtones, continued under United States rule. Colorum sects, derived from the old Cofradía de San José, had spread throughout the Christian regions of the archipelago and by the early 1920s competed with the Roman Catholic establishment and the missionaries of Gregorio Aglipay's Independent Philippine Church (Iglesia Filipina Independiente). A colorum-led revolt broke out in northeastern Mindanao early in 1924, sparked by a sect leader's predictions of an imminent judgment day. In 1925 Florencio Entrencherado, a shopkeeper on the island of Panay, proclaimed himself Florencio I, Emperor of the Philippines, somewhat paradoxically running for the office of provincial governor of Iloilo that same year on a platform of tax reduction, measures against Chinese and Japanese merchants, and immediate independence. Although he lost the election, the campaign made him a prominent figure in the western Visayan Islands and won him the sympathies of the poor living in the sugar provinces of Panay and Negros. Claiming semidivine attributes (that he could control the elements and that his charisma had been granted him by the Holy Spirit and the spirits of Father Burgos and Rizal), Florencio had a following of some 10,000 peasants on Negros and Panay by late 1926. In May 1927, his supporters, heeding his call that "the hour will come when the poor will be ordered to kill all the rich," launched an abortive insurrection.
Tensions were highest in Central Luzon, where tenancy was most widespread and population pressures were the greatest. The 1931 Tayug insurrection north of Manila was connected with a colorum sect and had religious overtones, but traditionally messianic movements gradually gave way to secular, and at times revolutionary, ones. One of the first of these movements was the Association of the Worthy Kabola (Kapisanan Makabola Makasinag), a secret society that by 1925 had some 12,000 followers, largely in Nueva Ecija Province. Its leader, Pedro Kabola, called for liberation of the Philippines and promised the aid of the Japanese. The Tangulang (Kapatiran Tangulang Malayang Mamamayang--Association for an Offensive for Our Future Freedom) movement founded in 1931 was both urban and rural based and had as many as 40,000 followers.
The most important movement, however, was that of the Sakdalistas. Founded in 1933 by Benigno Ramos, a former Nacionalista Party member and associate of Quezon who broke with him over the issue of collaboration, the Sakdal Party (sakdal means to accuse) ran candidates in the 1934 election on a platform of complete independence by the end of 1935, redistribution of land, and an end to caciquism. Sakdalistas were elected to a number of seats in the legislature and to provincial posts, and by early 1935 the party may have had as many as 200,000 members. Because of poor harvests and frustrations with the government's lack of response to peasant demands, Sakdalistas took up arms and seized government buildings in a number of locations on May 2-3, 1935. The insurrection, suppressed by the Philippine Constabulary, resulted in approximately 100 dead and Benigno Ramos fled into exile to Japan.
Through the 1930s, tenant movements in Central Luzon became more active, articulate, and better organized. In 1938 the Socialist Party joined in a united front with the Communist Party of the Philippines (Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas--PKP), which was prominent in supporting the demands of tenants for better contracts and working conditions. As the depression wore on and prices for cash crops collapsed, tenant strikes and violent confrontations with landlords, their overseers, and the Philippine Constabulary escalated.
In response to deteriorating conditions, commonwealth president Quezon launched the "Social Justice" program, which included regulation of rents but achieved only meager results. There were insufficient funds to carry out the program, and implementation was sabotaged on the local level by landlords and municipal officials. In 1939 and 1940, thousands of cultivators were evicted by landlords because they insisted on enforcement of the 1933 Rice Share Tenancy Act, which guaranteed larger shares for tenants.
Data as of June 1991
Philippines Table of Contents