BRIDGING THE GAP
The opposition to the Americans and the Canton Republic of Negros
The history of the struggle against foreign domination in Panay and Negros showed that, after being victorious against the Spaniards, two Ilonggo groups across the Guimaras Strait manifested opposing reactions to the coming of the Americans. Whereas those in Panay resisted with utmost determination against the new invaders, the elite of Negros decided to organize the cantonal goverrnment of Negros, declaring it as a protectorate of the United States and recognized American sovereignty.
One unheralded information about the cantonal government of Negros and the occupation of the island by American troops led by a certain Colonel Smith is that there was actually a movement of armed protest that lasted for months.
It must be recalled that the Ilonggo revolutionaries in Panay under Gen. Martin Delgado who desperately resisted the Americans as early as December 1898, had always looked down on the pacifist and apathetic attitude of the Negros leaders. When the Filipino-American War in Panay was in full swing, the Iloilo leaders thought that their counterparts in Negros could be of some help to the nationalist cause by taking up arms and harassing the Americans there. The Iloilo leaders were hoping that fighting in Negros would lead Gen. Marcus Miller, the American commanding officer in the military campaign in Iloilo, to send reinforcement to Negros This would have, naturally, diminished the strength of the Americans in Iloilo Province.
Interestingly and significantly, there was a breakaway element from Gen. Juan Araneta and Gen. Aniceto Lacson's command who earlier participated in putting to an end Spanish sovereignty in Negros. However, when General Araneta and General Lacson deserted the cause "without the expressed consent of the people" and agreed for accommodation with the Americans, the Negros revolucionarios enthusiastically put themselves at the command of General Delgado. This breakaway group formed a new outfit, a regiment of sharp-shooters and machete wielders and took to the field. According to Francisco Varona (1938), among the prominent leaders of this revolutionary group were Colonels Vicente Gamboa Benedicto, Juan Ledesma Hiponia, Buenaventura Ayalin Lopez, Remigio Montilla, and Ramon Valencia; Majors Marciano Lopez Ayalin, Anacleto Santillan, Gil Severino, and Miguel Severino; Captains Romualdo Gestoso, Fausto Javelona, Antonio Valeria and Segundo Yorac; and Lieutenants Porfirio Lopez Ayalin, Ramon Gamboa, Maximino Lopez, Arsenio Rafael, Benito Sanchez, Felix Severino, Tomas Severino, and Felix Yorac.
With the presence of the revolutionary group in Negros, the Iloilo command sent a contingent of officers and picked soldiers to reinforce Negros. The Iloilo expedition was led by Col. Luis Ginete, accompanied by Captains Elias Magbanua, Fausto Jalandoni and Lieutenant Legaspi.
From their stronghold in Gintabuan, a mountain peak of difficult access in one of the mountain ranges of the municipality of Saravia, the revolutionaries waged a guerilla warfare against the Americans for several months. It was not until the Americans organized the Filipino scouts that a company of these led by Capt. Nicolas Bariles, together with some American officers, captured Gintabuan, resulting to the death of many Filipinos, including the young Captain Magbanua.