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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Magat Salamat

(1550 - 1589)

Magat Salamat, son of Rajah Matanda, the Chief of Tondo when the Spaniards arrived, endeavored to recover his heritage by participating in the Tondo Conspiracy (1587-1588), aimed to overthrow the Spanish sovereignty in the Philippines. It was, Wenceslao E. Retana relates, la primera conguracion separatista in the country.

This movement was planned by Magat Salamat in cooperation with two other Tondo principals, and his cousins, Don Agustin de Legazpi and Martin Panga, a gobernadorcillo. Affiliated with them were other chieftains in their environs who willed to give up their landed property for that purpose.

In 1587, they enlisted the help of the Japanese adventurer, Juan Gayo, through an interpreter named Dionisio Fernandez. In the house of Legazpi in Tondo, the plotters composed of Magat Salamat, Agustin Manuguit, Felipe Salalila and Geronimo Bassi agreed with Gayo that he would come again with arms and recruited soldiers from japan. They also agreed that "the chiefs of the neighborhood would help them to kill the Spaniards." The Japanese would be rewarded with half of the tributes to be collected from the natives after they had conquered the Spaniards. "They swore solemnly," according to licentiate Ayala in a letter to Philip II, "according to their custom to keep and fulfill the agreement," choosing after the sandugo, "a King, captains, and officers of war." They also agreed to make weapons secretly.

Before his departure, Gayo gave Legazpi several weapons to be distributed to his men.

Later, a secret meeting that lasted for three days was called in Tambobong, by Magat Salamat and his co-plotters. Those who attended were chiefts of Pandakan, Tondo, Candaba, Polo, Catangalan, Navotas with "other Indian timaguas, servant and allies." They were all briefed as to the sad political condition of the country and themselves. With heavy hearts, they all swore an oath to throw off the Spanish yoke.

By 1588, no word was yet received from Japanese Gayo. But when the Filipinos heard the news of capture of the galleon Santa Ana in February, they again prepared for battle, this time aiming to attack swiftly moment the guns of Manila were turned toward the sea, and fire at the English privateer, Cavandish. But he never came.

A few days later, the chiefts of Bulacan, Esteban Taes, and Martin Panga agreed to call another meeting. Taes was to call all the chiefs from Tondo to Bulacan while Panga would summon the chiefs of Cavite, Malolos and Guiguinto and rally the men of La Laguna and Komintang (Batangas). With all the people gathered at Tondo, they would attack Manila.

At the meeting held in Tondo, the conspirators agreed to send Magat Salamat to the Calamianes to invite the Bornean Sultan to send a fleet that would join the Sulus and to launch an attack against Manila from the sea in conjunction with the Filipino chiefs' assault on land.

"The plan was that when the fleet of Burney reached the port of Cavite, and the spaniards trustfully called these chiefs to their aid, they would all immediately enter the houses of the Spaniards with their men, fortify themselves in them and thus take possession of them one by one. If the Spaniards took refuge in the fortress, Indian soldiers would follow them, and, being two to one, they would surely kill Spaniards."

By November 1588, Magat Salamat was in the Calamianes in company with Don Agustin Manuguit and Juan Banal. He rallied some principals of the island of Cuyo, notably Sumaclob who pledged to help him with 2000 men.

However, Antonio Suribao. Chief of the encomienda of the Spanish Captain Pedro Sarmiento, disclosed to the latter the plot of Magat Salamat and his companions, after he was persuaded to join it. They were arrested immediately. Sarmiento informed personally the governor-general of his fantastic discovery and soon the Spanish government became busy hanging or sending to exile the conspirators.

"Magat Salamat was condemned to death. His goods were to be employed for erection of the new fortress of this city (Manila). He appealed to the royal Audiencia, but the case was remitted to the governor, in order that justice might be done- exept that the goods were to be set aside for the treasury. The sentence was executed,"

And so the first of the rebels from Tondo died, his martrydom to be duplicated several centuries later by two of his disctrictmates, Andres Bonifacio and Macario Sakay.