THE clan of Cuatro Aliños honored the brothers’ courage in fighting Spanish colonial rule in Cebu 123 years ago.
The Aliño brothers—Hilario, Potenciano, Felix and Sulpicio— started the uprising against Spanish authority in Talisay, then a municipality, on April 2, 1898, the eve of the Battle of Tres Abril—the Pantaleon “Leon Kilat” Villegas-led revolt in Cebu City.
Lawyer Rex Fernandez, president of Cuatro Aliños clan, said the Aliños toward the end of the Spanish colonization were ilustrados, or the enlightened gentry.
Back then, the family had no big land holdings, but they owned a small piece of farm land.
The Aliños were educated. The father of the Cuatro Aliños was a school teacher, which was then a privileged position in the dying Spanish Cebuano society.
The brothers were in the prime of their lives at the time. Sulpicio, the youngest, was then nearing 20, while the others were in their 20s with Hilario as the eldest.
The Cuatro Aliños were also in touch with the call for nationalism and with the plight of their fellow Filipinos being near the sugar haciendas of Talisay—the friar estates.
They grew up with tira-tira (candy), sugar and little brown globules of newly cooked muscovados. With sugarcane and coconut around them, they also ate food such as biko (a sticky rice cake) and putong balanghoy.
These crops, however, were also the sources of oppression by the Spanish authorities. The four Aliños were aware and very conscious about the problems, and when the Katipuneros started to organize in Cebu, they were among the pioneering personalities to answer the call of struggle for national independence against foreign domination and colonial rule, said Fernandez.
The Cuatro Aliños never forgot what they were fighting for, and for doing so, they suffered, Fernandez said.
The Aliños were never discovered as being Katipuneros and they organized well. After the discovery of the Cebu’s Katipuneros and the arrests of several Katipuneros and the rescheduling of the Cebu uprising, the Talisay Katipuneros never faltered and they planned to strike on the scheduled date of April 2 in Talisay, Fernandez said.
The Spanish officials, after knowing the plans, sent a force to Talisay, unbeknownst to them that the four Aliños were waiting for them.
Along the road from the capital Cebu toward Talisay, was a stretch in San Isidro where on Dos de Abril, the Talisay Katipuneros struck with bolos and in the belief of the invincibility of their habak and overcame that Spanish force. The news reverberated in Cebu and the Spanish colonizers were filled with fear, and sent a bigger force to Talisay putting Cebu in a very vulnerable situation without much force to defend itself.
It was the Talisay Katipuneros who drew first blood and gave the Cebu Katipuneros a great opportunity by lessening the Spanish forces in Cebu as a good substantial number of forces were sent to Talisay.
The four Aliños after the successful ambush went to Talisay proper and killed the friars, hanging them on the belfry of the Church. From that time on, the four Aliños became known as the mata frailes—the friar killers.
When the stronger Spanish force arrived in Talisay, the Talisay Katipuneros had already retreated with some of them led by Potenciano beefing up the Cebu Katipuneros.
During the retreat from Cebu after the Tres de Abril and the arrival of the Spanish gunboat, the Aliños were given commands all over Cebu Province—Potenciano in the towns of Minglanilla, Pardo and Naga, while Hilario in the southwestern area of Badian, and Felix in the northwestern area of Toledo to Asturias. Sulpicio was the adjutant of Potenciano and sometimes of Hilario.
When the Spanish Forces retired to Zamboanga, the Katipuneros became the government in Cebu in December of 1898. But it was short-lived as in February 1899, an American naval gunboat arrived off the shores of Cebu and asked for Cebu’s surrender.
During the meeting on that day, the Aliños were against allowing the American forces to land in Cebu, but they were blindsided by the revolutionaries who already collaborated with the Americans.
When the Philippine-American War broke out in Cebu, the Cuatro Aliños raised the banner of struggle against the new colonizers.
The four Aliños were given commands with the Katipunero headquarters in Sudlon. Hilario defeated American forces in Badian. Felix defeated American forces in Asturias, and Potenciano and Sulpicio held up the American advancing forces in Sudlon.
The four Aliños were a brave lot, and they had principles. Their struggle was for the Filipino independence.
When Arcadio Maxilom, after several years of fighting, laid down his arms and surrendered to the American forces, he ordered all Katipuneros to surrender or be arrested.
Potenciano and Felix participated in the surrenders in October-November 1901, according to the historian Resil Mojares in his book, “The War Against the Americans, Resistance and Collaboration in Cebu: 1899-1906.”
Hilario refused to surrender and went into hiding in Negros.
Potenciano and Sulpicio were jailed by the Americans in 1903 for causing trouble, and two years later, the Supreme Court released them.