Philippine Historical Figure: Francisco Dagohoy

As many of you avid readers know, I’m from Bohol and very proud of it. Recently, I was elected to an important position in the Bol-anon community in the Midwest and I wanted to take this opportunity to present a Filipino historical figure that everyone should know about. Many Filipinos always refer to Lapu Lapu or Jose Rizal when they think of fearless Pinoy heroes. For me, it’s Francisco Dagohoy.

Francisco Dagohoy was a Boholano who holds the distinction of having led the longest revolt in Philippine history, the Dagohoy Rebellion. This rebellion against the Spanish colonial government took place in the island of Bohol from 1744 to 1829, roughly 85 years.

The only information on his early life is that his real name was Francisco Sendrijas and that he was a native of Inabanga, Bohol. He was also a cabeza de barangay, or one of the barangay captains of the town. Historians believe that his alias, Dagohoy, was derived from a belief that he possessed an amulet (“agimat” in Tagalog and “dagon” in the Boholano) that protected him from his enemies. The people believed that he possessed the charm of a gentle wind (“hoyohoy” in Boholano), that allowed him to jump from one hill to another and from one side of the river to the other. He was believed to have a clear vision inside dark caves and could turn invisible at will. The Dagohoy surname was derived from his alias “Dagon sa hoyohoy.”

According to a local historian and family friend, Jes Tirol, the name Dagohoy is a concatenation of the Visayan phrase dagon sa hoyohoy meaning talisman of the breeze.

The Dagohoy Rebellion (1744-1829)

The Dagohoy Rebellion was one of two significant revolts that occurred in Bohol, Philippines during the Spanish Era. The other one was the Tamblot Uprising in 1621 led by Tamblot, ababaylan or native priest from Bohol which was basically a religious conflict. Unlike the Tamblot revolt, the Dagohoy rebellion was not a religious conflict. It was ignited by forced labor (polo y servicios), Spanish oppression, vandala, excessive tax collection and payment of tributes. What angered Dagohoy most was the refusal of the Jesuit priest to give a Christian burial to his brother who died in a duel. This caused Dagohoy to call upon his fellow Boholanos to raise arms against the oppressors. The rebellion outlasted several Spanish Governors-General and several missions.

The signal of the uprising was the killing of Giuseppe Lamberti, Italian Jesuit curate of Jagna on January 24, 1744. The rebellion rolled over the whole island like a typhoon; Morales was slain by Dagohoy afterwards. Bishop Miguel Lino de Espeleta of Cebu, who exercised ecclesiastical authority over Bohol, tried vainly to mollify the rebellious Boholanos. Dagohoy defeated the Spanish forces sent against him. He established a free government in the mountains, and had 3,000 followers, which subsequently increased to 20,000. His followers remained unsubdued in their mountains stronghold and, even after Dagohoy’s death (according to some, it was caused by a dog bite), continued to defy Spanish power.

The Francisco Dagohoy Cave in Danao was the headquarters of Dagohoy. One of the many crystal-studded passages within Dagohoy’s cave has an underwater route leading to dry land, and it is said that every time Spaniards would search the cave, Dagohoy would swim underwater through this passage to hide in the breathing space. Twenty Spanish governors-general, from Gasper de la Torre (1739–45) to Juan Antonio Martinez (1822–25), tried to quell the rebellion and failed. In 1825, General Mariano Ricafort (1825–30), a kind and able administrator, became governor-general of the Philippines. Upon his order, Alcalde-mayor Jose Lazaro Cairo, at the head of 2,200 Filipino-Spanish troops and several batteries, invaded Bohol on May 7, 1827. The Boholanos resisted fiercely. Cairo won several engagements, but failed to crush the rebellion. In April 1828, another Spanish expedition under Captain Manuel Sanz landed in Bohol. After more than a year of hard campaign, he finally subdued the patriots. By August 31, 1829, the rebellion had ceased. In a chivalric move, Governor Ricafort pardoned 19,420 survivors and permitted them to live in new villages at the lowlands. These villages are now the towns of Batuan, Cabulao, Catigbian, and Bilar.

Dagohoy’s Legacy

Dagohoy is acknowledged in the pages of Philippine history as the leader of the longest insurrection on record. His revolt lasted 85 years(1744–1829). The town of Dagohoy, Bohol is named in his honor. It was the former President Carlos P. Garcia, then the Vice President, a Boholano, who proposed the name “Dagohoy” in his honor. The Dagohoy rebellion features in the Bohol provincial flag as one of the two bolos or native swords with handle and hand-guards on top. These two bolos, which are reclining respectively towards the left and right, depict the Dagohoy and Tamblot revolts, symbolizing that “a true Boholano will rise and fight if supervening factors embroil them into something beyond reason or tolerance.”

A historical marker on Dagohoy’s grave in the mountains of Danao, Bohol has been installed in his honor. The Dagohoy Marker in Magtangtang, Danao, Bohol, 92 km. from the Tagbilaran City was installed by the Philippine Historical Commission to honor the heroic deeds of Dagohoy. Magtangtang was Dagohoy’s headquarters or hideout during the revolt. Hundreds of Dagohoy’s followers preferred death inside the cave than surrender. Their skeletons still remain in the site.

Additional Sources

Francisco Dagohoy – An Online Guide to Philippine History
Bohol, Cave Country
Cultural Heritage Home: National heroes
The Longest Fight for Reform: The Hero of Bohol


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