MARTIN B. DELGADO
(1858 - 1918)
Great Visayan revolutionary leader, Martin Delgado was born on November 11, 1858 to Don Jacinto Delqado and Gabriela
Bermejo. The second child of a rich and aristocratic family, he finished his early schooling at Sta. Barbara Parochial School under Father Mateo Rodriguez. Later, he enrolled at the Seminario de San Yicente Ferrer in Jaro. For further studies, he enrolled at the Ateneo Municipal in Manila and obtained his diploma as a school teacher. After finishing his studies in Manila. he returned to his hometown and taught in a public school for some time.
He was highly regarded by the people of Sta. Barbara and won the favor of the government. At the age of 25, he was appointed teniente mayor of his hometown. Later, he served as cupitun municipal and juez de paz. He held these positions with distinction, apparently showing his loyalty to the Spaniards. However, without their knowledge, he was conferring secretly with other Visayan revolutionaries.
As a consequence of the defeat of the Spanish fleet ill tile Battle of Manila Bay, the organization of the Filipino volunteer militia in the different regions of the Philippines was decreed. Thus, General Ricardo Monet, the Politico-Military Governor of the province of Iloilo, ordered the organization of the Voluntarios in the different towns. To command the Voluntaries in Sta. Barbara, Martin Delgado was named capitan with around 125 men under him.
His leading the Voluntarios was a blessing to the revolutionary movement, for when Gen. Diego de los Rios arrived in Iloilo from Mindanao in the latter part of May, 1898 with all his forces and equipment, Capitan Delgado was able to requisition for more arms.
On October 28, 1898. through his leadership, the men publicly renounced their being Voluntarios and proclaimed themselves Revolucionarios. Headed by Tan Martin, as Delgado was fondly called. The Revolucionarios marched to the town and took over the municipal building. On the same day, uprisings were held simultaneously in several towns of Iloilo. These were arranged in the convention of the Comite Central de Revolucionarios de Visayas held at the hacienda of Tan Sabas Solinap in Sta. Barbara during the last week of August, 1898.
To secure further direction for the revolutionary movement, a group of men gathered in Sta. Barbara on November 17, 1898 to
organize a provisional government. It was headed by Seņor Rogue
Lopez and the military department was placed under the supreme
command of Martin Delgado who was promoted to lieutenant general on the same date.
For the purpose of organizing the Visayas into a federal state subordinate to the central government, the revolutionary government was converted into a council of state for the Visayas on December 12, 1898. Gen. Martin Delgado was appointed ex-officio member fromthe army and councilor.
The revolutionaries triumphed. General Rios and his men evacuated Iloilo on December 24, 1898. The following day, the revolutionary leaders of the Ejercito Libertador entered the city without bloodshed. Tears of joy were in the faces of those who witnessed the raising of the Filipino flag. General Delgado was the proudest man in the whole parade on that historic Christmas Day.
Unfortunately, their triumph was shortlived for on December 28, three days after occupying the place, the Americans under Gen. Marcus P. Miller arrived to conquer Panay. The invaders captured the principal seaport of Iloilo on February 11, 1899 assisted by warships from Admiral George Dewey's squadron. Thereupon, detachments marched into the town of Iloilo and hoisted the Stars and Stripes over the fort, signifying possession of the place in the name of the United States.
To insure the greatest unity possible, Aquinaldo appointed Delgado politico-military governor of Iloilo and general-in-chief of the army. He assumed both positions on September 21, 1899.
The Filipinos strongly abhorred the Americans. Before they left the city, they set various parts on fire, simultaneously. The Visayans held their ground and heavy fighting occurred in the line of defense. Intermittent fighting continued in Balantang, Sangley, Tacas, and Jaro.
To launch a major offensive, General Miller asked for reinforcements. This forced the Visayan defenders to retreat to the interior towns. By this time, Cov. Cen. Elwell Otis had decreed amnesty for insurgents who would give themselves up. This led to the surrender of many of the Visayan insurgents. But under the leadership of "the greatest general of the Visayan army" the rest of the E;ilipino insurgents in Iloilo continued to fight believing in the efficacy of armed resistance, To perpetuate the spirit of revolution, Delgado and some of his comrades-in-arms did not surrender. They bravely undertook guerrilla warfare against the Americans.
Delgado showed indomitable spirit and through his example, encouraged the rebel troops to revive their nationalistic sentiments. As the poiitico-military governor of the province and general-in-chief of the army, he made efforts to harass the invaders with the support of combatants and non-combatants alike. He issued several decrees to safeguard the citizens of Iloilo and assured them of an era of peace and prosperity. All possible efforts were exerted to see to it that all his promises were carried out.
The Americans led by General Hughes did not stop Delgado was pursued with the help of paid Filipino guides through the hills of Maasin, Lambunao, Calinog, and Passi.
Subsequently, the desire for peace began to grow so strong among the influential classes in Iloilo that a circular letter was written by these leading citizens urging Delgado to surrender for the benefit of "the victims of the useless resistance."
The formal surrender of Delgado and his troops took place in Jaro on February 2, 1901 in a simple, but dignified and impressive ceremony arranged by Father Praxedes Magalona, a priest-revolutionary. Up to the time of his surrender, Delgado was not only the chief insurgent leader in the island of Panay. He was also recognized by the Americans as "the ablest leader" in the island as proven by his firm control of his men. To give him due honor, he was appointed the first governor of Iloilo province upon the establishment of the civil government in May, 1901.
On March 3, 1902 during the first local election, Delgado was elected governor and served unti1 1904. After his term, he returned to Sta. Barbara where he was again honored with the highest government position that the town could give. He became its fifth municipal president.
Delgado spent his last few years in the island of Culion where he died on November, 12 1918 at tile age of 60.