Rebel Chieftain of Limasawa



               One of the first converts to Catholicism under the conquistador

Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, Datu Bankaw was the old chief of Limasawa, site of the ‘first’ Catholic mass held in the Philippines. He receives a royal gift from the Spanish monarch Philip II in recognition of his grandfather’s hospitality to the navigator Magellan. Later, in appreciation of his own hospitality toward Legaspi and his men, whom he provided with food and other provision, the Spanish king sent him a letter of gratitude.


                In 1622, after around 50 years of peaceful life within the Catholic fold, Bankaw apostatized. Earlier, on the island of Bohol, the babaylan Tamblot

Had instigated a religious revolt against the Spaniards. Assuring the natives of divine aid from the Diwatas, he had convinced them of victory over their Spanish oppressors. Although his insurrection was quelled by the alcalde mayor of Zebu (Cebu), it had spread to Leyte , where Bankaw, by this time around 75 years old, was aided in his own revolt by his two sons and a daughter, who had likewise apostatized. He built a temple to the native gods, and with the help of his son Pagali, convinced six other villages to join the insurrection.


                 Greatly alarmed, the parish priest, Fr. Melchor de Vera, immediately journeyed to Cebu to report the incident and seek the assistance of the alcalde mayor in putting down rapidly spreading rebellion.


            After mobilizing a flotilla of 40 vessels manned by Spanish soldiers and Cebuano natives armed with arquebuses, Captain Alcaraso sent the rebels surrender feelers, which Bankaw and his men out rightly rebuffed. Consequently, the government forces formed into three groups for a three- sided assault on the rebels’ fort in the hills. In the ensuring battle, the rebels, despite their numbers, where defeated. Many died, including Bankaw and one of his sons. Both were beheaded. His other son and daugther were captured along with other. Later, Bankaw’s was put on a plate and displayed


In public as a warning against further insurrection. Several other rebels also shot, while a babaylan was burned at the stake. These atrocities were all meant to strike terror not only among the Leyteños but other natives as well.


           Thus ended the revolt of Datu Bankaw.



Bryan Salazar