September 16, 2014     Philippines
Support alternative journalism. Donate to Bulatlat.com.

September 29, 2007
Fourteen Ways of Remembering the 1807 Basi Revolt

Who could have imagined that native sugarcane wine would become a trigger for a Ilocos-wide revolt, which bicentennial we are commemorating this month? And why is it that all we have got to show for it, after 200 years, are 14 paintings that only few ordinary Filipinos have seen?

BY PIO VERZOLA, JR.
Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 34, September 30-October 6, 2007

Who could have imagined that native sugarcane wine would become a trigger for a Ilocos-wide revolt, which bicentennial we are commemorating this month? And why is it that all we have got to show for it, after 200 years, are 14 paintings that only few ordinary Filipinos have seen?

Why Spain banned basi

The production of native sugarcane wine, or basi, was already a distinct industry in the Ilocos region even in pre-Spanish times. However, it continued to flourish under the Spanish regime, until the authorities began to impose pressures on the natives’ drinking habits.

The reason for this is that Vigan – then known as Ciudad Fernandina, capital of Ilocos Province and founded by illustrious conquistador Juan Salcedo – had meanwhile become an important stop in the galleon trade.

Spain wanted to profit by selling more of its wines to the Ilocos natives. But the basi factories of Ilocos must have been so prosperous in their own right towards the end of the 18th century, that the colonial authorities considered them a growing threat to Spain’s wine trade.

Thus, in 1786, the Spanish regime declared a wine monopoly. The Ilocanos were banned from fermenting and drinking home-made basi. Instead, they were compelled to buy their wine from government stores. (This was in addition to the tobacco monopoly, imposed five years earlier in 1781, which also hit the Ilocano farmers hard.)

After 20 years of resentment against these economic impositions, the Ilocanos had no choice but to fight back.

Revolt breaks out

On Sept. 16, 1807, under the leadership of Pedro Ambaristo, the people of Piddig, Ilocos Norte (rose in revolt against the wine monopoly. They entered Sarrat, Laoag and Batac successively, recruited more rebels, and made the liberated towns their base of operations. The rebels then advanced southward, entering Badoc and Sto. Domingo, ultimately intending to capture the capital Vigan (407 kms north of Manila).

The Spanish alcalde mayor in Vigan sent a 36-man Spanish Army force with a cannon and two platoons of Guardia Civil to attack the rebel force advancing southward in Badoc. The rebels repulsed them and captured the cannon. Town after town fell to the rebels, who recruited more forces along the way to Vigan.

Two weeks later, however, the alcalde mayor led another force of regular Spanish troops. On Sept. 28, 1807, they attacked and defeated the rebel force at what is now Barangay (village) Gongogong on the south banks of the Bantaoay River in San Ildefonso town (411 kms north of Manila).

Thus ended what is now recorded in history books as the 1807 Basi Revolt.

Sparse legacies

Today, 200 years later, written accounts of the revolt are so sparse and half-forgotten, that the episode usually occupies only a few paragraphs in our history books.

There is a distinct possibility that documents from Spanish-period archives, once researchers find them, will provide us with more details of that dramatic event in our history. But it will take more years before these details seep down to ordinary Filipinos through textbooks and mass media.

Thus, it is a sad statement about the value we place on major historical events that in these past week, only a few short items appeared in the national dailies about the 200th anniversary of the Basi Revolt.

Pages: 1 2

ARTICLE TOOLS
Printer-Friendly Version Printer-Friendly Version

TAGS
, , , , ,
CATEGORIES
* Latest Posts
REPRINT
Feel free to reprint, repost or republish this material. (Read Bulatlat's syndication policy.)

Comments are closed.

BROWSE BY SECTION OR SUBJECT ››

Politics
Economy
Human Rights
OFWs & Migration
Agrarian Reform
Labor & Employment
Urban Poor
Environment
Education
Youth
Indigenous Peoples

Women & Children
Health
Media
Culture
Poetry
Analysis & Opinion
Regions
International
Democratic Space
Press Releases
Downloads

ON THE FRINGES (BULATLAT STAFF BLOG) ››