Diary of Simeon Villa

May 17, 1900

Just as the honorable president awoke this morning at 6 o’clock he found an Igorrote of this settlement, who told him that in Sumader, a settlement distant one hour from this, there were Americans en route here. As soon as we were aware of the presence of the Americans in Balbalasan we knew that their plan was to shut us in on all sides for the purpose, perhaps, of capturing the honorable president. He, on receiving this news, at once sent a courier to Sumader to see if the Americans were already there.

The men returned at the end of an hour and told the honorable president that the Americans were eating breakfast when he left that settlement.

The honorable president thought of making resistance, but as he did not have sufficient forces for that, nearly half of our soldiers being sick, he deemed it expedient to abandon the camp. In fact, at 8 a.m. we left the settlement, following the route to Guinaang, in order to gather up some of our soldiers on duty there.

We reached the guardhouse of the first outpost at 10 a.m., and halted here to observe the movements of the enemy. At 10.30 Major Gaitmaitan arrived, having come from the trench on top of the mountain ridge facing Sumader, and said that he left Lieutenant Morales and fourteen soldiers in that trench.

At about 11.30 Lieutenant Morales arrived with his soldiers. He reported that the enemy did not reach the trench, but flanked it to the left, and had succeeded in going as far as Cuabuntot, a settlement on the other side of Labuagan, and distant from it only one hour. Being unable at this moment to further avoid the coming of the enemy, the honorable president ordered that we should continue the march for Guinaang, which we reached at 1 p.m.

This morning the honorable president did not know how to carry our sick soldiers who, on account of the seriousness of their condition, can not walk. He found no remedy except to give instructions for them to be left behind. Accordingly, he particularly charged the head man of the settlement to take good care of the soldiers who are going to remain, saying that he and all the people of his settlement will have to answer with their lives for these sick men. The honorable president delivered money to the head man of the Igorrotes to buy food for the sick soldiers, and he also gave $3 to each one of the latter. It can not be imagined how sad and desperate they are, through fear that the Igorrotes may have a “kanao” feast at their cost. But these can not follow us, because they are too weak to walk. Divine providence will protect these defenders. After eating, at 2 o’clock p.m., we left Guinaang, passing through thick woods on the mountain ridges, and going up and down among these.

At 3.30 we arrived at the Pugon settlement and kept up the march, continually descending and ascending, toward Magsilay, which we reached at 5 o’clock. Being unable to spend the night there on account of the nearness of the enemy, the honorable president gave orders for us to go on till we reached the next settlement.

We kept on. But daylight was already disappearing. We were traveling very slippery roads, and at every minute could be heard the sounds of soldiers and officers falling down. We ascended a very high mountain, several of our pack horses falling down its sides into the precipices and becoming utterly useless. In spite of the painfulness of the journey, we kept on climbing till we reached the top, everyone being exhausted, wet with perspiration, and so out of breath that he could not pronounce a single word. The top once gained, we followed the direction of the mountain ridge. Night came on, and the darkness was so intense that we were unable to recognize one another. Besides the road being very slippery, it was very narrow, crossed by thorny trees, and close to deep precipices, which appeared to be only waiting to receive some lives into their depths. But with our five senses we gave all our attention to our walking. Nevertheless, some of the pack horses became victims of the precipices.

We reached the place where we had to begin descending the mountain ridge. The road was so steep that it seemed to be vertical. Many of us taking a step had to prolong it for 50 yards—that is, we fell and rolled over and over like a ball. Thanks to the thick branches of the trees covering the mountain ridge, as they defended us from the precipices and counteracted the diversions (sic) of falling.

Nine o’clock arrived and the light of the moon enabled us to see. Though the moonlight scarcely penetrated the interior of the mountain ridge, owing to the bushes and trees, yet it was of great assistance to us.

In spite of the difficulties of the road and the great number of falls, we kept the march without halting, until at 11.30 p.m. we reached the foot of the mountain ridge, where the Cagaranan settlement is located.

We ate supper at 12 o’clock and then went to sleep. It should be noted that the greater part of our soldiers had not yet arrived, as those constituting the vanguard (sic) arrived about 3 a.m.; and also that First Lieut. Alberto Bautista left this morning for Cagayan Valley, having been specially commissioned by the honorable president to establish the Katipunan society in those regions.