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December 16, 1899

At 6 p.m. the honorable president named the following as members of a council to take place this night, viz: Colonel Sytiar, Señor Barcelona, director of the health department; Villa, subinspector of the staff; Paez, second chief of staff; Majors Jeciel and Gatmaitan, and Capt. Juan H. del Pilar. After these had assembled at a meeting presided over by the honorable president, in a thicket not far from our camp, the honorable president explained a very critical state of things, viz, that the Americans had taken Bayambang, and hence we could not go farther forward; that there were Americans behind us; that they were pursuing us and had already arrived at the Sagada settlement; that our situation here in Banane is very dangerous, because not only are enemies the Americans who are in front of us and behind us, but the very Igorrotes who surround us, including those of Banane, are also our enemies only waiting for the opportunity to cut off our heads, just as happened to Captain Villareal’s soldiers, who, sent on in advance to the settlements, were attacked by the Igorrotes of Pagayapaig, and as a result we had to lament the loss of three guns captured by the Igorrotes, besides three soldiers and a woman wounded.

Having explained all these things, the honorable president then asked Captain Pilar what opinion he had to express. The latter replied that he had no opinion to express, but that he agreed with the honorable president’s declarations, but Colonel Sytiar answered this, saying that Captain Pilar’s answer was not to the point, as we are all under the honorable president’s orders and ready; what was desired was that the captain should freely express his own personal opinion. On hearing this Captain Pilar replied in the very same phrases he had first used. Therefore, seeing that he could draw out nothing that would throw light on the question under discussion, the honorable president asked Major Gatmaitan for an expression of his opinion. This gentleman replied that as for him he would wait for either the Americans or the Igorrotes who might come and attack us in this settlement; and that he, in conjunction with our soldiers, would maintain the defense until death. The honorable president seeing that this opinion was not conducive to the desired end, then said it was Señor Villa’s turn to express any opinion which might be deemed expedient. This gentleman replied that, considering the remarks and observation of the honorable president, together with the motives for the meeting, he was of the opinion, first, that we should separate from the women, who constitute such a great impediment or obstacle to any plan we might form; and as to that, if the honorable president would not consider it in a bad light, he could send these women to Manila, accompanied by two trustworthy officers selected by himself. And, in the second place, if the Americans who are behind us and in front of us wish to advance toward us, they could do so very easily with the cooperation of the Igorrotes of these ranches—in which case the person of the honorable president would be endangered. In view, then, of these considerations, he believed that we should march away from this ranch as soon as possible, and either set out for Abra Province or else join forces with General Tinio; so that the honorable president having arranged in this manner for an available force of 2,000 men, nobody could poke fun at us, but we, on the contrary, would have to be reckoned with and respected.

Just after the expression of Señor Villa’s opinion, the honorable president told Major Jeciel that he might say what he considered the best thing to do. This gentleman said that for his part he would recall from the town of Cervantes the 37 soldiers under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Joven, and incorporate that detachment with our forces here, so we could defend ourselves in case of an attack by the enemy coming here. After hearing this opinion the honorable president called on Señors Paez, Barcelona, and Sytiar to express themselves. All these replied that they agreed with the opinion expressed by Señor Villa.

After hearing the opinions of those who formed the meeting, the honorable president stated that as many had voted for the plans of Señor Villa, believing them to be the most efficacious, he himself had the same belief. In this way the meeting was brought to a close at 9 o’clock at night; and before the members retired to their houses the honorable president charged them all to keep secret the proceedings.