Everyone in Cebu knows what Tres de Abril is. Tres de Abril is a street in Cebu City. The first time I heard Tres de Abril was when I arrived in Cebu in 2000. I asked why the street is called a such. A Cebuano officemate told me about the battle that took place on April 3, 1898. He also narrated to me about Leon Kilat.
I was mesmerized as if I had the anting-anting (amulet) of Leon Kilat. It was also the first time I heard about him. Leon Kilat is also a name of a street in Cebu City in honor of Pantaleon Villegas “Leon Kilat” for his great contribution to Cebu history.
It was then that I learn to value not only Colon Street but also other notable streets in Cebu such as C. Padilla, T. Padilla, Gen. Maxilom, A. Abellana, among others.
Tres de Abril
Tres de Abril or April 3 is an important date in Cebu. Every year, Cebuanos celebrate it as the date when major resistance movement was staged against Spanish rule.
At 3 o’clock in the afternoon of April 3, 1898 (Palm Sunday) marked an exciting moment in the history of Cebu. Cebuano Katipuneros led by Leon Kilat fought their battle of a lifetime. It was as if their anger, repressed in three centuries of docility and subservience, was now bursting from its shell.
At 5 o’clock in the afternoon on the same day, Cebuano Katipuneros gained control when Spanish forces had no choice but to retreat to Fort San Pedro. “Viva katipunan! Viva Filipinas!” was heard over as shouted by the Katipuneros. In the next three days, the Katipuneros headed by Leon Kilat, were in complete control of Cebu City.
Although the success of the Katipuneros was short-lived, it inspired other Katipuneros to fight. The the success of Tres de Abril revolution motivated other residents in other towns to take up arms also.
Leon Kilat was among the notable person in Tres de Abril revolution. Leon Kilat’s life and works inspired many. In Carcar, where Leon Kilat died, stands his monument.
The most notable account on the activities of Leon Kilat is the The untold story of Leon Kilat and Cebu’s Revolution in 1898 by Emil Justimbaste.
Leon Kilat was the nom de guerre (war alias name) of Pantaleon Villegas, the leader in the onset of hostilities in April 1898. Pantaleon Villegas was a native of Bacong, Negros Oriental.
Max Limpag’s Pantaleon Villegas, the man behind the mythical Leon Kilat gives us good view of Leon Kilat’s great contribution to Cebu’s revolution. Limpag wrote, Leon Kilat, according to the myth that surrounded him years after his death, was said to possess amulets that made him almost invincible.
This inspire another Cebuano writer, Lorenzo Niñal to do a research about Leon Kilat. He is more interested to know the juiciest, oddest, most outrageous, most intriguing trivia [...] about Leon Kilat and his soldiers.
Tres de Abril and Leon Kilat continue to inspire Cebuanos and the Filipino nation.
May the spirit of nationalism, courage and leadership of Leon Kilat lives in every Cebuano’s heart and in every Filipino’s life. On April 3 let us commemorate the courage of Pantaleon Villegas and his men.
Blog I author (Bisaya): Ambot Lang!