Tan Pedro Monteclaro


TAN PEDRO MONTECLARO (1850-1909) –Miag-ao’s “Man for all Seasons” and our first “Outstanding Miag-aowanon” of the 20th Century. As we celebrate Tan Pedro’s birth anniversary this coming October 15th, I think Lorna Monteclaro Garon’s biography of Tan Pedro written decades ago best summarizes the man and his life of accomplishments. [Copy found in the Iloilo Provincial Archives as attachment to a letter submitted by Edison Molanida in 2011; Thanks to Felix Javier for re-discovering the biographic information for us].


Did you know Tan Pedro was a composer of songs and poems in Spanish, Hiligaynon and Kinaray-a?  We knew of him as a soldier, a patriot a public official and a historian/scholar. Mr. Felix Javier re-discovered copies of songs and poems written by Tan Pedro found in the Archives of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol and referenced as from the “Collection of Mr. Castor Palmos.”

File of songs by Tan Pedro


From  ‘Wikipedia’  — “The Maragtas is a work by Pedro Alcantara Monteclaro titled (in English translation) History of Panay from the first inhabitants and the Bornean immigrants, from which they descended, to the arrival of the Spaniards. The work is in mixed Hiligaynon and Kinaray-a languages in Iloilo in 1907. It is an original work based on written and oral sources available to the author.[1]

he original hardbound copy of Maragtas in the collection of Rene Monteclaro.

The original hardbound copy of Maragtas in the collection of Rene Monteclaro.

The Maragtas is an original work by the author, which purports to be based on written and oral sources of which no copy has survived.[2]The author makes no claim that the work contains a transcription of particular pre-Hispanic documents.[3] The work consists of a publisher’s introduction by Salvador Laguda, a foreword by the author, six chapters, and an epilogue.[4] The first chapter describes the former customs, clothes, dialect, heredity, organization, etc. of the Aetas of Panay, with special mention of Marikudo, son of old Chief Polpulan; the second chapter begins a narrative of the ten datus flight from Borneo and the tyranny of Rajah Makatunaw there, and their purchase of the island of Panay from Marikudo; the third chapter tells of the romance of Sumakwel, Kapinangan and her lover Gurung-garung; the fourth chapter concludes the tale of the ten datus, telling about their political arrangements and their circumnavigation of the island; the fifth chapter describes language, commerce, clothing, customs, marriages, funerals, mourning habits, cockfighting, timekeeping techniques, calendars, and personal characteristics; the sixth and final chapter gives a list of Spanish officials between 1637 and 1808; the epilog contains a few eighteenth-century dates.[5]

In defense of MARAGTAS and Tan Pedro Monteclaro.

Over the last hundred years, academics had maligned Maragtas as a work of fiction.  Tan Pedro was a Colonel in the Philippine Revolutionary Army, fought the Spanish and then the Americans. Then became the first municipal mayor of Miag-ao while writing Maragtas. His story of the Ten Datus from Borneo had been misinterpreted later by non-Kinaray-a speaking historians, misused by unscrupulous ‘writers’ and unfairly maligned by academics. This article by Paul Morrow re-examines the writings of Tan Pedro and corrects the misconceptions about Maragtas. For Miagawanons, it’s time to learn about Maragtas and appreciate the true intentions of the man who wrote the tale of the Ten Datus.


To read more about Maragtas, click HERE.

Tan Pedro and the Americans, April 28, 1900

Tan Pedro Monteclaro.

Tan Pedro Monteclaro.

“They call me Tan Pedro. This sounds friendlier than Col. Pedro Alcantara Monteclaro. Before the Revolution, people called me Don Pedro. I like Tan Pedro better. It makes me sound more learned.

In another hour the title of ‘Colonel’ will be nothing more than just a historical footnote of my life.

My men suggested that I and my officers should not walk, but ride horses. My white stallion was killed during the bombardment of Iloilo trenches by the American Navy. I have a ‘cuadra’ beside our home in poblacion, but I do not dare send men to take the horses from there, lest the American might think it is a provocation and start a mis-encounter. So, my men ‘borrowed’ a few of the white horses from the mountain folks of Dalije. These horses are what were left of the once impressive Spanish cavalry. We ‘liberated’ some of them and these horses are now ‘Filipinos.’

Behind me, standing five abreast, wearing their newly pressed rayadillos are the men of my command. The first platoon of about 30 men still carry on their shoulders the Mauser rifles captured from the Spanish Army. They looked menacing enough. But, the rest behind the rifled men are those with lances and bolos (the macheteros). Not much weaponry against the Gatling guns and high-caliber fast- loading rifled artillery of the mighty American Army.

One hundred meters ahead are the Americans, faces red from the sun, officers wearing brown khaki while the enlisted personnel wearing their blues. American infantry are lined up on each side of Mat-y Road, fifty soldiers on each side of the road. The belfries of Miag-ao Church are visible from where we stand. I can see enemy soldiers in the church belfry. I am sure a Gatling gun is pointed at us from one of the windows. The American ship USS Petrel must be anchored just beyond the horizon, ready to turn at a moment’s notice towards Miag-ao to send canon shells down into my town.”

Capt. Barker, Commander of Miagao Garrison, Company M of the 26th US Infantry.

Capt. Barker, Commander of Miag-ao Garrison, Company M of the 26th US Infantry.

People are nervously watching from the half open windows of the houses along the sides of the street. My ancestral home is so near on the left side in the middle of the American line. I can feel my wife’s anxieties, perhaps trembling as the moments pass so slowly. Just in case today turns out differently as expected, I still have a reserve of men hidden in a few old houses, some with captured Krag rifles from the Americans. I am sure the American commander, Captain Barker, also have men in reserve for the just -in case-scenario all officers must face in war.

I am afraid that if this fails, it will be a one sided battle–another massacre of my men and the innocents in town. How can a handful of Mauser rifles, lances and bolos win against Gatling machine guns that spew 600 bullets each minute. Their naval guns can pulverize the town from a safe distance.

Capt. Barker and his junior officers are 1 km away at the end of Mat-y Road. I am sure he is anxious too, wondering how the next hour will turn out. His term for it? “An experiment for peace in our time.”

From the article in Sulu Garden entitled “Miag-ao Stories: Tan Pedro and the day of decision”

READ >>>> https://sulugarden.com/articles/blog/tan-pedro-monteclaro/

Diorama of the Miag-ao ‘Revolucionarios’ and the US Army’s Company M, 26th US Infantry

Sulu Garden’s Art Gallery has been working on the completion of the meeting between Col. Pedro Alcantara Monteclaro and the American Army in front of Miag-ao Church.  US soldiers already use the Church as their garrison and the Revolucionarios are coming to make peace to save the town and its people from destruction.  Here are some scenes that gives a panoramic view of that momentous day in Miag-ao history.