HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 45 no. 1 - 4 (1999)

Juan and Felipe Tamayo: Pulahan Leaders of Jaro, Leyte

Rolando O. Borrinaga

Discipline: History



The Waray-speaking people of Leyte and Samar have been stereotyped as a fierce people when provoked. In the province of Leyte, this reputation is especially accorded to natives of Jaro, an interior town located 39 kilometers northwest of Tacloban City. Even the Philippine Law Dictionary added legitimacy to this stereotype by including among its entries the phrase "good-bye Jaro." This refers to the sharp long-bladed bolo, the ubiquitous tool of the Leyteño (i.e., Jaro) farmer, when used to stab or hack a person to death.


My readings, interviews. observations, and related efforts to understand the popular stereotype on the people of Jaro, Leyte, made me conclude that it could have originated from the fierce resistance waged by the Jaroanons against the American regime during the Pulahan Wars at the turn of the century.


It may be noted that the "official insurrection" in Leyte collapsed after only 16 months of symbolic and so-so resistance with the surrender in May 1901 of Gen. Ambrocio Mojica, the Caviteño appointed by Pres. Aguinaldo as politico-military governor of the province. Col. Florentino Pefiaranda, Capt. Jesus de Veyra, other leaders and a handful of their followers had surrendered by June 1902.


However, the surrender of the "official revolutionists" did not end the war in Leyte. Instead, the struggle assumed greater ferocity and force after it was picked up by the Pulahan (the freedom fighters in red uniforms), a pseudo- religious social movement with millenarian aspirations and mostly peasant membership. The so-called "Pulahan Wars" against the American regime in Leyte lasted five years from 1902 to 1907.


Among the Pulahan leaders in Leyte, official records acknowledged the leadership roles and importance of the brothers Juan Tamayo and Felipe Tamayo, who were labeled as bandits from Jaro, Leyte. Juan Tamayo seemed to have been the second-ranking leader of the Pulahan in Leyte after "Papa" Faustino Ablen, the Pulahan "pope" in the island. Felipe Tamayo served as "chief of staff" of Ablen.