Magalang was one of the towns in Pampanga become strongholds of Filipino revolutionaries. One particular reason is the proximity to Mt. Arayat; whom the revolutionaries built their headquarters there especially in historic Camansi. Since the Philippine-American war broke, Americans captured Luzon inch by inch until they reached Pampanga. When Americans captured Angeles and San Fernando, their eyes are pointed out in Magalang. The Kapampangan general, Major General Servillano Aquino set up his defenses in Magalang against the invading Americans. But on November 5, 1899, Americans captured Magalang; General Aquino escaped from his looming capture; later, he ran to Tarlac. After the fall of Tarlac, General Aquino together with his remaining forces, they hid once again in their former fortifications in Camansi. General Aquino didn't give up his resistance despite his comrades are already surrendered to Americans. His fate was happened on May 18, 1901, Americans marched into Camansi and they captured General Aquino. Later, he was sentenced to "hard labor for the remainder of his life", however, he was granted pardon in 1904.

Forty two years after the capture of Magalang by the Americans, the Japanese successfully captured Magalang in January 1, 1942. Then, the guerrilla movement, Hukbalahap was also founded in the same year, and they set up once again their major bases of operations in Camansi in Mt. Arayat. After the fall of Bataan, the combined Filipino-American forces suffered brutalities done by the Japanese. Many of them died in starvation, thirst, sickness and harsh maltreatment. Luckily, some of the American officers escaped and they formed guerrilla units to continue the resistance against the Japanese. Some of them found their sanctuary in Magalang. Incidentally, the second ranking Hukbalahap officer based on Camansi  is also an Aquino. The Magaleño socialist, Eusebio Aquino, or fondly known him as Tatang Bio, Apung Bio or Commander Bio, took care of American officers who sought his sanctuary to escaped from advancing Japanese units. Eusebio Aquino is an old blacksmith who has shop in barrio San Nicolas beside the Pasudeco station. Tatang Bio is also nephew of Major General Servillano Aquino whom he stayed in Camansi before he was captured by the Americans.  Because of his squadrons spread across Magalang, Japanese were unable to capture the whole town itself. Hukbalahaps secured Magalang before the Americans arrived in the town; until it was fully liberated in January 27, 1945.

In this article, here are some famous American military officers who reshaped and give color to the revolutionary scene of Magalang.

Major General Arthur MacArthur- this high ranking officer fondly called him as the "Boy Colonel". After he captured San Fernando, he ordered his large force composed of 4th Cavalry, to march to Magalang from its base in Calulut. He fought fierce battle in barrio San Jose, resulting heavy casualties among Filipino troops. He commanded the major battle against Filipino forces encamped in San Bartolome Church, resulting considerable loss to Filipino force. He also ordered the looting and burning of houses around the town proper. He fought the last position of General Aquino in Masapinit and he successfully captured it. After the capture of Magalang, he proceed to nearby town of Mabalacat. After his military successes around Luzon, he was appointed as the last Military Governor of the Philippines. His military supremacy was inherited by his famous son, General Douglas MacArthur, who liberated the Philippines in 1945.

Colonel Jacob Hurd Smith- this celebrated American officer also known as the "Howling Jake". When Angeles was captured, he ordered by his commander, General MacArthur to marched out from Angeles with his large force of 17th Infantry, 1st Artillery and Signal Corps to joined him in barrio San Jose to capture Magalang. He fought fierce battles in barrios San Francisco and San Pedro resulting of large losses to Filipino forces. He also participated in the capture of San Bartolome Church in November 5, 1899. After his stint in Magalang, he was appointed military governor of Pangasinan, Tarlac and Zambales. His vague popularity rose when he ordered his forces to kill and burn the town of Balangiga in Samar. This attack famously known as the Balangiga Massacre. He found guilty by the court martial in relation of the massacre and he was sentenced to be "admonished by the reviewing authority".

Brigadier General Frederick Dent Grant- this American officer was the son of the United States Civil War hero, and former President of the United States, Ulysses Grant. He was assigned in Magalang to led an expedition in Mt. Arayat to fought the remaining forces of General Aquino in December 26- 31, 1900. He implicated heavy losses upon the Filipino forces and they captured valuable documents. After successive attempts to capture General Aquino, he successfully captured him on May 18, 1901, making General Aquino as one of the remaining Filipino officers who fought against the Americans; after the capture of President Emilio Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela on March 23, 1901.

Julius Arnold- a black American military musician who belonged to all black American 25th Infantry, also known as the Buffalo soldiers. On January 15, 1900; Julius Arnold attempted to rape a Magaleña, Leonora Salas. But Salas resisted the rape attempt and Arnold shot her using his service pistol and she died. In 1902, he found guilty by court martial and he was sentenced to life imprisonment, dismissal from military service and his salaries and benefits were forfeited.

Russell W. Volckmann- an American captain assigned in 11th Infantry together with Major Helmert Duisterhof. His forces was composed of Igorot troops and set up defenses in barrio San Antonio in Magalang. They successfully inflicted heavy losses upon invading Japanese forces, but due to overstretched of war material, they forced to withdraw from Magalang in January 1, 1942 and the town itself fell on Japanese on the same day. He escaped from Japanese together with his friend, Captain Donald Blackburn and they found sanctuary in Camansi in Mt. Arayat. They welcomed by Eusebio Aquino, a Magaleño and second commanding officer of Hukbalahap. Commander Bio took care of them and he offered Volckmann to become military adviser of Hukbalahap; but Volckmann declined. After their brief stay, he and Blackburn reached Northern Luzon and they resumed the command of United States Army Forces in the Philippines- Northern Luzon (USAFIP-NL) one of the largest guerrilla force in Northern Luzon. who helped the American forces to contain the Japanese forces in Northern Luzon led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita. After their fierce resistance, Yamashita surrendered in September 2, 1945. After the war, he and another guerrilla leader, Wendell Fertig formulated the doctrine of the unconventional warfare of the new US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) whom later he was acknowledge one of the founders of US Army Special Forces.

Donald Blackburn- an American captain and friend of Capt. Russell W. Volckmann. They evaded Japanese capture and they went in Camansi in Mt. Arayat. He and Volckmann was welcomed by Eusebio Aquino and after they brief stay, they went to Northern Luzon to resume command of United States Army Forces in the Philippines- Northern Luzon (USAFIP-NL). He was known for his exploits during the war; remained unknown in general public. After the war, he was appointed commander of Studies and Observation Group of the US Army based in Vietnam.

Source: Bartolo, Louie Aldrin L. and Dizon, Lino L. The Magalang Book, The Historical Life and Culture of a Kapampangan Town (1605-2015)

Photo Credit: http://www.riskplaywin.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/press-release.jpg


  1. You failed to mention Gen. José Alejandrino who also used Bunduk Aláya as his base when he began his guerilla warfare after Luna's death. He had a Pugut with him - David Fagen, a black Amerikan.

  2. David Fagen was only assigned in the town of Arayat according to War Department records. He never encamped in Magalang.