These armed Filipino soldiers are from the town of Macabebe in the Province of Pampanga. And soldiers just like these, if not some of these men themselves in this photo, once lived in Saipan for about half a year. Older people in Saipan used to talk about the tiempon Macabebe (the Macabebe times) and how bad it was!
But while the Macabebe soldiers lived in Saipan, with their wives and children, they had other children, born and baptized in Saipan. A list of these Macabebe babies born and baptized in Saipan follows this story.
But first the story. How did these babies of Macabebe parents manage to be born on Saipan in 1899?
THE PHILIPPINE REVOLUTION
Armed struggle broke out in the Philippines in August of 1896 between Philippine independence fighters and the Spaniards. In the town of Macabebe in the province of Pampanga, a Spanish-Filipino mestizo named Eugenio Blanco y Leison eventually organized a group of volunteer fighters to defend the Spanish cause.
Macabebe, circled in yellow, is not far from Manila
These Macabebe volunteers remained loyal to Spain even as the war went badly for Spain. The American entry into the Philippines in the summer of 1898 made Spain's chances of hanging on to the Philippines even worse. By the end of the year, the Macabebe soldiers were wondering what to do next, since the Philippines seemed sure to fall into either American hands or an independent Philippines.
Blanco and his soldiers, plus wives and children, some 700 people altogether, set sail for Saipan, still in Spanish hands in early 1899. They stayed in Saipan until the Germans came to take over the Northern Marianas in November of 1899. But for those six or seven months in 1899, pregnant Macabebe women gave birth to their children in Saipan. Here is the list, compiled from the Saipan baptism records.
MARTÍNEZ Y NAVARRO, María
Born on May 7, 1899
Daughter of Pedro Martínez and Alejandra Navarro
GARCÍA Y DIZON, María Salomé
Born on June 2, 1899
Daughter of Pedro García and Tomasa Dizon
BAUTISTA E YSI, José
Born on May 29, 1899
Son of Julián Bautista and Máxima Ysi
MANANSALA Y RIVERA, Protasio
Born on June 19, 1899
Son of Víctor Manansala and Feliciana Rivera
SANTOS Y GIMÉNEZ, Juana
Born on June 26, 1899
Daughter of Silvino Santos and María Giménez
IPSI Y PIRÍA, Isabel
Born on July 8, 1899
Daughter of Bonifacio Ipsi and Flora Piría
BAUTISTA Y BERNARTE, Mariano
Born on July 12, 1899
Son of Doroteo Bautista and Clara Bernarte
DE SILVA Y GERMÅN, María Cristina
Born on July 9, 1899
Daughter of Mariano de Silva and Petra Germán
LEONZON Y REYES, Magdalena
Born on August 16, 1899
Daughter of Baldomero Leonzon and Gregoria Reyes
LOBO Y REGALA, José
Born on September 4, 1899
Son of Apolonio Lobo and Marcela Regala
SANTOS Y ESPINO, José
Born on September 20, 1899
Son of Silvino Santos and Sabina Espino
SÅNCHEZ Y SALVADOR, María Consolación
Born on September 28, 1899
Daughter of Baldomero Sánchez and Perpetua Salvador
MASANCAY Y MIRANDA, Fernando
Born on September 28, 1899
Son of Carlos Masancay and Bonifacia Miranda
CALMA Y BENZALI, Catalina María Socorro
Born on November 20, 1899
Daughter of Valeriano Calma and Rosa Benzali
That makes 14 Macabebe babies born and baptized on Saipan; 8 girls and 6 boys.
CHAMORRO GODPARENTS FOR MACABEBE BABY
Interestingly, even though history tells us that there was great tension between the Macabebes and the Saipan Chamorros and Carolinians, we find that one Macabebe baby had Chamorro godparents. José Alig and his sister Lucía Alig were godparents for José Bautista e Ysi.
MACABEBE GODPARENTS FOR CHAMORRO BABIES
Even more interesting to me is that Juan Reyes, a Chamorro, asked Pedro Mansale from Macabebe to be godfather to his son Pedro. Why more interesting? Because there was no shortage of Chamorro candidates to become godfather, but the father chose a Macabebe. So, relations may not have been so strained for everyone, all the time.
Pedro Mansale must have been rather popular because he was godfather a second time for another Chamorro baby, this time José, son of Juan Cabrera.
Adriano Bongay and his wife Francisca Díaz of Macabebe were godparents for the Chamorro baby Adriano, son of Juan Castro.
FILIPINO GODPARENTS FOR CHAMORRO BABIES
The Macabebe contingency under Eugenio Blanco numbered some 700 persons, which undoubtedly included Filipinos from places other than Macabebe who were loyal to Spain. Some of these also acted as godparents for Chamorro babies while they lived in Saipan.
Enrique Montealegre and his wife Felisa Bernardino from Santa Cruz, Zambales
Macabebe and German soldiers present at the ceremony turning over the Saipan government to Germany