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Heritage

The death of Leon Kilat

(Editor’s note: Today marks the birth anniversary of Pantaleon Villegas, the revolutionary leader known as Leon Kilat. To mark the occassion, we are republishing an earlier post about the day after his killing.)

After his betrayal and assassination in the town of Kabkad (present day Carcar City) in the early hours of April 8, 1898, a Good Friday, Leon Kilat’s disemboweled body was put on display at the town center.

The killing of Leon Kilat, the nom de guerre of Katipunan leader Pantaleon Villegas, was gruesome – because he was rumored to be invulnerable to bullets because of his anting-anting, his killers had to repeatedly stab him to make sure he was dead.

Vicente Alcoseba, in his book “Ang Kamatayon ni Leon Kilat,” recounts the reaction of Kabkad townsfolk upon seeing Heneral Kilat’s body.

 

Leon Kilat Monument
LEON KILAT. This monument stands a short walk from where Leon Kilat was killed and where his disemboweled body was put on display at the town center for everyone to see as a warning. (Archival photo from the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of San Carlos)

Sumala sa makita pinaagi sa lantaw kay dili man paduolan, lugos maila ang dagway ug nawong nga naduhg sa dugo ug tibuok kalawasan…

Bisan antaw da, ang uban nagkulima, ang uban nanap-ong sa ilang baba ug ilong, ug dinhay uban nga molantaw apan molingiw dayong pangilogkilog ambot unsay gibati. May uban motanaw nga magkismud, dagway nagpaila sa kalagot batok niadtong patay na nga nagahigda sa us aka makalolooyng andas, kalagut nga binaghutan sa ilang kinaugalingon ug binurog nga panabot.

“Hesus! Pagkamakalilisang tan-awon niana!” pulong sa usa ka babaye dayong lingiw.

“Tiaw mo nga naggula ang tinai,” mitubag ang usang katupad nga nanalithi.

Leon Kilat handkerchief
LEON KILAT’S HANDKERCHIEF. This handkerchief on display in Museo Sugbo is believed to have been owned by Cebuano revolutionary leader Pantaleon “Leon Kilat” Villegas. Leon Kilat was an almost mythical figure in the Cebu revolution – relatives in his hometown in Bacong, Negros Oriental said he would use his handkerchief like a magic carpet and quickly go to other places like a lightning thus the name “Kilat” (lightning). He was also said to be invulnerable to bullets because of the handkerchief, which served as anting-anting. Writer Emil Justimbaste said that printed on the piece of cloth were corrupted Latin and Spanish phrases.

 

“Maayo dang nakuha kanang tawhana,” misagbat ang usa aka lalaki nga buntag pa gani nagtika na ang baba sa tilad. “Kon wala pa tingali maagiw ang atong lungsod ug mangamatay kitang tanan.”

“Yati da nga mosulti ka niana,” mitubag ang usa maduhaduhaon sa pagtoo.

“Magduhaduha ka pa? … Kanang tawhana mao gayud ang bugtawon sa tropa bisan asa siya molikay. Nan kon hiabtan nga anhi dinhi sa ato mapagan lang kita sa pilit kay ang mga kastila magpasagad na man ug pamunting bisan kang kinsa.

“Karon hinoong viernesa santo dili hinoon ang atong Ginoo ray ilubong…”

“Kinsa man?”

“Kanang nagbuy-ad diay?”

“Mirisi…” mao pay pagtingog sa us aka dalaga nga nanalit-hi dayong lakaw.

Leon Kilat
PRESENT DAY. The statue of Leon Kilat today.

Sa lahing dapit….

“Sa kinaugalingon nakong paghukum, migo, ingog nasayop ang paagi nga gipatay kanang tawhana da,” pulong sa usa nga nag-kiugpos.

“Nganong sayop man?” nangutana ang usa nga napalikod sa iyang olising palasan.

“Sayop, kay inay nagpasakit kana tungod ug alang sa kaayohan natong tanan, gipatay na hinoon, unsaon pa nato pagkakab-ut sa atong gipangandoyng kagawasan?”

“Kanang pagkasultiha nimo, migo, nindot lang paminawon; apans sa pagkakaron malisud kayo pagbutang sa buhat.”

“Dili maglisud kon magkausa lang ang tanan, walay usa nga magsukwahi. Wala k aba mahinumdom, migo, niadtong giingon: “sa panagkausa anaa ang kusog,” nahibalo ka niana, migo?

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By Max Limpag

Max Limpag is a journalist, blogger, and developer based in Cebu. He started as a reporter covering City Hall in 1996. He has written on technology for various print and digital publications since 1999 and twice won the Philippine Blog Awards for technology and sports. He co-founded the new media start-up InnoPub Media.