Bring Back Macario Sakay's Anting-Anting Vest


Macario Sakay's Anting-Anting Vest

Bring back Sakay's Anting-Anting Vest

I've recently gone back to reading the book, You Shall Be As Gods: Anting-Anting and the Filipino Quest for Mystical Power, written by Dennis Santos Villegas and published by Vibal Foundation in 2017. Holy Week in the Philippines is both a highly religious and cultural time for Filipino Catholics. Anting-Anting believers and followers consider this time the most powerful and mystical. 

One of the well-known wearers of an anting-anting was Macario Sakay. His talisman was an undershirt that he wore. The vest was inscribed with Latin words, drawings, and symbols in the form of an Oracion. The Caravaca de la Cruz (Caravaca Cross) with two angels at its base also inspired Sakay's Agimat. 

The anting-anting is considered a spiritual and magical object that will protect the owner from evil. They also believe that it provides supernatural powers to its wearer. Having an agimat was popular during the Revolution and the Philippine-American War. Leaders like Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Antonio Luna, and Gregorio Aglipay were believed to have owned anting-antings. Cebu's Pantaleon Villegas or Leon Kilat distributed talismans to his troops. 

Macario Sakay was born on March 1, 1878, to a working-class family from Tabora, Tondo. A few years later, he was employed as a tailor and barber and similar to Andres Bonifacio, also participated as a "Komedya" actor.

Komedya was a popular form of entertainment for the Filipinos during the Spanish and American Colonial Periods. Troupes would travel around the country and perform during festivities and fiestas. The Komedya was also a vehicle for spreading the idea of nationalism. 

At the height of the Katipunan membership from 1892-1896, Sakay became the president of the Dapitan sector of the Katipunan. During the revolution against Spain and then the Philippine-American War, Sakay became a general. 

When Emilio Aguinaldo was captured in 1901, Sakay tried to be part of the Philippine Society under American rule. He helped organize a "Nacionalista" party but the American authorities considered this act as going against the Sedition Law. Sakay was arrested, imprisoned, and released in 1902. After this, he revived the Katipunan factions in the mountain areas of Rizal, Cavite, and Batangas as a guerilla organization. Sakay eventually declared and ruled over a Tagalog Republic. 

Sakay and his forces were not considered a threat by the American colonizers. However, Filipino labor leaders worried that his continued resistance to American rule undermined their plan of total independence from the colonizers. 

In 1905, Filipino negotiators started talks with Sakay. Assurances of an amnesty, the right to bear arms, and pardon for him and his followers, Sakay and his men descended from their mountaintop hideaway. 

Similar to Aguinaldo's fate, Sakay was betrayed and trapped by the American Military forces in Cavite in July 1906 while attending a festivity. 

The capture of Sakay and his men as depicted by the Ayala Museum Diorama Experience

Sakay and his Lieutenant Colonel Lucio De Vega were convicted under the Brigandage Act and were handed down a life imprisonment that became a sentence of death by hanging on September 13, 1907.  He was just 29 years old.

Macario Sakay's last words were, "Long live the Republic and may our independence be born in the future!" 

Macario Sakay (with long hair)

What happened to Sakay's anting-anting undershirt after his death. The talisman is now located in the US National Archives as part of their "loot" or war booty during their time in the Philippines. 

Historian Ambeth Ocampo wrote that aside from the request for the Balangiga Bells to be returned, there should also be a call for the repatriation of artifacts of war previously owned by prominent Filipinos. It's part of our National History and Heritage. 

#AntingAnting #MacarioSakay #PhilippineHeros


You Shall Be As Gods: Anting-Anting and the Filipino Quest for Mystical Power, written by Dennis Santos Villegas. Vibal Foundation 2017

Volume Six: Under Stars and Stripes. Kasaysayan: The Story of the Filipino People. Milagros C. Guerrero. Asia Publishing Company Limited. 1998