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Conspiracy of the Maharlikas

The Conspiracy of the Maharlikas, also referred to as the Revolt of the Lakans or the Tondo Conspiracy of 1587–1588 was a plot against Spanish colonial rule by the Tagalog and Kapampangan noblemen, or Datus, of Manila and some towns of Bulacan and Pampanga, in the Philippines. They were the indigenous rulers of their area or an area yet upon submission to the might of the Spanish was relegated as mere collector of tributes or at best Encomenderos that need to report to a Spanish Governor. It was led by Agustín de Legazpi, the son of a Maginoo of Tondo (one of the chieftains of Tondo), born of a Spanish mother given a Hispanized name to appease the colonizers, grandson of conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi, nephew of Lakan Dula, and his first cousin, Martin Pangan. The datus swore to rise up in arms. The uprising failed when they were betrayed to the Spanish authorities by Antonio Surabao (Susabau) of Calamianes.[1]


The mastermind of the plot was Don Agustín de Legazpi; the mestizo grandson of conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi, nephew of Lakan Dula, a relative of Rajah Matanda. Being a Moro, he was the son-in-law of Sultan Bolkieh of Brunei, whose first cousin was Martín Panga, the gobernadorcillo of Tondo.

Besides the two, the other leaders were Magat Salamat, son of Lakan Dula and the crown prince of Tondo; Juan Banal, another prince of Tondo and Salamat’s brother-in-law; Geronimo Basi and Gabriel Tuambacar, brothers of Agustín de Legazpi; Pedro Balingit, the Lord of Pandakan; Felipe Salonga, the Lord of Polo; Dionisio Capolo (Kapulong), the Lord of Kandaba and brother of Felipe Salonga; Juan Basi, the Lord of Tagig; Esteban Taes (also Tasi), the Lord of Bulakan; Felipe Salalila, the Lord of Misilo (Maysilo, now part of Malabon); Agustín Manuguit, son of Felipe Salalila; Luis Amanicalao, another prince of Tondo and his son Calao; Felipe Amarlangagui, the commander-and-chief of Katanghalan; Omaghicon, the Minister of Nabotas, and Pitongatan (Pitong Gatang), another prince of Tondo and two governors from Malolos and Guiguinto.

The cause of conspiracy was the continuous injustice committed by the Spanish Encomenderos against the people of the Sultanate and their lack of respect to treaty obligations with the local aristocracy, which reserved them the right to still exercise nominal suzerainty over their vanquished kingdom, being vassal kings of the King of Spain but still, the Generals of Conquistador Legaspi refused to listen. This eventually forced the surviving Maginoo (royalty) to secretly plot the colonizers overthrow.

Allies from Japan and Brunei

The mestizo, Augustín de Legazpi and a group of conspiring Rajahs had contacted the Japanese captain, Juan Gayo, through a Japanese Christian interpreter, Dionisio Fernández, who had also joined the conspiracy. A secret meeting ended with an agreement in which Gayo would supply arms and warriors to help in the rebellion and recognize De Legazpi as king of the entire Philippines. In return, Gayo and his men would receive half of the tribute to be collected from the Philippines. A significant group of merchants known only as the "Sakai Merchants", with their leader Luzon Sukezaemon, had also been known to conspire with the royal families against Spanish rule.

Apart from the Japanese, there were other secret arrangements that needed to be accomplished before the final plan of the uprising could be completed. First, a secret delegation would travel to Borneo to secure troops and ships from the Sultan of Brunei. Second, there was the need to obtain the support and participation of the Datus of La Laguna and Komintang in the struggle for freedom. Once a full commitment was received from Brunei, Komintang and Laguna, the armed rebellion would begin upon the arrival in Manila Bay of the Sultan of Brunei’s warships with warriors on board. The conspirators and their armed warriors would then launch a ferocious attack to completely annihilate the Spaniards and then set the city on fire.[2]


On the way to meet with the Sultan of Brunei, Magat Salámat, Juan Banál, and Augustín Manuguit stopped at Cuyo, Calamianes, to meet with its chief, Datu Sumaclob. The datu was swayed to join the conspiracy and pledged to contribute 2,000 of his men for the cause. However, Salámat made an error in judgement by recruiting another Cuyo native, Antonio Surabao (Susabao). Upon learning of the secret plan, Surabao rushed to expose it to his master, Captain Pedro Sarmiento, the Spanish encomiendero of Calamianes. Once Salámat, Banál and Manuguit were apprehended, Sarmiento hastily traveled to Manila on October 26, 1588 and informed Governor-General Santiago de Vera of a brewing conspiracy against Spanish rule.

Arrests and Punishment

Governor-General De Vera immediately ordered the arrest of all the rebels. Tried and found guilty of treason, Augustín de Legazpi and Martin Pangan were hanged, their heads cut off and exposed on the gibbet in iron cages. Their properties were seized by the Spanish authorities and their lands plowed and sown with salt so that they would remain barren. Dionisio Fernández was hanged and his property confiscated. Dionisio Capolo (Kapulong), the lord of Candaba, Pampanga, was exiled from his town and paid a heavy fine. De Vera eventually pardoned him. Later, he served as a guide and interpreter for two Spanish expeditions into Igorot country in 1591 and 1594.

The other five leading members were exiled to Mexico — Pedro Balinguit (lord of Pandacan), Pitongatan (a prince of Tondo), Felipe Salonga (lord of Polo), Calao (a commander-in-chief of Tondo), and Agustín Manuguit (Minister of Tondo). They were the very first natives of the Philippines to settle in Mexico.


  1. ^ Tomas L., Magat Salamat, Archived from the original on October 27, 2009, retrieved 2008-07-14 
  2. ^ Fernando A. Santiago Jr., Isang Maikling Kasaysayan ng Pandacan, Maynila 1589–1898, retrieved 2008-07-18 

See also