Dagohoy Rebellion in the Philippines

The Dagohoy Rebellion was the longest-running successful revolt against Spanish colonizers in the history of the Philippine Islands. The extended conflict was representative of a lasting tradition of resistance to centralized control in the outer Philippine Islands and of the difficulties posed to any government that attempted to overcome that resistance.

Summary of Event

The Dagohoy Rebellion was not unprecedented in the history of Spanish occupation and rule in the Philippine Islands. Philippine Islands The Tamblot Uprising Tamblot Uprising (1621) of 1621, led by a native priest, was the first such revolt to indicate the willingness of the people of Bohol Island to resist external control. The Dagohoy Rebellion, however, was, overwhelmingly, the more successful in freeing the Boholanos from direct Spanish rule, Colonization;Spanish of Philippines for a variety of reasons. The terrain and remote location of the island, gradually dissipating Spanish strength in the Philippines, and the charisma and expertise of rebel leader Francisco Dagohoy all contributed to the uprising’s success. [kw]Dagohoy Rebellion in the Philippines (Jan. 24, 1744-Aug. 31, 1829)
[kw]Philippines, Dagohoy Rebellion in the (Jan. 24, 1744-Aug. 31, 1829)
[kw]Rebellion in the Philippines, Dagohoy (Jan. 24, 1744-Aug. 31, 1829)
Indigenous revolts;Philippines
Dagohoy Rebellion (1744-1829)
[g]Southeast Asia;Jan. 24, 1744-Aug. 31, 1829: Dagohoy Rebellion in the Philippines[1110]
[g]Philippines;Jan. 24, 1744-Aug. 31, 1829: Dagohoy Rebellion in the Philippines[1110]
[c]Wars, uprisings, and civil unrest;Jan. 24, 1744-Aug. 31, 1829: Dagohoy Rebellion in the Philippines[1110]
[c]Government and politics;Jan. 24, 1744-Aug. 31, 1829: Dagohoy Rebellion in the Philippines[1110]
[c]Colonization;Jan. 24, 1744-Aug. 31, 1829: Dagohoy Rebellion in the Philippines[1110]
Dagohoy, Francisco
Morales, Gaspar
Ricafort, Mariano

Accounts of the uprising’s catalyst vary slightly, but in general, the uprising was motivated by Father Gaspar Morales’s refusal to bury a constable with Christian rites. Catholic Church;Philippines The constable had pursued and attempted to capture a lapsed Christian Filipino on Morales’s orders, and the Filipino, resisting arrest, had killed him. Morales’s refusal so incensed the constable’s brother, one Francisco Dagohoy, that he incited local Inabangans and Talibonese to rise up against the Jesuit Jesuits;Philippines presence and Spanish crown in Bohol. A force of three thousand overwhelmed and killed Father Guiseppe Lamberti on January 24, 1744, before doing the same to the original perpetrator, Father Morales, a short time later. Dagohoy’s initial three thousand followers soon increased to around twenty thousand, and they retreated to their strongholds in the Inabanga and Cayelanga Mountains in the interior of Bohol Island. Bohol Island, Philippines

This Boholano force succeeded in defying repeated Spanish attempts to reassert control over the territory. Bishop Miguel Lino de Espeleta of neighboring Cebu island was the first to attempt to assuage the Dagohoy insurgents. He was unsuccessful, as were twenty attempts by Spanish governor generals to overturn the uprising by force between 1744 and 1825. General Mariano Ricafort, who became governor general of the Philippines in 1825, finally succeeded in subduing the Boholano patriots but not without a prolonged, four-year struggle. Ricafort was aided by Captain Manuel Sanz, who landed in Bohol in April, 1828, and, after a year of hard fighting, reestablished Spanish authority on August 31, 1829. Some nineteen thousand remaining insurgents were pardoned for their activities and relocated to Batuanan, Cabulao, Catigbian, and Vilar—local villages created to house these peoples.

The revolutionary exploits of Francisco Dagohoy were not limited to Bohol Island, or even to the numerous larger islands of Visayas Province. Dagohoy’s success inspired numerous insurgencies throughout the colony, albeit none as successful as the Dagohoy Rebellion. The mountainous landscapes of these archipelagic islands were covered with lush, dense tropical vegetation, which provided a military advantage to the locals. Even so, the superiority of Spanish arms had quickly proved sufficient to overturn several uprisings in the outer islands both prior to and after 1744.

It was the expertise of Francisco Dagohoy in guerrilla warfare that enabled his followers to take advantage of the local terrain more effectively than other Filipino rebels. His strategic advice and training made the Dogohoy rebels difficult for the Spaniards to overcome. In addition, Dagohoy had the personal charisma and motivational skill to mobilize twenty thousand people at relatively short notice into a formidable resistance force, as well as the foresight and wherewithal to maintain his force over the long term. By 1770, he had as many as thirty thousand followers.

The longevity and effectiveness of the Dagohoy resistance was assisted by other factors as well. After the Spanish conquered Manila in 1571, they had followed their usual methods to establish a colonial presence. They had instituted centralized control of the colony, reallocated the best land among themselves, and conscripted Filipino labor through the encomienda system. Encomienda system
Labor;forced Altogether, the Philippines experienced a typically oppressive Spanish colonial occupation. Spain’s primary interests in the Philippines were as a base to serve potential expansion in East Asia, a production center for exotic spice exports, a source of new converts to Roman Catholicism, and another stage upon which to display to the world its status as a world power. The Philippines were half a world away, however, and they proved expensive to control.

The Philippine trade route actually deviated a bit from Ferdinand Magellan’s original route around South America’s Cape Horn. Trade Trade;Philippines ships sailed from Manila on the island of Luzon to Acapulco, Mexico. Goods moved thence overland to the Gulf of Mexico and thence to Havana, Cuba, before crossing the Atlantic to Seville, Spain. This trip made Philippine goods expensive, which, with time, diminished their value to the Spanish Empire. It also inflated the price of colonial control. By 1744, the ability of the Spanish to quell uprisings had gradually diminished, although they retained a concerted commitment to invest whatever resources were necessary to maintain control.

Spain’s early attempts to subdue the Dagohoy movement netted only a few coastal garrisons but no control of the interior-based Boholanos. Moreover, the Spaniards’ ability to accelerate their efforts was compromised by global events. Spain entered the Seven Years’ War in 1761. A year later, the Spanish had suffered defeat in Havana, having lost some 20 percent of their navy and control of a major way station along the trade route serving the Philippines. Their Pacific influence was severely weakened.

Later in the eighteenth century, the success of both the American and French Revolutions served to inspire not only the Boholano resistance but resistance to Spain throughout their New World Empire. By the early nineteenth century, many of Spain’s former colonies in the New World were nearing independence, and the cost of maintaining the empire weakened the Spanish more each year and further compromised the Manila-Acapulco-Havana trade linkage. It is a testament to the staggering amount of wealth generated through this particular colonial empire that it took so long completely to erode Spanish might, but the gradual weakening of Spain through the sum of all these activities contributed to the ability of the Dagohoy Rebellion to keep the Spanish at bay for such a long time. Eventually, however, after Dagohoy’s death, the rebellion weakened. His heirs attempted to continue the resistance in his name but ultimately lacked the skills or the will to cement the permanence of the Dagohoy movement.


The eighty-five years that the Dagohoy Rebellion succeeded in usurping Spanish control of this small part of the Philippines was by far the longest continuous successful rejection of Spanish authority anywhere in the New World. Although, or perhaps because, the longevity of the Dagohoy Rebellion was aided and inspired by global events, it signified the ultimate demise of Spain Spanish Empire;decline of from the world leadership position it had enjoyed throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Spanish insistence in devoting resources to maintain a hold on this remote, difficult to control outpost contributed to the speed with which the Spanish Empire lost its grip on European imperial supremacy.

Further Reading

  • Agoncillo, Teodoro A. A History of the Filipino People. 8th ed. Quezon City, Philippines: Garotech, 1990. Less detailed than the Zaide book, but the rebellion is discussed in the context of the larger body of Philippine history, which provides a different, useful perspective.
  • Zaide, Gregario. Dagohoy: Champion of Philippine Freedom. Manila, Philippines: Enriquez, Alduan, 1941. Book-length accounts of this particular period in Philippine history are rare, and this is among the most useful.

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Dagohoy Rebellion (1744-1829)