On Sunday, August 16, 1896, Kalookan celebrated its town fiesta amidst torrential rains. [Later, the town fiesta would be moved to the third Sunday of February, as the official feast day of San Roque, August 16, is in the middle of the rainy season and often marred by bad weather.] Curiously, as people would later recall, the weather did not seem to discourage visitors from out of town. There were, in fact, more devotees that year who came to pay homage to San Roque than in all previous years within living memory.
The visitors were mostly men armed more or less openly with bolos. There was nothing apparently unusual about this, because the feast of San Bartolome in Malabon was only a week away, on August 24, and bolos were part of the paraphernalia of those who paid homage to the bolo-wielding Saint.
Yet, there was a tenseness in the air and a general feeling existed that all these men were not in Kalookan only to partake of the festive board.
Oriang, as she smiled to welcome her guests, know what exactly was afoot. The past few days were rife with rumors that the Parish Priest of Tondo, Fr. Mariano Gil, had been going to the civil authorities with tales of a revolution in the offing. No one had as yet taken the priest seriously, as he still had no concrete proofs, but those who knew Fr. Gil's source of information did not doubt that the evidence would shortly be forthcoming.
The Katipuneros who congregated in Kalookan on that rainy fiesta of San Roque knew that a disgruntled comrade in Tondo had been confiding to his sister, a convent girl whose first loyalty was to her religious superiors. The inevitable transmission of vital information from Honoria Patiņo to the Sisters of the asilo and then to Fr. Gil was only a matter of time.
The Katipuneros did not have time on their side. Kalookan could not be turned into a fortress in three days, and that was exactly the only period of grace they had. The continuous rains after the fiesta was an excuse to stay in town, but the foul weather precluded any form of military preparation. Bonifacio was not even in Kalookan. He was at Pasong Balite on the outskirts of Bulacan, conferring with General Tiburcio de Leon.
On August 19, a cordon was thrown by the Guardia Civil around Manila. Teodoro Patiņo had confessed to Fr. Gil, pointing to damning evidence of the existence of the Katipunan and its roster of leaders and supporters. Arrests were made all over the city. The lid was off the cauldron.
In Kalookan, Andres Bato received instructions from Bonifacio that the Katipuneros in town were to meet him at Balintawak. Bato sent word to Lorenzong Lupa at Maypajo, asking the latter to bring his men to the poblacion for the trek to Balintawak.
In the morning of August 23, Fr. Valentin Tanyag was
celebrating Sunday mass in the parish church. Andres Bato was taking breakfast
in the nearby house of his brother-in-law Victorio Lanuza when a breathless
rider came in. A contingent of Guardias Civiles and casadores had left Tondo for
Kalookan, the courier said. Bato hurried towards the sprawling Talisay tree that
grew between the church and the town hall and lighted rockets that were left
over from the recent fiesta. There was a commotion inside the church as the men
came out to see what the explosions were about. They were met by Andres Bato who
shouted to all Katipuneros
[Actually, "Katipunero" was a term not
openly used before the actual outbreak of the revolution. A member of the secret
society was referred to as "may pakto" (one who has committed himself
to a solemn agreement).]
to leave immediately for Balintawak. Only the women were left in church to finish the mass that morning, as the men rushed to keep their appointment with the Supremo -- and with destiny.
[Don Emilio Sanchez (18771967), the first elective Presidente Municipal of Kalookan (1910-1913), said in his later years that the fiesta of Kalookan in 1896, which fell on a Sunday, was postponed to the following Sunday, August 23 because of the inclement weather. The First Cry of Balintawak, according to Don Emilio, actually occured on the same day that Kalookan was celebrating its delayed feast in honor of San Roque, which was thereafter called "Pista ng Takbuhan" (literally "Feast of Evacuation").]