Exhuming Leon KilatBy Jobers Bersales
Cebu Daily News
As promised, I will reveal the identity of the person who killed Gen. Leon Kilat, which in fact confirms the written accounts about his demise in Carcar. On the blank reverse side of what appears to be a trial proof for the cover of the book, “Mga Sinakit sa Auto” written by the Aglipayan priest and novelist Fernando Buyser are the following lines in Cebuano, “Nario Alcuitas – cabo o jefe sa mga nagabuno kang D. Leon entre sa Jueves Santo ug Viernes Santo sa tuig 1898 – sa balay ni Capitan Tioy Barcenilla sa poblacion sa Carcar”. (Nario Alcuitas – chief or head of the murderers of Don Leon on Holy Thursday and Good Friday in the year 1898 – in the house of Capitan Tioy Barcenilla in the poblacion of Carcar.)
The note also identifies the persons who buried the revolutionary general, namely: Victoriano Lausona, Ceferino Ceballos, Damaso Ceballos, Catalino Ceballos, Felipe Canencia, and Domingo Canencia. Of these, only Victoriano was alive during the 1926 exhumation at Kambuntan Hill in Barrio Bolinawan, Carcar (see last week’s column). The caretaker of the Catholic cemetery on which the burial happened is also identified in the note as Felipe Panumban.
Last week I mentioned that it took three days to exhume Leon Kilat’s remains. I stand corrected. It only took two days actually. The first day, Aug. 1, 1926, ended without his remains being found. The members of the expedition team from Cebu (the municipal president Hilario Abellana and the veteran generals of the 1898 Revolution against Spain) left thereafter.
The following day, the excavations were still witnessed by the Aglipyan parish priest of Bacong, Negros, Rev. P. Barredo, and Leon Kilat’s nephew, Basilio D. Villegas, together with Carcar municipal president Mariano Mercado and some councilors as well as the chief of police, Guillermo Teves. Also present was Antonio Kiamko, a reporter of the newspaper “La Revolucion” and many other unnamed persons.
At around 4:50 p.m. of this second day, following directions provided by a certain Kambuntan resident named Luciana Alesna, the team proceeded to excavate. After a depth of one meter, a knee bone was uncovered, eventually leading to the rest of the bones of Leon Kilat. Then a surprise!
As the skull of Leon Kilat was recovered, the excavation proceeded towards his left when suddenly the bones of another individual was unearthed, eventually leading to three other individuals that were apparently interred together with him. Were these three also murdered together with Leon Kilat that fateful Holy Thursday midnight to early Good Friday morning of 1898? Unfortunately, the affidavit I have found does not mention any detail about these other individuals except to say that they were the revolutionaries named Lazaro, Rufo and Andres, whose surnames are unknown (“cuyos apellidos se ignoran”) and that they were interred together with Leon Kilat’s remains. The bones of the three were set aside for transfer to the custody of the Associacion de los Veteranos de la Revolucion in Cebu or to be buried anew at the Municipal Cemetery of Carcar.
From the immediate examination of Kilat’s bones, the team averred that what eventually killed him was blunt-force trauma to the forehead, the continuous blow of a hard object which caused the frontal lobe of the skull to splinter and which must have caused a large amount of blood to literally spray all over the body. It also appeared that Kilat had time to fend off the sharp edges of the bolos as his arm bones showed deep cut marks that would have resulted only from a sharp object. The spaces between these cut marks are but to the mere inch from each other, about three or four in each arm bone.
Next week we shall tackle in conclusion the political drama that unfolded in both media and the electoral field after Leon Kilat’s bones were finally exhumed.