The Fierce Long-haired Scouts of Macabebe

macabebe warriors
Macabebe Scouts

Macabébé is one of Pampanga's oldest communities. It is intimately linked to the Rio Grande de la Pampanga and had played a dynamic role in Philippine history.

The people of Macabébé were the first Kapampangans to appear in Spanish records and is considered as one of the oldest communities in Pampanga. They took part in various battles including the Battle of Bangkusay Channel at Pasay in 1571 where they faced off with the Spanish and their 600 Visayan auxiliaries at the channel, ending in a Spanish victory.

During the revolution, a Spanish Army colonel raised a regiment of native Kapampangans and local royalist elites who were mostly from Macabébé and some had lived in Mexico (a country, not the town in Pampanga with the same name) for some time. This made the Americans to propound that this Spanish regiment of Kapampangan natives from Macabébé were Mexicans.

macabebe warriors

This gave rise to the "Macabebe Scouts", who remained loyal to the Spanish Crown even when the whole of Pampanga began to support the Philippine independence. They were tasked to aid the Spaniards in their retreat. Some of these scouts were shipped to Caroline Islands (today Micronesia and Palau) and then to Spain. Upon their arrival in Madrid, they were decorated for their loyalty, and a street near Plaza de Legazpi was named in honor of them.

Some left behind in Manila was eventually absorbed by the Americans in their formations, and a few returned to Macabébé.

This new native formation of the Americans from the remnants of Spanish Macabebe Scouts were instrumental in their campaigns in North Luzon, especially in the capture of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.

Teniente Batson with Macabebe Soldiers
Teniente Batson with Macabebe Soldiers

The Macabebe Scouts became the representative of the Kapampangans' trait of ferocity and loyalty, But because the Macabebe Scouts switched allegiances in the duration of Philippine-American War, they were perceived by other Filipinos, most especially by the Tagalogs who struggled for independence, as 'traitors', often calling Kapampangans "dugong áso" ("a race of dogs"). 

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