BRAVE BLACK GOES DOWN IN HISTORY
On February 7, 1899, after much fighting, American forces took a
Filipino defense position in Kalookan.
According to General Frederick Funston, the body of "a very large black
Negro" (black na negro pa -- redundant racial labels, huh?) was found
among the bodies of Filipino soldiers. Despite the fact that in those
days we were not known as "little brown brothers" to the Americans but
"goo-goos" and "niggers" to be killed. I don't think the body was that
of a Negrito. Perhaps the man was a deserter from the American forces
who fought on the side of the Filipinos?
I guess we should not forget the six-foot black deserter from the
American forces, David Fagan, who fought the enemy and carried the rank
of captain in the Filipino forces.
General Jose Alejandrino in his memoirs, La Senda del Sacrificio, talks
about Fagan's bravery. Sometimes he would carry the malaria-stricken
general over rivers and mountains as they fought the Americans.
In 1901 following the capture of Aguinaldo in Palanan, many Filipino
generals in Luzon surrendered. General Alejandrino offered to discuss
the terms of their surrender with Funston, one of these being that the
Americans must guarantee the lives and liberty of the men.
Funston and Alejandrino finally met and the former insisted, "You cannot
surrender yourself without first delivering Fagan."
To which Alejandrino replied: "The surrender of Fagan is an infamy
cannot commit because I know that if you get to catch him, you are
capable of dousing him with petroleum and burning him alive. You have
soldiers of your own, why don't you catch Fagan yourselves?"
Alejandrino was not wrong in his assessment because Funston in
book, Memories of Two Wars, writes:
"This wretched man [Fagan] was serving as an officer [in the Filipino
forces] and in two occasions had written impudent an badly-spelled
letters. It was mighty well understood that if taken alive by one of
us, he was to stretch a picket-rope as soon as one could be obtained."
Why was Funston furious? Aside from the fact that Fagan was black,
had fought on the Filipino side, had eluded capture, and was notorious
for his hatred of "whites."
Alejandrino writes that Fagan once asked for the custody of some "white"
American POWs taken by the Filipinos. They were given to him and were
later found dead. In the investigation that followed, Fagan explained
that they were killed "while trying to escape." Sounds familiar?
Nowadays, this is called "salvaging." Fagan was acquitted, but he was
never allowed to get near "white" American POWs again.
Fagan was said to speak Tagalog quite well and was living with a
Filipina who went to Alejandrino crying. She was beaten up and one of
her cheeks had been bitten off by Fagan, who later explained that he
dreamt he was resisting arrest by American soldiers. He did not know he
had directed all his rage at the poor Filipina.
Filipino soldiers regarded Fagan a hero and followed him during
encounters with the enemy. When he was on horseback, it was a sign to
advance and when he got down from his horse, it meant they should
retreat. When he advance, he did not want to tire his legs because when
it was time to retreat, he could run faster than his horse, and he could
squeeze himself into places where a horse would get stuck.
So what happened to Fagan?
Alejandrino writes: "When our surrender was effected, I really
very sorry in having to leave Fagan. I left him some 12 rifles for his
defense. Later on, I learned that the Americans put a price on his head
and he was assassinated, according to versions, in the mountains of
Too bad we can't have a foreigner for a hero, because David Fagan's
heart was in the right place.
SOURCE: Ambeth Ocampo, "Looking Back," Anvil. Pub., 1990.