Apolinario de la Cruz (July 22, 1814 - November 4, 1841), known as Hermano Pule or Puli ("Brother Pule"), led a major revolt against Spanish rule of the Philippines based on a struggle for religious freedom and independence.
Hermano Pule was born on July 22, 1814 in Barrio Pandác in the town of Lucban in Tayabas province (now Quezon). In 1829, at the age of 15, he decided to become a priest and tried to join the Dominican Order in Manila. During these times, Roman Catholic religious orders were closed for native people (indios). Apolinario decided to work at San Juan de Dios Hospital. During this time, he studied the Bible and other religious writings.
In 1832, de la Cruz founded the Cofradia de San José (Confraternity of St. Joseph), composed of indios. He was known to his followers as Hermano Pule. The Filipino brotherhood fostered a practice of Christian virtues. The Cofradia prohibited Spaniards and mestizos from joining without de la Cruz's permission.
Authorities, including Spanish Governor-General Marcelino Oraa and Roman Catholic Archbishop Jose Segui regarded the Cofradia as heresy and an abomination of universal Christian values, ordering its dissolution. Despite its religious prohibition, the Cofradia's numbers continued to grow.
Feeling an attack on their religious freedom from Catholic authorities, de la Cruz rallied 4,000 followers at Barrio Isabang on the slope of Mount Banahaw and was able to resist an attack by Alcalde-mayor Joaquin Ortega and his 300 men on October 23, 1841. However, reinforcements came on November 1st, with Colonel Joaquin Huet who annihilated the Cofradia forces, allegedly massacring hundreds of old men, women and children who joined Hermano Pule in Alitao in defying the Catholic leaders of the Church.
Pule fled to Barrio Gibanga but was captured by authorities the following evening. On November 4, 1841, after a brief trial held at the present Casa Comunidad, he was executed by a firing squad at the town of Tayabas, at the age of 26. After he was killed, the authorities "quartered" his body, cut off his head and placed it on a stake as a warning to those who are similarly inclined. A monument in his honor now stands in Brgy. Isabang, Tayabas City, and his death anniversary is a holiday in Quezon Province. Hermano Pule may have influenced Father Jose Burgos--who was executed in 1872--to demand for racial equality in the clergy.
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