Hermano Pule

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Hermano titi
Hermano Pule.jpg
Born Apolinario de la Cruz
(1815-07-22)22 July 1815
Lucban, Tayabas Province, Captaincy General of the Philippines, Spanish Empire
Died 4 November 1841(1841-11-04) (aged 27)
Tayabas, Tayabas Province, Captaincy General of the Philippines
Occupation Revolutionary, Lay brother, Religious leader
Years active 1832 - 1841
Known for Cofradía de San José Revolt

Apolinario de la Cruz (22 July 1815 – 4 November 1841), known as Hermano Pule or Puli ("Brother Pule"), was a Filipino religious leader who founded and led the Cofradía de San José. The cofradía was established in 1832 in response to the racial discrimination of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines. During the Spanish colonial period, Catholic religious orders refused to admit native Filipinos as members. In retaliation, Hermano Pule established his own religious order which was exclusive for native Filipinos. During its peak, the cofradía had 4,500 to 5,000 members from the provinces of Tayabas, Laguna, and Batangas. Fearing an armed rebellion, the Spanish colonial government sent military forces to violently suppress the cofradía. On 23 October 1841, Hermano Pule and his followers resisted the aforementioned attack. However, more troops were sent and the cofradía was finally quelled by the colonial military forces on 1 November 1841. Pule was then captured, tried, and executed.

Early life[edit]

Apolinario de la Cruz was born on 22 July 1815 to Pablo de la Cruz and Juana Andres in Barrio Pandác in the town of Lucban in Tayabas province (now Quezon). Both of his parents were peasants and religious Catholics.[1][2][3][4] In 1829, he decided to become a priest and tried to join the Order of Preachers in Manila. During those times, Roman Catholic religious orders barred indios (native people of the Philippines) from joining, thus de la Cruz's application was rejected for the sole reason of his race.[4][5] He then decided to work as a lay brother at the San Juan de Dios Hospital where he was admitted to the Cofradía de San Juan de Dios, a brotherhood affiliated with the hospital and was open to indios. During this time, he improved his public speaking and studied the Bible along with other religious writings.[1][3][4][6]

Cofradía de San José[edit]

Formation and expansion[edit]

In December 1832, eighteen-year-old de la Cruz, along with Filipino secular priest Br. Ciriaco de los Santos and nineteen other individuals from Tayabas founded the Cofradía de San José (Confraternity of St. Joseph), composed of indios. He then became known to his followers as Hermano Pule (Brother Pule).[6][5][7] The Filipino brotherhood fostered the practice of Christian virtues centered around the cults of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Virgin of Antipolo.[6] They also incorporated elements of pre-colonial pagan beliefs such as the use of anting-anting (talismans).[8] Most of its adherents were from Tayabas, Laguna, Cavite, and Batangas.[5][7] The cofradía prohibited Spaniards and mestizos from joining without de la Cruz's permission as a form of retaliation against the Church for discriminating against natives.[4] Members of the cofradía met monthly on the 19th day to honor the feast of Saint Joseph. They also paid monthly fees of one real to defray the cost of Masses in Lucban, and their monthly fiestas.[6][9]

In 1837, the confraternity was renamed Cofradía del Sr. San José i voto del Santisimo Rosario and evangelized in Lucban, Majayjay, and Sariaya.[6] By 1841, the cofradía had had grown to an estimated 4,500 to 5,000 members. [1]


The Spanish were unaware of the cofradía's existence until 1840. However, as early as 1833, Filipino priests have noticed their activities in the vicinity of Mount San Cristobal and Mount Banahaw.[6]

Due to the increased number of members, Hermano Pule decided to have the cofradía recognized and authorized by the church and the government. He first sought recognition and authorization from the Bishop of Camarines but his request was denied. Not discouraged, he sought the approval of the Real Audiencia but he was also denied.[1][9]

The Franciscan friars of Tayabas province denounced the Cofradía and decided that it had to be stopped. They called the attention of the gobernadorcillo of Lucban and had 243 Cofradía members arrested on 19 October 1840. The provincial governor of Tayabas, Don Joaquin Ortega who was a husband to one of the members of the Cofradía, immediately ordered the release of the prisoners once the news of the arrests reached him. This order from the governor was opposed by the vicar, Fr. Antonio Mateo and the parish priest Fr. Manuel Sancho of Lucban; both wanted the imprisonment of the arrested members.[1]

Hermano Pule immediately sent a report to Archbishop José Seguí in Manila rebuking the acts of the friars in Tayabas. Pule challenged the authority of the vicar and of the parish church to do such acts because the aims of the cofradía were never against the Catholic faith. On 29 January 1841, a letter of dela Cruz was sent to the Bishop of Nueva Cáceres restating that the cofradía was not against canon law. This petition letter was forwarded to the juez provisor of the bishopric, who, in turn endorsed it to the vicar, Fr. Antonio Mateo of Tayabas and to Fr. Manuel Sancho, the parish priest of Lucban. The petition was ignored.[1]

In 1841, Governor-General Marcelino de Oraá Lecumberri had the cofradía outlawed, thinking that it was a seditious organization.[5] In addition to the fact that the cofradía only accepted natives, it was highly suspected that religion was used as a blind for political design and potential insurgence against Spanish authorities. Governor-General de Oraá ordered the cofradía’s disbandment and the arrest of its members.[1][6][4][9]

Feeling an attack on their religious freedom from Catholic authorities, Hermano Pule and his aide, hermano mayor Octavio Ygnacio “Purgatorio” de San Jorge rallied 4,000 followers at Barrio Isabang on the slopes of Mount Banahaw, and was able to resist an attack from alcalde mayor Joaquín Ortega and his 300 men on 23 October 1841.[10][4][3][4] Ortega and many of his men were killed in the battle. Pule then transferred his camp to Alitao, adjacent to Tayabas capital where his followers crowned him “King of the Tagalogs”. By that time, he had considered severing his ties with the Church. [1][9]

When the news of the skirmish reached Governor-General Marcelino de Oraá, reinforcements from Manila were sent to Tayabas. On 1 November 1841, the government forces led by Col. Joaquín Huet arrived Tayabas. They initially offered government amnesty to the cofradía with the exception of Hermano Pule and his aides. When they refused, they were annihilated by Colonel Huet's government forces, allegedly massacring hundreds of old men, women, and children who joined Hermano Pule in Alitao.[1][5][4]

Capture, trial, and execution[edit]

Pule fled to Barrio Gibanga in Sariaya but was captured by Colonel Huet's forces the following evening. On 4 November 1841, after a brief trial held at the present-day Casa Comunidad, he was executed by firing squad in the town of Tayabas, at the age of 27. The authorities had his body quartered. His head was hung in front of his parents' house in Lucban. His hands and feet were hung inside cages and placed in the guardhouses of Tayabas.[1][3][5][6][7][9]

The other leaders of the Cofradia: Octavio Ygnacio “Purgatorio” de San Jorge, Dionisio de los Reyes, Francisco Espinosa de la Cruz, and Gregorio Miguel de Jesus were also sentenced to death.[1][9]


A monument to Hermano Pule now stands on the boundary of Tayabas City and Lucena City.[11] His death anniversary, 4 November, is a holiday in Quezon Province.[2][12]

The historical film Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli (The Agony and Fury of Brother Puli), directed by Gil Portes and starring Aljur Abrenica as Hermano Puli, was released on 21 September 2016.[13] However, director Gil Portes was upset that none of the cinemas in Quezon Province screened the film.[12]

Revival of the Cofradía and the origin of the colorums[edit]

In 1870, the Cofradía de San José was revived under the leadership of Profeta y Pontifice (Prophet and Pope) Juanario Labios. The members of the revived cofradía claimed to have witnessed the alleged joint apparition of the Virgin of the Rosary, Hermano Pule, and Octavio Ygnacio “Purgatorio” de San Jorge. The activities of the revived cofradía ended in 1871 when Juanario Labios and his followers were captured and banished to Mindoro and the Calamian Islands.[6][7]

The surviving members of the Cofradía de San José who lived in the vicinity of Mount San Cristobal and Mount Banahaw continued with their religious activities and were known as colorums, a corruption of the Latin phrase in saecula saeculorum ("unto the ages of ages") which was used at mass to end prayers. During the American colonial era, the term colorum was applied to all the cults and insurgent groups characterized by Roman Catholic devotion, folk superstition, and hero worship. Some of these groups are still active today in various provinces in the Philippines.[5][8][9]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Palafox , Quennie Ann J. (2012, September 6). 193rd birth anniversary of Apolinario dela Cruz. National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
  2. ^ a b Mallari, D. T., Jr. (2014, November 13). Local hero remembered in Quezon ceremony. Philippine Daily Inquirer.
  3. ^ a b c d The Philippine Star. (2015, June 29). Who is Hermano Puli?
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Duka, Cecilio. D. (2008). Struggle for freedom: A textbook on Philippine history. Manila: Rex Book Store
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Halili , Maria Christine N. (2004). Philippine History. Manila: Rex Book Store
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Agoncillo, Teodoro A. (1990). History of The Filipino People (8th ed.) GAROTECH publishing: Quezon City, Philippines
  7. ^ a b c d Miranda, Evelyn A. (2008). Marianisation in the Philippines. In P. Poddar, R. S. Patke, & L. Jensen (Eds.), A historical companion to postcolonial literatures – Continental Europe and its empires (567 – 568).Edinburgh, Scotland, UK: Edinburgh University Press.
  8. ^ a b Guerrero, Milagros (1967). "The colorum uprisings: 1924-1931" (PDF). Asian Studies. 5 (1): 65–78. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Constantino, Renato. (1975). A history of the Philippines: From the Spanish colonization to the Second World War. New York City: Monthly Review Press
  10. ^ Karnow, Stanley. Apolinario dela Cruz. In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines. New York City: Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-54975-0., page 444.
  11. ^ Otordoz, B. M.(2015, July 19). Binay to lead rites for Hermano Pule. The Manila Times.
  12. ^ a b "Director Gil Portes rues lack of Quezon cinemas for 'Hermano Puli". InterAksyon.com. September 21, 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  13. ^ Tabora, Brylle (September 19, 2016). "'Hermano Puli,' this year's 'Heneral Luna,' opens Sept. 21". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 


  • Gilley, Sheridan; Brian Stanley (2006). World Christianities, c. 1815-1914. The Cambridge history of Christianity. 8. Cambridge University Press. pp. 532–534. ISBN 0-521-81456-1. 
  • Ileto, Reynaldo Clemeña (1997). Pasyon and Pevolution: Popular Movements in the Philippines, 1840-1910 (4 ed.). Ateneo de Manila University Press. ISBN 971-550-232-6. 
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