Apolinario de la Cruz (July 22, 1814 - November 4, 1841), known as Hermano Puli or Pule ("Brother Puli"), 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, he decided to become a priest and tried to join the Order of Preachers in Manila. During these times, Roman Catholic religious orders barred native people (indios) from joining, thus Hermano Pule's application was rejected for the sole reason of his race. Apolinario decided to work at San Juan de Dios Hospital, and during this time he studied the Bible and other religious writings.
Cofradia de San José
In 1832, de la Cruz founded the Cofradia de San José (Confraternity of St. Joseph), composed of indios, and came to be known to his followers as Hermano Pule. The Filipino brotherhood fostered the practice of Christian virtues, and most of its adherents were from Tayabas, Laguna and Batangas. The Cofradia prohibited Spaniards and mestizos from joining without de la Cruz's permission as a form of retaliation against the Church for discriminating against natives. Members of the Cofradia gave monthly contributions to defray the cost of monthly Mass in Lucban, and the monthly fiestas of de la Cruz's followers.
Authorities, including Spanish Governor-General Marcelino Oraá and Archbishop of Manila José Segue, O.S.A., regarded the brotherhood as heretical and an abomination of universal Christian values, and ordered its dissolution. Despite the religious prohibition, the brotherhood continued to grow. In addition to the fact that the Cofradia only accepted natives, it was highly suspected that religion was used as a blind for political design and potential insurgence against Spanish authorities.
Feeling an attack on their religious freedom from Catholic authorities, de la Cruz 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 October 23, 1841. Ortega was killed in the battle, prompting the Spanish authorities to send reinforcements from Manila. On November 1, the government forces led by Colonel Joaquín Huet annihilated the Cofradia's militia, allegedly massacring hundreds of old men, women, and children who joined Hermano Pule in Alitao in defying the colony's Catholic hierarchy.
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-day Casa Comunidad, he was executed by firing squad in the town of Tayabas, at the age of 27. After he was killed, the authorities quartered his body, cut off his head, and placed it on a stake as a deterrent against subversion.
A monument to Hermano Pule now stands in Tayabas, and his death anniversary is a holiday in Quezon Province. Hermano Pule may have influenced secular priest José Burgos - who was executed by garrote in 1872 - to demand for racial equality in the clergy.
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