Artemio Ricarte

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This article is about the Filipino general. For the Philippine Navy ship, see BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37).
Artemio Bagang Ricarte
Nickname(s) Víbora (Viper)
Born (1866-10-20)October 20, 1866
Batac City, Spanish East Indies (present day Philippines)
Died July 31, 1945(1945-07-31) (aged 78)
Kalinga, Mountain Province, Philippines
Allegiance  First Philippine Republic
Service/branch Philippine Army Seal 1897.jpgPhilippine Revolutionary Army
Years of service 1896–1900
Rank Kapitan Heneral.jpg Captain General
Battles/wars Philippine Revolution
Philippine–American War

Artemio Ricarte y García (October 20, 1866 — July 31, 1945) was a Filipino general during the Philippine Revolution and the Philippine–American War. He is regarded as the Father of the Philippine Army, though the present Philippine Army grew out of the forces that fought in opposition to, and defeated the Philippine Revolutionary Army led by General Ricarte.[1][verification needed]Ricarte is also notable for never having taken an oath of allegiance to the United States government, which occupied the Philippines from 1898 to 1946.

Early life[edit]

Ricarte was born in Batac, Ilocos Norte province to Faustino Ricarte and Bonifacia García. He finished his early studies in his hometown and moved to Manila for his tertiary education. He enrolled at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He prepared for the teaching profession at the University of Santo Tomas and then at the Escuela Normal. After finishing his studies, he was sent to the town of San Francisco de Malabon (now General Trias) in Cavite province to supervise a primary school. In his new job, he met Mariano Álvarez, another school teacher and a surviving revolutionary of the 1872 Cavite mutiny. Ricarte then joined the ranks of the Katipunan under the Magdiwang Council, where he held the rank of Lieutenant General.[2] He adopted the nom-de-guerre, "Víbora" (Viper).[3][4][5]

Philippine Revolution[edit]

Main article: Philippine Revolution

After the start of the Philippine Revolution on August 31, 1896, Ricarte led the revolutionists in attacking the Spanish garrison in San Francisco de Malabon. He crushed the Spanish troops and took the civil guards as prisoner. At the Tejeros Convention, Ricarte was elected Captain-General and received a military promotion to Brigadier-General in Emilio Aguinaldo's army.[6] He led his men in various battles in Cavite, Laguna, and Batangas. Aguinaldo designated him to remain in Biak-na-Bato, San Miguel, Bulacan to supervise the surrender of arms such that both the Spanish government and Aguinaldo's officers complied with the terms of the peace pact.

Philippine–American War[edit]

When the Philippine–American War started in 1899, he was Chief of Operations of the Philippine forces in the second zone around Manila. In July 1900 he was captured in Manila and deported to Guam together with Apolinario Mabini.[5]

Post-War Era[edit]

In early 1903, both Ricarte and Mabini would be allowed back into the Philippines upon taking the oath of allegiance to America.[7]:546 Just as their transport USS Thomas pulled into Manila Bay, both were asked to take the oath. Mabini, who was ill, took the oath but Ricarte refused. Ricarte was set free but banned from the Philippines. Without setting foot on Philippine soil, he was placed on the transport Galic and sailed to Hong Kong.

In December 1903, Ricarte returned to the Philippines disguised as a seaman,[7]:546 on board the Wenshang. Ricarte planned to reunite with former members of the army and rekindle the Philippine Revolution. Upon meeting with several former members and friends, he discussed his general plan and the continuation of the revolution. After said meetings, some of these members turned on Ricarte and notified the Americans, specifically the ex-General Pío del Pilar. A reward for US$10,000 was then issued for Ricarte's capture, dead or alive. In the following weeks, Ricarte traveled throughout central Luzon trying to drum up support for his cause.

In early 1904, Ricarte was stricken by an illness that put him at rest for nearly two months. Just as his health was returning, a clerk from his outfit, Luis Baltazar, turned against him and notified the local Philippine Constabulary of his location at Mariveles, Bataan. In May 1904, Ricarte was arrested and spent the next six years at Bilibid Prison.[7]:546 Ricarte was well received and respected by both the Philippine and American authorities. He was frequently visited by old friends from the Philippine revolutionary war as well as U.S. government officials, including the Vice-President of the United States under Theodore Roosevelt, Charles W. Fairbanks.

Due to good behavior, Ricarte served only six years of his 11-year sentence. On June 26, 1910, he was released from Bilibid Prison. But upon his exit he was detained by American authorities and taken to the Customs-House in Bagumbayan. He was again ordered to pledge his oath of allegiance to the United States. He still refused to swear allegiance and within the hour of the same day, he was again put on a transport and deported to Hong Kong. His name was repeatedly brought to light whenever any manner of uprising occurred in the Philippines. To get away from damaging propaganda, he and his wife moved to Yokohama, Japan, where they lived in self-exile. While in Japan, Ricarte opened a small restaurant, Karihan Luvimin, and returned to teaching. His book, Himagsikan nang manga Pilipino Laban sa Kastila (The Revolution of Filipinos Against the Spaniards) was published in Yokohama in 1927.[3]

Just as Ricarte's life was fading away into obscurity, World War II began and Imperial Japanese Army invaded the Philippines. The Japanese flew Ricarte back to the Philippines to help them pacify the Filipinos. In December 1944, Ricarte established the Makapili, a pro-Japanese organization during World War II which was used to root out guerrillas.


General Ricarte's tomb at the Libingan ng mga Bayani

Near the end of World War II, Ricarte again found himself taking flight from American and Filipino forces. Ricarte was implored by colleagues to evacuate the Philippine Islands but had refused, stating "I can not take refuge in Japan at this critical moment when my people are in actual distress. I will stay in my Motherland to the last."

In April 1945, the "Battle of Bessang Pass" was midway. It had started in January of that year, when Filipino forces raided the foothills of Tapudin, Ilocos Sur in pursuit of the Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the "Tiger of Malaya" and his forces, which Ricarte had joined. In May, there was a lull in the fighting, as casualties mounted on both sides from the armed conflict, but worsened by malaria, cholera and dysentery. In June, Yamashita’s army found themselves surrounded on all sides and Bessang Pass fell on June 14, 1945. Ricarte had fallen ill and suffered from debilitating dysentery. At Hungduan, Ifugao,[8]:167–168 Ricarte died on July 31, 1945, at the age of 78. His grave was discovered nine years later in 1954 by treasure hunters. Ricarte's body was exhumed and his tomb now lies in Manila at the Heroes' Cemetery. Furthermore, a landmark was inaugurated by historian Ambeth Ocampo, chairman of the National Historical Institute with a granddaughter of Artemio Ricarte, on April 2002, at the same place where the general died.



  1. ^ "Brief History". Official Website Armed Forces of the Philippines. Retrieved on 2013-04-19.
  2. ^ Alvarez 1992, p. 8.
  3. ^ a b c 'Ri-ka-ru-ru'te', Ambeth Ocampo, Philippine Daily Inquirer
  4. ^ Alvarez 1992, p. 47.
  5. ^ a b "141st birth anniversary of General Artemio 'Vibora' Ricarte". Manila Bulletin. October 20, 2007. 
  6. ^ Agoncillo 1990, pp. 177–178.
  7. ^ a b c Foreman, J., 1906, The Philippine Islands, A Political, Geographical, Ethnographical, Social and Commercial History of the Philippine Archipelago, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
  8. ^ Ogawa, T., 1972, Terraced Hell, Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., ISBN 080481001x


Military offices
Preceded by
Commanding General of the Philippine Army
22 March 1897 - 22 Jan 1899
Succeeded by
Antonio Luna