The Basi Revolt which started in Piddig, Ilocos Norte on September 16, 1807 was caused by the Spanish Prohibition of the production and sale of the sugarcane wine called basi.
A liquor fermented from the sugarcane juice, basi was an integral part of the Ilocano natives’ custom of birth and death, love and marriage, planting and harvest, victory and defeat. The abolition of basi making meant to the people of the Ilocos the suppression of their way of life and the loss of their livelihood.
The revolt was led by Pedro Mateo (depicted in the picture above to be holding a bolo), a cabeza de barangay turned rebel leader, who took up arms and sought refuge in the mountains of Piddig. Together with a Tingguian named Salarogo Ambaristo (holding a bow and arrow), he organized a resistance movement against the Spanish colonial authorities and their puppets.
“Away with the Spaniards!” was the natives’ battle cry to the loud beat of drums as they conquered one town after another on their march to Vigan, Ilocos Sur. In the morning of September 28, 1807, the Spanish forces deployed along the banks of the Bantaoay River and waited for the revolutionaries to cross.
Upon arriving at the Bantaoay River, they started to cross and when they reached midstream, the Spanish forces fired on them at will, killing hundreds in a bloody battle that routed the rebels. The leaders were captured and imprisoned, charged and pronounced guilty of sedition and rebellion. They were executed at daybreak in the public plaza of Vigan. The public execution was intended to discourage the natives from undertaking future revolts.
The Basi Revolt was the first in a series of revolts that occurred in the Ilocos around the 1800’s. Although these revolts never succeeded, they nonetheless became an inspiring episode in the Ilocano struggle for freedom.
Pursuant to the Municipal Ordinance No. 2012-09-098 of the Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) of Piddig, Ilocos Norte, the Basi Revolt Shrine was established in September 2012 at the rotunda that serves as the main entrance to the town proper.