This article summarizes the book Military History of the Kapampangan War of Independence by Arturo Laksamana, founder, chairman, and chief tactician of Takbung PMC.
The War of Independence remains one of the greatest examples of rebellions financed and lead by capital holders and laborers in partnership. No one can deny that the Sylvester II Institute gave the rebellion its success. No other private organization in the old world could muster the resources or expertise to craft such a masterful war. Indeed, the Philippine government’s rapid collapse after the rebellion showed that a regional order was inevitable.
That being said, no one can heap praise on the Institute without deeper study of what factors allowed them to lead the rebellion successfully. Studying this war allows policymakers, PMC chiefs, and private militias to decide carefully, to act decisively, and to win actively in the new world order.
Planning the War
“An army marches on its stomach.”
The Sylvester II Institute was registered as a cooperative between 15 scientist stakeholders who devoted their time and resources to research and consultancy. Most worked in teams on projects, with 80% of the profits divided between team members. The remaining 20%, however, went to an Institute fund to be carefully invested.
These investments bore fruit in construction, manufacture, and ultimately cutting edge research. Advanced construction techniques like auxetic cinder blocks earned the Institute billions of dollars on consulting. The Institute also invested in firms that manufactured stakeholder inventions, earning the former a cut of profits. Cutting edge research would lead to further advancements in the former two fields, making a self-sustaining cycle of profit. Once the Institute had earned enough, the funds would go to bolder pursuits.
Auxetic materials became the focus of Institute materials scientists. These materials could compress instead of break under stress, forming a stable foundation to further Institute ventures. Among the materials developed were new composite armor plating. This material was used to make Institute vehicles and body armor.
The Institute built its first star forts around Tarlac City and San Jose, both in the province of Tarlac. A ring of five forts encircled both settlements, managed by custodians who swore fealty to the Institute. Construction began with farmers living nearby exchanging their lands for new millet fields in Pampanga. The Institute bought them for cheap, and immediately got allied construction firms to build the forts according to the former’s designs.
These star forts imitated Early Modern ones, presenting complete line of sight for enemy advances. The best auxetic materials, yet unknown outside the Institute, formed the forts’ walls and structures. Ports both for small arms and heavy weaponry existed, letting garrisons fire unharmed. Finally, artillery towers at the forts’ centers could attack enemy positions up to 70 kilometers away. Each fort held three howitzers capable of such attacks. The artillery towers also held smaller howitzers, aimed at nearby enemies. Rainfall collection and recycling also allowed water supply in case of a siege. Finally, underground hydroponics gave ample food for garrisons. Deals with local governments let sewage get treated in the star forts in exchange for tax breaks and monthly payments. Indeed, the Institute had disguised the forts as sewage treatment plants when proposing to the local government.
After a year, construction continued by the towns of San Simon, Arayat, Dinalupihan, Subic, Magalang, and Bamban. Once more, five surrounded each town. By this time, the Sylvester II Institute has invested in numerous construction firms such that these new projects finished easier than what was already possible. Further forts in Lubao and Macabebe also housed algae biofuel creation labs, which let the Institute and all of Pampanga be self-sufficient in energy.
Funds from the star fort services went to weapons purchases, research, and manufacture. Militiamen trained by the Institute received weaponry imported from Russia. Shipments consisted of the AK-19 assault rifle and RPG-32 light anti tank weapon. Around 100,000 units each were imported covertly through Institute networks for 30,000 militiamen.
Institute mercenaries received weaponry manufactured by Danao gunsmiths who had built new lives in Tarlac. Their weapons were high class imitations of western designs, like the RM277 NSGW rifle or the AWM sniper rifle. The mercenaries operated in a shell security guard company, and were deployed across Tarlac and Aurora to fight the NPA.
While 85% of pay for security services went to the mercenaries, 15% went to research for military vehicles.
The Institute first developed variations of the AMC Hammer chassis, a local knockoff of the American Hummer. New units received composite auxetic armor plating, airless tires, and bulletproof windows along with better engines. This vehicle could function as transport, self-propelled gun carriage, AA gun carriage, infantry fighting platform, and artillery towage.
Contacts in the American military also procured 50 Stryker AFV units for the Institute’s use. Delivered were 35 M1182 Mobile Gun System variants, with the rest Stryker Dragoons. Institute personnel reverse engineered the platform as a basis for the Malyari AFV, which featured integrated Institute composite armor, combined 100mm AT gun and 20mm autocannon, and slat cage. Variants of the Malyari, the Sisilim AFV, were sold to the Philippine army. It featured only steel RHA and a 50 caliber machine gun. Proceeds from sales funded UAV development.
The Buruka UAV held an AGM/AAM reverse engineered from the Hellfire missile and a 50 caliber machine gun. This UAV would be the Institute’s premier Air Supremacy unit. Only 100 were produced before the war. Tests conducted in Tarlac were covered up as atmospheric tests under the weather bureau’s auspicies.
The Institute had gained many allies among the elite in Tarlac, Pampanga, and Zambales. One of the Institute’s subsidiaries, St Anselm’s Press, also allowed distribution of propaganda materials across the provinces. This astroturfing campaign allowed secessionist sentiment to slowly brew over a decade. Already, calls for greater autonomy from Manila made headlines monthly. Figures of all stripes, whether Kapampangan advocates, Filipino Carlists, Traditional Catholics, libertarians, anyone broadly involved in propaganda subject matter rallied to the Kapampangan cause.
Fighting the War
As justification for the rebellion, the Sylvester II Institute issued a manifesto detailing the Philippine government’s excesses against the Kapampangan people. Topics included tax burden, Tagalog culture, and decentralization.
Vespers of Bamban
On 13 May, 10000 Kapampangan militiamen rose the traditional dragoon flag and shouted in support for independence. Local policemen tried to suppress the rally, but were subdued and rounded up. Bamban would be the first town to declare independence.
Media coverage showed armed men patrolling Bamban, and the seventh infantry division deployed the next day to demand the militiamen’s surrender. Government forces stood in Mabalacat, Concepcion, and Capaz, and readied to storm the town. The Institute’s star forts answered them with a massive artillery barrage, decimating much of the besieging force. With no options ready, the seventh infantry division charged into the town. Unlike past Communist and Islamic rebels, however, the militiamen were well-armed and well trained.
The first encounter came by the Sacobia River, with government AFVs leading the charge. Militiamen shot at the vehicles before retreating orderly, drawing in the soldiers in pursuit. Militiamen stationed throughout McArthur highway, however, promptly ambushed the attacking troops. Government forces crossing other bridges fell victim to militia emplacements suppressing them. Radio distress signals caused forces in Capas and Concepcion to rush in.
Once again, attacking forces were ambushed once before militiamen retreated. The initial encounters inflicted some casualties on the military, the latter pursuing the retreating men. In the Bamban poblacion, however, militiamen cut down advancing government forces.
By 16:00, another round of artillery barraged government reserves, their commanders now ordering retreats. The fighting in Bamban had barely moved since noon, and the military had been sustaining casualties nonstop. The seventh infantry division had been put out of action, with more than half dead or wounded. The retreating forces moved through La Paz, where Institute mercenaries were waiting for them.
Government troops entering the town faced suppressive fire, artillery barrages harassing the rearguard. Institute drones strafed soldiers scrambling for cover, blasted vehicles aimlessly shooting. By midnight, the remaining 3000 men of the seventh infantry division had been scattered throughout Tarlac, the rest killed, wounded, or captured. At the same time, the Sylvester II Institute’s logo filled Philippine Television networks nationwide, followed by the new flag of Pampanga. Duke Regino Kanlas declared the country’s independence, and challenged the Philippine government to recognize the secession or lose lives. The Philippine government answered by declaring martial law and mobilizing the second and ninth infantry divisions to reconquer Pampanga. Many troops flew into Clark International Airport and took positions around Angeles.
Siege of Angeles
In one week, Kapampangan militiamen took over all towns of Tarlac and Zambales. Military forces in Crow Valley fought to the end against mercenaries. Radio jammers prevented intelligence from streaming to Manila. Only a salient extending from Angeles City to Bulacan remained of military presence in Pampanga. Troops here had all flown in from Clark, prioritizing a secure supply line over territory. A stable front line surrounded them, with only sporadic skirmishes time to time. Both McArthur Highway and North Diversion road provided a stable supply line.
Elsewhere, drone strikes in Nueva Ecija delayed the First Brigade Combat team from assisting the Angeles salient. However, remnants from the Seventh Infantry Division linked up with the soldiers present on the 28th, and they immediately mobilized for Angeles.
Artillery strikes would stall the relief force, while the Institute authorized an invasion of the salient. It was the Institute’s hope that the government would take advantage of the salient and either line it with troops or fortify Angeles. The government chose the former, and the Institute discerned that a breakout attempt was in the works. Already, the Institute had moved troops through the Zambales mountains into Floridablanca and Porac. Artillery strikes at the East of Angeles tricked the government into thinking that the Institute would move there from Tarlac. Soldiers broke from the salient into the towns of Candaba, Arayat, and Magalang. Reinforcements from Nueva Ecija joined the fighting, linking up in Magalang as they besieged the star forts nearby. Militiamen had inflicted casualties on government forces before holing up in the forts. While press releases boasted a nearby victory, the Institute had finished its mobilization by 15 June. Now, an offensive would storm towards Angeles.
The combined mercenary and militia forces rushed through the salient, cutting down any government forces they encountered. Government special forces rushed there from Eastern Pampanga to fight the incoming wave. However, the Sylvester II Institute had perfected a tactic to counter government special forces. Misleading information and deception made special forces attack unimportant targets or decoys. Mercenaries or militiamen would encircle the special forces and cut them down. This pattern repeated many times over the next month of fighting.
Every day, a few blocks would fall as the Institute’s forces closed into Angeles. The fighting continued without many changes for two months. Barangays Pampang, Sinura, and Calzadang Bayu all fell to Kapampangan forces. Naval support and landings in Zambales, Bataan, and Manila Bay failed to drone strikes sinking many ships. Some craft were able to land their troops, however. Marines fought tooth and nail in Sasmuan and Zambales, eventually losing to mercenaries trained in HEMA. As the siege went on, the Sylvester II Institute airdropped care packages for use by civilians. These packages included luxurious food, equipment, hygiene, and other supplies. The military requisitioned many of these, angering the local populace.
By late August, the government had decided to pull in troops who were fighting in Mindanao and the Visayas. Many CAFGU were also called to assist. Landings in Clark International Airport and Bataan formed another planned offensive. Government forces planned to break through the Kapampangan defenses along the Zambales mountains, then outflank the Kapampangan forces encircling Angeles.
Institute troops and militiamen stationed across the Pasig-Portrero River were tasked with taking down incoming aircraft trying to bomb them. By this time, the Institute deemed the Malyari AFV ready for deployment. They had sent 200 units to the soldiers in mid-August, and once sightings of landing craft in Bataan were verified, the Kapampangan forces stormed San Fernando.
Government forces in Bataan began their attack on Dinalupihan, forcing the militiamen to retreat. In one week, government forces were poised to break into Pampanga. However, Kapampangan defenses stationed by Floridablanca and Olongapo proved too strong to break through. By mid-September, a stalemate had formed in Bataan.
Now Kapampangan forces had captured San Fernando after two weeks of fighting. Supply lines now had to move through poor infrastructure in Bulacan and Candaba. Militiamen marched freely into Barangay Telabastagan, having a parade by the local Shoe Mart. Nueva Ecija also had also fallen to militiamen, so Kapampangan forces readied to tighten the noose around government forces in Angeles. Drone strikes also destroyed government supplies in Clark Airport, putting a time limit to forces there. Lastly, no airdrops could happen for Kapampangan air supremacy had precluded any Philippine Air Force support.
After two weeks of sporadic fighting, government forces still remaining in Clark surrendered. They were transported to Tarlac, where they were granted generous PoW lodgings.
Angat River Campaign
Surrender of Angeles
With government forces in Angeles gone, the provinces of Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales now remained wholly under Kapampangan control. Parts of Nueva Ecija north and west of the Pampanga River also fell into Kapampangan hands. Stragglers in Arayat, Magalang, and Candaba retreated back into Bulacan to dig in. The government in Manila ordered the fifth infantry division to mobilize towards Baguio to prepare for a new offensive towards Tarlac. All government forces were now ordered to Manila, Baguio, and Cavite for one final push against the rebellion.
To prevent a new offensive from the south, the Institute decided to make the Angat River a boundary with the Philippine Republic. October 2 saw artillery strikes against CAFGU stationed ahead of Malolos. Pamphlet bombs warned civilians to evacuate or face danger in the upcoming battles. Philippine army troops deployed en masse to West Bulacan, hoping to stop the Kapampangans in one final battle. Troops in Baguio also readied to climb down to La Union and Nueva Ecija. Lastly, government forces in Bataan received new artillery and vehicles to finally break into Pampanga.
Kapampangan militiamen crossed into Bulacan on October 3, engaging CAFGU deployed to slow down forces headed for Malolos in Calumpit and Hagonoy. Calumpit became the scene of bitter fighting, with houses being gained or lost daily. Ten drone strikes happened daily. With another stalemate seemingly forming, government forces readied in Plaridel and Pulilan to rush into Apalit and San Simon, hoping to wreak havoc across Pampanga and force the rebels back to Pampanga. As they moved north on the 12th, however several drone strikes met them, followed by artillery. The bombs used were thermobaric, scorching infantry and vegetation for kilometers.
Kapampangan militiamen had positioned themselves in Candaba and Gapan, rushing into the towns of San Miguel de Mayumu, Baliuag, and San Ildefonso. No word came from these towns for radio jammers had been deployed beforehand, Philippine loyalists transported to Tarlac. Mercenaries now engaged the attacking forces, with militiamen making for Angat and Bustos to destroy the dams. As the battles of Plaridel and Pulilan raged, militiamen managed to fight their way to the dams. On 21st October, the dams broke. Rushing rapids flowed across Bulacan, destroying bridges and trapping government forces that had tried to invade. Most soldiers and commanders surrendered, with a general shot by his own troops for ordering a fight to the death.
While fighting in Bulacan lasted through October, the renewed government offensive into Pampanga finally broke through. Fierce fighting around the Dinalupihan star fort ended in Kapampangan forces withdrawing back to Floridablanca. Philippine forces set foot in Olongapo for the first time in months. Institute forces prepared new lines of defense in Porac and Floridablanca, with more troop movements across the Zambales mountains posing to stop the invasion.
By the 18th, government forces had entrenched in Dinalupihan, and were ready to lodge more troops for the invasion. The Angat River campaign’s end only hardened government efforts to break through in Bataan. Some fifth infantry division forces in Aurora also readied for a new campaign.
Kapampangan mercenaries in Nueva Ecija and Tarlac moved into Pangasinan and Nueva Vizcaya to enact a scorched earth campaign. Rations, bridges, roads, government offices, anything usable for military operations were burned and destroyed. No combat was allowed save to subdue policemen. These moves prevented military forces stationed in Isabela and Benguet to engage.
Bataan Offensive continues
New troop movements had 20000 deployed into Bataan to decide the war once and for all. This attack would crush the rebels in Porac and Floridablanca, then rush straight for San Fernando and Angeles. The rebels were projected to fight staticly till troops in Bulacan could be redeployed back to Pampanga. A decisive battle would take place to end conflict and force the Institute to surrender.
This projection assumed that troops in Bulacan would be split between Nueva Ecija and Pampanga. Additionally, Kapampangan drone strikes had halted, possibly signalling falling resources. With Pangasinan impassable from sabotage, a combined offensive from Bataan and Aurora would end the war once and for all.
The combined offensive began on 4 November, with artillery strikes in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija. Philippine army units in Dinalupihan fought their way to Kapampangan bunkers. However, a flurry of drone strikes greeted them once they cleared the first line of bunkers. Once again, the militiamen had retreated in the battle’s thickest. The bunkers had been designed to have back flaps destroyed during a retreat, so no Philippine soldier was safe once Kapampangans began firing.
Similar episodes took place in Nueva Ecija. Kapampangan defense lines had been constructed to allow a methodical retreat, Kapampangans firing at attacking soldiers who had recently cleared a single line. Artillery fire especially caused many casualties among Philippine forces. Kapampangan defenders remained protected from shrapnel as long as they kept back flaps in a bunker line in place. The fighting continued for five days until Malakanyang ordered a retreat. Half the forces that attacked lay dead or wounded on the field.
Kapampangan armored forces in Pampanga pursued the Philippine Army into Bataan. A new frontline settled along Balanga and Morong. Marines who served as garrison in Olongapo fought to the last man against mercenaries who assaulted the city. Special forces fought their way through Floridablanca, only to be caught by two Stryker Dragoons in Lubao.
Philippine Army engineers oversaw repairs for roads and bridges in Pangasinan and Nueva Vizcaya, with remaining armed forces moving day after day as asphalt dried and pontoons were laid. No engagements with Kapampangans happened, probably because they were occupied.
By 30 November, government forces 2000 strong had reached Tarlac and Nueva Ecija. They started rushing through the provinces, only for drone strikes to greet them. Artillery strikes from star forts and Lantaka SPHs harassed these forces as they moved, and the invaders rushed for urban settlement in the hopes that they would offer more protection. Kapampangan armor detachments and militiamen, however, made short work of them in the field. Once again, government forces were in full retreat.
Kapampangan forces now readied for another offensive in the Cordilleras, hoping to destroy the remaining capable government forces. The invasion began on 3 December. Combined armor and infantry took advantage of the newly repaired roads and bridges, sweeping through Pangasinan and Nueva Vizcaya with ease. Stragglers tried to stall the advancing forces to no avail, and the invaders made for the Cordilleras’ footsteps by the 5th.
The fifth infantry division stretched itself thin around Baguio, with many troops lining Kenon Road and Marcos Highway. Commanders here requested permission to perform scorched earth, yet Malakanyang ordered no intentional destruction of public property. Invading forces made short work of defense forces. Retreating troops, however, saw no harm in destroying private property, angering the local populace.
A large armored column sped through Nueva Vizcaya into the Cordilleras, engaging fifth infantry division detachments as they went. Drone support kept to recon for little space allowed drone strikes. By 8 December, the invaders had reached La Trinidad. The town of strawberries became the new operations headquarters for Kapampangan forces. Plans for a siege on Baguio began
By then, all defenders had retreated to Baguio. The PMA garrison commander found only one hope. If defenders could break out into Nueva Vizcaya, they could link with forces remaining in Aurora and make their way back to Manila. All senior officers agreed to the plan, and battle commenced on the 10th.
The PMA cadets led the charge, and distracted Kapampangan forces for fifth infantry division regulars to encircle the entrenched defenders. Sounds of the fighting alerted troops on Marcos Highway and Kenon Road, who rushed through the city into La Trinidad and outflanked the breakout attempt.
An armored charge broke the cadets’ morale, making them flee. Their blood mixed with strawberries as they were cut down. The fifth infantry division managed to escape deeper into the Cordilleras, fleeing nonstop through Balete Pass in Nueva Ecija, till they had finally reached Aurora province.
Christmas came with a formal offer of ceasefire by the Kapampangan forces. The Philippine government, desperate to hold itself together, agreed. News of conscription and foreign intervention swirled for half of government forces had been wiped out in the rebellion.
Diplomatic recognition poured first from Vatican City, then the Holy See, the Knights of Malta, and Liechtenstein on Christmas Eve. On the 26th, ASEAN members had started furiously debating on Pampanga’s status. Japan and South Korean also sent envoys to represent their citizens in Kapampangan-occupied areas. The United States, however, would settle old debts from the Philippine government.
President Kamala Harris met with Malakanyang officials over voice call. Her offers of armed support were met with open arms, she authorized American forces to pacify the province of Pampanga. On New Years’ Day, American aircraft carriers and troop transports sailed for the Philippines.
On 3 Janaury, F-35 and F-16 planes rushed across Pampanga, taking down drones and bombing key star forts. Aircraft carriers deployed in the Philippine Sea oversaw these operations, hoping that the rebellion would be crushed through air supremacy. For once, the Kapampangans had been outmatched.
Cruise missiles soared through night skies, bombarding Kapampangan installments all over. Only the Institute’s technological supremacy denied the Americans their easy prize. Specialized fighter drones engaged American jets in dogfights, pilots impressed at how the UAVs were handled. Soon, Kapampangans were launching cruise missiles of their own. The first wave had been shot down by aircraft carrier defense systems. The next wave, however, had countermeasures to hit. Many American planes were destroyed on runways. These actions, however, failed to deter troop landings in Lingayen Gulf.
Soldiers numbering 43,567 landed in Pangasinan and marched unharmed across the province on the 6th. Their first target was Tarlac City, an important rebel base. However, as they crossed the border on the 8th, artillery and aerial bombardments greeted their arrival. Armored forces shot at Abrams tanks from afar, causing numerous casualties. American Strykers, Humvees, Bradleys, and other vehicles fell to unceasing drone bombardments. Not even countermeasures could protect these for the Institute had perfected the art of circumventing them.
Despite these successes, the Institute needed to replenish resources and withdrew to Tarlac city. American forces lost a thousand troops in the first engagement. Undeterred, their commanders moved forward to Tarlac. American air superiority became a pipe dream for aircraft carriers were too busy engaging attackers. The expeditionary force could rely only on assets on the ground.
US Marines landed in