“Ing matas at mataluktuk masaldak ya pangabaldug.”
The central government's mismanagement in Manila has long been the target of provincial ire. Calls for independence among the provinces had already aired. Long quiet, however, were the Kapampangan Nation. Formerly an autonomous vassal of the Kingdom of Spain, the Katipunan rebellion and the succeeding first Philippine Republic illegally annexed the Kapampangan Nation as a Philippine territory. Locals would mind not overlordship from Manila, seeing as the central government would not interfere in Kapampangan affairs.
The 21st century, however, saw increasing attempts by the central government to regulate and control provincial life. These attempts included new taxes, new laws, increased oversight from government departments, and more. The Provinces of Pampanga and Tarlac in particular saw tensions rise between stationed military forces and Kapampangan nationalists.
The Sylvester II Institute intervenes
In the 2020s, a Kapampangan returnee from Maynila founded the Sylvester II Institute. This Institute would nominally engage in research and consultancy for sciences. However, the founder had more political ambitions in mind. He had dabbled in Traditional Catholicism for a time, only to leave unsatisfied with Traditional Catholics' preference for grandstanding, talk, and sentimentality rather than action. He had decided that Kapampangans needed an independent state to hone their virtues and control their vices away from the rest of the world. The Institute would be the founder's first stride to turn Kapampangans into a nation fit for self-rule and management.
As years went by, the Institute's power and influence within Pampanga and Tarlac increased. They held the loyalty of most barangays, towns, and cities. Traditionally powerful families like the Pinedas, Cojuangcos, and Lapids needed Institute approval before making moves. Especially important with the Institute were its foreign links, with member-owners having academic and business prestige abroad.
Rumors already spread that the Institute had engaged in economic warfare and sabotage to maintain its social, business, and religious goals in Tarlac and Pampanga. Some government officials also questioned the Institite's incessant construction projects. Unbeknownst to many, the Institute's constuction projects aimed to defend the provinces in the event of invasion or war, whether from a belligerent China or the central government's machinations. They had also hired defectors from the central government's military to train volunteers ready to defend the provinces. Lastly, Catholic mercenaries from abroad bolstered the Institute's forces.
The Institute's efforts had turned Pampanga and Tarlac into province-wide fortresses, impervious to invasion. Two years before the earthquakes, the volunteer forces began their assaults against government forces in Crow Valley and Clark Air Base. Whatever forces present fought for days before surrendering.
Order of Battle
Central Government Land Forces
The central government's forces consisted of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and accompanying Citizen Armed Forces Geographic Units (CAFGU). Regular infantry comprised the Philippine Army and CAFGU forces. Four divisions could respond fast to a rebellion in Luzon island.
The second infantry divisions specialized in jungle warfare, and could fight a Kapampangan rebellion in Zambales. However, its garrison held in Rizal province (now part of Morong subcommandery), and kept its focus on fighting Communist guerrillas to the east.
The fifth infantry division specialized in anti-guerrilla COIN operations, and held in Isabela province (now part of Sierra Madre subcommandery). Its forces had much experience fighting Communist and Islamic rebels, and the division could easily relocate its forces to stop a Kapampangan rebellion. However, the Institute's forces had trained in conventional warfare, and could easily fight the fifth division on its own terms. Militiamen allied to Kapampangan nationalists also received training in Vanguardist operations, ensuring that any conventional forces could not resist propaganda and psyops before, during, and after a guerrilla war.
The seventh infantry division was stationed in Nueva Ecija, and could rapidly deploy to fight a rising rebellion. The Institute's drone fleet was deployed to distract this division, and the former's forces had the hardest time overcoming it. Superior strategy and tactics, however, forced this division to rout.
The ninth infantry division, stationed in Bicol (present-day Bikol subcommandery), was projected to serve as a last line of defense against a Kapampangan rebellion. The division's forces specialized in anti-communist COIN operations, fighting relentlessly against local rebels. Institute subterfuge kept this division from ever going near Kapampangan soil.
Lastly, the First Brigade Combat team could deploy rapidly for conventional warfare scenarios.
Central Government Special Operations Command
The central government could also rely on special forces to perform unconventional warfare. Institute strategists considered these units to be essentially identical. No doubt troubled them that these forces would be deployed en masse to contain a growing rebellion. Experience in the war proved these thoughts correct.
Institute forces received focused training in melee combat and close quarters fighting, letting them fight government central forces on their own terms. Even militiamen were taught how to disarm bombs, what materials to use to prevent sabotage, and other basic tactics against unconventional warfare. Lastly, the Institute sought to isolate special forces both from friendly forces and hostile targets, rendering them useless and distracted.
Central Government Air and Naval Forces
The central government could last rely on air and naval forces to contain a rebellion. Air-strikes would prove devastating to normal infrastructure. However, the Institute had mandated the use of auxetic philosophy in engineering and architecture. Instead of breaking apart from stress, Institute infrastructure could compress and deform properly. Auxetic engineering also allowed Institute infrastructure to become stronger under stress, rather than break.
Naval units also had little use beyond shelling the coasts of Zambales and the coastal counties of Pampanga. Institute drone strikes could make short work of naval units attempting to attack.
Sylvester II Institute Conventional Forces
See also: Military of the Republic of Pampanga
The Institute relied on a hired mercenary force, recruited from young and eager Kapampangans. Foreign mercenaries also entered the Institute's forces, bolstering their ranks. Although outnumbered by the central government's forces, the Institute could count on superior supply lines and knowledge of terrain as force multipliers. Additionally, Institute infrastructure served as strategic positions to delay and outflank central government forces. Rather than standard military bases, the Institute built modernized star-forts and artillery bases. These structures could house entire garrisons, survive prolonged siege, and serve as bases for attacks and sallies.
The Institute relied on Cebuano gunsmiths, who had their practice outlawed, for armament. These weapons differed little from standard manufactured ones, and even performed better in performance under rugged conditions.
To balance the gap with central government numbers, the Institute relied on technological advantages as further force multipliers. Cruise missiles, short and medium-range ballsitic missiles, drones, and other long-ranged equipment gave the Institute a large advantage in the war's early stages. Superior equipment, like auxetic-ceramic armor vehicles and camoflage vehicles also multipled the Instiute's force potential. Lastly, the Institute's nascent submarine fleet proved a great help against the Philippine Navy.
Sylvester II Institute Militiamen
Helping the Institute were thousands of trained and knowledgeable militiamen planted in every barangay in Pampanga. Institute propaganda convinced them that they needed to defend their homes against hostile attack. Training also instilled a sense of other-ness against the central government, bolstering confidence in an independent Pampanga. Institute research could pinpoint which men had the best potential to be loyal and competent militiamen, basing their findings on foreign data.
These militiamen would first fight against CAFGU deployed in central government-held areas. When regular forces came to stop the attack, Institute forces would outflank and envelop them.
On 13 May, several militiamen in Bamban raised the old Kapampangan dragoon regiment flag. They declared a free Republic of Pampanga, and they demanded that the central government recognize Kapampangan independence.
The first response came the next day. Forces from the seventh infantry division, with supporting units from the first armor regiment, besieged Bamban and demanded that the militiamen surrender. They received gunfire for an answer. Fighting raged in Bamban's streets until the evening Angelus, when Institute conventional forces relieved the siege and pushed back the government forces.
Militias and volunteer forces then raised the Kapampangan tricolor and Galura all over Pampanga and Tarlac. The local governments of Zambales pledged allegiance to the Kapampangan rebels. Central government forces in Pangasinan, Cordilerra, and Bataan announced plans to pacify the rebellion.
The Institute's first priority was to secure the province of Pampanga. It needed its conventional forces to fight against regular central government forces, so inserted militiamen would do most of the work for now. By mid-June, a salient had formed extending from the city of Angeles all the way to Bulacan. Government forces secured McArthur Highway and North Diversion Road, keeping supply lines open.
The first government move was to break out of the salient and take back the towns of Bacolor, Magalang, and Arayat. At the same time, the First Brigade Combat Team and remaining seventh infantry division forces would strike from Nueva Ecija and reinforce the salient. Militiamen would retreat in orderly fashion, letting government forces overextend themselves.
While these moves happened, Institute regulars moved through the Zambales mountains to evade government surveillance. By mid-July, these regulars had already assumed good positions to begin a counter-offensive. This began with fighting in Floridablanca and Lubao, with government forces conducting a disorderly retreat. Institute regulars managed to cut down those routing, and the salient was now in danger of collapsing from this renewed pressure.
Government special forces would insert themselves into the fight. Although they inflicted many casualties on Institute regulars and militiamen, the latter's strategy of containment and isolation worked to keep enemy special forces in useless tasks. Disinformation mislead them to strike at unimportant targets, and Institute regulars would surround them and cut them down. Militiamen continued to act as the first line of defense against intruding government forces in and around Angeles.
By the end of August, the second and fifth infantry divisions would join the war. The Angeles salient stood firm against the Institute's forces. Philippine naval support in Zambales failed against the Institute's submarines, but airborne special forces managed to land and cause disruption there. It was then that the Institute deployed its drone fleet to deal with its new enemies. Additionally, the Institute deployed its own experimental special forces outfitted with plasma blades and silent arms. This experimental unit performed well against enemy forces, yet consumed too many resources than feasible. Their actions, however, together with the drone strikes damaged government forces' morale.
Militiamen in Zambales struggled to deal with the special forces, forcing the Institute to deploy the experimental unit with some regulars to hunt them down. A long fight lasted through September, until the government forces were finally captured.
The Institute then deployed its own armored forces, based on the American Stryker vehicle. Armed with laser weapons and holding ten men in each, the armored forces would break through the salient and counter the government armored regiment. Over 3000 Institute troops then occupied Nueva Ecija, dismantling government control over it. By early October, all lands north and west of the Pampanga River had fallen to the rebellion.
Angat River Campaign
The Institute now focused on closing the gap between the Pampanga and Angat rivers. Its plan was to use the latter as a boundary with government territory until peace talks could begin. Doing so required destroying the dams along the Angat river.
The Institute started the war's second phase with an artillery barrage against forces stationed by Malolos. It had spread information that Malolos would become its next target, and it requested that civilians evacuate. Government forces would concentrate there, digging in for a long and bitter fight against the Institute.
Militiamen would cross the Pampanga River and start shooting with government forces forming lines of resistance against the expected invasion. The latter held firm, and a stalemate was expected into Christmas. However, the Institute had deployed most of its forces in Nueva Ecija, and these would cross the Pampanga River into Bulacan. They now outflanked government forces up to the Angat River, eventually cutting off Malolos from the outside world by Advent.
The Institute continued its plan and ordered civilians along the Angat River to evacuate. The dams burst and the Angat River rose in height till a wide space separated Kapampangan territory from the central government's.
While militiamen in Bulacan dug in against both a Malolos breakout and a central government relief attempt, the Instiute redirected its focus northward. Regulars invaded Bataan and constructed a line of defense against possible landings there. The towns of Morong, Balanga, and Abucay formed the frontline. The rest of the forces moved north into the Cordilleras.
The Philippine Military Academy hosted an entire batallion that had moved in from the Cagayan Valley. These forces would form a second front against the Kapampangan rebels. Christmas saw a failed government offensive, stalled by forward saboteur elements who had damaged roads and infrastructure in Benguet. The Institute planned to isolate Baguio City from the outside world, forcing government troops stationed there to surrender.
Institute regulars deployed deeper into the Cordilleras, forcing farmers not to sell to those from Baguio City. Many civilians fled into La Trinidad, which the Institute then appropriated as a forward command headquarters. Government forces in Baguio decided to break out into La Trinidad and circle through the Cagayan Valley to outflank the rebels in Nueva Ecija. The fifth infantry division would join as a relieving force.
The Battle of La Trinidad ended with government forces littering its fields, blood mixing with strawberries to paint them red. Baguio would surrender and pledge fealty to the Kapampangan Republic by Lent.
Towns and barangays across the Cagayan Valley followed suit. The fifth infantry division escaped through Balete Pass into Aurora Province, where they held and dug in to prevent the rebellion from reaching there. It was then that president Kamala Harris of the United States declared support for the Philippine government and American intervention began.
In February, American forces descended on the Philippines through Lingayen Gulf, smashing through the Central Luzon plain until reaching Tarlac City. Here the Institute had constructed several star fortresses in the event of a Chinese invasion. American forces attempted to break through the defenses, only to face the Institute as a technological equal. At this point, cultural tensions in the United States had reached a tipping point, and the intervention had only lit the powder keg. A new multifaction civil war began in America, with socialists, progressives, paleoconservatives, and neoliberals fighting one another. American intervention ended before it could have any real effect.
Siege of Maynila
By April the rebellion had almost completed its goals. Only recognition from the central government of Kapampangan independence remained. Taking advantage of low water levels, Institute forces crossed the Angat River on pontoon bridges and started heading for Maynila. Government forces had dug in across Bulacan and Rizal provinces, ensuring a bitter fight to reach the capital. Using infiltration tactics, Institute forces easily broke through the defenses and started making headway for Maynila. The fifth infantry divison now began an outflanking offensive from Aurora. However, rearguard forces managed to delay their advance long enough for a siege to begin by June. Institute regulars crossed Laguna de Bay and invaded Laguna and Cavite provinces, in a cruel irony on the Philippine Revolution. By the end of July, a circumvallation prevented anyone from entering or leaving Maynila. The siege would last until Advent, when the central government's remnants finally agreed to peace talks.
Minor skirmishes between disobedient units continued until an armistice was signed on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, to last tentatively until May 13.
Fatima Day Earthquakes
On 13 May, two great earthquakes struck Maynila. The first, with magnitude 7.2, began in the West Valley Fault, destroying most of Maynila's structures. Fires and chemical leaks abounded in the megacity. This earthquake triggered the Manila Fault to move, causing a magnitude 9 earthquake. This earthquake ruined the rest of the megacity, and triggered a tsunami which swamped Maynila and washed out the ruins and victims into Manila Bay. For months, a great mass of debris and bodies floated in the Bay, requiring mass cremation with gasoline. The ashes circulated through global ocean currents for years. The isthmus of Maynila itself remained a desolate, barren plain for centuries to come.
Traditionally powerful families in Pampanga would become obsolete. The names Lapid, Pineda, or Cojuango no longer held significance beyond historical oddities. Instead, new governmental structures would rise.
The Institute would place a council for all cities and towns, now called counties. These would govern the counties and elect counts as first among equals. Old subdivisions, turned into barangays under Manila's rule, now returned as towns and cities in their own rights. For example, the cities of San Fernando, Angeles, and Mabalacat claimed only what was known as barangay Poblacion under Manila's rule. Other barangays would be their own towns.
Local Governments take Charge
After the Fatima Day earthquakes, local government units declared a collapse of the central government and began self-rule.
Global poltical-economic conditions
The Kapampangan Rebellion formed only one event in a series of global wars, conflicts, and disasters which marked the 2020s and 30s, setting the stage for the breakdown of Late Modernity and the start of a new, more regional world order.