The Historic Kalabaw

One noticeable feature of the Aguinaldo Mansion is the presence of carabao decor in several furniture and parts of the house. There must be a reason why Aguinaldo used the carabao as a prominent figure to decorate his mansion.

By nature, carabaos are generally docile animals but they can be deadly when pushed to anger. According to Ambeth Ocampo, General Emilio Aguinaldo admired this quality and surrounded himself with carabao décor in his mansion in Cavite. One of his chairs has a carabao head as a backrest. A smiling carabao supports the famous Independence balcony.



In a battle between Filipino and Americans in April of 1899, General Lawton’s men were shouting at Filipino troops when a herd of carabaos attacked the Americans. The American forces could not explain why the beasts did not attack the Filipinos.


This was not an isolated case, since another carabao attack occurred in Meycauayan. Major Putnam Bradlee Strong, who served in Mac Arthur’s staff, related that a herd of carabaos ran straight into their battery, ruined their battle formation, broke the leg of one soldier and gored a handful of men.What was surprising was that after the rampage, the carabao became tame once more.


A large illustration in Harper’s History of the War in the Philippines (published 1900) shows this carabao attack, and its section on the carabao says, “Decidedly, the carabao deserves to be made the subject of a character study.” 



Perhaps Aguinaldo was right in glorifying the carabao which, by sheer instinct, knew that invading Americans were the “enemy.” Thus, it deserves its place as the National Animal.


Information source: Ambeth Ocampo, Looking Back



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