Philippines Independence Armies


1896 - 1902



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When the Katipunan revolution erupted in 1896, the uniforms of the revolutionary forces, to the extent that any uniforms existed, reflected provincial fashion, available supplies and the decisions of local commanders. 


"Philippine Insurgent" Uniform Shirt Donated by Lindley

Artifact courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society #7724.7a



The "Lindley" named as the donor of this artifact may be have been William C. Lindley, a Private in Co. M, 13th Minnesota, or one of his descendants.


Philippines Army Pleated Tunic: The Uniform of an Unidentified Captain

William K. Combs Collection




Philippines Army Pleated Tunic: Souvenir of Major Harry Bandholtz

Artifact courtesy of the David Washburn collection.




The Norfolk jacket is based on an English hunting jacket of the period.  In both its civilian and military forms, the most distinguishing feature of this style of jacket is the presents of two broad bands of matching fabric running from the shoulders down the chest to the hem.   These bands almost always conceal inset breast pockets.  On Philippine military tunics these will always have vertical pocket flaps with buttons.  Most, but not all, will have four large open top cargo pockets on the front and side skirts.  Known button variations include brass 'Sun Face' insignia buttons, plain brass buttons and rayadillo cloth covered buttons.

The origins of the Norfolk jacket as the recognized uniform of the Republican Army are somewhat in dispute.  It is not a copy of any Spanish pattern uniform.  One popular theory gives credit for the design to the famous Filipino artist Juan Luna.  He was living in Europe at the time and could have been influenced by English fashion.  He was the brother of General Antonio Luna who is said to have commissioned him for the task.  This is possible as General Luna was responsible for a number of reforms and improvements in the army.  However, it is interesting to note that photographs of the General show him wearing a rayadillo tunic similar to a Spanish Guayabera, with shoulder yoke and pleated front, and not a Norfolk jacket. 

Another explanation of the uniform's origin is that when Aguinaldo and his followers were in exile in the British colony of Hong Kong they had uniforms made of rayadillo in this popular outdoorsman pattern.  On their return, these English tailor made samples became the 'regulation' pattern. 

Whether these stories are true, or there is another explanation, it is well documented that the Norfolk jacket was, far and away, the most widely used pattern tunic among Filipino officers and some enlisted men.

A group of Aguinaldo's aids.  Most wear variations of the Norfolk jacket in both rayadillo and white drill.  Note that they follow the Spanish fashion of wearing their swords and pistol holsters on a belt under the tunic.  Openings in the sides of the tunic gave access to the hidden belt.

An American soldier displaying a captured rayadillo Norfolk uniform along with other souvenirs.  Image taken sometime during the Philippine Insurrection.

    Philippines Army Norfolk Jacket: An Unknown Colorado Soldier's Souvenir

William K. Combs Collection





Standard pattern with standing collar, broad vertical bands, breast and cargo pockets, and pointed cuffs.  This example has shoulder straps and brass 'Sun Face' buttons.

Cargo pockets, the side opening in the skirt allows the holster and sword to be attached to a hidden belt worn under the tunic.

Back view showing the large box pleat.

Philippines Army Norfolk Jacket: Souvenir of Edward D. Furman, Co. A, First Washington Volunteers

Artifact courtesy of the Wisconsin Veteran Museum





This variation is made without shoulder straps. It has plain cuffs and rayadillo cloth covered buttons.  Note that the broad vertical bands are repeated on the back of this example.  There are no side slits between the skirt cargo pockets.

Philippines Army Norfolk Jacket: Rayadillo tunic of Major Natividad

Natividad was a Filipino infantry officer, captured in the mountains east of Sal Sona, Northern Luzon on Dec 13, 1899 by Col. Webb C. Hayes.  His straw hat and rayadillo trousers are also preserved in the same museum.

Artifact courtesy of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center






Artifact courtesy of the Ron Northrup collection.






All material is Copyright 2008 by William K. Combs.  No portion may be used without permission.