Between 6:20 and 6:45 in the morning of September 28, 1901, the villagers made their move.
Abanador, who had been supervising the prisoners' communal labor in the town plaza, grabbed the rifle of Private Adolph Gamlin, one of the American sentries and stunned him with a blow to the head. This served as the signal for the rest of the communal laborers in the plaza to rush the other sentries and soldiers of Company C, who were mostly having breakfast in the mess area. Abanador then gave a shout, signaling the other Filipino men to the attack and fired Gamlin's rifle at the mess tent, hitting one of the soldiers. The pealing of the church bells and the sounds from conch shells being blown followed seconds later. Some of the Company C troopers were attacked and hacked to death before they could grab their rifles; the few who survived the initial onslaught fought almost bare-handed, using kitchen utensils, steak knives, and chairs. One private used a baseball bat to fend off the attackers before being overwhelmed.
The men seemingly detained in the Sibley tents broke out and made their way to the municipal hall. Simultaneously, the attackers hidden in the church broke through to the convent and killed the officers there. An unarmed Company C soldier was ignored, as was Captain Connell's Filipino houseboy. The attackers initially occupied the convent and the municipal hall; however, the attack at the mess tents and the barracks failed, with Pvt. Gamlin recovering consciousness and managing to secure another rifle, causing considerable casualties among the Filipinos. With the initial surprise wearing off and the attack degrading, Abanador called for the attackers to break off and retreat. The surviving Company C soldiers, led by Sergeant Frank Betron, escaped by sea to Basey and Tanauan, Leyte. The townspeople buried their dead and abandoned the town.
Of the 74 men in Company C, 36 were killed in action, including all its commissioned officers; Captain Thomas W. Connell, First Lieutenant Edward A. Bumpus and Major Richard S. Griswold. Twenty-two were wounded in action and four were missing in action. Eight later died of wounds received in combat; only four escaped unscathed. The villagers captured about 100 rifles and 25,000 rounds of ammunition and suffered 28 dead and 22 wounded.
Then the Balangiga Massacre happened. This is how Joseph Schott describes it in his book, The Ordeal of Samar:
On the night of September 27, the American sentries on the guard posts were surprised by the unusual number of women hurrying to church. They were all heavily clothed, which was unusual, and many carried small coffins. A sergeant, vaguely suspicious, stopped one woman and pried open her coffin with his bayonet. Inside he found the body of a child. The woman hysterically cried, "El Colera!" The sergeant nailed the coffin again and let the woman pass. He concluded that the cholera and fever were in epidemic stage and carrying off children in great numbers. But it was strange that no news of any such epidemic had reached the garrison. If the sergeant had been less abashed and had searched beneath the child's body, he would have found the keen blades of cane cutting bolo knives. All the coffins were loaded with them.
At 6:20 that morning, Pedro Sanchez, the native chief of police, lined up around 80 native laborers to start their daily cleanup of the town. The entire Company C, comprising of seventy one men and three officers, was already awake, having breakfast at the mess tents.
There were now only three armed Americans out in the town- the sentries walking their posts. In the church, scores of bolomen quietly honed their gleaming blades and awaited a signal.
Pedro Sanchez walked behind a sentry and with casual swiftness, he grabbed the sentry's rifle and brought the butt down in a smashing blow on his head. Then Sanchez fired the rifle, yelled out a signal and all hell broke loose.
The church bell ding-donged crazily and conch shell whistles blew shrilly from the edge of the jungle. The doors of the church burst open and out streamed the mob of bolomen who had been waiting inside. The native laborers working about the town plaza suddenly turned on the soldiers and began chopping at them with bolos, picks and shovels.
The mess tents, filled with soldiers peacefully at breakfast, had been one of the prime targets of the bolomen. They burst in screaming and slashing. A bolo swished through the air, made a sodden chunking sound against the back of a sergeant's neck, severing his head.
As the soldiers rose up and began fighting with chairs and kitchen utensils, the Filipinos outside cut the tent ropes, causing the tents to collapse on the struggling men. The Filipinos then ran in all directions to slash with bolos and axes at the forms struggling under the canvas.