A more lonely or inaccessible place than the little town of Baler can hardly be found in the Philippine Islands. Situated on the island of Luzon, about 140 miles northeast of Manila, Baler had, in 1898, a normal population of two thousand people. The town faces the harborless shore of the Pacific Ocean, and at its back sprawls a thickly overgrown mountain range, which makes access by land extremely difficult, while at certain times of the year, communication by sea is almost impossible.
Largely because of this isolation, there occurred an event that indelibly stamped the name “Baler” in the annals of the Spanish Army, for it was in that town’s church that a small Spanish garrison was besieged by Filipino insurgents from June 27, 1898, until June 2, 1899, almost twelve calendar months. Four officers and fifty men went into the church at the beginning and two officers and thirty-one men marched out at the end of the siege.