On the night of May 2–3, 1935, 65,000 partially-armed peasants shattered the tranquility of the countryside surrounding Manila. Between sunset and sunrise dissident bands seized three communities and threatened ten others in Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite. Throughout the night confusion mounted. Hard-pressed Constabulary units from the provinces and Manila fought three engagements with Sakdalistas, picked up persistent reports of an impending attack on Manila, and heard recurrent and highly disturbing rumors that Japanese aircraft, equipped with arms and ammunition for the rebels, would fly over the trouble zone at dawn.

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