Emilio Aguinaldo was the President of the First Philippine Republic and leader
of the Revolution against Spain and War in opposition to America occupation of the
country. The seventh child of Don Carlos Aguinaldo y Jamir and Doņa Trinidad
Famy y Valero, Emilio was born at dawn of March 22, 1869 in Cavite El Viejo (
was a plucky and daring tot. At a playmate's dare, he jumped into the Marulas
river and almost drowned as he did not know how to swim. At two, he got sick
with smallpox and was given up for dead until he opened his eyes. He was bitten
by hundreds of ants in a bamboo clump where a relative had abandoned him for
fear of some Spanish troops out on a juez de cuchillo (Justice of the knife)
mission in retaliation for the Cavite Mutiny of 1872.
As a young man, he engaged in barter and
trade in the nearby southern islands. On one of his trips, taken in a big paraw
(sailboat with outriggers), he grappled, subdued and landed a huge man-eating
shark which he thought was just an ordinary big fish that swallowed everything
in its path.
was slender and stood at five feet and three inches. His stiff black hair,
always cut short, flat at the sides and semi-flat on top, became popularly
known as the "Aguinaldo" haircut. His Chinese lineage was betrayed by
almond-shaped eyes and the sparseness of the
moustache he tried to grow as a young gallant. He appeared shy,
self- effacing, gentle and humble -
traits that won the people's hearts.
was only in the third year of his bachillerato (equivalent to our present high school) when he decided to
leave the Colegio de San Juan de Letran to help his widowed mother manage their
farm. He was only 17 then. His mother,
Kapitana Teneng worked for his appointment as cabeza de barangay of Kawit to
prevent his being conscripted into the
Spanish army. He proved to be a capable official. Hence, when the Maura Law
was implemented in the Philippines, he was chosen capitan municipal (mayor) - the first in Kawit - by
the electoral tribunal. In the morning
of January 1, 1895, he took his oath as town executive and, in the evening of the same day, he was
initiated into the Masonry, then a fraternity outlawed by both the Church and
State. Three months later, in March
of 1895, he was inducted into the Kntipunan in Manila by its founder and
Supremo, Andres Bonifacio.
his name in the secret society, Aguinaldo chose Magdalo, after the patron saint of Kawit, Mary
Magdalene. His official position served the purposes of the Katipunan very
well, specially when he became very
active in recruting members.
fell in love with Hilaria del Rosario of Imus, Cavite and married her in 1896.
He had kept his revolutionary activities secret from his wife until the
Katipuneros staged the "Cry of Pugad Lawin" on August 23, 1896. Under
his leadership, the Katipunan forces in Cavite captured Kawit, Imus, Bacoor,
and other towns. After his initial
victories, he led his men to help the Katipuneros in Batangas..
Spanish forces concentrated their campaigns in Cavite. They sent feelers to
Aguinaldo, urging cessation of hostilities, but these were ignored. The Spanish
authorities. then put a price on his head and circularized their intention to
display him in Manila in an iron cage
in 1897, under Governor-General Camilo de Polavieja, the Spanish forces launched a vigorous campaign
in Cavite, resulting in the capture of
several towns and the killing of a number of Aguinaldo's commanders: his elder
brother, Crispulo, and his friends,
Evangelista and Flaviano Yengko, all of them generals of his army.
two Katipunan factions (Magdalo under Aguinaldo and Magdfwang under Bonifacio)
held a convention in March of 1897 in Tejeros,a barrio between the towns of San
Francisco de Malabon (now General Trias) and Noveleta, in Cavite. The assembly
elected Aguinaldo: (who was not present) president, but a conflict broke out
between the two factions when Daniel Tirona derogatorily questioned Bonifacio's
election as minister of interior.
more towns of Cavite were recaptured by the Spaniards, Aguinaldo had to
transfer his headquarters to Batangas and finally to a hideout in Biak-na-bato
mountain in Bulacan. There he reorganized the revolutionary government. With
the war in Cuba, Spain was hard-pressed to keep fighting on two fronts. Pedro
A. Paterno, Filipino scholar, offered his services to Governor-General F. Primo
de Rivera to negotiate with Aguinaldo. The latter wanted nothing short of
independence while the governor general insisted on ending hostilities in
exchange for general amnesty. The persistence of Paterno resulted in the Truce
of Biak-na-bato in December 1897.
In compliance with the conditions of the
truce, Aguinaldo and about 25 of his leaders left for Hongkong as exiles.
However, the Peace turned out to be as flimsy as the faith of the contracting
parties. Apolinario Mabini, who became Aguinaldo's adviser, admitted later that
both parties had acted in bad faith. The promised general amnesty and reforms
were not implemented satisfactorily by the Spanish authorities. On the other
hand, the stipulated surrender of most of the arms was withheld by the Filipino
deposited the indemnity money in two Hongkong banks, and he and his fellow
exiles lived meagerly off its interest. The money was later used to purchase
the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Aguinaldo
already agreed, through the American consul in Singapore, to a supposed
alliance with the United Statesr Hence, after the Spanish warship were sank by
the fleet of Admiral George Dewey at Manila Bay, Aguinaldo returned to Manila
to renew the fight against Spain. .
Cavite, on the advice of lawyer Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista, he established a
provisional dictatorial government to "repress with a strong hand the
anarchy which is the inevitable sequel of all revolutions." His first two
significant acts were the proclamation of Philippine independence in Kawit on
June 12, 1898, and the organization of local political units all over the
The return of Aguinaldo united the Filipinos
once again. From Cavite, Aguinaldo led his troops to victory after victory over
the Spanish forces until they reached the city ofManila. Despite the surrender
of the Spaniards, however, the Americans forbade the Filipinos to enter the
Walled City of Intramuros.
still optimistic and unsuspecting of the real intentions of the Americans,
convened a Revolutionary Congress at Malolos to ratify the independence of the
Philippines and to draft a constitution for a republican form of government.
the night of February 4, 1899, the shooting of a Filipino
by an American sentry at the San Juan bridge, kindled the brewing enmity
between the Filipino and American armies. An open war followed soon after.
Consequently, superior American firepower drove the Filipino troops away from
the city. The govermnent at Malolos then had to transfer from one place to
another. Aguinaldo had to retreat to the north of Luzon with the Americans
closely trailing him.
WilliamMcKinley offered the Filipinos an autonomous government under the
American flag but this was emphatically rejected.
Aguinaldo's odyssey ended in September, 1900,
where he was captured by General Frederick Funston on March 23, 1901, a day
after his 32nd birthday. Although Generals Miguel Malvar and Artemio Ricarte,
and a few others continued their resistance, the capture of Aguinaldo virtually
ended the Filipino-American War.
the restoration of peace, Aguinaldo led the life of a gentleman farmer and
looked after the welfare of his former comrades-in-arms. He organized the Veteranos
de la Revolucion (Veterans of the Revolution), secured pensions for its
members, and made arrangements for them to buy land on installment from the
March 6, 1921, his first wife died. From that marriage five
(Miguel, Carmen, Emilio, Jr., Maria and Cristina) were born. On July 14, 1930,
aged 61, he married Dona Maria Agoncillo, niece of Don Felipe Agoncillo, the
pioneer Filipino diplomat.
1935, Aguinaldo ran for the presidency of the Commonwealth government and lost
to Manuel L. Quezon.
the parade at the Luneta on July 4, 1946, marking the restoration and
recognition of Philippine independence by the US Government, the 77-year old
general carried the flag he raised in Kawit on June 12, 1898, the date he
believed to be our true Independence Day. When President Diosdado Macapagal
proclaimed this date in 1962 as Independence Day, Aguinaldo regarded it as the
greatest victory of the Revolution of 1896.
February 6, 1964, less than a year after the death of his second wife,
Aguinaldo died of coronary thrombosis, at the age of 95, at the Veterans
Memorial Hospital in Quezon City.
year before his death, he had donated his mansion and lot in Kawit to the
government "to perpetuate the spirit of the Revolution of 1896... to
conserve and vivify the nationalism that moved our country to rise in
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