AMBROSIO RIANZARES BAUTISTA
(1830 - 1903)
Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista, author of the Declaration of Philpine Independence of June 12, 18983 was born on December 7, 1830 Biiian, Laguna to Gregorio Enriquez Bautista and Silvestra Altamira.
A distant relative of the Rizal family, he was often sought after by young Jose for advice during the latter's student days in Manila.
Although Bautista was not as eminent as many other great Filipino, he was often likened to Mahatma Gandhi, author of the Declaration of Indian Independence of January 26, 1930, and Ho Chi Minh, Father of the Declaration of Vietnamese Indpendence.
Little is known about Ambrosio's early education and activities. He must have completed his early education in a school in his home town, then, he went to the University of Santo Tomas where he obtained a Bachelor of Laws degree.
His contemporaries in law were distinguished men like Chief Justice Cayetano S. Arellano, Chief Justice Florentino Torres, Rafael del Pan, a prominent lawyer, and Dr. Pedro A. Paterno, "diplomat of the Philippine Revolution."
A generous man, Bautista was popular among peasants and laborers as he often gave legal advice and services and defended their cases in court free of charge.
Once Bautista was captured by a group of bandits on his way to
Malolos, Bulacan. When the bandits learned that he was the famous "Don Bosyong" who had saved many of their friends from the gallows and defended the poor in court cases against the greedy Spaniards and rich Filipino caciques they immediately apologized and set him free.
As a patriot, like many Filipino intellectuals of the time, Bautista joined the Propaganda Movement spearheaded by Marcelo H. del Pilar and solicited funds to finance the campaign for reforms in the Philippines.
He was also elected one of the officers of the Liga Filipina, a patriotic association founded by Rizal in the house of Doroteo Ongjunco on Ilaya street, Tondo, Manila on July 3, 1892. This association did not last long because three days after its foundation, on July 7, 1892, Rizal was arrested on orders of Covemor-General Eulogio Despujol and exiled to Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte (now Dapitan City).
After the dissolution of the Liga, Bautista became a leading member of the "Cuerpo de Compromisarios" subsequently organized by its active and conservative members. He contributed funds to finance La Solidaridad, the organ of the propaganda movement in Spain, founded by Graciano Lopez Jaena on February 15, 1889.
It will be recalled that Bautista wrote articles for La Independencia, a nationalistic and very influential newspaper of the Revolution whose maiden issue came out on September 3, 1898.
When the Philippine Revolution broke out in August 1896, was one of those "most wanted" by the Spanish authorities of his involvement in various patriotic organizations. He was and thrown into prison at Fort Santiago. A brilliant lawyer, himself took up his case with much eloquence and logic. Finally the investigators that the rebellion was "not actually against Spain but a blind and desperate plea for reforms" in the Philippines” he was later released.
After his release from prison, he immediately went into hiding in Malabon. Later, a second warrant for his arrest was when the authorities learned that Bautista was really involved the Revolution. This time however, the agents of the law could not find him.
When Governor-General Fernando Prime de Rivera proclaimed a general amnesty in accordance with the "Pact of Biyak-na-Bato" of December 14 and 15, 1897, Bautista availed of it and returned to his hometown Biñan, Laguna.
Upon succeeding Primode Rivera, Governor-General Basilio Agustin instituted on May 9, 1898 a "policy of attraction" aimed at dousing the fervor of the Revolution. The policy consisted of giving
positions of responsibility to those who had been involved in the hostilities. Bautista was appointed to the twenty-member "Consultative Assembly" with powers to deliberate and advice the Governor-General on problems that were political, governmental or administrative in nature.
In Biñan, Laguna, Bautista keenly followed national events, particularly the impending outbreak of the Spanish-American hostilities. He was mindful of the defeat of the Spanish armada by the American Naviy under Commodore George Dewey during the battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898.
When Bautista learned that Aguinaldo had returned to Cavite from Hongkong on May 19, 1898, he promptly went to see him and to offer his service.
Aguinaldo graciously welcomed him as the former really needed an adviser, especially one who was a lawyer. Subsequently, he was appointed auditor-general de guerra and was asked to give advice on proposed constitution prepared by Mariano Ponce in Hongkong.
After studying the Ponce constitution, Bautista persuaded
to delay its implementation. Believing that a constitlitional government would not be viable because of the turbulent conditions at the time, he advised Aguinaldo to establish a dictator regime instead.
Bautista did not only act as an adviser to Aguinaldo, but penned several important state documents. One of the most –famous these documents was the Declaration of Philippine Independence. As special delegate, he read the paper during the proclamation of independence at Aguinaldo's residence in Kawit, Cavite in the afternoon of Sunday, June 12, 1898. It was read in the presence of a crowd that also witnessed the unfurling of the present Filipino flag the playing of the national anthem.
After the independence celebration, Bautista was replaced by Apolinario Mabini as Aguinaldo's principal adviser. As a leading member of the Revolutionary Congress in Malolos, Bautista showed his intelligence during the deliberations on the most significant issues. Before the Congress elected its officers, he acted as temporary president. Later, on June 14, 1899, he was elected president of Revolutionary Congress when it convened in Tarlac, succeeding Pedro A. Paterno who had earlier replaced Mabini as premier and head of the Cabinet. Thus, Bautista became the second President of the Malolos Congress.
When the Filipino-American War ended and peace and order
restored, Bautista cooperated with the American authorities in the
of rehabilitating and rebuilding his war-ravaged country. He was appointed judge of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan.
He died of a fatal fall from ahorse-drawn carriage in on December 4, 1903, at the age of 73.