The Philippine Revolution

by Apolinario Mabini


Copyright 1969
By Leon Ma.Guerrero


Permission to post this text on the Austrian-Philippine Website is provisionally granted by the estate of Leon Ma. Guerrero. It is intended for academic use. Commercial exploitation of this is explicitly prohibited. Copyright Estate of Leon Ma. Guerrero. All rights reserved.


Scanning and proofreeding of the text by Robert L. Yoder


First Stage of the Revolution

Less than a year afterward I heard that the Katipunan had spread all over the province of Manila and was beginning to branch out into Cavite and Bulacan. I foresaw the horrors which would follow its discovery by the authorities, but, having been unable to obstruct (its activities) before, much less could I do so now when I was already ill and was, besides, considered by the society's leaders as a very lukewarm patriot. In August 1896 the head of the printing press of the Diario de Manila, having discovered that some of his employees belonged to a secret society, handed them over to the constabulary for the corresponding investigation. Recourse was had to the usual methods of torture, and not only the Katipunan but also the Masonic brotherhood and other societies already dissolved, like the Liga and the Cuerpo de Compromisarios, were discovered. Warned in time, Bonifacio and his followers were able to flee to the mountains, and from there ordered the people's councils to rise or join them so as not to fall in the hands of the constabulary. The Spanish authorities, following the advice of the friars, decided to teach a terrible exemplary lesson and for this purpose seized not only the katipuneros but the Masons as well and all those who had belonged to the dissolved societies. Convinced that the insurrection could not be the work of the unlettered but rather of the country's educated class, they also ordered the arrest of all the prominent Filipinos in every province. The fate of the captured was cruel and horrible. The katipuneros had managed to put themselves beyond reach of the persecution in time, and only those who were not, were arrested. Since the latter were tortured to compel them to admit their complicity in the insurrection, and they knew nothing about it, they could not escape these sufferings. Many died as a result; many were executed under sentence of courts-martial; many others, shot without any trial at all; and still others, suffocated in grim dungeons. Those who suffered only imprisonment and deportation were lucky. Rizal was shot on the 30th December 1896 as the principal instigator of the movement, and those really guilty of giving cause for the Filipinos to hate the very name of Spaniard were praised for their patriotism.

Shortly before the outbreak of the insurrection Rizal, in order to put an end to an indefinite exile, had offered his medical services to the Spanish army campaigning in Cuba. The government having agreed to his proposal, he was taken from Dapitan and kept aboard a warship anchored in Manila Bay, awaiting transport to Spain. It was during this time that the insurrection happened to break out. Nonetheless the governor general sent Rizal on to Spain, whence he had to be sent back soon after because the judge advocate of the continuing court-martial demanded custody of Rizal to answer the charges against him that might appear from the evidence. Although Rizal's banishment to Dapitan eliminated all possibility of his active participation in the movement, he was found guilty of having been its chief instigator because, had it not been for the articles he had published in La Solidaridad and for his novels, the people would never have taken to politics. This judgment was totally incorrect because political activities in the Philippines antedated Rizal, because Rizal was only a personality created by the needs of these activities: if Rizal had not existed, somebody else would have played his role. The movement was by nature slow and gentle, it had become violent because obstructed. Rizal had not started the resistance, yet he was condemned to death: were he not innocent, he would not be a martyr.

In contrast to Burgos who wept because he died guiltless, Rizal went to the execution ground calm and even cheerful, to show that he was happy to sacrifice his life, which he had dedicated to the good of all the Filipinos, confident that in love and gratitude they would always remember him and follow his example and teaching. In truth the merit of Rizal's sacrifice consists precisely in that it was voluntary and conscious. He had known perfectly well that, if he denounced the abuses which the Spaniards were committing in the Philippines, they would not sleep in peace until they had encompassed his ruin; yet he did so because, if the abuses were not exposed, they would never be remedied. From the day Rizal understood the misfortunes of his native land and decided to work to redress them, his vivid imagination never ceased to picture to him at every moment of his life the terrors of the death that awaited him; thus he learned not to fear it, and had no fear when it came to take him away; the life of Rizal, from the time he dedicated it to the service of his native land, was therefore a continuing death, bravely endured until the end for love of his countrymen. God grant that they will know how to render to him the only tribute worth of his memory: the imitation of his virtues.

Such cruelties could do no less than arouse general indignation, and, rather than suffer them, the rebels preferred to die fighting even though armed only with bolos. Besides, the movement had more success in Cavite because the government forces there consisted only of small constabulary detachments scattered in different towns of the province, except for the port and arsenal which the rebels were unable to take. At that time the Katipunan had two people's councils in the province, one called Magdalo in Kawit led by Don Baldomero Aguinaldo, and the other, the Magdiwang in Noveleta under the orders of Mariano Alvarez. There were also a number of katipuneros in San Francisco de Malabon who obeyed the latter. Upon receiving Andres Bonifacio's order to rise, the katipuneros, helped by their friends, were able to surprise the constabulary barracks and kill the Spanish officers and sergeants in command. With the handful of arms thus captured, the citizens of Noveleta, under the command of Don Artemio Ricarte, threw back the forces of General Blanco on the 9th November 1896, while those of Kawit, under the orders of Don Emilio Aguinaldo, the town mayor, and of Don Candido Tirona, who died in the encounter, were able to retake, on the 11th of the same month, the powder-magazine of Binacayan, which had fallen to the Spaniards a few days before.

On the basis of these gains, the two people's councils took provincial jurisdiction, the towns of Kawit, Imus, Bacoor, Perez Dasmariñas, Silang, Mendez Nuñez, and Amadeo falling under Magdalo, and the remaining towns in the province under Magdiwang. Invited by some friends, Andres Bonifacio went to Cavite to unify the endeavors of the two, but Magdalo already paid little heed to his authority and orders. Fortunately, Don Edilberto Evangelista, a Manilan who was a civil engineer graduated from the University of Ghent in Belgium, put his services at the disposal of the insurrection and directed all the entrenchment and defense works which would give the Spanish forces so much trouble. General Polavieja, at the head of a considerable force, boldly decided to overrun the province of Cavite, and Edilberto, who was conducting the defense of the Sapote river, died fighting heroically on the 17th February 1897. From then on the Spanish forces were able to take one after the other the towns within the jurisdiction of the Magdalo council, whose members were finally compelled to withdraw to San Francisco de Malabon, there to meet with the Magdiwang and arrive at an agreement with the latter on the most appropriate measures for the defense of the province. For that purpose the members of both councils, together with the principal military leaders, gathered in the estate-house of Tejeros on the 12th March 1897. The assembly, presided over by Bonifacio, agreed on the election of a central government which would take charge of the general business of the insurrection. Don Emilio Aguinaldo was elected president, and Don Mariano Trias, vice-president. Bonifacio was elected director of the department of the interior, but, affronted when some of those present opposed his appointment because he was not educationally qualified, he walked out of the meeting, declaring that, as head of the Katipunan, he did not recognize the validity of the decisions, reached. Nevertheless those elected took possession of their offices and, in high dudgeon, Bonifacio went off with his two brothers to the mountains of San Mateo; but (Mr. Aguinaldo sent after him) two companies of soldiers were sent after him with orders to arrest him. Bonifacio resisted, and as a result he was wounded thrice, and one of his brothers and three of the soldiers were killed. The soldiers were able to take Bonifacio and his other brother to Naic, thence to Maragondon, and afterward to Mount Buntis where the two brothers were shot.

The general opinion finds no justification, not even mitigation, for such a manner of proceeding (on the part of Mr.. Aguinaldo). Andres Bonifacio had no less schooling than any of those elected in the aforesaid assembly, and he had shown an uncommon sagacity in organizing the Katipunan. All the electors were friends of Don Emilio Aguinaldo and Don Mariano Trias, who were united, while Bonifacio, although he had established his integrity, was looked upon with distrust only because he was not a native of the province: this explains his resentment. However, he did not show it by any act of turbulent defiance, for, seeing that no one was working for reconciliation, he was content with quitting the province for San Mateo in the company of his brothers. When it is considered that Mr. Aguinaldo (the elected leader) was primarily answerable for insubordination against the head of the Katipunan of which he was a member; when it is appreciated that reconciliation was the only solution proper in the critical state of the Revolution, the motive for the assassination cannot be ascribed except to feelings and judgments which deeply dishonor the former; in any case, such a crime was the first victory of personal ambition over true patriotism.

This tragedy smothered the enthusiasm for the revolutionary cause, and hastened the failure of the insurrection in Cavite, because many from Manila, Laguna and Batangas, who were fighting for the province (of Cavite), were demoralized and quit, and soon the so-called central government had to withdraw to the mountains of Biak-na-Bato in Bulacan. It could afford to remain there because the Spaniards ceased to attack it to cut down their casualties. Besides, Don Pedro A. Paterno offered himself to General Primo de Rivera as a negotiator with the leaders of the insurrection for what they called an honorable peace. Mr. Paterno was a purely volunteer mediator, that is to say, he had no official standing. The general's purpose, was to keep the revolutionary chieftains abroad because, once there, watched constantly by the operatives of the Spanish consulates, it would be very difficult for them to arm an expedition and return to the islands, and with this in mind he offered them money, safe-conduct and free passage. Reflecting that they would be compelled by lack of arms to surrender later under worse conditions, the chieftains accepted the offer, encouraged by a design to spend the money on the purchase of arms with which they would return to the archipelago at the first favorable opportunity. It was agreed that the government would give Peso400,000 to Mr. Aguinaldo and his companions in Hong Kong, Peso200,000 to the chieftains re maining in the islands, and Peso200,000 more some time after, perhaps in the light of the subsequent conduct of the chieftains who surrendered. For this part Mr. Aguinaldo promised to order all the people in arms to surrender and turn over their weapons to the Spanish authorities.

To all appearances the pact of Biak-na-Bato gave the leaders of the Revolution an advantageous way out of an indefensible position. Since both parties were acting in bad faith, one of them could not complain if the other broke its pledges. But such a solution was far from enough to quench the general state of excitement because there was no public announcement of any specific covenant on the political reforms hoped for by the people. The Spanish government believed that, with the voluntary expatriation of some leaders and the unconditional surrender of some others, peace would soon be restored, but it was wholly mistaken. Only the grant of the reforms sought by La Solidaridad could have restored a spirit of peace, but, precisely to avoid such concessions, the Spanish government was using all the means suggested by diplomatic guile and skill. And so it came about that many of the discontented remained afield with forebodings of grave and unpredictable events.

[Austrian-Philippine Website] [Culture and History] [Up]
created: September 8, 1998
updated: December 23, 1998
APSIS Editor Johann Stockinger