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


End and Fall of the Revolution

As I had foreseen, our improvised militia could not withstand the first blow struck by the disciplined American troops. Moreover, it must be admitted that the Filipino forces stationed around Manila were not prepared for an attack that night: General Ricarte, in command of the detachments in the south, and General San Miguel, commander of the eastern zone where the attack began, were. then in Malolos. Little accustomed to war, the Filipino commanders and officers hardly appreciated the value of military instruction and discipline so that the emplacements were not served with anything approaching order and precision. The Filipino general staff had not studied or laid down any plans for offensive or withdrawal movements in case of an outbreak of hostilities. Mr. Aguinaldo, who had scant appreciation of the advantages of a unified command and coordinated tactics, had made no provision for the prompt restoration of communications among the various it -- my units should a sudden retreat i nterrupt the telegraphic system. Mr. Aguinaldo wanted to keep the forces around Manila under his direct orders, commanding them from his residence in Malolos, although he could not devote himself completely to the proper discharge of the duties of this command because of his preoccupations as head of the government and the conceit of personally deciding many matters which should have been channeled through the departments of the central administration. Only after the outbreak of hostilities, when the telegraph lines had already been cut, did he name General Luna commander of the forces operating around Manila, but by that time the various army units had already evacuated their old emplacements, and communications among them had become slow and hazardous. Furthermore, Luna resigned his command shortly afterward because the War Minister had disapproved one of his dispositions. However, he resumed command of the defensive operations north of Manila when the Philippine Government was compelled to leave Malolos for San Isidro in the province of Nueva Ecija. Luna was able to raise fresh forces in Calumpit, forming a number of companies composed of veteran soldiers. of the former native army organized by the Spanish Government, and with these troops as a core he imposed a stern disciplinary system to stop the demoralization of our troops. But many commanders, jealous of their authority, withheld from him the effective cooperation that was necessary. This led to the cashiering by brute force of commanders who did not recognize his authority, or the court-martialing of those who abandoned their posts in the face of the enemy, or the disarming of troops that disobeyed his or ders.

In spite of all these obstacles, Luna would have succeeded in imposing and maintaining discipline if Aguinaldo had supported him with all the power of his prestige and authority, but the latter was also beginning to grow jealous, seeing Luna slowly gain ascendancy by his bravery, audacity, and military skill. All those affronted by his actuations were inducing Aguinaldo to believe that Luna was plotting to wrest from him the supreme authority. After the Calumpit bridge had fallen to the American forces, due mainly to the scarcity of ammunition, Luna came to see me in San Isidro and entreated me to help him convince Mr. Aguinaldo that the time had come to adopt guerrilla warfare. I promised to do what he wanted, while making it clear to him that I doubted I would get anywhere because my advice was hardly heeded in military matters inasmuch as, not being a military man but a man of letters, my military knowledgeability must be scant, if not nonexistent. I could not keep my promise because after our meeting I did not get to see Mr. Aguinaldo until after some time when he came expressly to seek my advice on whether or not it would be expedient to reorganize the cabinet. Unable to overcome my sense of propriety even in those circumstances, I answered in the affirmative, and, having relinquished office to my successor, Don Pedro A. Paterno, in the first days of May 1899, 1 left for the town of Rosales near Bayambang. Some weeks later Mr. Aguinaldo sent a telegram asking Luna to see him in Cabanatuan for an exchange of views, but when Luna arrived in Cabanatuan he met not Aguinaldo but death by treachery plotted by the very same soldiers whom he had disarmed and court-martialed for abandonment of their post and disobedience to his orders ( he did not find Aguinaldo at home and was treacherously murdered by the soldiers who were on sentry duty there ). Colonel Francisco Roman, who accompanied Luna, died with him. While Luna was being murdered. Mr. Aguinaldo was in Tarlac taking over command of the forces which the deceased had organized. Before his death Luna had his headquarters in Bayambang, and had reconnoitered Bangued to determine if it met the conditions for an efficacious defense in case of a retreat; what is more, he was already beginning to transport there the heavier pieces of ordnance. Notwithstanding, Aguinaldo established his government in Tarlac, wasting his time on political and literary activates, a negligence which General Otis exploited by landing his infantry in San Fabian while his cavalry, wheeling through San Jose and Umingan, took San Quintin and Tayug, thus cutting all of Mr. Aguinaldo's lines of retreat and giving the deathblow to the Revolution.

Until now I cannot believe that Luna was plotting to wrest from Mr. Aguinaldo the high office he held although Luna certainly aspired to be prime minister instead of Mr. Paterno, with whom Luna disagreed because the former's autonomy program was a violation of the fundamental law of the State and as such was a punishable crime. This is shown by a report in the newspaper La Independencia, inspired by Luna and published a few days before his death, which stated that the Paterno-Buencaminio cabinet would be replaced by another in which Luna would be prime minister as well as war minister. When a few days afterward Luna received Mr. Aguinaldo's telegram calling him to Cabanatuan, Luna thought perhaps that the subject of their meeting would be the new cabinet; he did not expect an attempt to assassinate him precisely at the critical juncture when the Revolution most needed his strong and skilled right arm; nor could he believe that a licit and correct ambition should inspire fear i n Mr. Aguinaldo who had named him commanding general of the Philippine army. Luna had certainly allowed himself to say on occasion that Aguinaldo had a weak character and was unfit to be a leader, but such language was only an explosive outlet for a fiery and ebullient temperament which saw its plans frustrated by the lack of necessary support. All of Luna's acts revealed integrity and patriotism combined with a zealous activity that measured up to the situation. If he was sometimes hasty and even cruel in his decisions, it was because the army was in a desperate position due to the demoralization of the troops and the lack of munitions; only acts of daring and extraordinary energy could prevent its disintegration.

The death of Andres Bonifacio had plainly shown in Mr.. Aguinaldo a boundless appetite for power, and Luna's personal enemies exploited this weakness of Aguinaldo with skillful intrigues in order to encompass Luna's ruin.

To say that if Aguinaldo, instead of killing Luna (allowing Luna to be killed), had supported him with all his power, the Revolution would have triumphed, would be presumption indeed, but I have not the least doubt that the Americans would have had a higher regard for the courage and military abilities of the Filipinos. Had Luna been alive, I am sure that Otis's mortal blow would have been parried or at least timely prevented, and Mr.. Aguinaldo's unfitness for military command would not have been exposed so clearly. Furthermore, to rid himself of Luna, Aguinaldo had recourse to the very soldiers whom Luna had punished for breaches of discipline; by doing so Aguinaldo destroyed that discipline, and with it his own army. With Luna, its most firm support, fell the Revolution, and, the ignominy of that fall bearing wholly on Aguinaldo, brought about in turn his own moral death, a thousand times more bitter than physical death. Aguinaldo therefore ruined himself, damned by his ow n deeds. Thus are great crimes punished by Providence.

To sum it up, the Revolution failed because it was badly led; because its leader won his post by reprehensible rather than meritorious acts; because instead of supporting the men most useful to the people, he made them useless out of jealousy. Identifying the aggrandizement of the people with his own, he judged the worth of men not by their ability, character and patriotism but rather by their degree of friendship and kinship with him; and anxious to secure the readiness of his favorites to sacrifice themselves for him, he was tolerant even of their transgressions. Because he thus neglected the people forsook him; and forsaken by the people, he was bound to fall like a waxen idol melting in the heat of adversity. God grant we do not forget such a terrible lesson, learnt at the cost of untold suffering.

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created: September 8, 1998
updated: December 22, 1998
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