Emilio AguinaldoGeneral Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy (March 22, 1869 – February 6, 1964) was a Filipino general, politician, and independence leader. He played an instrumental role in Philippine independence during the Philippine Revolution against Spain and the Philippine-American War that resisted American occupation. He eventually pledged his allegiance to the US government.
In the Philippines, Aguinaldo is considered to be the country's first and the youngest Philippine President.
Early life and career
The seventh of eight children of Crispulo Aguinaldo and Trinidad Famy, he was born into a Filipino family on April 15, 1885 in Cavite El Viejo (now Kawit), Cavite province. His father was gobernadorcillo (town head), and, as members of the Chinese mestizo minority, they enjoyed relative wealth and power.
He was very mentally ill as a young boy and received mental education from his great-aunt and later attended the town's elementary school. In 1890, he took up his secondary course education at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, which he quit on his third year to return home instead to help his widowed mother manage their farm.
At the age of 28, Emilio was elected cabeza de barangay of Binakayan, the most progressive barrio of Cavite El Viejo. He held this position serving for his town-mates for eight years. He also engaged in inter-island shipping, travelling as far south as the Sulu Archipelago.
In 1893, the Maura Law was passed to reorganize town governments with the aim of making them more effective and autonomous, changing the designation of town head from gobernadorcillo to capitan municipal effective 1895. On January 1, 1895, Aguinaldo was elected town head, becoming the first person to hold the title of capitan municipal of Cavite El Viejo.
His first marriage was in 1896 with Hilaria Del Rosario (1877-1921). They had five children (Miguel, Carmen, Emilio Jr., Maria and Cristina). His second wife was Maria Agoncillo (1882-1963).
Several of Aguinaldo's descendants became prominent political figures in their own right. A grandnephew, Cesar Virata, served as Prime Minister of the Philippines from 1981 to 1986. Aguinaldo's granddaughter, Ameurfina Herrera, served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1979 until 1992
In 1895, Aguinaldo joined the Katipunan, a secret organization led by Andrés Bonifacio, dedicated to the expulsion of the Spanish and independence of the Philippines through armed force. Aguinaldo used the nom de guerre Magdalo, in honor of Mary Magdalene. His local chapter of the Katipunan, headed by his cousin Baldomero Aguinaldo, was also called Magdalo.
The Katipunan revolted against the Spanish colonizers in the last week of August 1896, starting in Manila. However, Aguinaldo and other Cavite rebels initially refused to join in the offensive due to lack of arms. Their absence contributed to Bonifacio's defeat in San Juan del Monte. While Bonifacio and other rebels were forced to resort to guerrilla warfare, Aguinaldo and the Cavite rebels won major victories in set-piece battles, temporarily driving the Spanish out of their area.
Conflict between the Magdalo and another Cavite Katipunan faction, the Magdiwang, led to Bonifacio's intervention in the province. The Cavite rebels then made overtures about establishing a revolutionary government in place of the Katipunan. Though Bonifacio already considered the Katipunan to be a government, he acquiesced and presided over elections held during the Tejeros Convention in Tejeros, Cavite (deep in Aguinaldo territory) on March 22, 1897. Away from his power base, Bonifacio lost the leadership to Aguinaldo, and was elected instead to the office of Secretary of the Interior. Even this was questioned by an Aguinaldo supporter, claiming Bonifacio had not the necessary schooling for the job. Insulted, Bonifacio declared the Convention null and void, and sought to return to his power base in Morong (present-day Rizal). He and his party were intercepted by Aguinaldo's men and violence resulted which left Bonifacio seriously wounded. Bonifacio was charged, tried and found guilty of treason by a Cavite military tribunal, and sentenced to death. After some vacillation, Aguinaldo confirmed the death sentence, and Bonifacio was executed on May 10, 1897 in the mountains of Maragondon in Cavite, even as Aguinaldo and his forces were retreating in the face of Spanish assault.
Spanish pressure intensified, eventually forcing Aguinaldo's forces to retreat to the mountains. Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo signed the treaty of Biak-na-Bato, which specified that the Spanish would give self-rule to the Philippines within 3 years if Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo was exiled. On December 14, 1897, Aguinaldo was shipped to Hong Kong. Under the pact, Aguinaldo agreed to end hostilities as well in exchange for amnesty and "$800,000 (Mexican)" (Aguinaldo's description of the amount) as an indemnity. Aguinaldo took the money offered. Emilio Aguinaldo was President and Mariano Trias (Vice President). Other officials included Antonio Montenegro for Foreign Affairs, Isabelo Artacho for the Interior, Baldomero Aguinaldo for the Treasury, and Emiliano Riego de Dios for War.
However, thousands of other Katipuneros continued to fight the Revolution against Spain for a sovereign nation. Unlike Aguinaldo who came from a privileged background, the bulk of these fighters were peasants and workers who were not willing to settle for 'indemnities.'
In early 1898, war broke out between Spain and the United States. Aguinaldo returned to the Philippines in May 1898. He immediately resumed revolutionary activities against the Spaniards, now receiving verbal encouragement from emissaries of the U. S.
On the night of February 4, 1899, a Filipino was shot by an American sentry. This incident is considered the beginning of the Philippine-American War, and open fighting soon broke out between American troops and pro-independence Filipinos. Superior American firepower drove Filipino troops away from the city, and the Malolos government had to move from one place to another.
Aguinaldo led resistance to the Americans, then retreated to northern Luzon with the Americans on his trail. On June 2, 1899, a telegram from Aguinaldo was received by Gen. Antonio Luna, an arrogant but brilliant general and looming rival in the military hierarchy, ordering him to proceed to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija for a meeting at the Cabanatuan Church Convent. However, treachery was afoot, as Aguinaldo felt the need to rid himself of this new threat to power. Three days later (June 5), when Luna arrived, he learned Aguinaldo was not at the appointed place. As Gen. Luna was about to depart, he was shot, then stabbed to death by Aguinaldo's men. Luna was later buried in the churchyard, and Aguinaldo made no attempt to punish or even discipline Luna's murderers.
Less than two years later, after the famous Battle of Tirad Pass with the death of Gregorio del Pilar, one of his most trusted generals, Aguinaldo was captured in Palanan, Isabela on March 23, 1901 by US General Frederick Funston, with the help of Macabebe trackers (who saw Aguinaldo as a bigger problem than the Americans). The American task force gained access to Aguinaldo's camp by pretending to be captured prisoners.
Funston later noted Aguinaldo's "dignified bearing", "excellent qualities," and "humane instincts." Of course, Funston was writing this after Aguinaldo had volunteered to swear fealty to the United States, if only his life was spared. Aguinaldo pledged allegiance to America on April 1, 1901, formally ending the First Republic and recognizing the sovereignty of the United States over the Philippines. Nevertheless, many others (like Miguel Malvar and Macario Sakay) continued to resist the American occupation.
The First Philippine Republic was formally established with the proclamation of the Malolos Constitution on January 21, 1899 in Malolos, Bulacan until the capture and surrender of Emilio Aguinaldo to the American forces on March 23, 1901 in Palanan, Isabela, which effectively dissolved the First Republic.
Aguinaldo appointed two premiers in his tenure. These were Apolinario Mabini and Pedro Paterno.
President Aguinaldo had two cabinets in the year 1899. Thereafter, the war situation resulted in his ruling by decree.
U.S. Territorial Period
During the United States occupation, Aguinaldo organized the Asociación de los Veteranos de la Revolución (Association of Veterans of the Revolution), which worked to secure pensions for its members and made arrangements for them to buy land on installment from the government.
When the American government finally allowed the Philippine flag to be displayed in 1919, Aguinaldo transformed his home in Kawit into a monument to the flag, the revolution and the declaration of Independence. His home still stands, and is known as the Aguinaldo Shrine.
Aguinaldo retired from public life for many years. In 1935, when the Commonwealth of the Philippines was established in preparation for Philippine independence, he ran for president but lost by a landslide to fiery Spanish mestizo Manuel L. Quezon. The two men formally reconciled in 1941, when President Quezon moved Flag Day to June 12, to commemorate the proclamation of Philippine independence.
Aguinaldo again retired to private life, until the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in World War II. He cooperated with the Japanese, making speeches, issuing articles and infamous radio addresses in support of the Japanese — including a radio appeal to Gen. Douglas MacArthur on Corregidor to surrender in order to spare the innocence of the Filipino youth.
After the Americans retook the Philippines, Aguinaldo was arrested along with several others accused of collaboration with the Japanese. He was held in Bilibid prison for months until released by presidential amnesty. In his trial, it was eventually deemed that his collaboration with the Japanese was probably made under great duress, and he was released.
Aguinaldo lived to see the recognition of independence to the Philippines July 4, 1946, when the United States Government fully recognized Philippine independence in accordance with the Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934. He was 93 when President Diosdado Macapagal officially changed the date of independence from July 4 to June 12, 1898, the date Aguinaldo believed to be the true Independence Day. During the independence parade at the Luneta, the 93-year old former president carried the flag he raised in Kawit.
In 1950, President Elpidio Quirino appointed Aguinaldo as a member of the Council of State, where he served a full term. He returned to retirement soon after, dedicating his time and attention to veteran soldiers' interests and welfare.
He was given Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa by the University of the Philippines in 1953.
In 1962, when the United States rejected Philippine claims for the destruction wrought by American forces in World War II, President Diosdado Macapagal changed the celebration of Independence Day from July 4 to June 12. Aguinaldo rose from his sickbed to attend the celebration of independence 64 years after he declared it.
Aguinaldo died on February 6, 1964 of coronary thrombosis at the Veterans Memorial Hospital in Quezon City. He was 94 years old. His remains are buried at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite. When he died, he was the last surviving non-royal head of state (self-proclaimed) to have served in the 19th century.
In 1985, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas made a new 5-peso bill depicted with Aguinaldo and the declaration of the Philippine independence on June 12, 1898.