The Philippine Revolution

Notes: The Philippine Revolution

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi led the Spanish expedition which successfully established a colonial foothold in the Philippines after several failed attempts. He founded Cebu, the first Spanish city, in 1565. In 1572, Legazpi moved the Spanish capital to Manila. For his outstanding service to the Crown, he was named "Adelantado" and became the first Spanish governor-general of the Philippines.

Emilio Jacinto (1875-1899), like Andres Bonifacio, was born in Tondo. He studied at San Juan de Letran and the University of Santo Tomas. At the age of 18, he joined the Katipunan and became its youngest member. He was a prolific writer in Tagalog and was tagged the "Brains of the Katipunan." He wrote the Katipunan’s primer, Kartilla, and was the editor of its newspaper, Kalayaan (Freedom). With the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution in 1896, he became the commander-in-chief of the revolutionary forces in Laguna.

Jose Rizal (1861-1896), regarded as the Philippines’ national hero, was the most brilliant Filipino. He was a writer, sculptor, ophthalmologist, linguist, inventor, and painter. He gained fame primarily because of his nationalistic writings. He was a stalwart of the Propaganda Movement, an organization founded in Europe in the 1880s by ilustrados or middle class elite who sought reforms in the colonial administration. Through his writings, he inspired and encouraged Filipinos to stand up against colonial abuses, to better themselves, and to assert their equality vis-a-vis the colonizers. His famous and widely read novels, Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) and El Filibusterismo (The Subversive), awakened a nation from a long, deep slumber and highlighted the need for significant reforms and an end to Spanish abuses. The Spanish authorities banned his novels, branding them as subversive because it was critical of the frailocracy and the colonial administration. Ironically, his significance became more pronounced upon his death in a Christ-like fashion in the hands of the Spaniards in 1896. Alive, he inspired many Filipinos, particularly Andres Bonifacio; upon death, he became the catalyst which fanned the flames of the Philippine Revolution.

Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not), the first of the two novels of Jose Rizal, was published in 1887 in Belgium. The novel is a classic in Philippine literature because of its literary merits as well as the stark social and political realities which it convincingly essays. Set in a fictional town called San Diego which represents town life in late nineteenth century Philippines, Noli Me Tangere is a scathing, full-scale indictment of the Spanish colonial regime with its incompetent and corrupt political administrators and its abusive and conscienceless friars. It also criticizes the apathy and pretensions of many Filipinos who either passively accept the social order out of fear, or collaborate with the colonizers in abusing other Filipinos because of political and economic expediencies resulting from the colonial set-up.

In a nutshell, Noli Me Tangere is about a young mestizo, educated, middle class man, Crisostomo Ibarra, who returns to his native Philippines after seven years of education in Europe. He returns to learn about the tragic death in jail of his father who was imprisoned on false charges after he incurred the displeasure of Padre Damaso, the parish priest of San Diego. Worse, his father’s grave was desecrated by the friars and was denied a Christian burial. Instead of avenging his father’s death, Crisostomo pursues his father’s dream of educating the people by building a school. In the laying of the cornerstone for the planned school, he almost dies after a scaffolding collapses in an "accident" which is hinted as having been engineered by Padre Damaso and/or Padre Salvi. The latter is the lustful priest who secretly covets Maria Clara, Crisostomo’s betrothed and daughter of Capitan Tiago, the wealthy Chinese mestizo. Crisostomo was saved by Elias, a mysterious boat man whose own life Crisostomo had previously saved in an excursion to the lake. Later in the evening, Padre Damaso once again insults Crisostomo’s dead father prompting the latter to attack the priest. Padre Damaso immediately excommunicates him although it is lifted later on through the intercession of the governor-general who is his friend. Meanwhile, the head sacristan concocts a rebellion of the malcontents of San Diego and claims it was supported by Crisostomo. Padre Salvi renounces the uprising and Crisostomo is imprisoned. He was later convicted on the basis of a distorted interpretation of a letter he wrote to Maria Clara when he was still in Europe. The letter was extracted by Father Salvi from Maria Clara in return for two letters of her mother which would have scandalized the family because it revealed that Maria Clara’s real father is Padre Damaso. At this time, Crisostomo escapes from prison with the assistance of Elias and meets up with Maria Clara to straighten out things and bid his farewell. As they escape to the lake, Elias and Crisostomo were pursued by the guardia civil (civil guard). Elias swims to the shore to allow Crisostomo to drift in the bottom of the boat. Eventually, Elias is hit by bullets and he dies. The following day, the newspapers wrongfully report the death of Crisostomo. Meanwhile, Maria Clara mourns the death of her sweetheart and refuses to marry the Spaniard chosen by Padre Damaso for her. Instead she opts to enter the nunnery where Padre Salvi was reassigned. The novel ends with the scene of a young woman, presumably Maria Clara, on the roof of the convent one stormy night, imploring the Lord to deliver her. These unresolved characters will find their way in El Filibusterismo (The Subversive), the sequel to Noli Me Tangere.

El Filibusterismo (The Subversive) is the sequel of Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not). Published in 1891 or four years after Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo followed up the anti-friar and colonial indictment themes of the first novel.

The story revolves around Simoun , a mysterious, wealthy jeweler who was actually the disguised and returning Crisostomo Ibarra, the main protagonist in Noli Me Tangere. Simoun has returned to San Diego after several years of self-imposed exile to rescue his sweetheart Maria Clara from the nunnery and to foment a revolution as a way of exacting revenge and righting the wrongs. Because of his wealth, he has become a powerful political figure able to influence many people including the Spanish governor-general.

Simoun methodically plans a revolution to be instigated by a bomb explosion during a gathering of the powerful colonial and church officials. He hoped that the tragedy will wipe out the evils of the society, as symbolized by the decadent colonial rule, and will cause the rebirth of a better nation. He capitalizes on the misfortune of many people who suffered colonial abuse to win them to his cause. These includes Cabesang Tales whose land was usurped by the friars; the schoolmaster who was deported by the colonial authorities for teaching his students Spanish; and Basilio whose entire family had been victims of Spanish persecutions. Unfortunately, Simoun’s scheme failed on the night of the gathering and the planned explosion. He escapes and opts to commit suicide rather than be captured by colonial authorities. The ending in El Filibusterismo indicates Rizal’s conviction that, so long as the Filipinos are not morally and intellectually prepared for freedom, revolution was not the correct path to take.

General Leandro Fullon, a principalia (elite) from Antique, was educated in Manila where he joined the Katipunan. In 1898, he was named by Emilio Aguinaldo head of the expeditionary force in Antique and was tasked with consolidating the revolutionary efforts in that province. In 1899, he was elected by his fellow principalias as governor of Antique.

"Ang Dapat Mabatid ng mga Tagalog" [What the Tagalogs Should Know"] was written by Andres Bonifacio and published in the first issue of Kalayaan [Independence], the official newspaper of the Katipunan. In this essay, Bonifacio exhorts the Tagalogs to free themselves from colonial bondage. He points out that the time has come to open their eyes, rise in arms, and restore the country’s dignity which was trampled by three hundred years of Spanish rule.

General Macario Sakay was a member of the Katipunan who refused to surrender and pledge allegiance to the United States. He continued fighting the Americans even after the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo, the President of the Philippine Republic, in 1901. Sakay founded the new Katipunan and called his government the Tagalog Republic. He fought a guerrilla war against the Americans in southern Tagalog. To discredit him, Sakay was branded by the Americans as a bandit or thief. In 1906, he was persuaded to lay down his arms and pursue the struggle for independence in a constitutional manner. He marched to Manila and was warmly received by the Filipinos, thus signifying their moral support for his struggle. But the Americans arrested, tried, and hanged him for banditry in 1907.

Gregoria de Jesus (1875-1943), born in Caloocan, married Andres Bonifacio on the night of the founding of the women’s chapter of the Katipunan where she served as Vice-President. Like other Katipuneras, de Jesus provided diversionary tactics while the Katipuneros met at the interior of the house. She also assisted in concealing the Katipunan documents. With the outbreak of the Revolution, she fought side by side with Andres and in risked her life for motherland. It was revealed during the trial of Bonifacio that Aguinaldo’s soldiers attempted to dishonor her. Despite Bonifacio’s death, de Jesus continued the struggle. She eventually remarried another Katipunan official, Julio Nakpil.

Melchora Aquino (1812-1919), also known as Tandang (Old Lady) Sora, is considered the "Mother of the Philippine Revolution." She provided invaluable services to the revolutionary troops such as nursing the wounded, curing the sick, offering her twenty-five hectare property as refuge to Katipuneros, and feeding innumerable troops. In 1896, the Spanish authorities deported Tandang Sora and 171 others to Guam for allegedly committing rebellion and sedition. Her exile lasted until 1903 when the American authorities allowed her to return to the Philippines.

Gregoria Montoya y Patricio (1863-1896) became famous for leading a thirty-men unit, "with one hand holding a Katipunan flag and another hand clasping firmly the handle of a long, sharp-bladed bolo", against Spanish troops in Dalahican Beach, Cavite City. In the said battle, she lost her husband. Gregoria once more displayed her valor in the Battle of Binakayan in Kawit, Cavite. It was in one of the battles that she expired after a bullet pierced her as she waved a white cloth used in mass to ward off bullets.

Not much is known about Agueda Kahabagan y Iniquinto who was referred to as "Henerala Agueda." She earned fame in the battlefield of Laguna where she fought "dressed in white, armed with a rifle and brandishing a bolo." The 1899 roster of generals listed her as the only woman general of the Philippine Republic.

Teresa Magbanua y Ferraris (1868-1947) earned the distinction of being the only woman to lead combat troops in the Visayas against Spanish and American forces. Born in Pototan, Iloilo, to wealthy parents, she earned a teaching degree and taught in her hometown. Having come from a family of revolutionaries, she immediately volunteered her services to the motherland and became a topnotch horseman and marksman. Fifty years later, her heroism was once again displayed when she helped finance a guerrilla resistance movement against the Japanese in Iloilo.

Magdiwang and Magdalo were the two revolutionary councils in Cavite. Based in the town of Noveleta, the Magdiwang was led by Mariano Alvarez, the uncle of Gregoria de Jesus. The Magdalo was headed by Baldomero Aguinaldo, a cousin of Emilio Aguinaldo, and was based in Kawit. The bickering of these two councils was fatal to the revolutionary cause since each refused to provide assistance to the other during battles. To resolve their differences, Andres Bonifacio, the Supremo of the Katipunan, came to Cavite in May of 1897. Bonifacio himself was engulfed by the intramural which led to his downfall and death.

On March 22, 1897, the Tejeros Convention was held at the friar estate house in Tejeros, a village in San Francisco de Malabon, Cavite. Its original objective was to resolve the conflict between the Magdiwang and Magdalo factions. But as a result of political maneuverings, the issue became the kind of government needed during the revolution. Despite Bonifacio’s insistence that the Katipunan was serving the needs of the time, the consensus was to establish a revolutionary government. In the subsequent elections for officials of the revolutionary government, the following were elected: Emilio Aguinaldo, president; Mariano Trias, vice-president; Artemio Ricarte, captain-general; Emanuel Riego de Dios, director of war; and Andres Bonifacio, director of interior. Bonifacio lost in the elections for the higher posts as the Cavitenos conspired to oust him from power. After winning the last post, Bonifacio’s educational qualification was questioned by a Caviteno, Daniel Tirona, who recommended instead a fellow Caviteno lawyer, Jose del Rosario, as his replacement. Humiliated and maligned, Bonifacio voided the proceedings and walked out.

In his capacity as commander of the American Asiatic Squadron, Commodore George Dewey, sailed for Manila Bay upon the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. On May 1, 1898, his seven heavily armed ships led by his flagship Olympia battled the Spanish fleet under Admiral Patricio Montojo. Although the Spanish ships outnumbered its American counterpart, they were poorly armed. Dewey routed Montojo’s forces.

Apolinario Mabini was called the "Sublime Paralytic," having been paralyzed by a fatal illness which struck his lower limbs in 1894. A lawyer by profession, his earlier political exposure was through the revived La Liga Filipina, the organization established by Jose Rizal in 1892. Notwithstanding his physical handicap, President Emilio Aguinaldo recognized his brilliance and named him his chief adviser. His thinking shaped the constitutional and political basis of the Philippine Republic, thus earning him the title the "Brains of the Revolution."

The Malolos Constitution is the first democratic constitution in all of Asia, a distinction fitting the Philippine Republic of Emilio Aguinaldo which was the first independent, representative government in Asia. There were two important provisions of the Malolos Constitution. First, it established a popular and representative government with three distinct and equal branches of government - the executive vested on the president, the legislative in the hands in the Assembly of Representatives, and the judicial anchored on a Supreme Court elected by the Assembly with the concurrence of the President. Second, the Constitution provided a Bill of Rights for its citizens.