Emilio Aguinaldo and his original design
for the flag of the Philippines
By Oscar Peñaranda, Courier Special Correspondent
When the United States Armed Forces arrived in the Philippines on May of 1898, the Filipinos had officially already been fighting a War of Independence against Spain for two years. Their revolution against Spain started in 1896 and by June of 1898, a Declaration of Independence, a revolutionary government, and a constitution for a republic had been established by the people. The elected President of that republic was also the leader of the revolution. He was a fighting president because he also had to wage war as a general (commander-in-chief) of the Philippine armed forces against the Spanish. His name was Emilio Aguinaldo. He could be compared to the United States' George Washington. One difference would be that Aguinaldo had to serve in office and fight the Spanish for independence at the same time!
How then did the U.S.Americans get into the picture of the Philippine Revolution against Spain? Let us go back two years.
In late August of 1896, Andres Bonifacio, founder of the secret revolutionary society called the Katipunan, stood in front of a large crowd in the hills surrounding Manila (called Pugad-Lawin, Hawk's Nest). He then tore up his I.D. card, called cedula. Others did the same, and the Revolution against Spain was officially under way.
On December 30th,1896, Jose Rizal, an educated Filipino doctor and writer from the illustrado (Filipino Elite) class, was executed by the Spaniards because of his "subversive" and "incendiary" writings of reform. The Filipino Revolution then caught fire among all classes of people–rich, middle class, and poor. Jose Rizal, in his essay "The Philippines, A Century Hence", had warned the United States that the Filipinos would defend their freedom if they (the U.S.) might have intentions of taking it over. Though not corrobarated by evidence, some say he was married in his prison cell on the eve of his execution. That was also when he wrote his last poem, "Mi Ultimo Adios", "My Last Farewell".
Meanwhile in Cavite, 30 miles south of Manila, Emilio Aguinaldo, a young mayor, also took up arms and led a group of rebels.
In May of 1897, because of an ugly rivalry that developed between the followers of Bonifacio and Aguinaldo, Bonifacio was executed by Aguinaldo's men. Meanwhile the revolution against Spain raged and Aguinaldo emerged as its sole chief and leader.
Teddy Roosevelt, Joseph Pulitzer, William Hearst.
It was during this exile in Hongkong that Aguinaldo and other Filipino leaders met with some U.S. officials to negotiate a combined effort to oust the Spanish from the Philippines. It was also during this time (1897-1898) that the United States started preparing for war against Spain. (Cuba also took up arms against Spain at this time.) It was also during this period that influential people like Teddy Roosevelt, the newspaper magnates Pulitzer and Hearst, started fanning the flames for war on the United States' homefront. War sells more papers than peace.
Now we have in Hongkong the principal characters that would later decide the fate of three countries–Spain, the Philippines, and the United States.
Next week: U.S. Warships arrive in Manila