May 27

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Forward Brent School Manila Student Publication  | May 2016


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May 07

False Messiahs enfeebling institutions

The burden of history is solely on your shoulders now.

So we are where we are. The man to beat is a demagogue:
  1. a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.synonyms:rabble-rouser, agitator, political agitator, soapbox orator, firebrand, fomenter, provocateur”he was drawn into a circle of campus demagogues”
    • (in ancient Greece and Rome) a leader or orator who espoused the cause of the common people.
He has, as editorials have pointed out, promoted a Death squad culture and promoted A slide to mob rule. All the while engaging in legal stonewalling.

Any time a demagogic candidate wins a nomination, it suggests a potential failure of political institutions, including (but not limited to) the media. Nate Silver, analyzing the Republican primary victories of Donald Trump.

And yes, as Leon Ma. Guerrero long ago observed, “today began yesterday.”
In February, 2009, I wrote (“The end of social mobility”) that we risked a revival of fascism because the core constituency of liberal democracy, the Old Middle Class, had been gutted, and that the New Middle Class came into being without the institutions of church, club, and school, to foster the civic sense necessary for positive engagement for the citizenry. At the same time, we faced the problem of a permanent underclass of citizens trapped in poverty without prospects of escaping it. In 2010, a great effort began to liberate the very poor –but so intensive was this effort, that, upon reflection, it may be that the New Middle Class –or, to be precise, a significant but not major, chunk of it– has become even more alienated as to provide the legions for a fascist movement.
I don’t agree with Julio Teehankee on many things (we support different candidates after all) but when he observed, that Duterte is the candidate of the elite that has been left out by other elite he makes a good point. And this is where Duterte is cast from the same mold as Ferdinand Marcos. I first discussed the concept of the decline of the institutions that molded –even held together– the social structure, namely churches, clubs, and schools, in 2004; as I mentioned above, it seemed to me in 2009 that unless something happened, things were headed in a direction ripe for fascism.

Friends for now.

A kind of validation of this thesis of mine, for me, is this post by Susan Quimpo, a member of a team campaigning against Marcos revisionism, and her experience talking to students in Baguio, Pangasinan, Cabantuan, Metro Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, General Santos City, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan City, and Zamboanga.
So we see the result of a generation that has come of age in the absence of the formative, including cultural, socialization by these institutions. A generation who, together with their elders nostalgic for the dictatorship, have formed the constituency for the National Socialism –how else to wed the Left and Right?– of Rodrigo Duterte and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Now we are where we are. While the Middle is not out for the count, still, the alliance of the Left and Right is delighted. Let’s begin with a big vocabulary-building word.

The famous editorial cartoon of Hitler and Stalin exchanging complements over the corpse of Poland

Schadenfreude: schadenfreude |????d(?)n?fr??d?, German ????d?n?fr?yd?| noun [ mass noun ] pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune. a business that thrives on Schadenfreude. a frisson of Schadenfreude. ORIGIN German Schadenfreude, from Schaden ‘harm’ + Freude ‘joy’.
That’s the theme of Heneral Lunacy speaking for the schadenfreude crowd, taking delight in the growing unease –to put it mildly– over the possibility of a Duterte presidency (a more thoughtful variation is here, my only comment, in terms of the historical analogies presented, being the findings of this study).
To both articles, a good rebuttal here, but I would go further and say what these essays reveals is how the Left and the Right are in mouthwatering alliance. This carries its own internal contradictions, but also, the basis for an alliance. Both sides can confidently claim they not only have the candidate’s ear, but that they will be able to prevail once their candidate is in office. An impassioned examination of the base of support of the candidate can be found in this Facebook entry.
As we approach decision day, it is well worth looking deeper into who Duterte is, and what he is not.
The man, the legend:

““Q. What would your government do, if you won? A. I would establish a military dictatorship. Q. What would happen to the politicians of the republic? A. Nothing, except they would have to go to work. Q. Why were you able to collaborate with the government in apparent loyalty for so long? A. I collaborated loyally as long as I thought the Republic represented the national will. Q. What about the February elections? Don’t they represent the national will? A. Elections never do.” —Generalissimo Francisco Franco, interview, during the Spanish Civil War

What Rodrigo Duterte is: firmly a member of the establishment, the kind one would call a provincial baron; or a “Boss”: See Capital, Coercion, and Crime: Bossism in the Philippines by John Thayer Sidel.
  • Vicente G. Duterte: Father of Rodrigo Duterte
    • Cebu Danao Mayor (1946); Davao Governor (1958) [Moved to Davao]; Cabinet Secretary of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. for General Services (1967)
  • Ramon Durano Sr. “Mano Amon”: Cousin of Rodrigo Duterte (Rodrigo’s cousin, Beatriz Duterte married Ramon Durano Sr.)
  • Ramon Duterte: Uncle of Rodrigo Duterte
    • Vice-Mayor of Sergio Osmeña Jr.; became Mayor of Cebu City (Sept. 13, 1957-Dec. 31, 1959) when Serging ran for the House of Representatives. Was also a Judge of the Court of First Instance.
  • Ronald Duterte: Cousin of Rodrigo Duterte
    • Mayor of Cebu City (1983-86)
  • The Dutertes are only one of two families where a “father and son” served as Cebu City Mayor –Ramon Duterte and his son Ronald Duterte. The other family are the Osmeñas- with Sergio Osmeña, Jr. and Tomas Osmeña. Rodrigo Duterte himself maintained quite friendly ties with Senator Sergio Osmeña III.
  • But if the elder Duterte and their Cebu relatives were Marcos Loyalists, what then of Mayor Duterte himself? In the purge of local officials after EDSA, Rodrigo Duterte, together with Jejomar Binay, became a mayor under the auspices of the Minister (later Secretary) of the Interior, Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. While the Binays and Pimentels have parted ways, the Dutertes and Pimentels remain allies —though perhaps not in the true inner circle of Duterte. Here, three factions seem to be more relevant: the GMAFVR Combine (Sonny Dominguez, General Esperon, Nur Misuari, etc.) and the Marcoses (Romualdezes too); the CPP-NPA-NDF; and his own faction of benefactors and allies in business circles (aside from Dominguez, there’s Floirendo, and unnamed others as well as “offers of support”). And when he delivers his speeches, whether before the Makati Business Club or The Lyceum of the Philippines, he has his fair share of upper class support.
His appeal is based on a pre-modern view of our society and our country; the most he is willing to do is reduce the complexity of our evolving society and force it into an obsolete straitjacket, much as Marcos attempted.

“Marcos sees the Philippines as a society of tribes… And he sees himself as the great tribal chief, the ‘datu’ of pre-Spanish times. He destroyed much of the old network of family and regional loyalties to become the one and only patron, the king of Maharlika.” –Adrian Cristobal

The parallelisms with Ferdinand Marcos, while not exact, are striking. Products of the provincial gentry, glorying in the violent political culture of their places of origin, cultivating the Metropolitan elite to whom he has proven useful over the decades, demagogic in his addressing upper- and middle-class resentments and fears –in the case of Marcos, by means of projecting himself as a philosopher-king, and in the case of Duterte, by adopting the language of the streets (a transitional figure between the two would be Joseph Estrada, another inheritor of the Marcos machine and who attracted eager academicians who thought they could write policy and imprint it on his tabula rasa brain). With Fidel Ramos, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and the Marcoses on the Right, and the CPP-NPA-NDF of Jose Ma. Sison on the Left, he can count on various ethnic loyalties but what holds everything together is of course fear. Which as its own rewards. Forget efforts to level the playing field.

Editorial cartoon by EZ Izon in The Philippines Free Press. Older readers can identify those surrounding Marcos.

While Marcos cloaked his ruthlessness in what he himself dismissively called “technical legalism,” Duterte’s public personality belongs to a different tradition –one created by Arsenio Lacson of Manila, who belonged to Bacolod gentry, was clever and cultured, but who adopted a rugged persona as a columnist then politician. But he was a rugged reformist through-and-through; for all their limitations, it is striking that two seeming opposites, the old party man Amang Rodriguez and the brash Lacson, both served as the most committed obstacles to the presidential ambitions of Ferdinand Marcos, who however had the good fortune of death claiming both leaders just when he, Marcos, was gunning for the presidency.

Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez, with a beaming Arsenio Lacson (in trademark shades) and a cap-wearing Lorenzo Tañada, at a Plaza Miranda rally. Each represented a different style of leadership; all three bitterly opposed Marcos.

So there is an element of fate, or luck –or misfortune– too. There is already plenty of analysis of this (see the start of this piece); there will be more to come. Back in 1996, I wrote this lengthy recounting of the period between Martial Law and Edsa, and this snippet serves to flesh out the parallels I see: “Here was a grotesque combination of mailed fist, military inexorability, and characteristic disregard for details. A regime capable of displaying unbeatable cunning but prey to a self-destructive contempt for its opponents, and a tendency to botch things up.”
But remaining on topic:
This is what Rodrigo Duterte is not: He is neither a reformer nor a visionary. He is a representative of that portion of the elite for whom the accumulation of power and the enjoyment of its perks takes precedence over anything else, the latest incarnation of might-makes-right, the most prominent exponent of government-as-mafia. Thoughts on the 2016 Election makes for insightful reading on the trends in the election, the possible developments on election day, and the question of the economy (so please read the whole thing!). But let me excerpt this summation of Rodrigo Duterte from that article:

One of the ‘darker’ notes surrounding the Duterte compulsion is what his candidacy really means. Yes, he is running on a ‘platform’ (such that it is) of anti-criminality, but the methods he has utilized and is espousing are terrifying in their implications. This is a man who has no qualms about using extrajudicial means to eliminate ‘petty’ criminals. He has promised to empower the military and the police to do just that, at their whim. With his broad support in the A/B/C categories, this can only be interpreted in one way: A war on the impoverished. This is class warfare at its most brutal and depressing. Rather than seeing the impoverished (those who are forced into a life of crime because of a lack of opportunity) as partners in development, men like Duterte (and those who support him) see these ‘criminals’ as something to be exterminated — sub-human and beyond redemption. Duterte has become the avatar of our collective worst impulses. We are faced with the reality of a blood-thirsty misogynist as our next president. That reflects on us collectively. Funnily enough, his straight shooting tough guy image only goes so far – He’ll insult and antagonize our allies (USA, Australia, India, Singapore), but will roll over and show his belly for countries like China. He’ll demand transaction histories and open accounts from his competitors, but will resort to legal trickery and obfuscation to evade answering questions transparently of his own alleged malfeasance.

For more on Duterte’s style, see Duterte in 1989: “Shoot-to-kill can never be shoot-to-live” in MindaNews.
What he is, then, is merely a product. See: They Created An Environment of Hate and Anger To Win The Presidency. Who are “they”? See Phil Bombita and Annelle Gumihid-Sabanal. An instrument to turn back the clock.
The Battle
We must, as Ed Garcia writes, make a Choice of conscience. Our collective decision, if made uncritically, is Betting the future, as Edilberto de Jesus warns. We can appeal to the moderate supporters of Duterte, and also appeal to the supporters of Grace Poe. But the basis of this must be knowing what is at stake.

In the coming days, the Philippines is set to elect its new leaders….Will the Philippines fall into a Machiavellian cyclical history as it did in the 20th century or, instead, embark on a Hegelian march towards the terminus of genuine democracy? Richard Heyderian, in Philippines at a Crossroads: “Iron Fist” vs. “Straight Path 2.0”?

Peachy Paderna, in a Facebook posts, points out:
The assumption seems to be that Duterte’s defeat can only be possible if other candidates cheat. We presume him to be invincible, due to survey results that consistently put him in the lead.
But election surveys–as helpful as they are–never claim to be predictive. They can help us make educated guesses, but no further. Recall that in the 2010 Vice Presidential race, Mar Roxas was long and far ahead of his opponents. In the run-up to the elections (as of 19 April 2010), 39% of SWS respondents were in favor of him. At far second was Jejomar Binay, who lagged by 14 sorry points at 25%. Sure and certain victory was foreseen for Roxas.
Then Binay stunned us all by winning. In the end, he cornered nearly 42% of the votes, with Roxas second at close to 40%.
Let’s zoom back to the present. In the last few weeks, numerous accounts of electoral fraud–specifically overseas–have surfaced. The story usually goes like this: “I voted for Duterte-Cayetano here in Siberia, but when the receipt came out, it showed that I voted for Mar-Leni. P@#%@ niyo LP, grabe pandaraya niyo!”
Many of these stories have already been discredited, and the COMELEC has vowed to file charges against those who make false claims on polling fraud. Altogether, however, it looks like the electorate–particularly the pro-Duterte bloc–are being conditioned to believe that if Duterte loses, it’s because Mar cheated him of the Presidency.
This is of course a preemptive move, but it’s also a move that eagerly courts civil unrest. Because while many Duterte supporters are possessed of reason, a vast majority of them have shown extreme savagery towards those who criticize or oppose their beloved candidate. Should Duterte lose, it’s not difficult to imagine their displeasure to manifest in discourse–or worse, action–of the same viciousness.
This isn’t a doomsday pronouncement. It’s only a possibility we must be mindful of. After all, the electoral exercise is, among many things, a frank acknowledgment of the breadth of possibility. This is why we troop to the polling booths in hopes that our candidate will pull through, never mind what the surveys say. In exercising our right to vote, we honor the fact of possibility offered to us by our democracy.
Anything can happen on May 9. Virtually anything can.
And there’s the rub.
As my aunt said in a video message, this is the most crucial election since the end of Martial Law. She was a veteran of the Parliament of the Streets. For those who did not live through the dictatorship, who lack a similar frame of reference, this may be hard to believe. But the signs are all there.
It will be a close fight, many say; as many say it won’t. We will only know after the polls close, what the popular verdict will be.
Let me close with this:

To all those backing Duterte, just remember, when the killings start, you should be beside him. All the way. Even after the river of blood overflows. Stand by him and tell yourself, you helped the blood flow. You are very much a part of it. Don’t wash your hands off it. Be proud of what you’ve done.Raissa Robles, journalist

More Readings:
This article is an extended postscript to my entry, What’s at stake: A Modernizing Nation, or a Never-Never Land?.
The splitting of the Reform Constituency: See Tina Cuyugan and Mikael de Lara Co.
On Church, club, and schools as institutions for formation and their decline: see my articles, Circle to Circle (2004); Elections are Like Water (also 2004); An Abnormal Return to Normality (2007); The Perpetual Avoidance of Opportunity (also 2007).

May 01

What’s at stake: A Modernizing Nation, or a Never-Never Land?

Saturn Devouring His Son ("Saturno devorando a uno de sus niños") by Francisco Goya, painted 1819-1823. WikiArt says, "Between the years of 1819 and 1823, Goya painted a series of paintings on the walls his villa at Quinto del Sordo, all of which portrayed terrible, fantastical, or morbid imagery. These paintings are now called the Black Paintings, referring to the mental state of Goya during this dark time in his life, due to his bout with illness, which made him deaf, as well internal strife in Spain. This painting was completed of the walls of his dining room, and is a rendition of Saturn, the Roman mythological character, who, fearing that his children would one day overthrow him, ate each one of them upon their births. "

Saturn Devouring His Son (“Saturno devorando a uno de sus niños”) by Francisco Goya, painted 1819-1823. WikiArt says, “Between the years of 1819 and 1823, Goya painted a series of paintings on the walls his villa at Quinto del Sordo, all of which portrayed terrible, fantastical, or morbid imagery. These paintings are now called the Black Paintings, referring to the mental state of Goya during this dark time in his life, due to his bout with illness, which made him deaf, as well internal strife in Spain. This painting was completed of the walls of his dining room, and is a rendition of Saturn, the Roman mythological character, who, fearing that his children would one day overthrow him, ate each one of them upon their births. “

Many of you are familiar with Jack Welch’s description of Americans as thinking in days, the Japanese thinking in terms of decades, and the Chinese thinking in centuries, a comparison also used for the oldest surviving institution on earth, the Catholic Church. More modestly, the Peace Advocate Paulynn Paredes Sicam once said it takes ten years for change to become permanent.
Ten years is a long time. Which brings up a quote I keep returning to. It comes from William Shirer, writing about the fall of France, who in turn got it from Titus Livy, the Roman historian:
We reached these last days when we could endure neither our vices nor their remedies.
We are in those last days –of a campaign that will decide if we are a ningas-cogon culture or one ready to embrace modernity– and we are confronted with staying the course, which is tiring, even boring, certainly frustrating –or throwing caution to the winds.
Back in October 2015, I wrote about the coming elections and what’s at stake, in The Great Referendum: The national election of 2016. To me, the battle is Reformism versus Populism (and for more about this, see: Mina Roces on Malakas at Mahina, and two parts of a 2010 series, A more balanced Philippines and The Philippines is OK): or as another shrewd observer describes it, in The Pap of Populism:
A shrewd analyst may point out that, conceptually, there is little difference between pap and populist. Pap, in the sense of pandering insubstantial statements, is the stock in trade of populism politicians; or demagogues. Populist politicians, by their very nature, are more fixated on the duality of oppositional politics and rabble-rousing through inflammatory language. Populism, however, differs in meaning and application depending on the country and context – and, as a result, is difficult to appreciably define.
Or perhaps populism is like pornography: You know it when you see it.
For better or worse, the world is currently gripped in a rising tide of populism; from European elections to the brouhaha brewing in the United States elections, to ours. Granted, more often than not, our elections are nothing more populist beauty contests driven by who is the most ‘sincere’ in their pap pronouncements. Rather disconcertingly, populism is not a political ideology; rather, it does not fall within the conservative-liberal spectrum of modern politics. Instead, it is “stance and rhetoric more than an ideology or a set of positions.”[1] How do we fix our country? Kill the criminals. How do we fix infrastructure? By instituting a ‘war room’ or having the will to spend more. These are not solutions by any means; what they do is tap into a going sense of restiveness and disillusionment with complex issues and problems. They offer simple solutions, grounded in a sense that “it’s been done wrong” without every explaining how to address the ‘wrongs’ in any meaningful way. Populism works within binaries: They’re wrong, I’m right. They’re evil. I am good. They’re stupid. I am smart. They’re criminals. I am not. Simple answers are all we need for complex problems.
That sort of rather reductive thinking has been all too apparent during the recent SSS brouhaha. Insurance and pension management, by its very nature, is a complex undertaking requiring careful strategy and execution. Whether appreciated or not, the answer is never something as simple as increasing benefits or raising premiums or enhancing collection efficiency. The SSS pension hike offers us, as well, insight into the difference between a policy statement and a populist statement. A policy statement would be: “We must raise pensions, let’s figure out the best formula to do so.” A populist statement is: “Pensions must be raised, but the rich managers, elites, and hacienderos won’t!” Inflammatory, class-based rabble-rousing. It devolves issues into reductive ‘villains’ and ‘heroes;’ with the heroes, shaking their fist and the sky hurling invectives and decrying ‘elitism.’[2]
Other contentious issues of the day aptly demonstrate the reductive binary formulations, one such is Poe’s citizenship and residency. The issue based approach focuses on text, implied silence and absences, and interpretations based on schools of thought. The other, the populist pap approach, focuses on shrouding a candidate in the cloak of foundling, OFW, and even balikbayan ‘rights.’ There has been a concerted effort, so much so that the Supreme Court issued a sort of ‘gag order’, to use standard legal processes to buoy a political campaign through advertisements: Conditioning public opinion (though standard practice for all politicians) and veiled threats of public unrest if the ‘will of the people’ is stymied by the Supreme Court represented by the continual calls of “let the people decide.” These calls attack the very firmament and structure of representative and constitutional democracies, yet are commonplace precisely because populism allows for this sort of primacy of personality over law and legal processes.
The MRT is another such contentious issue where the language surrounding much of the discourse on the MRT is not necessarily about solving or delineating the issues that stymie the rehabilitation of the MRT, but instead applying ‘blame,’ seeking ‘justice,’ and leveraging and mobilizing the (rather rightful) anger of segments of the population against another group, or person. Obscurancy through fear-mongering rhetoric. Politicking through base populism. Again, this is not to say thatMRT failures and mismanagement are not legitimate issues – They really and truly are. But, themethod in which the issue is approached prohibits not only understanding, but solutions. Populism, by its nature, does not allow for complex solutions to complex problems – it is not solution oriented, nor issue oriented, but emotion-centric.
Notably, one of the key elements of populism in any of its historical or current incarnations is the leveraging of the perception of ‘class warfare;’ the vilification and dismissal a group of people based on their economic standing, whether they be ‘elites’ or the impoverished (or as Duterte likes to call them, criminals). The out-group vs the in-group; the ‘haughty elite’, looking down on everyone else[3]. It is not only class warfare, though, that feeds into this sort of simplistic delineation of in vs out groups. We also see it in dismissals of anyone who holds a contrary opinion as a ‘critic,’ or an ‘anti.’ Politicians are not the only purveyors of this sort of pat pap; witness normally insightful commentators like Tony La Viña calling elites ‘untrustworthy’ and urging his candidate to go to the ‘people,’ who are more trustworthy. This sort of binary populism is de rigueur in any volatile political milieu, especially during election silly season. Cringingly, it also represents the devolution and fall of populism as a powerful force in politics; instead of harnessing the voice and desire of the unrepresented, it has become a tool used by demagogues, politicians, and their supporters to further an agenda.
Following from the axis of the ‘in-group’ vs ‘out-group’ is the requirement to scapegoat. Whether ‘criminals,’ communists, elites, those in power, or even the poor, this is a standard practice in populist rhetoric. Trump has his immigrants, Duterte has his ‘criminals’. In both cases, the solution is to eliminate immigrants, kill the criminals, and all social ills will be solved. This would be laughable, if it wasn’t so resonant. Even the discussions of federalism, primarily because of the sheer superficiality of it, can be structured within the in/out group dichotomy. Federalism, as it is being presented now, reflects nothing more than a cynical attempt to leverage provincial dissatisfaction with ‘Imperial Manila.’[4] Whether there are elements of truth or not (there are), this sort of binary construction does leverage this latent discontents. Recently, Duterte tried to further inflame this disconnect by vilifying Tagalogs while he was in the Visayas. Federalism is a legitimate and compelling issue; but, the manner it is being approached by its primary proponent in the election betrays.
Scapegoating within a polarized political and social milieu like ours is standard practice. An upcoming example is the re-opening of the Mamasapano probe by a master of rhetoric and populism in Juan Ponce Enrile. The complexities surrounding Mamasapano have been discussed and dismissed in the past in favor of grandstanding, emotion inducing rhetoric. Yet at the very point in which various survey results are starting to shift, the probe is re-opened; more than anything, a tacit and dismissal of the previous findings of the Senate committee. Senators such as Serge Osmeña are already on record saying this is an attempt by Enrile to ‘hit’ back at President Aquino for his incarceration. Ignore the damage re-opening this probe may well do to the likely only now recovering families of the victims (on both sides), it is apparent that Enrile is seeking to scapegoat Aquino for the deaths of SAF members (note, not the deaths of the other side). If Enrile has legitimate and actionable intel, then that can be presented in the here and now; instead it is being held for a committee hearing, where a questioning senator has expansive powers for questioning, haranguing, grandstanding, and presenting to a captive audience (the Filipino people). As the Philippine Daily Inquirer rather adroitlypointed out: All we need to know about the aims and goals of the hearing are found in its (original) start date, January 25.
Notably, the MRT and Mamasapano are two issues which have consistently plagued the Aquino administration in terms of popularity and trust ratings; it should not be a surprise that they are being consistently deployed through populist rhetoric at this point in our election cycle. Populism does not hold with exploring the complexity of issues, but only at leveraging them for gain.
All this being said, populism is invigorating precisely because it taps into and inflames latent and apparent biases and prejudices; it revolves on an axis of antagonistic oppositionalism, informed by emotion. Cunningly and correctly used populism is an immense driving force.


From Rappler

From Rappler

For his part, another shrewd observer, John Nery, back in March said Three nations would be voting in May:
There is the reform constituency. I think of certain voters who are choosing between Poe and Roxas, or who are comfortable casting their ballot for either candidate. I use the word “reform” because that is how both campaigns perceive themselves, as essentially continuing the initiatives undertaken by the second Aquino administration, and because that is how these voters’ concerns—about continuing the fight against corruption, continuing the macroeconomic gains, continuing the emergence of the Philippines on the world stage—are best classified. I am a lone voice when I say, yet again, that the popularity of Poe’s late father does not explain her own personal popularity… millions of young voters voted for Poe in 2013 who did not even know who FPJ was, or cared.
There is the authoritarian constituency. I borrow the term from Amanda Taub’s “The rise of American authoritarianism,” which explores a “psychological profile of individual voters” that best predicts support for a rogue candidate like Donald Trump. The term refers to the voter who is “characterized by a desire for order and a fear of outsiders,” who “when they feel threatened, look for strong leaders who promise to take whatever action necessary.” I think of voters who support Duterte, but who are also ready to cast their ballot for Binay or even Santiago: They place their hopes on the man or woman on horseback (or, in Duterte’s case, in the taxi or pickup truck) who will make things right.
And there is the pragmatic constituency, the voters who want results, who recognize that the role of today’s politician is like that of the father in a traditional family: a provider. There are voters who will vote for Binay because he is the only candidate who has bothered to visit them in their sitio, and who can be persuaded that Duterte, another local executive, is perhaps cut from the same durable retail-politics cloth.
Back in 1966, Nick Joaquin wrote an essay entitled, “A Heritage of Smallness,” in which he said the Philippines then viewed society as a small boat, the barangay, and geography as a small locality, the barrio. He said that enterprise for the Filipino was strictly the sari-sari stall; industry and production, no more than an immediate day-to-day search; and commerce, the smallest unit possible, the tingi. No wonder, then, that six years after Nick Joaquin published this piece, as our society grappled with the contradictions of modernity, Ferdinand Marcos was able to impose datu-style leadership which promised a return to a Lost Eden but which actually substituted paternalism for democracy, and cronyism for actual competition. As Carlos P. Romulo once wrote in his memoirs, what Filipinos seek in a president is someone who will make decisions for them. In other words, old habits die hard: the tendency to surrender to a supreme leader, in the hope of returning to past that never was. The opposite of what modernity means (read on Max Weber on charismatic leadership versus modern rule). Recently, I wrote about this, in the context of Rodrigo Duterte, in The Presidency and the Crisis of Modernity.
But that attitude in itself is a relict of what Nick Joaquin called the heritage of smallness. We must replace that with a society that has as its hallmark, modernity. Name any society we envy: Japan, Korea, or Singapore, and what they have at heart is this: perseverance. It is that quality that has allowed Singapore, for example, to punch way above its weight as a city-state. It is the quality we find in our countrymen abroad who succeed, and that is so lacking in our institutions here which undergo a memory-wipe and thus a collective state of amnesia, every six years.
A memory-wipe would be very satisfactory not only to those vested interests who cannot tolerate another six years of being on the defensive; it is reassuring, too, to the elements in society who fear modernity.
But we can, and should, stay the course, for as Mar Roxas put it, “the best is yet to come.”
The late Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez, one of the traditional politicians who knew how dangerous Marcos would be and tried to derail his climb to power, once said, “In the long of time, we shall success!” Success is impermissible for those for whom an Aquino victory in 2010 would permanently consign them to the wrong side of history as in 1986. This is an important point, because it explains the sustained barrage over the past six years, the purpose of which is to discount every gain, magnify every error, and promote a brand of crisis.
Back in February, 2010, I wrote in Showdown that,
In the great showdown of 2010, you have Aquino on one side, and arrayed against him are those for whom an Aquino victory in 2010 would represent another repudiation on the scale they had endured in 1986. The ruling coalition has to contend with being in a position similar to what the KBL found itself in in 1986: entrenched locally and despised nationally for many of the same reasons that Marcos’ machinery was hated. The other contenders, in turn, belong to a political line that can be traced back to the showdown in 1986 and opposition to the Aquino administration and Cory herself over the years.
I don’t think the grudge-match aspect of the present presidential race should be discounted. Then, as now, the hallmark of official impunity was what Marcos himself, in his private diaries, dismissed as “technical legalism,” combined with brute force, electoral manipulation, the power of the pork barrel and a dismissive attitude toward public opinion, all the while insisting that national leadership is about credentials and not about integrity. It took a bar topnotcher, after all, to engineer a legal system that put a premium on the appearance of legality while ignoring the court of public opinion, substituting it with the blunt reality that possession is nine-tenths of the law.
They lost that round, regrouped, and learned some lessons. Their strategy: to swarm.
The first imperative was to consolidate the Marcos constituency. See Who is voting for Bongbong Marcos? It’s not the supposedly politically naive millennial voters in Rappler. In addition to this, two presidential candidates are carrying Marcos Jr. (most notably, Mayor Duterte), while a third, Grace Poe, has pandered to the Loyalist vote.
The second imperative was to relentlessly continue the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo talk points. Those talking points already produced a decade of apathy: ”parepareho lang sila,” or “sino ang papalit?” combined with the twin traumas of Edsa Dos (a disappointment) and Edsa Tres (which raised the specter of urban insurrection) allowed the nation to rationalize sitting in place and waiting out the Arroyo administration after 2005. Here, Vice President Binay, Senator Poe, and Mayor Duterte, have pandered to the Arroyo Loyalists, too.
The third imperative, of course, was to seek out vulnerabilities of the administration. Callous and heartless? See my Rogue article, The mourning after. Lacking in competence? See my note on Yolanda. MRT? See this Note. Crime? Here’s a tidbit our short-term memory has led us to fail to see. Since I can remember, every election –or the run up to the election– was marked with spectacular bank robberies and an epidemic of kidnappings “for the funds of it,” as journalists often remarked. There is no news of this not only this time around, but in 2013 –but that’s the point. No news, is not news, and good news is even less newsworthy.
The Coalition of the Unwilling to Change may have its various component parts competing to become the Supreme Faction; but those components –Marcos Loyalists, Arroyo Loyalists, their allied interests who have been on the defensive since 2010, the Communist Party and its fronts who have shifted from one candidate to another– even as they compete, are all part of the same nasty, brutish whole. And they have tried to game the system to return to prevent their exile being permanent.
As The Economist put it (see Fatal distraction):
FOR too long the Philippines was the sick man of Asia—cheerful, democratic but a chronic underperformer. In recent years, though, its fortunes have begun to turn. Much of the credit should go to the outgoing president, Benigno Aquino. The economy is booming and investors are flocking in. The country has gained in geopolitical importance, too, thanks to its resistance to China’s expansionism.
But Mr Aquino’s achievements risk being squandered by an old weakness at the heart of Filipino politics: its love of showmanship and personality over policy and administrative ability. Boxers and film stars project themselves into public jobs while the diligent and competent too often languish.
Or, as the Wall Street Journal bluntly asked, Can the Philippines Stay on Track?
Other observers, at home and abroad, see what’s at stake. See A Scary Moment for the Philippines and The End of Philippine Democracy?.
We can persevere, or take the easy way out. Three easy ways out –three escape hatches that allow the voter to bail out of the tough task of nation-building—have been put before you by the other candidates.
You can surrender to fear, and select someone who will essentially act, not as a chief executive, but as your enforcer and goon. This is Rodrigo Duterte. This, despite there being an inherent contradiction in Duterte and it is one Filipinos of an older generations figured out, belatedly, during the Marcos era: there will always be collateral damage when the iron fist is invoked. As this editorial says,
Over the years Duterte has built a reputation as the tough-talking, get-things-done mayor of Davao City. His detractors claim he cleaned out the city of drug pushers and drug dealers by resorting to extra-judicial means. Pushers, some still in their teens were found dead—the handiwork of vigilante groups operating in Davao that Duterte admitted having ties to.
Since his bid for the presidency, Duterte appears to have distanced himself from any connection with vigilante groups. But “old habits die hard” and those groups may not be ready or willing to break their ties to him. And that becomes a very serious problem for the Philippines if he becomes president.
Like Marcos before him, if Duterte becomes president, his henchmen could start deciding who deserves to be “eliminated” and who deserves to be spared. Duterte’s tongue-in-cheek prediction that if he becomes president, Manila Bay will be filled with thousands of dead bodies, might seriously come to pass—even without his approval. As many a tyrant who went down that same dark path knows, it is almost impossible to “dial back” that kind of behavior. And as with Marcos, it can only lead to grave injustice and a frightened population stripped of their legal rights.
In The neo-authoritarian threat in the Philippines, Julio Teehankee and Mark Thompson observe,
Duterte’s emerging neo-authoritarian constituency was initially concentrated among the elite, and middle class and only recently has moved down the social ladder. Duterte is the candidate of the wealthy, newly rich, well off, and the modestly successful (including taxi drivers, small shopkeepers and overseas Filipino workers abroad).
In the closing days of the campaign, he is now besieged not just by accusations, but by his own responses. His response has been to warn that he would tear up the Constitution if he is elected and impeachment is attempted. But even if he wasn’t confronted by the hollowness of his claim to be excusable in everything because he won’t be corrupt, there is who he is: Take his MBC speech, whether as delivered, or in English translation, you cannot ignore what he himself has revealed about himself.
As an opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald put it, “Australia’s traditionally strong defence and diplomatic relationship with the Philippines could be barrelling towards a cliff.” Bloomberg, for its part, reported, Philippine Peso Sinks as Mayor Likened to Trump Leads Election Race. The damage is already being done; and it will require a cohesive team not only to take up the reins of power on June 30, 2016, but to start repairing the damage already being done.
So we cannot gamble on someone who would simply turn municipal larceny into grand larceny on a national scale, but at least be a devil you already know. This is Jejomar Binay. But his candidacy is premised on escaping, so to speak, the hangman’s noose.
We could, possibly, tire of efforts to level the playing field, and succumb to the temptation to try to outfox your competitors by gambling on a malleable president who you think will be beholden and dependent on you. This is Grace Poe; but her hitherto seductive combination of populism and reformism has begun to wear thin.
If you were to choose any one of the options above, you would be opting for the familiar, because our boom-and-bust past would, at least, be comfortingly familiar. No need to be ambitious, because we would be too busy building back what we ourselves dismantled at the polls. Don’t forget you ought to be choosing a package deal. While there is no perfect tandem, no perfect combination, and no perfect coalition, better one that takes being a tandem seriously, and which takes having a platform seriously. But you have to weigh the overall composition to see if you are comfortable with what you will get.
So we have a choice. We, as a nation, can persevere, which requires continuity. Over the past five years, we have seen how following the rules leads to predictability of outcomes, which in turn leads to stability, allowing us to plan towards a vision. What is that vision? It is of a country that is finally comfortable in its own skin, which consigns the heritage of smallness to the past where it belongs, and truly, even madly, and certainly, deeply, embraces modernity.
Violent passions have been unleashed. This is a consequence of demagoguery; of populism exercised with impunity. Those passions will not go away after election day. Which means, all the more, that we must stand up for what the majority truly stands for.
As Gerry Cacanindin put it so well,
That’s it. I’m voting for Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo. I no longer wish to stay silent. I hope I can still sway some of you who are still undecided or are fiercely supporting the current frontrunners. I will not attack your chosen candidates nor exalt mine. But I will tell you why I have made my choice.
I choose gains over faults. This is not a country about to implode nor destroy itself. It is experiencing its best growth in decades. That’s a fact. What this country needs is more stability and fewer risks. More thoughtful decisions and fewer rogue moves.
I choose the carrot over the stick. Crime cannot be solved through violence. It can only be solved through better opportunities. The more opportunities for people to have decent jobs, the lesser the tendency to lead a life of crime.
I choose humanity over brutality. I believe that the end does not justify the means. I want a country that I can be proud of. A country that can somehow show the world that it can solve its problems through means which are humane, just, and good.
I choose patience over instant gratification. I choose small gains made over long periods of time. It’s a proven method. Ask our own Taipans. There are no shortcuts to lasting wealth. There is only sustained hard work.
I choose self-imposed discipline over state-imposed discipline. We already have rules on almost everything. It is unrealistic to pin the responsibility of imposing them to one person. Try to discipline one kid. It’s not easy. Try to discipline 100 million people. It will be a bloody affair.
I choose building brick by brick over the sheen of a silver bullet. The problems we often complain about–traffic, poor infrastructure, crime, corruption, poverty–are moving from being hopeless to solvable. But for a country of 100 million, it will take time. Not in six years, maybe not in 20. These are complex, deeply-rooted problems. If you believe someone can solve all these within a six-year term, I’m sorry but Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I choose selflessness. I have done the math. I have accepted the fact that I will never see this country become the one we all dream about in my lifetime. I’m no longer voting for my own future, but for my child’s. I’d rather see glimmers of hope than dark, uncertain clouds over the horizon.
I choose to suppress my passion and anger. Instead I looked at what is undeniable. I just saw Tacloban. It was obliterated by the most violent typhoon to ever hit a major city. In just three years it has not only recovered. It is thriving and bustling. Good job, government.
I choose what my elders taught me. That we should respect each other. This country is not beyond saving that we should resort to a savior with unrealistic promises. Nor should we begin demanding for heads to literally roll just to get things done. We are not that kind of people.
Lastly, I choose democracy. Whoever wins, I will call him or her my president. I will hope for the best. But when democracy itself becomes threatened I will not stay silent.
Peace out. Vote.
In 54 million of our fellow Filipinos who are voters, lies the future.
Continuity, though, is just the first step. Consistency is what our nation has long lacked. Let us prove that the Filipino is not fickle; that the Filipino cannot be fooled; that the Filipino is not just world class, but rather, the Filipino can become the global benchmark for excellence.
Let us go beyond saying yes, we can, and instead, prove that yes, we are: Peaceful, prosperous, responsible, faithful, decent, cooperative and honorable men and women who can dream big. That we can build prosperity on firm foundations, instead of making a desert and calling it peace.
True that!

True that!

Just recently, I compared the last presidential debate to The Jungle Book. You can find archetypes a-plenty for yourself. But the question before us is, who are best-equipped to bring us to the next stage of development?
On May 9, 2016, they can only be:
For the change that truly makes a difference.

For the change that truly makes a difference.


Mar 04

Closing Remarks at “Doing the Right Thing in Time of Need: Open Door Policy of President Manuel L. Quezon on Jewish Refugees”

Closing Remarks at the Lecture and Presentation of Prof. Sharon Delmendo on “Doing the Right Thing in Time of Need: Open Door Policy of President Manuel L. Quezon on Jewish Refugees”

04 March 2016, Ayala Museum


MLQ3 giving closing remarks at the talk and presentation of Sharon Delmendo (030416 Ayala Museum)


This is absolutely the worst job to have because everyone is hungry  and sleepy and wants to beat the traffic, so I will try to keep it brief. I did want to sort of focus our attention on a thought– but before I reach that thought, I would like to read a quote. This was by Teodoro Locsin Sr., father of my mentor and he wrote it in 1961. Now, Sharon here has talked to you about her unique identity as a Filipino-American or American-Filipino. This institution was established by Spanish-Filipinos. Everyone of us here has a little bit of this, a little bit of that. But what we all have together is this country and our roots in it. And talking about identity, Locsin wrote, and this is about how you talk to any Filipino and every Filipino is full of that good German word angst about who they are and what we’re all about. So, Locsin said:

“Our masks become our nature. When we try to remove them, we find we can’t. If we could, the face underneath would prove to be the same as the masks. The Filipino is all he has tried to be, the masks he has put on. He is more than the primitive darkly present in the background. To be a Filipino is not simply a thing but a great bewilderment, a matter of great complexity, which is only a way of saying what it is to be a man. The native returns, but only to himself. The inescapable one.

To cultivate the virtues of honesty, industry and justice, to learn how to love, is to be human. To be a Filipino, in the best sense of the word. Whether as a Spaniard or American or Japanese, or as Nationalist, the Filipino must reckon with himself at last. He has no excuse for what he does; he should blame nobody but himself for what he is. If he has courage, he is brave; if he is honest, he is true; if he loves justice, he is decent, and if he loves rather than hate, he is at ease. The rest is merely economics, politics and the movies”.


And that’s the quote. Today, you got a very brief glimpse and a glimpse made very brief, and Sharon I hope you will forgive me for what I am going to say next, because of this sense of hiya of shame, of modesty of the young professor you saw standing before you today. Everything you saw on the screens, the research, and you have only seen the tip of the iceberg, the videos produced by long hours of research, editing, writing, talking, sifting, understanding- all of this is a labor of love. It is a labor of sacrifice.

Some of you here, particularly those of you in academe, know that some of the loneliest, longest, least paying work is that of the scholar because the scholar must face many, many dragons. The scholar must give up time. The scholar must give up labor. The scholar must confront the truth wherever the documents, the data and the information will bring you. That is not a recipe for currying favor or for even keeping body and soul together.

But I did want you to know, because I have been privileged to see some of what the research has been done and where this research is leading. That the sacrifice so lightly shown because you wouldn’t know that she’s given so much of her life for this, that it is not quite there. If the research you saw is just the tip of the iceberg it is because it would take time, effort, and money to get to the bottom of the matter.

So, I would like to issue a challenge to you, and I hope you will forgive me for this Sharon, because if any of you are here and you have sacrificed time to listen, time to wade through the traffic, time to listen and to understand, then I do hope you will find time to get to know what exactly Sharon and Noel are doing and see whether that road and that labor should be so lonely, so time consuming and so unrewarding for people like her. I leave it to you to go to the world wide web to see her research, to look at her sources, to understand what she is doing and perhaps they might have moved you a little bit and again forgive me for saying this, because she deserves your help.

She’s doing a lot for the country and I think it is time for the country to pony up. I’m not going to be the one to do it because I work for you as a government official and I’m not about to make decisions about your taxes. But I do believe that it is well within your means to give her a helping hand.

That being said, the presence of our friends from Israel and Austria also indicate something very important about what’s happening here. Which is, even as we wrestle with who we are, where our country is going, and where it came it came from, that there are centers of excellence that are taking a stand to fight amnesia and to build a culture of memory.

It actually began not only with the commitment of the McMickings and the Zobels to setting up this institution. It came from the commitment of people like the Quirino family to start depositing their papers here. And, in fact, it was with that example in mind that my Aunt, my cousins, and all of us, made the decision with an understanding with Rod Hall and other members of their family and with the Filipinas Heritage Library to place the papers of Manuel L. Quezon here, the personal papers of the family and his wartime papers in trust with the foundation so that it can be digitized and shared with others.

The same applies to Rod Hall’s efforts to keep memories of the war and our national experience alive. And there is Professor Jose in the background who has been entrusted to make sure that this collection, and again, in trust with the Filipinas Heritage Library, those. So there is a lot more to this place than the beautiful paintings, the glittering gold, the shiny pots and entertaining dioramas.

This is a center for scholarship and that your being here today shows that much as other people might say it, there is hope for our country. It is a hope that transcends borders, it is a hope that crosses through generations, and is one that is going to give us a wonderful appetite for the goodies that we are now going to enjoy.

Thank you very much. 



Feb 08

The last of the birthday supplements

The last of the birthday supplements

This article appeared in The Philippine Star Features: The President at 56, the special supplement of the Philippine Star to mark the 56th birthday of President Benigno S. Aquino III, February 08, 2016, A-25

By Manuel L. Quezon III


[PhilStar] The last of the birthday supplements by MLQ3


THIS month is heavy with memory.

In 1986, on Feb. 5, Jaime Cardinal Sin warned that Catholics would employ civil disobedience measures if the election proved fraudulent. On Feb. 7, the snap election was held. The Commission on Elections claimed Ferdinand Marcos was leading while the National Citizen’s Movement for Free Elections reported that Corazon Aquino was winning.

On Feb. 8, Aquino, who was ahead on the Namfrel count, claimed victory. The next day, on Feb. 9, thirty computer workers at the Comelec tabulation center in the Philippine International Convention Center, protesting the tampering of election results, walked out and sought refuge in Baclaran Church.

On Feb. 13, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines issued a pastoral letter condemning election fraud, essentially withdrawing the “mandate of heaven” from Marcos. Two days later, on Feb. 15, the Batasan Pambansa in stormy session proclaimed Marcos the winner, and opposition assemblymen walked out to protest massive cheating during the election.

On Feb. 16, the “Tagumpay ng Bayan” took place, when Cory Aquino led a mammoth rally of more than two million people at the Luneta where she launched a nationwide civil disobedience campaign and the boycott of Marcos-crony firms to force him to concede defeat. People gave up beer and ice cream, and stopped paying their electric bills.

On Feb. 22, Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos revolted against Marcos and holed themselves up in Camp Aguinaldo. The reason was Gringo Honasan had (according to the research of historian Al MCCoy) been rather indiscreet about their plans to mount a coup against President Marcos, and so the dictatorship was set not only to foil the Honasan Plan –Ferdinand Marcos Jr. would do a star turn on the river wall of Malacañan Palace and lead troops to to not only foil, but capture, the putschists—but were ready to round up the rebels. So the rebels holed up in Camps Crame and Aguinaldo. Thousands of people formed a human barricade against the expected advance of Marcos’ troops (but they were so tightly jampacked around the Palace that the troops ended up immobilized). Jaime Cardinal Sin appealed over Radio Veritas for people to send food and help guard the barricades.

On Feb. 25, in separate ceremonies, Cory Aquino took her oath of office at Club Filipino as president of the Philippines while Marcos was sworn in at Malacañang. Later that evening, Marcos fled to Clark Air Base en route to Hawaii. The next day, President Aquino formed her Cabinet.

An entire generation has grown up after these events, but memories of those February days must be particularly vivid this time around, as we mark three decades since democracy was restored. I can think of one person for whom this EDSA month will be particularly heavy with memory: President Benigno S. Aquino III, who marks his birthday not only on the 30th anniversary of his mother claiming victory against the Marcos Machine, but also his last birthday in office. He was inaugurated into that office at the age –fifty—that his father had died, felled by the bullets of the dictatorship. He does so, with far too many veterans of those heady People Power days having strayed far from the promise of the era, and in some cases, having reverted to their Marcos loyalist days.

I can think of one thing those pining for a Marcos restoration, a reversal of the past nearly six years, and a return to the boom-and-bust because spendthrift, imprudent, and selfish ways of the past, probably hate about the President’s birthday. The entire government hasn’t been mobilized to sing the praises of the President, and flood the papers with paid protestations of loyalty and how the Commander-in-Chief/Chief Executive is the best thing for the country since the invention of milled rice. To be sure, there will be some who will do so, because old habits die hard. But there remains a stark difference between the clouds of incense that greeted official birthdays in the past and today, which most people will be celebrating not because they need to curry favor with the present tenant of the Palace, but because we now celebrate Chinese New Year as a holiday.

And that is as it should be. The very existence of supplements such as this should, if the public continues on its current path of increasing maturity and prosperity, become a relict so ridiculous it will no longer be deemed worthy of consideration on the birthdays of future presidents.

Which is why, if the President is worth a pause on this day, it should because it leads us to deeper reflection: in the three decades since we sent the dictator, his family, and his lieutenants packing, when have we ever been more united when it comes to an incumbent? The best gift any official can ask for is to be in good standing as far as the public’s opinion is concerned.

So ask yourself why this is so. I think it has something to do with the absence of official impunity and its substitution with a hard-headed, old-fashioned insistence that those privileged to be on the top should do the right things, to the best of one’s ability, knowing the public will understand if you’re not perfect.

Then, as now, the hallmark of official impunity was what Marcos himself, in his private diaries, dismissed as “technical legalism,” that combination of brute force, a dismissive attitude toward public opinion, and insisting that national leadership is about credentials, or pure will, and not about integrity. It took a bar topnotcher, after all, to engineer a legal system that put a premium on the appearance of legality while ignoring the court of public opinion, substituting it with the blunt reality that possession is nine-tenths of the law.

The late Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez, one of the traditional politicians who knew how dangerous Marcos would be and tried to derail his climb to power, once said, in an an Amang-ism the late publisher of this paper, Max Soliven loved to quote, “In the long of time, we shall success!” Success was impermissible for those for whom an Aquino victory in 2010 meant permanently consigning them to the wrong side of history as in 1986. The people denied them that success and the restoration they craved.

Yet, as the RAM putschists once put, their dreams will never die. To those carrying the flame of the Marcos dictatorship have been added those who once fought for freedom but who, “in the long of time,” set aside their old affiliations to embrace the Marcos mantra of guns, goons, and gold.

And so it is, that they, for one, will be cheering today. “His birthday, in Malacañang—his last!”

But as Rizal said –there are no tyrants where there are no slaves. The people proved it in 1986. They will again in 2016.





Dec 18

The Presidency and the Crisis of Modernity

SOURCE: Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid, Spain

SOURCE: Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid, Spain

I. “Today began yesterday”

–As Leon Ma. Guerrero once put it.

From Nick Joaquin’s reportage on the 1963 midterms, “Ayos na ang Buto-Buto,”

The following night, at the NP miting de avance, there was again no doubt that the crowd responded most fraternally to another Southerner, Senator Roseller Lim of Zamboanga—and this on the testimony of a Pampango-Manileño, Senator Puyat. A forecaster could indeed have read in the size and temper of that multitude on Plaza Miranda the great swing of the South to the Opposition that the next day’s polls would reveal. If the politicos want a new rule on Manila, here’s a possible one: As Manila goes, the South goes. Because Manila is now the biggest Southern city in the Philippines.

Puyat says he felt rather scared when the atmosphere became so charged with passion the miting turned into a mighty dialogue between speaker on stage and the crowd below.

SPEAKER: Ano ang gagawin kay Macapagal?
CROWD: Palakolin!
SPEAKER: Ano ang gagawin kay Macapagal?
CROWD: Martilyuhin!

“I felt,” says Puyat, “that if the speaker had shouted On to Malacañang! that mob would have followed—and I fear to think what would have happened there. We politicians carry a big responsibility.”

As one listened to Puyat’s account, one had the creepy feeling, too, that our political campaigns have gotten out of hand and are becoming sick.

The unease of 1963 (in the context above last felt, perhaps, during Edsa Tres) has come back in our Republic of Amnesia, though now seen as new, precisely because of that amnesia (among other things, caused by the lost generation in our national life, just at the point when a handover from one generation to the next was supposed to take place).

So I do think Patricio Abinales has a point in saying it ain’t new –it’s just Imperial Manila that’s shocked, shocked!– at what everyone else knows. See his essay, Digong’s Mouth in Rappler. And so his (Duterte’s) blunt talk is not so much blunt, or the kind of Id-speak that put Miriam Defensor Santiago on the politicial map, as it is the tone and style of the provincial barons. And here it’s important to consider that Duterte is, indeed, a provincial baron: as he himself has pointed out, he was always immersed in politics because his own father was governor. The last time we saw this in a candidate for national office was when Joseph Estrada ran for the presidency.

Duterte’s advantage is novelty —particularly compared to the candidates who kicked off their campaigns for 2016 back in 2010— and for being the lone non-Manila-centric candidate (their Visayan, Ibanag-Batangueño, etc. origins and constituencies notwithstanding, the other candidates are all firmly part of the Manila establishment); and so he can –and is– tweaking the noses of the Metro Manilans. This is no small matter and carries with it many long-standing issues on representation and recognition. See my Notes for a prospective article on the emerging politics of a national identity from 2009.

An interesting article by Richard Javad Heyderian is Philippines’ Black Swan Elections: The New Normal in Democratic Politics: proposing that Trump, Le Pen, and Duterte represent a brewing revolt against the democratic system. Buddy Gomez says as much in more trenchant terms. An online commentary by Nik @ iwriteasiwrite suggests unease, even revulsion, with the tenor of some of his supporters. Though if one recalls the 2010 campaign, the tenor is much the same as the supporters of Dick Gordon (supporters of Miriam Defensor Santiago on the other hand, are closer to the style of the supporters Gibo Teodoro). So, these things should be par for the course.

To be sure, going back to Heyderian, he qualifies the survey numbers he uses with the usual caveats –some question the surveys concerned, etc.– but on the whole he puts forward Duterte as a Black Swan, a political phenomenon no one saw coming, as demonstrated by the upsurge in Duterte’s numbers.

A few things, though, that can explain that uptick. First, there’s being the Flavor of the Month due to–

a) The “teleserye” nature of the will he or won’t he chatter;

b) His coming in, at long last, when he was predicted to enter the fray: by December.

Second, more importantly, to my mind, is that Duterte’s numbers can be explained by a question repeatedly polled: martial law. At the heart of this constituency is something I pointed out when Adrian Cristobal passed away: the idea that you can have a Year Zero, a New Society, a Restored Eden –if only drastic action is undertaken:

Everything that Marcos claimed was the problem: a conceited yet essentially incompetent ruling class, a slavish society devoid of a sense of intrinsic self-worth, a society that required a firm hand to rule it –all continue to be said of ourselves, by ourselves, all the time. Whatever the infinite variation, the central theme continues to be that of the need for a New Society: it was precisely that, but without the Great Dictator, that even Edsa tried to accomplish, and which has been used as an indictment of People Power since.

If one views politics as a contest to gather and expand constituencies, then the martial law constituency is not only actually rather large, but consistent –and except for some senatorial candidates, one only tangentially cultivated by presidential candidates –until now.

Just as in 1992 –where few noticed that the alarming subtext of the election was that the Marcos Loyalist bloc would have won if it hadn’t been fatally divided between Imelda Marcos and Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr.– the showdown in 2010 –between the Reformists and Populists (who themselves were heirs and veterans of the Marcos Machine)

Up to the entry of Duterte, the division between Populism and Reformism essentially had a reshuffling of the deck between the Reform Constituency: Liberal Wing (Roxas) and Populist Wing (Poe); the Populist Constituency: Traditionalist Wing (Binay) and Loyalist Wing (Santiago). What Duterte did was give the Marcos-Populist-Leftist side of things a shot in the arm by daring to break the post-EDSA consensus on Martial Law (of all establishment groups, the one left in the most awkward situation is the Left, which, already having dumped Binay and hitched its star to Poe, will be hard-put to justify yet another tactical move to Duterte even though he actually has the “best” record of dealing with them –the modus vivendi he’s reached with armed partisans in the past representing an inconvenient dilemma for some Leftists in the Metro Manila  chattering class upset over his perceived scorn for human rights, for example.

What he has done is awakened a constituency that has always been there (see The Praetorian Temptation) but in past probes of public opinion, it was considered so small as to be a harmless minority: because the pro-martial law segments of the population added up to a slall minority compared to those against martial law. But in a crowded field which has divided the large constituences, cultivating a smaller but cohesive constituency no one else has tapped into, is significant.

Here’s the constituency over time (see Felipe Miranda’s Anyone for having martial law? from 2001 and Mahar Mangahas’ Filipinos rarely approve of martial law from 2009):

SWS - Survey Ratings on Martial Law PULSE ASIA - Survey on Martial Law

The surveys above also slice and dice the public on the basis of class –the ABC, D, and E familiar to us in the surveys. But an interesting point to consider is that there can be other ways to view –and explain– the public and the opinions people hold. Consider the following, which is basically a distillation of the thoughts of some marketing people:

(1) A new way of looking at Filipino voter demographics

(2) (1) A new way of looking at Filipino voter demographics

How would the above come into play in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of a campaign? To the extent that it offers up a different approach from the usual class-based one, it can go far in explaining how a candidate can break down barriers between economic classes, or put another way, have cross-class appeal: because there are ways of thinking or approaches that are shared by Filipinos regardless of socioeconomic class. An easy way to understand this would be the cross-class appeal of particular shows and personalities in entertainment, for example.

II. Traditional expectations of the Presidency

I do not think that the public’s expectations of the presidency have changed in three generations. Two comments, a decade apart, summarizes these expectations.

  1. Teodoro M. Kalaw, a follower of Osmeña, quoted Manuel L. Quezon as having said to Osmeña in 1922 that “The problem with you is that you take the game of politics too seriously. You look to far behind you and too far ahead of you. Our people do not understand that. They do not want it. All they want is to have the present problem solved, and solved with the least pain. That is all.”
  2. Writing in his diary on December 23, 1938, former Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison caught his friend Manuel L. Quezon in a moment of reflection. “The people care more for good government than they do for self-government,” adding that, “the fear is that the Head of State may either exceed his powers, or abuse them by improprieties. To keep order is his main purpose.”

In a review he wrote, Arturo Rotor (who, besides being a well-known writer and botanist, served as Executive Secretary in the Commonwealth government-in-exile), pointed out how politicians use off-the-cuff statements to gauge public opinion:

Quezon had his own way of gauging public opinion, of taking a poll survey. He would say something preposterous or do the completely unexpected to find out what the people thought of a political leader, or to measure their opposition to religious instruction in schools. If the act aroused a bigger rumpus than he had calculated, he would institute an appropriate measure.

Thus to the uninformed, Quezon often appeared inconsistent, mercurial, unreliable, a man whose word could not be trusted. No greater mistake can be made. When Quezon had studied a problem and made up his mind, no earthly force could stop him.

So there can be method in what might superficially appear as madness –just as there can be a line easily crossed between being hot copy and becoming a caricature not to be taken seriously.

III. The Crisis of Modernity

So let us see how Randy David defined the Crisis of Modernity:

But, in general, the problems we have gone through and are going through – the multiple crises, the almost unending instability, the cycle of confusion, despair, hope, disenchantment, and cynicism – that have accompanied our evolution as a society are part and parcel of the often wrenching transition to a modern society. A transition is a particularly confusing stage – marked by what Gramsci once called the dying of the old and the inability of the new to be born. The old habits of our culture are quickly vanishing, yet the ways of modern society have not fully taken root. In the interim, our people suffer from a surplus of dependence. They are subservient even when they no longer need to be. They slide into the easy habits of the powerless even when the tools of emancipation may already be at hand. They seek patronage even where it is not necessary.

Our leaders and rulers, on the other hand, suffer from a nobility deficit. A sense of honor, drawn from tradition, no longer deters or restrains them. The poverty and ignorance of the masses brings out the predator rather than the hero in them. They take advantage of the weaknesses of the legal system and the persistence of the old habits of an unequal society, even as the old values like delicadeza no longer compel them.

But all this will pass as our society slowly moves from a hierarchical order to a more democratic one. There are many drivers of modernity in our midst, not the least of which is the migration of millions of our countrymen to various parts of the world. Working abroad, they are no longer just improving their material lives; they are also discovering new values, developing a work ethic appropriate to modern settings, and building a strong sense of self that had been denied them in a traditional society.

In the near future, inherited status will no longer be an asset. Occupations and public office will become more accessible to those born without privilege. Politics will be more accountable to the general public, to the citizens, rather than to a few dominant centers of influence. Kinship will decline in importance as a passport to economic or political mobility. With universal education, which has so far eluded us, citizens should be in a better position to distinguish between roles like entertainment and governance, between public service and profit-seeking, and between the quest for spirituality and the quest for justice.

What I am describing here is the trajectory of the transition to modernity. Our political institutions, modern as they are, came as a legacy of American colonialism. They were grafted onto a feudal social order and culture defined by the values of a patron-client system. The disconnect became apparent to us only after the generation that had been schooled in colonial America’s modern ways had left the stage. We are just starting to grasp the logic of these institutions. Our hope is that the next generation can make them a reality.

Creeping modernity manifests itself in many ways (just as it creates a paradox: “can the aspiration to be modern, remain modern, if it’s built on what is, after all, a very traditional assumption? That political involvement and its goal of control of the government, are not only good, but necessary, and capable of achieving beneficial change?”). One sign is the extinction of the honorific “Don” and “Doña.” It’s gone out of style only in the last decade or so.

The decline of “church, club, and school” –the institutions that defined what I have called the Old Middle Class, in contrast to the New Middle Class– I’ve written about several times in the past, whether concerning fraternities (still strongest in the legal profession, and a core constituency of some candidates such as the Vice President), or the two periods of social transformation, i.e. World War II and Martial Law, or even the gerrymandering of the national territory; the relationship between politics and business; leading, however, to fears over the loss of social mobility.

Here is a bullet point version of the above:

  • Politics has been our biggest failure as a nation.
  • We are faced with a political system increasingly useless, out of synch with the modern world.
  • While our institutions are modern in form and concepts, the underlying concept is different: things are highly unequal, and patronage is built on powerlessness and poverty.
  • No long-term vision; only short-term vested interests.
  • We look for patrons because we do not trust legal systems to be fair. The ordinary Filipino has an ambivalent attitude towards the law, either an hostile or predatory attitude, a legacy of colonialism. Ten percent of Filipinos have participated in rallies; but the overwhelming majority has taken part in civil disobedience.
  • We do not assert our rights, we steal them.
  • Instead of being a burden, politics should be a tool for long-term survival and growth.
  • Leaders have to be competent, qualified, not merely popular.
  • Personal integrity and trustworthiness are important… but not enough… authentic leaders create new ways… superior in achieving collective goals.
  • The paradox of modernizing politicians:to achieve change, it cannot be done from outside; one must secure a foothold within, to effect change; but then, one risks being swallowed up by the system one is trying to change.
  • People are growing in numbers but are also growing more sophisticated as they imbibe new values from abroad; and yet Filipinos abroad do not immerse themselves in the politics of their host countries.
  • There is also a higher percentage of those with education, made possible by new money from relatives working overseas. These people are not hospitable to traditional politics; but have yet to become organized and still feel powerless.
  • In the short term, this changing attitude and frustration feeds crises.
  • The Middle Class in this country does not believe in elections, they believe in coups. They are impatient.
  • And yet, the boldest initiatives in the past 50 years have come from the Middle Class, from whose ranks even the leaders of the Left have sprung.
  • The current Crisis of Modernity is also driven by the bifurcation of the Filipino elite:  ”Moderates” who want to shield the government from capture by vested interests versus “Traditionalists” who want to preserve the existing captivity of the system to vested interests
  • We know what we want but it takes time to figure out why things don’t turn out that way.
  • And yet Filipinos are know throughout the region for Organizing Abilities.

Consider the above, and how these insights correspond to our society’s views and expectations of the presidency.

IV. The Presidency and the Crisis of Modernity

Even in 1953, the Philippines Free Press in an editorial foreshadowed the argument Randy David has been making, see Politics: Means and End:

But politics is the art of government and government is not a game. It is, especially in times such as ours, in a revolutionary age, a matter of life and death. The need to establish a regime above personalities, a government of laws instead of men, cannot be exaggerated. In a rule of law alone lies social stability. Those who are for chaos may welcome a personal regime; those who are for order know the need for an impersonal government.

Today, politics as a game is being played with the same fine recklessness that Quezon played it, but viciously. His heirs have his faults without his virtues; he went far but they would go too far. His private conscience drew the line beyond which it would be dishonorable for a public official to go, a line which only an impersonal law should draw. He did not overstep the line, for he had a conscience. His heirs have none and the law may be too weak to draw it for them.

So the crisis presents itself in the candidates and what they are against, as much as what they are for. Rizal put it, tal pueblo, tal gobierno; he might as well have said, tal pueblo, tal candidato –for however much nation-builders have tried, we are still many sub-nations. As recently posted on Facebook by Alvin Campomanes:

Sa isang lumang jeep, biyaheng Quiapo. Napansin ko ang Duterte sticker ng driver sa tabi ng lalagyan ng barya (yung may nakasulat na “atin ‘to pre” at may kamao).

Manong, Duterte kayo?
Oo, Duterte tayo ser.
Bakit po?
Para bumalik ang disiplina. Kasi ang tao ngayon nasobrahan sa laya, wala nang takot sa batas. Matigas ang ulo. Dapat kamay na bakal uli parang kay Marcos.
Ah, eh bakit ho kayo naninigarilyo sa jeep, alam niyo namang bawal?
Minsan lang naman, ser, tsaka wala namang humuhuli sa akin.

And the gun as absolute veto –well, it has its own inherent dangers, as a Free Press editorial (“If,” August 23, 1986) once pointed out. Referring to Marcos, it argued,

He was able to terrorize and rob the Filipino people as he pleased, to the extent he wanted, and he never ceased wanting. This is intelligence? This is what those who collaborated with his regime called brilliance, turning away from those who opposed his regime. Isn’t the better part of valor prudence in the face of such a master intellect? Al Capone ruled Chicago for years and there was nothing the U.S. government could do all that time except, finally, get him for income tax evasion. Capone ruled – robbing and killing at will – so, he, like Marcos, was brilliant? Anybody could be “brilliant” – with a gun. So, Marcos was brilliant – at the start. He did not have a gun, then: martial law enforced by the Armed Forces of the Philippines with his Number 1 hood, Ver, as chief-of-staff. Then, martial law! Brilliant he was, okay, or just cunning, unprincipled, a thinking son of bitch? All right, brilliant Marcos was. But the intellect deteriorates not meeting real challenge. The gun makes all challenge ineffectual. The mind becomes dull. Absolute power does not only corrupt absolutely, it stupefies. There is no need for intelligence when the guns serves. The blade of the mind rusts. Absolute power brings absolute stupidity. Such is the lesson of all dictatorships.

Of course the given is the inherent self-destructiveness when corruption is allied with brute force. Would tempering the aspect of greed make it more acceptable? This is the proposition being made, or assumed, by those yearning for an iron fist to solve the country’s problems. The underlying message is that not only is life cheap, but that those in the periphery are expendable if they challenge not just life and liberty, but property. Without benefit of law, or even a limit on force being the monopoly of the institutions of the state (instead, local executive discretion operates in an ill-defined and thus, unappealable, area outside the military, police, or the courts).

Again, this is nothing new. For example, during the FQS in Diliman, the counter-story were the residents who formed gangs to hunt down the students. More recently, recall the disagreement between Jesse Robredo and the then-Mayor of Makati over the “clearing” of informal settler colonies.

To close the circle, consider, though, that even as he breaths fire and talks tough, he often qualifies what he says, for legal cover or to secure maximum publicity while assuming a minimum of accountability. From these interviews alone, see: Rappler (here and here), Davao Today, Edge Davao, PDI (here and here) and DZMM, one could chart the tough talk and the wriggle room for one’s self, as follows:

(1) Duterte Contradictions

(2) Duterte Contradictions

(3) Duterte Contradictions

So the takeaway will be tough; the finer points can blur into the backfground but provide useful cover later. Sounds like a recipe for success?

But who is to say that a war on Algebra and Trigonometry, or on smoking and drinking (particularly drinking!) or a nationwide curfew, will be great vote-getters. Or that considering appointing Jose Ma. Sison to a cabinet post can compensate for bragging about liquidating or causing the liquidation of people (without really being pinned down on whether it’s an assertion of fact or merely bluster). There is a fine line between making a splash in the headlines and becoming a parody of one’s self.

But the tiger’s out of the cage –how long can he ride it?



Dec 11

Antonio Luna: A timeline of readings (ongoing)





Recently, I came across the Heneral Luna Study Guide, which is an interesting effort to engage teachers.

I am sharing a timeline I have compiled of key events and accompanying literature on the life of Antonio Luna. Some of the items in the timeline came from The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War. The purpose of the timeline is to add additional readings, from the perspective of friends, critics (and enemies) and historians, on Luna and his times.

Events and trends placing events in Luna’s life in context are in italics. 

See also Part I, Part II, and Part III of a Graphic Timeline of the Philippine-American War, from the Presidential Museum and Library. See also The Philippine-American War.


October 29

Antonio Luna is born.


January 20

Cavite Mutiny.



In The Roots of the Filipino Nation, O.D. Corpuz writes:


The reports during the period also refer to an incident that occurred in Pangasinan in May 1884. The official story was that the pueblo officials of Santa Maria, Binalonan, and Urdaneta conspired to lead a group of bandits to sack one of the towns, and that the disturbance was speedily quelled.

If Buencamino’s testimony is correct, the investigation and trial were “rigged.” He claims that the alleged insurrection was simulated by the Dominican friars. They sent out incriminating letters to Filipinos in places as far apart as northern Luzon to Tarlac, Bulacan, and Nueva Ecija, the letters bearing Novicio’s name. For good measure they “warned” the civil government of the supposed insurrection. In other words, it was a frame-up.[1]



Maternal uncle of Antonio Luna implicated in revolt. As Raquel A. G. Reyes wrote in Love, Passion and Patriotism: Sexuality and the Philippine Propaganda,

The family of Juan and Antonio Luna fell under suspicion after their maternal uncle had led a short-lived uprising against Spanish rule in the provinces of Pangasinan and Nueva Ecija, and the 19-year-old Antonio had been briefly incarcerated in Manila’s Bilibid prison.[21]



Luna goes to Spain. The exceptional abilities of the two brothers was recognized even by their enemies. Here is an extract from a truly scurrilous book, written from the perspective of the Spanish religious orders.

In The Katipunan, Francis St. Claire wrote:

NOTE 10. Antonio and Juan Luna were two of four brothers. The former was a bacteriologist, the latter an artist who at one time, whilst he followed the instruction and remained under the guidance of his master, showed no little talent. Antonio went to Spain in ‘88, and later on passed to Paris where he lived with his brother Juan who supported him. There he devoted himself to the study which made him famous; this he did in the laboratory of Dr. Roux. He became an assistant editor of the Solidaridad, the official organ of filipino freemasonry, and wrote many vicious articles in its columns over the pseudonym of Taga-Ilog. As a member of the freemason fraternity, he was known as Gay Lussac.

On his return to Manila he established for a livelihood a school of fencing, and like the vain, insensate “magpie in borrowed plumes” that he was, he once sent his seconds to a Spanish officer, inviting him to a duel![6]

October 16

Antonio Luna writes to Mariano Ponce. This letter would be used as an exhibit in Rizal’s trial in December, 1896:

Madrid, October 16, 1888, to D. Mariano Ponce.

My dear friend Mariano:

–Rizal has very well said of Lete that he does not serve for big enterprises. Consult with him concerning the designation of Llorente as director of the paper. Rizal knows them both; he also knows Llorente’s capacity and is very intimate with him, because both are young men of sterling value and Rizal has a very good opinion of Llorente. Ask him for advice and heed well what he tells you. Tell him that I have induced Llorente to accept the position of director.

–An embrace, and take the matter to Rizal for his advice.

Thine, Antonio.

–P. S. Tear this letter up after noting its contents. Send me immediately Rizal’s London address.[23]


From the memoirs of Luna’s good friend, Jose Alejandrino:

In that year (1889) there appeared in the newspaper “El Pueblo Soberano” of Barcelona certain articles signed by its editor and owner, Mir Deas, lambasting “Taga-Ilog” for his criticisms of the Spanish customs expounded in his book “Impressions”, which articles Antonio Luna was answering from Madrid. The controversy reached a point, if I remember well, where the editor of “El Pueblo Soberano” included all the Filipino people in his attacks.

This Mr. Mir Deas, whose name Luna changed to Mier Das (Spanish for excreta), was one who had resided for a long time in the Philippines, writing in the local papers. Protected by the immunity afforded them by the state of things at that time, he and Barrantes, Quioquiap, Retana and others took pleasure in reviling continuously the entire Filipino people in their writings.

Luna needed very little to arouse his anger and this time he had more than enough reason to get really mad; consequently, he wanted at all cost to avenge the offense done to him and all those of his race. He therefore insulted even us for refusing to point out Mir Deas to him.

Upon Mir’s refusal to accept a duel, Luna became more furious, and we resolved not to leave him alone when walking in the city. I slept in the same room with him, and I was careful to keep him company at all times. One morning, however, I woke up greatly startled upon seeing the bed of Luna vacated so early. I looked for him in all parts of the house and, not finding him, I dressed up in a hurry and proceeded to the Rambla de las Flores (a promenade in the city) where I was almost sure I would find him. There indeed he was, walking alone up and down the Rambla de las Flores and the Rambla de los Pajaros brandishing a rattan cane with that ferocious face which he used to wear when in bad humor and which face earned for himself among his intimates the nickname “cafre”. Upon seeing him I asked him, ”What are you doing here, Antonio?”

And he answered, “ I am looking for Mir Deas.” I asked him again, “How do you expect to find him when you do not know him?”

To this he replied, “Well, I am looking for anyone who to me looks like Mir Deas to mangle down.”

I tried to calm him down, advising him to have a little more patience because soon we would indicate Mir to him, and he would have occasion to punish him properly.

Mir Deas refused absolutely either to make the demanded retraction or to fight, and, finally, the seconds, despairing that Mir would not give satisfaction for the offense which he had caused us, decided to tell Luna who he was, taking him to the Cafe de los Cristales on Plaza Cataluña where he was found writing on one of the tables. From the door of the Cafe they indicated to Luna where Mir was and Luna, without committing himself to the protection of either God or the devil, went toward the offender, spitting on his face. But not even this insult which was done publicly made Mir fight; instead, he wrote another insulting article in the newspaper “El Diluvio” (The Deluge). Luna and ex-Secretary Apacible sent their seconds to the editor of the paper and the author of the article, but both refused to accept the challenge on the pretext that they were not agreeable to the principles of the duel. One of the seconds sent was Mariano Ponce.

Later on, for the satisfaction of the Spaniards who sympathized with our aspirations, the Filipino colony in Barcelona submitted the writings of Luna to a jury composed entirely of Spaniards, among whom was Señor Junoy — editor of “La Publicidad” of Barcelona who later on occupied a prominent place in Spanish politics. This jury decided that the writings of Luna were not insulting to the Spaniards as a people but were solely a criticism of some customs which many Spanish writers themselves had also criticized.[2]


Context for the above can be found in The Roots of the Filipino Nation, in which O.D. Corpuz writes:

Antonio Luna was involved in an “affair of honor” in 1889. It started with his article “Impresiones Madrileñas de un Filipino” (La Solidaridad 31 October). The piece began with him fantasizing about Spain the mother country, Madrid its capital, and then the Puerta del Sol, the latter’s magnificent hub and main plaza, when he was on board ship in the China Sea on the voyage to Europe. In Madrid Luna’s Malay features were conspicuous; the people called him “Chino” or “Igorot” – there had been some Igorots brought for exhibition in the 1887 exposition. In the main his impressions of the city expressed disappointment; but if the piece was critical, it was not much different nor more severe than criticisms of the city by Spanish writers. Luna warned Filipinos against being disenchanted. In his closing paragraph he advised readers that “his pictures were realistic” and that he did not use “shadings and medium tints.” He signed as Taga-ilog.



This supplement ended with an Epilogue: how Mariano Ponce was secretly denounced to the authorities as allegedly publishing clandestine books. Rumors and talk of sedition spread in the city and were published in the press, but an official investigation established that the denunciations were groundless.[1]



The editorial ins and outs, and relationship between the writers of La Solidaridad is summarized by O.D. Corpuz as follows:

He had sent a letter with this suggestion to Del Pilar in June 1889. He informed the latter that Antonio Luna was ready with a series of articles for the SOL; Luna would not use any pseudonyms.

Let us abandon pseudonyms and adopt a new policy, the policy of valor and true solidarity. The paper is becoming important; imagine if the articles are signed by Blumentritt, M. del Pilar, Jaena, Luna, etc. Our countrymen, upon seeing our courage, upon seeing not the courage of one but of many, on seeing that Rizal is not an exception but the general rule, will take courage and lose their fear.


The exiles generally wrote to each other in Spanish; Rizal had to use German with Blumentritt and sometimes Tagalog with Ponce and Del Pilar. In 1890 Antonio Luna, Alejandrino, and Edilberto Evangelista were studying at the University of Ghent; they occasionally corresponded with Rizal in French. The two Lunas were fencing aficionados. Antonio became a staff writer of La Solidaridad. He wrote under the pen name “Tagailog.” His pieces tended to be fiction, nostalgic themes characteristic of the love-struck Filipino swain such as kissing in Filipinas, affairs of love, his lady teacher in the pueblo, and so on. For a time in 1891 he was producing the paper almost single-handedly. He was back in Filipinas by 1892 but did not join the Katipunan because he thought that it was premature; he was tricked later on by the friars into betraying some of his old colleagues. He was arrested and sent to prison in Spain. He returned in July 1898 to join the Revolution and became the most admired but controversial general during the second phase of the Revolution and Filipino-American War.


A. Luna was rather more cosmopolitan than the other Filipinos in Madrid. His brother Juan lived in Paris, so that he spent some time in the French capital, and he was the principal staff writer on the 1889 universal exposition in Paris as well as on the political status of colonies in the French system. He also wrote lead articles and political pieces every now and then. He contributed many pieces for the “Arts and Letters” section.


By September the SOL was in shambles. Antonio Luna wrote Rizal about the plight of the staff: “the recompense for our labors is the ruin of our future; we are easily made to serve as a facade so that others plunder behind the screen – in short, the exploitation of man by man.” He hints darkly at financial irregularities. Where does the money that is said to have come from Manila go? “There are grand mismanagement, unnecessary trips, total unconcern; initiative is gone; the campaign is dead. This is total suicide.” The work is passed on to him: “Today I have had to write four articles because neither Del Pilar nor Naning does absolutely anything.” The management of the SQL is absolutist; “it is worse than that of the State.” Luna is bitter and tells Rizal that he is about to leave the SOL.

Luna’s hints on financial irregularities in the SOL appear to have been confirmed in November. Moises Salvador wrote that some 700 pesos in the custody of the editor were to be turned over to Rizal. The turn over of the money was agreed to by the old Manila committee upon petition of the fund donors. But the turnover could not be effected; Salvador was disgusted; he cited obstructions raised; he decried these as unspeakable, referring to them as “events that have no name.” [1]

Rizal challenges Luna to a duel.


See my North Borneo (Sabah): An annotated timeline 1640s-present. In Under Three Flags, Benedict Anderson writes:

Rizal’s first plan for resolving, or evading, these contradictory pressures was to form a settlement for his family and like-minded friends on the bay of Sandakan in what is today the east Malaysian federal state of Sabah. Geographically, it was as close to the Philippines as one could get—250 miles from Jolo, seat of the once-powerful Muslim sultanate of Sulu, still restive under loose Spanish overlordship, and a little over 600 miles from Manila. The same distances separated Havana from Miami, and from Tampa, where Marti was recruiting revolutionaries among the Cuban tobacco-worker communities. Politically, too, it could seem promising. The northern littoral of Borneo was, in the 1890s, a very peculiar Conradian place. On the western portion lay the kingdom of the so-called White Rajahs, founded by the English adventurer James Brooke in the 1840s, and under London’s hands-off protection from the 1880s. The residues of the once-powerful sultanate of Brunei occupied a small niche in the middle, while the eastern portion, including Sandakan, was governed after 1882 by a private business, the British North Borneo Chartered Company. Better still, in 1885 the Spanish had been induced to abandon any quasi-legal claims to the territory deriving from the shifting suzerainty of Jolo. Hence, while Hong Kong was under the suspicious eyes of the Spanish consul and the Catholic Orders’ local branches, Sandakan was free of both. It is not surprising, therefore, that some of Rizal’s more fiery comrades in Europe, such as Evangelista and Antonio Luna, dreaming of Marti’s Florida, were enthusiastic about the planned settlement. Some time in January 1892, Luna wrote to Rizal in Hong Kong that “Borneo sera un Cayo Hueso para nosotros, y muy probable sea yo tambien uno de sus habitantes, si las circunstancias me obligan” [Borneo will be for us a Cayo Hueso (Bone Reef, phonetically garbled by the Americans into Key West), and it is very probable that I will become one of its denizens, if circumstances make it necessary].[1] On the other hand, Sandakan also promised an unbadgered life for Rizal’s family, and for the novelist himself, his library and his writing.[2] He also hoped that many of the dispossessed people in his hometown Calamba would also join him in this Bornean sanctuary.[3]

At the end of March, Rizal made the first of several visits to North Borneo after preliminary negotiations with the British North Borneo Charter Company’s representative in Hong Kong. Initially, the prospects seemed quite rosy. Rizal was offered 5,000 acres of uncultivated land rent-free for three years, with the possibility of eventual purchase at a low price. The British North Borneo Charter Company, eager for settlement in a very sparsely populated region, further accepted that the Filipino community would be run by its own members according to their own customs, and be subject neither to corvee nor to unreasonable taxes. But within a few months the whole project started to collapse. Rizal began to realize that he could not raise anything close to the money needed to get the little colony going. Furthermore, populating it would require the agreement of the Spanish to a substantial migration. Rizal wrote to the new Captain-General explaining that he wished to settle down quietly with family and townspeople, but Despujol was not persuaded. An emigration on this scale would put his government in a bad light; besides, the conservative press in Spain would be likely to view it as the start of a Bornean Tampa just out of Manila’s political and military reach.[4]

Rizal’s alternative, more alarming for his family, was to create the first legal political organization for Filipinos in the Philippines itself. What this plan amounted to is difficult to determine. No document in Rizal’s own hand survives. Virtually all the written evidence, often contradictory, comes from testimony given to, or extracted by, police interrogators and torturers…

The same book contains this interesting exchange of letters:

[1]Cartas entre Rizal y sus colegas, pp. 771-2. The whole letter is of great interest, since Luna was highly intelligent. He told Rizal he was heading back to Manila to work for independence. “Para todo eso sera preciso mucho studio, mucho tacto, prudencia y nada de alardes de ser fuertes… Con constancia y silencio seremos unos jesuitas para plantar una casa donde pongamos un clavo. Ofrezco, pues, en este sentido mi concurso, pero con la sola condicion de que podre desligarme de la campan?a active si viera que sera solo un motin… Creo que me comprendes bien, si nos vencen que cueste mucha sangre. Ire, pues, a Manila y en todos mis actos tendre siempre presente mi deber de separatist. Nada de desconfianzas, si las circunstancias me colocan al lado de los espan?oles en Manila, peor para ellos: me ganare la vida e ire minando el suelo a costa de ellos hasta que la fruta este madura, Teneis ya, pues (si non vuestras ideas estas), un satellite por aqui que trabajara con constancia.” [But this will require much study, much tact, prudence, and no empty boasting about our strength… With constancy and silence we will be like Jesuits, etting up a house for which we have a key. So, in this sense, I am offering you my assistance, but with the single condition that I can disengage from the active campaign if I see that it will be nothing more than a mutiny… I believe you understand me well, that if they win, it will cost much bloodshed. In any case, I am leaving for Manila, and in all my actions my duty as a separatist will always be before my eyes. No suspicions: if circumstances place me at the side of the Spaniards in Manila, so much the worse for them. I will earn my living and continue mining the land to their cost, until the fruit is ripe. You will have, then (if these ideas are also yours), a satellite on the spot who will work with constancy.]

[2] Touchingly, Rizal wrote thus to Blumentritt on January 31, 1892: “Wahrend ich aus meine Amtspflichten ausruhe, schreibe ich den driten Theil meines Buches auch in Tagalisch. Es wird sich nur um Heimlich tagalischen Sitten die Rede sein, nur um tagalischen Ubungen, Tubungen, und Fehler. Leider dass ich es nicht auf Spanisch schreiben darf, den ich habe einen sehr schonen Gegenstand im kopfe gefunden; ich will einen Roman nach den modernen Sinne des Wortes erdichten, kunstlich und litterarisch. Diesmal will ich die Politik und alles den Kunst aufopfern; schriebe ich es auf Spanisch, so warden die armen Tagalen, denen es gewidmet, nichts davon wissen und doch die haben es am moisten nothing… Doch est kostet mir viele Muhe den viele von meinen Gedenken konnen sich nicht frei ausdrucken, sonst muss ich neologismes einfuhren; ausserdem mir fe[h]t die Ubung in Tagalisch zu schreiben.” [While resting from my professional labors (as a doctor), I am writing the third part of my book in Tagalog. It will deal solely with Tagalog customs, [i.e.] exclusively with the habits, virtues and defects of the Tagalogs. I feel I cannot write the book in Spanish now that I have found a beautiful theme; I want to write a novel in the modern sense of the word, an artistic and literary novel. This time I would like to sacrifice politics and the rest for the sake of art; if I write in Spanish, then the poor Tagalogs, to whom the work is dedicated, will not understand it, even though it is they who most need to do so… The book is giving me a lot of trouble, as many of my thoughts cannot be freely expressed without the need to introduce neologisms. Besides, I lack practice in writing Tagalog.] The Rizal-Blumentritt Correspondence, 1890-1896, unnumbered pages from p. 431. This third novel was never finished. What little there is of it has been carefully reconstructed by Ambeth Ocampo in his The Search for Rizal’s Third Novel, Makamisa (Manila: Anvil, 1993). Rizal gave up writing it in Tagalog after twenty manuscript pages, and reverted to Spanish. Makamisa means “After Mass,” and the text, focused on the townspeople of Pili and their Peninsular parish priest, returns to the satirical costumbrista style of Noli me tangere. Perhaps this is why he gave up on it, or maybe he concluded that he could not go beyond El Filibusterismo. In any event, after mid-1892 he seems to have abandoned any idea of further novel-writing.

[3] It will be recalled that it was Rizal who had strongly urged the tenants and townspeople of Calamba to take the Dominicans to court, and pushed the case right up to the Supreme Court in Madrid. As already noted, when the vengeful Order won the case, and Weyler, in addition to burning houses, forbade the recalcitrants to reside anywhere near Calamba, Rizal was devastated and felt enormously guilty for the suffering he had brought on his hometown.

[4] The comparison between Sandakan and Tampa is, in one sense, unwarranted. The British had no designs on the Philippines, whereas powerful groups in the United States had had their avaricious eyes on Cuba for some time. But the contrast may have seemed less obvious in the 1890s than it does today. It is hard to imagine Antonio Luna and Edilberto Evangelista promising from Europe to join Rizal in: Sandakan if they expected no more from it than a chance to grow vegetables and read some books.[3]


From Vivencio Jose’s The Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna, this declaration by Luna:


“The propaganda for assimilation is necessary but more active should the separatist propaganda be, because we shall not obtain the first (i.e. assimilation) and even if we did (which is almost impossible) we would be worse off than ever; the practical thing is to seek adherents in order to shake off the yoke of Spain. I want to make clear therefore, what is in my mind: that we must work for independence, organizing ourselves, converting ourselves into apostles in order to gain men and money. For all this much study is necessary, a great deal of tact, prudence and no boasting of our strength… I offer therefore my services, in this sense, but with the sole condition that I shall be allowed to disengage myself from the active campaign if I see it will only be an armed riot. It is not that I dream of success, rather I dream of a resistance for which you understand me well enough; if they triumph over us let it be at the cost of much blood. I shall go then to Manila and in all my acts always keep in mind my duty as a separatist.”[4]

Rizal, in his essay, “The Philippines a Century Hence”:

All the petty insurrections that have occurred in the Philippines were the work of a few fanatics or discontented soldiers, who had to deceive and humbug the people or avail themselves of their powers over their subordinates to gain their ends. So they all failed. No insurrection had a popular character, or was based on a need of the whole race, or was fought for human rights or justice; so it left no ineffaceable impressions … when they saw that they had been duped, the people bound up their wounds and applauded the overthrow of the disturbers of their peace! But what if the movement springs from the people themselves and based its causes upon their woes?[5]


In The Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna, Vivencio Jose writes the view of the Spanish religious orders:

NOTE 70. The idea that the Liga was but an introduction to the Katipunan is not borne out by the facts of the case. The Liga Filipina was a foundation of Rizal, whilst the Katipunan was a conception of Pilar who, finding Rizal was carrying all before him, determined not to be outdone by his former companion. The very fact of the enmity existing between the two leaders is proof enough that the two societies were not one and the same thing, although after their foundation they walked arm in arm. The Liga, as an association, was eventually dissolved, and from it was formed the Compromisarios (see Note 63) and this body continued its functions till the outbreak of the revolt. The vicissitudes of the Liga did not lessen Rizal’s influence. Ever ready to tell a lie or act one if it were to his own advantage, Rizal permitted the free use of his name in connection with the Katipunan also. To the vast majority of the oath- bound, the Katipunan was but the Liga under another form; and in order that the people should not know of the rivalry existing between himself and Pilar, Rizal gave no signs of disfavor towards the foundation of the new society; in fact he rather favored it, seeing that under the circumstances it would make him figure as its “hero” and he would thus be enabled to take the wind out of Pilar’s sails. The only objection raised by Rizal to the work of the Katipunan was that which he made to Valenzuela: that the time had not yet come for armed rebellion.[6]

In The Roots of the Filipino Nation, O.D. Corpuz writes,

Rizal regarded the Revolution in its wholeness. A revolution would entail a contest of arms that, if successful, wins national liberty. But fighting is only part of the revolution; the other part is the building of civic structures to establish the justice that the people had fought for. To Rizal the Filipino Revolution was a struggle to win both liberty for the nation and, after victory, to ensure that the masses who fought in battle are governed by civil institutions that promise a just and lawful society.

There is an old Filipino saying: “Someone does the cooking, but somebody else does the eating.” Rizal’s view of the Filipino Revolution was that it was to be a struggle of national regeneration and not merely a transfer of political power from one dominant class to another dominant class. If his manifesto were to be taken at face value it must be read as saying that the Revolution was premature because it was at best uncertain whether the common people, who would do the fighting, would be the beneficiaries of the liberty that victory would yield. But it would be against the evidence of Rizal’s life and writings, and of the admiration and respect in which he was held by the Filipinos of his time, to say that he was against the Revolution, because he was a defender of “upper class interests.”


We have suggested that the exodus of the young Filipinos and their waging of the Propaganda abroad indirectly delayed the outbreak of the Revolution at home. Had Lopez Jaena, Arejola, Ponce, Alejandrino, Evangelista, Serrano, the Lunas, Salvador, Ventura, Llorente, Bautista, Apacible, Canon, Sandico, Del Pilar, Rizal, and others among the exiles stayed home during the 1880s, or come home earlier, say by 1890, the inevitable fight with the friars would have ruptured the fragile peace long before 1896.

In addition to the evidence already shown, that some of the important men of the Propaganda abandoned reformism, note must be taken of those who came home and became prominent in the Hongkong Junta, the Revolution, and the FilipinoAmerican War. Sandico and Apacible were “hawks” when Aguinaldo and the Junta were exploring the probable relations with the United States in early May 1898. Mariano Ponce served as Aguinaldo’s secretary in Hongkong. Canon, Evangelista, Sandico, Alejandrino, Llorente, and of course Luna, became generals in the Revolution. Numerous others served in the Malolos Congress and Republic. [7]



In The Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna, Vivencio Jose writes:

At the time of the organization of the popular Supreme Councils, Bonifacio was chosen president of the Council of Trozo; but in consequence of internal troubles occasioned by his rebelliousness, the Supreme Council decided to dissolve the local Council. Bonifacio, true to his colors, disregarded this order and continued working on his own account, taking upon himself the faculties of the Supreme Council.

He preserved in a case which was found in the warehouse of Messrs. Fressel and Co. the organization of the “Filipino Republic” which was to be, as well as a number of regulations, codes, decrees of nominations, etc., all drawn up in Tagalog.[6]


Jose Alejandrino recalled:

On my return in 1895, we renewed our intimate friendly relations, which relations Mamerto Natividad and Moises Salvador took advantage of by requesting me to transmit to him Rizal’s advice that Luna be asked to join the K.K.K. as an intermediary between the rich and educated class and the proletariat which constituted the great majority of the members of the Katipunan. Luna refused to join the movement, alleging that it was yet premature.[8]

March 20



Manila, March 20, 1895


My very dear Friend:

Enclosed is the letter in answer to your proposition to help “El Globo” so that you can show it to Don Miguel;[1] also enclosed is a bill of exchange in the amount of $100.

The reasons stated in the letter are only too true, and not invented. And they are so true that neither Ariston[2] nor anyone of us dares talk to Don Pedro Roxas, and much less to Limjap.

With respect to the bill of exchange, we haven’t yet been able to increase our remittance, despite all our efforts, as we are well aware that the $100 monthly is not enough to cover the pressing needs of the delegation.

We deeply regret our inability to give neither a long and detailed description of the Regional Exposition nor only a light sketch of it because nobody is in charge of this work. In the first place, none of our friends is used to this kind of work and, secondly, more or less each has his own tasks. You can cite me as an example. Even if I make a great effort, the work may still turn out badly, and my health may become the worse for it, because I shall have to study hard to be able to give a story of the Exposition.

Luna (Antonio) does not like to take charge of the work unless we give him a monthly remuneration of thirty pesos, something which we cannot promise him lest we cannot keep the promise. In truth, there are four kittens of us moving around here, which cannot do anything without help from others.

Despite the pessimism reflected in the previous lines, we still retain, the hope we had of the first days, firmly believing that without struggling it is not possible to mould real men. Besides, we try our best to show how we manage the funds in the hope that, sooner or later, our friends will understand that honesty still exists.

And, please do not think that the obstacles I have stated reflect on you, no. On the day we come to understand it that way, we shall be the first to let you know without beating around the bush, because then, our campaign would have become indefensible. I am just saying this to you because on similar occasions you seemed to have read in my words a meaning that was far from what I intended to give them.

Receive the embrace of all and, in particular, of your affectionate


[1] Don Miguel Morayta.

[2] Ariston Bautista.



In  A New History Of Southeast Asia, M.C. Ricklefs,Bruce Lockhart, Bruce, and Albert Lau wrote:

The Katipunan ballooned from 15,000 to 30,000. In July 1896, however, the organization was betrayed to a priest in confession. The authorities thereupon raided a printing shop where they found printing blocks for the Kalayaan, other paraphernalia, and a list of members. The Guardia Civil then arrested suspects, who were forced to identify other members.[11]

In The Emergence Of Modern Southeast Asia- A New History, Norman Owen writes:

Bonifacio sought unsuccessfully to attract ilustrados, including Apolinario Mabini, Antonio Luna, and, most important, Rizal himself, to his Katipunan. He then decided to implicate them through forgery, hoping that Spanish repression would achieve his goals. He succeeded. A friar, discovering the revolutionary plot — supposedly during confessional, though this seems unlikely — reported it to Spanish authorities, who moved to arrest the conspirators. As the police swept across the city searching for Katipunan members. Bonifacio and his supporters fled to a Manila suburb where he issued a call to open rebellion, known today as the “cry of Balintawak,” and they tore up their hated cedulas (identity papers).

Spanish heavy-handedness accomplished Bonifacio’s goal. Rizal was brought back to Manila and tried for treason, because the Spanish believed he was “the principal organizer and the very soul of the Philippine insurrection.” Rizal, who considered the Katipunan plan “disastrous,” was convicted after a sham trial and publicly executed. Many years earlier, Rizal had written, “The day on which the Spanish inflict martyrdom on our innocent families for our fault, farewell, pro-friar government, and perhaps, farewell. Spanish Government.” Rizal’s execution forged an alliance, albeit fragile, between the ilustrados and Bonifacio’s rebels. Hatred of the Spanish unified many Filipinos of every social class. Some years before Rizal had noted: “A numerous, educated class, both in the archipelago and outside it, must now be reckoned with… It is in continuous contact with the rest of the population. And if it is no more today than the brains of the nation, it will become in a few years its whole nervous system. Then we shall see what it will do.”

In his prison cell Rizal wrote a “Manifesto to Certain Filipinos,” reiterating that the education of the people was a prerequisite to liberty. Noting that without education and “civic virtues,” Filipinos would not find “redemption,” he stressed that reforms, if they were to bear fruit, would have to “come from above,” because reforms from below would be “violent and transitory.” In spite of this cautionary’ note and his professions of loyalty to a Spain that he still hoped might govern justly, he was shot on 30 December 1896, ensuring the very revolution he had hoped to avoid.”[12]

In John Schumacher’s, review of Vivencio Jose’s The Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna, he writes:

Though this book was apparently written before the publication of my Propaganda Movement, its failure to situate Luna within the organized nationalist activity of the Filipino activists in Europe makes Luna’s activities during this period seem rather unconnected and gives little idea of the progressive evolution of his thought. Nonetheless, Jose does make clear that, contrary to the efforts of some historians to portray the Propaganda Movement as merely a reformist, assimilationist movement, there was a radical separatist group, including Luna, Rizal, Edilberto Evangelista, Jose Alejandrino, and others not alluded to here. Whatever they may have been forced to say publicly, some of the Propagandists had already resolved, at least by the early 1890s, on definitive separation from Spain. What is not explored here, however, is how early Luna set himself on such a course, and how he related his ideas to the differing strategies of Rizal and Del Pilar, both of them likewise aiming at ultimate separation from Spain. This failure to explore the nuances of the Luna-Rizal separatist approach vitiates to a great extent the discussion on Luna’s relation to Bonifacio’s Katipunan and the Revolution of 1896. To attribute Luna’s refusal to support the premature revolt by Bonifacio to his ‘middle class thoughts’ or to the typical attitude of ‘the wealthy Filipinos’ is to ignore how correct Luna was when he rejected, not the Revolution, but an unprepared and insufficiently armed revolution, which could only eventuate in military disaster, as Bonifacio’s total military failure rapidly showed. The criticism of Luna for refusing to support the ill-prepared revolt of Bonifacio seems inconsistent with Jose’s later (and to this reviewer, more correct) praise of Luna for his strenuous and often-frustrated efforts to organize a disciplined army, operating according to careful plans and making use of military science and discipline, instead of Aguinaldo’s haphazard collection of ‘clan armies’ based on personal local and provincial loyalties and wishing to fight “with bared breasts” rather than prepare trenches and breastworks…”[13]

In The Roots of the Filipino Nation, O.D. Corpuz writes,

There is additional material about the Katipunan having been exposed or discovered before August 1896. Jose Alejandrino, back home from Europe in 1895, says that Moises Salvador and Mamerto Natividad asked him to get Antonio Luna to join the society. This was in accordance with a suggestion of Rizal to Valenzuela. But Luna believed that the revolutionary movement was premature. Even so, he was among those arrested and interrogated in the round-up after the uprising. Luna made a statement dated 12 November 1896 wherein he said that on 18 or 20 July he had told his supervisor in the government laboratory (Luna was a pharmacist-chemist) that there were secret societies organized to rise against the regime, “so that he could report it to the Governor-General.” The latter summoned him “on the 2nd or 3rd August” and he repeated what he had told his supervisor, adding that the rich and prominent classes did not join the societies, which were plebeian. Luna’s testimony confirmed what the governor-general had known for months.


Blanco’s secret measures, already semi-public since the printing house episode of July, were no longer secret. The Revolution was forced to begin.[14]



In  A New History Of Southeast Asia, M.C. Ricklefs,Bruce Lockhart, Bruce, and Albert Lau wrote:

In August 1896, under Bonifacio’s leadership, the Katipuneros decided to start the Revolution by seizing Manila. To break their ties with Spain they tore up their identification papers and shouted Mabuhay ang mga anak ng Bayan! (‘Long live the children of the nation!’). The assault failed, and expected reinforcements from Cavite never arrived. Bonifacio and other survivors retreated to the southern mountains, but news of the assault mobilized Katipuneros in Nueva Ecija and Bulacan to take up arms. Katipuneros of the two bickering councils of Cavite – Magdalo and Magdiwang – easily captured Cavite province. Landowner Emilio Aguinaldo, the Magdalo head, earned renown as a general, but Magdalo towns fell to the Spaniards, endangering the Magdiwang-heId towns to the rear.

The outbreak of the Philippine Revolution made life more difficult for the Filipino elite. To force them to join the revolutionaries, Katipuneros implicated some of them. Among the 4000 whom the Spanish arrested and imprisoned were many Ilustrados; some were executed and a number were deported. To escape persecution, others demonstrated their loyalty to the colonial government by donating money to the Spaniards and enrolling their sons as officers in local Spanish militias. But many members of the elite, especially in the provinces, concluded that – as in 1872 – wealth, status, and education were ineffective weapons against the declining Spanish empire. Quietly they joined and assumed leadership of various councils of the Katipunan. Their mestizo culture and Ilustrado worldview thereby pervaded and changed the orientation of the organization.[16]

In “Socioeconomic Class in the Revolution,” John Schumacher writes:

III. The Katipunan and the Revolution[17]

Surely the key role of the Katipunan in initiating the Revolution cannot be denied. However, the Katipunan had not arisen solely from the ideas of Bonifacio. It was, in fact, the heir of the Propaganda Movement, too easily dismissed as an ineffective “reform movement.” There were to be sure, propagandists who sought nothing more than the assimilationist reforms their public program called for. But for its key figures — Rizal, Marcelo del Pilar, Antonio Luna, and others — there is no question that independence was the ultimate goal. The principal difference between Bonifacio and the major ilustrados of the Propaganda Movement was not even on the method of obtaining independence, but on the timing. The writings of Bonifacio and Jacinto mirror those of Rizal and Marcelo del Pilar, and the Katipunan’s official teachings are quite in continuity with the major works of the Propaganda Movement.

It is for this reason that though the initiative for the Revolution certainly came from Bonifacio and his Katipunan, once the Revolution began, it immediately attracted to itself a far larger number who had never been Katipuneros, but had imbibed similar ideas through the writings and activity of the Propagandists. In his memoirs Aguinaldo cites his cousin Baldomero Aguinaldo, speaking to the revolutionaries in Cavite of how there had been only 300 Katipuneros in that province on the eve of the Revolution, but the following day more than a thousand revolutionaries assembled. It was part of Bonifacio’s tragedy that he did not, or was unwilling to, realize that the Revolution was already a much wider movement than the Katipunan, and that there were others besides the Katipuneros who were legitimate heirs of the Propaganda Movement.

As the analysis of the Katipunan has shown, the actual initiative for the Revolution of 1896 came from a lower middle class urban membership allied with local and provincial elite, almost completely in the Tagalog provinces and Pampanga. It is not true, however, that the wealthy and educated took no part in it.

The national elite, not themselves part of the Katipunan, varied in their support for the Revolution once it was underway. Some of them, like Rizal and Antonio Luna, had been approached beforehand by the Katipuneros, but, though not rejecting revolution in principle, had argued that the means for a successful revolution were not yet at hand. Numerous figures of the old Liga Filipina or Cuerpo de Compromisarios, like Mabini and Moises Salvador, were arrested on suspicion by the Spaniards, and most were executed, however little or much had been their complicity in the actual revolt.[1] Others of the national elite, about to be arrested, escaped abroad and assisted the revolutionaries from Hong Kong, like Jose Alejandrino, Felipe Agoncillo, and Galicano Apacible.[2] Still others who were in Europe when the Revolution broke out, returned to take part in it, like Mariano Ponce in Hong Kong and Edilberto Evangelista, who was killed in the battle of Zapote Bridge in 1897.[3]

Many of the very wealthy national elite, however, neither believed in the revolutionary cause nor were they willing to contribute to it. In consequence of Bonifacio’s having left to the authorities forged documents compromising them, some of them, like millionaire Francisco Roxas, who had refused to listen to the Katipunan’s demands for financial support, nonetheless paid with their lives.[4]

To summarize, elite attitudes to the Revolution of 1896 were varied. Though wealth was certainly a factor which was negatively correlated with willingness to join the Revolution, age was a more important factor than wealth by itself. The young ilustrados, wealthy or not, who had taken part in the Propaganda Movement, were generally found joining the Revolution; the older men who had held aloof from that movement, likewise held back when the Revolution came.”

[1] Mabini, who escaped execution only because of his paralysis, had been a regular source of advice for the Katipuneros, but opposed their plans for revolt and became suspect to Bonifacio as a result. See Agoncillo, Revolt, pp. 105, 107. Salvador is said to have actually been a member of the Katipunan, but was arrested before he could join the revolt (Jose Alejandrino, La senda del sacrificio [Manila: Nueva Era Press, 1951], p. 29).

[2] *Ibid., pp. 51-64; Esteban de Ocampo and Alfredo B. Saulo, First Filipino Diplomat: Felipe Agoncillo (1859-1941) (Manila: National Historical Institute. 1978), pp. 67-69; Encarnacion Alzona, Galicano Apacible: Profile of a Filipino Patriot (n.p., 1971)

16 September:

Luna brothers arrested

Antonio Luna tortured, and in the process “cried hysterically,” (this is the description of Quibuyen):

No soy rebelde, ni mason, ni filibustero; al contrario, soy delator y creo haber cumplido como hijo leal de España. … El Kutipunan es la Liga Filipina. … Su autor es D. Jose Rizal …. Vuelvo a repitir: No soy rebelde, ni fiibustero, ni mason. –(Arch. Fil., IV, 199 [19]; cited in Guerrero 1963, 522, note 24)

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino wrote how Luna implicates Masons:

“It appears in official documents that in this period Luna committed the greatest error of his life in denouncing the existence of the Katipunan and in revealing, during his imprisonment after the first outbreak of the rebellion, the names of some of his friends affiliated with the Society. Later, he explained however to me his aforesaid acts by saying that with the physical and moral tortures which he suffered during his imprisonment, and upon being assured by the Spaniards that he had been squealed upon by his own friends, denouncing him as an accomplice in the rebellion, his violent character made him lose his better judgment. And having fallen for the scheme woven by the Spaniards, he declared that those who had denounced him were more guilty than he.

The events of 1896 separated us from each other, he having been prosecuted and later on sentenced to suffer imprisonment in Spain, while I left the country for China and Japan.[18]

In The Katipunan, Francis St. Claire writes:

What Spain did for the Filipino brought forth fruit in only a few of the people who fell under her beneficent Christian influence. The Lunas were among the few. They like so many other ungrateful children, repaid their benefactors by becoming leaders of the insensate and inexcusable revolt against them; a revolt, the first act of which was to be the brutal murder of all Spaniards irrespective of parentage or other claims of consideration. Both the brothers suffered arrest by the Spanish authorities for rebellion and sedition, but in spite of the degree to which they were complicated, they remained practically free from punishment, and ever at the right hand of the imbecile General Blanco, himself a freemason, and friend of the enemies of his country. Eventually the two brothers left the ante-chamber of the Governor to enter the security of the military prison.

Both brothers eventually retracted their errors only to fall into them again as soon as the lying protests of repentance had fallen from their lips.

Juan died in Hong-Kong; Antonio, after a career of militarism, succumbed to the same unprincipled ambition which carried Andres Bonifacio to an untimely grave.[19]


January 11, 1897

Numeriano Adriano, lawyer (under whom Mabini had served as assistant attorney); Domingo Franco, merchant; Moises Salvador, propagandist; Antonio Salazar, owner of bazaar El Cisne; Faustino Villarael, Pandacan merchant, executed –allegedly after being implicated by Luna. Alfredo Saulo suggests that the fate of Adriano left ill-feelings on the part of Mabini towards Antonio Luna.

February 1897

Luna incarcerated in Model Prison, Madrid.

May 1897

Luna obtains clemency from King Alfonso XIII of Spain.

Upon release, Luna begins study of military science.


April 21, 1898

Spanish-American War begins.

Early May 1898

In The Roots of the Filipino Nation, O.D. Corpuz writes,

In addition to the evidence already shown, that some of the important men of the Propaganda abandoned reformism, note must be taken of those who came home and became prominent in the Hongkong Junta, the Revolution, and the Filipino-American War. Sandico and Apacible were “hawks” when Aguinaldo and the Junta were exploring the probable relations with the United States in early May 1898. Mariano Ponce served as Aguinaldo’s secretary in Hongkong. Canon, Evangelista, Sandico, Alejandrino, Llorente, and of course Luna, became generals in the Revolution. Numerous others served in the Malolos Congress and Republic.[20]

May 1, 1898


Dewey defeats Spanish fleet in Manila.

Some years after this, in his “Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands”, Felipe Buencamino said:

“Mr. JONES. At that time had not Admiral Dewey placed in the hands of Aguinaldo arms with which to fight the Spaniards?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. No, sir. The occurrences I have already related at the last meeting. The Spanish commander at Cavite capitulated to Admiral Dewey. Immediately thereafter, after the destruction of the Spanish squadron, and on May 1, 1898, the Filipinos entered the city. Admiral Dewey informed the Filipinos he had not come to fight the Filipinos, but they could enter and go out of the city of Cavite as they pleased, and the Filipinos who entered the city found there some rifles abandoned by the Spaniards and took those arms away with them. But there was no formal delivery of arms by Admiral Dewey, because on that date Aguinaldo was not there yet. Aguinaldo arrived there on the 19th of May and those arms were gathered on the 1st day of May.”[22]

May 2, 1898

In the “Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands”, Felipe Buencamino said:

“Mr. JONES. Did you not upon the return of Aguinaldo to Cavite go to him for the purpose of inducing him to take up arms for Spain as against the United States, and did not Aguinaldo indignantly repudiate the proposition?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir; that was my mission.

Mr. JONES. Did not Aguinaldo convince you on that occasion that the Filipinos, with the aid of the American forces, were going to win, and did you not then become an ardent advocate of Filipino liberty and independence?

Mr. JONES. Did not Aguinaldo convince you on that occasion that the Filipinos, with the aid of the American forces, were going to win, and did you not then become an ardent advocate of Filipino liberty and independence?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. When I men Aguinaldo on the 2nd of May, 1898, I was not permitted to speak of my mission by Aguinaldo. I was informed only that he, Aguinaldo, came to establish the independence of the country with the assistance of Admiral Dewey. I then asked him to present to me the documentary evidence, promising if he would do so I would join them, first writing to the Spanish general, but Aguinaldo did not produce this documentary evidence, and then I told him I did not agree to the proposition because, as I told Aguinaldo, of the Spanish motto or saying, “Between a nation unknown and a nation known the nation known is preferable.” I did not know the Americans; I did not know what they might be. I was acquainted with the Spaniards; consequently it was my duty to be on the Spanish side.

Mr. JONES. And you did then go to Aguinaldo at Cavite for the purpose of inducing him to abandon the Americans and to side with the Spaniards against the American forces; that was your mission?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. There were no American forces as yet at that time, nor had Aguinaldo any troops yet, but he was going to organize troops, and before he organized them I was trying to get him to join the Spaniards, and I repeat the saying to which I have just called attention.”[22]


To add context to the above, Victor Buencamino, in his memoirs, writes this about his father:

AND YET, FROM ALL accounts, Father should have had no regrets. I’d be mighty proud and consider myself fortunate if I had had a chance to play, as he did, such a billing among stars in the epic drama of his generation.

A lawyer from Sto. Tomas, he was counted among the so-called ilustrados (elite) of the period who, by reason of their education, were engulfed in the upheaval that demanded the active participation of the intellectuals of the day.

Historians note that he was among the elite whom the last Spanish governor general enticed into joining a so-called Consultative Assembly that would run an autonomous regime but still under the Spanish crown. It was a desperate ploy to try to save a sinking ship. Anyway, it is recorded that Father was chosen by Captain General Augustin as emissary to General Aguinaldo with an offer of autonomy plus top military rank for Aguinaldo at some fancy salary.

Not only was the offer rejected; Aguinaldo detained the emissary and later persuaded him to serve as one of the braintrusters of the revolution. So, when Aguinaldo formed his first cabinet following the declaration of Independence in 1898, Father was named Director of Public Works.

It is also recorded that Father was among the key figures at the Malolos Congress; that, in fact, he was credited with having composed the flamboyant prose that Aguinaldo read as the first inaugural address of a Philippine president.

In the turbulent episode which saw Apolinario Mabini relieved as premier by Pedro A. Paterno, my father was given the portfolio of the secretary of foreign affairs.  [68]

May 10, 1898

Secretary of the Navy John D. Long issued orders to Captain Henry Glass, commander of the cruiser U.S.S. Charleston to capture Guam on the way to Manila.

May 11, 1898

President William McKinley and his cabinet approve a State Department memorandum calling for Spanish cession of a suitable “coaling station”, presumably Manila. The Philippines were to remain Spanish possessions.

May 11, 1898

Prime Minister Sagasta formed the new Spanish cabinet. U.S. President McKinley ordered a military expedition, headed by Major General Wesley Merritt, to complete the elimination of Spanish forces in the Philippines, to occupy the islands, and to provide security and order to the inhabitants.


May 19, 1898

Emilio Aguinaldo returned to the Philippines, from exile in Hong Kong. The United States had invited him back from exile, hoping that Aguinaldo would rally the Filipinos against the Spanish colonial government.

In the “Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands”, Felipe Buencamino said:

Mr. JONES. At that time had not Admiral Dewey placed in the hands of Aguinaldo arms with which to fight the Spaniards?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. No, sir. The occurrences I have already related at the last meeting. The Spanish commander at Cavite capitulated to Admiral Dewey. Immediately thereafter, after the destruction of the Spanish squadron, and on May 1, 1898, the Filipinos entered the city. Admiral Dewey informed the Filipinos he had not come to fight the Filipinos, but they could enter and go out of the city of Cavite as they pleased, and the Filipinos who entered the city found there some rifles abandoned by the Spaniards and took those arms away with them. But there was no formal delivery of arms by Admiral Dewey, because on that date Aguinaldo was not there yet. Aguinaldo arrived there on the 19th of May and those arms were gathered on the 1st day of May.[22]

May 22-24, 1898

Buencamino goes to Aguinaldo:

Mr. JONES. What time in May was it that you went to Aguinaldo on this mission?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. I went there on the 22nd of May, but was received on the 24th, in the evening.

Mr. JONES. Then you went to see Aguinaldo on the 22d day of May for the purpose of inducing him to side with the Spaniards against the Americans and in June of that same year you abandoned the Spaniards and went over to Aguinaldo?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. I did not abandon the Spaniards; the Spaniards abandoned me, because the Spanish general in Cavite, who had 1,600 men under him and munitions of war and provisions for six months, surrendered to Aguinaldo without firing a shot, saying that they did not defend the cause of Spain in the Philippines, but the cause of the friars. I could not be more Spanish than the Spaniards; as for example, if the Americans should abandon the Filipinos now I could not defend the Americans there.

Mr. JONES. Then you did not abandon the Spaniards until they had surrendered to the Filipinos, and, as you say, they had abandoned you?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir. I was kept seventeen days a prisoner of Aguinaldo,

from the 22nd of May to the 12th of June, and only when I saw I was abandoned by the Spaniards I passed over to Aguinaldo.

Mr. JONES. Then you became an ardent advocate of liberty and independence for the Filipino people, did you not?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir; in view of Admiral Dewey’s promise.[22]

May 24, 1898

With himself as the dictator, Emilio Aguinaldo established a dictatorial government.


May 25, 1898

First U.S. troops were sent from San Francisco to the Philippines. Thomas McArthur Anderson (1836-1917) commanded the vanguard of the Philippine Expeditionary Force (Eighth Army Corps), which arrived at Cavite, Philippines on June 1.

May 28, 1898

The war commenced:

Mr. JONES. After the war commenced on the 28th of May, four days after you had gone there for the purpose of inducing Aguinaldo to side with the Spaniards, which side did you take?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. I was on the Spanish side. On the side of my people, because Aguinaldo did not then represent my people, unless you understand that there are no Filipino people except Aguinaldo.[24]

June-October 1898

U.S. business and government circles united around a policy of retaining all or part of the Philippines.

June 2, 1898

Felipe Agoncillo, President of the Hong Kong Junta, recommending Luna for appointment in the army.

June 12, 1898

German squadron under Admiral Diederichs arrives at Manila. Philippines proclaim independence. Mabini arrives. As Buencamino later testified, he, too, joins the cause:

Mr. JONES. How long after that was it before you cast your fortunes in with Aguinaldo?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. On the 12th day of June of the same year.[26]

June 14, 1898

McKinley administration decided not to return the Philippine Islands to Spain.

June 15, 1898

Admiral Cámara’s squadron received orders to relieve Spanish garrison in Philippines.

American Anti-Imperialist League was organized in opposition to the annexation of the Philippine Islands. Among its members were Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, William James, David Starr Jordan, and Samuel Gompers. George S. Boutwell, former secretary of the treasury and Massachussetts senator, served as president of the League.

Admiral Dewey’s defeat of the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay on May 1, 1898 ignited impassioned nationalistic feelings in Spain. Spanish Admiral Manuel de la Cámara y Libermoore’s squadron received orders to relieve the Spanish garrison in the Philippines. His fleet consisted of the battleship Pelayo, the armored cruiser Carlos V, the cruisers Rápido and Patriota, the torpedo boats Audaz, Osado, and Proserpina, and the transports Isla de Panay, San Francisco, Cristóbal Colón, Covadonga, and Buenos Aires. (Library of Congress, The World of 1898: the Spanish-American war)

June 23, 1898

Revolutionary Government Established.

Alejandrino stated:

We played a secondary and very humble role in the Dictatorial Government and, seeing the state of inaction to which we were being doomed, we requested as a special favor that we be permitted to study the terrain over which we believed the war would be staged with more vigor. This was the territory along the Manila-Dagupan railway. The Government acceded gladly to our petition. Armed with recommendations to the chiefs who commanded the lines, we proceeded to Malabon and Kalookan. After making a study of the terrain, we decided that the line from Kalookan to Novaliches was a good line of defense along which should be dug strong trenches.[27]

July 1898

Luna arrives in the Philippines. Alejandrino meets Luna:

We were able to see each [other] again in Kabite toward the month of July, 1898. He was returning home after having served his sentence in the Model Prison of Madrid, and he brought with him in his baggage books on military strategy and tactics and treatises on field fortifications. Above all, he brought with him a desire to atone for his past mistakes.[27]

July 18,  1898

The Spanish government, through the French Ambassador to the United States, Jules Cambon, initiated a message to President McKinley to suspend the hostilities and to start the negotiations to end the war. Duque de Almodóvar del Río (Juan Manuel Sánchez y Gutiérrez de Castro), Spanish Minister of State, directed a telegram to the Spanish Ambassador in Paris charging him to solicit the good offices of the French Government to negotiate a suspension of hostilities as a preliminary to final negotiations. (Library of Congress, The World of 1898: the Spanish-American war)

July 23,  1898

In The Roots of the Filipino Nation, O.D. Corpuz writes:

An important development in the army was the appearance on the scene of Antonio Luna. He was in Hongkong in. July 1898 on the way home after his release from prison in Madrid. Felipe Agoncillo, Aguinaldo’s representative there, thought well of him, entrusting him with twenty revolvers and thirty-five boxes of bullets plus a letter dated 23 July, all for Aguinaldo. The letter reported that Luna “earnestly desires to serve our country…” [28]

July 25, 1898

General Wesley Merritt, commander of Eighth Corps, U.S. Expeditionary Force, arrived in the Philippines.

July 30, 1898

U.S. President McKinley and his Cabinet submitted to Ambassador Cambon a counter-proposal to the Spanish request for ceasefire.

In  The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, Brian McAllister Linn writes:

On 30 July 1898, he [Aguinaldo]  authorized each Tagalog province to create a battalion of provincial forces which would join three new “Aguinaldo” regiments of federal troops and form the Republican Army. At the same time, he continued to encourage the continued formation of revolutionary Sandahatan, town companies, independent battalions, and other units which drew their strength from local or personal loyalties.[29]

August 2, 1898

Spain accepted the U.S. proposals for peace, with certain reservations regarding the Philippines. McKinley called for a preliminary protocol from Spain before suspension of hostilities. That document was used as the basis for discussion between Spain and the United States at the Treaty of Peace in Paris.

August 11, 1898

U.S. Secretary of State Day and French Ambassador Cambon, representing Spain, negotiated the Protocol of Peace.

August 12, 1898

Peace protocol that ended all hostilities between Spain and the United States in the war fronts of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines was signed in Washington, D.C.

August 13, 1898

Manila falls to U.S. troops.

August 14, 1898

Capitulation was signed at Manila and U.S. General Wesley Merritt established a military government in the city, with himself serving as first military governor.

August 15, 1898

U.S. General Arthur MacArthur appointed military commandant of Manila and its suburbs.

September 3, 1898

First issue of Luna’s newspaper, La Independencia, comes out.

In The Katipunan, again, writing from the point of view of the friars, Francis St. Claire wrote:

[1] La Independencia was a revolutionary daily of four pages, published in the Orphan Asylum of Malabon, property of the Augustinian Corporation and stolen and eventually destroyed by the “ever destructive” Tagalog rebels during the revolution. The first number was published on Saturday, 3rd Sept. 1898. Its leading article is an exposition of the purpose of the publication

September 13, 1898

The Spanish Cortes (legislature) ratified the Protocol of Peace.

September 15, 1898

The inaugural session of the Congress of the First Philippine Republic, also known as the Malolos Congress, was held at Barasoain Church in Malolos, province of Bulacan, for the purpose of drafting the constitution of the new republic.

September 26, 1898

Luna appointed Director of War with the rank of Brigadier General.

In The Katipunan, again, writing from the point of view of the friars, Francis St. Claire wrote:

During the second half of the rebellion of ’96, Aguinaldo offered Antonio the position of director of the War Department with the grade of General of Brigade. This honor, however, he declined. The Independencia, speaking on this incident, says: “The military knowledge of Sr. Luna, acquired during his captivity (sic) in the prisons of the peninsular (Spain), is to be found condensed in two small works, one concerning the organization of the army, having as its base the idea of obligatory service in which he demonstrates that Luzon might put on a war footing 250,000 to 400,000 men, and the whole Archipelago as many as from 800,000 to 900,000. The other work is a practical course in field fortifications as adopted by the French and German armies.”[1][15]

45 days later Luna will be promoted to General of Division with assimilated rank of Major General, third highest in military hierarchy.

In  The development of Philippine politics, Maximo Kalaw writes:

General Luna was, in the opinion of many observers, the ablest general of the revolution. He represented the well-to-do Filipinos who were indifferent to the revolutionary cause in 1896, but who in 1898 joined Aguinaldo with enthusiasm. Aguinaldo had at this time, as we have noticed, the almost unanimous support of the people. Yet complaints were sometimes heard among military officials as to the partiality shown by Aguinaldo for people who came from his province of Cavite and also for those who had been with him during the first revolution. These people were not necessarily the most intelligent of the revolutionary officials. In fact it may be said without fear of contradiction that, as a general rule, the later additions, like Generals Luna and Concepcion, showed greater military ability than the “deans and fathers” of the Philippine Revolution, as they were often called. It was rather mortifying for the new and more intelligent officers to be under the orders of officers less versed in military matters than they were. At the same time it was but human on the part of Aguinaldo to recognize the worth of men who had shown greater loyalty to the cause by joining it at the time when there were fewer chances of success. That Aguinaldo, however, was not entirely blind to great merit when real merit was in evidence, was shown by the rapid advance of General Luna.[30]

October 1, 1898

The Spanish and United States Commissioners convened their first meeting in Paris to reach a final Treaty of Peace.

October 25, 1898

McKinley instructed the U.S. peace delegation to insist on the annexation of the Philippines in the peace talks.

In the “Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands”, Felipe Buencamino said:

Buencamino: “General Luna was appointed lieutenant general of the army in October, 1898. He organized the entire army, but he was a very cruel, inhuman man in his command, because from that date, October, 1898, to June 5, 1900, when he died, he had ordered the execution of 160 persons, under the pretext of their being spies and traitors. His cruelty went to such extremes that when I was visited from Manila by my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, and my two sons, who are minors, and who are at present in San Francisco, he ordered them arrested and said that they were spies; and he also ordered the execution of Baron Dumarais, the French agent of the General Tobacco Company, of Manila, who entered our camp requesting an interview with Aguinaldo to treat on tobacco questions in the province of Cagayan, where many millions of dollars are invested in tobacco. By reason of these cruelties the public almost demanded his removal; but he was a very active and intelligent military man, a great patriot, and was very brave, and he had a large number of admirers among the military men. Aguinaldo objected to many of his orders, and that was the reason for the differences between them. Two bands were then formed within the Philippine army, one for General Luna and the other for General Aguinaldo.” [31]

Reviewing the outbreak of the Philippine-American War in February, 1899, Felipe Buencamino testified before the US Congress that preparations had begun in October, 1898, based on intelligence from Felipe Agoncillo:

Mr. BUENCAMINO. This is my conviction, and I maintain it up to the present time, for the following reasons: In the first place, because on that day, the 4th of February, as I was with Aguinaldo constantly, I knew that he had not issued any order for the beginning of hostilities. As 1 said before in my first statement, we received a telegram from Agoncillo in October, 1898, stating that we would be deceived by President McKinley and the American Congress, and consequently that we should make preparations for war. As I have already said, Aguinaldo and Luna began making preparations. Secret preparations were made in Manila to catch the American Army between two fires.

The CHAIRMAN. When did those preparations begin?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. In October.

The CHAIRMAN. What year?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. 1898. General Otis discovered the secret preparations in Manila and he ordered all houses searched and found more than 500 rifles; but we had more than 1,600 rifles hidden. Our engineer battalions and four cavalry troops were still to be organized before the orders to attack were to be given, and it is very possible that General Otis, before permitting himself to be caught between two fires, and knowing the decisive intention of General Aguinaldo to attack the American forces, took precautions in order not to see himself caught again, because the American forces were very small at the time and it was Luna’s intention to collect our 40,000 rifles and enter Manila, and for that reason I sustained the opinion; but I have not the evidence that the order to attack came from the American forces. Not as a political question, perhaps, but as a question of vital necessity.

Mr. JONES. You now speak of Aguinaldo and Luna commencing to make preparations with a view to organizing a force to oppose the Americans. On yesterday, when I asked you about these alleged preparations on the part of Aguinaldo, you said that you had never said that Aguinaldo made any preparations, and I asked you then whom you had said had made preparations, and you said that General Luna made them. Why is it now that you undertake to connect Aguinaldo with what you said yesterday he had nothing to do?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. You asked me yesterday if I said to anyone before I appeared before the committee that Aguinaldo had made secret preparations in Manila to attack the American forces. That is what I deny. I never, before I appeared here, made such a statement. I have never told any of Aguinaldo’s secrets, and if General Otis discovered them, he discovered them for himself. That is what I said yesterday. So there is no contradiction at all in what I have said.[31]

November 12, 1898

By a vote of 26 to 25, Malolos Congress approves article in draft Constitution providing for the separation of Church and State.

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

“Antonio [Luna] became also a member of [the Malolos] Congress …. Eloquent speeches from each group were pronounced but there never was a voting because both groups were afraid of the result of the balloting. Luna broke the situation with one of those tricks peculiar to his character and which made him famous later. He assembled all those delegates of the radical faction who had confidence in him advising them to keep away from the sessions of the Congress but requesting them to remain within call at a moment’s notice. With the radicals absent, the Conservatives constituted a majority during the sessions. Having made a careful counting and thinking themselves sure of victory, the Conservatives asked for a vote while the few radicals present registered a token opposition. The motion to call a vote was carried. Then at the precise moment of balloting, Luna immediately called all his advisers to enter the session hall en masse to the surprise of the confident Conservatives. The voting was taken and we won, if I remember right, by one or two votes. [In fact, they won by one vote.] In this manner [the] provision in our Constitution for the separation of the Church and State was secured.”[32]

November 25, 1898

In The Roots of the Filipino Nation, O.D. Corpuz writes:

On 25 November Antonio Luna y Novicio was formally appointed Director of War in the War Department by decree of Aguinaldo. The decree stated:

As Director of War, he is the Supreme Chief of the Army, after the General-in-Chief and the Secretary. The honors and military grade corresponding to him by reason of this office are those inhering in a General of Division…

A portion of this decree states that Luna preferred to remain a civilian although his rank in the War Department corresponded to that of a General of Division. Luna’s military career was colorful, ending in tragedy during the Filipino-American War. [35]

November 28, 1898

The Spanish Commission for Peace accepted the United States’ demands in the Peace Treaty.

November 29, 1898

The Philippine revolutionary congress approved a constitution for the new Philippine Republic.

Aguinaldo tenders his resignation as President.

In The Revolutionists: Aguinaldo, Bonifacio, Jacinto, Epifanio De los Santos writes:


In order to fully devote himself to military exploits, Aguinaldo decided to resign from the position of President. In 1896, he also wanted to revoke his responsibility as Commander-in-Chief of the Revolution and relinquish the post the to Engineer Evangelista, the hero of Zapote. On Christmas Day of 1899, he secretly issued a manifesto wherein he appealed to the people to relieve him of the presidency as a token of gift that day. The resounding news created agitation and consternation among the prominent military and civil officials. However, without Aguinaldo’s knowledge, the packages containing the manifestoes, long prepared for circulation, disappeared like magic. One could therefore foresee the impending tragedy; notwithstanding, the instinct of self-preservation and devotion to one’s ideal demanded retention of the unique and real prestige of the people. They could have their mutual complaints and dissensions but they would never argue with Aguinaldo. They believed that a complete revamp of the Cabinet, not the relief of Aguinaldo, was necessary. When the dictatorial government was established in 1898, the organizers of the Katipunan in 1896 expected some untoward events for the positions of greater responsibilities were not entrusted to them. Nevertheless, an advice of Aguinaldo was enough to pacify them. According to Mabini, the withdrawal of the revolutionary forces from the suburbs of Manila would not have suffered the humiliations of a retreat if it were of Aguinaldo’s prestige and not at the behest of the American Military Government. When General Luna apprehended Paterno and Buencamino as pacifists in Cabanatuan, Aguinaldo’s intervention was enough to make Luna return and report at Bayambang to facilitate Buencamino’s capture in that place (May 25, 1899).

The national tragedy began on February 4, 1899, the day when the Filipino-American hostilities broke out.[33]

December 10, 1898

Representatives of Spain and the United States signed the Treaty of Peace in Paris. Spain renounced all rights to Cuba and allowed an independent Cuba, ceded Puerto Rico and the island of Guam to the United States, gave up its possessions in the West Indies, and sold the Philippine Islands, receiving in exchange $20,000,000.

In“Lo que decimos,” in La Independencia, Luna said:

Oh people! Die defending your independence and the sanctity of your homes. Shed your blood and do not give less now that the Motherland demands from you the invaluable offering of your life. Forward! God and men applaud your conduct and consecrate your right: they shall be the impartial judges in this titanic struggle brought about by foreign arms and avarice… Forward! Conquer or die! “

21 December: President McKinley issued his “Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation, “ ceding the Philippines to the United States, and instructing the American occupying army to use force, as necessary, to impose American sovereignity over the Philippines even before he obtained Senate ratification of the peace treaty with Spain. [34]

December 27, 1898

In The Roots of the Filipino Nation, O.D. Corpuz writes:

By 27 December 1898 General Antonio Luna reported that all the provinces of Luzon; the islands of Mindoro, Marinduque, Masbate, Ticao, Romblon; part of Panay island; and the Batanes as well as Babuyanes island groups were under the control of the Revolutionary Government. As we can see from the progress of the Revolution in the Visayas, even the Luna report was not complete.[35]


February to November of 1899

Conventional War Operations; in November, 1899: shift to Guerrilla Operations.

January 1899

Emilio Aguinaldo was declared president of the new Philippine Republic, following the meeting of a constitutional convention. United States authorities refused to recognize the new government.

January 21, 1899

The constitution of the Philippine Republic (the Malolos Constitution), was promulgated by Emilio Aguinaldo.

In The Revolutionists: Aguinaldo, Bonifacio, Jacinto, Epifanio De los Santos writes:

On the other hand, when there was a conspiracy to oust Mabini as President of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, Aguinaldo extended full support in his favor. Mabini won.** He also upheld Mabini’s opinion to the end regarding the retention of Spanish prisoners contrary to General Luna’s contention of being “a burden against the exchequer and a very cumbersome impedimdent.”

Although the Malolos Constitution dropped Mabini’s Program, it may be said that it was not at all worthless. It was neither a mere piece of legislation like the multicolored cape of Tirabeque nor a consequence of the malicious influence of the ninth article of Mabini’s True Decalogue. It was precisely a type of revolutionary anarchy after the demobilization of forces as mentioned by Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista, for the popular suffrage contained in the Malolos Constitution was already provided in the organic decree of June 18, a retrospection of the constitutional conjectures made on October 31, 1896. It showed traces of the war undertaken by Edilberto Evangelista, the hero of Zapote; Emilio Jacinto, the brains of Katipunan; the Sanguniang Hukuman; and the council of elders of the ancient Tagalogs; the woman’s suffrage, and while the English language is sufficiently taught and learned throughout the Philippine Archipelago, and will then be declared the official language, in the meantime however, Tagalog will remain. They are all anticipated in the Program we are now discussing. Article 5, Title 3, concerning the separation of the Church and the State, was not the ardent love of the framers of the Malolos Constitution, especially of Felipe C. Calderón who drafted it, although, the latter had represented the interests of the Filipino clergy inside and outside of Congress and had been the Director of El Católico Filipino.[1] Moreover, he was with Mabini and Aglipay on this question. If the provision for the separation of the Church and the State had garnered a vote, it was because of the military influence of General Luna as a leader and director of the popular La Independencia which was known as a separatist newspaper; and for this reason, two of its undisputed clergy-concerned editors did not attend the convention. Pablo Tecson resolved the tie. Besides being a separatist, he knew Aguinaldo, Luna and the La Independencia had supported his vote. After having won in the voting, the separatist group became complacent, hence, their restless opponents were able to convince Mabini to interpolate an additional article with some modifications of his famous amendment, suspending the implementation of Article 5, Title 3, until the next meeting of the constituent Assembly. The consent of the National Assembly on this insertion was off the record; nevertheless, it was indicated in the officially printed Constitution.

In spite of adverse events, the Malolos Constitution, although provisional, was commendable. Calderón, who always consulted Don Cayetano Arellano relative thereto, was very much inspired by his colleague, Dr. Joaquín Gonzales, one of the most industrious and cultured Filipinos who was subsequently appointed Director of Civil Service. Like any of other Constitution, it was unanimously approved inside and outside of Congress. Mabini after giving his approval to “the judicious opinion of our beloved country”, said:

…that this monumental work is the most glorious achievement of the noble aspirations of the Philippine Revolution and the conclusive proof before the civilized world of the cultured and capacity of the Filipino people to govern themselves.

This Constitution was decreed by the following delegates:”

** Aguinaldo nominated Mabini Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but the influential members of Congress, led by Paterno and Rianzares Bautista, opposed Mabini’s election ot the Tribunal. Aguinaldo gave in. Mabini cannot be said to have won, as E. de los santos says. – T. A. A.

[1] E. de los Santos was an appointed member of the Malolos Congress and was, therefore, familiar with many of its members and with the “goings-on” in the Chamber – T. A. A.[33]

 January 23, 1899

Luna becomes Commanding General of the Philippine Army.

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

General Luna, by virtue of the order he received, left immediately for Malolos in a special train. After a conference with the Captain General who was the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, he received from him an order to lead the troops guarding the Kalookan line. The order, however, was ambiguous, as was true of all orders emanating from Malolos, in such a manner that this command resulted in being almost nominal only.[36]


February 4, 1899

The Philippine-American War began as the Philippine Republic declared war on the United States forces, following the killing of three Filipino soldiers by U.S. forces in a suburb of Manila.

Luna assumes post of chief of operations in Luzon.

In The Development of Philippine Politics, Maximo Kalaw writes:

As soon ‘ as hostilities began between Americans and Filipinos, Luna was appointed commander-in-chief of the Filipino forces in Central Luzon, where most of the fighting was done. The poor preparation of Aguinaldo’s forces was manifest during the first weeks of the campaign and some military observers believe that if General Luna had been put in charge of the preparation of the army before the opening of hostilities, the Filipino army might have been able to offer better resisting qualities. [30]

In La Revolucion Filipina, Mabini writes:

Only after the outbreak of hostilities, when the telegraph line had already been cut, did he [Aguinaldo] 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. [37]


In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

On a certain occasion, while we were sitting in front of a lunch served better than the usual ones, Luna, who was in good humor, called Garcia and asked him if he was ready to disturb the digestion of the enemy general who, according to intelligence reports, was staying in the house of Higgins and must be at that precise moment also eating. Garcia with his “Very well, my general” which still rings in my ears like the laconic and smiling sayonara of the Japanese whenever they are sent on a dangerous mission, took with him some of his men and, after the very time when he should be at the place to which he was ordered to go, we heard short but lively exchange of shots from the lines. Luna, upon hearing the shooting, could not help but exclaim: “It is a pity that there are not many Garcias!” I believe that there is a providence for the brave because Garcia returned without injury from that exploit.

Luna was of an impulsive temper, violent in his passions and with an inexorable heart when he believed it convenient to lay down his iron hand. He was a samurai by instinct, incapable of abandoning a comrade in moments of danger, and ready to do anything within his power to reward valor and to mitigate the sufferings of a soldier who complies with his duty. So long as acts of service were involved, he did not take into account either friendship or family ties. He was gifted with a fearful courage and he considered it a dishonor to run in the face of any danger whatever it might be.[38]

In the “Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands”, Felipe Buencamino said:

Mr. JONES. Before you make that further statement I would like to ask you one or two questions, and then you will be permitted to make any statement or explanation which you desire, but I would much prefer that you answer my questions as briefly as possible before you make any statement or explanation. What authority had you for your statement contained in this memorial to Congress that the American forces commenced hostilities on the 4th of February, 1899, in accordance with the orders of President William McKinley?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. The authority of the council of Aguinaldo as I wrote that memorial, not as Felipe Buencamino, but as the secretary of Aguinaldo.

Mr. JONES. The memorial is signed “Felipe Buencamino,” not as secretary of Aguinaldo, or in any other official capacity. Why did you not sign it as secretary for Aguinaldo if you wrote it at his instance?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. If your memory does not fail you you will remember that I said the document was not authentic. In the authentic document in Spanish which I wrote my title appears as secretary of Aguinaldo, and that appears in the preamble in the English itself – that I wrote this at the command of my government, at that time Filipino.

Mr. JONES. I understand you to say that when this memorial was written you entertained exactly the sentiments and opinions expressed in it?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. It is my opinion that when I acted officially as secretary I did not express but the logic of the documents which were presented to me by Mr. Aguinaldo. Those documents were denied by Admiral Dewey, as well as by Consul Pratt at Singapore and by Consul Wildman at Hongkong, afterwards, and for those reasons nobody paid any attention to this document at that time, when some attention should have been paid to it. No American paid any attention to it at that time, and now there is a great deal made of it.

Mr. JONES. You attach to that memorial a number of additional documents which you declare in the memorial would sustain the statements which you had made. Are those documents authentic?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. They were given to me as authentic documents, but they were denied to such an extent that Consul Pratt brought a suit against Bray, Aguinaldo’s agent in Singapore, and the British tribunals in Singapore sentenced this Englishman for libel and to pay a fine of $6,000, which Agoncillo asked me, as secretary of state, to authorize him to pay.

Mr. JONES. Although you admit that you prepared this memorial to Congress, and that it correctly represents the views which you entertained at that time, you now say that you repudiate, for the reasons you have given, the whole memorial and its statements?

Mr. TAWNEY. Before he answers that question, has he said that the memorial correctly represents his views? Did he not say that it was written for Aguinaldo?

Mr. JONES. He said that it did represent his individual views and sentiments, and that he wrote it at the instance of Aguinaldo, and that he did entertain those views at that time. You have not, as I understand, translated the document?’

Mr. BUENCAMINO. I have read it.

Mr. JONES. You have read it?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir.

Mr. JONES. And it correctly expresses the ideas which you entertained at that time and which you intended by it to convey to the American Congress?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir; by reason of Admiral Dewey’s alleged promises.

Mr. JONES. Do I understand you to say that the original in Spanish had been sent to Hongkong to the junta there?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir.

Mr. JONES. Is the original in Hongkong now? Do you know where it is?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. I do not know. I suppose it must be there.

Mr. JONES. Why did you say then on yesterday, that you would like to be allowed, before testifying as to this, to send to Manila and get the original?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. I have a copy in Manila. It was printed in Spanish. But the original, signed by Aguinaldo, was sent to Hongkong.

The CHAIRMAN. The original was signed by Aguinaldo?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir; and for this reason: It would not have been accepted as authentic with my signature only. After my signature Aguinaldo put the word “authentic” and affixed his signature. These are some of Aguinaldo’s secrets.

Mr. JONES. The copy of that memorial which I have in my hand, and which I have shown to the witness, contains a note in these words: Official editions of this correspondence have been forwarded through the post to the presidents of both Houses.

Mr. BUENCAMINO. That appears there, but on the original, of course, it did not appear. The members of the junta at Hongkong were the ones to do that.

Mr. JONES. This seems to have been printed in Hongkong.

Mr. BUENCAMINO. That may be, but I have not submitted any English documents to the Hongkong junta, but a document in Spanish for transmission by the junta here.[39]

Mr. JONES. The notes of the stenographer will show, and I hope they will be properly transcribed. In this memorial these words are used: It is sometimes said that we are to blame for the outbreak of hostilities during the night of the 4th of February last, but this is not an established fact.

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir. For the attack of that night they were not to blame at all.

Mr. JONES. For the attack of that night the Filipinos were not to blame at all?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. That is my opinion.

Mr. JONES. It is also stated in this memorial: It is unquestionable that we were not aggressors, for we know full well that were we to act on the offensive we could look for neither military or political gain of any kind. On the contrary, we regarded such action as bordering on suicidal folly, and well-nigh sure to bring down on us the hatred and contempt of the American people. We had, in fact, nothing to gain and very much to lose by aggression. Did you write that statement, expressing your own views and those of your associates, or did you write it as expressing the views of Aguinaldo?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. I wrote that statement as expressing the views of Aguinaldo’s private secretary; not as a private individual.[40]

Mr. JONES. You said in this memorial: The only possible way to accomplish your object is to destroy the lives of 8,000,000 Filipinos, an act which would leave on the hitherto–

Mr. BUENCAMINO. I do not understand that question very fully.

Mr. JONES. You desire me to repeat the question.

Mr. BUENCAMINO. If you please.

Mr. JONES. This memorial addressed to the American Congress made use of these words: The only possible way to accomplish your object is to destroy the lives of 8,000,000 Filipinos, an act which would leave on the hitherto spotless pages of your glorious history and traditional liberality an everlasting and indelible stain. Now, what I want to know is, Do you still adhere to that statement, that the only possible way by which the American people can extend their sovereignty over the Philippine Islands is to destroy the lives of 8,000,000 Filipinos?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. That was the idea of the Philippine government at that time, but the true facts are that, beginning with Aguinaldo, all those who said they were going to die are still living.

Mr. JONES. And one of those still living is yourself, and you are enjoying a fat office under the American Government, are you not? And your associate, Aguinaldo, is now in prison

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Buencamino is alive, and he has admitted many times that he holds an office.

Mr. JONES. We know that Aguinaldo is alive and that he is now a prisoner.

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir; but I did not express my opinion in that case. There I expressed the opinion of Aguinaldo and one of the bravest men they had at that time. Consequently if I live now it is not because I surrendered. I was captured, and if I live now it is due to the humanity of the American Army, which should have shot me twenty times over. For this reason I esteem the American sovereignty now because I have understood it to be a very humane one.[41]

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

The great majority of the rich and educated elements who had been attracted to the cause of the Revolution during its successes were in no manner capable of following up in times of adversities. Neither were they imbued with enough self-abnegation and patriotism to stake their material interests and conveniences and, much less their lives, on the hazards of an arduous and unequal struggle. Undoubtedly, upon the outbreak of the war they were sincere in manifesting that all the Filipinos should fight to the end, but subsequent events demonstrated that their convictions were not deep-rooted. For hardly have they encountered the opportunity, they formed without any honorable exception the nucleus of the pro-annexation Federal Party which worked so hard to disarm by all means imaginable the men whom they themselves had encouraged to fight the war.


The enlightened class who came to Malolos in order to fill honorific positions which could serve to shield them against the reprisals of the people for their previous misconduct, flew away like birds with great fright upon hearing the first gun report, hiding their important persons in some corner, meantime that they could not find occasion to place themselves under the protection of the American Army. Only a few followed the Government in its odessey and, certainly, less enlisted in the army.

From the rich class neither could the country expect any efficacious aid, because in a reunion held in Malolos by the most distinguished financiers for the floating of domestic bonds, despite the fact that the one who appeared at the head of these Croesuses had subscribed for P50,000, but under a fictitious arrangement with the Government — I believe — just so such a large subscription might excite the patriotism of the others, the amounts subscribed were however very insignificant. Later on, I learned that many of those who had subscribed did not comply with their commitments, and that some of those who received deposits of the payments on these subscriptions had misappropriated them. Our ideas of probity and love of country must have been distorted, as these men whom the public point out with an accusing finger still enjoy the esteem and favors not only of the popular masses who have subsequently elected them to high positions of responsibility, but also of the highest society in the country.


Nevertheless, Luna did all he could to improve our situation, putting into practice the idea of constructing trenches in two strategic zones: the first beginning from Kalookan and ending in Novaliches and the second, a little to the north beginning from Hacienda Malinta and reaching the mountainous region to the east. In the Kalookan zone the works could not be constructed for being almost all of it under fire by the enemy artillery situated in La Loma which concentrated its fire wherever we began to construct the works. In the northern zone some work was done, but the constructions were not finished for lack of means and time.[42]

February 6, 1899

U.S. Senate ratified the Treaty of Paris by a vote of 52 to 27.

February 7, 1899

In The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes, Alfredo Saulo writes:

Luna ordered ‘the extermination of all foreigners regardless of sex or age for the purpose of showing the world at large that the United States was incapable of maintaining order in the Philippines or of defending foreign interests.[43]

February 9, 1899

Battle of La Loma lost.

n The Revolutionists: Aguinaldo, Bonifacio, Jacinto, Epifanio De los Santos writes:

In this unequal battle, the victory of superior fire power and proficiency in all types of warfare was already foreseen. The bravery and even personal courage could not be deciding factors. With pugnacious ardor, José Torres Bugallon reconnoitered the enemy’s front line; unfortunately, he died at the encounter at the La Loma Cemetery in the afternoon of February 5.

To give an idea of how Torres, Luna and their men fought, we quote hereunder a portion of Luna’s account:

“The train composed of forty coaches seemed to creep like a serpent, loaded with soldiers who filled the air with their joyful shouts as if they were celebrating fiestas and days of diversion. Where were they going? We did not know… To the battle front, where the cannons roar like thunder and the noise of bullet shots were deafening. Shall we be marching to death? What of that? We will fight for our independence and that is enough… We will be going happy and exhilarated as if we are going to a fiesta…

An hour before, I told Bugallon, the charming and brave young man,

“Finally they have acceded to my request. Come with me,” and he complacently answered,

“I’ll go with you, my…”

We brought six companies and upon our arrival at the Caloocan station, they requested two companies. Then they informed me that the situation in La Loma was very critical. It was necessary to go there come what may and whichever way. That sector was opened and thereupon it was necessary to attack or wait.

We marched towards the plains, through the sun-scorched fields, thinking of our soldiers in La Loma. Where are they? What will they do? Where will they attack?

We advanced and occupied the terrain. We tried to investigate everything around with binoculars. Nothing, …there was silence!

We then moved to the field fronting the Binondo Cemetery, towards the Chinese fort and cemetery, and with our knowledge of the location, we hurriedly advanced to reach the Chinese Hospital.

Commander Torres was beside me. We ordered deploy like guerrillas while our soldiers positioned at the rice field ready for the assault.

Suddenly, the enemies emerged from the left flunk of the Chinese Cemetery. Deployed in guerilla formation and in closed ranks, they proceeded towards Caloocan without any obstacle.

It was necessary to dispatch the troops at that moment, and so, with previous verbal orders, we heavily counter-fired within three minutes.

At the outpost were Torres, Lieutenant Tamayo, Captain Hernando and I. Torres stood up, gave the command and led his soldiers. While I was looking through the binoculars, I heard a piercing noise at y side as if a bamboo was split into pieces. Bautista, commander of a militia, fell dead. His body was riddled with bullets. As the enemies were firing at us without being seen, I deemed it wise to stop our shooting and coordinated with Torres. But, it was impossible to check the fusillage of our soldiers. Instantaneously, Pepe Torres approached me and reported in a hoarse voice:

“These soldiers don’t obey me.”

Then I went down the road considerably sprayed with enemy bullets and in the midst of heavy rain I tried to order Captain V. Natividad’s Company from Nueva Ecija to advance on instruction of Torres. In kneeling position, sheltered by a parapet behind the tombs, they started shooting at the enemies then deployed in front and at the sides. With a serene voice, our hero encouraged his soldiers until he was enraged by the smell of gunpowder and the sound of violent firing.

Then I told Tamayo:

“Tell your soldiers to shoot at one on horseback. He must be a chief.”

The battle continued at random; in half an hour there were 25 casualties on our side. The rain of enemy bullets caused many deaths; but then our soldiers in the Binondo Cemetery had ceased firing, so I decided to verify what happened. I met captain Hernando on the way.

When we were about to leave the cemetery, Lieutenant Colonel Queri informed me that Commander Torres was wounded and needed a stretcher.

Since nobody wanted to cross that road of death which was riddled with bullets, I decided to reach the outpost together with Lt. Col. Queri to supervise the evacuation of the wounded soldiers.

While Lt. Col. Queri and I were advancing, we saw Torres who was very pale with his disjointed right leg severely wounded, prostrate in a ditch by the road.

“Torres, Torres,” I told him. “That is nothing. Have courage and fortitude. We will go over there until you are safe.”

Then our hero, the intrepid Filipino, uttered these words which I will never forget:

“My… don’t expose yourself too much. Don’t advance anymore. Don’t advance any farther.”

Cmdr. Torres was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel right in the battlefield. His gallantry and indomitable spirit, that exemplary courage in facing enemy bullets, placed him on the highest level with Skobeleff and Prim.

As if electrified, Lt. Col. Queri and I arrived at the outpost to lead the soldiers. At that very moment, the bold Lt. Tamayo exclaimed:

“My… that man on horseback had fallen. I saw him.”

With binoculars, I was convinced of the brave official’s assertion while four fighters from Tarlac also fell dead.

Rest in peace valiant Torres, the hero of our Motherland, the bravest among the brave. In his memory, the Guerrilleros who entered Manila together with the 5th company from Malolos and Pampanga became the famous Torres Bugallon Guerilla.

He was a brave man, as General Luna attested, but McArthur occupied Malolos on March 31. It was expected that once the army was reorganized, Luna would defeat the invaders in Calumpit bridge, but he failed because his forces in Guagua were distracted in punishing Mascardo and also due to his intellectual over-confidence.[1] LeRoy stressed that “Luna’s personal chagrin was all the greater for he had advertised his position as impregnable, yet he had not even taken precautions against the dangers of a river across and below his position, so that his men mistook a contingent of crossing Filipino reinforcement for a group of Americans…”

When the Calumpit bridge, the key and port of entry for the invasion of Central Luzon, was captured, pitched battle was no longer feasible. However, taking advantage of the slow movement of the enemy, Aguinaldo mobilized his men and constructed the famous Paruao line, in order to check as much as possible the enemy’s invasion. The bamboo palisades were the original structure along this line. Aguinaldo wrote about its utility, delineating the standard plan with some graphic explanations. The bamboo palisades antedated the famous barbed wire entanglements successfully used during the Russo-Japanese war. The cited explanations follow:


The constructed purely bamboo barricade is to check the fast advance of the enemy; the first line is 100 meters from the trenches; from there to the second barricade is 50 meters. The chiefs stationed in the trenches will not fire until after the enemies had reached the third or rather the outpost. The said barricade was approved by the revolutionary leaders in Tenajeros: that they would not attack the enemy in three advances without first seeking another place for refuge, especially when they are formed in three ranks similar to this structure.

(Signed) E. Aguinaldo
13 October 1899

The defense line in the hills of Bamban, Tarlac, as far as Concepcion, was already penetrated. The improvements thereon by Aguinaldo was learned from experience during the revolution of 1898 in Cavite, wherein the trenches constructed by Engineer Evangelista were greatly admired by the Spanish military engineers and even by the Americans: “It is worthy of consideration and study as an evidence of some technical skill.”

[1] E. de los Santos described Luna’s defeat in Bagbag, Kalumpit, Bulakan, in his article “Como se perdio la batalla de Bagbag,” published in Revista Filipina, March 1917. – T. A. A[103]

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

Nevertheless, Luna did all he could to improve our situation, putting into practice the idea of constructing trenches in two strategic zones: the first beginning from Kalookan and ending in Novaliches and the second, a little to the north beginning from Hacienda Malinta and reaching the mountainous region to the east. In the Kalookan zone the works could not be constructed for being almost all of it under fire by the enemy artillery situated in La Loma which concentrated its fire wherever we began to construct the works. In the northern zone some work was done, but the constructions were not finished for lack of means and time.

During the days following the outbreak of hostilities, the American squadron bombarded almost without interruption our positions in Kalookan. These bombardments by heavy-calibered cannons fortunately were more noisy than effective, because there were more duds than not among the shells which landed, and the casualties which they caused us were insignificant. Our soldiers, after recovering from the first fright, became accustomed to the noise of the shells and they stood the bombardment with indifference.

Towards the middle of February, after a still heavier barrage from the batteries in La Loma together with the bombardment by the naval squadron, the enemy attacked at last our lines in Kalookan,taking them after some hours of fighting. Luna on this occasion was with the members of his general staff in the house of Higgins and, during the bombardment, he was rocking himself in the gallery. When the bullets started to rake the garden of the house, it took me a hard time to persuade him to abandon the place in order not to expose ourselves to a useless danger. Luna was one of the last to retreat and when he saw the impossibility of defending Kalookan, he took a rifle and, together with the then Colonel Natividad, stationed himself in the town church, from which position he kept up an intense exchange of fire with the American forces. However, his munitions having been exhausted and in the face of the superiority of the enemy, he retreated in the evening to Polo, passing thru the highway.[44]

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

The following anecdotes picture Luna: I have cited the case of Torres Bugallon who fell in the Battle of La Loma and whom Luna in person carried in the midst of an intense exchange of fire in order that Bugallon would not fall into the hands of the enemy. After this same battle, Luna learned that many of our wounded soldiers had remained without any aid in the swamps which extended to in front of Meypajo. Immediately he took a small escort and penetrated the enemy line without taking into account the danger to which they were exposed. He succeeded in recovering some of the wounded. Among those rescued was one who aroused our admiration for his stoicism and cold-bloodedness. He had a broken leg which swung pitifully from the chair in which he was being carried by four men and yet he smoked calmly a cigar —the first thing he asked from his rescuers — without revealing any exterior sign of the pain which he must have been enduring.[45]

February 10, 1899

In The Roots of the Filipino Nation, O.D. Corpuz writes:

The enemy’s main objective had to be Malolos. The railroad terminal in Caloocan was the first key. The enemy naval guns bombarded the pueblos of Caloocan, Navotas, and Tambobong. The first hard fought actions of the war took place here. General Luna rushed from Pampanga to take charge of the defense. His men held fast without rest, food, and relief from 10 A.M. until 4:30 P.M. They were pounded by the shelling while they stood their ground, but by 5 P.M. they had run out of ammunition. Luna withdrew north to the pueblo of Polo. Caloocan was not lost that day, but the surprise outbreak of hostilities had the Filipinos unprepared. It fell to the enemy on 10 February. The next day Baldomero Aguinaldo wired Luna that two companies from Mariveles were on their way, but it was too late.[46]

February 12, 1899

Battle of Caloocan lost.

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

The fall of Kalookan convinced Luna of the necessity of imposing a very rigid discipline in the army, punishing with great severity whoever did not comply with his duty, above all, when the ones concerned were chiefs or officers. The resistance would have been more tenacious if there had reigned solidarity among the different fighting units, and this solidarity could alone be obtained thru mutual confidence among the troops. It was necessary that the soldiers be convinced that in dangerous situations they would not be abandoned by their chiefs and that they would be supported by the other corps of the army. After each battle, Luna received complaints from the different brigades, mutually accusing each other of having failed in their duties and blaming each other for the defeat.[45]

February 14-July 31, 1899

In The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes, Alfredo Saulo writes:

A lot of intrigues revolving around Luna arose at this time. These intrigues were for the most part enemy-inspired or caused by spies on the payroll of the Americans. From February 14 to July 31, 1899, about ten percent of the trials conducted in the Philippine Army involved American-paid spies. One enemy agent from Pangasinan reported that the people in that province had been advised ‘not to run away or hide from the Americans,’ as an agreement had been made seeking to make Luna ‘President of the Republic and general-in-chief of operations’; and that the Americans and Pangasinenses would fight side by side against the Tagalogs after the proclamation of independence and the ascension of General Luna to the ‘throne as king of the Philippines.’ Another agent reported that in one place in Nueva Ecija inhabited by Ilocanos, the president, or town head, had ‘given 600 militia men for the reserve of Luna’s command’ to fight with the Americans against the Tagalogs.[47]

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

Towards the middle of February, after a still heavier barrage from the batteries in La Loma together with the bombardment by the naval squadron, the enemy attacked at last our lines in Kalookan, taking them after some hours of fighting. Luna on this occasion was with the members of his general staff in the house of Higgins and, during the bombardment, he was rocking himself in the gallery. When the bullets started to rake the garden of the house, it took me a hard time to persuade him to abandon the place in order not to expose ourselves to a useless danger. Luna was one of the last to retreat and when he saw the impossibility of defending Kalookan, he took a rifle and, together with the then Colonel Natividad, stationed himself in the town church, from which position he kept up an intense exchange of fire with the American forces. However, his munitions having been exhausted and in the face of the superiority of the enemy, he retreated in the evening to Polo, passing thru the highway.[44]

February 15


I, Antonio Luna, general in chief of operations ordain and command from this date forward:

First. The following will be executed by shooting with out court martial :

A. Spies and those who give news of us to the enemy.

B. Those who commit robberies and those who violate women.

Second. All towns which may be abandoned by our forces will be burned down. No one deplores war more than I do; I detest it; but we have an inalienable right to defend our soil from falling into the hands of the fresh rulers who desire to appropriate it, slaughtering our men, women, and children.

For this reason we are in duty bound as Filipinos to sacrifice everything for our independence, however great may be the sacrifices which the Fatherland requires of us.

General headquarters at Polo, February 15, 1899.

The general chief of operations,

A. LUNA.[48]

February 18, 1899

In The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, Brian McAllister Linn writes:

The Philippine War

…tensions in Manila defeated all attempts to defuse them. Aguinaldo’s control of his army was uncertain and, with or without his collusion, a number of plots developed calling for a popular uprising supported by an attack from the Republican Army. Ever a stickler for legal niceties, Otis repeatedly insisted that all revolutionary forces withdraw from Manila’s municipal limits. In some cases this meant that they had to abandon territory they had captured and turn over their trenches to the Americans. This infuriated the Filipinos and caused a number of armed confrontations. As a result, several of Manila’s suburbs were disputed areas claimed by both sides. On 4 February 1899, while serving picket duty in one of these areas, Pvt. William Grayson of Nebraska fired on a Filipino patrol that refused to answer his challenge. In a few hours, gunfire had spread up and down the lines, the Americans had gone on the offensive, and the Philippine War had begun

In the operations following the outbreak of war the U.S. Army quickly established its military superiority over the Filipino nationalist forces. The Americans inflicted terrible casualties on Aguinaldo’s soldiers, easily storming entrenchments that were “beautifully made and wretchedly defended.” They shattered the revolutionary forces in battle and captured the Republican capital of Malolos on 31 March, driving into the central Luzon provinces in April and May, and sweeping into the southern Tagalog provinces in June. Yet these victories, though carried out with efficiency and exacting heavy casualties on the revolutionaries, proved ineffectual. Numbering only some 26,000 troops, of which less than half could be spared for active operations in Luzon, Otis could not occupy the territory his forces moved through so easily. Time and time again, his soldiers trudged through the rice paddies and hills, fought a few skirmishes with Aguinaldo’s forces, occupied a provincial capital or key city, and then withdrew to Manila. The arrival of the monsoon in late May found the Army exhausted, suffering from a 60-percent sickness rate in some units, and with little to show for its brilliant record. Otis was forced to wait for the arrival of a new army in the fall before resuming the offensive.

The American battlefield victories in early 1899 owed a great deal to Aguinaldo’s decision to adopt conventional tactics and to rely on regulars instead of guerrillas. Upon his return to the Philippines he had issued a call for the Filipinos to raise Sandahatan and provincial levies. Such forces were enough to drive the demoralized Spanish out of insular towns, but lacked the firepower to assault Manila and the discipline to besiege it. Aguinaldo’s ilustrado advisors believed that an army, organized, trained, and uniformed along European lines, would demonstrate the high level of civilization of the Filipinos and encourage recognition of their independence. Aguinaldo was less certain. As a veteran guerrilla, he was not enamored with conventional warfare. Moreover, his own experience in 1896, in which he had used his local social and political connections to raise his first troops, made him aware that any Filipino military system must be based on the localistic and personalistic nature of rural society. At the same time, remembering the bloody factional strife of 1896, he realized that only a well-armed and well-disciplined force, completely under the command of the central government, could suppress challenges from other provincial leaders. The military establishment that he gradually developed was an attempt at compromise between a European-style conventional army and rural guerrilla forces. On 30 July 1898, he authorized each Tagalog province to create a battalion of provincial forces which would join three new “Aguinaldo” regiments of federal troops and form the Republican Army. At the same time, he continued to encourage the continued formation of revolutionary Sandahatan, town companies, independent battalions, and other units which drew their strength from local or personal loyalties.30

Aguinaldo’s plans had much merit, but they failed to create an effective military establishment. Poorly armed and badly disciplined, composed of a melange of volunteers, veterans of the Spanish colonial army, Katipuneros, and provincial forces, the Republican Army resembled a feudal levy more than a modern military organization. By adopting conventional tactics and formations, Aguinaldo canceled the key strength of the revolutionary forces, their capacity for localized guerrilla war. When taken out of their villages and provinces, merged into larger units commanded by outsiders who could not speak their dialect, and required to stand against a better armed and trained enemy, the social cohesion that tied Filipino soldiers to their comrades and officers broke down. It was impractical to expect men who had been successful as guerrillas to abandon their harassing tactics and habit of seeking the shelter of the nearest village and instead to stay in trenches and fight to the last cartridge. It was equally impractical to expect principales who formed their own companies out of tenants and clients to obey orders from ’ Aguinaldo’s appointees. As Marcelino A. Foronda, Jr., has pointed out, the Republican forces suffered from “intrigues, petty jealousies, and a narrow-minded regionalism which stressed personal loyalties rather than principles and ideas.” Every defeat brought forth new accusations of incompetence, treason, insubordination, and lack of support. Although some military leaders were models of probity, others behaved as petty tyrants, allowing their undisciplined troops to loot, rob, and rape. In one instance, the conduct of the local garrison was so bad that the exasperated inhabitants of a town rose up and disarmed them.

The Republican Army also proved politically dangerous. Lt. Gen. Antonio Luna, an erratic and unstable ilustrado much impressed with the French Army, assumed command of the national forces after the fall of Malolos. Luna tried to check regional and personal differences by imposing discipline, removing incompetent or insubordinate officers, and creating a special force of Filipino veterans who had served with the Spanish forces. For a short period he succeeded in rallying the army, but his inability to achieve victory on the battlefield soon left him open to attack by his many enemies. Prone to uncontrollable rages, he quickly alienated his subordinates through his ruthless attempts to impose discipline. They in turn defied his orders and attempted to turn their military units into private armies. Luna’s political ambitions soon brought him into conflict with Aguinaldo and contributed to his assassination by the president’s bodyguard on 5 June 1899.

The Americans were unable to capitalize on this turmoil because they were in the process of replacing one army with a new one. When it became clear that there would be war with Aguinaldo’s forces, the U.S. government had to bring back the troops from the original Manila expedition and recruit new forces designed especially for service in the Philippines. Under the provisions of the Army Bill of 2 March 1899, the regular establishment of the U.S. Army was placed at 65,000 men and its cavalry and infantry regiments were recruited to their full wartime strength. Officered and manned by veterans of the Cuban, Puerto Rican, or Philippine campaigns, these regulars were tough and capable soldiers. In addition, Congress authorized a 35,000-man volunteer force enlisted for two years and designated exclusively for service in the Philippines. Organized into twenty-five regiments of infantry and one of cavalry, the U.S. Volunteers were commanded by regular and state officers who had distinguished themselves in the Spanish-American War. Both regulars and volunteers were subjects to rigorous examination standards and thorough training. The soldiers arrived in the archipelago skilled in the skirmishing tactics, march discipline, and marksmanship necessary to fighting a guerrilla war.

With the arrival of these new forces in November 1899, the Americans went on the offensive in a three-pronged drive directed at the Republican Army in the north. While Maj. Gen. Arthur MacArthur pinned down the Filipinos on the central Luzon plain, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Lawton swept to the northeast and occupied the mountain passes, preventing any retreat to the east. The Filipinos fell back to the north, only to have their retreat cut off by Brig. Gen. Loyd Wheaton’s amphibious landing at Lingayen Gulf. Caught between the converging American forces, with their lines of retreat blocked, the Republican Army broke up. The revolutionaries lost their supplies, artil-“[49]

February 4, 1899

Luna disarms Kawit forces for the 1st time, in Caloocan

February 21, 1899

In The Roots of the Filipino Nation, O.D. Corpuz writes:

The order to hold was too late. Col. Francisco Roman, Luna’s chief of staff, slipped around MacArthur’s troops and penetrated inside Tondo and Binondo. Then the territorial militia/Sandatahan rose in the two pueblos, setting off fires pursuant to the orders that Luna had issued on 7 February. But the fighters inside the enemy lines did not get enough support or the diversionary action that had been planned to occupy the Americans. This diversion, which had been assigned to the regular troops, was only partly implemented. And the cause was serious: the companies from Kawit, Aguinaldo’s townmates, in whom he took special pride, disobeyed their commanding general while obeying their President.[52]

February 22-23, 1899

In The Roots of the Filipino Nation, O.D. Corpuz writes:

The territorial militia and the Sandatahan were not always distinguished from each other. Thus, in the attack on Manila on 22-23 February Gen. Luna, who planned and led the action explicitly referred to the territorial militia, while the Americans and Mabini recorded that the attackers were the Sandatahan. The best way of looking at the Sandatahan would be to view it as essentially the old Katipunan. A statement of October 1898 says that the men of the Sandatahan “corps” dug trenches and hauled supplies and had no rifles. Some Sandatahan forces would be put through some regularization, mostly in organization, on Luna’s initiative. These would be the territorial militia. But other generals would call raw Sandatahan forces in their commands, territorial militia. In practice neither one nor the other was a. regular fighting force.


Our story must now turn to the death of Antonio Luna, one of the most fateful events of the war. As director of war he was the ranking authority in the War Department after the war secretary and the President. In the field he was general-in-chief of operations of the region north of the Pasig. The assault on Manila on 22-23 February failed because of the refusal of the companies of Kawit to obey his orders to attack the American rear at Caloocan. These units belonged to Aguinaldo’s personal command but had been temporarily assigned to Luna. The latter naturally asked that the captains of the companies be punished. But Aguinaldo had not only disapproved the attack; he had a special pride in his Caviteños, “whose fame has reached even to Europe,” in his own words. [52]

February 23-26 1899

In Mabini’s letters[10], he writes:

February 23:

In these past few days, I sent, through different channels, two copies of the previous letter, one addressed to your place and the other to Remedios Terrace, foreseeing the possibility of loss through any cause. I sent said copies to Manila through two persons who smuggled themselves into the city, as the vigilance of the Americans is very strict. Until now, I do not know whether the copies were delivered or not.

We have just received flattering news from the frontlines. It is said that our forces in the North are besieging the Americans in Caloocan and La Loma, and that the more advanced regiments have taken possession of the Meisic Barracks. Our forces of the East and South, after recovering Marikina, Santolan, San Francisco del Monte, San Pedro Makati, Mandaluyong and Santa Ana, are now fighting for Sampaloc and San Sebastian. Brigadier-Generals Pantaleon Garcia, Llanera, Glicerio Geronimo (alias Serio) and Pio del Pilar, are directing the operations under the orders of the Commander-in-Chief, General Antonio Luna. The President went this afternoon near the front lines. From the belfry of Bulacan, two white flags can be seen hoisted within the radius of Manila. We have not yet received official communiques but only the news transmitted by telegraph officials in the campaign stations near the front lines and the news brought by persons coming from those places.

February 26

The information I have stated in the previous paragraph proved to be false. Up to now, nothing has been regained except part of San Pedro Makati, the Water Reservoir being in Santolan. A fraction of our forces North of Manila succeeded in effect to push through to Manila, reaching Trozo; but they could not hold the place and they had to fall back towards Tinajeros.

We have rumors here that in the Bisayas the Americans have also succeeded in occupying the forts of Iloilo, Molo, and Jaro, after these were burned down. We also hear news to the effect that the foreigners are filing many claims, because the fort was bombarded before the expiration of the period announced for the purpose.

The news is also going around that the Cantonal Government of Negros wanted to enter into an agreement with the Americans, some members of said Government having come to Manila in American transports to confer with General Otis. We do not know the conditions of the settlement because the people of Negros have not communicated with us until now.

February 28, 1899

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

There exist no doubt whatsoever that the tragic end of Luna was premeditated, and if anything can justify this ignominous act, it is that the members of the Cabinet —educated men, cultured and intelligent, headed by Paterno and Buencamino and generals very loyal to Aguinaldo — considered and made Aguinaldo believe that Luna was a pernicious man who was a hindrance to unity in our Government. Mabini himself, long before the date of the death of Luna, wrote Aguinaldo the following letters in which he showed his prejudice against Luna:

“Malolos, February 28, 1899

“Mr. President:

“I have received reports that Luna is going to resign as Director and General-in-Chief of Operations in Manila because no punishment had been meted out to the captains of the companies who did not obey his instructions in the last attack on Manila. We are already seeing the disastrous effects of all weakness. This is noted not only by the army but also by the people. And for the very reason that there is the belief that we do not punish the guilty, some soldiers might say that here it is nothing to disobey a General, whereas in other countries disobedience is punished by shooting. If you are going to punish the companies who disobey in the future, the people will say that you punish them because the soldiers are not from Kawit. At this rate, our soldiers will never know what is discipline***.”[50]

March 2, 1899

In The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, Brian McAllister Linn writes:

“The Americans were unable to capitalize on this turmoil because they were in the process of replacing one army with a new one. When it became clear that there would be war with Aguinaldo’s forces, the U.S. government had to bring back the troops from the original Manila expedition and recruit new forces designed especially for service in the Philippines. Under the provisions of the Army Bill of 2 March 1899, the regular establishment of the U.S. Army was placed at 65,000 men and its cavalry and infantry regiments were recruited to their full wartime strength. Officered and manned by veterans of the Cuban, Puerto Rican, or Philippine campaigns, these regulars were tough and capable soldiers. In addition, Congress authorized a 35,000-man volunteer force enlisted for two years and designated exclusively for service in the Philippines. Organized into twenty-five regiments of infantry and one of cavalry, the U.S. Volunteers were commanded by regular and state officers who had distinguished themselves in the Spanish-American War. Both regulars and volunteers were subjects to rigorous examination standards and thorough training. The soldiers arrived in the archipelago skilled in the skirmishing tactics, march discipline, and marksmanship necessary to fighting a guerrilla war.”[51]

March 3, 1899

In The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes, Alfredo Saulo writes:

Luna issued a proclamation ordering that all persons who directly or indirectly refused to aid the execution of his military plans were to be immediately shot without trial.[53]

March 6, 1899

In The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes, Alfredo Saulo writes:

Mabini reports to Aguinaldo of “abuses of Luna,” in the case of Chinese resident of Bocaue, Bulacan, shot without trial: “To be shot without a summary trial is a punishment which can be inflicted on soldiers but a chief cannot enforce it in a civilized community, except among savages… If an educated man can hardly understand his duties, how will the uneducated one understand his?”[53]

This is what Mabini actually wrote:


March 6, 1899

Mr. President:

Many complaints have been directed to us here against the abuses committed by General Luna. People say that he published an edict a few days ago threatening to shoot without process of law those who would violate his orders. In Bocaue, he ordered a Chinese shot without due process of law; and published his edict even in the province of Pampanga.

Soldiers usually shoot people summarily, it is true. But only in barbaric countries, not in civilized ones, do military chiefs order such a thing by means of an edict. Besides, Luna has jurisdiction only in Polo, where his headquarters stands, and in the towns comprising the Manila zone.

I find it strange that Luna does not understand this. He cannot be giving orders in Bulacan and Pampanga except through the military chiefs of these provinces.

While he is acting as Chief of Operations, he stops being the Director of War, and even if he does not he can only have powers within the office and, at most, only when he takes the place of the Secretary of War in the absence of the latter.

If an educated person cannot understand what powers he has, how much less an ignorant one?

Please make him understand these things so that we shall have no conflicts.

Command me.



If you can put another in his place, it would be much better.[54]

Note: see Si Apolinario Mabini laban kay Hen. Antonio Luna / sinulat ni José P. Santos ; may paunang salita ni Gregoria de Jesus.


In The Development of Philippine Politics, Maximo Kalaw writes:

Mabini himself often complained to President Aguinaldo about the arbitrary acts committed by General Luna. One of these charges was to the effect that General Luna published a decree warning people that those who should disobey his orders should be shot to death without even summary trial. In this connection Mabini in his letter dated March G, 1899, said that to be shot to death without summary trial is a punishment which can be inflicted on soldiers; but a chief cannot enforce it in .a civilized community, except among savages. Besides, he has only jurisdiction over Polo, where the General Headquarters is, and over the towns of the zones of Manila.

“I am very surprised that these things are not well understood by General Luna,” proceeded Mabini. “He has no executive power over Bulacan and Pampanga; he must have issued his orders through the military chiefs thereof.” [61]

March 7, 1899

Mabini, in a telegram to Aguinaldo: Luna “not qualified to command an army,much less to conduct an office, because he is a despot.”



March 7, 1899

Mr. President:

I suppose Mr. Velez showed you last night the letter of Arquiza from Laguna. I also received the letter of a lawyer from Pateros, who now lives in Santa Cruz, which says the same thing. It seems that the provincial chief cannot decide anything in view of the fact that Mr. Benitez, as a representative, is untouchable.

My office companion received also a letter from Don Vicente Reyes, who, although he says nothing on the particular subject, relates that, according to persons who had news from reliable sources, the Americans are going to bombard Dagupan and land there. Because of this, the launches that were ordered from Hongkong are coming over and. proceeding to Laguna. After Dagupan is taken, the American forces in Manila and those in Pangasinan will have us cornered. The launches will bombard the coastal towns of Laguna.

This is the news going around over there. Even if the names of the persons who heard it from reliable sources are not mentioned, we can readily see that there is truth in it from the other letters received from the same place.

I believe we should not consent to the landing of the Americans in Santo Tomas, La Union. The military chiefs of Pangasinan and La Union shall oppose this firmly. Should the Americans succeed in taking positions in that place, Dagupan will be attacked by their forces from land and sea.

I am sending you the telegram I received from Luna as well as the draft of my answer. It is up to you to decide on his irrevocable resignation. I sent to the Department of War a General Order to be given to you. In this order, the attributes and jurisdiction of a Commander-in-Chief of Operations in the neighborhood of Manila are stated.

Inasmuch as the resignation of Luna is irrevocable, you should appoint another and you should give the direction of the defense work in this part of Polo to Don Ambrosio, he being your Chief of Staff, so that there will be no friction and trouble afterwards.

I have written below the draft of the acceptance of Luna’s resignation, just in case you decide to accept said resignation and you have no answer in readiness. I leave everything in your hands; command your servant,



Concerning Mr. Benitez, I think we have to instruct the provincial chief to send him here accompanied by a trusted person. And would heaven that he would learn his lesson from this as the roads are very bad!



Having read your irrevocable resignation from your present position, I find myself constrained to accept it with deep regret, because I am conscious of your merits and the great services you have rendered to the country, services that I shall never forget. By virtue thereof, kindly relinquish the Command to General–. In thanking you in the name of the country for your services, I beg of you to count always on my sincere friendship.

March 19, 1899

The Queen regent of Spain, María Cristina, signed the Treaty of Paris, breaking the deadlock in the Spanish Cortes.

March 26, 1899

Battle of Polo lost (site of general headquarters of Luna).

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

This trip produced two incidents which were both disagreeable and for which many who were not well informed of the causes which produced them criticized the acts of Luna. The first was the arrest by his order of the station master in San Fernando and a high British official of the railroad company for having refused to facilitate a special train which he had asked for the young women of the Red Cross. Luna was always irked by any air of superiority which foreigners used to put on in dealing with us, and he took advantage of this opportunity to show them that he was not ready to tolerate such things. The Englishman arrived in Polo very haughty, refusing to enter the car in which he was to be taken in compliance with his arrest. He showed to everybody his passport signed by Lord Salisbury, but when Luna manifested through one of his aides that if he did not obey he would run the risk of being shot, he toned down in his attitude and submitted to the arrest.

Another incident connected with the trip to Polo of the Red Cross was the brutal treatment which Luna meted out to certain young men of San Fernando who pretended to accompany the young women during the trip. Luna looked with angry eyes at all the young men who did not feel enough virility and patriotism to serve in the ranks of the army at a time when the country needed in the contest all her sons able to take up arms..[56]

Luna in Bagbag, Kalumpit and Sto. Tomas

The march of the campaign was becoming more disastrous for our arms. Luna was burning with impatience to take active part again in the war and was only waiting for an opportunity to offer his services to the Government, but he wanted to do it under circumstances in which he could dictate his terms. This opportunity presented itself after the fall of Polo and Marilaw to the invaders. The defeats which we suffered convinced those in Malolos that Luna was the only general who could organize effective and prolonged resistance, since the state of things in which we found ourselves could not allow us any hope to stop the advance of the enemy.


He possessed an iron will-power and a character untamed by adversity. And he never retreated in the face of any obstacle whenever it comes to carrying out any enterprise.[56]

March 29, 1899

Battle of Guiguinto lost, resulting in fall of Bocaue and Bigaa

March 31, 1899

Barasoian, capital of the Republic, falls.

In his article, “The way Antonio Luna died,” Ambeth Ocampo writes:

“Luna, en route from San Fernando to Calumpit, writes Last Will and Testament: “1. I leave whatever I have to my mother. 2. If they will kill me, wrap me in a Filipino flag with all the clothing with which I was dressed when killed, and bury me in the ground. 3. I wish to state freely that I would die willingly for my country, for our independence, without thereby looking for death.”[57]

March 31 to May 1899

In The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, Brian McAllister Linn writes:

“In the operations following the outbreak of war the U.S. Army quickly established its military superiority over the Filipino nationalist forces. The Americans inflicted terrible casualties on Aguinaldo’s soldiers, easily storming entrenchments that were “beautifully made and wretchedly defended.” They shattered the revolutionary forces in battle and captured the Republican capital of Malolos on 31 March, driving into the central Luzon provinces in April and May, and sweeping into the southern Tagalog provinces in June. Yet these victories, though carried out with efficiency and exacting heavy casualties on the revolutionaries, proved ineffectual. Numbering only some 26,000 troops, of which less than half could be spared for active operations in Luzon, Otis could not occupy the territory his forces moved through so easily. Time and time again, his soldiers trudged through the rice paddies and hills, fought a few skirmishes with Aguinaldo’s forces, occupied a provincial capital or key city, and then withdrew to Manila. The arrival of the monsoon in late May found the Army exhausted, suffering from a 60-percent sickness rate in some units, and with little to show for its brilliant record. Otis was forced to wait for the arrival of a new army in the fall before resuming the offensive.”[58]


In The Development of Philippine Politics, Maximo Kalaw writes:

After the taking of Malolos by the Americans, Luna rallied his forces in Calumpit and established severe disciplinary measures. He dismissed officers who disregarded his authority and disarmed men who disobeyed his orders. He knew how to infuse the proper morale into the army, and the American forces were surprised at the discipline displayed by his soldiers. But he was of a very despotic temperament and some of his acts were so arbitrary that they angered even such men as Mabini who, in the beginning, was a firm supporter of his disciplinary acts. [61]

April 6, 1899

Judge Advocate Pedro M. Liongson, in a letter to the Secretary of War, sends a list of officers and men that Luna ordered arrested and punished for alleged violations of military discipline.

April 7, 1899

In The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes, Alfredo Saulo writes:

Two weeks before the Mascardo-Luna confrontation in Betis, Pampanga, the younger officer had informed General Baldomero Aguinaldo, the secretary of war, that he wanted to resign in order to avoid serving under Luna whom he feared might harass and humiliate him before the woman he loved. Secretary Aguinaldo rejected Mascardo’s resignation.

…Mascardo also informed Secretary of War Baldomero Aguinaldo that Luna “had formed a party which, if not checked, would bring serious misfortunes upon the country.”[59]

Here is Mabini’s letter:



San Isidro, April 7, 1899

Mr. President:

I have been here at San Isidro, according to your instruction, for the last three days. When I arrived, Don Baldomero, Don Gracio, and Don Severino were already here, but Don Arcadio arrived only this morning from Tarlac. We are all assembled here at San Isidro, and I am exerting all efforts to reduce the salary expenses of the Government.

With regards to the defense of this province, I conferred with Don Baldomero and Sr. Padilla, and I discovered that there is no force here except that which is slightly bigger than one company. If you do not need the force from Nueva Ecija, send it back here or send arms confiscated from deserters so that they may be added to the force we have here. The rainy season is fast approaching and we need to defend the river which when swollen could be navigated by launches. Also we need to put defenses at San Miguel and Cabiao. Sr. Padilla says that although he will use the armed forces he cannot expect victory if there Will be no guns to support the attack.

Don Baldomero wants to leave the secretaryship of war to Don Ambrosio and join you there. If you do not deem such a move wise, better write to him or to me and I will show him your letter.

The bearer, Basilio Teodoro, is requesting that you find out the reason why his brother was arrested there under orders given by General Luna; it might be that the charges made against him are false. If the charges are true, he should be punished; but if those charges are false, made as usual by those who envy him, he must be cleared.

I hear that one of your companions is ailing, but the other members of your family are well with the help of God.

I am at your command.


[1] The Schurman Commission arrived in March. Malolos was taken by the invading troops on the 31st . The Philippine Government was moved to San Isidro in April. The war dragged. From San Isidro, Mabini answered the Proclamation of the Schurman Commission with a manifesto which was published in Spanish and Tagalog. He also answered through the press the questions that an American newspaperman asked Aguinaldo. It is a pity that of the various letters that Mabini wrote to the Hongkong Committee only one [dated April 24, 1899] was found. – T.M.K.

In The Development of Philippine Politics,  Maximo Kalaw writes:

The impression also gained currency that he wanted to supplant the President of the republic himself. Thus Aguinaldo’s staff officer, in a postscript to a letter said: “Although it will give you pain, nevertheless I advise you as I wish to be faithful that there is a report to the effect that our chief of operations is forming a party, the aim and purpose of which are none other than to make him president. Be very cautious as the disgrace would be great. Two or three persons have confirmed this report and the whole of Calumpit is aware of the same”.([1])[61]

[1] Taylor, Vol. II, 41 AJ.


April 8, 1899

Mabini writes again to Aguinaldo:


April 8, 1899

Mr. President:

I am informing you that Don Baldomero is willing to be relieved from the Department of War to avoid trouble with General Luna, which is likely to happen in the face of the accusations coming to him. On the basis of what I see in Don Baldomero, it is necessary to make Don Mariano Trias take his place as he asks, because even without actual troubles, Don Baldomero and Luna may get so much entangled in personal animosities that they will eventually become obstacles themselves in the exercise of their respective duties and to the ideal we are after.

As regards myself and the other Secretaries, even if we are aware that General Luna does not give the Government an account of what he does, we just close our eyes. Would to heaven that he can really raise high the national honor as it was your desire when you appointed him to his present position. Under other circumstances, these things would have given the Secretaries cause for resignation, but we are trying to hold on to avoid greater sufferings for our country.

What is taking place is sad because if we succeed, all the honor will be Luna’s – and I am very willing that he should have it; but if we fail, if his plans should end in failure, the responsibility will be ours because we allowed him to go on. If our Government were a dictatorship, and not a constitutional one, this one would still do, because you will, then, be the only person responsible. But I believe we should not now change our form of Government so as not to give the world powers reason to believe the Americans when these tell them that with the capture of Malolos our Government fell.

We are not asking him any more to give the Government an account of his plans and policy of war; but we want, yes, that he notify us of the measures that he should take with regard to the townspeople, the foreigners, and other matters that fall under the classification of war policy. I believe on this point, as well as in the organization of our forces, and in the recruiting of soldiers, the Government should intervene, since it is the one called upon to supply arms and provisions. It is the Government and not the Chief of Operations that is responsible for the war policy; that is why the Chief of Operations should obey the instructions that he gets.

We received a communication from Iloilo, coming from General Martin Delgado and from your Commissioner Francisco Soriano. Soriano says that the soldiers of D— did nothing but loot and rob the people of money when the Americans attacked the fort of Iloilo. There were soldiers whose guns were broken because they used them in carrying money to C—. It is said that these soldiers not only refused to fight the Americans, but also refused to surrender their guns to those who were willing and ready to fight. They also do not like that C— should help the people of Iloilo, who are the ones feeding the soldiers, including those of D—, who repaired to that place.

General Martin Delgado says that the Americans attacked the fort of Iloilo on February 11, and because of the retreat of the forces of D— and of A—, the invaders captured the city and also Jaro and Molo on the following day. The enemy suffered around two hundred casualties, and we about thirty. The enemy’s general headquarters is in Santa Barbara and its forces total up to 3,000, half of which are musketeers, and the rest are armed in various ways. Of the musketeers, five hundred remained in Capiz, Concepcion and Antique. General Delgado continues to recruit men and he asks for more guns; and in case we have nothing more to give, D— should be told to give what he has. D— and A— say that they acknowledge Delgado as Chief as they realize that the enemy had taken Iloilo, Jaro, and Molo because they failed to follow his instructions and kept falling back.

A priest, M. Pascual Reyes, also arrived here from Cebu. He says that in L—, General L— is committing many abuses, and that Colonel M— is only his instrument. There are also troubles in Cebu, because Military Chief Magilom (Maxilom) is not in good terms with the people.

I was told that you received a proclamation from the Americans. I beg of you, if possible, to send me a copy of it so that I can answer it, should there be a need to do so.

Command your old servant


April 9, 1899

Mabini sends telegram to Aguinaldo, on a Frenchman named Don Marrais “murdered supposedly by order of Luna.”

April 11, 1899

The Treaty of Paris was proclaimed.

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

The enlightened class who came to Malolos in order to fill honorific positions which could serve to shield them against the reprisal of the people for their previous misconduct (of betraying the first phase of the revolution), flew away like birds with great fright upon hearing the first gun report, hiding their important persons in some corner, meantime that they could not find protection of the American army. Only a few followed the Government in its oddyssey and, certainly, less enlisted in the army.[62]

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

“The great majority of the rich and educated elements who had been attracted to the cause of the Revolution during its successes were in no manner capable of following up in times of adversities. Neither were they imbued with self-abnegation and patriotism to stake their material interests and conveniences and, much less their lives, on the hazards of an arduous and unequal struggle. Undoubtedly, upon the outbreak of the war they were sincere in 19 manifesting that all the Filipinos should fight to the end, but subsequent events demonstrated that their convictions were not deep-rooted. For hardly had they encountered the opportunity, they formed without honorable exception the nucleus of the pro-annexation Federal Party which worked so hard to disarm by all means imaginable men whom they themselves had encouraged to fight the war.”[62]

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

Luna, in the midst of this debacle, contained in himself, restraining his impetuous and violent temper in seeing himself impotent to remedy such disorder and indiscipline. Nevertheless, at time his temper overrode his will-power and made him maltreat by word and by deed some chiefs and officers who had distinguished themselves most by their cowardice. This caused complaints against Luna to rain in Malolos which, unfortunately, were listened to, thereby producing more laxity in the already little discipline in the army and strained relations between Luna and the Office of the Captain General![64]

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

“Our army had a regional organization. Each province organized brigades and regiments under the command of generals and chiefs who were native sons of the province. This regional organization greatly impaired the unity and solidarity of the army, because most of the generals – at least those under Luna – did not want to recognize any other authority except theirs and that of the Captain General (Aguinaldo). They did not want to submit to the Chief of Operations (Luna) and the Government did not feel sufficiently strong to impose discipline upon these recalcitrant generals. Some believed that the mere fact that they had organized their brigades and armed them with guns taken from the Spaniards was a sufficient reason for them to treat such brigades as their own private armies.”[64]

April 14, 1899

Luna disarms the Kawit forces for the 2nd time, in Calumpit; Judge Advocate Pedro M. Liongson in a letter states 138 soldiers and one officer, Lt. Anacleto Mendoza, listed as having been disarmed by Luna for insubordination.

April 18, 1899

In the “Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands”, Felipe Buencamino said:

Buencamino: “…there was a conflict between General Mascardo and General Luna in the province of Pampanga. General Mascardo was one of the most intimate friends of General Aguinaldo, and had been the companion of Aguinaldo since the insurrection of 1899. General Luna desired to subject General Mascardo to his order, and General Mascardo objected. Thus, on this morning, April 18,1899, General Luna took 800 soldiers from the trenches of Bagbag, who were facing the trenches of General MacArthur at Malolos, a distance of about 8 miles, and they went in the opposite direction to search for General Mascardo and capture him. General Mascardo also prepared himself with 500 men to fight the soldiers of General Luna. At 10 o’clock in the morning that same day General MacArthur attacked General Luna’s trenches, and took the same day the town of Quingua, which was defended by General Aguinaldo. General Aguinaldo called on General Luna to attack the flank of General MacArthur, but General Luna was not at his post; he was 25 miles beyond, looking for General Mascardo. At 3 o’clock in the afternoon the troops were all ready to have a combat when they received advices stating that * General MacArthur had defeated General Aguinaldo at Quingua. This was the cause for the suspension of internal dissensions among us, but the motives were still held in reserve.[66]

In The Development of Philippine Politics, Maximo Kalaw writes:

One of the incidents which showed the sanguinary temper of Luna concerned him and General Mascardo. General Mascardo was the politico-military chief of Pampanga and Bataan and hence under the jurisdiction of General Luna. General Luna gave an order to General Mascardo which the latter did not at once obey because he had not been officially notified of the appointment of Luna. General Luna then asked for the dismissal of Mascardo from the government. Aguinaldo appointed Felipe Buencamino to settle the dispute, and the latter decided that Mascardo was at fault and should be placed under arrest for one day. This solution was agreeable to Aguinaldo and apparently also to Luna. But the following day, Luna was planning to challenge Mascardo to a duel, and later on intended to arrest him with 800 men. A civil war thus almost started.([1])

[1] Memoirs of Buencamino under heading ‘‘Incidents Luna-Mascardo”. Another act of General Luna which has been severely criticised was his secret order of February 7, 1899, for the massacre of Americans and foreigners in Manila. “Brethren,” he said, “The Americans have insulted us and we must revenge ourselves upon them by annihilating than… The servants of the houses occupied by Americans and Spaniards shall burn the buildings In which their masters live in such a manner that the conflagration shall he simultaneous In all parts of the city… The lives of the Filipinos only shall be respected, and they shall not be molested with the exception of those who have been pointed out as traitors”. Fortunately his order was not carried out. For the complete order see Senate Document 381, pt. 2, 57 Cong. 1st sess. p, 1912.

See also Taylor, Vol. IV. Exhibit 816, 96 FZ.[65]


In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

Among the generals who were under the immediate orders of Luna was General Mascardo whom he entrusted with the mission of guarding the coast of Manila Bay on the Pampanga side in order to impede as much as possible an enemy landing, or, at least, to delay it so that we would not find ourselves outflanked in Bagbag and Kalumpit. This general, on various occasions, absented himself from his post without permission, in disregard of the instructions of the General-in-Chief, believing undoubtedly that with the protection that he enjoyed from the Captain General, Luna would not attempt to impose upon him a punishment. In this case, however, he was mistaken because the Luna of Kalumpit was not the Luna of Kalookan. The admonitions of Luna were answered with insolence and Mascardo’s threats to rebel in case Luna should impose upon him any punishment reached the ears of Luna. Things took such a serious turn that Luna decided to make said general toe the line, resorting to force if necessary. For this purpose he took with himself some companies of the garrison not on duty and with them he proceeded to the place where the general in question was. Everybody feared a bloody conflict, so much so that the inhabitants of the towns near the place where General Mascardo was stationed went out en masse to beg Luna to desist from his plans. Luna, however, answered that discipline was a question of life or death for our troops and that, unless Mascardo recognized his authority and submitted to his orders, he would carry things to the last extreme. Fortunately, however, the incident was settled in a satisfactory manner because General Mascardo had enough prudence to recognize that he was in error and he abided publicly by the orders of Luna, admitting his fault.[67]

In John Schumacher’s, review of Vivencio Jose’s The Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna, he writes:

Though admitting that Luna was impulsive and inclined to rash and harsh action, he [V. Jose] generally defends him as impelled by the necessity of creating a unified and disciplined army in the face of Aguinaldo’s toleration of insubordination and his personalistic conduct of military and governmental affairs. The contention that Aguinaldo’s Cavitismo and favoritism was a major factor in undermining Luna’s leadership and continuting to the military defeats by the Americans seems to this reviewer amply demonstrated. On the other hand, Jose’s efforts to justify Luna’s action in abandoning the battlefield with a large force of men just as the Filipino troops were under severe pressure from the Americans at Bagbag, in order to punish the indiscipline of General Mascardo, seem forced. In spite of the assertion that it was necessary as a matter of principle (p. 305) it seems clear from Luna’s own words cited by the author (p. 301) that personal resentment played a major part in his action. That his impulsive action was largely responsible for the subsequent Filipino defeat also seems clear. The recognition that Aguinaldo’s failure to support Luna and that the latter’s eventual murder destroyed the chance of the Republic to withstand the Americans need not demand the total justification of Luna at every point. His fierce nationalism, his determination and superior military skill are as clear as the tragic blow his murder dealt to the Filipino cause. Similarly in the case of the assassination of Luna, the book demonstrates the responsibility of Buencamino and the culpable complicity of Aguinaldo. The author maintains that Luna did not ambition the Presidency of the Republic, for he recognized in Aguinaldo the only one who had ‘the popular prestige and the personal power to hold the majority of the generals together.’ Moreover, had he had such ambitions, he would have been more diplomatic in dealing with those who ‘counted in the councils of the Republic’ (p. 364). The argument is suasive, and it is clear that Luna was not an intriguer. Nonetheless, it is hard to say whether, given his growing frustration with Aguinaldo, Luna might not have been driven to eliminate at least the many enemies of his who surrounded Aguinaldo, in order to save the Republic from defeat.[13]


But in his memoirs, Alejandrino asserts,

After a month, more or less, of respite which the enemy conceded to us, Luna was able to reunite some 7,000 battle-seasoned and disciplined men who put up energetic and tenacious resistance against the attack of the Americans. The Battle of Bagbag was one of the most hard-fought of those which took place during the entire campaign in the north. Our soldiers disputed inch by inch the territory and they retreated only after they had barely left enough cartridges to cover a retreat. Luna was always in the firing line during all the actions and was always one of the last to retreat.

I insist once more that the grave accusation launched against him by his enemies that the Battle of Bagbag was lost because he had left with a part of his forces to discipline Mascardo and to satisfy his personal pride is absolutely false, because he directed personally the defense of Bagbag. The most palpable and incontrovertible evidence of this fact is that the then Colonel Benito Natividad was wounded during the retreat in front of the station of Kalumpit by the side of Luna. There also died in this battle Lt. Jose Villanueva who was carrying the rifle of Luna which the latter had the custom of using during critical moments.[67]


Dr. Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera recounted:

Si hen. Luna– ang wika sa akin ng matalinong doktor– ay talagang matapang. Ito’y hindi na pagtatalunan. Nguni’t sa kasawiang palad, ang katapangan niya ay hindi nauukol sa isang pinunong hukbo. Totoo siyang magagalitin at hindi marunong tumanggap ng anumang biro. Pati sa babae ay nakikipagkagalit, gaya ng magalit siya kay Pepita Levya. Ang mga kapatid man niya ay hindi pinag-papakundanganan, maliban sa pintor na siya niyang kinaaalang-alanganan. Sinasabing sa mga manunulat sa LA INDEPENDENCIA ay marami rin siyang nakasamaan ng loob. Sa Espanya ay gayon din at minsan ay hinamon pa niya ng barilan si Rizal at kaya lamang hindi natuloy ay nakarating sa pintor na siyang namagitan at pumayapa. Dito man noong nakaraang himagsikan ay marami rin siyang nakagalit na mga pinunong hukbo at pinunong pamahalaan. Kung hindi sa pagkakaalit nila ni heneral Mascardo ay hindi sana natalo agad ang mga pilipino sa mga amerikano sa labanan ng Bagbag. Kung nagagalit si heneral Luna ay walang tanging nakasisira sa kanyang loob at nakapagpapahupa ng kanyang galit kundi ang kanyang ina na labis niyang minamahal at pinagpipitaganan. [63]

In The Development of Philippine Politics,  Maximo Kalaw writes:

Again in another letter, April 18th he told President Aguinaldo that Baldomero Aguinaldo should be allowed to resign from the office of the Secretary of War in order to avoid trouble with General Luna, which was likely to, occur on account of the number of complaints he was receiving.

“This state of affairs is very serious,” said Mabini. “If an incident turns out well, the credit goes to him alone; while we wish him all that is due him, the blame falls upon us because we permit the same. If our government were dictatorial in form instead of constitutional, it might be all right, but I believe it is not advisable to change the form of government because this would furnish ground for the other powers to believe what the Americans say to the effect that when they took Malolos our government was already dissolved.”([1][65]


April 23, 1899

Calumpit lost, Luna wounded.

In Mabini’s letters, he wrote:

After the Calumpit bridge had fallen to the American forces, due mainly to the scarcity of ammunition, Luna came to see at 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 I doubted I would get anywhere because my advice was hardly heeded in military matters insamuch as, not being a military man but a man of letters, my military knowledgeability must be scant, if not non-existent. I could not keep my promise because after our meeting I did not get to see Mr. Aguinaldo until after some time…[69]

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

In Kalumpit where Luna established his headquarters, he began to organize the scattered elements of the different brigades which were then found without chiefs. He ordered me to finish the construction of the trenches of the line north of Bagbag River. When I received this order, I did not have available men under me except a few officers, and this I manifested to Luna, adding that in order to comply with his instructions it would be necessary for me to have at least two thousand men with pick-axes, hoes, hatchets and shovels — implements which we lacked. Luna, without seeming to worry at all over what I said, told me that within three or four days I would have not only 2,000 but 4,000 men with their tools. Being used to the slowness of Malolos, I listened with skepticism to his promises, but when the day set by him arrived and I saw getting off the train the men with their tools who had come from different provinces, my skepticism changed into admiration and I understood that things were going to change aspect from then on. Luna inaugurated that series of orders for the noncompliance of which he prescribed only one punishment — that of death. These orders earned for him the nickname of “General Article One.”[70]

During this time the town of Macabebe was being alarmed by the rumors circulating around, the source of which I could not verify, that the soldiers intended to enter said town and thru blood and fire to raze it to the ground and disperse its inhabitants. Luna spoke to me about the case, condescending to consult my opinion about the matter without manifesting his own. I took advantage of the opportunity to tell him how impolitic such an act would be and, undoubtedly, he was of the same opinion, because he assured me that he would never consent to the execution of such a plan. Sometime afterwards a prominent man of Pampanga, Don Macario Arnedo, went to see Luna to plead for the Macabebes and Luna, in order to quiet down the inhabitants, decided to make a personal trip to Macabebe.[70]

In The Good Fight, Manuel L. Quezon writes:

At Calumpit, one of the most bloody battles fought during the war of resistance against the United States, he [Luna] was wounded, but did not enter a hospital. [68]

April 24- May 5, 1899

From Manuel L. Quezon’s autobiography The Good Fight:

General Benito Natividad, who was seriously wounded in the battle of Calumpit, was brought to Cabanatuan in a hammock carried by his men. General Natividad was one of the right-hand men of General Luna, and by orders previously given by this general he was to be taken to Luna’s headquarters in Bayambang. Colonel Sitiar of Aguinaldo’s staff instructed me to escort General Natividad to Bayambang. After safely placing my patient in the hands of his friend and chief, I departed the following day for Cabanatuan. Upon reporting that my mission had been performed, I found that I had been promoted to the rank of captain.[68]

April 26, 1899

Luna promoted to Lieutenant General after Battle of Santo Tomas, Pampanga, in which he had been wounded.

April 29, 1899

Mabini writes to the Schurman Commission. Teodoro M. Kalaw in a footnote to this letter, provides the context for it: “[1] After four days of hard fighting, General Luna, who was defending with his forces the strategic points of the Bagbag and Calumpit rivers, had to abandon them and fall back to Santo Tomas, Pampanga. From this place he sent his Staff Colonel, Manuel Arguelles, to the enemy camp to ask for a suspension of hostilities under the pretext of calling a session of Congress in San Fernando on May 1st. General Otis refused, alleging that he had only the power to make peace upon the unconditional surrender of the Filipinos. Mabini, as President of the Council of Government, followed up Luna’s request, sending Arguelles anew with concrete instructions. Otis remained adamant. The war continued. – T.M.K”


San Isidro, April 29, 1899

Honorable Sir:

The Filipino people, through their Government, wish to make known to the Commission that they have not lost their faith in the friendship, justice and magnanimity of the North American nation.

The Filipino people feel weak before the onslaught of the American troops, whose valor they admire; and in view of the superiority of the American forces in organization, discipline, war materials and other resources, the former do not consider it a humiliation to solicit peace, invoking the generous feelings of the Government of the North American people, worthily represented by the Commission, and the sacred interests of humanity.

But the Philippine Government, fully convinced that it did not provoke the war and that it had only taken the use of arms in defense of its native soil, asks for a suspension of hostilities and a general armistice in the whole Archipelago for the short period of three months, in order to sound the opinion of the people regarding the most advantageous form of government for them, the proposal that shall be offered to the North American Government, and the appointment of a commission with full powers to act in the name of the Filipino people.

The happiness of this unfortunate country and the triumph of the party now in power in the United States depend on the prompt restoration of this peace.

We admit our weakness, but we still have other recourses and, above all, a firm resolution to prolong the war for an indefinite period of time, if the aim to dominate us by force persists.

In expressing these statements before the Commission, I believe I am interpreting the feelings of my President and his Government and those of the Filipino people.

I greet the Commission with the greatest respect.

Your obedient servant,



The members of the Philippine Government have commissioned Colonel Manuel Arguelles to present and to expound to the North American Commission in the Philippines the following points:

First — The Philippine Government finds itself compelled to negotiate an armistice and a suspension of hostilities as indispensable means to arrive at peace: in the first place, to justify itself before the eyes of its people for having made use of all the means within its power to avoid the ruin of the country; and, in the second place, to offer the Commission a means to end the war in a way which is more honorable to the North American Army and more glorious to the Government of the United States.

Secondly — The Philippine Government does not solicit the armistice in order to gain time to reinforce itself or to await help from Japan or from any other nation, inasmuch as, up to the present time, no government has acknowledged its belligerency. Neither is it decided to hurt its relations with the powerful American nation, because it knows that in so doing it would gain nothing. The Philippine Government, ardently desiring the happiness of its people, although it seeks its independence, would not insist on fighting for its ideal if the Filipino people, through their accredited representatives, would ask for peace and would accept autonomy.

Thirdly — The interest of humanity is at present in harmony with that of the American Government, and both ask for a brief period of time, so that, however short this may be, the Filipino people can reflect on their sad situation and learn of the basis of the autonomy that may be offered them.

Fourthly — If, however, this last recourse would be denied to it, no one can censure the Philippine Government for the tenacity which it can give proofs of. The honor of the Army and the happiness of the people shall determine the line of conduct that it should follow; that is, the prolongation of the war until all means at its command shall have been exhausted. This prolongation of the war would be fatal for both countries.

Let the Commission consider, while there is still time to do so, that, should the war become a national war, it would be very hard to confine it within bounds. Should this happen, peace would mean the annihilation of the Filipino people or of the imperialist party of America.

San Isidro, May 1, 1899.


May 1899

In The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, Brian McAllister Linn writes:

The Americans invaded Nueva Ecija in May 1899 as part of their early campaigns against the main Republican army under Emilio Aguinaldo. Although Maj. Gen. Henry W. Lawton occupied the temporary capital of San Isidro on 17 May, he failed to capture the Republican government, which retreated up the river to Cabanatuan. Lawton had little trouble with the Filipino forces, whom he brushed aside with little resistance. The climate was a far more serious opponent. Undermanned and near collapse from overwork and disease, Lawton’s forces withdrew and the province reverted to Republican control. The main result of this expedition was to increase the tension between Aguinaldo and his leading general, Antonio Luna, culminating in Luna’s murder a month later and the equally fatal destruction of internal discipline among the Filipino troops.[73]


In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

On two or three occasions the President reviewed the troops organized and commanded by Luna. On one of these occasions he indicated a desire that Luna send one or two batallions to him in Nueva Ecija, but Luna made him see the necessity of having disciplined troops at the front. Although this reason seemed to have convinced the President, I believe nevertheless that Aguinaldo harbored some resentment over it, which was later on taken advantage of by the enemies of Luna to eliminate him.[74]

May 4, 1899

Santo Tomas, Pampanga, lost.

May 5, 1899

Paterno replaces Mabini as Prime Minister (President of the Cabinet). Buencamino becomes Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

San Fernando, Pampanga, lost.

In The Good Fight, Manuel L. Quezon writes:

Soon after Aguinaldo had gone to Cabanatuan, the Filipino Congress held a session there. It was generally believed that at this session the Congress had decided to appoint a committee that would go to Manila and negotiate peace terms with the Philippine Commission sent by President McKinley on the basis of Philippine autonomy under an American protectorate. But General Luna, having heard of the action taken by the Congress, came rushing to Cabanatuan and arrested the members of the Congress whom he found there, including those who had been appointed members of the committee. That was the end of the Malolos Congress as well as any attempt to negotiate peace with the American Government. It was also rumored that General Luna, after insulting some of the members of Aguinaldo’s cabinet who had approved of the action of the Congress, demanded from Aguinaldo their dismissal. Whether the rumor was true or not, the fact remains that after Luna’s trip to Cabanatuan, to which place the Congress had returned, the members of the cabinet presented their resignations and they were accepted. On the other hand, Aguinaldo prevailed upon Luna to release the members of the Congress whom he had arrested. [68]

In The Roots of the Filipino Nation, O.D. Corpuz writes:

The “disasters” that Buencamino had ascribed to Luna were in fact hard fought contests.The battle of Bulacan that began with the actions at the Bagbag and Galumpit rivers pitted Luna against General Arthur MacArthur. Under the latter were two generals of his command (Hale and Wheaton); a third (Lawton) drove north through eastern Bulacan to give flank support. The fight lasted from 24 April to 5 May, Luna reporting that he had run out of ammunition. The enemy drive resumed in mid-May, forcing Aguinaldo to retire to Cabanatuan and Lima to Bayambang. After Luna’s death Aguinaldo moved his capital to Tarlac.[71]

May 9, 1899

Government moves to Cabanatuan.

In The Good Fight, Manuel L. Quezon writes:

For several months I was stationed in Cabanatuan. When later Aguinaldo, pressed by the American advance, transferred the seat of his government form Malolos to Cabanatuan, I was detailed to form a part of his staff. The General in command of all the forces operating in Luzon was Antonio Luna, a highly educated man who had spent many years as a student in Spain and in France. No braver soldier was ever born in any clime or any land. Whenever a key position was at stake, he always took personal command of the Filipino forces and was the last to retreat.[68]

In The Development of Philippine Politics, Maximo Kalaw writes:

On May 9th, the Revolutionary Government changed its seat to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, and on the same day Luna was appointed assistant secretary of war. A few days afterwards Luna knew that, after all, the peace commission had left for Manila. This angered him. He went to Cabanatuan and insulted one of the cabinet members calling him autonomist and traitor. Later on he arrested the president and members of the cabinet and handed them over to Aguinaldo advising their deportation. Some of them immediately endeavored to convince Aguinaldo that Luna was going to the extent of plotting against the President of the Republic himself. At first Aguinaldo would not believe that Luna would have such high designs. Later on he must have been convinced that Luna really had evil plans in mind. An evidence of Aguinaldo’s conviction is that he wrote confidential letters, in Tagalog, and in his own handwriting, addressed to his faithful companions of the insurrection of 1896, telling them that he was in imminent peril and that he relied in the faithfulness of his old comrade who would surely not abandon him.([1])

[1] One of these letters, said Concepcion, was received in his presence, on May 31, by General Makabulos who showed it to him. (Concepcion, Apuntes etc. Entries for June 24, to 30th) [65]

May 17, 1899

In The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes, Alfredo Saulo writes:

Luna, through adjutant, Col. Francisco Roman, “seized drafts worth 15,000 pesos from the government treasury in Tarlac, Tarlac, and sent them to Manila for collection.”[76]

May 18, 1899

In The Development of Philippine Politics, Maximo Kalaw writes:

That General Luna, on the other hand, was endeavoring to secure popular support for the arrests he had made of Paterno and Buencamino, was shown from the cablegrams he received, one from the Provincial Presidente of Cagayan dated May 18, 1899, and the other from the Provincial Councilor and Representative of Abra dated May 19, 1899, both expressing congratulations upon his action.([1])

[1] The telegrams referred to are taken from Taylor’s Vol. IV, Exhibit 879-881 as follows:

Exhibit 879

(Original in Spanish. Record of telegrams P. I. R. 917-9)

Tuguegarao. Provincial Presidente Cagayan to Secretary of War: I received your telegram with cries of, “Death to Paterno and Buencamino”: and in reply I take pleasure in statins that the entire province refuses to accept autonomy, which is nothing more than a trick to disarm us and then do what they will with us. I trust in the sound wisdom and patriotism of the Filipino people and its government. To accept autonomy now and lower our flag after having spilled blood,—ourselves and others—would be to occupy a false position before all the nations of the world.

Tuguegarao, May 18, 1899.

Exhibit 881

(Original in Spanish. Telegram P. I. R. 917-8)

Vigan, May 19, 1899.

Provincial Councilor and Representative of Abra to General Luna: Have learned traitors Paterno, Buencamino, Velarde and Arguelles imprisoned warmly congratulate you while at the same time we unconditionally adhere to policy and decisions of Government and its Honorable President. Whole province united, sentiments identical to those of that province brave army and pueblo we all repeat cries of Viva Independencia, death to the traitors. Viva the Philippine Republic and its president.

Benguet, May 18, 1899. [65]

May 20, 1899

In La Independencia, Luna said:

“The Filipino people want independence and I sustain the cause of my country until the end in compliance with the oath I made to the flag. Without exaggeration or exaltation, I sincerely confess to you that it is always better to fall on the battlefield than to accept any foreign rule…

…The Americans fought with abnegation to defend theirs; they themselves understand why we resist…”[77]

In The Development of Philippine Politics, Maximo Kalaw writes:

In La Independencia of May 20, 1899, an interview with Luna was published in which he said that the autonomy plan was opposed by all the people that he had met. His statement reads in part:

“All of the Generals with whom I have had communication, viz: Tinio, Macubulos, Concepcion, Mascardo, Pilar and Torres are all of the same opinion. Those of the south are still more decided. The military, together with the civil party, will not deliver their arms or accept autonomy. I have profound convictions of what I say, since in a kind of plebiscite I have asked the people whether they wanted autonomy. Do you know what they answered me? ‘Long live Independence.’ ‘May autonomy die!’ Those were the answers I received in eight of the central provinces I addressed. On repeated occasions I asked the entire population of towns who were fleeing from the enemy, ‘Are you discouraged? Do you want peace? Do you wish to return to your pueblos?’ And they, women, old men and children, would answer me: ‘We have started to fight for our independence, we will continue, we will lose all before we will live under the domination of those who humble and destroy us.”([1])

in reply I take pleasure in statins that the entire province refuses to accept autonomy, which is nothing more than a trick to disarm us and then do what they will with us. I trust in the sound wisdom and patriotism of the Filipino people and its government. To accept autonomy now and lower our flag after having spilled blood,—ourselves and others—would be to occupy a false position before all the nations of the world.

Tuguegarao, May 18, 1899.

Exhibit 881

(Original in Spanish. Telegram P. I. R. 917-8)

Vigan, May 19, 1899.

Provincial Councilor and Representative of Abra to General Luna: Have learned traitors Paterno, Buencamino, Velarde and Arguelles imprisoned warmly congratulate you while at the same time we unconditionally adhere to policy and decisions of Government and its Honorable President. Whole province united, sentiments identical to those of that province brave army and pueblo we all repeat cries of Viva Independencia, death to the traitors. Viva the Philippine Republic and its president.

Benguet, May 18, 1899.

[1] Taylor, Vol. IV, Exhibit 882  [65]

May 25, 1899

In Cabantuan, the alleged slapping incident between Luna and Buencamino.

In The Letters of Apolinario Mabini, Mabini writes:

Luna, who aspired to the Presidency of the Council of Government with the War portfolio, seeing that, despite the scandal, the present Cabinet [Pedro Paterno’s, after Mabini had been forced out] would not resign, indicted Colonel Arguelles, whom he wanted shot by musketry, for favoring autonomy, but the Council of War condemned him only to 12 years of imprisonment. Luna summoned the son of [Cabinet member Felipe] Buencamino, a Major, who disappeared a short time later, murdered, according to some, and killed in combat, according to the newspaper La Independencia. Lastly, Luna ordered Paterno and Buencamino arrested, but in this he failed.[78]

The order of arrest:



(Membrete impreso)

Quedan autorizados respectivamente los Senores Quintin Bravo y Ceferino Santos, Capitan y 1er. Teniente respectivamente para que puedan recoger la persona del Senor Felipe Buencamino donde le encuentren y conducirlo a esta plaza. Bayambang 25 Mayo 1899.

El Srio. de Guerra

(Fdo.) A. LUNA

Narito ang salin sa Tagalog:


(Membreteng limbag)

Isa’t isang binbigyan ng kapahintulutan sina Ginoong Quintin Bravo at Ceferino Santos, Kapitan at unang Tenyente, upang mangyaring kunin ang katahuan ni Ginoong Felipe Buencamino saan man siya nila matagpuan at ihatid sa Himpilang ito. Bayambang 25 ng Mayo ng 1899.

Ang Kahilim-Digma

(Lgda. A. LUNA)[63]

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

In the headquarters which was established in a house near the railway station, Luna indignantly spoke to me of the pro-autonomy attitude of some high officials of the Government, lamenting that Aguinaldo was surrounded by men who, according to him, were traitors to the country. As a matter of fact he said to me: “Here we have a colonel whose conduct arouses my suspicion.” Knowing whom he was referring to, I asked him why he selected him as the emissary to ask for an armistice.[79]

In The Memoirs of Victor Buencamino:

Then came the celebrated “slapping incident” at Cabanatuan where the Aguinaldo government had fled in the face of an intensified American military pressure.

General Antonio Luna, one of the top military men of the period who was removed for his temper, was said to have come to Cabanatuan to confront General Aguinaldo about some issue involving command authority.

The accounts record that Luna and Father had a heated exchange of words and that Luna slapped my father who was defending Aguinaldo.

I never had a chance to get my father’s version of this incident as I did not take interest in it until after Father’s death. But one day in 1961, during a call on the aging General Aguinaldo, I asked him to tell me all that he knew about this incident. Also present during my talk with general were his secretary, Mr. Emilio Virata; my son Victor, Jr.; a young Frenchman in the consular service, Mr. Alain Miailhe; and a lawyer, Mr. Alfonso Felix, who was president of the Historical Conservation Society.

General Aguinaldo’s version was that there was a rather heated exchange of words between General Luna and my father. It seems that General Luna has accused my half-brother, Joaquin Buencamino, of cowardice and my father retorted it was Luna who was guilty of cowardice for he had abandoned a certain defensive fort in the heat of battle.

Anyway, Aguinaldo added, Luna stood up to hit my father, but at this instant Aguinaldo interceded, reminding Luna he was in the presence of the president of the Philippines, and the incident ended there.

It is also recorded that Father was among the early converts in the American pacification drive and in fact took an active part in it. Then along with Don Pedro A. Paterno and several other prominent Filipinos, Father organized the Association de Paz which was later named the Partido Federal. It was as spokesman of this party that he went to the United States in 1903.

BUT THOUGH HE NEVER himself aspired for any position afterwards, Father continued to espouse nationalist causes. He was a close personal friend of Bishop Gregorio Aglipay.[75]


May 28, 1899

Paterno writes to Luna, saying he (Paterno) “desired to resign his position [as Prime Minister] since he accepted it against his will.”  

May 31, 1899

Mabini writes to Galicano Apacible:


Nueva Ecija, May 31, 1899


My dear Friends:

I have just received your letter dated the 4th, instant, together with those addressed to the President, the letter of Sol[1] together with a copy for Naning, the copy of the telegrams, and a letter of Gregorio Agoncillo. I have not received the pamphlets and the copies of the prospectus on the antiannexationist League; neither the memorandum on the lawsuit and transaction with the Bank, nor the fees of the lawyers.

As for me, I am agreeable to the transaction, because there is the saying that a bad transaction is preferable to a winning lawsuit. In this way we avoid disputes, misunderstandings and delays.

I turned over to Mr. Buencamino, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the letters that you addressed to me with the copy of the telegrams, sending the other documents to the President, so that they can take into account what you say in them.

I am surprised that you complain about lack of instructions, since in my last letters to you I have given you plenty. I cannot cite the dates now, because the antecedents and the copy book are now in the possession of Mr. Buencamino.

From the 9th, instant, I turned over the Government to the new Cabinet formed by P. A. Paterno, President; Alas, Secretary of the Interior; Trias, War and Navy; Hugo Ilagan, temporary, Treasury; Aguedo Velarde, Public Instruction; Maximo Paterno, Communications and Public Works; and Leon Maria Guerrero, Agriculture, Industry and Commerce.[2] I am sending Dr. Calvo the numbers of the official newspaper containing articles about that talk of the change of the Cabinet, with the request that he give them them to you so that you will know the details. In my last letter, I already mentioned to you that there would soon be a change, and now the change has come.

Since Calumpit was captured by the Americans, General Luna, knowing that I wanted a temporary suspension of hostilities in order to come to an understanding, had sent persons to parley with General Otis. These representatives had come back saying that the American General was ready to come to an understanding, and so we sent Commissioners with instructions to negotiate with the American Commission. Our Commissioners came back to say that the Americans cannot recognize our Government, but would only deal with General Aguinaldo and the other generals; and that they were ready for peace if the former and the latter would surrender unconditionally to them. As I refused to agree to this absurd demand, the members of the present Cabinet, almost all of them members of Congress, asked for a change of Cabinet, under the pretext that the previous one could not secure an understanding because of its uncompromising attitude from the beginning.

Immediately after the formation of the new Cabinet, the Government tried to send Commissioners to Manila with instructions to propose the acceptance of an autonomy like that of Canada. But the Government had to desist from this intention in view of the opposition of the Army and of the people. General Luna came to call the members of the new Cabinet traitors with a certain degree of reason because, with the Constitution still in force, any program of autonomy that the Government may adopt is illegal.

Nevertheless, the President, in his capacity as General, has sent Commissioners with instructions to ask for a suspension of hostilities for the length of time that he may consider necessary to consult the people and the Army, alleging that, in his desire to come to an understanding with the American Government, he has sought the advice of a more moderate and conciliatory new Cabinet. I do not know the result of the talks of this Commission because it has not yet returned from Manila.

The last official news are flattering. It is said that the Americans have evacuated San Isidro and San Fernando, going back to Baliwag and Calumpit. I believe this news to be true inasmuch as the President is still in San Isidro. I do not know the causes of this retreat.

I am taking advantage of these days of rest to look for relief for my ailment. I do not know whether I can find any; but, anyway, you have as ever, an affectionate friend and faithful servant,


[1] Sun Yat-Sen.

[2] The name of Felipe Buencamino as Secretary of Foreign Affairs does not appear in the original letter, probably an inadvertent omission. – T.M.K.[80]


Venario Concepcion wrote:

To what extent the loss of Luna weakened – as it undoubtedly did weaken – the military power of the Revolutionary Government is for writers on military topics to discuss The following comments of General Concepcion, a supposedly pro-Luna man, as to the real merit of General Luna as a military commander, are however of interest:

“According to what chiefs and officers closest to General Luna have told me, there had been occasions in which the forces under his command went to the extent of hating him, since in battles, without attending to reasons, circumstances or conveniences, he was taking them to real suicide; in a word he gets mad when he hears the enemy’s fire… People versed in the military art concede to General Luna great merits as chief of a column, whose radius of action he can dominate with his eye, but not as director of great operations, because his foolhardiness (ceguedad) might be the cause of useless loss of live and perhaps of lamentable defeats.

“To my mind it is not foolhardiness (ceguedad) which dominate Luna but the desire to give example of true heroism to his soldiers and his conviction that he lacked men who could follow him with intelligence and resolution. V. Concepcion, Apuntes, Vol. II, Entry for May 31, 1899. [91]

June 1899

Luna orders arrest of Lt. Col. Vitan, Major Leisan, Capts. Ricafort, Martinez Ibañez, and Quimson for insubordination.

June 1, 1899

In the “Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands”, Felipe Buencamino said:

Then General Aguinaldo decided on the suppression of General Luna, and he collected 4,000 men and went to look for General Luna, leaving the town where the captain-general was temporarily on June 1.[81]

June 2, 1899

Spanish forces at Baler, Philippines, surrender.

Luna receives two telegrams. He said:

Tell our fellowmen that Independence cannot be obtained from rosebeds with comfort and without the corresponding risk. Independence is attained after a period of fighting, of sufferings, sacrifices, afflictions and bloodletting.

Buencamino writes to Aguinaldo denying his son, Major Joaquin Buencamino, had gone over to the Americans –pointing out his son had been killed in the Battle of San Fernando.[82]

In The Development of Philippine Politics, Maximo Kalaw writes:

General Concepcion’s version of the death of Luna after gathering information from other officials is as follows: On the 2nd or 3rd of June Luna received a telegram from Aguinaldo asking him to form a new cabinet and asking him to see the President at Cabanatuan. Luna found out upon reaching Cabanatuan that the officer whom he had disarmed was in charge of the bodyguard of the president. Upon going up to the presidency he also found out that Aguinaldo had left for San Isidro. He was naturally disappointed at the apparent failure of the President to keep his appointment. Suddenly a revolver shot was heard from below. Luna walked downstairs to see what was the matter, but before he left the last steps he was stabbed in the back, then he and his aide Colonel Roman were fired upon and boloed, till they died.([1][91]

[1] Version heard by General Concepcion at the time and noted in his Apuntes for June 24 to 30, 1899.


June 3, 1899

In The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes, Alfredo Saulo writes:

Luna publishes announcement of a prospective cabinet lineup in La Independencia, with himself as prime minister and for the war portfolio, Pedro Paterno, Lt. Col. Alberto Barreto, or Leon Ma. Guerrero as Secretary of Foreign Affairs; Lt. Col. Joaquin Luna or Severino de las Alas as Secretary of the Interior; Telesforo Chiudan, Mariano Limjap or Mariano Nable for Secretary of Finance; Gen. Jose Alejandrino or Regino Garcia as Secretary of Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce; Leon Ma. Guerrero, Teodoro Sandiko, or Gen. Francisco as Secretary of Public Instruction; Gracio Gonzaga, Severino de las Alas, or Teodoro Sandiko as Secretary of Communications.[83]

In La Revolucion Filipina, Mabini writes:

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-Buencamino cabinet would be replaced by another in which Luna would be prime minister as well as war minister.[84]

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

Luna wanted to proceed strongly against some of these persons for a general punishment. He said that it was necessary to shoot an autonomist, a coward, a recalcitrant, and a thief, and he wanted that the victims should be those occupying very high positions in order that the punishment be exemplary. But he never wanted to replace Aguinaldo, and even in intimate conversations he told me that nobody had the countrywide prestige earned by Aguinaldo and that no one else could control the majority of our generals. Even when he considered that the President, because of his weakness and partiality towards others was an obstacle to the disciplining of the army and the unity of our pro-independence policy, was an evil, he was, nevertheless, a necessary evil.[85]

June 4, 1899

Luna sends telegram.

In The Good Fight, Manuel L. Quezon writes:

Not long afterward Aguinaldo once again transferred the seat of his government from Cabanatuan to Angeles. We made the trip on horseback from Cabanatuan to San Isidro, where we found a force composed of at least three thousand men under the command of General Gregorio del Pilar. General Aguinaldo, after reviewing his guard of honor, ordered all the officers who were then in San Isidro to come up to his residence, and there, without any explanation for this unexpected as well as unusual procedure, he made us swear that we would fight by his side against all comers. Very early the next morning, we proceeded in the direction of Bayambang where we arrived late at night. On this trip for the first time I saw General Aguinaldo dressed in his military uniform with his insignia as full general. I asked him if he was celebrating some happy event, and he just smiled and said nothing.[68]

June 5, 1899

Luna is killed.

In the Letters of Apolinario Mabini:

Finally, on June 5th, Luna went to Cabanatuan at a time when the President was away, and he died there with Colonel Paco Roman, murdered by the Presidential guard. I still do not know the causes of this tragic end; but I suppose that, somehow, the hatred that the companies of Kawit felt towards him contributed to it. The deceased had these companies disarmed twice, once in Tuliahan and again in Calumpit, for infractions of discipline, according to the deceased, and out of hatred towards the Caviteños, according to the punished.

I do not know how much truth there is in this. But impartial persons see in Luna dangerous tendencies, because, while he wanted to impose obedience on everyone by force, he did not like to obey anyone; and he did whatever he fancied without consulting anybody. Anyway, I deplore his sad end; it would have been less painful had he died in the battlefield and not at the hands of his own countrymen.[86]

Also from Mabini:

I have already informed you in my previous letters of the truth of the murder of Luna and Paco Roman. According to a circular of the Department of the Interior, Luna insulted the guards, kicking and slapping them and hitting them with the butt of his gun, for which reason the soldiers killed him. As I was in Balungaw on the date of the murder and from there I came to Rosales where I still am now, I cannot tell you anything definite. What there was to it was that Luna, as Undersecretary of War and ad interim Secretary in the absence of Don Mariano Trias, using as a pretext the tendency shown earlier by the present Cabinet to look for a settlement with the Americans on the basis of autonomy like that of Canada, moved the Department to Bayambang and there he ran matters all by himself completely disregarding ‘Puno’ [Aguinaldo] and his colleagues in the Government. He acted thus because he wanted the Paterno Cabinet to resign, so that he could take charge of forming another Cabinet retaining for himself the Presidency with the Department of War. He announced thus in his newspaper when he was called by the President to Cabanatuan. You add to all these data the scandal against Buencamino and Paterno and the death of the son of the former, and you have enough to break your head if you try to imagine what took place.[88]

In La Revolucion Filipina, Mabini later writes:

When… Luna received Mr. Aguinaldo’s telegram calling him to Cabanatuan, Luna thought perhaps that the subject of their meeting would be the new cabinet…[89]

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

The first link in the chain of events which culminated in the death of General Luna was forged in Kalookan during the first battles in which he insulted and threatened to shoot a colonel and a lieutenant colonel from Nueva Ecija who had retreated from the line during the fighting abandoning their men. The second link was the disarming of a company of Kabite soldiers who formed part of the Presidential Guard at Kalumpit. The third is when by means of force he compelled General Mascardo to recognize his authority as General-in-Chief, thereby creating a deep enmity between them. The fourth was the violent scene involving Buencamino, Paterno and Luna in the Presidential Office in Kabanatuan. The fifth is when an influential General came to know that he was being threatened by Luna for his continuous acts of insubordination. The sixth was the reasoned refusal of Luna to send some battalions of the soldiers he had organized in Kalumpit to Nueva Ecija as General Aguinaldo wanted. But the order of arrest against Paterno and Buencamino, the alleged assassination of Joaquin Buencamino, and the trial of Arguelles were the seventh and last link which completed the iron chain that ended the heroic life of the regretted Lieutenant General of the Army of the Republic.


Joaquin Luna, brother of the General, who was in La Union, was informed by some friends of the suspicions engendered by the tenor of the telegrams of Aguinaldo to Tinio that something very serious was being plotted against Luna, and he went to Bayambang to caution him against the danger. Luna answered, however, that he knew that Aguinaldo appreciated him just as he appreciated also Aguinaldo and that there was nothing to fear about. Hardly had Joaquin Luna arrived in Dagupan on his way back to La Union when he received the sad report of the death of his brother. [85]

In The Crisis of the Republic,  Teodoro Agoncillo writes:

The thirst for vengeance by those who were affected by Luna’s discipline and militarism did not end with his murder. Manuel Bernal was arrested in Dagupan, Pangasinan by troops under General Gregorio del Pilar. He was stripped of his uniform and insignias and tortured until he fell unconscious. A few days later, he was shot by a certain Major Gatmaitan at the barrio of Bunuan. Captain Jose Bernal was shot in Angeles, Pampanga by a group of soldiers under Col. Servillano Aquino on June 16, 1899.[90]

In the “Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands”, Felipe Buencamino said:

Mr. BUECAMINO: Before midnight it was rumored in Bayambang that Luna had been murdered in Cabanatuan by the personal guards of Aguinaldo who were left in that town to protect his mother and wife. While this terrible news was being whispered all around, we received orders to board the train which was to take Aguinaldo with the forces of General Gregorio del Pilar to Angeles. Angeles was the headquarters of General Concepcion, another of General Luna’s trusted men, who was in command of the forces which were facing the Americans in San Fernando. General Concepcion was evidently unaware of our arrival, for he showed his surprise when he was faced by the Commander-in-Chief of the Filipino forces. The following day an official announcement was made of the killing of General Luna and that of his senior aide-de- camp, Colonel Paco Roman. His two junior aides were put in prison.

The brigade defending the line facing San Fernando was the crack brigade of the old Philippine Army. It had been organized by General Luna himself and was composed of veteran soldiers of the defunct Spanish Army and commanded by officers who had also served and fought many battles under the Spanish flag. Quietly but hurriedly, General Aguinaldo recalled these officers, sent them to other brigades, and replaced them with his old trusted officers of the Revolution.

We did not remain long in Angeles. From there we went farther north to the town of Tarlac where Aguinaldo, in personal command of the Philippine Army since Luna’s death, remained for several months.

Mr. BUENCAMINO. General Luna was living in Bayambang, about 75 miles from Cabanatuan, so that it took Aguinaldo four days to arrive at the town of Bayambang. But what I can not explain is the coincidence that upon the same day that Aguinaldo was arriving at the residence of General Luna. General Luna on the same day and at the same hour was also arriving at General Aguinaldo’s house.

The CHAIRMAN. How far were they apart?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Seventy-five miles. General Luna was killed in the lower part of General Aguinaldo’s house by General Aguinaldo’s guards.

Mr. CHAIRMAN. Who of General Luna’s staff were present with him?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Francisco Roman and his aid-de-camp,

Mr. CHAIRMAN. General Luna was killed?


Mr. CHAIRMAN. What other persons of Aguinaldo’s family were there?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. His mother, his sister, his wife, and his children.

Mr. CHAIRMAN. Where were they?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. In the upper part of the building in which General Luna was killed.

Mr. CHAIRMAN. General Luna was killed just outside of General Aguinaldo’s house by General Aguinaldo’s personal guards?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir.[95]

In another part of the “Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands”, Felipe Buencamino said:

Mr. JONES. Who were the slayers of General Luna?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. I desire to be excused from answering this question, because I would be obliged to refer to Mr. Aguinaldo, and Mr. Aguinaldo is at the present time an enemy of mine, politically speaking, and a prisoner, and my duty is not to say anything about him. It is also my duty to answer, Mr. Congressman, but if you will permit me, if you will excuse me from answering the question, I will appreciate it very much.

Mr. JONES. I understood the witness to say that Aguinaldo had gone to the place of residence of General Luna, in search of him, and that

The CHAIRMAN. He did not say in search of him.

Mr. JONES. He did not use the word ‘“search,” but looking for him. He had gone-well, I will say in search of him.

Mr. BUENCAMINO. With 4,000 men.

Mr. JONES. With 4,000 men, and that Aguinaldo had gone to the place where General Luna resided with 4,000 men.

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir.

Mr. JONES. And that in some mysterious way-he used that word General Luna had departed for Aguinaldo’s headquarters.


Mr. JONES. General Luna was in search of Aguinaldo, was he not?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir; but without any forces.

Mr. JONES. Without any forces?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Except 50 mounted men, his natural escort.

Mr. JONES. Fifty mounted men?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. His usual escort.

Mr. JONES. And he was killed whilst Aguinaldo was at his place of residence looking for him, accompanied by 4,000 men.

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir.

Mr. JONES. I understood, too, that some differences had grown up between Aguinaldo and Luna on account of the cruelties practiced by General Luna.

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir.

Mr. JONES. Were you the private secretary of Aguinaldo at the time?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. I was then secretary of state.. I had nothing to do with the army.

Mr. JONES. You were then secretary of state and had nothing to do with the army. Was that prior to the time when Mabini was president?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. I relieved Mabini, who fell on the 16th. I was secretary of state after Mabini.

Mr. JONES. Was there much feeling on the part of the Filipino people against General Luna on account of his cruelties?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir; he had a good many admirers also, especially among the young military men, because he was a very brave man and a gentleman.

Mr. JONES. General Aguinaldo himself was dissatisfied with the course of General Luna, and opposed to the atrocities and cruelties which he practices, was he not?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir; but he also admired his valor and his courage and his military qualities.

Mr. JONES. I understand you to say that Aguinaldo admired the military qualities and courage of General Luna, and that the differences between them grew out of the fact that Aguinaldo did not approve and indorse his cruel course in the conduct of the war?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. That is one of the causes, and the other was the ambition of General Luna to supplant Aguinaldo.

Mr. JONES. I understand you to say that there was a feeling of relief on the part of the Filipino people, although they did not approve of the killing of Luna, on account of his cruel conduct, and there was a feeling of relief throughout the country at his death?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. No; that the Filipino people did not approve of the means which had been employed for the killing of Luna. Luna was found with 36 bolo wounds, and more than 40 bullet wounds.

Mr. JONES. But my question was, they did experience a feeling of relief, although they did not approve of the manner of his taking off.

Mr. BUENCAMINO. They breathed freely, because they considered their lives in danger before his death.

Mr. JONES. There were Filipinos who believed their lives were in danger as long as he lived?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes.[92]

In the “Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands”, Felipe Buencamino said:

Mr. WILLIAMS of Illinois. I would like to ask a question or two, not having any direct reference to what has been under discussion today. You testified that Aguinaldo with a force of 400 men went in search of General Luna and called at his place of residence, and that while Aguinaldo was there General Luna, with only 50 mounted men as Fan escort, called at the residence of Aguinaldo and was received with such a welcome that his body was found with 36 bolo and pierced by more than 40 bullets. I would like to ask if you know the Occasion of or reason for General Luna’s visit to General Aguinaldo’s residence at that time?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. As I said before, it is a mystery. I do not know. It is not known why this visit was made.

Mr. OLMASTED. Do you know whether he was invited or directed to call there?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. That is a. question of dispute. Luna’s partisans say, that Luna received a telegram from Aguinaldo, and Aguinaldo’s partisans say that he sent no such telegram, because Aguinaldo was in search of Luna. I have personally attempted to find in our telegrams the ribbons of that day and of the previous day, but it has been impossible to find anything of them. General Bell, who covered all the parts where, Luna and Aguinaldo were in the north, also desired to study that question, and he took all the telegrams and ribbons that he could find abandoned by the Filipinos in their flight. He says that he did not find anything which would throw any light on the subject, in order to discover how that coincidence took place, of Aguinaldo being at Luna’s house, while Luna was being killed in the lower part of Aguinaldo’s house 75 miles from each other.

Mr. OLMSTED. Is it not apparent from the fact that he was accompanied only by his staff that General Luna’s visit to Aguinaldo’s house was not hostile?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir; it appears to be.

Mr. OLMSTED. Has any explanation been given of the fact that he did meet his death in Aguinaldo’s house?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Nothing at all.

Mr. OLMSTED. Has any attempt been made to learn of the reason of his being put to death?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Nothing to my knowledge. I do not know if Aguinaldo made any investigation, but at that time there was such secrecy that none of us could speak a word about it, fearing that we would suffer the same fate, and for that reason the Philippine insurrection morally died; there was no more confidence in anybody.[93]

In The Development of Philippine Politics, Maximo Kalaw writes:

It became apparent that the new venture of the Paterno cabinet in favor of peace was to be fruitless, because of the opposition of General Otis to a suspension of hostilities and the hostile attitude of the army and people. At the same time a most interesting drama was being enacted in the internal politics of the revolutionary government. It culminated in the death of General Luna, not at the hands of the American soldier but at the hands of General Aguinaldo’s own bodyguard. Here was another issue between two Filipino leaders which was decided at the point of the bayonet and which necessarily affected the internal politics of the country. Inasmuch as many rumors and accusations have been current about Aguinaldo’s part in the death of Luna, it will be necessary for us to treat the matter at some length, using all the available documents.[91]

In The Development of Philippine Politics, Maximo Kalaw writes:

On June 5, 1899, at 2:30 P. M. General Concepcion whose headquarters was at Angeles, Pampanga, received a telegram from President Aguinaldo advising him that the President had taken charge of the direction of the operations in Central Luzon, that he was provisionally establishing his offices and headquarters at Bamban and that he was coming at 4:00 P. M. that same day. This meant that Luna had been relieved of the command. Aguinaldo arrived at the appointed hour and immediately began investigations as to whether there were any plots against him, for General Concepcion and his troops were supposed to be pro-Luna. He asked General Concepcion why he did not send his reports about his brigade to the President, to which General Concepcion replied that he had sent all reports to the Secretary of War, who in turn was supposed to transmit them to the government.

Aguinaldo — Do you recognize me as general-in-chief of all the operations?

Concepcion — Undoubtedly, My General.

Aguinaldo — Do you know if any conspiracy is being prepared here?

Concepcion — No, General.

Aguinaldo — Do you have confidence in the chiefs and officials of your brigade?

Concepcion — Absolutely, general.

Aguinaldo — Very well; give orders for the presentation to the office of the Captain General which I shall establish this same night in this town of all the chiefs of your brigades, at the most urgent possible time, this same evening.

This was done and the officers who presented themselves to Aguinaldo were placed under arrest and not allowed to communicate with outsiders pending investigations as to the alleged plot. [91]

June 6, 1899

Capital of the Republic is at Bamban, Tarlac.

In the “Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands”, Felipe Buencamino said:

Mr. CHAIRMAN. What effect on the insurrection did the assassination of General Luna have?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. From a sentimental point of view, I can not say that many persons were pleased with it. but it can be said that they breathed freely, because the very morning of the death of General Luna, at 5 o’clock, he had ordered two executions, and consequently everybody considered their lives and persons in danger. So while I will not say that many rejoiced at the death of General Luna, they breathed easier.[94]

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

Aguinaldo, as usual, excused himself in good words and we talked of other things, but General Concepcion was relieved by Lacuna of the command of the lines in Bamban. All the chiefs of the regiments organized by Luna were equally relieved and detained with General Concepcion. In this manner they destroyed the work created thru so much effort by the best general ever produced by the war against the Americans, not only according to my opinion but also according to the opinion of many, including the Americans themselves.[95]

In The Development of Philippine Politics, Maximo Kalaw writes of the purge that followed:

The following morning, June 6th, General Concepcion received a telegram from the President of the Council of Government advising him of the death of General Luna at Cabanatuan the day before, on June 5th. “Immediately,” said Concepcion, “I went to see General Aguinaldo and told him of the lamentable happening showing the telegram I received and he showed great surprise not being able to say a word for five minutes, and then said at last: “Please return to your headquarters; in the meanwhile reserve to yourself such a grave incident and order the presentation to the captain-generalship of all the forces armed with mausers!” Two companies armed with mausers were discharged in spite of their good records for they were suspected of being friendly to General Luna. Some of the officers continued under arrest, and investigations continued to determine whether there was a plot to oust the President and place Luna in his stead. Most important of all, General Concepcion was himself relieved of the command of his brigade, and General L. San Miguel was put in his place. General Concepcion was detailed to work in the office of the Captain General.([1]) In his observation for June 24 to 30 General Concepcion said: “In view of the famous intrigues which resulted in the sensible death of our lamented General Antonio Luna and Colonel Roman, General Aguinaldo who lived under that false impression decided to have me always within his eyesight, and it is this fact which determined my present appointment and also the appointments of General Hizon and Colonel Leyva as first and second chiefs, respectively, of his military room; so that those who were cognizant of the great diplomacy of Aguinaldo called us the three punished ones.”  [91]

[1] Concepcion Apuntes etc. Entries for June 5, 6, 7, 8, 1899.


June 8, 1899

The case versus Luna put forward by the government is contained in the following documents:

The official notification of the death of Luna made by the Revolutionary Government to the provincial chiefs was as follows:




Cabanatuan, June 8, 1899.

I regret to communicate to you that in consequence of a military collision in this town on the 5th instant, General Luna and Colonel Roman died, which event the Military court is investigating.



Letter head;


Supplementary to my telegram of the 8th instant, making known the death of General Antonio Luna and of his aide. Colonel Francisco Roman, I must add that the causes of the deaths of these gentlemen were the insulting and assaulting of the sentinel and guard of the house of the Honorable President of the Republic, and slurs directed against the person of the latter, who was at the time absent in the field.

Therefore, the sentinel and the guards being insulted by the said General and also kicked and cuffed by him and even having revolvers discharged against them, not only by the General but also by his aide Colonel Francisco Roman, and being still much more wrought up over the gross insults and threats of death which both made against the Honorable President, who, thank God, was absent in the field, the sentinel and other guards made use of their arms to repel the unjust aggression of General Luna and his aid, both of whom were instantly killed.

Immediately thereupon the Military Court took the proper steps and is now conducting the preliminary proceedings, and the Government decided to have the burial take place with all military honors. Such is the history of the lamentable event of the death of General Luna and of his aid, an occurrence which God has apparently permitted, in order to prevent greater evils.

God has so disposed surely for the good of the present and the future of the Philippines. Such is the public opinion on the subject, because said General showed by his acts that he desired the Supreme Power of the nation, because being only the Assistant Secretary of War, without the authority of the President of the Republic or of the Government, he issued orders in person in such delicate matters as the decree of expulsion of foreigners residing outside the radius of operations, and the law upon conscription which, without having any legal value, it is true, caused and still cause serious inconvenience to the families of all the inhabitants of the Archipelago, and many other things which it is unnecessary to mention.

Such acts show the deliberate purpose of usurping the power of our honorable President, a purpose lately confirmed by the arbitrary orders to arrest the President of the Council and some Secretaries of Government; said General did this by himself without consulting the will of anyone else and without orders from anybody.

I communicate this to you in detail, in order that you and those under your government may have an exact statement of this unexpected and providential event, and that absolute secrecy may be maintained as to foreign countries in tills connection. It is desirable that you take care that in the territory under your jurisdiction there be no parties which may prejudice our enviable unity which is the cause and origin of our strong resistance against the invading enemy.

You will acknowledge due receipt hereof.

God preserve you many years.

CABANATUAN, June 13, 1899.

The Secretary.([1])

[1] Taylor, Vol IV, Exhibit 893. 50-8. Taylor also appends the following: (Original in Spanish. Rough draft in handwriting of F. Buencamino. P. I. R. 60-4).


  1. Supplementary to my telegram of this date announcing the death of General Antonio Luna and that of his adjutant Colonel Francisco Roman, I must add that the cause for the deaths of said gentlemen are (1) Insult to and assault upon the sentinel and guard at the house of the Honorable President of the Republic and (2) Insult to and threat of death also against our said Honorable President.
  2. General Luna and his Adjutant, Francisco Roman had, for a long time, been committing abuses of power of so grave a nature that it is evident to the intelligent that they had a deliberate intention of forming a party to oppose our Honorable President.
  3. He several times issued proclamation of a general character to the entire Archipelago, in his own name only and without the knowledge or authority of our Honorable President or of the Government, which constitutes a real usurpation of power and functions, as you will see.
  4. He has many times ordered the shooting of countrymen and soldiers, without making any report to the Captain General of the Army, who is our Honorable President, more than a hundred persons being his victims, by which acts of cruelty he has sown terror in all towns.
  5. He has also taken troops from Calumpit in order to make civil war against General Mascardo, presenting an opportunity to our North American enemy to take that title of defense of the first order.
  6. Lately he has given himself out as the Secretary of War, when he was only the Assistant Secretary and then established the Department in Bayamban and organized the office without in any manner asking leave of our government or Honorable president and enacting measures by himself in matters pertaining to the Department of the Treasury and of the Interior, as the last law on conscriptions, which has been causing so much inconvenience in the homes of the families in all the towns of this Archipelago.
  7. These acts show in an evident manner a deliberate intention to usurp power, as against our Honorable President, an intention which has lately been confirmed by the arbitrary orders to arrest the president of the Council and some Secretaries of Government, for the purpose of putting others in their places, as is shown by his act of writing to various persons offering them cabinet portfolios, and by publishing in the newspaper called “La Independencia”, of which he is a part owner and editor, that he was called to power to take the place of the present Government.
  8. The Honorable President has left nothing undone to reward the merits and services of General Luna. At the beginning be gave him the rank of Brigadier General when he appointed him Director of War; a month and a half later he promoted him to General of Division, and recently after the battle of Santo Tomas on the 26th of April last, he promoted him to Lieutenant General, in addition to always having granted his wishes and slightest suggestions that did not cause any prejudice to third persons as, for example, the appointment of his brother Don Joaquin as lieutenant Colonel of Military Administration.
  9. What more could any one desire who was not General Luna? Lees than one year from the time he was a simple citizen, he was promoted by our Honorable President to Lieutenant General in the national army.
  1. But without doubt ambition was stronger in said General than gratitude; hence, when he saw himself brought to such a height, he attempted to climb higher until he should be above the one selected by God to redeem us from slavery under foreigners, even though to attain his ambitious purpose it was necessary for him to employ terrorization and the usurpation of powers, as he was doing the day of his death.
  2. Hence, when the sentinel and the guards were insulted by said General and also kicked and cuffed by him and even having had revolvers discharged against them, not only by the General but also by his Adjutant Colonel Francisco Roman, being still more wrought upon by the gross insults and threats of death, which both directed against the honorable President, who, thank God, was absent in the field, the sentinel and other guards made use of their arms to repel the unjust aggression of General Luna and his adjutant, both of them being instantly killed.
  3. Immediately thereupon the Military Court took the proper steps and is now conducting the preliminary investigation, the Government ordering that the bodies of the victims should be buried with all military honors.
  4. Colonel Francisco Roman disabled by blows with a stick and otherwise, a policeman of this town of Cabanatuan, and in the same manner one of the town of Aliaga, in addition to having committed many other abuses elsewhere.
  5. Such is the history of the lamentable event of the death of General Luna and of his adjutant, an occurrence which God has evidently permitted. In order to prevent greater evils, which would have occurred if said two persons had still been living.

God has so disposed surely for the present and future good of the Philippines. This is the opinion of the Government and these details are communicated to you in order that you and those you govern may have an exact idea of this unexpected and providential event, and that absolute secrecy may be observed as to foreign countries in this matter. It Is desirable that you take care that in the territory under your jurisdiction there be no parties which may prejudice our enviable unity, which in the basis and origin of our strong resistance to the invading enemy.

(No signature)

(NOTE BY COMPILER:—This is translated from the original draft of a circular which was to be sent out in explanation of the death of Luna. In the circular as issued much of this matter was omitted.)[91]

June 8 or 13, 1899

Felipe Buencamino, circular to provincial leaders:

What more could any one desire who was not General Luna? Less than one year from the time he was a simple private citizen, he was successively promoted by our Honorable President to lieutenant general in the national army.

June 13, 1899


In his article, “Who really ordered Luna’s murder?,” Ambeth Ocampo quotes the following:

The Evening News, WA, USA: Manila, June 13. [7.35 p.m.]—General Luna, lieutenant commander of the Filipino army, has been assassinated by order of Aguinaldo. He was stabbed to death by a guard selected by Aguinaldo to kill him. Reports were received here this morning giving the news that Luna had been assassinated, but the information was at first discredited. Investigation proved, however, that Luna had been killed and General Otis has authentic information regarding the death of the insurgent general.

Details regarding the tragedy show that last Tuesday the general and his adjutant, Colonel Ramon [Roman], visited Aguinaldo’s headquarters at Cabanatuan, their purpose being to procure Aguinaldo’s authority to imprison all Filipinos suspected of being friendly to the United States. General Luna asked the captain of the guard in the lower hall of Aguinaldo’s quarters, if Aguinaldo was at home, to which question the captain replied in an insolent manner, ‘I don’t know.’

Luna berated the officer vigorously for his insolence, whereupon the captain put his hand upon his revolver. Luna instantly drew his revolver and fired at the captain, who was only a second behind the general in drawing his weapon. The captain returned the fire. Both missed and Colonel [Roman] interfered, whereupon a sergeant of the guard stabbed Luna with a bayonet. The entire guard then attacked both Luna and [Roman] with bayonets and bolos, soon killing them. The wounds of both men were numerous.

The guard whose insolence to Luna was the main cause of the assassination was, it is said, arrested, tried by court-martial and promptly acquitted. Further advices say that Ney [?], by order of Aguinaldo, purposely insulted Luna and forced a quarrel. One report says Luna was shot before Ney stabbed him.

The foregoing information was sent by the Filipino leader, Pedro Paterno, to his brother in Manila by special courier and is confirmed from other sources. The assassination of Luna recalls the similar fate of Andres Bon[i]facio in the Cavite province in the beginning of the revolution. Both were rivals of Aguinaldo for the leadership of the Filipinos.

Luna was exceedingly unpopular among the Filipino troops on account of his stubborn, dictatorial manners, and very little regret is expressed at his death. Luna and Aguinaldo were unable to agree as to the manner of conducting the campaign, and it is said the rebel chief was afraid he would be assassinated by Luna’s orders. The death of General Luna is looked upon by the majority of the Filipinos as an undisguised blessing.

Adjutant General Corbin refused this morning to discuss the reported assassination of General Luna. He would not deny that General Otis had informed the department of Luna’s death, but refused to affirm. It is believed that the death of Luna will mark the beginning of a break in the insurgent ranks. Notwithstanding his lack of accord with Aguinaldo, Luna undoubtedly had many followers among the rebels and they will, it is believed, resent his murder.[96]

In the “Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands”, Felipe Buencamino said:

The CHAIRMAN. That was the date set by General Luna for the seizure of Aguinaldo and the control of the government?

Mr. BUENCAMINO. Yes, sir; that day was also his feast day, the day which is celebrated in the Philippines instead of the birthday.[97]

From Mabini’s letters:

“Even Paterno himself had to change his policy when he saw that his life would be in danger had he persisted with his autonomy patterned to that of Canada.

With reference to this, important things have taken place from the time the big-stomached Cabinet, as Don Gracio calls it, has come into power. Paterno, on taking his oath of office, announced his intention to seek understanding with the Americans on the basis of the autonomy like that of Canada’s and, to that effect, he appointed a Commission of nine individuals headed by Buencamino, the grand leader of the new arrangement. Luna, impetuous as usual, accused Buencamino of being a traitor and, according to some, he even slapped him creating a capital scandal in the office of the President, which was in Cabanatuan. In consequence thereof, the Commission was suspended, and another was appointed in its place, composed of Don Gracio Gonzaga, General Gregorio H. del Pilar and Barretto, who all went to Manila, with instructions to work for the suspension of hostilities in order to consult the people

Luna, who aspired to the Presidency of the Council of Government with the War portfolio, seeing that, despite the scandal, the present Cabinet would not resign, indicted Colonel Arguelles, whom he wanted shot by musketry, for favoring autonomy, but the Council of War condemned him only to 12 years of imprisonment. Luna summoned the son of Buencamino, a Major, who disappeared a short time later, murdered, according to some, and killed in combat, according to the newspaper La Independencia. Lastly, Luna ordered Paterno and Buencamino arrested, but in this he failed.

Finally, on June 5th, Luna went to Cabanatuan at a time when the President was away, and he died there with Colonel Paco Roman, murdered by the Presidential guard. I still do not know the causes of this tragic end; but I suppose that, somehow, the hatred that the companies of Kawit felt towards him contributed to it. The deceased had these companies disarmed twice, once in Tuliahan and again in Calumpit, for infractions of discipline, according to the deceased, and out of hatred towards the Cavitenos, according to the punished.

I do not know how much truth there is in this. But impartial persons see in Luna dangerous tendencies, because, while he wanted to impose obedience on everyone by force, he did not like to obey anyone; and he did whatever he fancied without consulting anybody. Anyway, I deplore his sad end; it would have been less painful had he died in the battlefield and not at the hands of his own countrymen.

I am now somewhat removed from public affairs as I left Cabanatuan on the 11th of May and I arrived here in Balungaw on the 31st of the same month to make thermal baths. I spent the whole month of June here without finding any improvement in my health. The water is very hot and very salty, just like that of the sea. I am only a step away from Rosales and very near Bayambang. Nevertheless, in order to help the cause, I publish articles in La Independencia, using as a basis the clippings that friends send me. Do not fail, therefore, to send me translations or clippings that you may consider favorable to our cause and should be known to the people.

I cannot send you the issues that contain my short articles, because I do not have them, as my stay here is not permanent but only temporary. I received news that the Government moved from Cabanatuan to Tarlac, but I do not know if this is true, although I am certain that the President has been there from the time of the Luna events.

Please extend my cordial regards to our colleague Kanoy and other countrymen of that colony, and command your affectionate and respectful


The Commission headed by Don Gracio obtained nothing. Otis stands pat; he does not agree to a suspension of hostilities without our previous surrender. In view of this, Paterno issued a proclamation notifying the people of the continuation of the war.

Your father and Barcelona are in Paniqui. It is said that Don Marcelino had a serious illness, but he is now well. The Moreno family and others are back in Manila.


June 20, 1899

In The Price of Freedom, Jose Alejandrino writes:

These were the opinions of Mabini when Luna was making superhuman efforts to remedy the existing chaos in our army due to the indiscipline which Mabini himself recognized in the first of his foregoing letters. Regarding the death of Luna, his opinion is expressed in the following letter[99]:

“Balungao, June 20, 1899

“Mr. Isidro de Santos

“My dear friend:

“I don’t know whether it is true, but impartial persons recognize in Luna some very dangerous tendencies because, while he wanted to impose by means of force the obedience of everybody, he did not want to obey anybody, and he did what pleased him without consulting anybody. At any rate, I deplore his very sad end, and it would have been less painful if he had succumbed in the field of battle and not in the hands of his own brothers. ***”


Mabini in a letter to Dr. Isidro de Santos of June 20, 1899 cited as causes of the death of Luna the supposed assassination of Major Joaquin Buencamino and the trial of Colonel Manuel Arguelles which I now propose to clarify.

[…]Seeing that Luna did not speak a word to me, I left him in order to ask the other officers about what happened. Colonel Liongson related to me that upon giving the report of the result of the trial, Luna blew up and Liongson did not know where to hide himself in his fear that he would eat him up alive. Other officers told me that Luna asked for a revolver and that all believed he would personally shoot Arguelles, but Luna limited himself to handing the pistol to him, telling him that if he had any sense of honor he should commit suicide. Arguelles naturally refused, and he was solemnly degraded and sent — I do not know where — to serve his sentence. I did not have to work for his pardon because, a few days afterwards, Luna was called to Kabanatuan where he met his tragic end, one of the consequences of which was the release of Arguelles.

July 1899

In The Roots of the Filipino Nation, O.D. Corpuz writes:

Aside from the men of the educated and professional class (both locally or foreign educated) there were two other important groups. One was composed of elected delegates. They were members of the provincial principalia or provincial military leadership. By July 1899 (after the proclamation of the Republic), there were around forty of them. The other group was composed of generals and other military commanders, including old Katipuneros, lately emerged leaders, and even a defector – Sityar, the Guardia Civil commander in Pasig. Aside from Antonio Luna, Alejandrino, Canon, and Sandico, there were Aguinaldo’s old comrades in arms: Teodoro Gonzalez, Ambrosio Flores, Pantaleon Garcia, Luciano San Miguel, Antonio Montenegro, Francisco Macabulos, Daniel Tirona, Arsenio Cruz Herrera, Pio del Pilar, Maximino Hizon, Pedro Lipana, Vito Belarmino, and Tomas Mascardo.[87]

July 5, 1899

Mabini writes to Palma:


Rosales, July 5, 1899

Mr. Rafael Palma

My dear Sir:

Day before yesterday, a short while before leaving Balungaw for this place, I received your pleasant letter of the 24th of June, last.

I am grateful for the good opinion that the paper has of my short works as well as for the favor that you do me in publishing them. I am also grateful, and very deeply so, for your offer to send me a copy every day from that date, although so far I have not yet received any number.

Enclosed is another short article, just in case you may consider it suitable for publication. As it is the only means that I have now of helping in the common work, I shall always toil in this way as long as I can; but one cannot expect brilliant articles from a man deficient in learning and strength.

I take advantage of this opportunity to offer myself as your attentive and loyal servant.


July 22, 1899

Mabini to De Santos:


Rosales, July 22, 1899


My dear Friend:

On the 19th, instant, I received your pleasant letter of June 17th with another from our friend Apacible and translations of foreign news which at once to “Puno”[2], who is in the capital of Tarlac with the whole Government. I have just received a letter from “Puno” in which he tells me that he expects to stay in peace for some time in that capital as the Americans, who are occupying San Fernando, Candaba and Baliwag, do not give any indications of moving upwards. However, I have also received news that American forces are being concentrated in San Fernando.

“Puno” tells me, besides, that the Americans who attacked Cavite had to fall back again towards Manila, leaving the towns they had taken and retaining only Imus and Bacoor where our own forces were attacking them. La Independencia has just published the news that the American forces had to return to Manila, leaving Cavite completely.

It seems that the Americans want really to take the narrow path they are talking about, because they suffered heavy casualties in the battle with our men between Morong and Binangonan. Let us see if they can do this, especially now that heavy rains have started to fall.

I have already informed you in my previous letters of the truth of the murder of Luna and Paco Roman. According to a circular of the Department of the Interior, Luna insulted the guards, kicking and slapping them and hitting them with the butt of his gun, for which reason the soldiers killed him. As I was in Balungaw on the date of the murder and from there I came to Rosales where I still am now, I cannot tell you anything definite. What there was to it was that Luna, as Undersecretary of War and ad interim Secretary in the absence of Don Mariano Trias, using as a pretext the tendency shown earlier by the present Cabinet to look for a settlement with the Americans on the basis of autonomy like that of Canada, moved the Department to Bayambang and, there he ran matters all by himself completely disregarding “Puno” and his colleagues in the Government. He acted thus because he wanted the Paterno Cabinet to resign, so that he could take charge of forming another Cabinet retaining for himself the Presidency with the Department of War. He announced thus in his newspaper when he was called by the President to Cabanatuan. You add to all these data the scandal against Buencamino and Paterno and the death of the son of the former, and you have enough to break your head if you try to imagine what took place. You do not need to recommend your father to me, because “Puno” regards him highly, and even if it were not so, you know full well that I like him as much as I do like you, and I would do what little I can in his favor.

Actually, I see that the American people are beginning to side with us and, as long as they do not change their way of thinking, they can largely contribute to our triumph. I have seen that they do not know the truth in the events that have taken place, that is why I have tried to coordinate my ideas and write them down on the enclosed sheet, without deviating in the least from the truth. If you and the others there believe that its publication is still timely, have it translated and published in the newspapers of America and of the neighboring places. See to it that the translation is faithful in order to avoid any change of concepts that may not be so convenient. I leave to you the choice of the best means for its publication because I believe that it cannot fail to cause an impression on the American people. I have not yet published it here for fear that the Yankees would adopt measures to prevent its publication in America. When I learn that you have already published it over there, I shall also release it here.

I think I have nothing more to tell you now. Should you find a good opportunity to send me a purely English dictionary, among the best of those being used by the Englishmen, I would be very grateful. The English-Spanish dictionaries contain very few terms and they neither give a good explanation of the real meaning nor the proper use of each term.

You know that you always have in me a friend that truly likes you.



Please send me foreign newspapers so that I will be thoroughly informed of what is going on there. Although I am out of the Government, I help with my modest short works that I publish in La Independencia. I do not send you copies of the paper because I suppose you receive them from the Administration itself.


[1] From Balungaw, Mabini went to Kabarua, a barrio of Villasis, accompanied by Aguinaldo; then to the town proper of Villasis on the invitation of F. Isidoro C. Perez, and back to Rosales on the insistence of Zenon Corrales, Municipal President. The Government of the Republic had moved to Tarlac, the place becoming the provisional capital of the Republic, where the new Revolutionary Congress convened on July 14th, electing Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista as its President.

During his stay in Rosales up to the November, when due to the dispersion of the Philippine Government with the capture of Tarlac and Bayambang he had to hide from the invading army, he continued more intensely write newspaper articles. – T.M.K.

[2] General Emilio Aguinaldo.

July 25, 1899

Mabini to some friends:


Rosales, July 25, 1899



My dear Friends:

I acknowledge the receipt of your letters of the 25th and 26th of June which I got only two days ago, not knowing what could have caused the delay. I sent “Puno” the translations of the foreign news, with the copy of the treaty between Spain and Germany, and your letters to him. I wrote Mr. Buencamino, telling him that you are complaining of his silence and that of the President of the Council of Government, and requesting him to inform you of the decision of the Government about Ilustre’s request for 800 gold pesos for his return expenses, an amount which, to me, seems somewhat excessive, unless he has to meet some obligations. I told him also that you already know about the change of the Cabinet, that is why I am of the opinion that you should also write to him about the general progress of the affairs over there, so that the members of the Cabinet will not think that you are not with them. The welfare of the country and our goals demand that you do this.

The autonomists of Manila are very much discredited in the eyes of the country, and in those of the Americans themselves who believed that the former could be of great service to them with the revolutionists. Even the present Cabinet has to change its opinion and program very soon and to continue our previous policy, because it has seen that if it would not lend itself to this change, it could not remain long in power, as “Puno”, backed by the Army and by the people, is decided to fight for independence. “Puno” wanted a suspension of hostilities only for a short time to afford the troops a much-needed rest and to gather pills.[3] Otis refused out of distrust, but “Puno” has partly obtained his wish, because the rains are forcing the enemy almost to inaction and the soldiers are disheartened. “Puno” tells me that the Government is ready to receive the Serge[4] any time, but it is necessary that it be soon.

The news about dissensions and formation of factions is not true. There are only the autonomists and the partisans of the war. The first are very few and they are within Manila and, even among these few, it seems to me that many show that they are so only for the sake of convenience. Among us, although I deplore and condemn the violent death of Luna, his demise has warded off a threatening tempest. Luna aimed high, convinced maybe that he was more cultured than “Puno” and, if he had not done anything as yet, it was because he had not yet acquired the necessary prestige to challenge “Puno” openly. That is why he aspired to the Presidency of the Council with the portfolio of war. “Puno’s” weakness before Luna has contributed much to rouse Luna’s ambitions. Because “Puno” allowed him to do what he wanted, Luna thought that he could manipulate “Puno” like a puppet. But, knowing “Puno” as I do, it is safe to suppose that had Luna obtained what he wanted, a cleavage would have taken place that may have destroyed us all. Despite everything, however, I frankly admit that, until now, I am yet in the dark as to the real motives behind Luna’s death, which I still cannot determine whether it was casual or premeditated.

I do not know if it is true that Paterno has asked to be allowed to return to Manila. It may be true, but the request may have been made before his coming into power, and after robbers have entered his house in Mejico, robbing him of plenty of money and jewelry. The news about General G. del Pilar is not true either; so much so, that “Puno” had appointed him one of the commissioners who went to Manila to ask for a suspension of hostilities, after Arguelles had failed and following the scandal stirred up by Luna against Buencamino and Paterno right after the formation of the present Cabinet.

“Puno” has just written to me about the appointment of Antonio Regidor as envoy to America. He tells me that Regidor’s power is limited to asking for the recognition of our independence. Would to heaven that he be more luck than “Kita.” As long as he would not allow himself to be flatter by the Americans, like the political acrobats of Manila, he can be of some service to us. The trouble with Regidor is that because he does not know our people well he may be guided by the information that he may receive from those of Manila. It will be up to you to put us on guard if needs be. On the other hand, the Americans know by now that the truly influential”

[1] Although retired from power, Mabini continued writing to the Committee in Hongkong and to his friends to inform them of the progress of the national politics with its varied incidents. It is a pity that the whole correspondence of this period has not been saved. – T.M.K.

[2] Dr. Isidoro de Santos

[3] Munitions

[4] Arms

In The Development of Philippine Politics, Maximo Kalaw writes:

This attitude of Mabini on the death of Luna is very significant, because in his Philippine Revolution written two or three years afterwards, he severely criticizes Aguinaldo for the death of Luna. Yet a few weeks after Luna’s death, Mabini wrote to Galicano Apacible who was then in Hongkong, as follows:

“Between us, while I regret and disapprove the violent death of Luna, his disappearance banished a danger which was menacing. Luna aspired a great deal, convinced perhaps that he was better educated than Puno (Aguinaldo); and if he had not done anything, it was because he had not yet acquired the necessary prestige to put himself face to face with Puno. It was for this reason that he aspired to the presidency of the Council as Secretary of War. The confidence that Puno had in him has contributed a great deal to feed his ambition; for inasmuch as Puno (Aguinaldo) gave him a free hand, he thought that he could manage the president as an automaton. But as I know Puno (Aguinaldo) it would not be a risky thing to suppose that if Luna had secured what he wanted there would have occurred a division which would have annihilated us.”([1])  [105]

In The Development of Philippine Politics, Maximo Kalaw writes:

In a letter written by F. Buencamino to Felipe Agoncillo dated at Tarlac, July 25. 1899 F. Buencamino said:

“In our camp there is great harmony and enthusiasm in the defense of our cause; respect, obedience and unity with Don Emilio Aguinaldo are the notable characteristics of the conduct of all; there has been one exception – Don Antonio Luna, but God ordained that in the clash with the body guard at Cabanatuan at a time when the President was absent from that point, this dissenter who wanted to do away with Don Emilio and raise himself to his place as dictator, lost his life.

“The proofs of this unmeasured anti-political ambition are dear and are preserved in possession of Don Emilio and although we all lament the circumstances, because we should have been better pleased had it not happened, we are reconciled to what has occurred because we have returned to that tranquility and unity so much needed to maintain our cause against the common enemy.” Taylor, Vol. IV, Exhibit 731. [105]

September 10,1899

In The Roots of the Filipino Nation, O.D. Corpuz writes:

The Filipino strategy would also change. Luna was the only general who could plan to fight battles with armies. Without him, the Paterno cabinet hoped to gain through negotiations what could not be won in battle. General Pio del Pilar had a different idea. On the 10th September he formally recommended guerrilla warfare. He had not played a major role in the more or less conventional battles along the railroad. He was in command in Morong and in the rough broken country of northeast Bulacan, including the area of historic Biak-na-Bato. This was east of the railroad, a region ideal for guerrilla warfare. On the 19th his recommendation was approved for the east line, where he was directed to harass the enemy constantly through “surprises and ambuscades.” [104]

October 13, 1899

IOctober 19, 1899

In The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, Brian McAllister Linn writes:

American forces returned to Nueva Ecija in the fall of 1899 as part of Otis’s final campaign against the Republican Army in the north. Once again under Lawton, they blocked the mountain passes in the east and north of the province to prevent Aguinaldo’s army from retreating into northern Luzon. Pushing aside Padilla’s weak defenses, the soldiers occupied San Isidro on 19 October, but alternating low and high water, mud, and unseasonable rains stalled the advance shortly afterward. In a daring gamble, Lawton cut Brig. Gen. Samuel B. M. Young’s cavalry free of the supply train and sent them north to head off the fleeing president and link up with Wheaton’s forces who had landed at San Fabian. Young’s horsemen swept over Nueva Ecija’s demoralized Republicans and scattered them while Lawton’s infantry followed behind to occupy the towns. Aguinaldo retreated to the north, barely slipping between the converging American forces, but his army collapsed and broke up, the survivors fleeing to the hills or hiding their weapons and becoming “amigos.”

In their sweep through Nueva Ecija, Lawton’s forces encountered little organized resistance and were somewhat surprised at the friendliness of the population.[106]

November 1899

In The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, Brian McAllister Linn writes:

With the arrival of these new forces in November 1899, the Americans went on the offensive in a three-pronged drive directed at the Republican Army in the north. While Maj. Gen. Arthur MacArthur pinned down the Filipinos on the central Luzon plain, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Lawton swept to the northeast and occupied the mountain passes, preventing any retreat to the east. The Filipinos fell back to the north, only to have their retreat cut off by Brig. Gen. Loyd Wheaton’s amphibious landing at Lingayen Gulf. Caught between the converging American forces, with their lines of retreat blocked, the Republican Army broke up. The revolutionaries lost their supplies…[106]

In The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, Brian McAllister Linn writes of Gen. Pantaleon Garcia:

But despite his intellectual abilities he was a poor combat commander who, by the fall of 1899,was suffering from physical exhaustion, lingering illness, and demoralization over the complete defeat of his conventional forces. After taking over the Center of Luzon, he spent much of his time in hiding, exerting little control over his subordinates and conducting few operations. His capture on 6 May 1900, at Jaen, Nueva Ecija, was not a “deathblow to the insurgent cause” as MacArthur claimed, but instead provided an opportunity for more aggressive leadership to emerge.

Garcia’s weak leadership at the top was compounded by poor guerrilla leadership within Nueva Ecija. The provincial commander, Col. Pablo Padilla, was unable or unwilling to control the misbehavior of his forces. Although a former governor of the province and a prominent figure in the war against the Spanish, he was badly beaten by the Americans during their invasion in late 1899. Moreover, he failed to take advantage of the Army’s disorganization during the winter of 1899-1900 and instead suspended hostilities until February, allowing the Americans to consolidate their position. American Army officers despised him; one called him “a cruel and cowardly scoundrel” and suspected he had murdered several pro-American Filipinos. In the north of Nueva Ecija, Col. Teodoro Sandico, another ilustrado and veteran of the 1896 revolt, was little better. Described by Funston as a military nonentity, Sandico admitted that he was a colonel without troops. He spent much of his time in quarrels with other commanders and complained bitterly to Aguinaldo that nobody accepted his authority.

From its inception, the guerrilla movement in the Fourth District was hampered by the failure of its leaders to establish a civil organization in the towns and barrios that could support military operations. The explanation may lie in the speed of the American advance in the fall of 1899, the lack of political and administrative skills among provincial guerrilla chiefs, or the internal divisions within Nueva Ecijan society. Garcia and Padilla issued proclamations forbidding Filipinos to accept civil office under the Americans, but they could not enforce these decrees. Captured correspondence indicates that, unlike their counterparts elsewhere, they neglected the creation of loyal militias, shadow governments, Katipunan societies, storehouses, and village supply organizations which made up the usual Philippine guerrilla infrastructure. As a result, they had a hard time organizing such an infrastructure after the Americans had occupied the key towns. Although some guerrilla chiefs did establish ties with local principalia or insured collaboration through intimidation, this effort was not carried on in a systematic way throughout the province. Where an individual military leader could form such connections, he was able to secure food and shelter. Far too often, however, the revolutionaries consisted of small bands of partisans, isolated from popular support, and moving from place to place without a consistent source of supplies.[106]

December 1899

In The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, Brian McAllister Linn writes:

In December 1899, the new district commander rode through the province with a two-man escort and commented that the area was so peaceful that he could not tell there was a war going on. The lack of resistance allowed the Army to reorganize its chaotic administration and supply system which was now “fearfully strung out.” [107]


[1] Corpuz, O.D., The Roots of the Filipino Nation Philippine Centennial (1898-1998) Centennial Edition Volume II, 1989, pp.111, 152, 161, 163, 172, 179, and 181

[2] – Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949,  pp. 99-103

[3] –Anderson, Benedict, Under Three Flags, 2005, pp. 126-128

[4] Antonio Luna– Letter to Jose Rizal, January 1892, Madrid, Epistolario Rizalino, Vol. III, in Jose, Vivencio, The Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna, 1972.  pp. 291-294

[5] Jose Rizal, The Philippines a Century Hence

[6] St. Claire, Francis, The Katipunan or The Rise and Fall of the Filipino Commune, 1902, pp. 78 and 88

[7] Corpuz, O.D., The Roots of the Filipino Nation Philippine Centennial (1898-1998) Centennial Edition Volume II, 1989, p.203-205

[8] Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, p. 104

[9] –Mabini, Apolinario, Letters of Apolinario Mabini, 1965, p.27

[10] –Mabini, Apolinario, Letters of Apolinario Mabini, 1965, p.118

[11] –Ricklefs, M.C., Lockhart, Bruce, Lau, Albert,, A New History Of Southeast Asia,  2010, p. 226

[12] –Owen, Norman, The Emergence Of Modern Southeast Asia- A New History, 2014, p.156

[13] –Schumacher, John, review of Vivencio Jose’s “The Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna”, 1972 

[14] Corpuz, O.D., The Roots of the Filipino Nation Philippine Centennial (1898-1998) Centennial Edition Volume II, 1989, p. 225

[15] –St. Claire, Francis, The Katipunan or The Rise and Fall of the Filipino Commune, 1902, p. 78

[16] –Ricklefs, M.C., Lockhart, Bruce, Lau, Albert, A New History Of Southeast Asia, 2010, p. 226

[17] Schumacher, John N., Socioeconomic Class in the Revolution, 1998, pp. 192, 197-198

[18] Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, p.104

[19] St. Claire, Francis, The Katipunan or The Rise and Fall of the Filipino Commune, 1902, p. 80

[20] Corpuz, O.D., The Roots of the Filipino Nation Philippine Centennial (1898-1998) Centennial Edition Volume II, 1989, p.205

[21] –Reyes, Raquel, Love, Passion and Patriotism: Sexuality and the Philippine Propaganda 1882-1892, 2008, p.118

[22] –Buencamino, Felipe, Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands, 1902, p.55

[23] The Philippine review (Revista filipina) [Vol. 3, no. 1], 2005, p.34

[24] –Buencamino, Felipe, Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands, 1902, p.56

[25] –Buencamino, Felipe, Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands, 1902, p. 71

[26] –Buencamino, Felipe, Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands, 1902, p. 56

[27] – Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, pp. 105, and 104

[28] – Corpuz, O.D., The Roots of the Filipino Nation Philippine Centennial (1898-1998) Centennial Edition Volume II, 1989, p 305.

[29] – McAllister Linn, Brian, The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, 2000, p.13

[30] –Kalaw, Maximo, The development of Philippine politics, 1986, pp.194-195

[31] –Buencamino, Felipe, Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands, 1902, pp. 4, 67-68

[32] – Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949

[33] –De los Santos, Epifanio, The Revolutionists: Aguinaldo, Bonifacio, Jacinto, 1973, pp. 41, 26-27

[34] –Luna, Antonio, “Lo que decimos,” La Independencia, December 10, 1898

[35] –Corpuz, O.D., The Roots of the Filipino Nation Philippine Centennial (1898-1998) Centennial Edition Volume II, 1989, pp. 305, 295

[36] – Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, p.115

[37] Mabini, Apolinario, La Revolucion Filipina, 1969, pp. 59-60

[38] Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, pp.125-126

[39] –Buencamino, Felipe, Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands, 1902, p. 64

[40] –Buencamino, Felipe, Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands, 1902, p. 68

[41] –Buencamino, Felipe, Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands, 1902, pp. 70-71

[42] – Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, pp. 110, 113-114, 118

[43] –Saulo, Alfredo B., citing Taylor, The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes, 1987, p.22

[44] – Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, pp.117-119

[45] – Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, p.126, p.120

[46] – Corpuz, O.D., The Roots of the Filipino Nation Philippine Centennial (1898-1998) Centennial Edition Volume II, 1989, p.409

[47] Saulo, Alfredo B., citing Taylor, The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes, 1987, pp. 23-24

[48] Philippine Information Society, Facts about the Filipinos. [Vol. 1, no. 7], 2005, p.11

[49] McAllister Linn, Brian, The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, 2000, pp. 12-14

[50] Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, pp.151-152

[51] McAllister Linn, Brian, The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, 2000, p.14

[52] Corpuz, O.D., The Roots of the Filipino Nation Philippine Centennial (1898-1998) Centennial Edition Volume II, 1989, pp 410, 406

[53] Saulo, Alfredo B., The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes, 1987, p.22

[54] Mabini, Apolinario, Letters of Apolinario Mabini, 1965, p.132

[55] Mabini, Apolinario, Letters of Apolinario Mabini, 1965, pp. 136-137

[56] Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, pp. 127-130

[57] Ocampo, Ambeth, The way Antonio Luna died, Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 11, 2015

[58] McAllister Linn, Brian, The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, 2000, p.12

[59] Saulo, Alfredo B., The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes, 1987, p.19

[60] Mabini, Apolinario, Letters of Apolinario Mabini, 1965, pp.154-155

[61] Kalaw, Maximo, The development of Philippine politics, 1986, pp. 195-196

[62] Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, pp. 110, 113

[63] Santos, Jose P. ,Si Apolinario Mabini laban kay Hen. Antonio Luna, 2005, pp. 27-28

[64] Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, pp. 117-118

[65] Kalaw, Maximo, The development of Philippine politics, 1986, p.195-197, 206-207

[66] Buencamino, Felipe, Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands, 1902, pp. 4-5

[67] Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, pp.135-136, 139

[68]Quezon, Manuel L., The Good Fight

[69] Mabini, Apolinario, La Revolucion Filipina, 1969, p.60

[70] Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, pp.130-131, 134

[71] Corpuz, O.D., The Roots of the Filipino Nation Philippine Centennial (1898-1998) Centennial Edition Volume II, 1989, p. 417

[72] Mabini, Apolinario, Letters of Apolinario Mabini, 1965, pp.172-174

[73] McAllister Linn, Brian, The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, 2000, p.69

[74] Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, pp.136

[75] Memoirs of Victor Buencamino, 1977, pp.46-47

[76] Saulo, Alfredo B., citing Taylor, The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes, 1987, pp. 24-25

[77] Luna, Antonio, La Indepedencia, May 20, 1899

[78] Mabini, Apolinario, Letter to Isidoro de Santos in Hong Kong, July 2, 1899, Letters of Apolinario Mabini, 1965, pp. 190

[79] Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, p.140

[80] Mabini, Apolinario, Letters of Apolinario Mabini, 1965, pp. 182-183

[81] Buencamino, Felipe, Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands, 1902, p.5

[82] Luna, Antonio, letter to Ms. Conchita Castillo, June 2, 1899

[83] Saulo, Alfredo B., citing Kalaw, The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes, 1987, p.24

[84] Mabini, Apolinario, La Revolucion Filipina, 1969, p. 62

[85] Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, pp.142, 149-150, and p.156

[86] Mabini, Apolinario, letter to Isidoro de Santos in Hong Kong on July 2, 1899, Letters of Apolinario Mabini, 1965, pp. 190

[87] Corpuz, O.D., The Roots of the Filipino Nation Philippine Centennial (1898-1998) Centennial Edition Volume II, 1989, p 317-318

[88] Mabini, Apolinario, letter to Isidoro de Santos in Hong Kong on July 22, 1899, Letters of Apolinario Mabini, 1965, pp. 195-196

[89] Mabini, Apolinario, La Revolucion Filipina, 1901

[90] Agoncillo, Malolos; The Crisis of the Republic (Quezon City: U.P. Press, 1960), pp. 537-538

[91] Kalaw, Maximo, The development of Philippine politics, 1986, pp.195-197, 207-213, 216

[92] Buencamino, Felipe, Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands, 1902, pp. 26-28

[93] Buencamino, Felipe, Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands, 1902, pp. 101-102

[94] Buencamino, Felipe, Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands, 1902, p. 5-6

[95] Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, p. 160

[96] Ocampo, Ambeth, Who really ordered Luna’s murder? Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 5, 2015

[97] Buencamino, Felipe, Statement before the Committee on Insular Affairs on Conditions in the Philippine Islands, 1902, p.5

[98] Mabini, Apolinario, Letters of Apolinario Mabini, 1965, pp. 190-191

[99] Alejandrino, Jose M. ,The Price of Freedom (La Senda Del Sacrificio): Episodes and Anecdotes of Our Struggles for Freedom. Translated Into English, 1949, p.155-156, p. 143 and pp.148-149

[100] Mabini, Apolinario, Letters of Apolinario Mabini, 1965, p. 194

[101] Mabini, Apolinario, Letters of Apolinario Mabini, 1965, pp. 195-197

[102] Mabini, Apolinario, Letters of Apolinario Mabini, 1965, pp. 200-201

[103] De los Santos, Epifanio, The Revolutionists: Aguinaldo, Bonifacio, Jacinto, 1973, pp. 44-47

[104] Corpuz, O.D., The Roots of the Filipino Nation Philippine Centennial (1898-1998) Centennial Edition Volume II, 1989, p. 435

[105] Kalaw, Maximo, The development of Philippine politics, 1986, pp.213-214

[106] Brian McAllister Linn, The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, 2000, p.69

[107] Brian McAllister Linn, The US Army & Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, 2000, p.69


Oct 25

The Great Referendum: The national election of 2016

The Great Referendum: The national election of 2016

by Manuel L. Quezon III

25 October 2015

Philippine Daily Inquirer


AN AMERICAN CLERGYMAN, James Freeman Clarke, famously said, “A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation.” But I would add: even a statesman must be a politician, if he or she is to win an election, without which you cannot be in a position to put in place policies with the next generation in mind.

As the country prepares for what I call a Great Referendum in May, 2016, it would be useful to take a step back and look at the big picture: what is at stake, what factors will be in play, and how will we, the people, be approached to render our verdict.

As always, it will be a combination of the old and the new, the familiar and unfamiliar, and of trends that have endured for generations with a generous mix of circumstances unique to this coming national election.


Since this is a continuation of my two-part series, “The Great Divide: The midterm election of 2013” (see Part 1 and Part 2) for in May, 2013, let me begin where I left off.


I. 2016 began in 2013


JUST as the 2013 campaign began in 2012 (President Aquino had framed 2013 in his 2012 SONA), the 2016 campaign began in 2013, when the results of the 2013 mid-terms became known. As President Aquino summarized it in his 2013 SONA: “I asked for allies that would help steer the country in one direction, and you delivered.”


First, the results of the 2013 midterm were thus a referendum on the incumbent administration, a purpose all mid-terms have served for all administrations since the first mid-term election in 1938. (Since the restoration of bicameralism in 1941, it is the Senate, not the House, that has determined the results of the mid-term referendum, since no administration, ever, has lost the House.


Figure 1.

Mid-term results, 1938-2013



[1] Quezon M. L. III (2013), The Great Divide: The midterm election of 2013, Part 2, From

Second, only presidents and vice-presidents (elected separately, so each point to a mandate wholly their own, which meant that the Vice-President was automatically a contender for the presidency), and senators have a national constituency. Since mid-terms are a referendum on the sitting administration, a victory would boost the prospects of re-election for a president (before martial law) while a defeat would diminish the chances by turing the president into a lame duck (this is the purpose it serves post-Edsa). But as a national election, the mid-term results since 1987 also put the senatorial topnotcher in pole position to be a candidate for the presidency or the vice-presidency. (Before martial law, when senators had no term limits, the topnotcher was more likely to end up Senate President, so only in 1951, with Jose P. Laurel, who gave way to Magsaysay in 1953, and in 1963 when Gerardo Roxas ran for Vice-President with Macapagal, did mid-term topnotchers contest the presidency or vice-presidency; after EDSA, however, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (1995), Manuel de Castro Jr. (2001), Mar Roxas (2004), Loren Legarda (1998 and 2007), and Grace Poe (2013) all became presidential or vice-presidential candidates.)

And third, since the election had been framed as a decision between those for or against the administration, the mid-terms also marked the beginning of the realignment of parties and factions in preparation for the 2016 polls. Here, the factor of the incumbent president becomes significant.

Consider this chart in the context of the chart above.


Table 1. Philippine Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates (listed in order of electoral results).

 Incumbents are in bold. Candidates not belonging to a ticket are in italics. Senators or former senators have an asterisk* after their name.

Election Year Presidential Candidates Vice Presidential Candidates Notes
1935 1.     Manuel L. Quezon* (Nacionalista)

2.     Emilio Aguinaldo (National Socialist)

3.     Gregorio Aglipay (Republican)

1.     Sergio Osmeña* (Nacionalista)

2.     Raymundo Melliza (National Socialist)

3.     Norberto Nabong (Republican)

·       First national elections in the Philippines
1941 1.     Manuel L. Quezon (NP)

2.     Juan Sumulong (Popular Front)

3.     Hilario Moncado (Partido Modernista)

1.     Sergio Osmeña (NP)

2.     Emilio Javier (Popular Front)

·       Terms of president and vice president were changed from 6 years without re-election to 4 years with the possibility of re-election.

·       First time a president and vice-president were reelected

1946 1.     Manuel Roxas* (NP-Liberal Wing)

2.     Sergio Osmeña (NP)

3.     Hilario Moncado (Partido Modernista)

1.     Elpidio Quirino* (NP-Liberal Wing)

2.     Eulogio Rodriguez* (NP)

3.     Luis Salvador (Partido Modernista)

·       Roxas launched the first “modern” campaign, actively campaigning
1949 1.     Elpidio Quirino* (LP-Quirino Wing)

2.     Jose P. Laurel* (NP)

3.     Jose Avelino* (LP-Avelino Wing)

1.     Fernando Lopez* (LP-Quirino Wing)

2.     Manuel Briones* (NP)

3.     Vicente J. Francisco* (LP-Avelino Wing)

1953 1.     Ramon Magsaysay (NP)

2.     Elpidio Quirino (LP)

3.     Carlos P. Romulo (Democratic Party)

4.     Gaudencio Bueno (independent)

1.     Carlos P. Garcia (NP)*

2.     Jose Yulo* (LP)

3.     Fernando Lopez* (Democratic Party)

·       Biggest first-term landslide in the history of Philippine presidential elections
1957 1.     Carlos P. Garcia* (NP)

2.     Jose Yulo* (LP)

3.     Manuel Manahan (Progressive Party of the Philippines)

4.     Claro M. Recto* (Nationalist Citizens’ Party)

5.     Antonio Quirino (LP-Quirino Wing)

6.     Valentin Santos (Lapiang Malaya)

7.     Alfredo Abcede (Federal Party)

1.     Diosdado Macapagal (LP)

2.     Jose B. Laurel Jr. (NP)

3.     Vicente Araneta (PPP)

4.     Lorenzo Tañada* (NCP)

5.     Restituto Fresto (Lapiang Malaya)

·       First time that there were 4 serious contenders for president

·       First time that the elected president and vice president came from different parties

·       First time president was elected by plurality instead of majority

1961 1.     Diosdado Macapagal (LP)

2.     Carlos P. Garcia* (NP)

3.     Alfredo Abcede (Federal Party)

4.     German P. Villanueva (independent)

5.     Gregorio L. Llanza (independent)

6.     Praxedes Floro (independent)

1.     Emmanuel Pelaez* (LP)

2.     Sergio “Serging” Osmeña Jr. (independent)

3.     Jose B. Laurel Jr. (NP)

·       Matinee idol Rogelio de la Rosa wanted to run for president as an independent, but later withdrew to run for a Senate seat instead.

·       First time the Iglesia ni Cristo endorsed a set of candidates (Garcia and Osmeña)

·       Praxedes Floro became the only candidate in the history of Philippine presidential elections to receive no votes.

1965 1.     Ferdinand E. Marcos (NP)*

2.     Diosdado Macapagal (LP)

3.     Raul Manglapus* (Party for Philippine Progress)

4.     Gaudencio Bueno (New Leaf Party)

5.     Ancieto A. Hidalgo (NLP)

6.     Segundo B. Baldovi (Partido ng Bansa)

7.     Nic V. Garces (People’s Progressive Democratic Party)

8.     German F. Villanueva (independent)

9.     Guillermo M. Mercado (Labor)

10.  Antonio Nicolas Jr. (Allied Party)

11.  Blandino P. Ruan (Philippine Pro-Socialist Party)

12.  Praxedes Floro (Independent)

1.     Fernando Lopez (NP)*

2.     Gerardo “Gerry” Roxas* (LP)

3.     Manuel Manahan* (PPP)

·       Slimmest margin of victory ever recorded for a national post in Philippine history (Lopez by 0.4% or 27,000 votes)
1969 1.     Ferdinand E. Marcos (NP)

2.     Sergio Osmeña Jr. (LP)*

3.     Pascual Racuyal (independent)

4.     Segundo Baldovi (Partido ng Bansa)

5.     Pantaleon Panelo (independent)

6.     German Villanueva (independent)

7.     Gaudencio Bueno (New Leaf Party)

8.     Angel Comagon (independent)

9.     Cesar Bulacan (independent)

10.  Espiridion Buencamino (NP)

11.  Nic Garces (Philippine Pro-Socialist Party)

12.  Benilo Jose (independent)

1.     Fernando Lopez (NP)

2.     Genaro Magsaysay* (LP)

·       Marcos and Lopez became second president and vice-president to be reelected (Lopez won the vice-presidency three times)
1981 1.     Ferdinand E. Marcos (KBL)

2.     Alejo Santos (NP)

3.     Bartolome Cabangbang (Federal Party)

4.     Delfin Manapaz (independent)

5.     Ursula Dajao (independent)

6.     Benito Valdez (independent)

7.     Lope Rimando (independent)

8.     Lucio Hinigpit (Sovereign Citizen Party)

9.     Pacifico Morelos (independent)

10.  Jose Igtobay (independent)

11.  Simeon del Rosario (independent)

12.  Salvador Enage (independent)

13.  Florencio Tipano (independent)

N/A ·       Most lopsided “victory” in the history of Philippine presidential elections (Marcos won with 18 million votes against Santos’ 1.7 million and Cabangbang’s 700,000)

·       Most number of presidential candidates in an election

1986 1.     Corazon C. Aquino (UNIDO)

2.     Ferdinand E. Marcos (KBL)

3.     Reuben Canoy (Mindanao Alliance)

4.     Narciso Padilla (independent)

1.     Salvador “Doy” H. Laurel* (UNIDO)

2.     Arturo M. Tolentino* (KBL)

3.     Eva Estrada-Kalaw* (LP-Kalaw Wing)

1992 1.     Fidel V. Ramos (Lakas-NUCD)

2.     Miriam Defensor-Santiago (PRP)

3.     Eduardo M. Cojuangco Jr. (NPC)

4.     Ramon Mitra Jr. (LDP)

5.     Imelda Marcos (KBL)

6.     Jovito Salonga* (LP)

7.     Salvador H.Laurel (NP)

1.     Joseph Ejercito Estrada* (NPC)

2.     Marcelo Fernan* (LDP)

3.     Emilio Osmeña (Lakas-NUCD)

4.     Ramon Magsaysay Jr. (PRP)

5.     Aquilino Pimentel Jr. (LP)

6.     Vicente Magsaysay (KBL)

7.     Eva Estrada-Kalaw (NP)

1998 1.     Joseph Ejercito Estrada (PMP)

2.     Jose de Venecia Jr. (Lakas-NUCD)

3.     Raul Roco (Aksyon Demokratiko)

4.     Emilio Osmeña (PROMDI)

5.     Alfredo Lim (LP)

6.     Renato de Villa (Reporma-LM)

7.     Miriam Defensor-Santiago* (PRP)

8.     Juan Ponce Enrile* (independent)

9.     Santiago Dumlao (Kilusan para sa Pambansang Pagpapanibago)

10.  Manuel L. Morato (Partido Bansang Marangal)

1.     Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo* (Lakas-NUCD)

2.     Edgardo Angara* (PMP)

3.     Oscar Orbos (Reporma-LM)

4.     Sergio Osmeña III* (LP)

5.     Francisco Tatad (PRP)

6.     Ismael Sueño (PROMDI)

7.     Irene Santiago (Aksyon Demokratiko)

2004 1.     Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (Lakas-KAMPI-CMD)

2.     Fernando Poe Jr. (LDP-KNP)

3.     Panfilo Lacson* (independent)

4.     Raul Roco* (Aksyon Demokratiko)

5.     Eddie Villanueva (Bangon Pilipinas)

1.     Noli De Castro* (Allied with Lakas-Kampi-CMD)

2.     Loren Legarda* (KNP)

3.     Herminio Aquino (Aksyon Demokratiko)

4.     Rodolfo Pajo (Isang Bansa, Isang Diwa)

2010 1.     Benigno S. Aquino III* (LP)

2.     Joseph Ejercito Estrada (PMP)

3.     Manuel Villar* (NP)

4.     Gilbert Teodoro (Lakas-KAMPI-CMD)

5.     Eddie Villanueva (Bagong Pilipinas)

6.     Richard Gordon* (Bagumbayan)

7.     Nicanor Perlas (independent)

8.     Jamby Madrigal* (independent)

9.     John Carlos de los Reyes (Ang Kapatiran)

10.  Vetellano Acosta (Disqualified) (KBL)

1.     Jejomar C. Binay (PDP-LABAN)

2.     Mar Roxas* (LP)

3.     Loren Legarda* (NPC)

4.     Bayani Fernando (Bagumbayan)

5.     Edu Manzano (Lakas-KAMPI-CMD)

6.     Perfecto Yasay (Bangon Pilipinas)

7.     Jay Sonza (KBL)

8.     Dominador Chipeco (Ang Kapatiran)

·       Most number of vice presidential candidates in an election


You can identify a few trends. Back when presidents could run for reelection, presidents who won the midterms succeeded in seeking reelection (had Roxas and Magsaysay not died, they would probably have been reelected). Presidents who lost the midterms lost their bid for reelection. Another is that the Senate has proven to be what it was intended to be –a “training ground” for future presidents. Before martial law, only two presidents never served in the Senate: Magsaysay and Macapagal; and only House Speakers who later on joined the Senate actually succeeded. A third is that candidates with no running mate do fairly badly, and that applies to independents as well; a fourth is that the more candidates there are (particularly post-Edsa) the more susceptible preexisting coalitions become to being overtaken by other candidates.

Presidents, then, who did well in the mid-terms had excellent prospects of being re-elected before 1972, unless death intervened; post-Edsa, the mid-terms have been more important in determining if the incumbent will be a lame duck or not; with the possible exception of Corazon C. Aquino in 1992, no post-Edsa president was considered popular enough at the end of their term, to have much of an endorsement power in the election of their successor.


 Presidents’ Satisfaction Ratings


This brings us to President Benigno S. Aquino III, who cannot seek reelection but who is uniquely positioned, as we will see, to be a formidable player in the 2016 election.

A brief word on the difference between conventional wisdom and black swans. Conventional wisdom is how past experiences, hunches, and patterns that emerge from past experiences combine to form recipes for success. But there are times when something or someone comes along to disrupt conventional thinking and behavior: Nasseem Nicholas Taleb put it forward as the “black swan theory” in 2001.

The conventional wisdom is that a president who is popular boosts, while an unpopular president can can diminish, the mid-term prospects of his or her coalition (which is, after all, competing in an election that is a referendum on the incumbent president). However, the same president, who cannot seek reelection, becomes irrelevant in the election of his or her successor. Like all conventional wisdom, there is plenty of past evidence to support this. Consider the following chart, which tracks the ratings of presidents by SWS, with elections, mid-term and presidential, marked in the same chart (both gross and net figures are represented: personally, I prefer gross numbers for surveys; gross numbers are put forward as they require media and the public to recall one number instead of digesting approve, disapprove, and no opinion numbers).


Figure 2A.

Presidential Ratings from SWS (1986 – 2015)

Figure 02a - SWS Ratings



While President Corazon C. Aquino had no mid-term election per se, she was at her most popular when local and legislative elections were held in 1987, resulting in a massive sweep. By the end of her term, her popularity and thus influence was far diminished, although in the close election of 1992 it could have helped Ramos eke out a victory. Ramos with a diminished standing in 1998 could not help his candidate, De Venecia. Aquino III was at one of his highest points in the mid-terms in 2013 and at present is at the highest point of any post-Edsa president going into a national election to choose a successor.

Now let us take a look at another firm’s findings. This provides a guide to follow the ups and downs that took place in the events of 2013 to the present. We know the biggest controversies of the period: PDAF and DAP, Typhoon Yolanda, and Mamasapano.


Figure 2B.

Presidential Ratings from Pulse (1998 – 2015)

Figure 02b - Pulse Ratings


Each of these events had the biggest effect on the President’s performance and trust ratings. Each provided a challenge to the President’s effectivity and credibility, and to the disappointment of his critics he recovered from each.

But there are two other things that ought to be factored in, related to 2016. They were: the proposal in some quarters to extend the President’s term, and the reaction of Vice President Binay to the proposal.

From 2013-2014, the proposal from some quarters to extend President Aquino’s term obsessed the political class, and what is relevant here is that it served to further deepen the divide that had been made public in 2013—that the Vice-President was head of the opposition, and was bent on consolidating the anti-Aquino forces in a coalition under his leadership. After all, as the only obvious candidate, the possibility of extending President Aquino’s term was a direct challenge to Binay’s putting himself forward for the job.

The President, then, had to think long-term while temporarily giving in to his supporters clamoring for a term extension out of fear that reforms might end in 2016. This was short-term thinking (looking at the Vice-President’s ratings at the time, and not the situation as it might be down the line). It was certainly a political high-wire act, potentially as much lose-lose as it might be win-win, without making any allowances for intervening events. The President, who might afford to take a hit in popularity so long as term extension was in the air, might not recover, even if he or the public could be convinced to go along with a term extension; and even if it was attempted, failure would leave him the lamest of lame ducks: a lose-lose.

But, on the other hand, by drawing fire to himself, and taking a temporary hit he could afford, term extension speculation would draw out fair-weather friends and show, beyond the shadow of a doubt, who was only pretending to be cooperating with the administration. And an eventual recovery, which would come after dropping the idea and thus reassuring people, would result in a sharpening of the battle lines, and thus, a win-win.

The end result in this battle of nerves was that the Vice-President lost his. The public knows very little of what vice presidents actually do, or even why the position exists; but they do expect vice presidents to be loyal; and when they break away, they suffer a loss in public esteem.



By his 2014 SONA President Aquino was thus prepared to frame the 2016 campaign, when he said, “It is you who will face a fork in the road; it is you who will decide if change will continue… In 2016, you will be choosing new leaders of our country. What I can tell you is this: if you wish continue and even accelerate the transformation of society, there can only be one basis for choosing my successor: Who will, without a shred of doubt, continue the transformation we are achieving?”

Some observers took the same speech to mark a dividing line between President Aquino and the Vice President. The Vice President, of course, denied any such division; but actions speak for themselves, and by 2015, he had had enough, and decided not only to formally break with the President, but to go on the attack.

By doing so the Vice-President broke with conventional wisdom: No Vice President has ever gained from quarreling with an incumbent President, with the exception of Diosdado Macapagal, the first veep elected from a party different from a president elected in the same year (President Garcia systematically deprived his opposition veep of the traditional cabinet seat, and was niggardly with things like official cars, giving Macapagal four years to campaign against the incumbent). Every Vice President who broke off from the administration suffered a plunge in popularity as a result (think Laurel, Macapagal-Arroyo, and Guingona). Having been, essentially, the only declared candidate for president since 2013, the Vice President had ridden high in the ratings until his standing began to be eroded by revelations about his finances. His breaking with the President made things worse.

In reality, the Vice President was the victim of circumstances he had created in the mid-terms in 2013. It was a break inevitable because based on fundamental differences. A populist Vice President could never happily settle down in a Reform administration. Having broken conventional wisdom, one has to wonder if, on the other hand, he was also relying on the conventional wisdom that presidents at the end of their term inevitably end up unpopular and thus, politically enfeebled.

But as we’ve seen, this is far from being the case. But then, the President had one problem solved, only to be confronted with another.


In his 2015 SONA, his last, President Aquino put forward the frame, once more, making it the dominant one of the election to come: “Who in their right mind would decide to cut the tree down on a whim, when we have only begun harvesting its fruits?’ …From this perspective, the next election will be a referendum for the Straight and Righteous Path. You will decide whether the transformation we are experiencing today will be permanent, or simply a brief and lucky deviation from a long history of failure.”

The President followed this up with the announcement of whom he would support for the presidency. The President putting Roxas forward as his preferred successor, however, created another dilemma: Would the Reform constituency end up divided on the question of both Roxas and whoever might be his running mate?

Enter Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero, members of the administration coalition since 2013, along with the NP and the NPC.

Relatively fresh in people’s minds from her topping the mid-term senatatorial elections, Grace Poe had became increasingly attractive to some fearful of a Binay presidency, and who considered her a popular alternative, encouraged by those allergic to the Liberals but who could no longer back Binay because he seemed not only increasingly vulnerable, but also because they dared not support Binay lest they incur the wrath of the President. Whether one likes the President or not, one thing is sure: When he takes the plunge, he’s all in –which discombobulates friends and foes alike who are used to more flexible presidents.

Poe could, of course, opt to run for the vice presidency. But even if Poe would consider a tandem, what to do about Escudero? Here his hand was weaker, in the sense that his viability, such as it was, was in terms of being Veep. Poe, on the other hand, was viable as either.

Very publicly, the President expressed a preference for keeping his coalition as intact as possible, particularly as conventional wisdom was blinding many of his own supporters to the uniqueness of the situation going into 2016: First, the Vice President had hogged the ratings because only he was seriously–and openly—seeking the presidency; second, the President had not explicitly endorsed a candidate, with the boost this would provide; third, the Liberal Party would go with the President, while neither Poe nor Escudero had a party.

The President kept the door open until it was Poe and Escudero, and not the President or Roxas, who shut it. The best that either Poe and Escudero would be able to do, in the future, in the face of a popular incumbent on whom they turned their back, is to insist that they’re the “loyal opposition”–but, still, opposition.

Here, the Nacionalistas, and the NPC, who have been in coalition with the Liberals since 2013, exhibited interesting behavior during this whole episode. Essentially, they stalled on making a decision—deciding, instead, not to decide (in parliamentary parlance, an abstention, which can be as politically meaningful as an explicit yes or no). When Escudero, who seems to be the political brain for the Poe-Escudero tandem, tried to engineer the impression that the NPC was poised to declare for Poe, party boss Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. stepped in and said all candidates should be talked to, preventing a stampede. When it was mentioned that the NPC was poised to coalesce with the NP, again to give the impression of a rising tide, Cynthia Villar sharply put an end to the rumor. Again, heading off the impression of a stampede.

Instead of enjoying a rising tide, Poe and Escudero found themselves becalmed in increasingly still waters. Eventually—not together, but symbolically apart, but not so apart as to totally belie that they are a tandem—each declared they would seek higher office, but with no party and no firm commitments as to a senatorial slate.

This allowed the President to fulfill his obligations as a politician and gentleman, without conceding anything. He would remain a force to reckon with; his party remained the administration party; his frame for the coming polls would be the dominant frame –the best Poe and Escudero being able to do is insist “me, too,” as far as general principles are concerned. But since the President framed—and Roxas took on the frame—of the election being fought on the basis of a referendum on his leadership, and a continuity in governance by the ruling coalition, “me, too” isn’t the same thing at all. Proclaiming yourself Beer na Beer is no substitute for being the original Pale Pilsen, however tasty you say you are. The President, in advertising parlance, enjoys the biggest brand recognition, remains the market leader, and a “me, too” challenge to that is the weakest form of contesting a market.


II. A Unique Election

We can still all remember how 2010 was fought along the lines of 1986 and 1953–as one senior Inquirer editor told me at the time, referring to then-Senator Aquino, “the last time I saw a candidacy like this wasn’t even in 1986, it was in 1953,” when Magsaysay ran for the presidency. Like 1953 and 1986, 2010 was a campaign to replace a discredited administration.

The 2016 election, to find a parallel, is unique. The closest analogies would be from before martial law: what should have been the reelection campaigns of Manuel Roxas in 1949 and Ramon Magsaysay in 1957, except both had died in office, and their successor–their vice-presidents—ran on the record of the predecessor. Both Manuel Roxas and Ramon Magsaysay would easily have been reelected had they not died in office; both Elpidio Quirino and Carlos P. Garcia were veteran leaders known for competence, running on platforms of continuity.

The same perils were present in 1949 and 1957, too: With Jose Avelino having split the party, Quirino eked out a victory so slim it allowed the partisans of Laurel to cast doubts on the results; while in the case of Garcia, Manuel Manahan put himself forward as a more authentic torch bearer of the Magsaysay legacy, resulting in Garcia being the first plurality president in our history; furthermore, Garcia, who kept together the party by placating party bigwigs by running with the unpopular Speaker Jose B. Laurel Jr. as his running mate, essentially conceded the vice presidency to an oppositionist, Diosdado Macapagal, who spent his entire term campaigning to defeat Garcia in 1961.

If the 1949 and 1957 elections were the last elections where the administration candidates ran on the record and achievements of the predecessor, the circumstances are different today because President Aquino can actually campaign for his chosen successor. Still, a further similarity is that during those times, the country was experiencing a stabilizing economy and had improving GDP figures. Put another way, the economy was such that campaigning on a platform of continuity was viable. But good economic numbers do not necessarily translate to electoral success, if a government has lost public confidence (as Quirino and Garcia would find out the next time around, in 1953 and 1961, respectively, when they lost, hounded by political controversy).



Figure 3.

Figure 03 - GDP 19461960


If perception is reality, then numbers, however impressive, have to be accompanied by the perception that the economy is being handled well. Historical GDP growth rates show that prior to 1949, the Philippine economy was experiencing low growth rates after the initial burst of activity when the country, basically flattened by World War II, had nowhere to go but up, resulting in stratospheric rates of growth compared to the devastation of the war.


Figure 4.

A closer look at the 1947 to 1960 and 2008-2015 GDP Rates      


Figure 04 - GDP 19471960



The readjustment to normality after the initial frenzy of rebuilding after the war meant there was a dip in growth, but after the economy returned to an even keel, it went on an upward trend in time for Quirino to be elected in 1949. It was also stable enough for Garcia to succeed in 1957. Before 2010, the economy also dipped due to the global economic crisis and depressed confidence, but was able to recover, buoyed as much by people regaining their optimism in expectation in a change of administrations, as the eventual outcome of that change. During President Aquino’s term, after an initial period of adjustment, when government reviewed its priorities and processes, the economy has bucked the regional trend and continued to grow.

Highest average GDP growth for the past 40 and 60 years

Which leads to a development conducive to an administration earning electoral goodwill:

According to NEDA Sec. Balisacan, at 6.2%, we currently have the highest 5-year average GDP growth for the past 40 years.



Figure 5.

Figure 05 - GDP 5 6 year averages


This is of course an inconvenient truth not only for Marcos loyalists (the Aquino they hate matched their idol), but equally so, for candidates who cannot put forward credentials either in economics or finance.


The “Demographic Sweet Spot” and “Daang Matuwid”


The NEDA projects that if “Daang Matuwid” continues (meaning its economic policies), the country’s GDP per capita will continue to increase. The projection was based on the 2014 GDP growth rate, assuming a GDP growth of 6.7% from 2015 onwards (See yellow bars on Figure 6).[1] On the other hand, if “Daang Tiwali” will take place starting 2016, meaning an economy riddled by corruption, instability and erratic growth due to changing policies, the economy will remain stagnant and we would see a very small increase in our economic growth for many decades to come (Red bars on Figure 6). This is also based on the 2014 GDP growth rate and the projected deceleration of 0.01 percentage points per year after the 2016 elections.[2]


Figure 6. GDP per Capita 1960-2014 at current prices in USD with NEDA projected 2015-2044 if “Daang Matuwid” continues and projected 2010-2044 w/ “Daang Tiwali”


figure 6


[1] NEDA Graphs for the 2015 SONA

[2] NEDA Graphs for the 2015 SONA

At the same time, there is a “demographic sweet spot,” which is essentially the potential benefits that come with having a larger percentage of the population entering working age, just when other countries we compete against will start having a bigger percentage of their populations retiring and leaving the workforce. The premise of the country Getting competitive, as the Inquirer editorial last October 3 discussed, in political terms, is who will be best positioned to navigate an increasingly interconnected and complicated world? Both in terms of integrity and competence, characteristics that have real-world consequences for people and nations, as Solita Collas-Monsod discussed last September 5 and September 12.

It is this question that the electorate will have to answer. Which brings up another question: just who, actually, are we, the voters?



III. We, The People as Voters

The first divide is between those old enough to vote, and those too young to vote. The next divide is between those registered to vote, and those who aren’t. Let’s slice and dice the figures.


A. 75% of registered voters will vote in 2016


There were 74.98% registered voters who voted in 2010, while 77.2% of those who registered voted in 2013. Similarly, COMELEC is projecting a 75% turnout in 2016 with an estimate of 40.5 million votes out of the 54 million projected registrants


Figure 7.

Figure 07 - Reg vs Actual

[1] COMELEC Spokesperson Dir. James Jimenez at DZBB Interview, April 22, 2015, 9 AM


B. The voters are roughly 41% of the population


In 2010, only 41% of the total population voted while 59% did not. Based on the population projections by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the percentage of voters in 2013 was still about 41%. Based on COMELEC and PSA estimates, the same percentage of voters out of the total population is also expected in 2016 at around 40.5 million.


Figure 08 - Percentage over population


C. Almost equal male-to-female voter ratio

Of the 38 million who voted in 2010, though almost equal, slightly more females (50%) voted than the males (47%). COMELEC was unable to record the gender of 3% of the actual votes.


Figure 9.

Figure 09 - Turnout by Gender

D. The Youth Vote


This is the vote that candidates projecting themselves as being on the wings of change like to brag about. We are a young country, it’s true. And a new crop of voters is entering the scene.


1. Incoming voters: Population growth from 1996 to 1998


In terms of additional voters, it would be more relevant to look at the 1996-1998 population growth because it will be the youth voters ages 13 to 15 (born between 1996-1998) in the last 2013 midterm elections who would turn 18 and will be the new additions to the voting population in 2016. They are estimated to be an additional 3.2 Million voting-eligible population by 2016.

  • 1996 NSO projected population: 69,946,205[1]
  • 1998 NSO projected population: 73,130,985[2]
  • Total additional population from 1996-1998: 3,184,780


2. Increasing Young Population


The 2010 census and 2013 PSA estimate reveals that the country’s young people (ages 15 to 30) account for 41% to 42% of the total population.


Figure 10.

Figure 10 - Pop by age group





In 2013, the young eligible voters (18 to 30) comprised 39% of the total number of registrants (Figure 11).



Figure 11.

Figure 11 - Reg by age group


However, based on the estimated voter turnout from the 2010 SWS, the youth (ages 18-30) comprised only 31% of the total number of actual votes, while those ages 31-48 largely constitute the voter turnout (37%) (Figure12).


Figure 12.

Figure 12 - Voter Turnout



According to Pulse Asia, the largest group of potential voters are those ages 35 to 54 at 40%, while only 36% of the potential voters are ages 18 – 34.


Figure 13.

Figure 13 - Voting Population Pulse Asia 2015




Hence, these graphs show that the youth population (ages 18 – 30) are roughly 41% of the population, 39% of the total registered voters, and 31% of the actual voters.


Population projections also reveal that as the young population will continue to increase, the potential youth voters is also likely to increase in the coming years. According to an AIM study, the youth voters (ages 18-30) will rise from about 21 million in 2010 to almost 30 million by 2040. In each presidential election between 2010 and 2040, there will be roughly 10 to 14 million potential new youth voters.[1]


Figure 14.

Figure 14 - Youth

[1] Mendoza, R., et. al., 2014, AIM Policy Center: Insights from the Pinoy Youth Barometer on the Youth Vote

3. A different message

In 2013, the University of the Philippines conducted an online senatorial and party-list mock election. With the polls running for 5 days and an added extension, the voters’ turnout was only 4.82% for all UP campuses. This sends a different message that although there is a huge number of young people, youth voter turnout could be low, given that an expected socially and politically involved university such as UP had such a turnout. There is also the fact that Election Day is a holiday, making for a long weekend that will be tempting for young people to make plans to be with friends or go on vacation.

So here is a kind of irony. We are a young country, but in terms of elections, older voters are more active. It may be that one has to have worked for a while, and dealt with real-world problems, including having something to gain and lose, not just for one’s self, but family, to be motivated to take the time to vote. And here is a kind of cautionary possibility: if, however, an increasingly young population also becomes increasingly prosperous, as they get older, will they be as motivated to vote? We have had periodic boom-and-bust cycles which serve as a wakeup call for citizens to participate in elections to change the leadership which sets policies; if these boom-and-bust cycles happen less and less or disappear, would we face a situation like the developed world, where voter participation in elections is low? That would create a different set of problems, to be sure, in terms of democratic governance.


E. A nation in demographic transition: An increasing working age population


An increasing youth population becomes an increasing working population over time. In 2010, the percentage of the working population (ages 15 to 64) was 57.8 Million. By 2045, it will be almost twice at 95.9 Million, while the number of dependents will eventually decrease.


Figure 15.

Figure 15 - Demographic Transition


Economists predict that the Philippines will enter into a demographic transition by 2015 as the working age population grows at a much faster pace and the dependency ratio continues to decrease.


In 2010, there were about 61 dependents for every 100 working-age population. According to Dr. Juan Antonio A. Perez III, Executive Director of the Commission on Population, by 2040, it is projected that there will only be 50 dependents for every 100 working age population.[1]


The Philippines, currently, has the second youngest population in Southeast Asia.[2]


It will be some time before the reforms in the educational system, such as K-12 and closer integration of the efforts of DepEd, CHED and TESDA are felt. In the meantime, even as young Filipinos in the educational system have a greater chance of being more educated and enjoying wider opportunities than their elders, the majority of potential voters, according to Pulse Asia’s socio-demographic analysis, are working and a large number of them have only completed high school.[3]


Figure 16.

Figure 16 - Pulse Working vs Not Working

[1] Perez, J., III, 2014, Demographic Dividend: Demographic Aspect (presented during the NAST Philippines Roundtable Discussion on Demographic Sweet Spot in November 2014)

[2] United Nations, 2015, World Population Prospects: 2015 Revision,

[3]Pulse Asia Research U&B (2015)


Figure 17.

Figure 17 - Pulse Educational Attainment

Their choices, then, should take into consideration their current prospects as far as work is concerned, and their views on who can offer a compelling vision for the future, for themselves and their families.

Comparing with other Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam), the Philippines has the highest labor force growth rate.[1]


[1] Perez, J., III, 2014, Demographic Dividend: Demographic Aspect (presented during the NAST Philippines Roundtable Discussion on Demographic Sweet Spot in November 2014)


Figure 18.

Figure 18 - Labor Force Growth


As the working age population increases, this is the “demographic sweet spot” I mentioned earlier. This brings to the fore other issues, primarily of security: in terms of services from the government (health, education, safety) and measures meant to provide a greater chance for families and individuals to take advantage of opportunities—consider CCT, for example, and how people not only feel about it now, but feel about those who would either discontinue it, or drastically change it, putting those currently benefitting from it in a potentially precarious situation.


F. Filipinos Abroad: A large portion but small participation


According to the Commission on Filipino overseas, there are 10,489,628 estimate Filipinos outside the country (all over the world). However, only a small portion of the overseas Filipinos registered and even fewer voted in 2010 and in 2013.


In 2010, the overseas Filipino votes totalled 153,323 and covered only 0.4% of the total 38,090,090 voter turnout in the Philippines, while in 2013, the overseas Filipino votes only covered 0.3% of the total actual votes.[1]

Figure 19.

Figure 19

[1]Philippine Statistics Authority, 2014 Survey on Overseas Filipinos


But common sense suggests this is a misleading number, because it doesn’t account for those at home. They range from underage dependents (who don’t vote), voting age family members who are young (so, like other young people, perhaps less inclined to actually vote), siblings and spouses and parents and grandparents who are inclined to vote, and who will therefore factor in the candidates’ views and track record in terms of protecting the interests of Filipinos abroad.

 G. Increasing number of IT-BPO employees but probable small percentage of BPO voters


This brings a case similar to Overseas Filipinos: those working in IT and BPOs here at home, many of whom follow foreign time. The number of IT-BPO employees has been significantly increasing. From 527,000 direct employees in 2010, the number of direct employees nearly doubled to 1.07 million individuals in 2014. By 2015, the industry is expected to employ 1.19 million individuals while in 2016, the projected number of IT-BPO direct employees will be 1.3 million.


Figure 20.

Figure 20 - BPO A



Although there is an increasing number of IT-BPO employees, it is estimated that only a small percentage of them actually vote, assuming that most IT-BPO workers fall within the ages of 18 to 39.

Based on the estimated 2010 voter turnouts from the 2010 SWS Exit Poll, there were more than 18 million actual voters aged 18 to 39. In other words, in 2010, the actual voters aged 18 to 39 actually comprised 50% of the total actual voting population. During the same year, DTI and IBPAP recorded that there were 527,000 IT-BPO direct employees. Of the 18 million (ages 18-39) who voted in 2010, only 2.78% IT-BPO employees probably voted on election day.

Assuming that there will be an increase in total voter turnouts (as per COMELEC) and that the 18-39 actual voters will also be 50% of the projected actual voting population in 2016, there will be 20 million who would actually vote from the same age group. Out of the estimated 20 million 18-39 voters, only 6.64% IT-BPO employees would probably vote in 2016.

At the same time, most employees in the IT-BPO sector work during graveyard hours and are less likely not to vote come election day. Like Filipinos abroad, chances are their parents and grandparents will be the ones to vote.



Figure 21.


Figure 21 - BPO B

H. Religion and Voters


Aside from the Youth Vote, and appealing to Filipinos abroad and their families, candidates take pains to court the support of sectors in a position to pledge their members’ support. This includes religious groups.


1. The INC Vote


In the Philippines, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) is open to, and has proven numbers for, undertaking command voting especially for local elections. According to Mahar Mangahas, from their SWS/TV5 Exit Poll in 2010, 4.23% of the valid votes for President were cast by people who declared their religion to be INC.[1] This adds up to an estimated 1.53 million votes from INC in 2010. Currently, Mangahas predicts that there will be around 1.7 million votes from the INC in 2016 in terms of Presidential and Vice Presidential posts.


2. The Catholic Vote


Although the Catholic Church does not endorse candidates, Catholic voters comprise most of the total voting population, with more than 80% of Filipinos being Catholics.[2] During the peak of the RH bill issue, the question of whether there will be a Catholic vote in the 2013 elections suddenly erupted.[3]


Mahar Mangahas indicated that in all his experience with election surveys, he has never seen a Catholic vote or any charismatic group vote; the only solid religious vote, so far, has been the Iglesia ni Cristo Vote.[4]


Still, several Catholic bishops and movements publicly endorsed anti-RH candidates in 2013. The Diocese of Bacolod even put up a large tarpaulin bearing the names of candidates who opposed the RH bill and branded them as “Team Buhay” while those who voted for it as “Team Patay.”[5] However, after the elections, the Catholic Church leaders were disappointed that their campaign did not have much impact in the senatorial elections.[6]


Antonio Montalvan, on the other hand, questioned that if indeed there was no Catholic vote, why did 6 of the 12 senatorial candidates and 55 of the 100 plus congressmen who were against the RH Bill still win? But the RH bill was voted on by the Senate and the House in December, 2012 (it passed by 13-8 in the Senate, and by 113-104 in the crucial 2nd reading vote and 133-79 in the final reading vote—not to mention that the hierarchy itself was divided among moderates and hard-liners), giving enough time for tempers to subside by the time of the midterm elections.


Reality may lie somewhere in the middle: in tight local races, interventionist bishops can rely on committed groups of the lay faithful to use their influence on family members and thereby affect the outcome. This is why the battle over the RH Bill was toughest in the House, where congressmen worried about the impact of bishops campaigning against them.


Nationally, however, the Catholic Church can exercise what is called a “negative vote” but only moderately so: this also explains why some senators were generally unafraid to support the RH Bill, while others aligned their position on the measure with the stand of the Catholic hierarchy.


3. The Moro Vote


There is an estimated 6% Muslims out of the total population, slightly larger than the INC group, which constitutes only 2% of the population. While there is no “Muslim vote,” the habit of perpetuating political dynasties to support the interests of particular national politicians has been known to persist in Mindanao.[7] According to the pre-election survey of SWS in April 2010, the command votes tend to be more visible in areas farther away from the capital, mostly in Mindanao (22%).[8]


The ARMM provinces, in particular, have been known for several election controversies such as the famous “Hello Garci” scandal in 2004 and the “Lintang Bedol” case in the 2007 elections. In 2004, Arroyo had a contentious high turnout compared to that of FPJ. In fact, 17% of Arroyo’s total votes obtained in Mindanao came from ARMM.[9] This was fostered by ARMM elections taking place outside the schedule for national elections. ARMM votes in the hands of unscrupulous local and national leaders, then, could be put up for sale to change the outcomes of national contests.


In 2011, ARMM elections were synchronized with national elections, and few noticed that for the first time in many elections, the absence of a lag or even of controversies regarding the ARMM outcome resulted in a relatively controversy-free result. The elections of 2016 will mark the first time ARMM and presidential elections are synchronized, which means Moro leaders and the Christian politicians who used them are fighting their own contests and will have little time or opportunity to revert to old habits.


They will be voting on the same day as everyone else; leaders with committed (or at least obedient) followers will have to throw in their lot with national candidates without knowing what the outcome will be. It remains to be seen if the candidates’ opinions on the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law will form a Moro bloc vote.


HAVING TAKEN A LOOK at demographics–some aspects of our population in terms of sex, age, education, for example—we need to look at geography and the things that allow candidates to reach the most number of people in the most efficient yet effective way possible.


IV. Where are the voters?


BEFORE 1986, tickets were geographically-balanced, on the basis of appealing to the North and the South. In 1986, however, for the first time, the contending tandems were both Luzon-centered: Marcos and Tolentino were from the Ilocos and Manila, and Aquino-Laurel were from Tarlac and Batangas, respectively. The waning of a geographically-balanced ticket is a reflection of where the voters are.


  1. More than half of the voting population are in Luzon


  • At 56% in 2010, more than half of the registered voters came from Luzon, with 24% in Mindanao, and 20% in the Visayas. The case was similar in 2013, where 56% of registered voters were from Luzon, 23% in Mindanao, and 21% in the Visayas.
  • Luzon increased by 904,809 registrants. Visayas increased by 444,934 registrants. While Mindanao decreased by 66,566 registrants in 2013.


Figure 22[10].

Figure 22 - LuzViMin A

[1] Mahar Mangahas, September 5, 2015, SWS Statistics about the INC,

[2] PSA 2010 Census

[3] Inquirer, December 14, 2012, Will there be a Catholic vote in 2013,

[4] Mahar Mangahas, January 23, 2010, Tolerance of diverse opinions,

[5] Inquirer, May 14, 2013, Bishops accept Catholic vote not yet at its full strength in elections,

[6] Inquirer, May 15, 2013, What happened to Catholic vote?,

[7] Tadem, T., November 10, 2012, Beyond structures of Moro autonomy,

[8] SWS, May 9, 2010, SWS April 2010 Pre-Election Survey,

[9] PCIJ, May 17, 2007, The Maguindanao Vote: Working ‘miracles’ again in ARMM?,

[10] 2015 estimates subject to finalization, as of writing time.


Figure 23.

Registered Voters by Philippine Main Group of Islands (2010)

Figure 23 - LuzViMin B


Source: COMELEC 2010 Election Results


  1. Highest number of registered voters are in the Lingayen-Lucena corridor


In both the 2010 and 2013 presidential elections, the Lingayen-Lucena Corridor comprised almost 40% of the total 50.7 million registered voters in the Philippines.


Figure 24.

Figure 24 - Lingayen Lucena A


Figure 25.

Figure 25 - Lingayen Lucena B

  1. Provinces with the most number of voters: Cebu, Cavite, and Pangasinan


Data suggests that the highest voter turnout actually occurred in highly urbanized cities such as Metro Manila and Cebu. Apart from NCR, the number of registered voters remained highest in Cebu, Cavite, Pangasinan, and Negros Occidental both in 2010 and 2013.


In contrast to 2010, in 2013, more people from Laguna registered to vote in 2013 than those from Bulacan, while there were more registered voters in Rizal than those in Nueva Ecija.


Figure 26.

Figure 26



Figure 27.

Figure 27 - Top 10 Provinces



You will notice from the above, that the old “Solid North” is no longer “vote-rich” the way it used to be. The map does not show, on the other hand, regions that are considered to vote as a bloc for national candidates from their regionBicol is the most famous example. Nor do these maps take into consideration the shifts in population in the country (Ilocanos in Aurora and other provinces, for example). But on the whole, in terms of the sheer number of votes, NCR, Balance Luzon (specifically the Lingayen-Lucena Corridor), Cebu, Negros Occidental, and Davao del Sur are the plum prizes in seeking votes.

  1. The Urban vs. Rural Divide


The classification of an “urban” area is based on meeting a required population density. This means that a highly urbanized province always has more people/voters. The table below shows the % population of urban versus rural areas in the Philippines and the household ownership of TV and personal computersthis tells us “where the people are” and “the equipment they own”:


Figure 28.

Figure 28


The majority of the population, therefore, lives in rural areas and own more television sets than personal computers.


This allows us to zero in on a few things: while there are more rural residents than urban residents, turnout is higher in urban areas. Internet access is highest in urban areas, which could potentially affect turnout for candidatesbut dwarfed in comparison to access to television, which can affect turnout for all candidates everywhere that there’s TV.


And it tells us, most of all, why the political class speak of an “Air War” and a “Ground War” in elections.


V. At the starting line


And so, this is the moment when all is revealed: Filing Day, when the candidates declare themselves as such and, without any doubt, throw their hats in the ring. Consider this projection, which is simply based on my observations at present.

Even if, as we saw earlier, voters pondering their choices in the local and national races can practice what is called “strategic voting,” there is a loophole, so to speak, i.e. ethnic votes or bailiwicks: most famously, the so-called “Solid North” and the Bicol vote.

The long road to October 2015, which began in June 2013, had as its goal, obtaining, for a candidate, that other factor often described as “winnability,” which is the perception that popularity will attract all the other conditionsfunding, machinery through a party or coalition, volunteersnecessary to mount a viable campaign.

But this calculus can be upset by the calculus of others. Since everyone is looking at the loopholes, the different candidates can cancel each other’s advantages out. They can fracture a constituency to the extent that the rival constituency can win. The strength of one candidate in ethnic terms, can be cancelled out by greater strength in the same region by another. Effectivity in the “air war” –pitching for votes in media and online—can be challenged by the “ground war” –the hard, door-to-door, village-to-village slog by candidates, party members, and volunteers.

At present, you could slice and dice the “winnability” stakes –the respective strengths of candidates they can build on—as follows.


Figure 29.

Projected Region and Class where candidates are strong




Contending for President
Binay NCR ABC, E
Duterte NCR, Mindanao ABC
Poe NCR, BL (Bicol) ABC, D, E
Roxas Visayas ABC, E
Contending for VP
Cayetano NCR, Visayas (western), Mindanao (western) ABC
Escudero NCR, BL, Visayas, Mindanao ABC, D, E
Honasan BL (Bicol), Visayas, Mindanao
Marcos NCR, BL (Ilocos), Visayas (Leyte) ABC, D
Robredo BL (Bicol)
Trillanes NCR, BL (Bicol) ABC


If you look at my projection, above, 2016 may turn out to be something along these linesat least based on where I think the candidates are at the starting line.

Only two candidates can claim to dominate a crucial region: Roxas in the Visayas and Duterte in Christian Mindanao, respectively. Roxas-Robredo has a strong claim on Bicol, but this puts them in direct competition with Poe-Escudero (with the complication that Poe and Escudero were at first, downplaying their running as a tandem). At present, Poe and Binay can claim an advantage in NCR, but they are in competition with, and cannot count the administration out, in this regard. Poe might claim an advantage in BL (Balance Luzon) but this ignores the lingering historical bailiwicks of the Liberals, such as Quezon Provincewhile Binay’s assiduous courtship of Arroyo and the Marcoses, and his settling on Honasan, showed his geographical instincts.

Vice-Presidential candidates also add to the geographical calculus of presidential candidates. It seems the most hotly-contested region will be the Bicol regionwith Escudero, Honasan Robredo, and Trillanes all putting a claim on the votes of the region. Marcos can claim the “Solid North,” and can put in a claim to the loyalty of Leyte. As senators, Cayetano and Honasan can also claim regional bailiwicks based on their previous electoral records.

What is particularly interesting is the number of candidates with nothing to lose. Poe, Trillanes, Cayetano, Escudero, Honasan can all return to the Senate, if they end up losing in 2016. They remain viable as candidates after that. The only candidates who are really taking a risk are Roxas (out of office, but who could have played safe and returned to the Senate), Bongbong Marcos (who could have sought a safe reelection to the Senate), and Leni Robredo (who could also have safely sought reelection to the House).

Note that I haven’t included Miriam Defensor Santiago, who’s sudden entry into the race –and who’s declaration that Ferdinand Marcos Jr. would be her running mate—came as a surprise to nearly everyone. It’s simply too soon to tell how her double-barrel declarations will affect her existing constituency (though her tying up with Marcos it seems to have left her vocal supporters speechless). If, however, one assumes it was Marcos Jr. who got her to run, then there can be three probable reasons: to cause maximum disruption in the Visayas for Roxas; to inflict Santiago’s trademark stream of consciousness showmanship into future presidential debates; and to further weaken Cayetano (left orphaned after nailing his colors to the mast of the never-launched Duterte campaign) and Trillanes (supportive of Poe), his erstwhile partymates. And Marcos Jr. gets to out-Marcos the candidate who admires, and has tried to duplicate, the old Marcos (Senior) mystique the most: Escudero.

Nor can we factor in the cliffhanger over whether or not Duterte will or won’t run: or where his votes will go, now that it seems he will concentrate on running for mayor of Davao City. His party, PDP-Laban, is in alliance with the administration and it may be that this alliance will continue.

The continuing silence, as of this writing, of the Nacionalistas and the NPC suggests that they will concentrate on maintaining their seats in the House and their local bailiwicks, thus making themselves parties to court once a new administration is elected.

If either party declares, in the end, that they will not endorse any of the presidential candidates, then the net advantage will be for the administration; and the net disadvantage, to Poe, who was unable to prove either she or her (unofficial) running mate could attract a party enough to take a stand in her cornerunless she, or one of the other candidates, can scoop up the local party bigwigs of the NP or NPC.

But they can afford to hold out beyond Election Day. Granted, once a winner is proclaimed, another realignment will take place, which is why even in the past, although no administrationeven the ones that lost the presidencyever lost the House; every new administration soon enough puts together a new ruling coalition in the House, too (the Senate is equally susceptible, but slightly less so, during midterms). An organized party, which, regardless of the outcome of the presidential and vice-presidential polls, holds on to, or expands its bloc in the House, is a force to reckon withand one to court for support.

But that’s another story.


VI. How we decide on whom to vote for

HAVING seen who we are, and where we are, as voters, we now come to the two ways our votes will be courted. The “Ground War,” creates, to use a newish term, “content” both for TV (and other traditional media) and online. People take screenshots of news; they post videos of things they see around them, and what they see can go viral, and by going viral, become part of the news cycle. Unlike the news (remember the old saying that only bad news sells), something touching, or cute, has as much of a chance of going viral as something disgusting, or shocking.


The most efficient way to reach the voter also happens to be the way voters like to be reached –through television. To be sure, a growing number of people are not only also online, but look at different screens at the same time: they will watch a show on TV, and react to what they see on Twitter and Facebook, for example.


  1. More Filipinos today use the Internet and social media


As of 2014, 57% of the population uses the Internet, which is equivalent to 58,690,221 internet users in the Philippines.[1]


According to Nielsen,

  • There are 54,053 Filipino Facebook users;
  • 11,914,115 Filipino Twitter users; and
  • 7,336, 277 Filipino Tumblr users.[2]


In another survey, results show that mobile internet users is now becoming a fast growing group of people[3]:

  • 96% of mobile internet users in the Philippines use Facebook while 54% in the US do; and
  • 42% of total screen time in the Philippines is on social media. Filipino social media users are number 1 in the Asia Pacific region, spending 4 hours a day in all social channels, while Chinese only spend 1.5 hours a day and Indonesians spend 2.9 hours a day.


But even as we all explore this brave new world, the current reality is that TV is still King. There are other screens, though, that, together with TV, contribute to the “Air War,” and can become a factor in the “Ground War.” For example, if you still remember Farmville, then you’ll remember that besides the youth, among the busiest people online are senior citizens, who are more likely to vote, and who can influence others to vote. A young person unlikely to vote can still gleefully help a positive or a negative go viral, which in turn can be spotted on the net, on a phone, or on TV by someone older and more likely to vote. It’s an infinite feedback loop all the way to Election Day.


  1. TV is the primary source of information for most Filipinos.


So although there is an increasingly large number of Internet users today, according to a survey in 2013, TV is still the primary source of information for most Filipinos. In particular, most Filipino voters still rely on TV ads as their sources of information concerning the candidates.


In 2013, a study on the youth vote by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), which conducted a mock election, showed that a quarter of the student sample indicated that their votes were influenced by the candidates’ last name, while 28.13 percent of the student sample voted on the basis of the candidates’ television ads. Only two percent of the respondents based their vote on the platforms of the 12 senatorial candidates.[4] In 2010, I posted the platforms of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates online. You can access them here: it’s interesting to see the readership (views) for each.


That being the case, are advertisements “epal” behavior, or a legitimate means for the public to get to know candidates in an era when the speeches in the plaza aren’t community events anymore?


My view is that if someone were to ask in a survey if the public considered advertisements as “premature campaigning,” I doubt if the results would be against ads. One reason is ingrained behavioras I pointed out at the start of this article, speculation and jockeying for a presidential election begins the moment the mid-term results are known; and when it comes to an electorate that has long foregone the public plaza as the place to find out about candidates (prospective or otherwise), TV is the widest and easiest means to get to know who is running and why.


Which brings us to that marvelous and mysterious document, the “Platform.” They have been a feature of every presidential election in the same manner that coalitions have featured in our presidential elections from the start: see the Coalition Platform for 1935.


  1. Platform, Personality, and Parties in choosing a President

For parties and coalitions composed of parties, and individual candidates, there are two documents that serve to bind together those committed to the common cause: the coalition or party platform, and the sample ballot.

While every coalition seeking the presidency has put forward a platform since 1935, platforms per se—meaning, a specific policy document, and not just generalized notions of what the voter gets the impression the candidate is all about—while very important, don’t seem to appeal either to voters, or even media, much less the members of the coalitions concerned (as an aside, what matters then, is if the platform matters to the candidate concerned and his or her principal lieutenants tasked with turning policy into reality).

Based on the SWS exit poll in 2010, which goes beyond people equally consider platform and personality as reasons for choosing a president.[5]


Figure 30.

Figure 30 - SWS platform personality

[1]Reports from Nielsen, Globe, show mobile web boom in the Philippines, June 30, 2014

[2]Reports from Nielsen, Globe, show mobile web boom in the Philippines, June 30, 2014

[3] On Device Research, July 2014,

[4] Mendoza, R. et al., December 17, 2014, AIM Policy Center: Insights from the Pinoy Youth Barometer Vote,

[5]TV-SWS 2010 Exit Poll, May 11, 2010


It is important to note that, according to poll experts, respondents in general tend to give “socially desirable” answers. For example, respondents in general will answer that they do not tolerate corruptionbut when asked how many times they tried to bribe someone, results showed the opposite of the socially desirable answer.


But another thing I pointed out in 2013 suggests a simpler explanation for the above. Back then, I pointed in turn to a 2010 survey that revealed that as far as the public is concerned, “news” as a source of information had an incredibly elastic definition: “news” could come from the evening news, but it could also come from a game showand game shows, for example, have a gigantic audience compared to the news. So it may be, too, for what constitutes a “platform” for the publicslogans, speeches, anything and everything where a candidate’s opinions (and thus, position, on a question) might constitute a “platform.” Personality, then, in the survey above, could then refer to all the other intangibles—likeability and credibility, for example.


So if the platform-as-document itself is ignored, there is another document that is far less likely to be ignored –in fact, it could be considered an electoral lifesaver. This is the sample ballot.

The sample ballot cuts across classes, as it’s a simple crib sheet (case in point: survey after survey shows that most people decide on eight names for the senate, but there are twelve slots: a sample ballot is crucial to prevent the extra four names from being left blank). Parties in all countries focus on getting people to go out and vote, and having their representatives make sure that ballots are counted correctly; if voters were to show up, and leave many names blank, it would be counterproductive.

But it’s the sample ballot that is of critical importance to all candidates and coalitions. The sample ballot is what connects the local to the national; it allows local leaders to hang on to the coattails of strong candidates; it allows weaker candidates to ride on the drawing power of strong local candidates. For local candidates, it is the IOU that gives them a seat at the table of what will hopefully be the new national leadership; it is the calling card that gives national candidates access to the networks that constitute local communities.

Which brings us to political parties.

Why does a party matter, if the conventional wisdom is that parties are personal vehicles and not organized groups of like-minded people? The reality is they are both, and we are not unique in this regard. Yuko Kasuya, for example, in his book Presidential Bandwagon: Parties and Party Systems in the Philippines (Anvil, 2009) points out that Koreans follow leaders instead of parties.

Parties serve another purpose. They serve as venues where fights can be mediated, and disagreements refereed. It is in the party, and among parties, in the coalition, that authorities –party bigwigs—can be appealed to, to solve problems.

Consider these terms you often read about. For local and House elections, there are “Free Zones,” (where factions in a party or different parties agree not to put up an official candidate). You hear about the “Equity of the Incumbent,” (where, if an official candidate is to be decided on, the incumbent holder of the office has a claim to being the official bet) and for the Senate, the phenomenon of the “Guest Candidate, ” where two or more parties decide to have one candidate on their respective slates, which began with Claro M. Recto’s senatorial candidacy in 1955. All these are manifestations of party and coalition negotiations. And enormous amount of time is spent by national candidates and party leaders on these matters: whose hand will you raise, with the photo to appear in posters? Whatever your decision, someone will be unhappy.

Being able to achieve net happiness—instead of dissatisfaction—among your supporters is the first test of leadership for a presidential candidate. Your decision can deprive a rival of an ally, or drive the disaffected into the arms of your opponents. But if the result of a free zone is a lack of a genuine contest in an area, then most voters might stay away—which would benefit those unscrupulous candidates, particularly national candidates, who want to rely on machinery, whether provided by politicians, warlords, or other “leaders.”

Sergio Osmeña III, who of our national politicians, has the strongest historical appreciation of how things have evolved, made an interesting comment when he was interviewed after filing his candidacy on October 15. He says machinery in national elections is overrated. Machinery mattered, he said, before martial law, when local elections weren’t synchronized with national elections; since 1987, however, local politicos are fighting for their lives and so aren’t in much of a position to deliver.

He is alone in this point of view; the most others might go is to concede that local support must be sewn up 45 days before Election Day, when the local races kick in; but in general it’s safe to assume that what is of national importance in terms of local support, is being able to say you have local factions and parties behind you. The reason is best explained by a historian.

Historian Mina Roces in her book on kinship politics puts forward three interesting concepts: “palakasan,” and within it, the ideas of “malakas” and “mahina.” A candidate who has a party is a candidate “malakas” enough to obtain the public support of the local leaders who constitute the party network, and in turn, their followers.

A candidate unable to obtain party support immediately projects being “mahina.” In that, at best, only a loose network of individuals is pledged to support that candidate. This means discipline and cohesion, not to mention logistics, are that much more difficult to organize. On the other hand, a candidate projects strength when political heavyweights commit to your candidacy. For those outside an administration, it is a mutual pledge to achieving happier times; for those in the administration, particularly if the incumbent president remains popular and active (as I mentioned, a unique situation as far as the present incumbent is concerned), it is an attractive proposition: you can hope endorsement will give you a boost, and for the remaining year of the incumbent’s term, you retain a direct line to the Palace.

To be sure, there is a kind of amorality—not immorality—in “malakas” and “mahina.” Are they strong? Fierce? If they are, maybe they can help me.

There remains, however, an idealistic streak even in the most jaded Filipino; and as a society, we judge our candidates as we judge people. Are they good? Are they kind? If they are, maybe they can help me.

And this is where your approach determines which candidate has a chance of attracting your vote.


  1. Not corrupt/clean record as topmost reason for choosing a President

If Mina Roces described our approach to those who have, or seek, power, then there’s another useful point of view to make sense of how different points of view compete in elections.

Back in 2010 the American scholar Dr. Mark Thompson described Philippine politics as characterized by an “emergent cleavage,” by which he meant that, if you trace our political development over the past sixty years (and even earlier), there are two contending points of view in every election: those of Reformists, and Populists. Reformists (Magsaysay, Ninoy and Cory, Ramos, Aquino III) appeal to voters as an inclusive community, cutting across class, ethnic, and religious lines, on the basis of sacrifice and thus “goodness.” They campaign on a pledge not to steal, and to govern in the national (and not personal) interest. Populists (matinee idol Rogelio de la Rosa who briefly ran for president in 1961, Marcos, Estrada, FPJ), on the other hand, appeal to voters on the basis of highlighting class divisions (particularly resentment of the elite): on “us” versus “them,” and the idea that the candidate is like the voter and will thus help the voter. What reformists and populists have in common, however, is that they put themselves forward as being against clientelism (the post Edsa Dos incarnation of Arroyo, is the most recent example with its traditional use of force, bribery, and cronyism to defy public opinion and manipulate electoral results.

Past survey results showed that the topmost reasons for choosing a president is if a candidate is not corrupt or has a clean record, and if he or she cares for the poor. The same surveys, however, also suggest other traits can add to, or detract from that consideration. Those can also serve as an equally compelling reason to support a candidate. In other words, you can see a cleavage—between characteristics a Reformist would find attractive or relevant, and those someone who is a Populist would consider important. Education or even class background would be one; the ability to “deliver” might be another. A simpler way to imagine it, is that each voter has an angel and a devil whispering in each ear, one advocating idealism, the other, pragmatism –and the voter being swayed to rationalize as a result. This is the stuff of which focus group discussions, never public, but essential tools in campaigns, come in.


Figure 31.

Figure 31


The rankings above represent a snapshot of the whole. Similarly, the most frequently mentioned qualities of a good leader, based on the Institute of Philippine Culture study of the poor reported by the PCIJ in 2004, are the following[1]:

  1. God-fearing
  2. Helpful
  3. Loyal
  4. Responsible
  5. Intelligent
  6. Hardworking
  7. Principled
  8. Keeps promises
  9. Trustworthy


The same April 2004 article also examined the most frequently mentioned qualities by the poor of a bad leader and were ranked as follows[2]:

  1. Corrupt
  2. Liar
  3. Greedy
  4. Irresponsible
  5. Selfish
  6. Abusive
  7. Has vices
  8. Lazy


As the Institute of Philippine Culture found out, much as Populists might think otherwise, poor voters put a premium on positive traits, too. This makes them not very different from the community as a whole. Reformists, though, might be disappointed in that some traits they consider of paramount importance aren’t as important when considering the whole community.


  1. Small influence of election surveys on voting decision


A brief note on surveys: The SWS Pre-election Survey in 2013 found that most people are unaware of election survey news and the influence of election surveys on voting decision is weak.[3]


Figure 32.

Figure 32 - SWS Effect of survey A

[1] Institute of Philippine Culture in PCIJ, April 26, 2004, “The Poor Vote is a Thinking Vote”

[2] Institute of Philippine Culture in PCIJ, April 26, 2004, “The Poor Vote is a Thinking Vote”

[3] SWS, May 2 – 3, 2013 Pre-Election Survey,



Earlier surveys also showed that election surveys are not likely to influence one’s vote.


Figure 33.

Figure 33 - SWS Effect of survey B



But even if one accepts what the public says, there is one group for whom the surveys matter to the extent that it can alter their behaviorthe politicians. Commitments may change depending on the latest political temperature of a candidate. The behavior of the candidate can change, too; some may reach the point where they will have to decide if they will double down time, energy, and resources for a faltering campaign, or cut their losses. And that, in turn, can affect the voters.


But here’s a quick tip on reading the results of surveys. Don’t forget the margin of error the survey firm mentions in their findings. They differ when looking at national numbers and regional numbers. In addition, from survey to survey, you have to factor in a bigger number when trying to figure out what’s a significant change in numbers, or not. In the case of Pulse Asia: When comparing survey to survey, there must be at least 10 points difference between one survey and another, to be considered significant.


Otherwise in general (again for Pulse) the difference from survey to the next must be:

  • more than 5 points if National.
  • more than 10 points for NCR, BL, VIS, MIN.
  • more than 15 points for Class (ABC).
  • more than 6 points for Class D.
  • more than 10 points for Class E.


Note that in terms of these classes, Class D is the biggest class of all.


VII. Looking for patterns in past results


In part 1, we looked at past presidential elections. Let’s return to that. Having looked at who we are, today, it’s useful to return to the past, for additional insights. This is where who we are, and how our politics works and collides with the utter impossibility of predicting the future. We can, however, explore how things might turn out, based on how things did turn out in the past.


  1. Trends in Political Parties


From 1935 to 1969, only candidates from two parties, Nacionalista and Liberal, won the Presidency. In 1935, 1949, 1957 and 1965, strong third-party candidates affected the outcome by splitting or eroding, either the administration or opposition vote. But on the whole, the electorate had two choices to pick from. This was because the rules only allowed electoral observers from the top two parties in the previous election. This in turn meant there was little incentive, both for candidates and voters, to attempt to be anything other than a candidate of one of the two major parties. In his book Yuko Kasuya describes this as follows, using something called Duverger’s Law: “When only one candidate can win, voters would expect that those who have a serious chance of winning are the first and second runners and voting for a third runner means wasting votes, therefore they may eventually shift their support from third to the first or second runners. This is known as strategic voting. Politicians, anticipating this strategic behavior of voters, would refrain from entering the race unless they expect to be one of the top two candidates.”


Figure 34.

Figure 34 - a


However, starting in 1981 onwards, more and more parties were created and became involved. Each president who won from 1981 onwards came from a new party, as most administration parties failed to outlive the administrations that created them. And while most observers and the public still view presidential races as two-horse ones (meaning they often assume there is a primary contender and a leading challenger), the ability of other parties and their candidates to affect the outcome by subdividing broader constituencies, has become even greater.


Take a look at this chart.


Figure 35.

Figure 35

1992 was remarkable in that two splits affected the outcome of the election. After initially agreeing to abide by the results of a party convention, Fidel V. Ramos left the LDP when Ramon Mitra Jr. was selected to be its standard bearer. While the LDP had been the core of her ruling coalition, President Corazon C. Aquino decided to endorse Ramos as her successor. On the other hand, Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr., who had previously split the Nacionalista Party (which is why his party continues to be called the Nationalist People’s Coalition, an echo of its origins), found his base of support split in turn by Imelda Marcos who decided to run for president. The result was that the two main blocs—the old Aquino coalition and the old Marcos coalition—were split, while Miriam Defensor-Santiago emerged as the strongest, essentially third-party, candidate in over a generation. But it would not be enough.


In 1998, his popularity and thus influence diminished by the failed attempt to amend the constitution and the ongoing economic crisis, the Ramos Coalition fractured, with Roco, Osmeña and Lim further weakening a weak administration candidate, de Venecia. Estrada, on the other hand, could rely on the backing of the old Marcos Coalition. A similar situation emerged in the unique 2004 election, which had an incumbent running for reelection for the first time since 1969: Lacson, Villaneuva, and Roco, all part of the EDSA Dos Coalition, launched candidacies that made the main fight between Arroyo and Poe a close election subsequently hounded by controversy.


2010, on the other hand, marked what Thompson has described as a contest between Reform and Populism, with Estrada and Villar dividing the populist vote, and Aquino, Teodoro, and Villanueva divvying-up the Reform vote. And as I pointed out in February, 2010, there was the behind-the-scenes shadow of the 1986 showdown, too: Aquino was literally the incarnation of the EDSA Coalition of 1986; ranged against him were veterans of the Marcos machine: Estrada, Villar (through his in-laws), Teodoro and Gordon had all been Marcos men.


In the upcoming election, LP and UNA will be represented by Mar Roxas, and Jejomar Binay respectively. Grace Poe is running as an independent candidate. NPC and the Nacionalistas have not yet proclaimed who they will be supporting. John Nery recently wrote about Binay[1], Poe[2] and Roxas’[3] “winnability” and threats to/opportunities for, their victory in his columns in the Inquirer. To his keen observations, I would add the following.


As it stands, 2016, then, has divisions within divisions: there is the EDSA Coalition with Roxas as its candidate, representing Reform, though the reformists are themselves split due to the candidacy of Poe, who also has Populist appeal.


But Populists themselves are split two ways, as represented by Poe and Binay (Santiago was once upon a time, allied with both; now she could provide an added complication to both). To complicate matters further, the Marcos coalition is getting long at the tooth, but still counts: its veterans include Estrada, the Villars, Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. (though it might be more accurate to say that their populist instincts are tempered by a pragmatic willingness to coalesce with Reform parties from time to time) and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself, who is caught between the twilight of his mother’s life (the drawing power in terms of living Loyalists belongs to her, not him) and a new generation of Loyalists who are active online but who haven’t been proven in terms of delivering on voting day.


Marcos Jr. needs to seek higher office now for a very practical reason: his mother has to be able to publicly pass on the Loyalist torch to her son, and the new generation of Loyalists need to be exercised at the polls; otherwise, their followers might drift into the camps of other candidates, and it will be difficult to retrieve them later on. There is also a shrewd calculation at work, that only he, of the vice-presidential candidates, can claim two geographic bailiwicks, a network of committed supporters (the goal: a repeat of the 1986 fight, with himself bearing his father’s banner, and Leni Robredo being a stand-in for Cory Aquino), an ample war chest, and a developed, durable, brand.


Which also suggests a factor in the posturing of the Old Populists and professional plotters of politics: Estrada needs to continue to demonstrate that he matters; while other elders—the Macedas, Tatads, and Enriles of this world—are reaching their expiration date; if they don’t succeed in electing a candidate, their style of politics as well as their interlinking networks of like-minded politicos, could face a genuine possibility of extinction. Honasan had to sheepishly go along with Binay, leaving people wondering what, exactly, Enrile had to say about the whole thing. The two could simply be hedging their bets, to remain relevant come what may.


The Left, which tends towards populism, senses this danger, too. Hence, it was originally supportive of Binay, but subsequently dropped him in favor of Poe.


In a sense, the Roxas-Robredo tandem bucks the post-EDSA trend of shifting alliances based on “winnability” at all costs, and harks to the Reform campaigns of the 1950s and 1980s. The other presidential candidates –and their choices of running mates (or lack of it; some vice-presidential candidates seem to be putting themselves up for consideration by presidential candidates who lack running mates) adhere to a less ideological, and more pragmatic, approach to elections. As “anointed” successors, the Liberal Tandem faces the same challenge as Poe, and even Marcos Jr.: if 2016 is a referendum on Daang Matuwid, it is also a referendum on the populist campaign of FPJ, and the future of the apologists of the New Society and martial law.


VIII. The countdown


WHAT lies ahead? For you, the voter, the deadline for registration—to make sure you can vote—at the end of the month.


For the candidates and their people, it’s time for a reassembling of parties, factions, and other groups, as they decide the politician to back, and all pitch in to convince the public to elect their candidate. The declaration of candidacies from October 12 to 16 will mark the third such reassembling, as prospective candidates either back out or slide down (with the first reassembling was the 2013 mid-term; the second was the declaration of candidacies).


Figure 36.

2016 Election Timeline
Figure 36 - Election Timeline

[1] Nery, J., August 11, 2015, Binay’s path to victory, Inquirer,

[2] Nery, J., August 25, 2015, Grace Poe’s path to victory, Inquirer,

[3] Nery, J. August 4, 2015, Roxas’ path to victory, Inquirer,


And even as the Comelec schedule unfolds, the marking of political time will be represented by the surveys.


Each time a survey takes place—and once 2016 kicks in, they will most likely appear on a monthly, and no longer a quarterly, basis—politicians and the media, will scrutinize the results the way a doctor looks at the temperature chart of a patient. In turn, confidence will either be boosted or reduced, particularly among the partisans of the various candidates.


For the public, though, except for those truly addicted to politics, attention will wax and wane depending on the season (tuning out on All Saint’s Day, long weekends, Christmas and New Year, and Holy Week, unless someone in the family brings up the topic). Issues will come and go; until the last, mad scramble 45 days before Election Day, when the local campaign kicks off, and things truly get intense. But really, who knows? So many things can happen. Wisely will suddenly become the candidate everyone hears about but doesn’t know very much about. TV and radio will be clogged with people making promises—to you: because it’s all about you, the voter. Every election is marked by innovation—just as it requires, in the end, a choice.



IX. Continuity versus Experimentation, Reform versus Populism


IN our first two presidential elections, 1935 and 1941, a William McKinley front porch campaign was waged, with leaflets, buttons, newspaper advertising, radio coverage and billboards making their debut; 1945 had Osmeña once more attempting that mode of campaigning, while Manuel Roxas began the barnstorming of the country that has become familiar to us. Magsaysay’s campaign introduced modern advertising methods, including the pop tune jingle (in contrast to traditional candidates’ marches), and Macapagal took barnstorming to an altogether whole new level. By the end of the 1960s, the helicopter, television, and surveys had all entered the scene, while the Marcos and Ramos campaigns of 1986 and 1992 took data analysis in campaigns to an altogether more intricate level. 2004 saw texting’s debut (having been proven in 2001) and 2010 marked the opening of the social media era in campaigning.


Never has information been more widely availablebut the internet buffet is so big, it takes real commitment to discern what is meaty and what is just junk food. Here media and academe can make a difference, just as committed bloggers and others can, too. There is also a perceptible demand for debates between the candidates.

We do not have a tradition of candidates debating each other. In 1953 for example, you might have Quirino and Magsaysay blasting each other, by taking turns in speaking before a university audience. It is only in the post-EDSA era that the 1961 American innovation of debates between presidential candidates gained a foothold in the popular imagination, but not all presidential elections in that period have involved these debates.

There is a lot to find out. Think of the economy. Think of the decisions to be made. The next president will appoint 12 out of 15 justices in the Supreme Court. This will affect the justice system potentially for decades to come. The next President has such vast powers of appointment, it can make or break the bureaucracy and the providing of basic services: will there be rhyme or reason in these appointments, will there be teamwork, and will talent be attracted to government service? In an presentation in 2010, Karina Constantino David pointed out a new president appoints about 10,000 officials, plus another 3,500 in the career bureaucracy as promotions come up. The Aquino administration marked perhaps the biggest introduction of young people into the ranks of government. This shook up the status quo. The next administration will determine if there is a leveling up or a leveling down of such trends.

In the end, the decision the public makes in May 2016 will be about Continuity versus Experimentation, and, Reform versus Populism. The different candidates will represent different approaches to these questions. Binay represents Continuity for Populism: old-fashioned transactional, clientelist politics. Poe represents Experimentation for Reform and Populism: an experiment, indeed, as Reform and Populism can be like oil and water. And Roxas represents Continuity and Reform: the refinement of policies that have proven results due to an administration markedly different in terms of integrity from what came before.


The question here is: To take the plunge, or to stay the course? Which will attract more voters?


It takes extreme circumstances to convince the electorate to take the plunge into the great unknown: from 2005 to 2010, for example, the country chose to grin and bear it rather than take the path of People Power, with all its inherent risks; or put another way, they bided their time and channeled People Power where it probably truly belongs in a constitutional democracy—towards elections. In 2016, a country with an economy and a society more stable than it has ever been in a generation or more, has three choices, as the President put it: they can vote for continuity—“’yung sigurado,” as he puts it, referring to his candidate—leap into the void, in the hope the gamble pays off —“yung baka,” as he also puts it—or make a U-turn –“yung baliktad,” as once quipped. To be sure, there will be others who will throw their hat into the ring, on the off-chance they can hit on some permutation that can catch fire.


But one thing is sure: it is, and will be, a Great Referendum, such as this country has never seen, and will probably not see again. What is at stake is whether the boom-and-bust of the past will remain a memory or once again become a frustrating reality. For quite a few candidates, and their backers, this is their Last Hurrah. The results can either validate the conventional wisdom that “politics is addition” and “winnability,” or it can turn up a surprise –that continuity can be attractive, and genuine tandems based on real affinities, can obtain popular support.


You will be the judge.




This article continues a series I first began with “Elections are like water,” (2004) and “An abnormal return to normality” (2007) for PCIJ, and “The Great Divide: The midterm election of 2013” (see Part 1 and Part 2) for in May, 2013.

I would like to acknowledge the assistance of the following in the preparations of the charts, visuals, and data: Gino Bayot, Mica Olaño, Celina Cua, Smile Indias, Cherie Tan, Camille del Rosario, and Atom Ungson, as well as SWS for the sampling age breakdown of their 2010 exit poll, and Pulse Asia Research for their sampling profile data, that was used to make estimates on voters statistics.



Aug 19

Response of Zeneida Quezon Avanceña to the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation for the posthumous awarding of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation Medal to President Manuel L. Quezon


Response of

Zeneida Quezon Avanceña

to the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation for the

posthumous awarding of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation Medal to President Manuel L. Quezon

at the Inauguration of the Museo Ni Manuel Quezon

Quezon Memorial Shrine, Quezon City

August 19, 2015


In November we will mark 80 years since my father became the first president elected to office by the people. As my father climbed the stairs of Malacañan Palace, he remembered a story. It was a legend about the mother of our national hero, Jose Rizal. The legend goes that Rizal’s mother climbed those stairs on her knees, to beg for clemency for her son who had been condemned to die. He vowed that as a Filipino leading the Filipino nation, he would never be cruel or callous to calls for compassion.

This was not an idea that came to my father only in middle age. Eighty-eight years ago, in 1927, an Indonesian nationalist named Tan Malacca came to the Philippines and the Dutch authorities asked the Americans to deport him. Filipinos rallied to his cause. In his memoirs, Tan Malacca quoted my father as saying that “the right of asylum is one of the principles of democracy and humanity, which has been adopted by civilized nations.”

My father lived those words and opened the doors of our country to refugees from Shanghai, from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, and as historians are discovering, ensured that our Immigration Act would give him and all his successors, the lawful means to respond to the needs of the dispossessed and persecuted seeking sanctuary in our shores.

In devoting his life to the freedom and independence of our country, he never forgot that freedom is the birthright of all. That what we demand and expect for ourselves, we must defend and uphold for others. Prosperity comes and goes but it is generosity, empathy, and solidarity that is the true measure of an individual and of nations. In these things the Filipino is the equal of anyone in the world.

In honoring my father today, you honor the people who trusted him to lead them—for while it was he who opened the door, it was the Filipino people who embraced as neighbors those who sought sanctuary in the Philippines. And it was, and is, as a people, that we have proven we are willing and able to be not just hosts, but friends.

On behalf of my father and our family and the country we love so much, I thank the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation for this great honor. May it encourage future generations of Filipinos to stay true to the compassionate ideals of our founding fathers.

Thank you.

Jun 10

Rogue June 2015: 50 Most Influential Filipinos Online



Rogue’s June 2015 Technology issue features the 50 Most Influential Filipinos Online:


50 Most Influential Filipinos Online (ROGUE June 2015)


May 28

Presentation on The Philippines’ Key APEC Messages for 2015

Presentation at the Capacity Building Workshop on Communications

APEC 2015 Strategic Communications Committee and the APEC Secretariat

The Philippines’ Key APEC Messages for 2015

Venue: Social Hall, 4/F Mabini Hall, Malacanan Palace, Manila

by Manuel L. Quezon III

May 28, 2015

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“It’s not a slogan, it’s a basic truth.”

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“Our logo and slogan are your first keys to getting the job done. Other people will be intimidated to hear what this is about, but you can latch onto something here to strike a conversation. Always go back to the central message.” “We will be doing many different things to bring it [slogan] forward, and find unique ways to do it. But we should be in-sync with the national team. It’s the little details that tell people we are in-sync or not.” “If everything has meaning, then we are committed to uphold that meaning. We have to do it, and do it right.”

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“The hurdle we have to get over is: don’t get lost in translation. In trying to put forward what we want to communicate, that is the challenge we face.”

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“Show that Fun Works – you can do it in a way that makes your country proud. You can do it in a way that makes people happy to be a part of it. Make it happen in a way that it is memorable, together with the Filipinos.”

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“A picture paints a thousand words. It can draw you in and make you human. Always remember that the first impression counts, and it can tell a story.”

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“Keep it short, simple and consistent. A document usually has meaning for those who produced it. Your challenge is to make it meaningful for someone who has never heard of it. Despite jargon, you have to find ways to get the meaning across. There has to be certain standards and what your team is doing cannot contradict another team. It requires familiarity with what we’re doing.”

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“Be inclusive, not exclusive. People often take this as a unique moment in time, where we can contribute in unique ways. This may cause us to be exclusive, out of pride. But you don’t want to drive people away. We need to be inclusive. We may all be parts of different teams, but we are also part of a national family. It begins with your approach, if you understand what its about, then what an accomplishment it is, then you can bring in others to be a part of that good news.”

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“Using the APEC Page as an example, it is clean, easy to access, easy to read and organized. You can measure what the team is doing and give feedback.”

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On Facebook posts – “It’s about finding the right photo, the right information of the facets which need to be known, using the right hashtags and captions.”

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“Use every opportunity to present. Don’t throw everything at the wall, make it look effortless. If you have the basic framework in mind, your effectiveness will be enhanced.”

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“Our audience is the young professionals, the academe, journalists, owners of Small-to-medium enterprises. If they can be attuned to what you’re doing, you can engage them and expand your reach.”

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Apr 07

Rogue Magazine: The Twilight Zone


Rogue | April 2015

The Twilight Zone

by Manuel L. Quezon III

As a journalist who’s taken a Pentagon-sponsored tour of Korea’s Demilitarized Zone can tell you, not all government junkets need to be solemn and serious.


The best vacation is one paid for by someone else. People in academe, business, and government have raised work-related travel to a fine art: known as the conference, the convention, and the junket, respectively.

About two decades ago I went on one of those splendid American government junkets that give writers a lifetime’s worth of curious stories with which to regale their readers. The trip was jointly sponsored by the Pentagon and the State Department, whose representatives spent the trip bickering with each other as they jointly fended off the questions of our demanding press contingent.

Asian and regional journalists all of us, we included a Hong Kong journalist who admitted to us he was a colonel in the People’s Liberation Army (this was prior to the Hong Kong handover), a gloomy Russian nuclear expert who only brightened when somehow, roses came up in conversation (he collected stamps that featured roses on them), a cryptic Malaysian, an argumentative Sri Lankan, a demanding Bangladeshi, an apologetic Japanese (“So sorry for war!” he told the Southeast Asian contingent at each stop, but with particular regret when we were in Pearl Harbor, which made everyone very fond of him), a bulky, rebellious Australian, a refined New Zealander, and an irreverent Indonesian.

There was an elegant, attractive Indian editor whose feminine charms guaranteed that her Pakistani counterpart, a courtly, retired colonel set aside nationalism in favor of an old-fashioned gallantry.

There was also a Thai avidly flattered by our American minders (apparently American priorities at the time included basing war materiel in his country) and a South Korean editor who imparted fatherly advice (“Never trust the Americans,” he told me). And myself, on average two decades younger than all my companions. The Pentagon person took it upon himself to express his particular disappointment with Filipinos for kicking out the US bases.

Our grand tour began in South Korea and proceeded to Washington, D.C. before concluding in Honolulu, Hawaii. In South Korea we were taken around Seoul and paraded from one formal audience with local officials to another, including one particularly elaborate meeting with a think tank devoted to North-South reunification issues. It was a classic exercise in how to use up time saying nothing precise, using as many key words as possible. In the subway, I discovered grandmothers who spoke with their elbows –sharply—to get ahead of foreign slowpokes like me.

The most remarkable part was a day trip to the demilitarized zone — the DMZ — complete with the obligatory large, tourist bus, and chatty minders who made a grand production of the escalating security measures required as we approached the dreaded zone.

The Cold War had recently come to an end, and so there was a kind of other-worldly feeling to the whole thing as we hummed along on the bus, with the minders reminding us that “within 15 minutes” of the commencement of hostilities, jets could be screaming over Seoul and the capital imperiled by rocketry and artillery barrages. It seemed so thrillingly sinister, and yet, so improbable.

But as the bus droned on, the countryside gave way to reminders that South Korea was a country that had to constantly live under the specter of conflict.

There was Deaseong Dong (“Peace Village”), a tightly-regulated village with its 98.4 meter South Korean flagpole and Gijeong Dong, which our minders told us was a ghost town with its competing — and record-breaking — North Korean 98.4 meters flagpole and loudspeakers perpetually belting out eerie propaganda music. At night, our minders said, lights would be switched on to simulate human habitation of the “Propaganda Village.”

Once at Panmunjeon, with its Joint Security Area, we were brought to oohs and ahs at gigantic invasion tunnels constructed by the North Koreans: the menace of fanatical, Communist hordes made tangible; and then to gawk at the North Korean soldiers in their World War II Soviet-style uniforms, and the South Koreans in American-style MP uniforms glaring at each other while conducting a kind of martial choreography as they paced and peered and did the changing of the guard in their respective outposts. The South Koreans were better equipped: they had Ray-ban sunglasses to make them look more resolved.

If I recall correctly we then toured part of the heavily-mined, electrified frontier fence patrolled by South Korean troops. An orgy of grim statistics, of course: millions of mines, hundreds of watts of power, periodic attempts at infiltration and other kinds of border incursions, all the while punctuated by American heavy metal music blasting from South Korean outposts.

The end of the tour, of course, was the unintended punch line. After a few hours of being in the front lines of the impending Korean apocalypse, we were shepherded to a kind of glorified shack in which we were encouraged to buy “I was at the DMZ” keychains, T-shirts, jackets and baseball caps.

The Australian was particularly amused: “It all ends in Disneyland, eh?” From grim thoughts of the life-and-death struggle between the Free World and North Korea, matters quickly degenerated into complaints over the reduced rates of American per diems to we, the delegates (they were, apparently, more generous just a few years earlier).

In a moment of frankness (to which all Americans are so charmingly susceptible, sooner or later) one of our American minders later said that in his opinion, the old American alliance with South Korea was coming to an end; that it would only be a matter of time before they would be asked to leave South Korea. The youth, he said, were on the whole anti-American and once the ruling generation passed it would be, as they say, an entirely different ballgame.

As with all junkets, the after-hours entertainment was particularly conducive to international brotherhood. We were taken by a South Korean US Embassy minder to the sort of place where ladies do interesting things with raw eggs as a kind of cultural entertainment. Not really my kind of thing, but better than one of my more recent experiences a few years ago, in Berlin.

“Ladies and Gentlemen!” our German minder told us at one point during the day’s proceedings, “we now have 15 minutes for rest and relaxation!” He looked at us, looked at his watch, and continued, “you will now commence relaxation!” And he exercised the strictest supervision until he could point to his watch and bark, “relaxation must now cease!” And we rushed off to our next appointment.



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