Filipino Revolution

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Filipino officers, 1899

The Philippine Revolution (1896–1898) was an armed conflict between the Katipunan , a secret organization that sought the independence of the Philippines from Spain , and the Spanish colonial power.


By the time the revolution began in 1896, Spanish rule over the Filipino archipelago had lasted for more than three centuries. All decision-making power was concentrated on the colonial government in Manila and the Catholic Church in the Philippines . In reality, much of the power lay with the monks, what was called frailocracia there . In fact, the Dominican monks wielded greater power than the civil government, which was expressed in the Church's strong control over the Filipino population. Due to the imposition of disproportionate taxes and forced labor on the Indians (as the Filipinos were called), various revolts broke out as early as the middle and late 19th century, but remained unsuccessful.

The Spaniards used the age-old strategy of divide et impera - divide and rule . The government called in Filipino troops from the Tagalog provinces to quell revolts in Ilocos , and recruits from Pampanga Province helped avert armed conflict in the Visayas . This fueled hatred and disagreement among the Indians, who never achieved unity until the late 19th century.

A combination of external and internal factors eventually accelerated the general will for revolution. The archipelago was open to foreign trade from the middle of the 19th century , which was greatly expanded with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Along with the import of goods, western ideas such as the pursuit of freedom and independence also reached the island state. Educational institutions, organizations, literature and other instruments nourished these ideals, which were classified as destructive and forbidden by the colonial government and the established frailocracia . The Filipinos who were influenced by these liberal concepts were the same people who made the country profit from foreign trade: the Ilustrados , members of the wealthy business class who sent their sons to study in Spain and other parts of Europe. Many of these students, especially José Rizal and Graciano López Jaena , soon founded a reform organization called the Propaganda Movement .

The main internal factor was the execution of three Filipino priests. During the middle of the 19th century, Pastor Pedro Pelaez started a campaign with the aim of "naturalizing" the Filipino parishes , that is, making the churches accountable to indigenous clergy. After Pelaez died in an earthquake, the campaign was continued by Pastors Mariano Gómez , José Burgos and Jacinto Zamora .

The frailocracia was adamant about these reforms and looked for an excuse to arrest the group known as the trio. They got their chance when a mutiny broke out in a fort in Cavite . Although this revolt was led by a disaffected military officer and none of the three clergymen were involved, the civil government and the church hierarchy accused it of conspiracy. After a hasty trial, the three priests were sentenced and executed by the garrotto on February 17, 1872 in Bagumbayan , Manila . The compassionate Archbishop of Manila then refused to order them to take off their spiritual clothing and instead let the church bells ring as a sign of mourning. The three became known collectively under the acronym Gomburza after their death .

The execution upset many Filipinos, and a few years later an ilustrado named José Rizal announced that this was the event that had changed his life.

Propaganda movement

Marcelo H. del Pilar

A group of young Filipino Ilustrados were studying in Madrid . She was soon shocked when they saw how different Spain was from its colonies, whereupon they united to form the propaganda movement. In addition to Rizal and López Jaena, its members included Marcelo H. del Pilar , who was in political exile , Mariano Ponce and the Luna brothers - Juan and Antonio Luna . Together they published a bi-weekly newspaper called La Solidaridad . The goals of the paper were to expose bribery and to expose the atrocities in the Filipino colony. The publication lasted from 1889 to 1895. Copies of the editions were soon smuggled into the Philippines and read there secretly behind closed doors.

After a few years, disagreement led to a split within the movement. One faction supported del Pilar's claim to leadership, while the other supported Rizal. To resolve the dispute, Rizal decided to give in, pack his things and leave Barcelona, ​​where the group had settled at the time. Rizal's departure was already a signal of the slow but steady disintegration of the organization. As a result, the group lost through the early death of López Jaena and del Pilar the opportunities to achieve their goals, which consisted in the implementation of internal reforms in the colonies and the establishment of representatives in the Cortes Generales , the Spanish parliament. Nevertheless, La Solidaridad , which not only brought its content to readers in Spain and the rest of the western world, but also reached its compatriots in the remote Philippines, fulfilled an important function by encouraging the growth of discontent and dissatisfaction there.

La Liga Filipina

Rizal returned to the Philippines in 1892 and founded La Liga Filipina there . The Enlightenment organization should continue Rizal's goal of realizing reforms in the colony. In spite of its avowed intention to implement the reforms peacefully, the government soon felt threatened by the existence of the association and proceeded to dissolve it. She was particularly bothered by a clause in her statement calling for the organization to "defend against all violence and injustice". On July 6th, Rizal was finally arrested.

Immediately afterwards, the former coalition split into two factions with different declarations of intent. The moderate wing called itself Cuerpo de Compromisarios and had the objective of raising funds for La Solidaridad . The radical wing, led by a warehouse worker by the name of Andrés Bonifacio , organized itself into a secret association called Katipunan , whose aim was to achieve independence from Spain, if necessary by force.


The first flag of the Katipunan

On the night of July 7, 1892, the members of the former La Liga , Ladislao Diwa, Teodoro Plata, Valentín Díaz and Deodato Arellano gathered in a house on Calle Azcarraga (now Claro M. Recto Avenue) around Bonifacio and founded the Katipunan . Bonifacio was appointed as Supremo (Supreme Leader) by the others . The ultimate aspiration of the secret community was the absolute freedom of the nation, with the short-term objective being the removal of the Spanish administration. They subsequently raised funds for the purchase of weapons and sought the help of a middleman who belonged to a Japanese ship docked in Manila, but received no support there. Under certain circumstances, the men came into the possession of a small number of smuggled and stolen guns, in any case, the majority of the militants was merely with ITAK and Bolos , local handmade machetenartigen knives armed.

In order to spread their revolutionary ideas, they decided to run a newspaper called Kalayaan (Freedom). It was written by Emilio Jacinto and (along with other Katipunan documents) printed on a printing press , which was largely acquired with a lottery win from Katipuneros Francisco del Castillo and Candido Iban. The two would later found the Katipunan in Panay . In order to mislead the Spanish authority, Marcelo del Pilar, who was not in the Philippines, was named as the editor and Yokohama was named as the location of the printing house. However, only one edition of the newspaper was produced, as the Katipuneros soon destroyed the press for fear of being discovered by the Spaniards. They then moved their activities to the Diario de Manila office , where another edition of the paper was secretly printed.

It was not long before the membership of the Katipunan increased significantly and its goals and ideals spread to other provinces. In March 1896, assemblies were held in San Juan del Monte, San Felipe Neri, Pasig , Pateros, Marikina , Caloocan, Malabon and the surrounding areas. A special meeting place was the Pamitinan Cave , in which stone carvings by eight leading members of the Katipunan have been discovered. The movement later spread to the provinces of Bulacan , Batangas , Cavite , Nueva Ecija , Laguna and Pampanga . There were also women in their ranks, with the first female member being accepted as early as 1893. From a once paltry 300 members, the Katipunan grew to an army of more than 30,000, which gave Bonifacio confidence that the liberation of Katagalugan (as he called the Philippines) was imminent.

Course of the revolution

The reputation of Pugadlawin

Katipuneros ready to fight

In 1896 a relentless argument had developed between two Katipuneros , Teodoro Patiño and Apolonio dela Cruz. In revenge, Patiño revealed the secrets of the Katipunan to his sister Honoria, a nun who passed this information directly on to the Spanish priest Mariano Gil. The priest then informed the Spanish authorities, who were thus led to the printing press of the Diario de Manila . A stone was found there that marked the messages of the secret community and in a cupboard case a dagger as well as confidential documents and lists of members were found.

As a result, numerous arrests were carried out, including some of the most influential Ilustrados . Many of the detainees were incarcerated or executed, depending on the offenses charged.

The news quickly reached the top management level of the organization. In a panic, they called a meeting of the remaining members, first in Kangkong and then in a house of Katipunero Juan Ramos in Pugadlawin in Balintawak. The first meeting had no results. Andres Bonifacio began the second meeting by declaring that he was fed up with the never-ending bickering. He then tore up his cedula (residence permit) and shouted Mabuhay ang kalayaan ng pilipinas! (Long live Filipino independence!) It was a call for armament shared by the majority of those present that marked the beginning of the revolution. The events of August 23rd are referred to in the Philippines as Sigaw sa Pugad Lawin ( German: Ruf des Falkennestes ).

The first armed clash between Spanish colonists and a small group of Katipuneros followed in Pasong Tamo in Caloocan and marked a small symbolic victory for the revolutionaries. The first battle of note took place in San Juan del Monte, Manila. The Katipuneros won the "opening", but were repulsed by the advancing troops of the Governor General Ramón Blanco with great losses. Bonifacio then ordered his men to withdraw to Mandaluyong .

The death of Rizal

Not long after the losing battle in San Juan (the area is now known as Pinaglabanan (battlefield)), various uprisings flared up in other provinces. Governor General Ramón Blanco then decided to impose a state of emergency on the eight provinces of Manila , Bulacan , Cavite , Pampanga , Tarlac , Laguna , Batangas and Nueva Ecija . These provinces later represented the eight rays of the sun in the flag of the Philippines . The number of arrests and interrogations increased and many Filipinos did not survive the torture used by the Spanish.

When the revolution broke out, Rizal was living in political exile in Dapitan and had just decided to go to Cuba as a doctor , where a similar revolution was underway at the time. But instead of taking him to Barcelona as promised , from where he wanted to travel on to Cuba, the ship with Rizal on board complied with an order from Manila, with the order to transfer him to the capital. He was arrested there and locked in the Fuerza de Santiago . Here he wrote his poem Mi Ultimo Adios (My Last Farewell) while awaiting his execution, which had previously been imposed by a military tribunal. On December 30, 1896, he was executed in Bagumbayan, Manila. Although Rizal opposed the Katipunan and any armed conflict from the start, he was elevated to a hero of the revolution because of his martyrdom and his incendiary writings against Spanish rule. His execution inflamed the wrath of the Filipino masses, thus ensuring the unconditional continuation of the revolution.


Photo by Emilio Aguinaldo.

The province of Cavite quickly developed into a stronghold of unrest. A revolutionary group under the leadership of the young general Emilio Aguinaldo achieved a number of notable victories, starting with the Battle of Imus on September 1, 1896 with the help of Jose Tagle, head of a district of Imus. The question of leading the expanding revolution soon arose. The Magdiwang faction, led by Bonifacio's uncle Mariano Álvarez, insisted on Bonifacio as supreme leader, since he had been its founder. The Magdalo faction, headed by Emilio's cousin Baldomero Aguinaldo , spoke out in favor of "Heneral Miong" (Emilio's nickname) as the head of the armed struggle because of his military successes on the battlefield, while Bonifacio only let himself be fought back. The friction between the two associations increased as both parties refused to cooperate and support each other in the fighting. As a result of these disagreements, the Spanish army, now under the command of Governor General Camilo de Polavieja, steadily gained ground.

Tejeros gathering

In order to achieve unity of the Katipunan , the Magdalo wing invited Bonifacio, who was fighting in the Morong Province (now Rizal ), to Cavite, the homeland of Aguinaldo. Bonifacio reluctantly agreed. On December 31st, a meeting in Imus was supposed to clarify the leadership issue once and for all. The Magdalo group advocated the establishment of a pamahalaang mapanghimagsik (revolutionary government) to replace the Katipunan and ensure the continuation of the fighting. On the other hand, the Magdiwang faction favored the continuation of the Katipunan with the argument that this organization itself already represented a government. The meeting ended with no result.

On March 27, 1897, another meeting was held in Tejeros with the call to elect the officials for the pamahalaang mapanghimagsik . Bonifacio, again skeptical, was given the presidency to conduct the election.

Bonifacio was certain that he would be elected president since his main rival Aguinaldo was on the frontline in Pasong Santol. So he urged those involved to fully respect the result of the election. When the votes were counted, however, it became apparent that the leadership of the revolution was given to Aguinaldo by the majority. According to the historian Ambeth Ocampo, Bonifacio lost not least because of dagdag-bawas - influencing the election by adding and removing votes. Instead of leading the revolution, he was given a less important position by being appointed foreign minister. In addition, his qualification for this position was questioned by a Magdalo supporter, Daniel Tirona. Bonifacio, although well-read, did not belong to the upper class because of his origins and only had an elementary school certificate. Humiliated, Bonifacio drew a pistol and was barely stopped by Artemio Ricarte from shooting his critic. Bonifacio then, furiously, declared the election result null and void and left the meeting place in a rage. The following day, Aguinaldo took his oath of office as President of the Revolutionary Government in Santa Cruz de Malabon (now Tanza in Cavite) along with the rest of the newly elected officials with the exception of Andrés Bonifacios.

The death of Bonifacio

Andrés Bonifacio.

In Naic, Bonifacio and his officers accompanying him concluded the Naic Military Agreement (Naic Military Agreement), a written agreement according to which a counter-government to the Aguinaldos should be established, the result of the election of Tejeros should be discarded and Bonifacio should be installed as a "true" supremo . When Aguinaldo became aware of this paper, he immediately ordered the arrest of Bonifacio and his supporters.

Colonel Agapito Benzon met the group of those wanted in Limbon. In the exchange of fire that followed, Bonifacio and his brother Procopio were wounded, while his other brother Crispulo was killed. The two were then taken to Naic to be tried before a tribunal.

The Consejo de Guerra (court martial) sentenced the two brothers to the death penalty on charges of sedition and treason after a brief trial. Aguinaldo initially endeavored to convert the sentence into a deportation, but withdrew his decision due to pressure from his other officers.

On May 10th, Colonel Lazaro Macapagal carried out the execution of Andrés and Procopio Bonifacio on Mt.Buntis in Maragondon, Cavite, on the orders of former Bonifacios supporter, General Mariano Noriel. The two bodies were eventually buried in a shallow pit that was only covered by a few branches.


Flag of the Republic of Biak-na-Bato.

By increasing the troop strength with new recruits from Spain, the government troops succeeded in retaking various villages in Cavite. The successful suppression of the Katipunan can also be traced back to the conflict situation that prevailed within the organization due to the murder of Bonifacio. Since many had loyally stood by his side, they now refused to submit to Aguinaldo's command. However, all this did not deter Aguinaldo from continuing the fighting. The troops moved north from one place to another until they settled in the caves of Biak-na-Bato , near the municipality of San Miguel de Mayumo in Bulacan. It was here that the revolutionary state known as the Republic of Biak-na-Bato ( Republic of Biak-na-Bato ) was declared. Under the direction of Isabelo Artacho and Felix Ferrer, a draft constitution was drawn up based on the first constitution of Cuba.

The newly appointed Governor General Fernando Primo de Rivera also saw the situation on his side hardly improved. In a statement he said, “I can take Biak-na-Bato without any problems. Any army can take it. But I can't end the rebellion with that. ”For this reason, he decided to shake hands with the revolutionaries for peace. The lawyer Pedro Paterno was chosen as the negotiator between the two sides. For four months he traveled back and forth between Manila and Biak-na-Bato. His work bore fruit when on 14-15. December 1897 the pact of Biak-na-Bato was signed. The following objectives were distributed across three documents:

  • The task of Aguinaldo and the rest of the revolutionary forces.
  • Amnesty for those who participated in the revolution.
  • The leadership of the revolution went into exile in Hong Kong .
  • Payments by the Spanish government to the revolutionary leadership in three installments: 400,000 Peso after leaving the country, 200,000 Peso if at least 700 rifles are handed over and a further 200,000 Peso if a general amnesty is declared.

In accordance with the first clause, Aguinaldo left the country with 25 of the highest leaders and went into exile in Hong Kong with 400,000 pesos in his pockets. The rest of the men received 200,000 pesos, although the third installment was never paid because a general amnesty should never be declared due to the skirmishes that flared up again and again. In Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Committee was established, with which the revolutionaries supported the struggle in the Philippines by informing the general public about what was going on in the Philippines during the final stages of the revolution and the Philippine-American war.

The revolution continues

Not all the generals of the revolutionary fighters agreed to the treaty. One of them, General Francisco Makabulos, set up a central executive committee to serve as an interim government until a suitable one was found. As a result, further armed conflicts broke out, this time in practically all provinces of the Spanish-ruled areas of the Philippines. For their part, the Spaniards continued to carry out arrests and torture on charges of "banditry".

The Biak-na-Bato Pact did not therefore signal the end of the war. In any case, Aguinaldo and his men were certain that the Spanish government would never pay the rest of the sum on condition that they gave up. Furthermore, they doubted whether the Spaniards would actually honor their concession after an amnesty. The stay in her exile renewed her readiness to fight for the impeachment of the colonial government and for complete independence. Because of this, they bought new weapons and ammunition to prepare for a new siege.

American intervention

Painting of the Battle of Manila Bay

On February 15, 1898, the United States Navy's USS Maine exploded and sank in Havana Harbor . The event was linked to the Cuban Revolution that was underway at the time and resulted in a declaration of war by the United States against Spain in April of that year .

On April 25, Commodore George Dewey drove a fleet of seven ships towards Manila. When he arrived on May 1, he was met by a fleet of twelve ships under the command of Admiral Patricio Montojo. The following four-hour battle in Manila Bay ended with the complete destruction of the Spanish fleet. Dewey then asked for troop support and in the meantime set up a complete blockade of Manila Bay , which prevented any shipping by the Spaniards.

Aguinaldo's return

In the meantime, the United States Consuls visited E. Spencer Pratt and Rounceville Wildman Emilio Aguinaldo in exile in Hong Kong. The two advised Aguinaldo to take the lead in the revolution again. This then agreed to accompany Commodore Dewey back to the Philippines.

When Aguinaldo returned to Hong Kong after a fleeting stay in Singapore (where he met Pratt), Dewey had already traveled back to Manila. However, he left instructions that would enable Aguinaldo to return to the Philippines. Aguinaldo went on board the McCulloch ship on May 17, 1898 and arrived in Cavite two days later.

Public rallies there marked the return of the general. Various revolutionaries as well as Filipino soldiers in the service of the Spanish colonial army subsequently placed themselves under Aguinaldo's command. Shortly afterwards the Filipinos from Imus and Bacoor united in Cavite, from Parañaque and Las Piñas in Morong , from Macabebe and San Fernando in Pampanga, as well as from Laguna , Batangas , Bulacan , Nueva Ecija , Bataan , Tayabas (today Quezon ), and the Camarines provinces. With this newfound self-confidence it was possible to secure the port of Dalahican in Cavite.


The Spanish colonial government, now under the command of Basilio Augustín y Dávila, responded by setting up a volunteer militia and an advisory association to oppose the Filipinos under Aguinaldo and the Americans. Both groups consisted of Filipino recruits who, however, were ultimately loyal to the revolutionary forces. The volunteer militia soon went over to the enemy side, while the association, chaired by Paterno, never got a chance to achieve its goals.

Declaration of Independence

In June, the entire island of Luzon , with the exception of Manila and the port of Cavite, was in Filipino hands. The revolutionary troops drew a siege ring around Manila and cut off the city from the water and food supplies. With most of the archipelago under his control, Aguinaldo decided it was time to establish an official Philippine government.

When Aguinaldo arrived from Hong Kong, he carried a copy of a plan, a draft by Mariano Ponce, that included the establishment of a revolutionary government. On the advice of Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista, an autocratic regime was founded on May 24, 1898 , which combined all power on Aguinaldo.

Under this dictatorship, Filipino independence was finally declared on June 12, 1898 in Aguinaldo's house in Kawit , Cavite . The first flag of the Philippines was then unfurled and the national anthem was played for the first time .

Apolinario Mabini , Aguinaldo's closest advisor, openly spoke out against Aguinaldo's decision to establish dictatorial rule. Instead, he advocated a reform of the existing government, which tended to involve stability and competence. Aguinaldo turned down this consideration, but Mabini succeeded in moving him to change his administrative structure, away from the planned autocratic and towards a revolutionary one. On July 23, Aguinaldo finally announced the existence of the revolutionary government.


The Revolutionary Congress in Malolos.

However, the declaration of independence on June 12 did not end the revolution. The Filipinos failed to unite the Spanish-controlled territories of the Philippines and take Manila by December. The capital did not fall into American hands until August of the following year, and the United States refused to grant the Philippines full and unrestricted autonomy until 1946.

According to the previously agreed resolution recommending the establishment of a revolutionary government , the Congreso Revolucionario ( Revolutionary Assembly ) was held in the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan Province . However, all delegates to this congress came from the upper class, the Ilustrado , which was a clear sign of the change that had taken place in the proletarian leadership of Tejeros.

Mabini called for a meeting to be convened to draft a constitution, and when it was unsuccessful, he drafted a draft constitution himself, which was also rejected. Instead, a draft by Ilustrado lawyer Felipe Calderón y Rocakam came on the table and formed the framework for the first constitutional concept drawn up by the assembly.

On November 29th, the assembly, now known as the Malolos Congress , voted to approve the draft constitution. Aguinaldo, who always held Mabini in high esteem and paid close attention to his advice, refused to sign the work for the time being. On January 21, 1899, after a few modifications based on Mabini's arguments, the constitution of the Philippines was finally approved by Congress and finally signed by Aguinaldo.

Two days later, the Philippine Republic (also known as the First Republic or Malolos Republic ) was inaugurated in Malolos with Emilio Aguinaldo as the first president.


Although the first Philippine republic was not noticed at all by most nations, it was nevertheless significant, since it represented the desire and will to fight that a colonized people can muster in their quest for independence from their colonial power.

The course of the revolution continued to show how dissension and conflict can affect a struggle for freedom. The internal disputes between Bonifacio and Aguinaldo were one reason that the revolution stalled in its decisive phase. As a result, the refusal of many of Bonifacio's supporters to submit to Aguinaldo's command meant that the revolution ultimately led to neither a direct nor a fully recognized independence of the nation.

Despite these political differences, the revolution united the Filipino people as a whole for the first time in their history. Before and during the Spanish colonial rule there was never anything that could have been considered a "Filipino people" . The nation was divided into ethnic and regional groups that spoke 77 different dialects and whose tendency towards their own language and territorial affiliation prevented a sense of nationality. With the revolution, people finally no longer saw themselves as predominantly Cebuanos, Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Kapampangans, etc., but first and foremost and primarily as "Filipinos".



  1. The word frailocracia is just as difficult to find in most Spanish dictionaries as the corresponding word frailocracy in English. This term was coined by many well-known Filipino writers to describe the 'specific' system of rule in their country.
  2. Homepage of the Pamitinan Protected Landscape ( Memento of the original from October 22, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. a b c The Philippines After The Revolution 1898-1945, editor = National Commission for Culture and the Arts, date of issue = 2000, ISBN = 971-814-004-2
  4. The Cry of Pugadlawin on - Philippine Culture
  5. ^ The Hong Kong Junta on the National Historical Institute website. National Historical Institute
  6. ^ Gathering at the Golden Gate: Mobilizing for War in the Philippines, 1898. Stephen D. Coats ( Memento of the original of December 18, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF file; 147 kB) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /

See also


  • Isagani R. Medina: Cavite Before the Revolution (1571-1896). 2nd Edition. CSSP Publications - College of Social Sciences and Philosophy - University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City (Philippines) 1994, ISBN 971-88930-6-7 ( Faculty Book Series 3), (English).
  • Mariano C. Apilado: Revolutionary Spirituality. A Study of the Protestant Role in the American Colonial Rule of the Philippines, 1898-1928. Part 1. New Day Publishers, Quezon City (Philippines) 1999, ISBN 971-10-1033-X (English).
  • Virgilio Reyes Alcántara: La revolución filipina, 1896–1898. El nacimiento de una idea. LOM Editiones Ltda., Santiago de Chile (Chile) 2000, ISBN 956-288-631-X (Spanish).

Web links