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Apolinario Mabini


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Apolinario Mabini, c. 1900. via Wikipedia

By Kallie Szczepanski
Like fellow Philippine revolutionaries Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio, lawyer Apolinario
Mabini, the first prime minister of the Philippines, did not live to see his 40th birthday.
He suffered from paraplegia (paralysis of the legs), but Mabini had a powerful intellect,

and was known during his short life as the "Brains of the Revolution" and also the
"Conscience of the Revolution."

Early Life:
Apolinario Mabini y Maranan was born on July 22 or 23, 1864 in Talaga, Tanauwan,
Batangas, about 70 km (43.5 miles) south of Manila. His parents were very poor; father
Inocencio Mabini was a peasant farmer, and mother Dionisia Maranan supplemented
their farm income as a vendor at the local market. Apolinario was the second of their
eight children.
As a child, Apolinario was remarkably clever and studious. Despite his family's poverty,
the boy studied at a school in Tanawan under the tutelage of Simplicio Avelino, working
as a houseboy and tailor's assistant to earn his room and board.
He then transferred to a school run by the famed educator Fray Valerio Malabanan.
At the age of 17, in 1881, Mabini won a partial scholarship to Manila's Colegio de San
Juan de Letran. He once again had to work all through school, teaching Latin to
younger students at three different schools in the area. Apolinario earned his Bachelors
degree and official recognition as a Professor of Latin in 1887, and went on to study law
at the University of Santo Tomas.
Apolinario Mabini went into the legal profession in order to defend poor people. He
himself had faced discrimination from fellow students and professors, who picked on
him for his shabby clothing before they realized how brilliant he was.

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It took him six years to complete his law degree, since he worked long hours as a law
clerk and a court transcriptionist in addition to his studies. Mabini earned his law degree
in 1894, at the age of thirty.

Political Activities:

While at school, Mabini supported the Reform Movement, which was a conservative
group mainly made up of middle and upper class Filipinos calling for changes to
Spanish colonial rule, rather than outright Philippine independence.
It included the intellectual, author, and physician Jose Rizal. In September of 1894,
Mabini helped establish the reformist Cuerpo de Comprimisarios, the "Body of
Compromisers," which sought to negotiate better treatment from Spanish officials. Proindependence activists, mostly from the lower classes, instead joined the more
radical Katipunan movement, which was established by Andres Bonifacio. Katipunan
advocated armed revolution against Spain.
In 1895, Mabini was admitted to the bar, and worked as a newly-minted lawyer in the
Adriano law offices in Manila. He also served as the secretary of the Cuerpo de

Early in 1896, Apolinario Mabini contracted polio, which left his legs paralyzed.
Ironically, this disability saved his life that autumn - the colonial police arrested Mabini in
October of 1896 for his work with the reform movement. He was still under house arrest
at the San Juan de Dios Hospital on December 30 of that year, when the colonial
government summarily executed Jose Rizal. Mabini's polio likely kept him from the
same fate.
Between his medical condition and his imprisonment, Apolinario Mabini was not able to
participate in the opening days of the Philippine Revolution. His experiences, and the
execution of Rizal, radicalized Mabini, however, and he turned his keen intellect to the
issues of revolution and independence.
In April of 1898, he penned a manifesto on the Spanish-American War, presciently
warning other Philippine revolutionary leaders that Spain would likely cede the
Philippines to the US if it lost the war. He urged them to continue to fight for
independence, whether from Spain or the US. This paper brought him to the attention
of General Emilio Aguinaldo, who had ordered the execution of Andres Bonifacio the
previous year, and had been driven into exile in Hong Kong by the Spanish.
The Americans hoped to use Aguinaldo against the Spanish in the Philippines, so
brought him back from his exile on May 19, 1898. Once ashore, Aguinaldo ordered his
men to bring the author of the war manifesto to him; they had to carry the disabled
Mabini over the mountains in a stretcher to Cavite. Mabini reached Aguinaldo's camp

on June 12, 1898, and soon became one of the general's primary advisers. That same
day, Aguinaldo declared the Philippines' independence, with himself as dictator.

Establishing the New Government:

Mabini was able to talk Aguinaldo out of ruling the Philippines as an autocrat. On July
23, 1898, under Mabini's influence, the new president modified his plans, establishing a
revolutionary government with an assembly rather than a dictatorship. Apolinario
Mabini's power of persuasion over Aguinaldo was so strong that his detractors called
him the "Dark Chamber of the President," while his admirers named him "the Sublime
Because his personal life and morality were difficult to attack, Mabini's enemies in the
new government resorted to a whispering campaign to slander him. Jealous of his
immense power, they started a rumor that his paralysis was due to syphilis, rather than
polio. The fact that syphilis does not cause paraplegia did nothing to clear Mabini's
name. Despite these petty attacks, however, Mabini continued to work toward
fashioning a better country.
Mabini wrote most of Aguinaldo's presidential decrees. He also molded policy on the
organization of the provinces, the judicial system, and the police, as well as property
registration, and military regulations. Aguinaldo appointed him to the Cabinet as
Secretary of Foreign Affairs and President of the Council of Secretaries. Mabini also
exercised significant influence over the drafting of the first constitution for the Philippine

At War Again:
On January 2, 1899, Mabini was appointed prime minister and foreign minister of the
new government. He began negotiations with the United States on March 6, over the
Philippines' fate now that the US had defeated Spain. The two sides were already
engaged in hostilities, but had not declared war on one another. Mabini sought to
negotiate autonomy for the Philippines, as well as a ceasefire. US negotiators refused
the ceasefire condition, or a proposed armistice. In frustration, Mabini threw his support
behind the war effort, and on May 7, he resigned from Aguinaldo's government.
Aguinaldo declared war on the United States on June 2, 1899. The revolutionary
government at Cavite had to flee; once again Mabini was carried in a hammock, this
time to Nueva Ecija, 192 km (119 miles) to the north. He was captured by the

Americans on December 10, 1899, and was made a prisoner of war in Manila until the
following September.
On January 5, 1901, Mabini published a scathing newspaper article titled "El Simil de
Alejandro" (The Resemblance of Alejandro), which stated that "Man, whether or not he
wishes, will work and strive for those rights with which Nature has endowed him,
because these rights are the only ones which can satisfy the demands of his own
being. To tell a man to be quiet when a necessity not fulfilled is shaking all the fibers of
his being is tantamount to asking a hungry man to be filled while taking the food which
he needs." The Americans immediately re-arrested him, and when he refused to swear
fealty to the US, sent him into exile in Guam.
During his long exile, Apolinario Mabini wrote La Revolucion Filipina, a memoirs. Worn
down and sickly, fearing that he would die in exile, Mabini finally agreed to take the oath
of allegiance to the US.

Final Days:
On February 26, 1903, Mabini returned to the Philippines. American officials offered
him a plush government position as a reward for agreeing to take the fealty oath, but
Mabini refused. He released the following statement: "After two long years I am
returning, so to speak, completely disoriented and, what is worse, almost overcome by
disease and sufferings. Nevertheless, I hope, after some time of rest and study, still to
be of some use, unless I have returned to the Islands for the sold purpose of dying."
Sadly, his words were prophetic. Mabini continued to speak and write in support of
Philippine independence over the next several months. He fell ill with cholera, which
was rampant in the country after years of war, and died on May 13, 1903. Apolinario
Mabini was only 38 years old.


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Emilio Jacinto Biography

Many people interested in Philippine history are looking for
information about Emilio Jacinto. Jacinto played an important role in
Philippine independence and he also had an interesting political life.

Emilio Jacinto
This biography of Emilio Jacinto begins with his early life:

Emilio Jacinto was born in 1875 on the 15th of December.

He was the only son of a man named Mariano Jacinto and a
woman named Josefa Dizon.

Shortly after he was born, his father passed away. This

untimely death forced his mother to send Emilio to live with his
uncle, Don Jose Dizon. His mother believed that his uncle could
care for the young Emilio better then she could after the death of

College and Education

Very little is known about Emilios early childhood up until the point
that he went to college. However, it is known that by the time he
went away to college, he could fluently speak both Spanish and
Tagalog, the language of the Philippine people. However, he
preferred to speak in Spanish a majority of the time.
Emilio attended the San Juan de Latran College when he first
embarked on his college career. However, he later attended the
University of San Tomas in order to study law. Emilio left college
before completing his law degree.

Politics and Revolution

Perhaps the most interesting part of a biography of Emilio Jacinto
are the details about his political life and contributions:

After dropping out of college at the age of 20, Emilio joined the
Katipunan, a secret revolutionary society. This was a group whose
objective was to gain Philippineindependence from Spain in 1892.

Jacinto became the secretary, directly reporting to the leader of

the Katipunan. He also became the chief advisor on fiscal matters
concerning this secret society. In addition to these duties, Emilio
also wrote the societys newspaper, the Kalayaan.

Emilio was given a new name when he was part of this group.
To the Katipunan, he was often referred to as Utak ng Katipunan.
However, he wrote under the pseudonym Dimasailaw when
writing for the newspaper and he was more commonly referred to
in the group as Pingkian. Jacinto was also placed in charge of
writing the guidebook for new members and current members of
the Katipunan, which was called Kartilya ng Katipunan.

When the leader of the Katipunan passed away, Emilio

continued to carry out the wishes of Bonifacio. The Katipunan at
this time had many factions and not all of them operated in the
same way in their efforts to gain their independence from Spain.
As with his predecessor before him, Jacinto refused to join with
these factions who had different views. This included refusing to
join the Magdalo faction of the Katipunan under the leadership of
Emilio Aguinaldo.
Emilio Jacinto died on April 16, 1899 at the age of 24. The cause of
his death at such a young age was malaria, which he had contracted
while in Majayjay, Laguna. The remains of his body were transferred
from this location to Manila where he was laid to rest in Manila North
Cemetery. His name lives on in history for the Philippine people and
he is known as the Brains of the Katipunan.