"This, in the eyes of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo."
Philippine history, particularly the period covering the Philippine revolution against Spain and the Philippine-American war, while very important, is replete with controversy. For those of us who study our history, the controversies are seen as mysteries waiting to be solved. At best, we are left with incomplete and scattered records and documents pretty much like puzzles to be completed.
Many of the important primary documents during this era are out of the country. Those in government possession are not readily accessible to students of history as one has to personally go to the archives and dig through the records. In this digital age, one would think that these important records have been digitized and made publicly available.
Time and again, primary documents from the period surface, and if these are not auctioned to the highest bidder right away and kept in private collections, we use these as parts to complete the puzzles of and better understand our collective past.
Much of the controversial aspects of our past involve the revolutionary General and first president of the country, Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy. He successfully led many battles against Spain to the point of establishing the province of Cavite as free from our colonizers. Cavite became the cradle of the country’s independence for several months and Filipinos from other towns flocked to the province to experience being free.
Gen. Aguinaldo led and fought two wars against the powerful Spain and America, a feat that very few Filipinos can equal. He declared our independence from Spain, gave us our flag and national anthem—these are national symbols that we all cherish. I dare say that no other Filipino, living or dead, can equal the General’s gifts to us and our nation.
Yet, many consider Aguinaldo as a traitor to the country mainly based on very limited, if not outright wrong information fed to them. He was a traitor because allegedly, he had Supremo A ndres Bonifacio, the militant Left’s idol, and the hot-tempered Gen. Antonio Luna, said to be a great general despite not winning a single battle, killed. These controversies surrounding Aguinaldo are among the puzzles that need solving.
I have written several times that I have the fortune of having access to some of Gen. Aguinaldo’s unpublished writings. Many of these are handwritten manuscripts, or typewritten ones with the General’s notations and edits. I have transcribed some of them and the process gave me insights on what was going on during the time of the revolution and the war against the Americans.
One of the documents was entitled, “Talang Buhay ng Supremo And. Bonifacio sa Kabite” (Supremo Andres Bonifacio in Cavite). The paper covers the arrival of Supremo Andres Bonifacio and his party in Cavite up to his arrest after his attempts at putting up a separate government outside of the one established by the Tejeros Convention, the Acta de Naic, and the ransacking of the town of Indang. Important events during the period, including how the Supremo was welcomed in Cavite as an icon, several major battles, the deaths of great revolutionists including Generals Edilberto Evangelista and Crispulo Aguinaldo (Gen. Emilio’s older brother), Supremo Bonifacio’s several refusals to help the Magdalo in battle, and how Gen. Aguinaldo discovered and addressed the Supremo’s Acta de Naic are vividly described. For me, it was like being in the moment.
Finding this manuscript gave me goosebumps. It is entirely in Gen. Aguinaldo’s handwriting using intermediate pad, and unlike most other documents I have been checking, this one has been kept intact with the pages chronologically arranged under a cardboard cover with the title, and complete with a metal fastener.
It was as if Gen. Aguinaldo meant for this to become a stand-alone paper.
When the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) team led by its Deputy Executive Director for Programs and Projects Alvin Alcid saw and examined the manuscript, they immediately expressed interest in publishing it into a book. It was a timely offer because [email protected]
was being commemorated in 2019 and there was no new publication on the General thus far.
And the rest is history. The book “Talang Buhay ng Supremo And. Bonifacio sa Kabite” will make public Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s handwritten manuscript (as he perhaps wanted) and will be launched on March 22 at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite as culmination of [email protected]
and in commemoration of Hen. Miong’s 151st birthday.
I did the transcription of the manuscript and Giney Villar translated it to English for those who do not understand Filipino, especially old Tagalog. The book design was by the award-winning book designer Ige Ramos and the foreword was written by renowned historian and author (and formerly an Aguinaldo critic) Dr. Reynaldo Ileto. Included in the book are comments from Sen. Sonny Angara, Fundacion Santiago’s Executive Director Chaco Molina, and one of the officers of Tunay na Kasaysayan ng Pilipinas (TUKLAS), Inc. Virgilio Leynes, a.k.a. Basilio Ibabawan. This book would not have been possible without the active coordination of Angelo Jarin Aguinaldo and TUKLAS’ research guys, Virgilio, Jojo Yuviencio Manarin, and Jomar Encila.
This publication may become controversial and may be criticized by those who are rabidly pro-Bonifacio. However, this is a primary document written by one of the most significant personalities in Philippine history and his voice must be heard.
Let Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s words be given its due.
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