Background: The Philippine Revolution and the Spanish-American War

The Philippines (LEFT, 1898 map) was a colony of Spain from 1571 to 1898. Spanish rule came to an end as a result of the Philippine Revolution and US involvement with Spain’s other major colony, Cuba.

The Philippine archipelago, with a total land area of 300,000 sq km (115,831 sq mi), comprises 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, located close to the present-day countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Palau and the island of Taiwan.

The capital, Manila, is 6,977 miles (11,228 km) distant —- “as the crow flies” —- across the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco, California, U.S.A. The two cities are separated by 6,061 nautical miles of water.

Luzon and Mindanao are the two largest islands, anchoring the archipelago in the north and south. Luzon has an area of 104,700 sq km (40,400 sq mi) and Mindanao has an area of 94,630 sq km (36,540 sq mi). Together, they account for 66% of the country’s total landmass.

Only nine other islands have an area of more than 2,600 sq km (1,000 sq mi) each: Samar, Negro-s, Palawan, Panay, Mindoro, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol and Masbate.

More than 170 dialects are spoken in the archipelago, almost all of them belonging to the Borneo-Philippines group of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family.

Twelve major dialects � Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, Pangasinense; Southern Bicol, Kiniray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao and Tausug (the last three in Muslim areas of Southern Philippines) � make up about 90% of the population.

The population in 1898 was about 9 million.

Spanish soldiers c1896 around camp fire
Spanish soldiers in the Philippines. Photo taken in 1896.
Spanish field kitchen in book 1899
Spanish field kitchen in the Philippines, 1896 or 1897
1898 Spanish troops fighting in the undergrowth
Spanish troops battling Filipino rebels in the undergrowth; photo taken in 1896 or 1897.

Jose Marti y PerezThe Cuban Insurrection broke out on Feb. 24, 1895. The rebels were led by the poet Jose Marti y Perez, now considered as Cuba’s national hero (LEFT).

The Cubans had set up propaganda in the United States to support their cause for independence; the Cuban community had built connections with senators, congressmen and with the press.

American business interests were perturbed by the tumult in Cuba; in addition, public opinion in the US became aroused by newspaper accounts of the brutalities of Spanish rule. These reports were not exaggerated: between 200,000 and 400,000 Cuban civilians died from starvation and disease in Spanish concentration camps.

The 1890’s were marked by mounting efforts in the United States to extend American influence overseas. These were often justified by references to Manifest Destiny, a belief that territorial expansion by the United States was both inevitable and divinely ordained; this belief enjoyed widespread support among U.S. citizens and politicians.

William Randolph HearstManifest Destiny was promoted by the publishers of several prominent U.S. newspapers, particularly William Randolph Hearst (LEFT), the publisher of The New York Journal, and Joseph Pulitzer (RIGHT), the publisher of the New York World.

Joseph PulitzerThey called for the United States to intervene on the side of the Cubans.

The spirit of imperialism growing in the United States�fueled by supporters of Manifest Destiny�led many Americans to believe that the United States needed to take aggressive steps, both economically and militarily, to establish itself as a true world power.

Fearing U.S. intervention in Cuba, Spain moved to a more conciliatory policy, promising home rule with an elected legislature. The Cuban rebels rejected this offer and the war for independence continued.

Conspiracy, Roanoke Daily Times., Roanoke VA, Aug. 22, 1896, page 1
The Roanoke Daily Times., Roanoke VA, Aug. 22, 1896, page 1
Santa Mesa Dead Katipuneros rope factory Aug 30 96
Aug. 30, 1896: Dead Filipino rebels found inside the Cordeleria de Pe�afrancia.

The Philippine Revolution, led by Andres Bonifacio, broke out on Aug. 30, 1896. The rebels attacked but failed to capture the Spanish powder depot and water reservoir in San Juan del Monte, a suburb of Manila; 153 rebels and 2 Spanish soldiers died in the fighting that spilled over into the adjacent Santa Mesa district of Manila. Uprisings in other places took place shortly thereafter.

Rope factory owned by Sancho Valenzuela in Bacood Santa Mesa Manila
The Cordeleria de Pe�afrancia, the rope factory owned by Sancho Valenzuela in Bacood, Santa Mesa district, Manila, where fierce fighting took place between the Filipino rebels and Spanish troops on August 30, 1896.
Sancho Valenzuela and other POWs Aug. 30 1896
Filipino POWs of the Philippine Revolution. The tallest prisoner is Sancho Valenzuela; the next evening after the Battle of San Juan del Monte, he was celebrating his wife�s birthday at home when he was arrested. Three of his men, Ramon Peralta, Modesto Rivera, and Eugenio Silvestre, were dragged off with him.
Execution of Sancho Valenzuela and 3 other at Luneta, Sept 4 1898
Sept. 4, 1896: Valenzuela, Peralta, Rivera, and Silvestre were executed by firing squad at the Luneta (ABOVE). Valenzuela was hard to kill: four more shots, fired close to his head, scattered his brains over the grass.

Ramon BlancoGovernor-General Ramon Blanco (RIGHT) placed the first eight provinces to revolt against Spanish sovereignty under martial law. They were Manila, Laguna, Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Nueva Ecija.

Hundreds of suspects were arrested, questioned under torture, imprisoned or deported to the Carolines or to the Spanish island colony of Fernando Po in faraway Africa. [The Caroline Islands are found in the western Pacific Ocean, northeast of New Guinea. At present, they are divided between Micronesia and Palau. This area was also called Nuevas Filipinas or New Philippines as they were part of the Spanish East Indies and governed from Manila. Fernando Po Island, where 151 Filipinos were deported on Oct. 14, 1896, is now known as Bioko in the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.]

Manila Paseo de la Luneta 1894
PHOTO taken in 1894. Between 1823 and 1897, 158 patriots and martyrs were executed on the Luneta promenade by the Spanish colonial administration
Execution on the Luneta of Filipino rebels ca 1896-97
Retouched photo of Spanish soldiers executing Filipinos on the Luneta, ca 1896-1897

A great number of Filipinos were executed at the Luneta in Manila or elsewhere.

Philippine Revolt, The San Francisco Call., Sept. 7, 1896
The San Francisco Call., Sept. 7, 1896, page 1

Nevertheless, despite the repression, tortures and executions, the revolution continued to spread throughout the archipelago.

Rebellion in Philippines, Evening bulletin., Oct 12, 1896
The Evening Bulletin, Oahu, Hawaii, issue of Oct. 12, 1896, describes events at Cavite, Manila, and Amoy (China) that took place in the first 3 weeks of September 1896
Philippine rebellion, Evening Bulletin Oct 19 1896 page 1
The Evening Bulletin, Oahu, Hawaii, issue of Oct. 19, 1896, reports on the events that took place in the Philippines on Sept. 9-10, 1896
1896-1897 Spanish soldiers leading a Katipunero to execution
1896 or 1897: Spanish soldiers lead a Filipino rebel to execution
Spanish firing squad executes two Filipino POWs
1896 or 1897: Spanish firing squad executes two captured Filipino rebels
1896 or 1897 Six Filipino rebels are about to die
1896 or 1897: Six Filipino rebels are about to die
Filipinos executed by Spanish 1896 to 1898
Same scene as in preceding photo, after the shots were fired. Original caption: “Fusilamientos de insurrectos, ca. 1896-1898.MUSEO DEL EJ�RCITO, Madrid”. Photo was probably taken in 1896 or 1897.
Spanish troops arrive in Manila 3 pics Oct 3 1896
Oct. 1, 1896: A battalion of Spanish marine infantry — part of the “Ejercito Expedicionario” — arrives in Manila. This first reinforcement from Spain consisted of 22 officers and 895 men commanded by Col. Juan Herrera.
1898 spanish troops marching on manila business corner
Oct. 1, 1896: Spanish marines of the “Ejercito Expedicionario” march in Manila

Spanish reinforcements in Manila, late 1896_opt

Spanish volunteers marching on Calle Rosario, Binondo Oct 1897

Spanish expeditionary battalion arrives in Manila Oct 1896
Oct. 1, 1896: The Spanish marines head for Intramuros, the walled district of Manila.
Manila Spanish Compania de Voluntarios Oct 1896
October 1896: A company of Spanish soldiers in Manila.
Spanish soldiers in patio of their quarters 1896
1896: Group of Spanish soldiers in the patio of their quarters in Intramuros district, Manila.

Rizal to be sent back to Manila

Alarming news for Spain

Serious for Spain, The Islander, Oct 29, 1896
The Islander, Harbor, Washington, issue of Oct. 29, 1896
Spanish army sergeant in Philippines 1896
A Spanish Army Sergeant in 1896.
Filipino in Spanish Army 1895
A native Filipino soldier in the Spanish Army. Photo was taken in the mid-1890s.
A section of the Guardia Civil 1896
A section of the Guardia Civil, 1896.
Guardia civil De Cuartel, De Marcha, De Gala ca 1885
A native Filipino member of the Guardia Civil Veterana, clothed in the 3 types of Guardia uniforms: (LEFT to RIGHT) De Cuartel (barracks), De Marcha (field) and De Gala (ceremonial). In October 1897, two months before the truce of Biyak-na-Bato, there were 3 Guardia Civil regiments in the Philippines with a total manpower of 155 Spanish officers and 3,530 natives. The Guardia Civil discharged both military and police functions.
Prisoners of the Guardia Civil 1896
Native Filipino members of the Guardia Civil conveying two prisoners, 1896.
Cuadrilleros Filipinos —- Native Filipinos in the Spanish army.
Fort Santiago entrance in book published 1919
Oct. 31, 1896: The cells of Fort Santiago (Fuerza de Santiago) in Manila were jampacked with suspected rebels and 52 Filipinos died due to asphyxiation
Fort Santiago main gate today
Fort Santiago’s main gate today. The stone fortress dates from 1593; it sustained heavy damage in World War II, during the Battle of Manila in February 1945 between the Japanese and American forces aided by Filipino guerilla units.
Spanish soldiers beside a river 1896
1896: Spanish soldiers in the field, probably in Cavite Province
Dominican friars in Piat, Cagayan 1875-1880
Spanish friars of the Dominican Order, ca 1875-1880. A major cause of the Philippine Revolution was the tyranny, oppressive practices and blatant racism of the religious orders.
Spanish friars combo pic
[Friarocracy —- the power of religious orders —- was a constant of Spanish colonial rule over the centuries. Friars of the Augustinian, Dominican and Franciscan orders conducted many of the executive and control functions of government on the local level. They were responsible for education, health, census-keeping and tax collection, and supervised the selection of local police and town officers. They kept a tight rein on public morals and reported seditious activities to the authorities. Contrary to the principles of the Roman Catholic Church, they used information gained in confession to pinpoint troublemakers.]
Intramuros Puerta de Isabel II
Spanish military and civil officials in front of Puerta de Isabel II. The huge man, 2nd from right, is unidentified. Part of Colegio de San Juan de Letran is visible through the gate.
Puerta de Isabel II today
Puerta de Isabel II today
Spanish luxury in old days 1899 book Lala
Original caption: “Spanish luxury in the old days.” Photo taken in Manila in the 1890’s
Spanish civilians at the Ferrocarril de Manila a Dagupan ca 1885
Spanish civilians at a station of the Ferrocaril de Manila a Dagupan (Manila-Dagupan Railway). The line, launched on Nov. 24, 1892, was part of the British-owned Manila Railway Company. Photo taken in the 1890’s.
Spanish women in Manila 1890s
Two Spanish women and an upper-class Filipina in Manila. Photo taken in the 1890’s.
Spanish schoolgirls in Manila 1890
Spanish schoolgirls in Manila. Photo taken in 1890.
Manila bullfight bull ring in Paco ca 1898
Bullfighting in Manila in the 1890s. The bull ring was located in Paco district. An American writer who was in the Philippines in 1898-99, Joseph L. Stickney, described the state of the sport in the country: “Neither Spanish bull-fighters nor Spanish bulls are brought to the island, so that native talent has to be obtained to play both roles. The bulls are timid and lazy, the bull-fighters are little better, so that the traveler does not see bullfighting of the same sort that he would in Spain, Cuba or Mexico.”
Cock fight some men about to start a 1890s
Two roosters are about to “spar”. Cockfighting, or “sabong”, is deeply ingrained in Philippine culture. It dates back to the pre-Spanish era; it was, and still is, the king of sports in the countryside. In actual bouts, the roosters battle with 4-inch razor-sharp steel gaffs attached to the back of their left legs. Considered as too brutal, cockfighting has long been banned or driven underground in most other countries, but it remains largely popular in the Philippines and is virtually the national sport. [PHOTO taken in the 1890’s].
Santa Mesa grandstand 1899 book Lala
Photo taken in Manila in the 1890’s
Filipinos village feast 1899 book Lala
Filipinos at a religious procession with fish. Photo taken in the 1890’s.
Filipinos procession with fish 1899 book Lala
Filipinos at a religious procession with fish. Photo taken in the 1890’s

Bonifacio, a gifted public speaker and mass organizer but a poor combat tactician, faltered in battle. On the other hand, the reticent Emilio Aguinaldo, the second leading personality in the revolution, made others do the political work for him; what he lacked in charisma, he made up for with an innate military acumen. He scored spectacular victories over the better-armed Spaniards in Cavite —- the heartland of the revolution —- and except for the Cavite peninsula, had gained control over the entire province.

Emilio Aguinaldo in 1896
Emilio Aguinaldo in 1896

A power struggle ensued between Aguinaldo and Bonifacio, the contentious issue being who was abler to lead the war for freedom.

1890s Spanish troops defending a house
Spanish troops defending a house

General Blanco tried to maintain Spanish control by shifting to a more conciliatory policy. He declared to the effect that it was not the purpose of his Government to oppress the people and he had no desire “to slaughter the Filipinos.”

Blanco waiting, The Evening Times., Nov 19 1896
The Evening Times, Washington, D.C., issue of Nov. 19, 1896

The new benign strategy did not sit well with the Spanish friars. They wanted the restive Filipinos to be flogged into submission.

Manila Cathedral 1900
The Manila Cathedral was the seat of the Archbishop of Manila during the Spanish colonial period. (PHOTO was taken in 1900).

Manila Archbishop Bernardino Nozaleda and the religious orders worked hard behind the scenes to get Blanco ousted. They used all possible means, including bribery, to bring about his dismissal.

Manila Cathedral today
The Manila Cathedral remains as the ecclesisastical seat of the Archdiocese of Manila. The original structure, built in 1581, was damaged or destroyed several times and restored. The present cathedral rose in 1958 from the ruins of World War II.
General Camilo Garcia de Polavieja arrives in Manila Dec 3 1896
General Camilo Garcia de Polavieja is honored upon his arrival in Manila, Dec. 3, 1896.

The friars believed that Blanco’s newly arrived second-in-command, General Camilo Garcia de Polavieja, would be easier to impress with their point of view.

They sent a telegram to their cohorts in Madrid.

The telegram read thus :

“Situation more grave. Revolt spreading. Apathy of Blanco unexplainable. To remove danger, an urgent necessity is the appointment of a new governor-general. Opinion unanimous, Archbishop and Provincials.”

They included Polavieja’s name in the shortlist of nominees submitted to the Queen Regent.

Camio Polavieja ca 1896_opt

On Dec. 13, 1896, Polavieja (ABOVE, ca 1896) replaced Blanco as Governor-General.

He proved to be as brutal as his counterpart Valeriano Weyler was in Cuba. Under his direction, the Spanish soldiers seldom took prisoners; civilians were herded into cramped concentration camps. Many died from ill-treatment, disease, and starvation.

In the Philippines 1

In the Philippines 2

Spanish were repulsed, The Morning Times Dec 23 1896

Triumph of the friars

Rizal sentenced to death, Page 1
Page 1

Polavieja also ordered the execution of the non-militant reformist Jose Rizal and 24 others.

Jose Rizal
Dec. 30, 1896: Jose Rizal, later enshrined as the Philippines’ national hero, is executed at the Luneta, Manila (the Luneta was alternately called Bagumbayan, or �new town” in Tagalog). The eight-man firing squad was composed of native Filipinos from the 70th Spanish Infantry Regiment. Photo was taken by Manuel Arias Rodriguez; this copy is from the Museo del Ejercito in Madrid, Spain.
Diorama of Jose Rizal's execution
Life-size diorama of Rizal’s execution built on the very site where it happened.

Rizal is executed

Italian avenges Rizal, New York Tribune., Aug. 10, 1897 page 1
New York Tribune, Aug. 10, 1897. The Italian anarchist, Michele Angiolillo, claimed that he assassinated Spanish Prime Minister Antonio C�novas del Castillo on Aug. 8, 1897 to avenge the Barcelona anarchists and Jose Rizal. He was executed by garrote on August 20 of the same year.
La Liga filiina execution of members
Jan. 11, 1897: Thirteen members of the reformist La Liga Filipina — all freemasons— are about to die at the Luneta, Manila

[One of the martyrs was a pure Spaniard, Moises Salvador. An Insulare (Philippine-born Spaniard), he was born in Quiapo, Manila on Nov. 25, 1868. He walked barefooted to his death spot on the field while calmly smoking a cigar. Guipit Elementary School (founded in 1915) in Sampaloc district, Manila, was renamed Moises Salvador Elementary School in his honor on July 13, 1936].

Moises Salvador Elementary School
Moises Salvador Elementary School, Sampaloc district, Manila
La Liga Filipina good pic of execution
Executed were: Numeriano Adriano, Jose A Dizon, Domino Franco, Eustacio Ma�alac, Cpl. Cristobal Medina, 2Lt. Benedicto Nijaga, Ramon Padilla, Braulio Rivera, Francisco L Roxas, Antonio Salazar, Moises Salvador, Luis Enciso Villareal and Faustino Villaruel

[2Lt. Benedicto Nijaga and Cpl. Cristobal Medina were native Filipino members of the Spanish army. Nijaga Park in Calbayog City, Samar Province, was named in Lieutenant Nijaga’s honor].

When the revolution broke out in August 1896, there were about 1,500 Spanish troops posted in the Philippines. Their native auxiliaries numbered around 6,000. Reinforce- ments from Spain were received beginning in October 1896.

Revolt in Philippines, Harper's Weekly Jan 2 1897
“The Revolt in the Philippine Islands: Scenes in Manila,” Harper’s Weekly, New York, January 2, 1897.
Eusebio Roque
January 1897: Eusebio Roque, aka “Maestrong Sebio” and “Dimabunggo,” as prisoner of the Spanish. He founded the “Republic of Kakarong de Sili” in 1896 at Pandi, Bulacan Province. He was executed by firing squad.
Polavieja succeeds Blanco
Sacramento Daily Record-Union, Jan. 17, 1897, page 9

By January 1897, a total of 25,462 officers and men had arrived from Spain. Governor Polavieja had an available force of over 12,000 to suppress the rebels in Luzon island, where the insurrection was most active.

Cavite rebel stronghold 1899 book Lala

His plan for 1897 had two phases: first, “pacify” the zones separated from Cavite, and then to make an offensive campaign against that province. Accordingly, the month of January saw the fully-loaded Spanish forces successfully attacking the scantily-armed rebels in the provinces of Bulacan, Morong, Bataan, Zambales, Laguna and Batangas. By January 22, Spanish field commanders reported that no rebel force could be found in all Batangas, and the same was reported from Bataan and Zambales.

Spanish map of Cavite war front LIA Feb 15 1897
Spanish map pf the Cavite war front, 1896-1897

On Feb. 13, 1897, Governor Polavieja opened his Cavite campaign and threw 9,277 troops in a full offensive against Aguinaldo. They were led by General Jose Lachambre, Deputy Commander of the Spanish forces.

The important towns of Silang, Dasmarinas, Imus and Bacoor fell in quick succession.

General Jose Lachambre and aides-de-camp, 1897.

By the middle of March 1897, General Lachambre had dispersed almost every rebel contingent of any importance in the province.

Filipino trench captured by Spaniards in Cavite 1897
A Filipino trench captured by the Spaniards in Cavite Province, 1897.
Gen Jose Lachambre and Spanish troops at Silang Cavite 1897
General Jose Lachambre and Spanish troops at Silang, Cavite Province, 1897.
Brig. Gen. Jose Marina, CO 2nd Bde, Div of Laguna Batangas Tayabas, Spanish army 1897
Brig. Gen. Jose Marina Vega (last name is “Marina”), Commanding Officer of the Second Brigade, Division of Laguna, Batangas and Tayabas, Spanish Army; the division commander was General Jose Lachambre. Despite the unit’s nomenclature, its main area of operations was Cavite Province. Photo was taken at a Manila studio in 1897.
Filipino and Spanish soldiers in Spanish army May 1897
A Filipino and a Spaniard in the Spanish army, 1897
Filipino insurrecto's family at Imus, Cavite 1897
Captured family members of a Filipino insurrecto. Photo was taken in 1897 at Imus, Cavite Province.
Filipino POWs 1896 or 1897
1896 or 1897: Spanish soldiers with captured Filipino insurrectos
Spanish battery firing at Filipinos at Zapote river bridge
Spanish battery of two breechloading guns firing at the Filipinos at Zapote river bridge.
Spanish battery fires at Fiiipinos
Spanish battery pounds Filipino positions in Cavite Province
Gen Diego de los Rios at Dalahican Cavite 1897
General Diego de los Rios at a formation of Spanish troops in Dalahican, Noveleta, Cavite Province, 1897
Spanish encampment at Dalahican, Cavite 1897
Spanish army encampment at Dalahican, Noveleta, Cavite Province, 1897
Interior of Spanish entrenchment at Dalahican, Noveleta, Cavite LIA March 15 1897
Interior of Spanish entrenchment at Dalahican, Noveleta, Cavite Province.
Spanish entrenchments at Dalahican, Noveleta LIA March 15 1897
Spanish entrenchment at Dalahican, Noveleta, Cavite Province.
Spanish redoubt at Noveleta, Cavite, LIA March 15 1897
Spanish army redoubt at Noveleta, Cavite Province.
tropas hispanas filipinas
Spanish army officers and men in the Philippines
Spanish troops at mass in Philippines 1897
Spanish troops at mass, 1897
Spanish soldiers at prayer
Spanish soldiers at prayer in Dalahican, Noveleta, Cavite Province.
Spanish soldiers at prayer ca1897
Spanish soldiers at prayer, circa 1897
Spanish battery at Porta Vaga, Cavite LIA Feb 15 1897
Spanish battery of two 13-cm Whitworth cannons at Porta Vaga, Cavite Nuevo (now Cavite City).
Spanish guard at main entrance to Cavite 1898
Spanish guard at the main entrance to Cavite Nuevo (now Cavite City).
Guardia Civil cuartel in Noveleta Cavite 1897
The cuartel (barracks) of the Guardia Civil at Noveleta, Cavite Province. Photo was taken in 1897.
Spanish bombardment of Filipinos at Noveleta bridge Cavite
Spaniards bombard Filipino positions at Noveleta Bridge, Cavite Province.
Filipino artillery firing in Cavite 1897 or 1898
Spaniards discharge their mortar at the Filipinos in Noveleta, Cavite
Spanish cavalry ca 1897
Spanish cavalry in the Philippines: In October 1897, two months before the truce of Biyak-na-Bato, there were two Spanish cavalry units in the country; the Regimiento de Caballeria de Filipinas numero 31 (31 officers, 161 Spanish troopers, 453 Filipino troopers), and the Escuadron de Lanceros Expedicionario numero 1 (11 officers, 162 Spanish troopers).
Spanish cavalry Escuadron de voluntarios 1896 1897
Spanish cavalry in the Philippines: A portion of the Escuadron de Lanceros Expedicionario. Photo was probably taken in 1897 at Cavite Province
Two Spanish cavalry soldiers 1896
Spanish cavalrymen in the Philippines, 1896
Spanish cavalryman in Philippines
Spanish cavalryman in the Philippines
Spanish entrenchment in Silang Cavite
1897: Spanish soldiers in Silang, Cavite Province
Spanish soldiers in Bacoor 1896 to 1898
Spanish army officers in Bacoor, Cavite Province. Photo probably taken in 1897
Execution of mutinous customs guards n others Feb 25 1897
Feb. 25, 1897: Spanish firing squads execute mutinuous Filipino customs guards and others at the Luneta, Manila.

On March 22, 1897, rebel delegates met at Barrio Tejeros, San Francisco de Malabon (now General Trias), Cavite, to plot the defense of the beleaguered province. But once the convention opened, the agenda changed: Bonifacio was voted out as rebel chief, Aguinaldo took his place, and the revolutionary organization underwent a total makeover.


Copy of Fernando Primo de Rivera 1897On April 15, 1897, Governor-General Polavieja resigned owing to bad health.

On April 23, 1897, he was replaced by Fernando Primo de Rivera (LEFT, in 1897).

Meanwhile, Andres Bonifacio’s subsequent actions following his ouster led to his execution by Aguinaldo on May 10, 1897.

A few days after Bonifacio’s death, Aguinaldo and his men, sorely lacking weapons and ammunition, abandoned Cavite to avoid total destruction by massive Spanish offensives. The intact rebel army moved to Talisay, Batangas Province, with the Spaniards in hot pursuit.

The Spanish forces surrounded Talisay in the hope of capturing Aguinaldo, but he slipped through the cordon on June 10 and proceeded with 500 handpicked men to the hills of Morong Province (now Rizal). He crossed the Pasig River to Malapad-na-Bato, near Guadalupe, passed through San Juan del Monte and Montalban, and on to Mount Puray.

Biyak na Bato Aguinaldo encampment Dec 1897
Biyak-na-Bato: The Filipino rebels’ new base of operations. Photo taken in late 1897

After a short rest, Aguinaldo and his men proceeded to Biyak-na-Bato, San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan Province, where he established his headquarters.

Aguinaldo and Llanera, The Times, WA D.C., June 20 1897
The Times, Washington, D.C., June 20, 1897 Page 1

He joined forces with General Mariano Llanera. The Filipinos’ new base of operations was located in the heavily-forested foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

1890s Spaniards skirmishing with Filipinos
Spanish troops skirmishing with Filipinos in the bamboo

From Biyak-na-Bato, Aguinaldo harassed the Spanish soldiers garrisoned in the Central Luzon Provinces.

Aguinaldo in cave Biyak na Bato 1897
Aguinaldo (central figure) in front of the mouth of a cave in Biyak-na-Bato
Biyak na Bato Dec 1897
Filipino revolutionaries at their encampment in Biyak-na-Bato. Photo taken in late 1897.

The Filipino rebels also established what is now known as the Biyak-na-Bato Republic.

The provisional constitution of this Republic was prepared by Felix Ferrer and Isabelo Artacho, who copied, almost word for word, the Cuban constitution of Jimaguayu. The Biyak-na-bato Constitution was signed on Nov. 1, 1897. Its preamble states:

“The separation of the Philippines from the Spanish monarchy and their formation into an independent state with its own government called the Philippine Republic has been the end sought by the Revolution in the existing war, begun on the 24th of August, 1896; and , therefore, in its name and by the power delegated by the Filipino people, inter- preting faithfully their desires and ambitions, we the representatives of the Revolution, in a meeting at Biac-na-bato, November 1, 1897, unanimously adopted the following articles for the constitution of the State.”

Filipino revolutionary leaders, ca 1897-98
Filipino revolutionary leaders, ca 1897-98: 1. Gen. Vito Belarmino 2. Lt. Gen. Pantaleon Garcia 3. BGen. Mariano Noriel 4. BGen. Benito Natividad 5. Primitivo Artacho 6. Col. Agapito Bonson 7. BGen. Salvador Estrella 8. Capt Guillermo
Manila. El batallon de Luzon en el muelle de caballeria
The Spanish army’s Batallon de Luzon on the Muelle de Caballeria (Cavalry pier) in Manila

Governor Rivera was frustrated by his failure to crush the Filipino revolutionaries. The Madrid government had already sent over 50,000 cazadores to the Philippines together with several artillery, cavalry, engineer and supporting units, way above the 20,000 troops that the Colonial government had originally estimated it needed to crush the uprising.

Rivera asked for more troops but the home government declined; massive commitment in the Cuban revolution had already tied down more than 150,000 soldiers. Reluctantly, he agreed to negotiate for a truce and perhaps even a settlement of the conflict with the Philippine Independence movement.

Spanish troops at Manila, The Illustrated London News, May 14 1898
Guardia Civil at Manila

The colonial government and the Filipinos knew that to continue hostilities meant an inconclusive war of attrition. The standoff in the battlefield prompted both sides to explore the prospects of an armistice. A mestizo lawyer, Pedro Paterno, volunteered to act as mediator between the two sides. For four months, he traveled between Manila and Biyak-na-Bato.

Aguinaldo, Paterno sitting and 5 other Filipino leaders December 1897
December 1897: Seated. L to R, Pedro Paterno, mediator of the Pact of Biyak-na-Bato, and General Emilio Aguinaldo. Standing, L to R, rebel leaders Isabelo Artacho, Baldomero Aguinaldo, Severino de las Alas, Antonio Montenegro and Vito Belarmino. (Paterno became one of the founders, and Montenegro a founding member, of the pro-American Partido Federal when it was organized on Dec. 23, 1900.)

On Dec. 14, 1897, the Pact of Biyak-na-Bato officially halted hostilities.

Philippine insurgents yielding, New-York Tribune, Dec. 17, 1897, Page 1
New-York Tribune, Dec. 17, 1897, Page 1

The Pact ordered Aguinaldo and other major revolutionaries to be exiled and live peacefully in Hong Kong, where they would be paid $800,000 in Spanish-Mexican currency (read as “pesos”; the symbol used for the peso was “$”, basically the same as for the US dollar). Spain would grant an “ample and general amnesty” to the remaining revolutionaries pending they forfeit their arms.

The Pact alluded to “the desire of the Filipino people for reforms”, like the suppression and eventual expulsion of the tyrannical and oppressive Friars, secularization of the religious orders, and establishment of an autonomous political and administrative government. [By special request of Governor-General Rivera, these specific conditions were not put down in writing, owing to his assertion that otherwise the Treaty would be in too humiliating a form for the Spanish Government, while on the other hand he guaran- teed on his word as gentleman and officer the fulfillment of the same].

In conclusion, $900,000 was to be paid to the citizens of the Philippines, who suffered greatly from the effects of the war.

Aguinaldo on train with etc Dec 27 1898

Filipino rebel leaders arrive Dagupan Decr 29 1897 on board railroad car from left Grego
Dec. 27, 1897: Emilio Aguinaldo and 36 other Filipino rebel leaders arrive in Dagupan, Pangasinan Province, in a railcar. From left: Gregorio del Pilar, Wenceslao Viniegra, Emilio Aguinaldo and Vito Belarmino. At extreme right is Pedro Paterno, who mediated the Pact of Biyak-na-Bato. From Dagupan, the exiles proceeded to the port of Sual, Pangasinan, where they boarded the merchant steamer SS Uranus; bound for HongKong
Sual Aguinaldo n exiles leave Dec 27 97
Dec. 27, 1897. Emilio Aguinaldo and the other exiles boarding launches at the Port of Sual that took them to the steamer SS Uranus; they reached Hongkong on Dec. 31, 1897.

The Pact, however, was an empty promise for both parties; they were only biding time until they could launch another offensive. Spain had no intention to fully pay up or grant reforms. Comparatively, Aguinaldo planned to use the money to buy arms and ammu- nition and revivify the revolt. Thereafter, Spain actually delivered a mere $600,000 out of the $1,700,000 promised. Filipino prisoners were released on amnesty then rearres-ted on fabricated charges; more than two hundred men were executed. On the other hand, the arms turned in by the rebels consisted of old or broken rifles and pistols, and guns made of bamboo and wrapped in metal.

Two months later, on Feb. 14, 1898, the exiles effectively repudiated the truce when they undertook to buy arms in Shanghai and Hong Kong to resume the revolution. It had become clear that, as expected, the Spanish authorities would not abide by the terms of the Treaty. [Aguinaldo had also received a letter from Lt. Col. Miguel Primo de Rivera, nephew and private secretary of Governor Rivera, informing him that neither he nor his companions could ever return to Manila].

Then fate intervened on the other side of the globe.

USS Maine
The USS Maine

On Feb. 15, 1898, at 9:30 p.m., a mysterious explosion sank the American battleship USS Maine in Havana Harbor, killing 266 of the 354 crew members.

Maine blown up

With no proof, purveyors of the “Yellow Press” accused the Spanish of blowing up the ship (although Spain had no motive for doing so). “Remember the Maine” became a call to arms for Americans.

Maine Hearst newspaper

US declares war on Spain SFC April 26 1898

On April 25, 1898, the U.S. Congress voted for war against Spain.

President McKinley and war cabinet 1898
President William Mckinley (LEFT) and his war cabinet, 1898.
McKinley War Room at White House, 1898
President William McKinley’s War Room, upstairs at the White House, 1898. Benjamin F. Montgomery, left, mans the telegraph desk. Today this is the Lincoln Sitting Room.