Sunday, December 30, 2012

Demystifying Emilio Aguinaldo

As I write this and as I sit, I ponder over the consequences of my words. Some people are asking that we look at Emilio Aguinaldo's contributions to Philippine history with fresh eyes. As a historiographer, I would really like to, except that stories about this man, who claims to be the first President of this Republic were unflattering. There were many accounts that really showed Aguinaldo's true role in the 1896 revolution, and worst, his true motivations on joining the Katipunan in the first place. Is Aguinaldo a true patriot? Was he really the military "genius" who led the Revolution and finally got the independence which we so enjoyed today from the Spaniards?

I will be publishing an anthology of great stories in Philippine history. This project which I started way in 2009, would show the true events that Aguinaldo took part of, and nowhere do I see a redeeming value. Aguinaldo died of old age, which some say, was just a fitting "punishment" for a man who murdered the Supremo. Thoughout the years, some people protest this fact and even gave Aguinaldo an alibi out.

Aguinaldo did, indeed, took part in the glorious historical event this country ever experienced in its short life. However, what really motivated him? Was it love for country or was it his pure naked thirst for power?

First off, did anyone question how, in just a span of a year, two great leaders of the Revolution died, in a space of a few months in between, Rizal and Bonifacio? Rizal and Bonifacio were murdered---one by the colonialists and the other, through the treachery of Aguinaldo's men.

At the time of his execution, Rizal was the undisputed leader of the revolution. He was indeed, the head of the country's Masonic lodges which comprise most of the members of the Katipunan. Rizal was the spiritual head, while Bonifacio held operational command. Obviously, at their deaths, opened the chance for Aguinaldo to assume leadership.

During those times, the Supremo Andres Bonifacio thought of Aguinaldo as a Spanish spy and what were his reasons for thinking such?

First off, when Bonifacio visited the newly inducted Aguinaldo unto the Katipunan ranks in his house in Cavite, a fire suspiciously happened which gutted the Supremo's house in Manila. THe house, which served as a temporary Katipunan headquarters, was utterly destroyed. It happened exactly when Bonifacio was with Aguinaldo.

Second, in a meeting sometime in Taguig where the Katipuneros were discussing about launching the revolt, Aguinaldo was there and he opposed it. Some say, his opposition was about arms and the military preparedness of the troops. Was this really the reason or there is some other reason?

When Valenzuela visited RIzal in Dapitan, he came with Aguinaldo's "spy". The alleged "rejection" of Rizal of the Revolution quickly spread because of Aguinaldo's man who came and visited Rizal in his house in Dapitan. It was he who spread this news, a violation of an agreement among Katipunan leaders not to spread such information among the ranks for fears of misinterpretation and could cause demoralization.

When the revolt already broke out in Mandaluyong and San Juan, Aguinaldo did not come to help the Supremo's forces and instead, dilly-dallied. It was only when Aguinaldo was given the information that the revolution had begun and was far from being abetted did he ordered his troops to move against Spanish forces in Cavite. Aguinaldo moved a day or two after the Supremo and the Katipuneros already begun their attacks against Spanish forces.

Aguinaldo's initial victories in Cavite came at a price. When the Katipuneros attacked Manila, it divided the ranks of the Spanish. Some forces who guarded Cavite were asked to go and reinforce the Manila troops. This allowed Aguinaldo to maneuver and without so much use of force, occupied several towns in Cavite.

When he did so, Aguinaldo quickly declared Cavite as a "liberated" territory and used the occasion to claim leadership of the revolution. Curiously, Aguinaldo's victories quickly dissipated shortly after Spanish forces reclaimed most of Cavite's towns. It was only upon the assumption of Bonifacio's leadership in the Cavite Katipuneros that the Spanish forces encountered stiff opposition from the rebels.

Aguinaldo was not the military genius that many depicted him to be. Fact is, his brother Crispulo, died because of a defeat in one of the towns being defended by the Katipuneros. Aguinaldo suffered many defeats in the field than Bonifacio.

Shortly after the treacherous death of Bonifacio, Aguinaldo's troops abandoned Cavite and went to Talisay. From Talisay, Aguinaldo reportedly went to Morong. Why Morong? Because Aguinaldo wanted nothing more than to consolidate the remaining strong forces of the Katipunan under his command and control. And why?

The answer lies at Biak-na-Bato, a strongly fortified and heavily controlled Katipunan area. Was it Aguinaldo's idea to surrender the entire revolutionary movement at Biak-na-Bato, that's why he went there instead of staying in Cavite?

We know what happened in Biak-na-Bato, a truce was entered into by Aguinaldo with Primo de Rivera. That was just a year after the 1896 revolution. Meaning, the true plan really was to subdue the revolutionary forces and enter a truce, which was never a plan by the Supremo nor the rest of the Katipuneros.

This explains, why many believe that Aguinaldo really tried to "murder" the revolutionary fervor of the Filipinos and acted as a leader to subdue the Katipunan and surrender the movement to the Spaniards.

Read my book, " Bagong Istorya: Great Anthology of Philippine History" out soon.