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Emilio Aguinaldo was born in Kawit, Cavite, on March 22, 1869.

If he were alive
today, it would be his 148th birthday. As we all know, he lived a very long life and
died at 94 of coronary thrombosis in Veterans Memorial Hospital (now Veterans
Memorial Medical Center) in Quezon City where he was confined for 469 days before
his death. Hounded by controversy to his deathbed, the last issue that swirled around
him was whether he died a Catholic or not.

Newspaper photos of the aged Aguinaldo receiving communion from a hospital

chaplain were presented as proof he had returned to the Church. But this did not sway
others who claimed that he didn’t know what was being put in his mouth, or that he
was tricked into receiving the host, thinking it was his medication.

A year before his death Aguinaldo donated his Kawit mansion and all its contents to
the government. It is now under the care of the National Historical Commission of the
Philippines and known as the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine. Unlike the Jose Rizal Shrine
in Calamba, Laguna, or the Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc, Ilocos Norte, both modern
reproductions, the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine is all original and provides visitors with a
sense of how Aguinaldo spent his last years.

The original house of wood with a thatch roof is no more because Aguinaldo
expanded it into the present mansion that includes the iconic “Independence Balcony”
added on the original window where the Declaration of Independence was read on
June 12, 1898.

Aguinaldo’s elegant home has a number of secret passageways that allowed him to go
in and out of the house without being seen by visitors: A cabinet turns to reveal a
passage into the bedroom; the floor on the side of the bathroom can be lifted to reveal
a staircase down to the ground-floor swimming pool and bowling alley; a heavy stone
table in the center of the kitchen covers a tunnel that allegedly led to either the nearby
church or the town cemetery. All these architectural and design details of the house
unfortunately overshadow the work that has to be done in the home library filled with
old books, magazines, newspaper clippings and, perhaps, some unpublished
manuscripts that await young and curious historians.

Aguinaldo scribbled a lot in his old age. Between 1928 and 1946, he produced in long
hand the first volume of his memoirs, “Mga Gunita ng Himagsikan (1964),” translated
from the original Tagalog as “Memoirs of the Revolution” (1967). In his preface
Aguinaldo says the memoirs were based on a diary he kept, documents he preserved,
and family lore gathered from his elders. We do not know whether this diary is extant
or whether a promised second volume of the memoirs were fully written out. All we
have is an account from his birth and early years, ending with the 1897 Treaty of
The second volume would cover the resumption of the Philippine Revolution against
Spain and the Philippine-American War. Aguinaldo wanted to correct history by
making reference to the historian’s confused accounts on the beginning of the

“Except for those that were written, other details had been forgotten. Many details
showed inconsistencies because not all sources were documented for lack of reliable
references. For instance, the right day of the First Cry of Balintawak could not be
ascertained. Some say this took place on August 23, 1896 at the old Bonifacio
Monument in Balintawak, others claim it happened on August 24, 1896. . . . we now
have too many markers for a single event.”

The date we use in our textbooks and official commemorations was chosen by the
National Historical Commission over other dates (in August and Sept. 5, 1896)
presented by other sources. Aguinaldo stated that this event took place in Balintawak,
but the late historian Teodoro A. Agoncillo took the word of Pio Valenzuela and
argued for Pugadlawin. Aside from these two places, the other contenders are:
Kangkong, Bahay Toro, Pasong Tamo, Pacpac Lawin and, if we are to believe in
komiks, Pugad Baboy.

It may add more confusion to our history, but someone should track down Volume 2
of Aguinaldo’s memoirs, his diary and other papers. These are probably tucked away
in some secret compartment or forgotten drawer in the Aguinaldo Shrine.

Comments are welcome at

Emilio Aguinaldo


 The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

Emilio Aguinaldo
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March 23, 1869

near Cavite, Philippines


February 6, 1964 (aged 94)

Quezon City, Philippines


 Philippine Revolution


 independence
 February 6
 March 22
Emilio Aguinaldo, (born March 22/23, 1869, near Cavite, Luzon, Philippines—died February 6,
1964, Quezon City), Filipino leader and politician who fought first against Spain and later
against the United States for the independence of the Philippines.

Emilio Aguinaldo.Brown Brothers

Aguinaldo was of Chinese and Tagalog parentage. He attended San Juan de Letrán College
in Manila but left school early to help his mother run the family farm. In August 1896 he was
mayor of Cavite Viejo (present-day Kawit; adjacent to Cavite city) and was the local leader of
the Katipunan, a revolutionary society that fought bitterly and successfully against the Spanish.
In December 1897 he signed an agreement called the Pact of Biac-na-Bató with the Spanish
governor general. Aguinaldo agreed to leave the Philippines and to remain permanently in exile
on condition of a substantial financial reward from Spain coupled with the promise of liberal
reforms. While first in Hong Kong and then in Singapore, he made arrangements with
representatives of the American consulates and of Commodore George Dewey to return to the
Philippines to assist the United States in the war against Spain.


Aguinaldo returned to the Philippines May 19, 1898, and announced renewal of the struggle with
Spain. The Filipinos, who declared their independence of Spain on June 12, 1898, proclaimed a
provisional republic, of which Aguinaldo was to become president; and in September a
revolutionary assembly met and ratified Filipino independence. However, the Philippines, along
with Puerto Ricoand Guam, were ceded by Spain to the United States by the Treaty of Paris,
which was signed on December 10, 1898.


Relations between the Americans and the Filipinos were unfriendly and grew steadily worse. On
January 23, 1899, the Malolos Constitution—by virtue of which the Philippines was declared a
republic and which had been approved by the assembly and by Aguinaldo—was proclaimed.
Aguinaldo, who had been president of the provisional government, was elected president.

On the night of February 4 the inevitable conflict between the Americans and Filipinos
surrounding Manila was precipitated. By the morning of February 5 the Filipinos, who had
fought bravely, had been defeated at all points. While the fighting was in progress, Aguinaldo
issued a proclamation of war against the United States, which immediately sent reinforcements
to the Philippines. The Filipino government fled northward. In November 1899 the Filipinos
resorted to guerrilla warfare.

Philippines: burning of the palace of Emilio AguinaldoBurning of the palace of Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of the
insurrection in Malolos, Philippines.Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

After three years of costly fighting the insurrection was finally brought to an end when, in a
daring operation on March 23, 1901, led by Gen. Frederick Funston, Aguinaldo was captured in
his secret headquarters at Palanan in northern Luzon. Aguinaldo took an oath of allegiance to the
United States, was granted a pension from the U.S. government, and retired to private life.


In 1935 the commonwealth government of the Philippines was established in preparation for
independence. Aguinaldo ran for president, but he was decisively beaten. He returned to private
life until the Japanese invaded the Philippines in December 1941. The Japanese used Aguinaldo
as an anti-American tool. He made speeches and signed articles. In early 1942 he addressed a
radio appeal to U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur—who at that time was with the U.S. garrison
holding out against the Japanese on Corregidor Island—to surrender (the troops there did
surrender in May 1942, but MacArthur had already been evacuated).


The Americans returned to the Philippines in late 1944, and, after they had retaken Manila in
1945, Aguinaldo was arrested. He and others accused of collaboration with the Japanese were
imprisoned for some months before they were released by presidential amnesty. In 1950
Aguinaldo was appointed by Pres. Elpidio Quirino as a member of the Council of State. In his
later years he devoted much attention to veterans’ affairs, the promotion
of nationalism and democracy in the Philippines, and the improvement of relations between the
Philippines and the United States.


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MORE ABOUT Emilio Aguinaldo

Assorted References

 association with Mabini

 In Apolinario Mabini
 execution of Bonifacio
 In Andres Bonifacio
 history of Philippines
 In Philippine Revolution
 In Philippines: The Philippine Revolution
 leadership in Philippine-American War
 In Philippine-American War

By Cesar E.A. Virata
"We cannot free ourselves unless we move forward
united in a single desire."
- General Emilio Famy Aguinaldo

Curriculum Vitae

EMILIO AGUINALDO HEADED the Philippine revolutionary government that, in

May and June 1898, defeated Spanish forces in Manila and other parts of Luzon and
the Visayas. On June 12, 1898, he proclaimed Independence from the window of his
house in Cavite El Viejo town (now Kawit), south of Manila. The country's first flag was
unveiled, and the national anthem was first played - both created under Aguinaldo's

On January 23, 1899, two months before turning 30, Aguinaldo was proclaimed the first
president of the Republic of the Philippines, and he convened the Philippine Congress
which ratified the country's Constitution. The first Asian constitutional republic was thus
established - an event that inspired other colonized Asian countries to work for
independence. One world power, Spain, had been defeated, but Aguinaldo soon faced
another: the United States of America. Undaunted, he shifted to guerrilla warfare and
eluded his adversaries for two years.
Born in Cavite El Viejo in 1869, Aguinaldo was the seventh of eight children of Carlos
Aguinaldo, town mayor for several terms, and Trinidad Famy. Emilio himself was
elected mayor, taking office on January 1, 1895; at midnight that same day he was
inducted into Freemasonry, which attracted many nationalists. Before April, Emilio, 26,
joined the Katipunan, the secret society that ignited the Philippine Revolution the
following year.

He was initiated by Katipunan leader Andres Bonifacio. In early 1897, Bonifacio would
be found guilty of treason for attempting to set up a separate authority and army. He
was executed by the revolutionary government under Emilio Aguinaldo. The latter's role
in Bonifacio's arrest and execution is controversial. Before these unfortunate incidents,
however, both were key rebel leaders. Bonifacio was overall head and led the decision
to start the revolution in August 1896. But better-armed Spanish forces beat back his
assaults in Manila.

Aguinaldo, on the other hand, led successful assaults and quickly earned a reputation
as a commander who could defeat the Spaniards. In September 1896, almost all of
Cavite was liberated. Aguinaldo distilled the rush of emotions in free Cavite in his
proclamation of October 1896 - addressed not just to Tagalogs, but to all Filipinos.
Declaring a free Philippines to be the equal of the world's civilized countries, he justified
the revolution and cited other nations that fought for freedom. His concept of the
Philippines eventually included the Muslims in Mindanao. In 1899, he wrote to assure
the Sultan of Jolo that the beliefs of all Filipinos would be respected.

When the war between the Spaniards and the revolutionary forces showed signs of
becoming a protracted guerrilla conflict, both sides signed a truce pact. Exiled to Hong
Kong under the accord, Aguinaldo remained focused on fighting for independence.
When the Spanish-American War broke out, he saw the opportunity to resume the
revolution with U.S. backing. He hoped that America, a nation that had itself revolted
against an imperial power, would not colonize another freedom-loving people.

But by February 1899, Filipinos and Americans were at war and Aguinaldo retreated to
northern Luzon, where he was captured in 1901. Taking him into custody, General
Frederick Funston noted his "dignified bearing," "excellent qualities," and "humane
instincts." Such traits may explain why he attracted an unprecedented following among
the normally regionalistic, factious Filipinos. He had been one of the few who had
galvanized them in a struggle greater than themselves, their families, their regions.

Aguinaldo's unrelenting pursuit of a free and independent Philippines did not diminish in
the 48 years of American rule. He staunchly supported, even to his detriment, groups
that advocated immediate independence, and he helped veterans of the struggle. He
received visitors from the United States, Japan and other countries, including former

When the Americans finally allowed the Philippine flag to be displayed in 1919,
Aguinaldo transformed his Kawit home into an outstanding monument to the colors, the
revolution and the declaration of Independence. When the colonizers finally left on July
4, 1946, he carried the flag in the Independence parade. His proudest moment came in
1962. After the U.S. rejected Philippine claims for the destruction wrought by American
forces in World War II, president Diosdado Macapagal changed Independence Day
from July 4 to June 12. Aguinaldo rose from his sickbed to attend the celebration of
Independence 64 years after he declared it.n

Cesar Virata, a grandnephew of Aguinaldo's, was Philippine finance minister (1970-86)

and prime minister (1981-86).

•Born on March 22, 1869, in Cavite El Viejo (now Kawit), south of Manila

•Joined the Katipunan rebel group in 1895

•Exiled to Hong Kong in late 1897

•Defeated colonial forces in May-June 1898; declared independence on June 12

•Captured by U.S. forces in 1901

•Died on February 6, 1964

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