Thursday, July 21, 2011

“The Philippine Revolution” by Apolinario Mabini: An Appreciation

I am seated here inside a hall in Manila Hotel as I write this, glad to have finished another book, this time of a Filipino intellectual – Apolinario Mabini.

Mabini’s La Revolucion Filipina, translated into English by Leon Ma. Guerrero, is a compact analysis and commentary on the Philippine Revolution which was referred to in the book as the revolutions against Spain and the United States of America. The book can be read in just one seating, being composed only of 11 chapters and an introductory manifesto.

Introductory Manifesto

This part is a summary of his reasons for surrendering to the American government. It was a clean cut defense, devoid of any literary garnishes and I believe has successfully defended his position at that time.


The bulk of the book is a concise narrative of the country’s history – from the pre-Spanish (during the time when the literal distance between the Philippines and Europe prevented new thoughts to reach the Filipinos) to the execution of the GOMBURZA in 1872 (explaining all along the coming of the liberal thoughts in the country and the spark/fire of agitation caused by the seeming innocent desire of some Filipino priests to return the administration of the parishes to the Filipino secular priests.

The revolution of 1896 and the events leading to this event were also clearly discussed. It was believable to a certain extent as he was part of the group which hoped to continue the original objectives the La Liga Filipina.

The account of the start of the Philippine-American War was quite credible, as it was known that he was involved in an advising capacity to the blooming revolutionary/dictatorial government at that time. His extensive commentaries on this part show the extent of his participation in these events (excluding military activities, of course). He openly criticized the seeming premature declaration of Philippine independence, the actions of the Congress at that time as if they were not living in a period of war and the eventual failure, so he says, of Emilio Aguinaldo to effectively take command of the military activities of the Filipino forces against the invading Americans.

His narration of Antonio Luna’s fate almost bordered on being personal and he castigated Aguinaldo for failing yet again to see the true worth of Luna in the context of the ongoing war. (Of course Aguinaldo answered this allegation through his book “Saloobin: Sagot ni Hen. Emilio Aguinaldo sa mga Paratang ng Dakilang Lumpo,” Anotasyon at Pagsasalin ni Emmanuel Franco Calairo; pratically distancing himself from the incident)

With those severe criticisms he ended his book, placing in the end his high hopes that Aguinaldo would soon redeem himself. But I don’t think he was really able to do it, having lost in an election later and having lived longer than any other participants of the war.
Towards the last lines, we see another piece of optimism, with Mabini hoping for “…the mutual reconciliation of Americans and Filipinos.” He did not live long enough to see the eventual fall of the American government with the coming of the Japanese. Whether he actually foresaw these is another story.

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