THE month of August has been a most challenging month to the Filipino nation through the decades, centuries even. We can remember quite a number of tough and pivotal historic events having taken place in the not-so-august eight month of the Gregorian calendar. Apart from very recent and supposedly "major, major" Hong Kong tourist hostage crisis, this month has counted a number of most crucial historic developments. During the Philippine Revolution, August saw the revolutionary expression of the Filipino's burning quest to be freed from the yoke of Spanish colonial oppression. In that month of 1896, a Filipino's treachery led to the discovery of Katipunan and on the 30th, the bloody, hand-to-hand Battle of Pinaglabanan marked the first major battle of the Philippine Revolution.
The August, two years after the outbreak of the Revolution against Spain, would also prove to be a critical period in the country's history. Equally as pivotal, in fact. Following the crushing defeat of the Spanish Armada by the United States of America, the emerging world power of the 20th century, set its sights on a modern-day type of colonization, victimizing a host of lands including the Philippine Islands.
August 1898 would witness the imperialist US set its most vile military conquest schemes into action. At that time, the Philippines, which already declared independence from Spain in June, was virtually already de facto free, having gained control of 15 provinces and having already encircled Intramuros, the seat of Spanish power. No thanks, to Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo who was stupid enough to be conned into cooperating with American military and diplomatic officials on mere verbal promises that the US is an "ally" that will honor Philippine Independence. The Filipino Revolutionary leader would then most ridiculously wait for the arrival of the American forces, allowing them to freely enter the archipelago, and delay his attack on the Spanish bailiwick.
This most unwise decision of Aguinaldo trusting the North Americans will allow the enemy to stage the most infamous Mock Battle of Manila and thus steal Philippine Independence right at his very nose. The implications of the Mock Battle of Manila that purported to project the false claim that Spanish forces in the Philippines were defeated by the North Americans instead of the native revolutionaries would be severe. It would spell doom for the country in terms of international recognition of its sovereignty. The staged Battle would allow the US to forge the Protocol of Peace and, eventually the 1898 Treaty of Paris that supposedly 'ceded' Spanish control of the Philippines to the Americans. In the world of international treaties, Aguinaldo's gullibly negotiable stance outmatched bigtime by the wily United States spelled disaster to Philippine Independence.
It would be during the same month of August, two years later in 1900, that an American articulation of the wicked, imperialist actions of their Bald Eagle nation towards would reverberate through the walls of the Democratic convention. Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan will condemn his country's invasion of the Southeast Asian archipelago, and lambasting the deceit used against the Filipinos. In his acceptance speech of the Democratic Party's nomination, Bryan's words pierces at the undemocratic and immoral designs of his government on the the Philippines, assailing the occupation as a flagrant deviation from the most sacred American traditions and principles, saying:
“There can be no doubt that we did so we had full knowledge that they were fighting for their own independence, and I submit that history furnishes no example of greater turpitude than ours if we now substitute our yoke for the Spanish yoke.”
After the infamous Mock Battle of Manila, Aguinaldo would be forced to negotiate for minimal independence. This time-line of events during the fateful three months of 1898, culminating in August when it finally became crystal clear to the stupidly gullible Aguinaldo that the Americans were not allies but imperialistic enemy invaders. President Aguinaldo and the Philippine Army and patriots would be faced with the choice of either accepting autonomy under the Americans or fight for independence and sovereignty. It would only be a matter of time before the war between the forces of the fledgling Philippine Eaglets and the militarily superior Bald Eagles would erupt, as it did on February 4, 1899. The Sublime Paralytic, Apolinario Mabini, explains why Aguinaldo fell for the US deception. In his memoirs, he writes that:"
Mr. Aguinaldo had accepted [the verbal promises] because he ardently desired to return to the islands, fearful that other influential Filipinos should (rob him of glory and) reach an understanding with the Americans in the name of the people."
Another view is offered by Jose Maria Sison, a present-day Filipino revolutionary, who writes that the credulous Aguinaldo was beguiled by the Yankee confidence-men who first communed with him in Hong Kong. He basically points out that the manifest-destiny-driven US hoodwinked whom I described as the cunning-before-Filipinos but gullible-before-the-whites leader in the American "maneuver to capture Manila and arrange the Treaty of Paris whereby Spanish colonialism ceded the Philippines to U.S. imperialism upon the payment of $20 million." Aguinaldo's stupidity before the shoddy imperialist Americans can thus be explained as a case of ambitious greed blinding--or making stupid--a supposed revolutionary.
Aguinaldo's May - August 1898 Stupidity Timeline
01 MAY - The American squadron under the command of Commodore George Dewey engages and destroys the Spanish fleet under Admiral Patricio Montojo.
02 MAY - Alexander Hill, a sailor from Dewey’s squadron, hoists the first American flag on Philippine soil, at the Cavite arsenal.
03 MAY - United States Admiral George Dewey's squadron occupies the Cavite arsenal as the Spanish garrison on Corregidor surrenders to the U.S.S. Baltimore.
04 May - The Filipino revolutionary committee in Hongkong arrives at the decision that Emilio Aguinaldo should accept the invitation of the Americans to return to the Philippines and renew the independentist struggle against colonial Spain.
-- Spanish Governor-General Basilio Agustin tries to court the rebelling Filipinos during the Philippine American War by issuing a decree establishing the Consultative Assembly of the Philippines made up of 18 Filipinos headed by Pedro A. Paterno.
****18 MAY - United Stats President President William McKinley gives a hint of American imperialistic designs in issuing “Instruction,” in which he says the Americans came to the Philippines not to “wage war upon them (the Filipinos), nor upon any part or faction among them, but to protect them in their homes, in their employments, and in their personal and religious rights.”
****19 MAY - Some 10 months before the American imperialist forces formally invaded the Philippines, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of the Philippine revolutionary forces fighting to overthrow Spanish colonial rule, arrives at Cavite province aboard the revenue cutter McCulloch; Aguinaldo will soon confer with Admiral George Dewey to forge an alliance against Spain, and later saying that the American admiral has categorically stated that the United States will recognize Philippine Independence as it has no need for colonies.
21 MAY - A proclamation extolling the people to unite and renew the fight for the vindication of the Philippines.
24 MAY -- In Cavite, Emilio Aguinaldo proclaims the establishment of a dictatorial government during the Second Phase of the Philippine Revolution.
25 MAY -- The first expedition of American volunteers commanded by Brigadier-General Thomas N. Anderson leaves San Francisco, California, for the Philippines.
****27 MAY - The camp of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of the Philippine Revolution against Spain (since May 1897) receives the first consignment of arms in Cavite from American consul Rounseville Wildman as part of the parties' unwritten deal forged in Hong Kong during the former's unsuccessful trip to meet United States Commodore George Dewey; Wildman will never deliver the second arms shipment to Aguinaldo, paid for with P67,000, and within nine months, the US will embark on its imperialistic invasion of the Philippines.
31 MAY - Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of the Filipino revolutionaries fighting for independence against colonial Spain, selects this day as the beginning of renewed uprising following his camp's return from exile following the Truce of Biak na Bato earlier forged by the revolutionary leaders with colonial authorities during the Philippine Revolution.
01 JUNE - The Spaniards in Calamba, Laguna surrender to Paciano Rizal after three days of conflict.
- Aguinaldo issues a decree providing for the trial of all kinds of crimes, esp. treason and espionage, under competent military tribunals, with sentences requiring his approval, in the bid to suppress all disorder.
**- American Arthur MacArthur, appointed Brigadier-General of Volunteers, receives an order to proceed to the Philippines.
02 JUNE - Spanish Gen. Leopoldo Garcia leads 900 infantry troops and 80 artillerymen in bringing their arms and ammunition to capitulate to the Filipino forces in Cavite.
03 JUNE - The Spanish defenders of Calamba surrender to the Filipino forces under Paciano Rizal after three days of fighting.
****- American Consul Rounsevelle Wildman at Hongkong admits that on this day the Filipinos have entrusted P47,000 to him for the purchase of munitions.
06 JUNE - With his troops having surrounded the City of Manila, General Aguinaldo demands the honorable surrender of Spanish Governor-General Basilio Agustin who refuses.
-- Apolinario Mabini submits to Aguinaldo's revolutionary government his "constitutional program of the Philippine Republic.
9 JUNE - The Filipinos seize control of Pampanga province from the Spaniards.
10 JUNE - Around 5,000 Spanish defenders of Batangas province surrender to the Filipino revolutionaries.
- Aguinaldo addresses an appeal to the United States President protesting a London press report as to the supposed American intent to sell the Philippines to a European power to the effect that the U.S. intends to sell the Philippine Islands to a European power and the probable abandonment of the Philippines to the tyranny of Spain. He asks that the country be left free and independent "even if you make peace with Spain."
- During the Philippine Revolution against Spain, United States Consul-General E. Spencer Pratt, congratulates Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo for his "recent military achievements" and claims that his arrangement for the latter's meeting with US Admiral Spencer Dewey is right.
***12 JUNE - Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of the Philippine Revolution against Spain, proclaims the Independence of the Philippines "under the protection of the Powerful and Humanitarian Nation," that is the United States of America and thereby ceasing "to have any allegiance to the Crown of Spain" and unfurling a blue, red and yellow flag partly inspired by the Stars-and Stripes banner of the US.
- Apolinario Mabini arrives in Cavite while carried in a hammock and begins serving as trusted adviser of Gen. Aguinaldo.
****16 JUNE - During the Philippine Revolution against Spain, American Consul Oscar F. William sends a dispatch to Secretary Wm. R. Day reporting that the Filipino Revolutionists have defeated the colonial forces at practically all encounters and have taken control of the northern provinces and the entire bay coast, save for the city of Manila.
20 JUNE - Gen. Aguinaldo issues rules pertaining to the holding of junta and council sessions and the organization of police forces and tribunals, civil records, registration, property, and the census.
21 JUNE - Gen. Manuel Tinio and Col. Tecson subdue The Spanish garrison at San Isidro in Nueva Ecija province falls to the forces of Gen. Manuel Tinio and Col. Tecson, yielding some 1,050 rifles and 500,000 cartridges.
-- President Aguinaldo passes the Land Tenancy Law.
JUNE 23 - Following the advice of Mabini, Aguinaldo decrees the change of his government from dictatorial to one that is revolutionary.
--President Aguinaldo also decrees the establishment of a Revolutionary Committee abroad, which will ultimately be based in Hong Kong and empowered with to take charge of all overseas consular, diplomatic, and publicity activities.
24 JUNE - Mabini issues his “True Decalogue” that sets ten general guidelines of human conduct.
****25 JUNE - American Consul General at Hong Kong Rounsevelle Wildman foxily writes Philippine President Emilio Aguinaldo convincing him to stand shoulder to shoulder with what will be the future invading American forces, saying that he has supposedly "vouched for [Aguinaldo's] honesty and earnestness of purpose to the President of the United States and to [the American] people."
27 JUNE - The siege of Baler church in Tayabas, Quezon is begun by Filipino soldiers, with the Spanish defenders barricading themselves for eleven months.
**--Third American expedition sails for Manila under the command of Major-General Wesley Merritt and Brigadier-General Arthur MacArthur.
29 JUNE - Mariano Ponce arrives at Tokyo in his capacity as Philippine representative and is warmly welcomed Tokyo as Philippine representative and is welcomed by important Japanese personalities such as the Premier who are sympathetic with the cause of with Philippine Independence.
**30 JUNE - Responding to Dewey's call for reinforcements, the First U.S. expedition commanded by Brigadier General Thomas M. Anderson arrives in Manila.
****04 JULY - United States Gen. Thomas M. Anderson writes to President Emilio Aguinaldo asking him for cooperation in the American war with Spain, deceptively expressing supposed American sympathy with the people of the Philippine Islands; in seven months' time, the United States will reveal its true, sinister imperialistic design on the Philippines, starting the bloody Filipino-American War, with Gen. Anderson seeing action in the 1899 Battle of Manila where he captured Pasay and afterwards, leading his division in minor engagements at Santana, San Pedro and Guadalupe.
****06 JULY - In what will prove to be a most stupid military decision, Dictator Emilio Aguinaldo of the fledgling Philippine Republic will assure imperialist American Gen. Thomas M. Anderson that he has already ordered his "people not to interfere" with the American forces who has been entering the Southeast Asian archipelago during the Spanish-American War.
09 JULY - Gen. Thomas M. Anderson communicates from the Philippines to the United States Adjutant-General in Washington, D.C. that he foresees a possible conflict with Filipino forces during the Philippine Revolution against Spain and the Spanish-American War--this as only three days earlier, Philippine President Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo had informed Anderson that he has already ordered his soldiers "not to interfere" with the American forces who have been entering the country following American officers' deceptive assurances that the US is in sympathy with the Filipinos.
****14 JULY - President Emilio Aguinaldo of the still-in-revolution Philippine Republic writes to gulliby ask United States Admiral George Dewey to forward to Washington his June 18 and 23 decrees establishing a revolutionary dictatorial government to continue the fight for independence against Spain, further stating that "the desires on this government are to remain always in friendship with the great North American nation, to which we are under many obligations."
-- on this same day, the 4th United States Military Expedition to the Philippines sails for Manila under Maj. Gen. Elwell S. Otis, in apparent preparation for the imperialistic American invasion of the Philippines.
****15 JULY --Aguinaldo appoints his government's first Cabinet more than a month after declaring Philippine Independence under the protection of the US, supposedly "the Powerful and Humanitarian Nation," as he declares in a proclamation that the distinction between members and non-members of the Katipunan no longer exists, with the Philippines being the true Katipunan.
--The fourth expedition of American volunteers sails for Manila, under the command of Major-General E.S. Otis.
16 JULY - Gen. Aguinaldo issues a decree imposing taxes on municipal and provincial councils and popular assemblies.
-- From his Spanish-American War Flagship “Olympia” docked at Cavite, American Rear Admiral George Dewey writes to Gen. Aguinaldo, attaching a copy of a letter from the French Consul at Manila with regards the Philippine Navy's seizure of the steamer Compañia de Filipinas.
**17 JULY - General Francis V. Greene’s The second expeditionary forces of the looming 20th century imperialist nation, the United States, under Gen. Francis V. Greene arrive and land at Parañaque, located midway between Manila and Cavite.
18 JULY --U.S. Consul R. Wildman writes Acting U.S. Secretary of State J.B. Moore from Hong Kong, informing him that he has suggested to Aguinaldo the establishment of a dictatorial government which could later be the nucleus of a representative form of government similar to that of the U.S.
****20 JULY - United States Assistant Secretary of State William Rufus Day writes a letter supposedly rebuking American Consul-General E. Spencer Pratt in Singapore for "undiplomatically" allowing Philippine President General Aguinaldo to believe that the U.S. Government would recognize the independence of the Southeast Asian archipelago after Spain is defeated and on condition that the Filipinos help the US in the Spanish-American War; truth is, days or weeks earlier, a number of other American officials, including Gen. Thomas Anderson, Consul General in Hong Kong Rounsevelle Wildman, and even Admiral George Dewey took turns deceiving Aguinaldo into thinking the US will honor Philipine Independence
21 JULY - Felipe Agoncillo, future Minister Plenipotentiary of the fledgling Philippine Republic, writes Apolinario Mabini, key adviser of President Emilio Aguinaldo, expressing his apprehensions over the supposed "alliance" with the Americans in apparent reference to Aguinaldo's (unofficial and gullible) arrangement with certain United States officials to cooperate in the war against Spain and in return, America is supposed to honor the independence of the Filipino nation.
**23 JULY -The sixth imperialist American expedition sails for Manila with eight companies of the First South Dakota Volunteer Infantry under the command of Brigadier-General H.G. Otis, U.S.V.
****24 JULY - After being led to believe through verbal promises by United States officials [the consuls in Singapore and Hong Kong, Admiral George Dewey and Gen. Thomas Anderson] that America is an ally, President Emilio Aguinaldo writes to Gen. Anderson of his people's expectations that while foreign powers have not yet acknowledged the Philipppine Republic, "the great North American nation, which struggled first for its independence, and afterward for the abolition of slavery and is now actually struggling for the independence of Cuba, would look upon [Filipino assertion of sovereignty] with greater benevolence than any other nation."
**25 JULY - Gen. Wesley Merritt of the Imperialist United States Army arrives in Manila.
**31 JULY - Brigadier-General Arthur MacArthur arrives in Manila and is assigned to command the Second Brigade of the First Division of the U.S. Army.
1 AUGUST - The Act proclaiming Philippine Independence is proclaimed in Bacoor, Cavite during the first convention of town/municipal presidents that included representatives from Tanguay, Nueva Ecija, Laguna, Morong, Pampanga, Manila, Tarlac, Bulacan, Batangas, Bataan, Infanta, Union, Pangasinan, Zambales, Tayabas, and Mindoro; ironically, as the act declares that the Philippine Revolution against Spain is a rational and legitimate action of the Filipino people, who are valiantly defending their national pride and dignity, and asks all foreign governments to recognize the Filipino nation and its sovereignty, during the very same day, the troops of the imperialist United States earlier freely allowed to enter the country (by a gullible Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo) are organized into a division commanded by Gen. Thomas Anderson, later to take part in the undemocratic American invasion of the Philippines and commence the bloody Filipino-American War.
****03 AUGUST - In a speech at Kawit in Cavite province, Emilio Aguinaldo, President of the fledgling Philippine Republic, pleads with local officials to keep unity, peace, and upright conduct; the appeal comes amidst apprehensions expressed by Felipe Agoncillo and Apolinario Mabini, Aguinaldo's diplomatic official and key adviser, respectively, over the former's supposed "alliance" with the Americans, with some Filipino soldiers already thinking at that point they they might need to fight a war with the pale-skinned US forces.
****04 AUGUST - American Consul Oscar F. Williams cables U.S. Secretary of State William R. Day to report that he has tried to convince Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo that American rule over the Philippines will supposedly bring greater honor, progress, and profit to the natives compared to any scheme the Filipino leader and his advisers can ever devise, adding that he is on better terms with Aguinaldo than the American military commanders are.
****06 AUGUST - Generals Artemio Ricarte and Pio del Pilar express their misgivings to Emilio Aguinaldo about the true nature of American policy towards the Philippines; this, as Aguinaldo issues a proclamation to the United States and all foreign governments explaining the nature and scope of the Revolutionary Government and the proclamation of country's independence by provincial representatives, begging for the protection of all nations of the civilized world and beseeching their formal recognition of the state of belligerence and the independence of the Philippines.”
07 AUGUST - American military officers Admiral Dewey and General Merritt, through the British Vice Consul, H.A. Ramsden, issue a joint ultimatum to the Spanish authorities stating that “the land and naval forces of the United States would commence operations against the defenses of Manila at any time after the expiration of the forty-eight hours from the hour of receipt by you of this communication.”
****11 AUGUST - The camp of Philippine President Emilio Aguinaldo, which has already seized control of most of the archipelago away from the Spanish colonial forces, finally realizes that the Yankees are preparing to take the city of Manila as Filipino forces besieging Intramuros notice a general movement among American militia units.
****13 AUGUST - The "Mock Battle of Manila" occurs between Spanish and American forces, a day after the signing of the Protocol of Peace, as part of the two powers' imperialistic, shoddy and detestably anti-democratic deal to transfer Spanish colonial possessions to the United States, thus depriving Filipinos of their rightful revolutionary victory against colonial Spain.
****14 AUGUST - Two companies of Filipino soldiers are disarmed by imperialist U.S. soldiers when they mistakenly fired at the patrol of American Capt. Cornell, thinking the latter were enemy Spanish soldiers--this, despite the explanation that it is a case of mistaken identity.
****-- Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo writes Gen. Merritt explaining why he could not prevent his troops from entering Manila but promises to withdraw beyond the city limits and observe other conditions in the bid to avoid conflict
**-- Imperialist United States begins its propaganda efforts as part of the looming invasion of the Philippine archipelago, with Gen. Wesley Merritt proclaiming in English, Tagalog, and Spanish that Americans supposedly did not come "to wage war" upon the Filipinos but to "protect them in their homes, in their employments, and in their personal and religious rights"--understood to be contingent, of course, on the natives' unpatriotic acceptance of the Bald Eagle nation's colonization of the islands; the proclamation came some three months after American officials first verbally conned Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo into believing the US will honor Philippine Independence, came five weeks after Gen. Thomas M. Anderson asked for Filipinos' military cooperation against Spain and after Aguinaldo most stupidly ordered his soldiers "not to interfere" and allow American forces to enter the native territory.
**15 AUGUST - Two days after the Mock Battle of Manila between Spanish and American forces, the imperialist Bald Eagle nation lay the civilian framework for the invasion of the Philippines by assigning military officers to duty to assume civil government in the City of Manila and the district of Cavite.
**18 AUGUST - The emerging power that is the United States proceeds with its imperialistic plan of invading the Philippines as Gen. Wesley Merritt is instructed to make the Filipinos recognize the military occupation and "authority" of the Bald Eagle nation.
****22 AUGUST- The fledgling Philippine Republic retreats, transferred by President Emilio Aguinaldo who issues a decree ordering his men to prepare in moving the capital and headquarters from Bacoor, Cavite, to Malolos Bulacan.
****29 AUGUST - Imperialist United States assigns Gen. Wesley Merritt as "military governor" of the Southeast Asian archipelago.
Other August Red-letters
There are a host of other significant historical events that occurred in August. The assassination of Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino II took place on August 21, 1986, a murder that will eventually lead to the toppling of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship. Then there was the 1987 coup staged by now-Senator Gregorio Honasan and other Reform the Armed Forces boys that rocked Cory Aquino administration. During World War II, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed on August 6 and 9, Japan promptly unconditionally surrendered, and on the 17th, President Jose P. Laurel dissolved the Second Philippine Republic established during the war. During the Philippine-American War, August was also the month the fourth de facto President of the Philippines, Macario Sakay, was convicted of banditry and sentenced to die by the colonial court. As well, during the Spanish colonial era, August 31, 1829 was the day the 85-year Dagohoy Rebellion was put to an end.
However, apart from the Battle of Pinaglabanan and preceding crucial events of the Philippine Revolution, nothing else will perhaps equal in terms of critical value the August 1898 events that spelled doom for Philippine freedom. Aguinaldo, for his ambition-driven stupidity before-the-imperialist Americans, seems most unforgettable at that juncture of our history.
National Historical Institute. "Today in History." http://www.nhi.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_today_in_history
"MR. BRYAN'S SPEECH OF ACCEPTANCE; Devotes Himself Exclusively to Issue of Imperialism. NOT ONE WORD FOR SILVER Pledges Himself, if Elected, to Call Extra Session of Congress to Give Filipinos Independence." New York Times. 9 August 1900. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9E06E4D9143DE433A2575AC0A96E9C946197D6CF
"12. William Jennings Bryan Speech, 8 August 1900." In Documents on Imperialism. http://www2.bc.edu/~weiler/imperialismdocs.htm
Sison, Jose Maria. Struggle for National Democracy.