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The Tragedy of Being an Aguinaldo

A person who claims to be a direct descendant of Emilio Aguinaldo (and who also happens to be a history professor) provides an alternative reading of the past — both on the deaths of Andres Bonifacio and Heneral Antonio Luna.

From: Aguinaldo Dissident Ryan

I watched HENERAL LUNA yesterday at SM Megamall with my 300+ students from two universities where I taught Philippine Politics and History.

Read: Heneral Luna (2015) Movie Review

As always, teaching history should present all perspectives and avoid any sort of bias. That’s the difficult part, because being a relative of the First President of the First Philippine Republic, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and being a political science and history professor at the same time creates a feeling of uneasiness as I need to present my lectures in a manner that gives justice to all parties.

History after all is written by victors. Seems true indeed, it’s unfair and really unjust that my great, great, great grand uncle has never received any fair nor just treatment in our country’s history. With his name always being dragged over the deaths of Supremo Andres Bonifacio and the brilliant General Antonio Luna, the generations of Filipinos who were educated under the colonial influences from the start of American occupation up to the present would time and again need to find fault and point a finger to “Lolo Miong”.

After watching the movie, I just felt like my great ancestor that I’m obliged to give major explaining for the crimes that is being accused of him. Worst is to take in the “harsh curses and insults” from my students as if they have seen the El Presidente in me while watching it with them.

Very often our surname came synonymous with murder, butchery, opportunism, deception and treason. It was always vilified as if every member of our clan has to bear the curse and answer for such .

It’s hard to find answers in history books nowadays, especially if the authors are already blinded by their personal views, ideologies and interests rather than handling the events on how it really happened and explaining the circumstances and motives behind such events. Our historians loved trivializing past events like an entertaining telenovela. That their historical insights and “obra maestras” need sell like pancakes. Some historians are forgetting that what we really need to know is the real human drama behind such events. That our founding fathers and our heroes are plain and equal human beings that do commit shortcomings and shouldn’t be pitted against one another.

Most of my students learned of Aguinaldo’s “contra-bida” character on how he was presented in their elementary and high school history classes. I’m pretty sure such hatred of him will be further reinforced if they end up in a college history class wherein Aguinaldo again will be maligned.

Film viewing like this helps students identify vividly the traits and values of our heroes. But just like history books, if the films are not properly researched, bigotry will once again prevail and fault finding will be the main theme in our history. I admit, the El Presidente movie still lacks in terms of providing historical sense. But I think it’s the only film of its kind that attempts to place Aguinaldo in his rightful place. Both Bonifacio movies starred by Alfred Vargas and Robin Padilla tainted much blood on Aguinaldo’s hands just like how Luna’s death reinforced the idea of his culpability.

As I’m being hounded by my students around me for answers if ever those issues were true. The history teacher in me came out.

Bonifacio died during Aguinaldo’s presidency, it’s an irony that he was shot by fellow Filipinos, ordered executed by Revolutionary Government’s Consejo de Guerra and not ordered solely by Aguinaldo. Aguinaldo would have wanted the Bonifacio brothers be marooned in Pico De Loro, but the military leadership comprised of the generals already consider Bonifacio as a threat to the revolution as he may divide the Filipino revolutionaries instead of uniting them.
The military buff in me considers this as a pragmatic approach, we are in a war of independence from Spain, if our revolutionary leadership is not united and factions arose, the revolution could have been quashed by the Spaniards and easily ended. Strong political leadership must take precedence over divisiveness.

The political scientist in me suggest that, if Aguinaldo indeed should be responsible for the death of Bonifacio, he could have been assassinated, killed and executed as well by the generals who were formerly connected and loyal to Bonifacio, the Filipinos too could have withdrawn their support by not recognizing the Revolutionary Gov’t led by him if they consider Aguinaldo totally responsible for the Supremo’s death. But until the very last days of our First Republic up to his capture in Palanan, Isabela in 1901, the Filipinos are still supporting the struggle against foreign domination led by our first president. Is it vindication or affirmation of support?

About Luna’s demise:

The history teacher in me, explains that Luna is Aguinaldo’s best general. For me no doubt he’s the most capable and brilliant general. No wonder Lolo Miong would appoint him as his head of the Philippine Army. His temper made him a lot of enemies. The same goes with his principles.

The political scientist in me once again considers Luna as the best successor to Lolo Miong, he’s a military genius although never won a single battle, but he’s also a military general who lacks the skill of a politician who never compromises. This is how Aguinaldo surpasses Luna, who has the astuteness of balancing the motives, politics and support of his cabinet and military officials. No wonder both Aguinaldo and Luna needed one another, Aguinaldo needs Luna to win the war against the Americans while Luna needs the support of his president to get those people whom he had quarrels with to support his military plans. Aguinaldo knows that Luna is no threat to him as Luna knows that Aguinaldo always backs him no matter what. That’s a political solution.

The military buff in me thinks that the death of Luna could be solved by following the “lead” that brought Luna to his death in Cabanatuan. And this was the mysterious telegram he received. Many historians are now looking at this perspective asking “who sent the god damned telegram?” Yes, the telegram that Aguinaldo doesn’t remember sending one to Luna nor even know whether such telegram really do exist.

War tactics often use deception measures to sow confusion and miscommunication along the ranks of enemies. Since our military forces under Luna doesn’t have an efficient counter intelligence and fool-proof communications unlike the US Army. It is prone to fake telegrams bearing forged signatures and seals. Not to mention how the US Army co-opted and infiltrated the First Republic with collaborators in all offices, all in the promise of autonomy, posts in the American colonial government and assured business interests once the US take control of our country’s trade and economic resources.

Luna being killed by Aguinaldo’s escolta or escorts (Kawit Battalion – Presidential Guards) could be attributed to the massive misinformation campaign launched by the Americans against Aguinaldo’s First Republic. If you want Aguinaldo’s head, the most important part of the plan is to remove Luna and his great generals like Gregorio Del Pilar surgically out of the equation. Without able generals protecting Aguinaldo, the President would be an easy target then.

Luna was hacked to death by Filipino soldiers whom he personally trained and later disarmed and insulted for insubordination. This group of soldiers only gets their orders from Aguinaldo.The officers and soldiers of the Kawit Battalion could have gotten one of those forged telegram from the enemies ordering the arrest of Luna that led to his death. Thinking that these telegrams are real indeed, The Presidential guards and other units could have followed thinking it was President Aguinaldo ordering them so. Since the Escoltas are strictly trained that any serious threat to the President must be dealt accordingly, Luna’s demeanor could have agitated the Aguinaldo’s personal bodyguards to defend their President, adding bad blood between these Kawit soldiers and Luna, surely bloodbath is inevitable.

Although according to some historians, the Kawit Battalion was relieved as the President’s bodyguards after Luna’s death but no court investigation was done to give justice to Luna. That’s why many including me are upset.

On the other hand, the Americans surely celebrated Luna’s death because one important chess piece has been eliminated. The rest of the chess game of course favored the Americans but it was a protracted game that in the end, took its toll in the US Economy leading to its Depression in the 1930s.

The political pundit in me considers, for Aguinaldo haters, his words regarding Luna’s death that if he really wanted to kill Luna, he could have done it by ordering any soldier to shoot Luna at his back while he’s at the middle of a battle are irrelevant. But they should also consider the very motives of other heroes like Apolinario Mabini who was very supportive and in all praises with Aguinaldo only to malign his former boss during his exile in Guam by the Americans. It was he and his jailmate, Artemio Ricarte whose poisoned words became the historical basis for Aguinaldo’s alleged guilt over Bonifacio and Luna’s deaths.

The anti American colonialist in in me infers, if the US wants to successfully remove all the threat to their absolute domination of our country, our people with our minds and souls, it must not only sow terror, but spread divisiveness. It must rape not only our women but even our culture and our mentality. It should co-opt our leaders and give us selective myths about our heroes and let their own supporters quarrel over their relevance in our history. Not realizing that all of them are great and all of them are indeed relevant.

The Filipino in me, stresses that Filipino leaders are great if not for their petty quarrels, our consistent record of disunity has always been used against us by foreign colonizers. This weakness which cost us greatly our freedom and our identity during the wars against Spain and the US have devoured its children and shook the foundations of our nationhood that up to now greatly reflects the sense and type of leadership we have in our current government.

The Aguinaldo in me, says, the man who was responsible for our national anthem, our tricolor flag, the First Asian and Philippine Republic, the first country to humiliate American domination and the main man who never spoke of defending himself in public about the allegations thrown against him as not to divide the country he helped liberate is only and still human after all.

Emilio Aguinaldo will never match the popularity that of Rizal, Bonifacio and now, Luna, until the main feature of our country’s history subject courses will fall under the themes of unity rather than digging up divisiveness, of promoting Filipino valor and glory instead flaring fault-finding, of highlighting our victory against colonizers over embracing colonial mentality as part of our national destiny.

I’m not only a proud Aguinaldo but will always be a proud Filipino not only in times of triumph but even in challenging times when our country seems to lose hope in itself or have been lost in its path to greatness.

Through our great history, we’ll be greater than ourselves.

Friends who have read this and watched the movie, thoughts on this post?


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Mark Anthony Llego

Mark Anthony Llego, from the Philippines, has significantly influenced the teaching profession by enabling thousands of teachers nationwide to access essential information and exchange ideas. His contributions have enhanced their instructional and supervisory abilities. Moreover, his articles on teaching have reached international audiences and have been featured on highly regarded educational websites in the United States.

12 thoughts on “The Tragedy of Being an Aguinaldo”

  1. Without a doubt the author was a descendant of Emilio Aguinaldo. To him, he and the reputation of his family comes first before the Filipino nation… Justifying killings and passing blame to others when he claims to be the first President of the Republic. What a shame… How can we grow as a nation if we do not accept and learn from the wrongs of the past?

  2. Mark, what had Aguinaldo got to do with America’s Great Depression in the 1930’s? Please think clearly before you write.

  3. The forces of Katipunan in Cavite under Aguinaldo was the only group that was making success and holding ground. Cavite was purged of Spanish forces and Spanish priests for 11 months despite Kawit being only 15 km from Intrmuros, the Military GHQ of the Spanish forces. This is why Manila assumed Aguinaldo was the Supremo. Spain shipped hundreds of Marines to Manila and took a major Retaking of Cavite called “la Cambre” offensive as recorded in Spain. With the removal of Spanish priests came the Aglipayans, hence why Aglipayans membership is much higher in Cavite than in Fr Aglipays hometown in Ilocos. The Cavite forces is the only recorded success in the history of Katipunan. Aguinaldo’s success is proven by facts and Spanish records but this is the history that continuous to be untold in Schools that leads people to misunderstand how and why the Katipuneros who lost battle after battle in Manila voted for Aguinaldo in the Election for the Republic of the Philippines in Teheros.

    People need to be critical and check the sources. History is written by the victors, all the comments has been based on American version of history. We need the true Filipino version to come to light.

  4. Modern forensics and criminology who studied the indisputable details of Lunas death conclude that the evidences support the manslaughter and not premedititated ( does not support that Luna was killed by Aguinaldo) and is more consistent with confession by the officer in the Philippine Press (who claimed he panicked and his men reacted) and is not consistent to pre meditated assasination. Key evidences 1) Some Kawit soldiers left behind was because the mother of the president was still in the convent and did not leave with Aguinaldo, 2) leaving behind his mother to a crime scene would not be a consistent behavior to pre meditation 3) Luna always never left his forces, any murder attempt would have planned a much larger force than the small Kawit contingent left in the convent, Luna was clearly more easier to kill in a battelfield 4) it was only Lunas decision to leave his forces that made him vulnerable to an attack.

    Bonifacio was given due process, tried by a legitimate judiciary court and treason evidence document “acta de naic” and “acta de tejeros” and eye witness of Bonifacio burning the town of Indang all because they could not give them enough supplies due to poor harvest. As any executive President of the republic in the last 72 years, the Judiciary court hands them a decision letter to be signed and for the courts decision to be executed. Aguinaldos similarly followed the rule of law and signed courts decision. He himself pleaded to commute the sentence from death to exile but failed. There is now documentary evidence to suppprt this history. If Aguinaldo is guilty because he signed and executed the Judiciary court decision then every President of the republic is guilty? Aguinaldos role in Bonifacios execution is clearly an action to follow the rule of law and nothing else. Meanwhile Bonifacio has these two “acta” documents in museum, documentary evidences of treason to the republic and the Filipino people.

  5. Heck, you dont need to be an expert to compare the handwriting is not even the same,
    Modern forensics and criminology who studied the indisputable details of Lunas death conclude that the evidences support the manslaughter and not premedititated ( does not support that Luna was killed by Aguinaldo) and is more consistent with confession by the officer in the Philippine Press (who claimed he panicked and his men reacted) and is not consistent to pre meditated assasination. Key evidences 1) Some Kawit soldiers left behind was because the mother of the president was still in the convent and did not leave with Aguinaldo, 2) leaving behind his mother to a crime scene would not be a consistent behavior to pre meditation 3) Luna always never left his forces, any murder attempt would have planned a much larger force than the small Kawit contingent left in the convent, Luna was clearly more easier to kill in a battelfield 4) it was only Lunas decision to leave his forces that made him vulnerable to an attack.

  6. What would you feel if you are as patriotic as Aguinaldo. Who was betrayed by the Americans, instead of recognizing and legitimizing our blood won freedom, took the Philippines for themselves. The Population census went from 10million down to 7Million in first 3 yrs of american occupation, that is 30% of Filipinos slaughtered. A country you led to fight for its independence. Wouldnt you side with the first asian country who busts the Americans.

  7. U.S had lots of experts in faking telegrams and coded messages, you dolt. Read history and not the quack movies.

    The reason why Aguinaldo was captured was because the one who led the capture operation was General Funston, a great cryptograph who was able to fool the Revolutionaries by making false telegrams with signatories of Aguinaldo. Funston was able to get hold of a telegram copy from a deserter of Revolution who happened to be one of the horseback command dispatchers of Aguinaldo, he was named Segismundo.

    It’s fitting label to say “Punyeta” to Filipinos like you who had all the audacity to make claims, all the while having littlw knowledge.

  8. pweh! aguinaldo apologist!

    kaya nga nakapagsalita na ng tinatago nila sina mabini at ricarte dahil malayo na sila sa kinakatakutan nilang si aguinaldo.

    kung walang kinalaman si aguinaldo sa pagpapatay kay bonifacio at luna, dapat pinadakip at pinakulong niya ang lahat ng responsable sa krimen.walang nangyaring ganun! duhhhhhhhh!

    • One has to read primary sources to definitely conclude that Aguinaldo is indeed a culprit.

      Even Ambeth Ocampo’s opus Two Lunas and Two Mabinis explains the circumstances of why Mabini, at first being a pro-Aguinaldo turned a sour grape after his capture by the Americans. Such angst against Aguinaldo further deepened when he became prison mate of Artemio Ricarte.

      But one has to analyze why did these two are totally against Aguinaldo. Hopefully you have even bothered reading their respective memoirs and other primary sources before you start theorizing like what you did above.

      Artemio Ricarte has long been pro-Bonifacio even before the Tejeros Convention which catapulted Emilio to the presidency. But perhaps you also didn’t know that this man was also the chameleon behind why a great number of Magdalo Katipuneros under Aguinaldo perished in Pasong Santol, Dasmarinas because he ordered and prevented sending Katipunan reinforcements to the area after he connived with Andres Bonifacio who was the sore loser in Tejeros.

      Mabini got his story from a poison source. And since the sourgraping Mabini had Ricarte as his friend, the layer of innuendos against Aguinaldo piled up.

      Why did Mabini turn against the man whom he totally admired and termed as the only one who has capability of uniting Filipinos and later on deliver hostile words against his president? The answer is simple, it’s mere greed, frustration and lust for power. Aguinaldo gave his resignation letter as president but his cabinet led by his Prime Minister (Mabini) didn’t want the young president to resign for Miong is the only one capable of leading and being trusted by the Filipinos. Mabini and Aguinaldo’s cabinet are more powerful than Aguinaldo. All policies must be consented and be approved by them. Aguinaldo intends to resign since he’s more of military leader than a political one. But Mabini sees the importance of Gen.Aguinaldo in his own political survival as the head of the cabinet in which he is embattled with. Mabini is conflict with Autonomistas Paterno, Buencamino and Legarda and Militaristas headed by Luna.

      The problem is we only see Aguinaldo as the culprit without even realizing that all of our heroes have their respective flaws and even conspired against their President whom they installed and wanted to stay in power for their own benefit.

      Mabini and Ricarte were totally frustrated that they were not able to use Aguinaldo for their own respective political and personal interests.

      Now regarding Bonifacio death. I hope you have read Santiago Alvarez memoir and Mga Tala ng Himagsikan by Ronquillo. Here you would see different perspectives about what happened. Why would you really on Mabini and Ricarte who were not even there during the arrest, trial and execution of Bonifacio.

      It was the Council of War as I’ve said that issued the order of execution of Bonifacio. Two former Naic Agreement signatories were even part of that council – Mariano Noriel and Pio Del Pilar. The reason for the execution can be traced by during the Tejeros Convention when Bonifacio walked out of the convention after a suggestion was made by a Magdalo delegate to replace him as the Secretary of Interior which irked the Supremo and walked his way out.

      But this narrative is incomplete, history books didn’t even mentioned that this convention was not only participated by 2 Katipunan Sanggunians – the Magdalo and Magdiwangs, were often led to narrative that the two were totally at odds at one another. The more precise narrative in primary sources indicates that there are other Katipunan Councils from aside from the two Cavite Councils, there are those from Manila, Bulacan, Batangas, Laguna and Pantayamin areas. Meaning to say when Bonifacio walked out of the convention, majority of the delegations who were formerly aligned with the Supremo chose to create the unity government to be led by Magdalo-Magdiwang factions.

      Thinking that he was isolated, alienated and removed from his position he decided to create his own clique in Naic and stage a coup against the newly installed Revolutionary Government which elected Aguinaldo. The result was the ransacking of small barios and Indang town which totally pulled the last straw on the Revolutionary Government. Bonifacio was arrested, captured and ordered executed by the Council of War . Aguinaldo reversed the collective decision but was pressured by Pio Del Pilar and Noriel who were former part of the Naic officers who plan to stage a coup against Aguinaldo with Bonifacio not to overturn the earlier decision of the council because it would destroy the revolution. The Council views Bonifacio as a counter revolutionary and a traitor. Aguinaldo has no other recourse but to heed to the council’s demand.

      As you can see you can’t even invoke the principle of Chain of Command since our Revolutionary military forces are not yet under a single military command. Our political leaders may have its set of officers but they don’t have a single command for their military units. Even the concept of chain of command hasn’t existed in that period and only came out after the First World War. I do hope that before you deliver your emotional rants, you should have presented a thorough source for such otherwise your claims remain baseless.

      By the way, if Aguinaldo was indeed the man behind the murder of Luna, then why did any of his enemies and even the families of his victims never turn back on him after his capture and during the American period when all of his opponents were more politically embedded and established compared to him? The Lunas never thought of him as the mastermind of the their kin’s death.

      Quezon’s political ambition in 1930s started all the hate against him in order to win the presidency in 1935. Do you even think the Americans would also allow him to win the 1935 elections? After more than 3 years of hard fought battles against the Filipinos, Americans fear that another Aguinaldo term would just be a repeat of 1898-1901 military fiasco.

      Let’s glorify the exploits of our heroes and not taint their contributions to the country.

      • During World War II, Aguinaldo quickly cemented his reputation as the ‘first Filipino Quisling’ (traitor) after he called on General Douglas MacArthur (whose father he once fought) to surrender.

        For the duration of the Japanese occupation, Aguinaldo made public appearances and speeches on behalf of the enemy. In fairness to him, he later claimed that he only collaborated with the Japanese because he didn’t want his countrymen, especially the youth, to suffer or die needlessly.

      • What can you say about the discovery of the telegram letter sent to Luna and signed by Aguinaldo himself? Are you still willing to protect your so called “hero”? Puñeta.


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