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.
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?