One year before the historic Cry of Pugad Lawin, a revolution broke out in Cuba -another Spanish Colony that rose against the rampant abuses of the Spaniards. It became independent in 1898 after three years of revolt, with the help of United States. The Americans were supportive of the Cubans for various reasons:
▪ First- the US is a free country and Advocated democracy and freedom. ▪ 2nd- the US wants to protect its huge economic interest in Cuba, in the amount of $50,000,000. ▪ 3rd- a lot of stories reached the United States about Spanish maltreatment of Americans living in Cuba and this greatly angered the US citizens.
▪ Finally, since Cuba was located very near the US it was deemed covered by the protective mantle of the Monroe Doctrine.
US Interests in the Philippines
At that time, acting Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, wanted a war to erupt between the US and Spain so he could strengthen and expand the US Navy, he immediately put his plan into place. On February 25, 1896, he ordered Commodore George Dewey to make Hong Kong the headquarters of the American Asiatic Squadron. He also directed Dewey to attack Manila Bay and destroy the Spanish fleet, the moment hostilities between Spain and US break out.
Spain did not relish American intervention in its affairs. However, with the Philippine and Cuban revolutions going on, it could not afford to add the Americans to its enemy list, especially since the United States had more advanced technology and weaponry. In the face of Spain’s declining power, it tried to repair its rift with the US in order to avoid a disastrous war. On February 15, 1898, how ever a fateful event accrued in Cuba. The American warship Maine was blown up in Havana harbour, resulting in the death of its 260 officers and crewmembers. Although it was not proven that the Spaniards had sunk the Maine, the Americans called for war against Spain. Roosevelt was one of many US officials who considered the destruction of the Maine as act of treason and supported the declaration of war.
On April 25, 1898, the United Sates declared war against Spain, and only after short period, the war ended with the Treaty of Paris signed on December 10, 1898. The treaty conferred ownership of the Spanish colonies of Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines to the United States. In turn, the U.S. paid Spain US$ 20 million.
Battle of Manila Bay
George Dewey, then a Commodore United States Navy’s Asiatic Squadron was waiting in Hong Kong when He received a cable from the then secretary of Navy, Theodore Roosevelt, stating that the war had begun between the US and Spain. Dewey sailed from Hong Kong on board his flagship Olympia with six other heavily armed ships. He brought with him a report on the location of the Spanish ships in Corregidor and Manila at dawn of May 1, 1898. Dewey entered Manila Bay almost undetected. When he saw the Spanish ships, which were under the command of General Patricio Montoya, he ordered his men to fire.
The battle began at 5:41 in the morning and by 12:30 of the same day, the Spaniards were raising the white flag in surrender. Although The Spanish ships outnumbered those of the Americans; the weapons of the Americans were far more superior to those of the Spaniards. The battle proved to be too costly for the Spaniards, who lost 167 men and had 214 others wounded. As for the Americans, no ships were destroyed, and no soldier was killed or injured. The Battle of Manila Bay is considered one of the easiest encounters ever won in world history.
The Siege of Manila
By June 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo had captured the whole of Luzon and was ready to storm Manila with the help of Gregorio del Pilar, Artemio Recarte, Antonio Montenegro, Pantaleon Garcia, and many other able generals. At that time, the term “Manila” referred to the walled city of Intramuros. Aguinaldo’s men surrounded the walls of Intramuros. Nearby areas like Tondo, Sta. Cruz, San Juan, and Caloocan were likewise secured. The Spaniards stubbornly hoped for the arrival of reinforcements from the Spanish mainland, but none ever came. Aguinaldo on the other hand, was firmly convinced that it just was a matter of days before the Spaniards surrendered. Therefore, he started planning for the declaration of Philippine independence.
The Philippine Revolutionary Government
Emilio Aguinaldo issued a decree on July 18, 1898 asking for the election of delegates to the revolutionary congress, another decree was promulgated five days later, which declared that Aguinaldo would appoint representatives of congress because holding elections is not practical at that time. He appointed 50 delegates in all (but this number fluctuated from time to time). In accordance with these two decrees, Aguinaldo assembled the Revolutionary Congress at the Brasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan on September 15, 1898.
The atmosphere was festive and the Pasig Band played the national anthem. After Aguinaldo had read his speech congressional elections were held among the delegates present. The following were among the most important achievements of the Malolos Congress:
1. In September 29, 1898, ratified the declaration of Philippine independence held at Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898
2. Passage of a law that allowed the Philippines to borrow P 20 million from banks for government expenses
3. Establishment of the Universidad Literatura de Filipinas and other schools
4. Drafting of the Philippine Constitution
5. Declaring war against the United States
A committee headed by Felipe Calderon and aided by Cayetano Arellano, the constitution was drafted, for the first time by representatives of the Filipino people and it is the first republican constitution in Asia. The constitution was inspired by the constitutions of Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil, Belgium and France. After some minor revisions (mainly due to the objections of Apolinario Mabini), the final draft of the constitution was presented to Aguinaldo. This paved the way to launching the first Philippine Republic. It established a democratic, republication government with three branches - the Executive, Legislative and the Judicial branches. It called for the separation of church and state. The executive powers were to be exercise by the president of the republic with the help of his cabinet. Judicial powers were given to the Supreme Court and other lower courts to be created by law. The Chief justice of the Supreme Court was to be elected by the legislature with the concurrence of the President and his Cabinet.
First Philippine Republic
The first Philippine Republic was inaugurated in Malolos, Bulacan on January 21, 1899. After being proclaimed president, Emilio Aguinaldo took his oath of office. The constitution was read article by article and followed by a military parade. Apolinario Mabini was elected as a prime minister. The other cabinet secretaries were: Teodoro Sandico, interior; Baldomero Aguinaldo, war; Gen. Mariano Trias, finance & war; Apolinario Mabini, foreign affairs; Gracio Gonzaga for welfare, Aguedo Velarde, public instruction; Maximo Paterno, public works & communication; and Leon María Guerrero for agriculture, trade & commerce.
Philippine National Anthem
Aguinaldo commissioned Julian Felipe, a composer from Cavite province was asked to write an an instrumental march for the proclamation of independence ceremony. The original title was " Marcha Filipina Magdalo ". This was later changed to " Marcha Nacional Filipina ". The lyrics was added in August 1899 based on the poem titled " Filipinas " by Jose Palma. The original lyrics was written in Spanish, then to English (when the Flag Law was abolished during the American period) then later, was translated to Tagalog, which underwent another change of title to “ Lupang Hinirang ”, the Philippine National Anthem.
Emilio Aguinaldo agreed to hold a peace conference between Filipino and American leaders. The conference lasted from January 9 to 29 in 1899. It ended without definite results, because the Americans were actually just biding time, waiting for more reinforcements to arrive from the US. Hostilities finally exploded between the Filipinos and Americans on February 4, 1899 in San Juan. An American soldier named Robert Grayson, saw 4 armed Filipino men on San Juan Del Mote Bridge and ordered them to stop, but they ignored him. This prompted Grayson to fire at the men, who immediately fired back. The following day MacArthur ordered his troops to openly engage the Filipinos in battle. The Filipino American War was on. From San Juan, American soldiers marched on to Pasig and nearby areas. In a matter of days, they were able to overrun Guadalupe, Pateros, Marikina, and Caloocan.
General Antonio Luna and his men showed great heroism when they attacked Manila on the night of February 24, 1899. They burned the living quarters of the Americans in Tondo and Binondo, and reached as far as Azarraga Street (now Claro M. Recto Avenue), where they met by formidable American troops. Luna was forced to retreat to Polo, Bulacan two days later. When American reinforcements arrived in the Philippines, General Elwell Otis immediately attacked the northern part of Manila, while General Henry Lawton went to the south. General Douglas MacArthur marched to Malolos, which was then the capital of the Philippine Republic. Malolos was taken on March 31, 1899. By this time, however, Aguinaldo had already moved his headquarters to San Fernando, Pampanga. General Fredrick Funston crossed the Pampanga River in April 1899 and entered San Fernando. On May 5, the Americans had gained control of Pampanga. Fortunately, Aguinaldo was able to flee to San Isidro, Nueva Ecija.
Death of Antonio Luna
A significant event that greatly weakened Aguinaldo’s forces was the death of General Antonio Luna, acknowledged as the best and most brilliant military strategist of the Philippine Revolution. He was brave, intelligent, and well educated; but he also had a fiery temper, and was a strict disciplinarian. His harsh and rough manner earned him a lot of enemies, who latter plotted to kill him. In June 1899 Luna was at his command post in Bayambang, Pangasinan when he received a telegram allegedly sent by Aguinaldo. The telegram instructed him to proceed to Aguinaldo’s headquarters in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. Luna arrived in Cabanatuan on June 5; but Aguinaldo. The next day, General Luna was buried with full military honors; but his killers were never investigated.
Philippine military strategies began to fail with the death of Antonio Luna. The generals started to disagree among themselves, and the Filipinos began losing battles. On November 13, 1899, General Emilio Aguinaldo fled to Calasiao, Pangasinan with his wife, son, mother sister, and some Cabinet members. The Americans followed in hot pursuit; but Aguinaldo still managed to elude them. However, he soon realized that being constantly on the run put the women in his group at great disadvantage. So, on December 25, 1899, he surrendered them to the American Aguinaldo then continued his march from Pangasinan to Palanan, Isabela. There he stayed for some time, since the place was mountainous and difficult to approach. Aguinaldo’s loyal men guarded all roads leading to the area.
End of Philippine Revolution
Aguinaldo is Captured
Gen. Funston plotted the capture of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. On the night of March 6, 1901, He boarded the American warship Vicksburg and docked at Casiguran Bay on March 14. From Palanan Funston group reached Aguinaldo’s headquarters in Palanan on March 23, 1901. The Macabebe Scouts pretended to have been sent by Lacuna, with the American officials as their prisoners. Thus Aguinaldo have no idea of his impending capture until Tal Placido of the Macabebe Scouts embraced him. The American then declared the arrest of Aguinaldo and his men in the name of the United States government. Aguinaldo was brought to Manila and presented to General Douglas MacArthur at Malacanang Palace. On April 19, 1901 he finally pledged allegiance to the United States.
Philippine Revolution Ends
The first to yield to the Americans was by General Simion Ola. He surrendered to Colonel Harry Bandoltz in Guinobatan Albay on September 25.1903. Other revolutionaries soon followed.
General Wesley Merritt was the highest-ranking American official in the Philippines after Spaniards surrendered Manila on August 13, 1898. He established a military government and became the first American Military governor of the Philippines. The objectives of the Military government are: 1) to establish peace and order to the Philippines, and 2) to prepare Philippines for civil governance. The government in the Philippines can be classified into opposition and collaboration. The Americans used propaganda and other means to win the Filipinos to their side.
The first commission was chaired by Dr. Jacob G. Schurman, president of Cornell University. Thus it became known as the Schurman Commission. Their group arrived on the Philippines on February 4, 1899. The commission proposed the following:
1. Establish civil governments in areas were peace and order had been restored 2. Set up a bicameral legislature with members of the lower house to be all elective 3. Appoint American and Filipino member of the Upper house to head the cabinet 4. Preserve Philippine natural resources 5. Create a civil service system 6. Assign highly qualified Filipinos to important government positions
The US Congress adopted all the recommendation of the Schurman commission.
The Taft Commission
On March 16, 1900, United States President William McKinley appointed the then Judge William Howard Taft to head the second Philippine Commission, which would also be known as the Taft Commission. Taft would become Governor-General of the Philippines and later, the president of the U.S.
McKinley wanted to hasten the transition of the Philippine military government into a civil one. The Taft Commissions was given executive and legislative powers it could use to achieve the President’s objective.
The Commission arrives in the Philippines on June 3, 1900. It began legislative work on September 1, the first law it passed set aside P2 million for the construction of treads and bridges. From September 1900 to August 1902, the Commission was able to enact 440 pieces of legislation for the Philippines. Some of these laws included the Municipal and Provincial codes, which established municipal and provincial governments all over the country, and laws organizing the Philippine Constabulary and the countries judicial system. Aside from enacting laws the commissions also visited various provinces and help it in the government peace efforts.
The Spooner Ammendment
The modification sponsored by Senator John C. Spooner, allowed the US president to fully administer the Philippines. Thus, the military government of the Philippines was replaced with a civil one albeit temporary pending the legislation of permanent colonial government by the United States.
Civil Government under Taft
The Philippine civil government was inaugurated on July 4, 1901, with William Howard Taft as its first governor, the powers and duties of a governor were passed on to Taft. The Taft Commission continuing functioning as legislative body. Cayetano Arellano was the first Filipino to hold a high position of government he was named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on May 28, 1899. Gregorio Araneta was appointed as Secretary of Justice and finance. Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, Benito Legarda, and Jose Luzuriaga were selected as members of the Philippine Commissions.
The Philippine Commonwealth Era
The Commonwealth era is the 10 year transitional period in Philippine history from 1935 to 1945 in preparation for independence from the United States as provided for under the Philippine Independence Act or more popularly known as the Tydings-McDuffie Law. The Commonwealth era was interrupted when the Japanese occupied the Philippines in January 2, 1942. The Commonwealth government, lead by Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio S. Osmeña went into exile in the U.S., Quezon died of tuberculosis while in exile and Osmeña took over as president. At the same time, the Japanese forces installed a puppet government in Manila headed by Jose P. Laurel as president. This government is known as the Second Philippine Republic. On October 20, 1944, the Allied forces led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur landed on the island of Leyte to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese. Japan formally surrendered in September 2, 1945.
After liberation, the Commonwealth government was restored. Congress convened in its first regular session on July 9, 1945. It was the first time the people’s representatives have assembled since their election on November 11, 1941. Manuel Roxas was elected Senate President, and Elpidio Quirino was chosen President Pro Tempore. Jose Zulueta was speaker of the house, while Prospero Sanidad became speaker pro Tempore. The first law of this congress, enacted as commonwealth act 672, organized the central bank of the Philippines. The commonwealth deal also tackled the issue of collaboration. In September 1945 the counter intelligence corps presented the people who were accused of having collaborated with, or given aid to, the Japanese. Included were prominent Filipinos who had been active in the puppet government that the Japanese had been established. ”A Peoples Court" was created to investigate and decide on the issue.
Amidst this sad state of affairs, the third commonwealth elections were held on April 23, 1946. Sergio Osmeña and Manuel Roxas vied for the Presidency. Roxas won thus becoming the last president of the Philippine Commonwealth. The Commonwealth era formally ended when the United States granted independence to the Philippines, as scheduled on July 4, 1946.
Important legislations and events during the American period that made the Philippines a commonwealth of the United States
The Philippine Bill of 1902 - Cooper Act
The Philippine Assembly
The Jones Law
Creation of the Council of State
The Os-Rox Mission
The Tydings-McDuffie Law
The Philippine Bill of 1902 - Cooper Act
United States Congressman Henry Allen Cooper sponsored the Philippine Bill of 1902, also known as the Cooper Act. The bill proposed the creation and administration of a civil government in the Philippines. President Theodore Roosevelt signed it into law in July 2, 1902.
Here are some of the more important provisions of the Cooper Act:
▪ Ratification of all changes introduced in the Philippine government by the president of the U.S., such as the establishment of the Philippine Commission, the office of the civil governor and the Supreme court
▪ Extension of the American Bill of Rights to the Filipinos except the right of trial by jury
▪ Creation of bicameral legislative body, with the Philippine Commission as the upper house and a still-to-be-elected Philippine Assembly as the Lower House
▪ Retention of the executive powers of the civil governor, who was also president of the Philippine Commission
▪ Designation of the Philippine Commission as the legislating authority for non-Christian tribes
▪ Retention of the Judicial powers of the Supreme court and other lower courts
▪ Appointment of two Filipino resident commissioners who would represent the Philippines in the US Congress but would not enjoy voting rights
▪ Conservation of Philippine natural resources
The bill contained 3 provisions that had to be fulfilled first before the Philippine Assembly could be establishing these were the:
▪ Complete restoration of peace and order in the Philippines
▪ Accomplishment of a Nationwide census
▪ Two years of peace and order after the publication of the census
The Philippine Assembly
The assembly was inaugurated on October 16, 1907 at the Manila Grand Opera House, with US secretary of War William Howard Taft as guest of honor. Sergio Osmeña was elected Speaker while Manuel Quezon was elected Majority Floor leader. The Recognition of the Philippine Assembly paved the way for the establishment of the bicameral Philippine Legislature. The Assembly functioned as the lower House, while the Philippine Commission served as the upper house.
Benito Legarda and Pablo Ocampo were the first commissioners. Other Filipinos who occupied this position included Manuel Quezon, Jaime de Veyra, Teodoro Yangco, Isaro Gabaldon, and Camilo Osias.
The Jones Law
To further train the Filipinos in the art of government, the U.S. Congress enacted the Jones Law on August 29, 1916. It was the first official document that clearly promised the Philippine independence, as stated in its preamble, as soon as a stable government was established. The Jones Law or the Philippine Autonomy act, Replace the Philippine bill of 1902 as the framework of the Philippine government. It provide for the creation of the executive powers. The vice governor general, assisted by his Cabinet, would exercise executive powers. The vice governor would act concurrently as the Secretary of Education.
Creation of the Council of the State
Upon the recommendation of Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmeña, Governor General Francis Burton Harrison issued an executive order on October 16, 1981, creating the first Council of State in the Philippines. It was the Council’s duty to advise the governor general on matters such as the creation of policies for administering government offices.
The Council held meetings once a week and whenever the governor general called for one. It was composed of the governor general, the department secretaries, the speaker of the Lower House, and the Senate president. During Harrison’s term, the executive and legislative branches of government worked harmoniously with each other.
The Os-Rox Mission
One delegation, however, that met with partial success was the Os-Rox Mission, so called because it was headed by Sergio Osmeña and Manuel Roxas. The Os-Rox group went to the United States in 1931 and was able to influence the U.S. Congress to pass a pro-independence bill by Representative Butter Hare, Senator Henry Hawes, and Senator Bronso Cutting. The Hare-Hawes-Cutting Law provided for a 10-year transition period before the United States would recognize Philippine independence. U.S. President Herbert Hoover did not sign the bill; but both Houses of Congress ratified it. When the Os-Rox Mission presented the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Law to the Philippine Legislature, it was rejected by a the American High Commissioner representing the US president in the country and the Philippine Senate, specifically the provision that gave the U.S. president the right to maintain land and other properties reserved for military use. Manuel Quezon was tasked to head another independence mission to the united States.
The Tydings-McDuffie Law
In December 1933, Manuel L. Quezon returned to the Philippines from the United States with a slightly amended version of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting bill authored by Senator Milliard Tydings and representative McDuffie. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the new U.S. president, signed it into law on March 24, 1934. The Tydings-McDuffie Act (officially the Philippine Independence Act of the United States Congress; Public Law 73-127) or more popularly known as the The Tydings-McDuffie Law provided for the establishment of the Commonwealth government for a period of ten years preparatory to the granting of Independence.