He was the son of Spanish army officer. He studied at the University of Santo Tomas, after which he was enlisted in the Spanish army in 1860 to fight Moros in Mindanao. He retired after 33 years of service in the military.
He was inspired by the literary works of Jose Rizal and decided to join the Propaganda Movement. He advocated the teachings of the Katipunan. He joined the revolutionary movement and became one of the trusted generals of Emilio Aguinaldo.
He was named governor of the province of Manila in 1898. During the Philippine-American War in 1899, he fought in the battles of Polo and Calumpit in Bulacan. He became the Secretary of War after Gen. Antonio Luna was assasinated. In 1900, he surrendered to Gen. Arthur MacArthur in Nueva Ecija. When the province of Rizal was created in 1901, he became its first governor and held the position until 1904. He studied law, and became a member of the bar at the age of 62. Later he was appointed Justice of the Peace of Pasig, Rizal in 1911. On June 24, 1912, he died of a heart ailment.
- Quirino, Carlos. Who's who in Philippine History. Manila: Tahanan Books, 1995.