Emilio Aguinaldo

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Emilio Aguinaldo
Philippine president aguinaldo.jpg
1st President of the Philippines
President of the Tejeros Convention<ref>Elected by the Tejeros Convention and inaugurated on the same day.</ref>
President of the Biyak-na-Bato Republic<ref>Elected after the establishment of the Biyak-na-Bato Republic.</ref>
Dictator of the Dictatorial Government<ref>Philippine Legislature:100 Years, Cesar Pobre</ref>
President of the Revolutionary Government
President of the 1st Philippine Republic
In office
1898 - April 1, 1901
Born March 22, 1869
Cavite El Viejo (Kawit), Cavite
Died February 6, 1964
Quezon City, Metro Manila
Spouse (1) Hilaria del Rosario-died
(2) Maria Agoncillo

Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy (22 March 1869 – 6 February 1964) was a military leader and politician who is popularly considered to be the first president of the Philippines. He was one of the major figures in the history of the Philippines' fight for independence from Spanish colonization, and also played a part in the Philippine-American War.

Although its legitimacy had not been recognized by the rest of the world during its existence, Aguinaldo's government is presently held to be the first republic in Southeast Asia.


Early Life and Career

Emilio Aguinaldo was born on 22 March 1869 in Cavite Viejo (present-day Kawit), Cavite, to Carlos Aguinaldo and Trinidad Famy, a Chinese mestizo couple who had eight children, the seventh of which was Emilio. The Aguinaldo family was quite well-to-do, as Carlos Aguinaldo was the community's appointed gobernadorcillo (municipal governor). Their being Chinese-mestizo also meant that the family had the means to live a relatively comfortable lifestyle.

Aguinaldo was called ”Miniong” as a child. He was taught his letters by his great-aunt, and later went to the local elementary school. He attended high school at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, but had to stop in his third year because of his father's death. He then took up the responsibility of helping his mother run their farm.

Emilio became the cabeza de barangay of Binakayan, a chief barrio of Cavite del Viejo, when he was only 17 years old. He also spent his young years traveling the ship routes that linked one island of the archipelago to another, and was able to reach the far south islands of Sulu.

In 1895, a law that called for the reorganization of local governments was enacted. Subsequently, this changed the title of the town head from gobernadorcillo to capitan municipal. At the age of 26, Aguinaldo became Cavite Viejo's first capitan municipal.

Emilio Aguinaldo married Hilaria Del Rosario in 1896. Their children were Miguel, Carmen, Bonifacio Jr., Maria, and Cristina. After his wife's death in 1930, Aguinaldo married Maria Agoncillo.

Philippine Revolution

In 1895, Aguinaldo joined Andres Bonifacio's underground Katipunan movement. A few months after he had enlisted as a lieutenant, he was promoted to general.

In his time as a Katipunero, Aguinaldo led successful campaigns in Cavite. Because the Spanish military came back in stronger forces, the Katipunan could no longer continue to operate underground. They needed to gather their scattered forces as one cohesive unit and openly wage war on the Spanish military. The different groups of Katipuneros also had to unite under one leadership.

During the Tejeros Convention (held in Tejeros, Cavite), Andres Bonifacio moved to have the Katipunan movement succeeded by a new revolutionary government. Because he was in his own territory, Aguinaldo won leadership over Bonifacio, who became the government's Secretary of the Interior instead.

Bonifacio was angered by a comment from one of Aguinaldo's supporters, who allegedly said that Bonifacio was not even qualified to serve as the government's secretary because he lacked formal education. At this Bonifacio moved that the election be voided, and pushed for another election to take place in his own province, Rizal.

For this outburst, Bonifacio was charged with treason by a military panel and given the death sentence. He was then executed on 10 May 1897 in Maragondon, Cavite. During this time, Aguinaldo was in retreat from the Spanish forces.

President of the First Republic of the Philippines

Aguinaldo appointed two prime ministers, Apolinario Mabini and Pedro Paterno. He also had two cabinets in 1899. However, he saw that he needed to rule by decree because of the intensifying situation of the war.

The following are the officers who have served in Aguinaldo's republic. Officers from 21 January – 7 May 1899

  • Emilio Aguinaldo, President
  • Apolinario Mabini, Prime Minister
  • Mariano Trias, Minister of Finance
  • Teodoro Sandico, Minister of the Interior
  • Baldomero Aguinaldo, Minister of War
  • Gracio Gonzaga, Minister of Welfare
  • Apolinario Mabini, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Aguedo Velarde, Minister of Public Instruction
  • Maximo Paterno, Minister of Public Works and Communications

Officers from 7 May – 13 November 1899

  • Emilio Aguinaldo, President
  • Pedro Paterno, Prime Minister
  • Hugo Ilagan, Minister of Finance
  • Severino de las Alas, Minister of Interior
  • Mariano Trias, Minister of War
  • Felipe Buencamino, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Aguedo Velarde, Minister of Public Instruction
  • Maximo Paterno, Minister of Public Works and Communications
  • Leon Ma. Guerrero, Minister of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce

The American Period

By establishing the Asociacion de los Veteranos de la Revolucion (Association of Veterans of the Revolution), Aguinaldo managed to help those who served the revolutionary movement. Members of the association were entitled to receive pensions and buy land on installment from the government.

In 1919, Aguinaldo made his home in Kawit into a shrine of the revolution, the country's newly won independence, and the national flag.

Afterwards, Aguinaldo became politically inactive. It was only in 1935, when the Philippine Commonwealth was founded, that he entered the political scene again to run for president, but Manuel L. Quezon won instead. In 1941, Quezon declared Flag Day to be on the same date as the day Aguinaldo declared Philippine Independence (12 June).

During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, Aguinaldo cooperated with the Japanese government and took part in the Japanese war propaganda, even entreating in a radio broadcast that Gen. Douglas MacArthur surrender to the Japanese.

When the Americans liberated the Philippines from the Japanese, Aguinaldo was arrested for consorting with the nemy, and spent months in Bilibid prison until he was pardoned by the president.

Aguinaldo took part in the Independence Day parade of 1946, the year when the Americans turned over the Philippines to self-government.

The New Republic

Aguinaldo served as a member of the Council of State during President Elpidio Quirino's administration. Afterwards, he retired from the political arena and concerned himself with the needs and concerns of veteran soldiers.

The date for celebrating Philippine Independence was changed in 1962 from 4 July to 12 June. Diosdado Macapagal had the new date made official after the US refused to answer for the damage done by their military forces during the liberation. As Aguinaldo, then already 93 years old, held fast to the belief that 12 June was the true date of Philippine Independence, he went to attend the celebration.

After suffering a coronary thrombosis, Aguinaldo was brought to the Veterans Memorial Hospital in Quezon City where he died on 6 February 1964 at the age of 95. He was buried at his home in Kawit, Cavite.


Preceded by
Newly Established
Preceded by Governor General of the Philippines-Diego de los Ríos (Government in Iloilo)
President of the Philippines
Succeeded by
Governor General of the Philippines (American Occupation) U.S. Military Governor-General Wesley Merritt