Apolinario M. Mabini

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Apolinario Mabini was a legal and constitutional adviser to the Revolutionary Government. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/National Historical Commission)

Apolinario Mabini y Maranan (July 23, 1864—May 13, 1903), also known as the "Sublime Paralytic" and the "Brains of the Katipunan," was a Filipino theoretician who wrote the constitution for the First Philippine Republic of 1899-1901, and served as its first prime minister in 1899.

Early life

He was born in Talaga, Tanauan, Batangas of poor parents, Inocencio Mabini and Dionisia Maranan. In his youth, Mabini studied at a school conducted by a certain Simplicio Avelino. Much later, he transferred to a school conducted by the famous pedagogue, Father Valerio Malabanan (whom is mentioned in Rizal's Noli Me Tangere. He continued his studies at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, where he received his Bachelor of Arts and the title Professor of Latin, and at the University of Santo Tomas, where he received his law degree in 1894.

His mother wanted him to be a priest, but his dream to defend the poor led him to forsake this path. Early in 1896 he contracted an illness, probably infantile paralysis, that led to the paralysis of his lower limbs. When the revolution broke out the same year, the Spanish authorities, suspecting that he was somehow involved in the disturbance, arrested him; however, realizing that he could not move his lower limbs, they released him and sent him to the San Juan de Dios Hospital.


Mabini was a member of Rizal's La Liga Filipina and worked secretly for the introduction of reforms in the administration of government. In 1898, while vacationing in Los Baños, Laguna, Emilio Aguinaldo sent for him. It took hundreds of men taking turns carrying his hammock to portage Mabini to Kawit. Aguinaldo, upon seeing Mabini's physical condition, must have entertained second thoughts about calling for his help.

Mabini was most active in the revolution in 1898, when he served as the chief adviser for General Aguinaldo. He drafted decrees and crafted the first ever constitution in Asia for the First Philippine Republic, including the framework of the revolutionary government which was implemented in Malolos in 1899. He also headed the revolutionary congress and the cabinet.

Prime Minister

Apolinario Mabini was appointed prime minister and was also foreign minister of the newly independent dictatorial government of Emilio Aguinaldo on January 2, 1899. The government declared the First Philippine Republic in appropriate ceremonies on January 23. Mabini then led the first cabinet of the republic.

Mabini found himself in the center of the most critical period in the new country's history, grappling with problems until then unimagined. Most notable of these were his negotiations with Americans, which began on March 6, 1899. The United States and the new Philippine Republic were embroiled in extremely contentious and eventually violent confrontations. During the negotiations for peace, Americans proffered Mabini autonomy for Aguinaldo's new government, but the talks failed because Mabini’s conditions included a ceasefire, which was rejected. Mabini negotiated once again, seeking for an armistice instead, but the talks failed yet again. Eventually, feeling that the Americans were not negotiating 'bona fide,' he forswore the Americans, rallied the people, and supported war. He resigned from government on May 7, 1899.

Later life

Apolinario Mabini (left) and Andres Bonifacio (right) are depicted on the front of the 10-peso bill (phased out but still legal tender).

On December 10, 1899, he was captured by Americans, but was later set free. In January 1901, Governor-General Arthur MacArthur again apprehended Mabini for an article he had written in the newspaper El Liberal entitled “El Simil de Alejandro”. Gen. MacArthur explained, "Mabini, this is not a punishment; I simply have to segregate you for the time being, so that your usefulness as an adversary will be neutralized. You are too powerful a man here, unless you will submit to self-control and stop doing this." Along with Artemio Ricarte, Mariano Llanera, Pio del Pilar, and scores of other revolutionaries, Mabini was exiled to Guam. Due to failing health, Mabini submitted and returned home on February 26, 1903. As part of his agreement with the Americans, upon his entry he made an oath of allegiance to the United States in front of the collector of customs.

On May 13, 1903, just 3 months after his return, Mabini died in Pandacan, Manila from the great cholera outbreak.


In describing his cabinet, Mabini stated "...it belongs to no party, nor does it desire to form one; it stands for nothing save the interest of the fatherland."

In early 1902, a U.S. Senate committee held a number of hearings to investigate war crimes during the Philippine American War. Former military governor of the Philippines Gen. Arthur MacArthur was called to give his testimony: "Mabini is a highly educated young man who, unfortunately, is paralyzed. He has a classical education, a very flexible, imaginative mind, and Mabini's views were more comprehensive than any of the Filipinos that I have met. His idea was a dream of a Malay confederacy. Not the Luzon or the Philippine Archipelago, but I mean of that blood. He is a dreamy man, but a very firm character and of very high accomplishments. As I said, unfortunately, he is paralyzed. He is a young man, and would undoubtedly be of great use in the future of those islands if it were not for his affliction."

External links


  • Zaide, Gregorio F. (1984). Philippine History and Government. National Bookstore Printing Press.

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