December 15, 2012
Aguinaldo - de Rivera ink peace deal

Manila, Philippines (December 14, 1897) - And peace has been restored at last. Filipino revolutionary leader Emilio Aguinaldo signed a peace agreement with Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera on Friday at Biak-na-Bato, San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan.

Under the agreement, the Filipino revolutionaries will lay down their arms upon the issuance of an order from Aguinaldo. The leaders of the revolution will also submit themselves to exile, with Hongkong having been chosen by their leader as the desired destination.

In exchange, the Spanish colonial authorities will offer to pay Aguinaldo 400,000 Mexican pesos upon his departure from Biak-na-Bato; another 200,000 Mexican pesos will be paid if the number of weapons surrendered by the revolutionaries will reach 800; and additional 200,000 Mexican pesos more if the number of weapons surrendered will reach 1,000 - in which case the Te Deum mass will be celebrated in the Manila Cathedral as a celebration of the restoration of peace.

Sources from among the revolutionaries said Aguinaldo and his party also recommended the expulsion of all religious corporations from the Philippines and an autonomous government be established in the islands.

The governor-general however was quick to advise that including the recommendation against the clerics in the agreement would result to putting the colonial government in a difficult position.

As a result of the loss in lives and property brought about the conflict between the Spanish forces and the Filipino revolutionaries, the Spanish colonial government, represented by the governor-general, will pay an additional 900,000 Mexican pesos to the civilian population.

All in all, the Spanish colonial administration is expected to pay the Filipino revolutionaries 1,700,000 Mexican pesos in these three installments.

Aguinaldo is expected to issue the orders of pacification by December 16 - the first step on the long road to peace.

With reports from OD Corpuz, TA Agoncillo

March 22, 2012
The Continuing Cavite Offensive

Dasmariñas, Cavite, Philippines  – (March 21, 1897) The Cavite offensive is far from over. Since launching the campaign to drive and crush Filipino revolutionaries under General Emilio Aguinaldo last February 15, Spanish forces under Major General Jose Lachambre have seen town after town, falling back to the Crown.

Starting the offensive at Pamplona, Cavite and Bayungyungan, Batangas, Lachambre’s fine men would later march deep into the heart of Aguinaldo’s home province. On February 19, Silang fell to the Spanish juggernaut despite attempts by Filipino forces to defend and then later, recover it. Nine days later, Spanish forces marched into Dasmariñas to reclaim the town. The week after, Spanish troops were on the attack again as they moved towards the Aguinaldo’s capital, Imus.

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Spanish soldiers in Silang, Cavite. (Photo by Arnaldo Dumindin)

The Filipino forces on the other hand have incurred serious losses from the onset. Several of the leading revolutionaries have paid the ultimate price for their beliefs. Among those who perished in the battlefields are General Edilberto Evangelista – whose trench works and fortifications have won the praise of even the Spanish brass; Mariano Yenko, Esteban Montoya and Pio de Rodas.

Sources within the Filipino forces have informed the Diario that while Aguinaldo is waging a desperate defensive movement against the Spanish forces, he is also trying to manage the rift that has been developing between two factions of the revolutionaries.

Since late last year, Filipino revolutionary forces have been split into two groups: Magdiwang and Magdalo, with erstwhile Katipunan Supremo Andres Bonifacio being the spiritual leader of the Magdiwang faction; while rising revolutionary leader Emilio Aguinaldo leading the Magdalo group. Bonifacio and the remnants of his Katipunan had earlier moved into Cavite after giving up on the revolution in Manila. He had incurred a series of defeats, causing him to abandon the struggle in the capital.

Exploiting the gap among the revolutionaries, a source within Polavieja’s camp tipped off the Diario that the Governor General plans to issue an amnesty proclamation and offer to the Filipinos in the coming days. This is the second time Polavieja had offered the olive branch to the revolutionaries. The first one was declared in the days prior to the launch of the Cavite offensive.

The rift among the Filipino leaders and the amnesty offer may have serious consequences on the revolution. It remains to be seen however how the revolutionaries will react. But considering the seemingly unstoppable military campaign in Aguinaldo’s home province and the widening gap among Filipino forces, a truce with Spain might be viewed by some as a much needed breather from the smoke and din of the battlefield. 

With reports from Onofre D. Corpuz

February 16, 2012
Spanish troops take towns in Cavite and Batangas

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Spanish battery pounds Filipino positions in Cavite Province (Photo by Arnaldo Dumindin)

Cavite, Philippines - (February 15, 1897) Governor-General Camilo de Polavieja has opened up his offensive against the revolutionary army of Emilio Aguinaldo in Cavite with an assault on the rebel leader’s province. This comes after months of preparation and after an amnesty offer made by the the Polavieja administration.

The offensive began with an attack by units under Polavieja’s deputy, Major General Jose Lachambre. With a force of four battalions amounting to more than 10,000 well-armed and prepared men scattered in provinces surrounding Cavite, Lachambre opened up the attack as soon as Polavieja gave him the order.

A special reconnaissance brigade under General Francisco Galbis’ command moved into Cavite from the northeast, defeating the rebel troops at Pamplona earlier today. General Nicolas Jaramillo also launched an attack on the rebel positions at Bayuyungan, Batangas. The rebels are holding out for now but the Spanish forces are confident that the inevitable would be sooner than what the Filipino rebels would like to believe. 

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Spanish troops skirmishing with Filipino rebels (Photo by Arnaldo Dumindin)

While the Jaramillo and Galbis brigades are attacking Cavite from the north and east, Lachambre is leading another force moving from the southeast portion of the province. Sources who prefer to remain anonymous said that the multi-pronged attack will converge on Silang.

North of Manila, Polavieja has also ordered the assault on revolutionary forces in Bulacan and Morong provinces, holding down the flanks while his main force drives into the heartland of the revolution - Cavite.

With the offensive in full swing and Spanish troops quickly racing into Aguinaldo’s home province, it remains to be seen how Filipino forces will cope with the overwhelming force. So far, the revolutionaries are hunkered down in the impressive trench works built under the excellent supervision of General Edilberto Evangelista. But with Spanish cannons pounding and troops assaulting, the Filipino revolution might be up for a very difficult turn of events. 

With reports from Onofre Corpuz, Frederic Sawyer, Reynaldo Ileto and Felice Noelle Rodriguez

January 23, 2012
Exclusive: Chinaman behind Aguinaldo’s big guns

Cavite, Philippines - The rebellion is very much alive in Cavite. As Governor General Camilo de Polavieja prepares his offensive against the native rebels, Emilio Aguinaldo of Kawit has solidified his defense of the ground he has gained in his home province.

Since September last year, Aguinaldo has been busy mobilizing every able-bodied man, woman and child to collect spent cases from rifles and pistols after every skirmish his armed group has had with the Spanish authorities. They have also been instructed to collect unexploded ordnance from the Spanish gunboats and canons.

The rebels, who now consider themselves as revolutionaries fighting for independence from Spain, bring all these materials to an old friar hacienda in Imus, where they would be used again as artillery shells and bullets. In the same hacienda can also be found Aguinaldo’s chief of artillery, a Chinaman by the name of Hou A-p’ao or Jose Ygnacio Paua.

A native of the Fukien province in China, Paua came to the Philippines in July 1872. He worked as an blacksmith’s apprentice to another Chinaman in Tondo. At the outbreak of hostilities last year, Paua joined the revolution in Cavite.

Paua was appointed lieutenant by Aguinaldo after he was able to convince several Chinamen to join the revolutionaries. He fought with Aguinaldo’s army at Binakayan last November, where for his actions he was promoted captain. He was taken off the frontlines last December to supervise Aguinaldo’s arsenal at Imus.

Under the Chinaman’s direction, Aguinaldo’s army is now able to produce its own falconets, bronze cannons and miniature cannons called lantakas. They are manufactured from melted church bells of towns seized by the revolutionary army. 

Aside from the magazine and artillery works which Paua manages, the revolutionaries have also established a facility for repairing rifles and pistols. This is managed by Col. Eduardo Legazpi. They have also established a saltpeter storage facility and gunpowder manufacturing facility.

With the ability of the Filipino revolutionaries to cast their owns cannons, manufacture their own ordnance and repair their weapons, it would seem that Polavieja’s offensive will be up for some challenge once it is launched by the Governor General unto Cavite.

With reports from OD Corpuz. 

January 17, 2012
[Analysis] Revolution in Precarious Position

Jan 17, 1897. 2:20PM

Manila, Philippines - While the Philippine Revolution, which began in earnest on August 30, 1896 when hostilities broke out between the Manila-based faction of the separatist group “Katipunan” and Spanish forces under the command of Governor-General Ramon Blanco, has been successful up to now, the long term sustainability of their struggle for freedom is in question. There are a host of issues, both internal and external, that may well spell doom for the nascent Revolution.

Chief among them are the reports emanating from Cavite of a split between the Magdalo and Magdiwang factions of the Katipunan. Any factionalism or contention within the ranks weakens their ability to repel a concerted Spanish attack. And up to this point they have not truly felt a coordinated and earnest Spanish offensive. Most of the victories, while notable, have been of the variety of minor skirmishes. The Revolution does not have the military might to remain split.

The source of the split appears to be two-fold. First, there is dissension between the two factions concerning the future of the Revolution. Over the last few days of 1896 there was a series of meetings in Imus, Cavite to map out the future of the Katipunan. Simplistically put, the Magdalo group believes that the Revolution has outgrown the Katipunan and a new organizational structure should be put in place. While the Magdiwang, with new leader Andres Bonifacio in the fold, seems to feel that the Katipunan is the Revolution, and thus operates as the de facto leadership organization. The Magdiwang was willing to hold elections as long as the post of leader of the Revolution was reserved solely for Andres Bonifacio. This was rejected by the Magdalo group.

The growing ideological split between the factions is best represented by the statements of Magdalo member Edilberto Evangelista during the Imus meetings: "…the revolution was a Filipino revolution, the fruit of the love of the Motherland in the hearts of all Filipinos, not only those who were Katipuneros." It was must be said that, according to Diaro’s sources, Evangelista was never a member of the Katipunan, but joined the Revolution after it had begun. This is a situation mirrored by many defectors from Spanish ranks and recent revolutionaries. This growing discontentment between new revolutionaries and the Magdalo on one side and the Magdiwang on the other is divisive and weakening element. As well, some analysts believe the long-standing issue of regionalism may also be coming into play. With the Caviteno iteration of the Revolution being more successful than the Manila-based version.

Second, there seems to be an issue of leadership at play. In the days after the August 30 Katipunan defeat Andres Bonifacio ended up on the run. He surfaced only a few times, only to decisively lose battles to Spanish troops. Sources say that Bonifacio was invited into Cavite, which is a pre-requisite based on the devolved nature of the Katipunan, multiple times, each time declining. However, he eventually accepted the invitation stating that he would leave the province soon after. It appears though that Bonifacio has decided to settle permanently in Cavite, the current center of the Revolution, and take the reigns of the Magdiwang faction. This is causing some consternation on the part of the Magdalo.

While this internecine strife is brewing, the Spanish authorities are regaining their military footing. A leading reason behind the ouster of Ramon Blanco as governor-general was his perceived lack of military acumen in the face of his resounding losses to “uncivilized savages” (as one Madrid government official called Filipinos). Camilo Polavieja, who is known for his brutal yet effective methods in Cuba, took charge on December 13, 1896. In the intervening time he has reworked the military plans of the Spanish, taken stock of the Philippine Revolution, and been reinforced by almost 25,000 Spanish regulars from abroad. Polavieja, with this type of force at his disposal, is something new. 

The seeds of that offensive have already been sowed. Polavieja has begun deploying his forces throughout the surrounding areas and has issued a general amnesty to revolutionaries. All indicate that he will begin his offensive soon. In fact, there are already reports that Polavieja is starting to stamp out pockets of revolutionary resistance in outlying areas. It is a divide and conquer tactic whereby he will isolate Cavite and attack it last.

The new face of the Spanish military and the internal strife of the Katipunan may very well be insurmountable problems for the Philippine Revolution. A fractured Revolution will not be able to counteract a coordinated and precise Spanish offensive. That is the situation facing the Revolution today, how they adjust and evolve will spell their potential success or eventual failure.

With contributions from Pedro S de Achutegui, Miguel A. Bernad and O.D. Corpuz.

January 12, 2012
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January 11, 2012
The Philippines’ Man of the Hour: Camilo de Polavieja

Governor General Camilo de Polavieja (Sapiens Photo)

Manila, Philippines - Earlier today, thirteen convicted members of the subversive group La Liga Filipina were executed at the Luneta. This comes at a time when Governor General Camilo de Polavieja issued a proclamation offering amnesty to those who have taken part in the rebellion in the provinces near Manila.

Locals are at a loss at how the man who replaced their beloved Ramon Blanco should be viewed. Blanco had a more conciliatory tone towards rebellious Filipinos - a policy criticized by the men of the cloth. Polavieja however has adopted a different strategy. On one hand he offers peace to the rebels; on the other he executes them.

But who is Camilo de Polavieja? And why are his policies towards the rebellion different compared to his predecessor?

Camilo de Polavieja y del Castillo was born in Madrid on July 13, 1838. Coming from a merchant family, Camilo pursued a different path when he enlisted with the Navarro Regiment in 1855. He fought in the African campaign and was awarded the Isabelle Maria Lucia for good conduct. He would also fight in Cuba and in the Carlist War, after which he was promoted colonel of the Princess Regiment.

As Brigadier General, Polavieja would be sent again to Cuba in 1876 to command the Sancti Spiritus district. He would be promoted Field Marshal after being awarded the Cross of Military Merit.

Marshal Polavieja would later return to Spain and become a member of the Supreme Council of War and Navy. He would also be appointed Captain General of Andalusia and Supreme Chief Inspector of the Infantry. In 1888, he was appointed Captain General of Puerto Rico. He would later resign the post.

In 1890, he replaced Captain General Jose Chinchilla in Cuba. But he would also resign the post in 1892 as a protest on the widespread bribery and Madrid’s interference with his operations in the colony. 

Last month, Polavieja arrived in Manila after Madrid saw Blanco’s failure to put down the native rebellion. Along with Polavieja’s arrival also came miltiary reinforcements and materiel from Spain. 25,000 more troops are expected to arrive in the coming months.

Polavieja has often been described as a stern military man and an effective administrator. It remains to be seen how these qualities of the new Governor General will influence his use of the force at his disposal. One thing’s for sure though, his methods in fighting a revolt is very much different from his predecessor. And only time will tell if they are effective or not.

With reports from the New York Times, Sacramento Daily Record Union, and Stanley G. Paine

January 11, 2012
A photograph of the scene earlier today, January 11, 1897, when the execution of thirteen convicted revolutionaries was carried out at Bagumbayan Field.
Source

A photograph of the scene earlier today, January 11, 1897, when the execution of thirteen convicted revolutionaries was carried out at Bagumbayan Field.

Source

January 6, 2012
Portrait of Governor-General Camilo de Polavieja.

Portrait of Governor-General Camilo de Polavieja.

January 5, 2012
Polavieja continues campaign of terror

Jan 5, 1897. 10:45AM

Manila, Philippines - Early yesterday, January 4, saw Bagumbayan field host another series of Spanish government ordered executions. Eleven men from Camarines and Bicol were summarily executed by firing squad at 7:00AM. Among the men were three priests accused and convicted of using their local ecclesiastical influence to aid the nascent Philippine Revolution. These far more subdued executions come five days after the much celebrated and attended death of Dr Jose Rizal.

The latest executions continue a series that began with the founding of the court martial courts on August 30, 1896 by former Governor-General Ramon Blanco. The handing down of death sentences has increased under current Governor-General Camilo de Polavieja. Sources within the Palace say that this is part of his broader campaign to stamp out revolutionary sentiment in the Islands. It was also reveled that in December of last year Polavieja drafted guidelines for forced resettlement of residents in various barrios. He believes that barrios have become breeding grounds, and support centers, for revolutionaries. Analysts have warned Polavieja that his continued draconian measures may backfire on the Spanish government.

The most recent executions conclude a campaign to root out revolutionary sentiment in Nueva Caceres. It began with the arrest of well-known and wealthy notary Manuel Abella. Included in the first wave of arrests was Tomas Prieto, a well-off pharmacist. Under torture, Prieto confessed that Domingo Abella, the son of Manuel, was engaged in weapons smuggling and supplying to revolutionary elements. Among the accused of weapons smuggling was Father Severino Diaz and other religious members of his parish.

The next wave of arrests began on September 19, 1896, with the arrest of Father Diaz, Father Inocencio Herrera (the cathedral’s choirmaster), and Father Severo Estrada (the cathedral’s coadjutor). Additionally, Father Gabriel Prieto of Albay, the brother of Tomas Prieto, was accused and arrested of revolutionary crimes. On December 29, the priests and previously arrested Bikolanos stood trial and were quickly ordered to be executed. Analysts were surprised at the rapidity with which the decision and death penalty was handed down. There are rumors in Bikol that the arrests and executions were part of a plot to eliminate locally influential Filipinos in civil society and the Church.

Executed yesterday were the following individuals: Manuel Abella, Domingo Abella, Camilo Jacob, Florencio Lerma, Cornelio Mercado, Mariano Melgarejo, Tomas Prieto, Macario Valentin, Fr Severino Diaz, Fr Inocencio Herrera, and Fr Gabriel Prieto.

Their families have declined to issue a statement.

Father John Schumacher and O.D Corpuz contributed to this report.