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His Excellency

Emilio Aguinaldo
1st President of the Philippines
President of the First Republic
President of the Supreme Government
President of Republic of Biak-na-Bato
Dictator of Dictatorial government
President of the Revolutionary Government

In office
23 January 1899[lower-alpha 1] – 1 April 1901[lower-alpha 2]
Prime Minister
  • Apolinario Mabini
  • (21 January – 7 May 1899)
  • Pedro Paterno
  • (7 May – 13 November 1899)
Vice President Mariano Trías (1897)
Succeeded by Office nullified
Manuel Quezon
Personal details
Born (1869-03-23)23 March 1869[lower-alpha 3]
Cavite El Viejo, Spanish East Indies (now Kawit, Cavite, Philippines)
Died 6 February 1964(1964-02-06) (aged 94)
Quezon City, Philippines
Resting place Aguinaldo Shrine, Kawit, Cavite, Philippines
Political party Katipunan
National Socialist Party
Spouse(s) Rafaela Arqueza (1893–1895 according to
  • Hilaria del Rosario (1896–1921)
  • María Agoncillo (1930–1963)
Children Esteban Aguinaldo II (According to
  • Carmen Aguinaldo Melencio
  • Emilio Aguinaldo, Jr
  • Maria Aguinaldo Poblete
  • Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay
  • Miguel Aguinaldo
Alma mater Colegio de San Juan de Letran
Profession Soldier, Manager, Teacher, Revolutionary
Religion Roman Catholicism
Presidential styles of
Emilio Aguinaldo
Seal of the President of the Philippines.svg
Reference style His Excellency[3]
Spoken style Your Excellency
Alternative style Mr. President

Emilio Famy Aguinaldo , QSC PLH[lower-alpha 4] (23 March 1869[lower-alpha 3] – 6 February 1964) was a Filipino general, politician, and independence leader. He had an instrumental role during the Philippines' revolution against Spain, and the subsequent Philippine–American War or War of Philippine Independence that resisted American occupation.[lower-alpha 5]

Aguinaldo became the Philippines' first president. He was also the youngest (at age 29) to have become the country's president, the longest-lived former president (having survived to age 94) and the president to have outlived the most number of successors.

Early life and career

Emilio Aguinaldo was born on 23 March 1869[lower-alpha 3] in Cavite Viejo (present-day Kawit), Cavite, to Carlos Aguinaldo and Trinidad Famy,[lower-alpha 4] a Chinese mestizo couple who had eight children, the seventh of whom was Emilio. The Aguinaldo family was quite well-to-do, as Carlos Aguinaldo was the community's appointed gobernadorcillo (municipal governor)

Emilio became the Cabeza de Barangay of Binakayan, a chief barrio of Cavite del Viejo, when he was only 17 years old.

In 1895 a law that called for the reorganization of local governments was enacted. At the age of 26 Aguinaldo became Cavite Viejo's first capitan municipal.

First marriage

According to, he married Rafaela Arqueza (1960-1945) in 1893 and divorce in 1895 and gave birth to Esteban Aguinaldo II in 1898. After Emilio Aguinaldo married Rafaela Arqueza, he married On 1 January 1896 he married Hilaria del Rosario (1877–1921). They had five children: Carmen Aguinaldo Melencio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Jr, Maria Aguinaldo Poblete, Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay and Miguel Aguinaldo. Hilaria died of leprosy on 6 March 1921 at the age of 45. After his wife's death Aguinaldo married Maria Agoncillo on 14 July 1930 at Barasoain Church until her untimely demise on 29 May 1963 at the age of 82.

Revolutionary and political career

Philippine Revolution

The flag of the K.K.K.

In 1894, Aguinaldo joined the Katipunan, a secret organization led by Andrés Bonifacio, dedicated to the expulsion of the Spanish and independence of the Philippines through armed force.[12](p77) Aguinaldo used the nom de guerre Magdalo, in honor of Mary Magdalene.[13](p179) His local chapter of the Katipunan, headed by his cousin Baldomero Aguinaldo, was also called Magdalo.[14]

On January 1, 1895, Aguinaldo became a Freemason, joining Pilar Lodge No. 203, Imus, Cavite. He would later say:

“The Successful Revolution of 1896 was masonically inspired, masonically led, and masonically executed, and I venture to say that the first Philippine Republic of which I was its humble President, was an achievement we owe largely, to Masonry and the Masons.”[15]

The Katipunan revolt against the Spanish began in the last week of August 1896 in San Juan del Monte (now part of Metro Manila).[13](p176) However, Aguinaldo and other Cavite rebels initially refused to join in the offensive alleging lack of arms. Their absence contributed to Bonifacio's defeat.[14] While Bonifacio and other rebels were forced to resort to guerrilla warfare, Aguinaldo and the Cavite rebels won major victories in set-piece battles, temporarily driving the Spanish out of their area.[14]

On 17 February 1897 Aguinaldo and a group of katipuneros defeated Spanish forces led by General Camilo de Polavieja at the Battle of Zapote Bridge in Cavite. General Edilberto Evangelista, civil engineer, revolutionary and trench builder, was killed in the battle. The province of Cavite gradually emerged as the Revolution's hotbed, and the Aguinaldo-led katipuneros had a string of victories there.

Presidency at Tejeros

Conflict between the Magdalo and Magdiwang Katipunan factions led to Bonifacio's intervention in the province of Cavite.[13](pp178–182) The Cavite rebels then made overtures about establishing a revolutionary government in place of the Katipunan.[13](p182) Though Bonifacio already considered the Katipunan to be a government, he acquiesced and presided over a convention held on 22 March 1897 in Tejeros, Cavite. There, the republic of the Philippines was proclaimed, with Aguinaldo being elected president. Bonifacio was elected Director of the Interior but, after Daniel Tirona questioned his qualifications for that position, became angered and declared "I, as chairman of this assembly, and as President of the Supreme Council of the Katipunan, as all of you do not deny, declare this assembly dissolved, and I annul all that has been approved and resolved."[13](p178)

Execution of Bonifacio

Bonifacio refused to recognize the revolutionary government headed by Aguinaldo and attempted to reassert his authority, accusing the Aguinaldo faction of treason and by issuing orders contravening orders issued by the Aguinaldo faction.[13](p188) At Aguinaldo's orders, Bonifacio and his brothers were arrested and, in a mock trial lasting one day, convicted of treason, and sentenced to death.[13](pp189–190) After some vacillation, Aguinaldo initially commuted the death sentence, but cancelled his commutation order after being convinced by General Manuel Noriel, president of the Council of War, and others prominent in his government that the death sentence must stand. Andrés and Procopio were executed by firing squad on 10 May 1897 at Mount Hulog, Maragondon, Cavite.[16](p249)

Biak-na-Bato Presidency

On the same day as the execution of the Bonifacio brothers, the Spanish army launched an attack which forced insurgent forces under Aguinaldo into a general retreat.[16](pp249–250) On 24 June 1897 Aguinaldo arrived at Biak-na-Bato in San Miguel, Bulacan, and established a permanent headquarters there, located in Biak-na-Bato National Park in what is now known as Aguinaldo Cave.

In late October 1897, Aguinaldo convened an assembly of generals at Biak-na Bato, where it was decided to establish a constitutional republic. A constitution patterned closely after the Cuban Constitution was drawn up by Isabelo Artacho and Felix Ferrer. The constitution provided for the creation of a Supreme Council composed of a president, a vice president, a Secretary of War, and a Secretary of the Treasury. Aguinaldo was named president.[13](p183–184)

Pact of Biak-na-Bato and exile in Hong Kong

Emilio Aguinaldo with the exiled revolutionaries in Hong Kong.

From as early as March 1897, Fernando Primo de Rivera, as Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines had been encouraging prominent Filipinos to contact Aguinaldo for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. On 9 August, Manila lawyer Pedro Paterno met with Aguinaldo at Biak-na-Bato with a proposal for peace based on reforms and amnesty. In succeeding months, Paterno conducted shuttle diplomacy, acting as an intermediary between de Rivera and Aguinaldo. On 14 December and 15 December 1897 Aguinaldo signed the Pact of Biak-na-Bato, under which Aguinaldo effectively agreed to end hostilities and dissolve his government in exchange for amnesty and "$800,000 (Mexican)" (Aguinaldo's description of the amount) as an indemnity.[16](p252)[17][lower-alpha 6] The documents were signed on 14 December and 15 December 1897. On 23 December, Aguinaldo and other insurgent officials departed for Hong Kong to enter voluntary exile. $400,000, representing the first installment of the indemnity, was deposited into Hong Kong banks. While in exile, Aguinaldo reorganized his revolutionary government into the so-called "Hong Kong Junta" and enlarging it into the "Supreme Council of the Nation".[16](p253)

Return to the Philippines and Philippine Declaration of Independence

On April 25, the Spanish–American War began. While the war mostly focused on Cuba, the United States Navy's Asiatic Squadron was in Hong Kong, and commanded Commodore George Dewey, it sailed for the Philippines, one of two Spanish colonies in the Pacific (the other being Guam). On 1 May 1898, in the Battle of Manila Bay, the squadron engaged and destroyed the Spanish navy's Pacific Squadron and proceeded to blockade Manila.[16](pp255–256) Several days later, Dewey agreed to transport Aguinaldo from Hong Kong to the Philippines aboard the USS McCulloch, which left Hong Kong with Aguinaldo on May 16. arriving in Cavite on May 19.[19] Aguinaldo promptly resumed command of revolutionary forces and besieged Manila.[16](pp256–257)

On 24 May 1898 in Cavite, Aguinaldo issued a proclamation in which he assumed command of all Philippine forces and established a dictatorial government with himself as dictator.[20]

On 12 June Aquinaldo issued the Philippine Declaration of Independence from Spain and on 18 June, he issued a decree formally establishing his dictatorial government.[4](p10)

On 23 June, Aguinaldo issued a decree replacing his dictatorial government with a revolutionary government, with himself as president.[4](p35)[12]:Appendix C

First Philippine President


Emilio Aguinaldo monument at Barasoain Church

The insurgent First Philippine Republic was formally established with the proclamation of the Malolos Constitution on 21 January 1899 in Malolos, Bulacan and endured until the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo by the American forces on 23 March 1901 in Palanan, Isabela, which effectively dissolved the First Republic.

Aguinaldo appointed two Prime Ministers of the Philippines in his tenure, Apolinario Mabini and Pedro Paterno. He had two cabinets in the year 1899. Thereafter, the military situation resulted in his ruling by decree.

Philippine–American War

Personifying the United States, Uncle Sam chases a bee representing Emilio Aguinaldo, the president of the Philippine Islands from 22 March 1897 to 1 April 1901. In 1901, two years after this cartoon's publication, at the end of the Philippine–American War, Aguinaldo was captured by U.S. forces.

Aguinaldo boarding USS Vicksburg following his capture in 1901

On 12 August 1898, American forces captured Manila during the Battle of Manila and on 14 August 1898 established the United States Military Government of the Philippine Islands, with Major General Wesley Merritt as the first American Military Governor.[18](pp110–112) On the night of 4 February 1899, a Filipino was shot by an American sentry. This incident is considered the beginning of the Philippine–American War, and precipitated the 1899 Battle of Manila between American and Filipino forces. Superior American firepower drove Filipino troops away from the city, and Aguinaldo's government had to move from one place to another as the military situation developed.[16](pp268–270, 273–274) Aguinaldo led resistance to the Americans, then retreated to northern Luzon with the Americans on his trail.

On 23 March 1901, Aguinaldo was captured at his headquarters in Palanan, Isabela. On 19 April 1901, Aguinaldo took an oath of allegiance to the United States, formally ending the First Republic and recognizing the sovereignty of the United States over the Philippines.[16](pp274–275) After Aguinaldo's surrender, some Filipino commanders continued the revolution. On 30 July 1901 General Miguel Malvar issued a manifesto saying, "Forward, without ever turning back... All wars of independence have been obliged to suffer terrible tests!"[16](p275) General Malvar surrendered to U.S forces in Lipa, Batangas on 16 April 1902. The war was formally ended by a unilateral proclamation of general amnesty by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt on 4 July 1902.[21]


U.S. territorial period

Aguinaldo and Quezon during Flag Day, 1935.

During the American occupation, Aguinaldo supported groups that advocated immediate independence, and helped veterans of the struggle. He organized the Asociación de los Veteranos de la Revolución (Association of Veterans of the Revolution), which worked to secure pensions for its members and made arrangements for them to buy land on installment from the government.

The display of the Philippine flag was declared illegal by the Sedition Act of 1907. This law was repealed on 30 October 1919.[22] Following this, Aguinaldo transformed his home in Kawit into a monument to the flag, the revolution and the declaration of Independence. As of 2014, his home still stands and is known as the Aguinaldo Shrine.

Aguinaldo retired from public life for many years. In 1935, when the Commonwealth of the Philippines was established in preparation for Philippine independence, he ran for president in the Philippine presidential election, 1935, but lost by a landslide to Manuel L. Quezon.[lower-alpha 7] The two men formally reconciled in 1941, when President Quezon moved Flag Day to 12 June, to commemorate the proclamation of Philippine independence.[22] During the Japanese occupation, Aguinaldo cooperated with the Japanese, making speeches, issuing articles and radio addresses in support of the Japanese — including a radio appeal to Gen. Douglas MacArthur on Corregidor to surrender in order to "spare the innocence of the Filipino youth."[23][24](p285)

After the combined American and Filipino troops retook the Philippines, Aguinaldo was arrested along with several others accused of collaboration with the Japanese, and jailed for some months in Bilibid prison.[25] He was released by presidential amnesty.[26](p2)

Aguinaldo was 77 when the United States Government fully recognized Philippine independence in the Treaty of Manila, in accordance with the Tydings–McDuffie Act of 1934.[27]

Post-American era

In 1950, President Elpidio Quirino appointed Aguinaldo as a member of the Council of State, where he served a full term. He returned to retirement soon after, dedicating his time and attention to veteran soldiers' "interests and welfare."

He was made an honorary Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, by the University of the Philippines in 1953.

In 1962, President Diosdado Macapagal changed the celebration of Independence Day from 4 July to 12 June.[lower-alpha 8] Aguinaldo rose from his sickbed to attend the celebration of independence 64 years after he declared it.

Death and Legacy

The Philippine 5 peso bill depicting Aguinaldo.

File:Php coin 5 obv.png

Philippine 5 peso coin

Aguinaldo died of coronary thrombosis at age 94 on 6 February 1964 at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City. A year before his death, he donated his lot and mansion to the government. This property now serves as a shrine to "perpetuate the spirit of the Revolution of 1896."[6]

In 1985, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas made a new 5-peso bill depicting a portrait of Aguinaldo on the front. The back features the declaration of the Philippine independence on 12 June 1898. Printing was discontinued in 1995, when it was replaced with a 5₱ coin whose obverse features a portrait of Aguinaldo.

Media portrayal


The 2012 Filipino movie portraying Aguinaldo.

A 2012 biopic film based on his life as the first president of the Philippine Republic, stars the Laguna Gov. Jeorge Estregan as Aguinaldo.


  1. 23 January 1899 was the date of Aguinaldo's inauguration as President of the First Philippine Republic. Previously, he held positions as President of a Revolutionary Government from 22 March 1897 to 1 November 1897, President of the Biak-na-Bato Republic from 2 November 1897 to 15 December 1897, Head of a Dictatorial Government from 24 May 1898 to 22 June 1898, and President of another Revolutionary Government from 23 June 1898 to 22 January 1899.[1]
  2. 1 April 1901 was the date of Aguinaldo's capture by American forces.[2]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Most sources, including the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, support a 22 March birthdate.[6][7](p6)[8](p129) Some sources give other dates.[9][10]
  4. 4.0 4.1 In the Declaration of Independence his matronymic is given as Fami.[4](p185 Appendix A)[5]
  5. The hostilities in the Philippine War of Independence began on 4 February 1899 and continued for two years. The United States needed 126,000 soldiers to subdue the Philippines. The war took the lives of 4,234 Americans and 16,000 Filipinos.[11]
  6. The Mexican dollar at the time was worth about 50 U.S. cents[18](p126)
  7. Quezon took 67.99% of the popular vote; Aguinaldo 17.54%
  8. On 12 May 1962, President Macapagal signed "Presidential Proclamation No. 28, Declaring 12 June as Philippine Independence Day".[28] There is no doubt that President Macapagal intended the proclamation to have that effect[29] and sources commonly assert this as fact,[30] however the operative paragraph of the proclamation declares a single day, "Tuesday, June 12, 1962, as a special public holiday throughout the Philippines ...". On 4 August 1964, Republic Act No. 4166 proclaimed the twelfth day of June as the Philippine Independence Day and renamed the fourth of July holiday to "Philippine Republic Day".[31]


  1. "Emilio Aguinaldo". Presidential Museum and Library. 
  2. "First Philippine President Emilio F. Aguinaldo 47th Death Anniversary". February 5, 2011. 
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named r12
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Wrong format. {{#strreplace: - | | 9715380557 }} Number must have 10 or 13 digits. (now: 35 digits)
  5. Karnow, Stanley. "Emilio Aguinaldo". In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines. Random House (1989). ISBN 978-0-394-54975-0.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "EMILIO F. AGUINALDO (1869–1964)". 
  7. Wrong format. {{#strreplace: - | | 9780313288524 }} Number must have 10 or 13 digits. (now: 38 digits)
  8. Wrong format. {{#strreplace: - | | 9781576077702 }} Number must have 10 or 13 digits. (now: 38 digits)
  9. "Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo (1869–1964)". 
  10. Wrong format. {{#strreplace: - | | 9781146599917 }} Number must have 10 or 13 digits. (now: 38 digits)
  11. WEIR, Frasier. "Spanish-American War / War of Philippine Independence 1898–1901". University of Alberta. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 {{:Wikipedia:Tambayan Philippines/History of the Philippines (citations)|transcludesection=kalawmm-1}}
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 Wrong format. {{#strreplace: - | | 9789718711064 }} Number must have 10 or 13 digits. (now: 38 digits)
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Wrong format. {{#strreplace: - | | 9622582281 }} Number must have 10 or 13 digits. (now: 35 digits)
  15. Emilio Aguinaldo Y Famy. "Famous Filipino Masons". The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 16.6 16.7 16.8 Wrong format. {{#strreplace: - | | 9789716420715 }} Number must have 10 or 13 digits. (now: 38 digits)
  17. AGUINALDO y FAMY, Don Emilio. "True Version of the Philippine Revolution". Authorama Public Domain Books. Retrieved 16 November 2007. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 HALSTEAD, Murat (1898). "XII. The American Army in Manila. General Emilio Aguinaldo, a traitor of the Philippine Republic, during Spanish-American Regime." (Project Gutenberg). The Story of the Philippines and Our New Possessions, Including the Ladrones, Hawaii, Cuba and Porto Rico. 
  19. Agoncillo,, Teodor A. (1990). History of the Filipino people ([8th ed.]. ed.). Quezon City: Garotech. p. 157. ISBN 978-9718711064. 
  20. TITHERINGTON, Richard Handfield (1900). A history of the Spanish–American war of 1898. D. Appleton and Company.  (republished by–358)
  21. "GENERAL AMNESTY FOR THE FILIPINOS; Proclamation Issued by the President" (PDF). The New York Times. 4 July 1902. Retrieved 5 February 2008. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 Quezon, Manuel L. III (2 April 2002). "History of the Philippines Flag". Flags of the World. Retrieved 6 June 2007. 
  23. July 2011 "Emilio Aguinaldo". Archived from the original. Error: If you specify |archiveurl=, you must also specify |archivedate=. July 2011. 
  24. SCHRODER, William (2004). Cousins of Color. Twenty First Century Publishers Ltd. ISBN 978-1-904433-13-2. [unreliable source?]
  25. "Emilio Aguinaldo". Encyclopædia BritannicaOnline. Retrieved 25 April 2008. 
  26. Wrong format. {{#strreplace: - | | 9781576076033 }} Number must have 10 or 13 digits. (now: 38 digits)
  28. Diosdado Macapagal. "Proclamation No. 28 Declaring June 12 as Philippine Independence Day". Philippine History Group of Los Angeles. Retrieved 11 November 2009. .
  29. Diosdado Macapagal (2002). "KALAYAAN". Philippine Information Agency. pp. 12–15. Archived from the original on 3 March 2006. .
  30. Wrong format. {{#strreplace: - | | 9789715424844 [10 ] }} Number must have 10 or 13 digits. (now: 76 digits)

Further reading

  • Aguinaldo, Emilio (1964). "Mga Gunita ng Himagsikan". 
  • ZAIDE, Gregorio F. (1984). "Philippine History and Government". National Bookstore Printing Press. [broken citation]

External links

Political offices
New title
Republic declared
President of the Philippines
23 January 1899 – 1 April 1901
Office nullified by the United States by Spain
Title next held by
Manuel L. Quezon

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