Not a short-lived Independence if only Aguinaldo listened to Mabini
By Mariano “Anong” Santos
Left: Mabini advises Aguinaldo to protect Philippine interests.
Among National Heroes, Apolinario M. Mabini is known as the "Brain of the Revolution." He is also known with the moniker, "Sublime Paralytic."
When Mabini died on May 13, 1903, his funeral procession drew hundreds of thousands of Filipinos along the streets of Manila—unprecedented at that time and a testimony to his great influence on freedom-loving Filipinos who long for independence for their country.
While serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs and as head of the cabinet of the newly-formed First Philippine Republic, he emphatically advised President Emilio F. Aguinaldo to protect the self-interest of the Filipinos from the imperialist designs of the Americans.
If only Aguinaldo heeded Mabini's well-reasoned arguments, there was a great chance that the First Republic could have survived. Mabini was for a genuine independence—believing in ourselves, through actual experience of self-governance, the Filipinos would flourish as a strong nation.
The wealthy advisers, a faction led by the treacherous Pedro Paterno, were for collaborating with the new colonialists. They used intrigues to win the day. They spread rumors like Mabini's paralysis was caused not by polio but by syphilis. In no time, Mabini was eased out by Paterno as head of the cabinet.
Mabini was born on July 23, 1864 in Tanauan, Batangas to an uneducated peasant father, Inocencio, and a market vendor mother,Dionisia Maranan—his first teacher. He worked as a houseboy in exchange for free board and lodging in order to finish his elementary education. He was tutored by Valerio Malabanan whose good reputation was even recognized by Dr. Jose Rizal.
Being poor, Mabini was in shabby clothes when he came for the first day of school at San Juan de Letran, prompting an elitist professor to require Mabini to answer a series of difficult questions—in an effort to throw him off board. The young Batangueno exhibited excellence in his answers. He coped up with his costly tuition fees by working as a private tutor. He would earn his Bachelor in Arts with highest honor.
He went on to take up law at the University of Sto. Tomas where he was deeply involved in radical activities that demanded reforms from the Spanish colonial masters. He joined the "La Liga Filipina" and became the correspondent that worked with Marcelo del Pilar in Madrid where the propagandists lobbied for an end to abuses and unjust practices in the Philippines.
It was only after Rizal was executed in 1896 that Mabini joined the revolutionaries led by Andres Bonifacio. It was also that year that he was stricken with polio. It took a dozen men to carry him in a hammock when Aguinaldo summoned him on June 12, 1898. Aguinaldo had doubts on Mabini's ability to serve because of the paralysis.
Not quite 34 years old, Mabini proved his effectiveness to the First Republic. He drafted the first Philippine Constitution. He wrote the rules and regulations on conducting the war of liberation. His True Decalogue and his manual for local governments were proven to be indispensable for the young nation.
Even Gen. Arthur MacArthur, the former U.S. Military Governor of the Philippines and father of Douglas, spoke well of his abilities while testifying in 1902 before a U.S. Senate committee:
"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... He is a dreamy man, but a very firm character and of very high accomplishments… 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."
From the Wikipedia, here is an additional account of the great hero:
On December 10, 1899, he was captured by the Americans at Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, then jailed at Fort Santiago for nine months. In 1901, he was exiled to Guam, along with scores of revolutionists Americans referred to as 'insurrectos' and who refused to swear fealty to imperialist America. Mabini returned home to the Philippines in 1903 after agreeing to take the oath of allegiance to the United States on February 26, 1903 before the Collector of Customs. On the day he sailed, he issued this statement to the press:
"After two long years I am returning, so to speak, completely disoriented and, what is worse, almost overcome by disease and sufferings. Nevertheless, I hope, after some time of rest and study, still to be of some use, unless I have returned to the Islands for the sole purpose of dying."
"To the chagrin of the American colonial officials, however, Mabini resumed his work of agitating for independence for the Philippines soon after he was back home from exile."
Mabini died of cholera in his house in Nagatahan, Pandacan, Manila. He was 38. He left behind an unpublished book, "La Revolucion Filipina," where he blamed Aguinaldo for the failure of the 1896 Revolution.
He accused Aguinaldo of instigating the execution of Bonifacio in Cavite and the murder of Gen. Antonio Luna in Cabanatuan. Luna, like Mabini, was for independence not for collaboration. The book is an excellent resource in understanding the tragedy of the short-lived Philippine Independence.
(This year's Ambassadors and Tourism directors Tour in July includes in its itinerary a visit to a resort in Batangas. It would be significant if a side trip at Mabini's birth place in Tanauan, Batangas will be included—in honor of a great national hero.)
"White Snake"—a proud legacy of Asians in America
The White Snake Production Photos (L to R) Tanya Thai McBride (Green Snake) and Amy Kim Waschke (White Snake) in The White Snake.
For all the numerous events put up to celebrate the Asian American Pacific Islanders Month in May, I would venture to pick the staging of "The White Snake" at the Goodman Theater as a tie-up for this annual celebration.
The play is another adaptation of the multi-awarded and very talented playwright, Mary Zimmerman, this time from a 2000-year old Chinese fable that had been previously produced into many other art-forms including a spectacular film, "The Sorcerer and the White Snake," directed by the famous Jet Li.
The press preview at the Goodman Theater in the Loop was arranged by Irene Cualoping of the Eneri Communication. The production is awesome. Live music and set design compliment the play adaptation in making it a memorable theater experience.
I could not help but feel proud of watching this play which showcases the richness of the cultural heritage that Asians brought to this country. This Chinese fable is as old as those of Aesop's or the stories we find in the Hebrew Bible. The legendary story tells of two snakes from the spirit world who journeyed in the world of mortal human beings—finding selfless love that was demonized by a controlling Buddhist monk.
The 100-minute play leaves you wanting for more—credit the witty, funny and engaging dialogues that bespeak well of truth and wisdom relevant to us, mortals of the contemporary world. I enjoyed particularly, Tanya Thai McBride playing the Green Snake. She's a hoot, er, a hiss? She's a delight. This is a timeless and magical love story.
The preview was moved back because the main actor, Amy Kim Waschke, who plays the title role was injured but recovered to give another memorable performance. The play is must see. It has special rates for seniors and students and discount for group of 10. It plays at Goodman's Albert Theater until June 8. Email Groups@GoodmanTheatre.org for details.