Friday, March 30, 2007

THE FILIPINO MARTYRS - Part 5: Chapters 10 & 11 of 16

The Filipino Martyrs
A Story of the Crime of February 4, 1899
BY AN EYE WITNESS Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Barrister at Law,
Inner Temple John Lane: The Bodley Head London and New York 1900

WHAT WE FILIPINOS SHOULD KNOW: (Note: Bold and/or underlined words are HTML links. Click on them to see the linked posting/article. Forwarding the postings to relatives and friends, especially in the homeland, is greatly appreciated.)

(Chapters 1-2 are found in:Filipino Martyrs – Part 1)
(Chapters 3,4,5 are found in:
Filipino Martyrs – Part 2)
(Chapters 6-7 are found in:
Filipino Martyrs – Part 3 )
(Chapter 8-9 are found in:Filipino Martyrs – Part 4

Author William Pfaff wrote that history is an insistent force: the past is what put us where we are. The past can not be put behind until it is settled with.

This book is an historical eyewitness report by British diplomat Richard Brinsley Sheridan on the American arrival, duplicity and intervention during the revolution against Spain. It also demonstrates the determined and brave nationalism of our (Katipunan) revolutionary forefathers.

The report angers but most important reminds us that our revolutionaries were led by men who were aware of the principles of democracy and had plans for a democratic national government, but whose dreams for "the people," i.e. the native, dispossessed Malay majority, were destroyed by the duplicitously invading Americans in cooperation with local mendicant friends - our traitorous socioeconomic elite.

The Americans have duped the naïve and sentimental thus trusting native leadership. Fast forward today, it is unfortunate, sad and enraging that no significant change for the better has occurred in the attitudes and behaviors of our local elites, native and foreign, old and new .

Hopefully this kind of glossed over and hidden, if not unpopular, history will make us consciously aware of our relevant past, of Filipino nationalism forgotten, ignored and debased, of mythologies and outright lies highlighted by the
mock Battle of Manila Bay; of American intervention and occupation as God-ordained Manifest Destiny, of being colonized by America with the sole altruistic intent of "benevolent assimilation," of us being the Americans' "little brown brothers,"of us having "special relationship" with America, etc. ad nauseam.

Hopefully, all these long-unquestioned historical claims and myths we learned will be outgrown by objective knowledge; and therefrom help us, as a people, to be more prudent and realistic in dealing with America and other foreign nations.

In matters of true nationhood, mass ignorance is not bliss but brings and guarantees only misery and pain, as in the past, present and foreseeable future.

(NOTE: Because of its length ---200+ pages, subsequent Chapters will be posted by installment)

"The Phillipines makes a decent
representative example of the US' first official exercise in colonial imperialism and formal empire [*], also referred to as "civilizational imperialism" - a project we're presently repeating." Lest this seem to be the bellicose pipedream of some dyspeptic desk soldier, let us remember that the military deal of our country has never been defensive warfare. Since the Revolution, only the United Kingdom has beaten our record for square miles of territory acquired by military conquest. Our exploits against the American Indian, against the Filipinos, the Mexicans, and against Spain are on a par with the campaigns of Genghis Khan, the Japanese in Manchuria and the African attack of Mussolini. No country has ever declared war on us before we first obliged them with that gesture. Our whole history shows we have never fought a defensive war. And at the rate our armed forces are being implemented at present, the odds are against our fighting one in the near future." - --Major General Smedley D. Butler, America's Armed Forces: 'In Time of Peace', 1935.1898-1914: The Phillipines.

"The HISTORY of an oppressed people is hidden in the lies and the agreed myth of its conquerors.” - Meridel Le Sueur, American writer, 1900-1996

“The true Filipino is a decolonized Filipino.” – Prof. Renato Constantino (1919-1999)

"Upang maitindig natin ang bantayog ng ating lipunan, kailangang radikal nating baguhin hindi lamang ang ating mga institusyon kundi maging ang ating pag-iisip at pamumuhay. Kailangan ang rebolusyon, hindi lamang sa panlabas, kundi lalo na sa panloob!" --Apolinario Mabini, La Revolucion Filipina (1898)

CHAPTER X General Otis publishes a Proclamation - Hostile Intention shown - General Otis blunders - General Aguinaldo publishes Two Proclamations

ON January 4th, I was with Admiral Dewey, and he told me that " General Otis had in his possession for a considerable time a proclamation from Washington, which he did not desire to publish at present. I am not, however, of his opinion," he added; "Otis has not been here so long as I, and therefore cannot be expected to understand the Filipinos. He has seen very little of them."

The morning following, General Otis issued the proclamation, no doubt owing to the urgent advice of Admiral Dewey. The proclamation was as follows:


"To the People of the Philippine Islands: " Instructions of his Excellency, the President of the United States, relative to the administration of affairs in the Philippine Islands, have been transmitted to me by direction of the Honourable, the Secretary of War, under date of December, I898. They direct me to publish and proclaim, in the most public manner to the inhabitants of these islands, that in the war against Spain the United States forces came here to destroy the power of that nation, and to give the blessings of peace and individual freedom to the Philippine people, that we are here as friends of the Filipinos, to protect them in their homes, their employments, their individual and religious liberty; that all persons, who either by active aid or honest endeavour cooperate with the government of the United States to give effect to these beneficent purposes, will receive the reward of its support and protection. "

The President of the United States has assumed that the municipal laws of the country, in respect to private rights, and property, and the repression of crime, are to be considered as continuing in force, in so far as they may be applicable to a free people, and should be administered by the ordinary tribunals of justice, presided over by representatives of the people and those in thorough sympathy with them in their desires for good government; that the functions and duties connected with civil and municipal administration are to be performed by such officers as wish to accept the assistance of the United States, chosen, in so far as it may be practicable, from the inhabitants of the islands; and while the management of public property and revenue, and the use of all public means of transportation, are to be conducted under the military authorities until such authorities can be replaced by civil administration, all private property, whether of individuals or corporations, must be respected and protected.

If private property be taken for military uses, it shall be paid for at a fair valuation in cash, as is practicable at the time; receipts, therefore, will be given, to be taken up and liquidated as soon as cash becomes available. The ports of the Philippine Islands shall be open to the commerce of all foreign nations, and goods and merchandise, not prohibited for military reasons by the military authorities, shall be admitted upon payment of such duties and charges as shall be in force at the time of importation. "

The President concludes his instructions in the following language:

- "' Finally, it should be the earnest and paramount aim of the administration to win the confidence, respect and affection of the Philippines, by insuring to them, in every possible way, the full measure of individual rights and liberty, which is the heritage of a free people; and by proving to them that the mission of the United States is one of beneficent assimilation, which will substitute the mild sway ofjustice and right for arbitrary rule. In the fulfilment of this high mission, while upholding the temporary administration of affairs for the greatest good of the governed, there will be sedulously maintained the strong arm of authority to repress disturbance and to overcome all obstacles, to the bestowal of the blessings of good and staple government upon the people of the Philippine Islands.' "'

"From the tenor and substance of the above instructions of the President, I am fully of the opinion that it is the intention of the United States government, while directing affairs generally, to appoint the representative men, now forming the controlling element of the Filipinos, to civil positions of trust and responsibility, and it will be my aim to appoint thereto such Filipinos as may be acceptable to the supreme authorities at Washington. " It is also my belief that it is the intention of the United States government to draw from the Filipino people so much of the military force of the islands as possible and consistent with a free and well-constituted government of the country, and it is my desire to inaugurate a policy of that character; I am also convinced that it is the intention of the United States government to seek the establishment of a most liberal government for the islands, in which the people themselves shall have as full a representation as the maintenance of order and law will permit, and which shall be susceptible of development on lines of increased representation and the bestowal of increased powers into a government as free and independent as is enjoyed by the most favoured provinces of the world. "It will be my most constant endeavour to cooperate with the Filipino people seeking the good of the country, and I invite their full confidence and aid. "'

' E. S. OTIS, "Major General of the United States Volunteers, " Military Governor."

This proclamation at last opened Aguinaldo's eyes, and clearly showed to him and his people that they had been the victims of American duplicity; that the independence for which they had fought so bravely and so long was farther from them now than at any time under the rule of their Spanish oppressors. They saw that the American government meant to conquer and to subjugate them; that the proclamation of General Merritt was but a will-o'-the-wisp, calculated to trick them into a peaceful alliance so that they might the more easily be disbanded and subdued. In this proclamation by Otis it is stated that the United States forces came to the islands in order to destroy the Spanish power, and among other things to grant "individual freedom."

It assures the Filipinos that the Americans were in Manila "as friends." From the circumstances I have mentioned as to the relations of the Americans with the Filipinos, these assurances of friendship are decidedly open to question. Continuing, the proclamation suggests that the Filipinos may take part in the "civil and municipal administration as far as may be practicable." The President, in conclusion, desires to insure in "every way possible the full measure of individual rights and liberty, which is the heritage of a free people; and proving to them that the mission of the United States is one of beneficent assimilation, which will substitute the mild sway of justice and right for arbitrary rule. In the fulfilment of this high mission... there will be sedulously maintained the strong arm of authority to repress disturbance and to overcome all obstacles."

The above words speak for themselves. It is hardly necessary to comment on them. The Filipinos are referred to as a free people, deserving individual rights. Has the treatment of the Filipinos by the Americans been such as to suggest that they were a free people, and that the United States were "beneficent" protectors of an oppressed race? In the above proclamation, the American teeth are shown, and the lamb becomes the wolf where, "in the fulfilment of this high mission, there will be maintained the strong arm of authority," etc. Finally, General Otis implies to the Filipinos that they are conquered, and that he is entitled to all the feudal rights over a subdued nation; for the United States government proposes "to draw from the Filipino people so much of the military force of the islands as possible and consistent with a free and well-constituted government of the country," and that they "shall have as full representation as the maintenance of order and law will permit."

In issuing this proclamation General Otis made a terrible blunder. He first received a copy of one from Washington, which he was to issue, and which upon consultation with Admiral Dewey, no doubt, appeared to be most unsuitable, for it was reported to have contained commands to the Filipinos to lay down their arms. Then General Otis is said to have obtained permission from his government at Washington to remodel it, as his discretion might suggest, and the one quoted was the proclamation issued. Unfortunately he sent the first one received, in his careless indifference, by a British man-of-war, to be delivered to the commander of an American war vessel at Iloilo, and to be published at once.

The Filipinos, being in constant communication with their forces in all the islands, quickly discovered that two proclamations, the one different from the other, had been issued. General Aguinaldo hurriedly consulted with those in his confidence, and issued the following, which was found posted on the walls and public buildings in the city.

"To my Brother Filipinos, and to All the Consuls, and Other Foreigners:

"The proclamation of General E. S. Otis, of the volunteers of the United States, published yesterday in the papers of Manila, obliges me to circulate the present, so that all may know who read and understand this my most solemn protest against what is contained in General Otis's proclamation. It is my duty, before my conscience, before God, before my political engagements with my beloved country, and in view of my relations, in particular, with the officials of North America. General Otis calls himself, in the proclamation referred to, Military Governor of the Philippine Islands, and I protest once, and a thousand times, and with all the energy of my soul, against such authority.

I solemnly proclaim that I have never had, either in Singapore, or in Hong Kong, or here in the Philippines, any undertaking or agreement, either by word or by writing, to recognise the sovereignty of America, in this my beloved country. On the contrary, I say that I returned to these islands on board an American warship on the i9th of May of last year, with the decided and manifest proposition to carry on the war with the Spaniards, to reconquer our liberty and our independence. I stated this in my official proclamation on the 24th of the said month of May, and it was published in a manifesto to the Filipino people on the I2th of last June, when in my native town of Cavite, I exhibited, for the first time, our holy national banner as a sacred emblem of that supreme aspiration for independence; and, further, this was indorsed by the American General Sefor Merritt, the predecessor of General Otis, in the manifesto which he directed to the Filipino people, days before he intimated to the Spanish General Jaudenes that the town of Manila had capitulated, in which manifesto it was clearly and definitely stated that the sea and land forces of the United States had come here to give us our liberty, overthrowing the bad government of Spain.

"Finally, to state the case once and for all, nationals and foreigners are witnesses that the land and sea forces, which are here, of the United States, have recognised by their acts the Filipinos as belligerents, as they have publicly saluted the Philippine flag which triumphantly sailed in these seas, before the eyes of all foreign nations represented here by their respective consuls.

"In the proclamation of General Otis, he alludes to instructions written for him by his Excellency, the President of the United States, referring to the administration of affairs in the Philippine Islands. I solemnly protest, in the name of God, the root and foundation of all justice and of all right, and who has given to me the power to direct my dear brothers in the difficult work of our regeneration,-against this intrusion of the government of the United States in the sovereignty of these islands. Equally, I protest, in the name of all the Filipino people, against this intrusion, because when they gave me their vote of confidence, in electing me, though unworthy, as President of the nation, they imposed on me the duty to sustain to the death their liberty and independence.

Lastly, I protest against this act, so little expected, asserting the sovereignty of America in these islands. I protest in the name of all that is passed, of which I have proofs in my possession referring to my relations with the American authorities, which prove in the most unequivocal manner that the United States did not bring me from Hong Kong to make war against the Spaniards to benefit the Americans, but to help us to gain our liberty and independence, for the attainment of which object the American authorities promised me verbally their decided and efficacious cooperation; and so you must understand, my dear brothers, that, united by bonds which it will be impossible to break, such is the idea of liberty and our absolute independence, which have been our noble aspirations, all must work together to arrive at this happy end, with the force that gives conviction, already so generally felt among all the people, never to turn back in the road of glory on which we have already so far advanced. "

MOLOLOS, January 5, 1899.

Have the officials of the American government representing the people of America read this proclamation, and if they have, have they published it to their people, whose honour is at stake in this great question? Have they inquired into the truth of Aguinaldo's statement in that proclamation that " I returned.... to reconquer our liberty and independence.... I have proofs in my possession, in referring to my relations with the American authorities which prove in the most unequivocal manner, that the United States did not bring me from Hlong Kong to make war to benefit the Americans, but to help us to gain our liberty and independence, for the attainment of which object the American authorities promised me verbally their decided and efficacious cooperation"?

On the same day General Aguinaldo published a further proclamation, which is as follows -


The government of the Philippines has come to the conclusion that its duty is to explain before all the civilised powers the facts bearing on the rupture of amicable relations between the Filipinos and the army of the United States of America in these islands, in order that the foreign nations may be convinced that, for my part, I have done everything possible to avoid a rupture, even to the extent of sacrificing uselessly many clear rights. After the naval battle of the 1st of May, between the Spanish and American squadrons, the commander of the American squadron agreed to my return from Hong Kong to this, my beloved country, and he distributed among the Filipinos a number of rifles taken in the arsenal at Cavite, undoubtedly with the intention that they should be used to support the revolution which was there, to a certain extent, subdued by the agreement of Biacnabato, in order to get the half of the Filipinos on the American side.

The Filipinos, on account of the outbreak of war between the United States and Spain, had their eyes open to the necessity of making a fight for their liberty, and they felt sure that the Spanish nation was incapable and unfit to assist the Filipinos on the road to prosperity and progress. Therefore the people greeted my arrival with rejoicings, and I had the honour of being received with acclamation as chief, on account of the service which I had rendered in the former revolution. Thereupon all the Filipinos, without distinction of class or creed, took up arms, and every province set to work to defeat and expel from its midst the Spanish forces located there. This is the explanation of how, in so remarkably short a space of time, my government has acquired domination over the whole of Luzon, the whole of Bisayas, and a part of Mindanao.

If the North Americans have taken no part whatever in these military operations, which have cost no small amount of blood and money, my government does not fail to recognise that the destruction of the Spanish squadron and the handing over of rifles from the arsenal to my people were influential, to some extent, in the success of our arms. I was, moreover, convinced that the American forces must sympathise with the revolution, which they had assisted to foment, and which saved them much bloodshed and hard work, and, above all, I had absolute confidence in the history and traditions of a nation which struggled for independence and for the abolition of slavery; yea, held itself up as the champion and liberator of oppressed peoples under the safeguard of the good faith of a free republic. "

The Americans, seeing the friendly disposition of the Filipino people, disembarked their troops in the village of Paranaque, and took up positions in the whole line occupied by my forces right up to Maytubig, taking possession by their cleverness, not unaccompanied by force, of a large quantity of trenches constructed by my people. Ultimately, the garrison of Manila capitulated, having been compelled to surrender at the first attack. In this I took a very active part, although I was not notified. My forces from the port of Cavite were extended all round the suburbs of Malate, Ermita, Sampaloc, and Tondo.

In spite of all these services, although the Spaniards would not have surrendered if my forces had not closed every road of retreat into the interior, the American generals not merely left me out entirely in the terms of capitulation, but even asked me to withdraw my forces from Cavite and the suburbs of Manila. I have laid before the American generals the injustice which has been done to me, and I have begged them in the most friendly terms to recognise in a satisfactory manner my cooperation, but they have refused anything of the sort.

Nevertheless, desirous always of demonstrating my friendship and good sentiments toward those who call themselves liberators of my people, I made my troops evacuate the port of Cavite and the suburbs of Ermita, Malate, Sampaloc, and Tondo, only keeping a portion of the suburb of Paco. In spite of the concessions, before many days passed, Admiral Dewey, with absolutely no cause, seized our launches, which had been flying freely about Manila Bay, hitherto with his express consent. "

About the same time, I received a letter from General Otis, commander in chief of the American army of occupation, demanding that I should withdraw my forces beyond a line marked on a plan, which he also sent me, within which line were included the village of Pandacan and the hamlet of Singalong, which never came within the heading ' Manila and suburbs.' In view of this inexplicable attitude of both American chiefs, I called my generals together in consultation, and at the same time I held a 'privy council' (consejo de gobierno), and in accordance with the opinions of both bodies I named commissioners to put themselves in communication with the American authorities.

Admiral Dewey received my commissioner very cavalierly and with most aggressive language, and never gave him a chance to reply. Yet I complied with the request of General Otis, withdrawing my troops to the line desired, with the object of avoiding contact with their troops,- a cause of much dissatisfaction to our people, -but we hoped that the Paris conference would soon end, and that my people would obtain the complete independence promised by the United States. c Consul General Pratt, in Singapore, said we should have a formal guarantee of the friendship proclaimed in manifestos and speeches by the American generals who have come here. But it was not so. These generals took all my concessions in the cause of peace and friendship as indications of weakness. So, their ambition increasing, they sent forces to Iloilo, on the 26th of December last, with the object of taking possession in the guise of conquerors of the islands occupied by my government.

"Such a proceeding, so far removed from the principles of good conduct and from the practice observed by civilised nations, gives me the right to act quite independently of such considerations. However, for the sake of acting with propriety up to the end, I sent to General Otis commissioners, with instructions to beg him to desist from his rash undertaking; but these overtures were entirely unnoticed. " My government cannot remain indifferent in view of a violent and aggressive usurpation of a portion of our territory by a people which calls itself defender of oppressed nations. So my government is prepared to commence hostilities if the American forces attempt to carry out by force the occupation of the Bisayas. I proclaim these facts before the whole world, in order that the universal conscience may point out inflexibly who are the real oppressors of nations and the executioners of humanity. On their heads be all the blood that will be spilt! "


Reference is made in this proclamation to certain promises made by Consul General Pratt. He assured me that in regard to the matter he only acted upon instructions, as I have stated, and the matter therefore, in justice to him, calls for careful investigation by the American people. "These generals took all my concessions in the cause of peace and friendship as indications of weakness." Can this arraignment be answered? Can this conduct on the part of America be justified? The Filipinos are said to be barbarians, incapable of self-government, because it is alleged they are unacquainted with the conventionalities of civilisation. But this is utterly untrue.

The Filipinos can govern, and govern well, the people of their islands. Those at the head of their present republic are men of culture, of taste, and of education. A stranger planted on the moors of Yorkshire, and coming into contact with the yokels of that county, might say that England was unfit for self-government, but ministers of state do not belong to these classes in England, nor in the Philippines, nor in any other country in the world.

For several months the Filipinos had charge of the internal government of the islands; and they were admirably governed. They controlled the postal and telegraphic arrangements for the interior, and all foreigners know how perfect that service was. These proclamations of Aguinaldo are remarkable in their sentiments and sincerity, and read beside the proclamations of General Otis make the generosity of the nation protecting the "oppressed" pale before the magnanimity of the Filipinos. They point to a blot so black upon the history of the war that the American people, not the government, will have difficulty in preventing it from obliterating its glory and its cause!

Can it be said that these two proclamations contain the hysterical sentiments of a frenzied and barbaric people? The American nation will admit, when the true facts are made known to them, that great injustice has been done to General Aguinaldo, the President of the Filipinos, who in his proclamation calls upon his creator to witness that he has done all in his power to avoid bloodshed.

"I have," he says, "laid before the American generals the injustice that has been done me." Have those generals reported those injustices to the American government? If they have not,why not? and if they have, has the government made any atonement for the wrongs it has done toward an innocent and confiding people? From mypersonal knowledge, I know that the United States, through its representative, General Otis, declined to recognise the Filipinos as a race of men, and refused to listen to their prayers for mercy and for justice.

General Aguinaldo, like a man, proclaims not only to the Americans, but to all the representatives of the world, that he had been promised the independence of his people in consideration of his assisting America to destroy Spain's forces in the Philippines. He calls upon the consuls of all nations to witness that whatever blood may be shed, the responsibility for it rests upon the shoulders of the American representatives. If the statements contained in the proclamation of Aguinaldo were untrue, why did Otis not deny them in a subsequent proclamation, not only to the Filipino people but to the representatives of the civilised nations of the world?

Anxious Time in Manila-Another ProclamationExodus of Natives Rumoured Massacre of Americans-Within the " Rebel" Lines The British Flag a Passport-" Rebel" Launches - Drill of " Rebel" Soldiers - Otis declines to assist British Merchants - The Forces at Cavite - Another Scare -A Filipino child shot dead

AFTER the issue of these proclamations, the city was in a very disturbed condition, and great anxiety prevailed. The last proclamation was considered as a declaration of war by the Filipinos, against the Americans. It was estimated that there were about two hundred thousand " rebels " in the city employed as servants to the Americans and Europeans, and in other positions. These serving people were armed with bolos and guns, and were prepared to rise upon a given signal from Aguinaldo. Around the city, it was stated, there were thirty thousand armed troops, in addition to the two hundred thousand men in the city.

That a scheme for a rising had been organised was true, as I afterward heard at Mololos. An attack, it was alleged, had been planned upon Manila for the I 5th of January, when at a certain hour the two hundred thousand rebels in the city were to rise, cut off the electric light, and massacre the Americans, whilst the troops outside the city were to attack at all points. The English and other foreign inhabitants were to hang at their gates their national flag, and their houses were to be left untouched by the Filipinos. The native women were ordered by Aguinaldo to leave Manila, and in the event of their not doing so, the risk and responsibility were to be their own. Carts, trucks, and other vehicles were passing in a continuous train, through the streets, all day long, conveying Filipino women with their children and their household effects to the railway station, en route for the interior.

Mr. Higgins told me he was obliged to run special trains almost hourly, in order to cope with the increased passenger traffic. It was calculated that five thousand Filipinos left Manila by train and by road in twenty-four hours. This exodus from the city continued for many days. Having my wife with me in Manila, I was naturally anxious to ascertain the real dangers to which she was likely to be subjected. I therefore asked my friend, Mr. Higgins, to arrange for me an interview with General Aguinaldo. This he was good enough to do. He and Mr. Wood, my kind host, and I proceeded by an early train to Mololos, distant about thirty-five miles from Manila. Mr. Higgins had provided for my accommodation his private car, which was attached to the end of the train. After we had left Manila station, we passed almost immediately out of the American lines and entered those of the Filipinos.

At Coloogan station, about three miles from Manila, where the train waited, the Filipinos had dug excellent trenches, and had erected guns along the railway track, as I thought, in positions most dangerous to an approaching enemy. This was also the opinion of Captain Montgomery, the commander of H.M.S. Bonaventure, who went into the interior of Luzon to Bayambang with us on one occasion.

On our arrival at the station, the Filipino soldiers, armed with Mauser rifles, surrounded our carriage, thinking we were Americans, and when the station master whistled the train's departure, the Filipino officers in charge of the soldiers ordered it " to halt." The situation was sudden and delicate, as the Filipinos were in earnest. They had levelled their guns at our carriage, and Mr. Higgins, ever ready in an emergency, quickly explained that I was English, going to Mololos to visit Aguinaldo. No further opposition was then offered to the train proceeding.

At Mololos railway station, we were met by Senor Buencamino, one of Aguinaldo's chief officers and advisers. He had very kindly provided caramattas (native carriages) to take us to General Aguinaldo's headquarters, in Mololos town, which is situated about a mile and a half from the station. As we passed the numerous Filipino outposts along the road, we were repeatedly challenged, and but for Sefor Buencamino, we should have had much difficulty in reaching Mololos. Passing through the town, I was surprised to see many stone-built houses, whereas I had expected to see only nipa ones (native houses), as in the interior; but in Mololos there were a great many stone edifices, as in Manila. We arrived at a large building of one story, from which numbers of Filipino soldiers were issuing. I was informed we had reached the headquarters of the Filipinos. This house had been formerly a Spanish monastery.

Sefor Buencamino preceded us and passed between innumerable sentries and officials, to a short, broad staircase, which led to a long wide corridor, in which were standing groups of Filipino officers, dressed in gorgeous and picturesque uniforms, resembling those of the old French hussars. It became immediately apparent how intimately associated Mr. Higgins must have been with these gentlemen, for he was received with the utmost cordiality. I was introduced to many of them, and I found several were men who had travelled in Europe and America, and spoke English fluently. They were educated and thoroughly conversant with Western customs and habits. We were quickly ushered into a large room, or hall, which I understood was the "chamber" of the republic. We were not kept waiting long, before we were informed that Sefor, the President, would be happy to receive us.

General Aguinaldo greeted us in a large well-furnished room, in which I noticed he had a Maxim gun of the most improved type. He was courtly and dignified in his demeanour, and impressed me most favourably. He is a man of some thirty years of age, with a cleanshaven face. He told me he was always happy to meet Englishmen, because he had the most implicit confidence in them and their dealings. I told him the reasons of my visit, and he replied most kindly that he hoped there was no immediate cause for alarm, and he did not see any necessity why a lady should leave Manila, at any rate for the present. He hoped to avoid a conflict with the American forces, but their conduct was a continual source of irritation to his soldiers. He added, that in any event the lives and property of the British and other foreigners should be protected and respected. It might be well to display from the windows of the house the English flag. Mr. Wood told General Aguinaldo that it was our intention to go to the Lake de Bay during the next few days, and he promised to send a pass through his lines at Santa Ana.

General Aguinaldo impressed me as a man of great reticence and discernment. He talked little, but paid great attention to everything that was said to him. After our interview, we returned to Manila. The Manila newspapers continued to excite the minds of both the American and Filipino soldiers by their ridiculous and inflammatory inventions. As time passed, affairs were not improved. Trouble commenced between the merchants and General Otis, who declined to assist them in the continuance of their trade. To illustrate this, I will mention a case. Messrs. Smith, Bell & Co., one of the most important firms in Manila, had chartered a vessel from Hong Kong to collect a certain cargo from Cebu, an island some distance from Luzon. The Consul General, Mr. Rounseville Wildman, declined to despatch the vessel from Hong Kong. Messrs. Smith, Bell & Co. then approached General Otis, who refused to assist them. Mr. Wood, a partner in that celebrated house, asked: " Are the Philippine ports to be closed? We are English traders, and have a vessel waiting to take a cargo from an island on which no war has been declared, and you decline to despatch our ship? Am I to cable home to say the Philippine ports are closed to business?")

"You can do as you like," replied General Otis. It was most unfortunate that the British merchants had lost their consul, Mr. Walker, who, as I stated in a previous chapter, died from the effects of the siege; no other consul had been appointed in his place. The acting Consul, Mr. Ramsden, a pleasant and popular man, had no influence, and was entirely disregarded by the American local government on account of his being a coloured man. In the "rebel" lines great excitement prevailed. On the receipt of Aguinaldo's pass, we went in Mr. Wood's launch up the Rio Passig to the Lake de Bay. When we arrived at Mandaloyan and Santa Ana, which is a distance of about five miles by the river, and about three miles by the road, from Manila, we were challenged by the "rebel" sentries. The display of the British flag was a sufficient pass for our launch.

Santa Ana was at that time the stronghold of the so-called rebels surrounding that part of Manila, and they occupied as barracks the old Spanish houses in the town. There were a few English families still residing there in the midst of the Filipino lines, amongst whom were Mr. and Mrs. Fitten, and Mr. and Mrs. Macleod. I asked Mr. Fitten, on one occasion, whether his wife was not alarmed at the rumoured reports of war, and he replied, "Oh, no, the Filipino general in command of the forces in Santa Ana assures us we shall be safer here than in Manila." Arriving at Pambeck, a native nipa village, we met two large launches, with three or four hundred "rebel" troops on board. At first they looked fiercely at our launch, and covered us with their guns; but directly they saw the flag we carried, they cheered enthusiastically. These men were coming from the lake region, to take up their positions, and to be in readiness for trouble in Santa Ana. Launches carrying native troops were continuously passing us during the day. Later, on our return, we found the troops we had passed were being drilled within fifty yards of the American lines. The contrast was amazing, -the little Filipino in his clean white uniform, obedient and silent to his superior officer, with banners flying, and bands playing the most charming marches, and on the other hand, the Americans in their dirty and ragged brown khaki uniforms, shouting to each other, and using profane language fluently.

I went also to Cavite and passed the "rebel" sentries, and entered the insurgent quarters of the town. Here, too, the American and Filipino sentinels were only a few yards apart. I was much struck with the attitude taken by the Filipinos. They were, no doubt, preparing for war, and many were sharpening their bolos (native knives) and cleaning their guns. I asked one if I could purchase a bolo, and the Filipino replied: ' I fear we shall need them all. The Americans are forcing us to war, which we have endeavoured to avoid. We have done them no harm, and in return for our good services they desire to kill us." I asked him whether he thought war certain, and he replied, " I hope not; but whatever consequences there may be, our General Aguinaldo has called upon us to be prepared, and perhaps in a week we may be dead." The forces at Cavite were by no means strong, and the Americans could, I knew, either from the sea or the land, destroy every one of these poor creatures, who had enrolled themselves unselfishly under the banner of independence. The most serious "scare," perhaps, that occurred in Manila at any time before February 4, 899, was the one in the afternoon of the I Ith of January, which was attended, it was reported, with the loss of two lives. A soldier on guard in the Escolta, having nothing better to do, shot at a dog in the street three times with his revolver, without effect, and another soldier, who was not far distant, drew his revolver and emptied its chambers at the dog. The noise of the shots being heard, a report was communicated, almost instantly, to every American in the town, that the insurgents had attacked them at last. The panic was terrible: the shops were shut and barricaded; people were rushing trembling with fear from place to place, imploring protection; women and children stood screaming in the streets with fear.

The American soldiers were also stricken with the same panic. The news was communicated immediately to headquarters, where plans were quickly conceived, and from whence intelligent orders were issued; the regiments were called from their quarters, the streets were barricaded, the bridges were armed with men, the traffic was stopped, and inquiries were made. The quickness with which the position was controlled did credit to those responsible for the conception and promulgation of the orders. At the same time the rumours of the unknown danger so excited the American sentries, that a Filipino riding past a sentry, on being challenged and unable to control his horse, was shot dead. Another case -one of the most brutal of all American atrocities in the Philippines, and one which filled the Filipinos with just indignation and horror- was where a Filipino child, playing outside a Chinaman's store, took an egg, laughingly, from his stall, without any intention of stealing it, and was shot by an American soldier. Old John Chinaman is most devoted to children. He was literally amazed that men, reported to be civilised, could hurt, much less kill, anything unable to offer apology or explanation for an offence which in no sense and by no law warranted a criminal's death. I39



Anonymous said...

Bert, I have just discovered your impressive blog. The war of 1899-1902 needs to be "remembered" urgently for the present crisis to be understood. Books like Sheridan's are a must-reading today. Thank you for bringing it to light!

Bert M. Drona said...

Hi rcileto,

Thanks for your encouraging comment. As you obviously know, we Filipinos have to discover some "lost" or "hidden" areas of the past, their illumination will help free us from being continually miseducated.

Americans are similarly miseducated about their own history, i.e. their lack of knowledge of America's dark past, i.e. intervention,brutal conquest and occupation of our homeland and the conditionalities it imposed on the Filipino people for "granting" independence -- all not mentioned in their history books. This ignorance of the general public partly explains the foreign quagmires they repeatedly fall into.


Unknown said...