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Emilio Aguinalado ? The Struggle for Filipino Independence

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By many standards, Emilio Aguinaldo lived a very full and long life. Born on the 22nd of March 1867 to multi-racial parents (Chinese and Tagalog heritage) in a place called Kawit, his rise to fame could have been predicted. As a young man, he was very enterprising. After quitting formal education at an early age to help manage his family’s farm business, he has been involved in other activities which include, inter-island shipping and local politics. His active involvement in politics saw him elected to hold various political posts in his small community, including Town Head. His political willpower was increasing.

In 1895, the same year his father died, he joined a rebel sect called the Katipunan and took over firm leadership of the sect after the Philippines-Spaniards revolt in 1897. When it was obvious that the Katipunan forces were losing the struggle to their Spanish colonial masters, he was forced to enter into a peace treaty with them and exile in Hong Kong with a pension of 400,000 pesos. In exile, he used these funds instead to purchase weapons for his rebel group to continue their struggle even in his absence.

When the United States declared a war on Spain in early 1898, there was hope that the Philippines would soon achieve independence from Spaniard forces. Emilio returned home, mobilised his troops and, instead of lending them to the United States to support their struggle against Spain, he declared the Philippines independent on June 12.

Aguinaldo’s forces continued to fight independently for the liberation their islands when it became obvious to them that the objective of the United States’ was different from theirs. In January 1899, a constitutional convention was held and Emilio Aguinaldo was declared the President of the Philippines. This declaration however was not supported or recognised by the United States so they under-minded Aguinaldo’s authority. He reacted and declared war against the United States forces that were still occupying the island but was captured in events following this.

In 1901, Aguinaldo accepted to pledge his allegiance to the United States in exchange for freedom. With this, he retired from active politics with a pension. Like an old habit, he came back to politics in 1935 to run for president of the republic when preparation for independence was underway. He lost the elections however and returned to his private life until the Japanese invaded again in 1941 and used him to achieve their means. The United States came back and arrested him again.

The independence that Emilio Aguinaldo fought for the Philippines only came to pass 48 years later. Though he was not where he thought he would be in terms of power, he was close. He was freed by presidential pardon and appointed by then president as a member to the Council of States in 1950. He spent his later years promoting democracy, veterans’ affairs, nationalism and foreign affairs relations with the United States.

He died in February 6, 1964 from heart related complications at the ripe age of 94. 


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