November 24, 2018 at 12:30 am
"Here is the second part of my piece on General Emilio Aguinaldo. "
Last week, I wrote about why I agree with President Duterte’s declaration of March 22, 2019 as Emilio Aguinaldo Day to commemorate the country’s first president’s 150th birth anniversary. I also began to respond to an article on Interaksyon entitled, “With new declaration, questionable hero Emilio Aguinaldo now has a day” written by Catalina Ricci S. Madarang.
Ms. Madarang painted Gen. Aguinaldo as a villain and used three important historical events to besmirch him: the Tejeros Convention, Gen. Antonio Luna’s and Supremo Andres Bonifacio’s deaths. My last piece discussed why Aguinaldo could not have manipulated the Tejeros Convention (as claimed by the writer) because it was the Magdiwang, not Aguinaldo’s group, Magdalo, that organized and controlled the event with Bonifacio himself as the presiding officer. The Magdiwang dominated the convention as there were were only a handful of Magdalos (eight or nine) there. It was also held in Tejeros, a Magdiwang territory.
Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo was manning the battlefield in Pasong Santol so he was NOT in Tejeros for the convention. In fact, when he was summoned to take his oath after being elected as president, he refused to leave the battlefront because the Spaniards were already upon them. The second group that summoned him was led by his brother Gen. Crispulo Aguinaldo who promised Miong that the enemies would only be able to claim the territory “over his dead body.” Miong relented, took his oath as president BUT Crispulo perished in the battle of Pasong Santol. Such was Aguinaldo’s personal tragedy in relation with Tejeros.
Ms. Madarang, in her piece said, “Intriguing details surrounding Aguinaldo’s heroism resurfaced recently thanks to Tarog’s film … wherein Aguinaldo was tagged in the killing of Antonio Luna”. Obviously, she failed to recognize that the film Heneral Luna is not a documentary. As said at the beginning, it is FICTION based on historical facts. Therefore, an intelligent viewer will not fall for it hook, line, and sinker.
Recently also, a telegram alleged to have been sent by Aguinaldo to Luna has been making the rounds online. Said telegram is going to be auctioned off by the Leon Gallery. The piece “Aguinaldo’s deadly telegram to Heneral Luna emerges in auction” by Amierielle Anne Bulan features a picture of the telegram. Immediately Ms. Bulan called the paper “Aguinaldo’s deadly telegram to Heneral Luna,” which, intentionally or not, revealed her bias against Aguinaldo. She did not question the authenticity of the document which is crucial.
She immediately concluded that “…It’s the telegram historians have been looking for for more than a century…” Further, Ms. Bulan said, “Luna was committed to protecting the people during the war with the “urgent matters” he wanted to discuss with the president. Aguinaldo, on the other hand, was committed to silencing Luna.” What judgment! I daresay that the writer did not do her research well, and perhaps does not know much about the circumstances surrounding Luna’s death.
A most important thing is for the telegram to be authenticated. There is no proof that it was indeed from Aguinaldo. On this, I hope that the Aguinaldo descendants will move and demand that the telegram be subjected to authentication process.
If the telegram was supposed to be in the handwriting of Gen. Miong, it can easily be ascertained if the penmanship was his. While I am no expert, I am quite familiar with Gen. Miong’s handwriting because I have been transcribing some of his unpublished notes. The one on the telegram attributed to him is very different from his existing self-written records during the period.
Moreover, even if the telegram is authentic, it could have been sent by anybody, especially Luna’s enemies (and he had many) without the knowledge of Aguinaldo to make sure that Luna would go to Cabanatuan.
In one of Aguinaldo’s unpublished notes, and in earlier publications, Aguinaldo denied having sent Luna a telegram asking the latter to come to Cabanatuan. On the contrary, Aguinaldo said that it was Luna who sent him a telegram on June 1 asking for an audience with him to discuss urgent matters. Luna said that he would arrive in the Presidential headquarters on June 5. Aguinaldo said that he did not answer this telegram because he already knew that Luna would insist on his “golpe de estado” plan against the other members of his Cabinet that Luna has accused of being traitors. Luna wanted a coup. The president believed that should Luna succeed, this could result in a civil war and Aguinaldo did not want that.
Instead of waiting for Luna, Aguinaldo left on June 3. He gave instructions to those left behind that should Gen. Luna arrive on June 5 and create trouble (because of Luna’s temper), they should disarm and jail Him. Aguinaldo was off to disband Luna’s biggest powerbase with the help of Gen. Gregorio del Pilar. This was meant to clip Luna’s powers to prevent him from carrying out the coup he was planning.
The questionable telegram attributed to Aguinaldo bears the date June 4. Per Aguinaldo’s notes, he was traveling on foot with Gen. Goyo the whole day. It was unlikely for him to go to town to send a telegram especially since they were also evading the Americans. This telegram in the name of Gen. Aguinaldo could have been sent by anyone who wanted Luna to be in Cabanatuan while Aguinaldo was away. After all, it is on record that Luna has mistreated many revolutionists and made many enemies.
It should also be noted that forging documents was a common tactic done during this time. Americans forged papers to defeat the revolutionists. Even Andres Bonifacio forged papers to incriminate wealthy Filipinos who did not want to support the Katipunan. He made it appear that those people were Katipunan members or supporters. Many of them were arrested and jailed by the Spaniards, and a good number was executed.
According to Teodoro Agoncillo’s book Malolos, The Crisis of the Republic, Aguinaldo only knew of Luna’s death on June 6 from Gen. Venancio Concepcion (one of Luna’s men) who said that, “For about five minutes, Aguinaldo remained speechless, surprise written all over his face.” This testimony is quite telling considering that Concepcion was Luna’s man.
Moreover, in an interview with Aguinaldo, in response to Agoncillo’s questions about Luna’s death, the general said that he was no fool and that if he wanted Luna dead, he would not do it within the vicinity of his headquarters that could easily be attributed to him. Aguinaldo said that it would have been easy for him to have Luna killed on the battlefield and blame it on the Americans. Indeed, Aguinaldo was an astute military strategist as proven by his many victories in the battlefield.
There is also the question of timing. Ms. Bulan’s piece said that the telegram set to be auctioned has been in the possession of one of Gen. Luna’s descendants. If this is the smoking telegram that has been missing for more than a century and could give Gen. Luna the justice he deserves, why release it only now?
Luna’s death is a tragedy. It is equally tragic that people just blame this on Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo who had nothing to gain for having Luna killed.
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