AGUINALDO, EMILIO (1869-1964).
President of the first Republic of the Philippines and leader of the revolution
against Spain and America. The seventh child of Carlos Aguinaldo and Trinidad
Famy, Emilio was born on March 22, 1869, in Dawit, Cavite. At age 17, he was
appointed by the Spanish government cabeza de barangay, i.e. the head of
a governmental unit. As he proved to be a capable official, he was promoted to
capitan municipal (mayor) in 1895. When the Spanish-American Revolution
broke out, he led the uprising in his home province of Cavite. In a political
dispute with Andres Bonifacio founder of the Katipunan, he led his own
armed force against the Spaniards. He formed a revolutionary government and at
age 29 he was elected president. With the war in Cuba, the Spanish government
negotiated the pact of Biak-na-Bato on December 15, 1897, with Aguinaldo, who
agreed to accept $800,000 from the Spanish government and to go with his
officers into exile to Hong Kong. There he met Commodore George Dewey, American
commander of a naval fleet, who was waiting for his orders to proceed to the
Philippines following the outbreak of the Spanish-American Revolution.
Aguinaldo agreed to an alliance with the Americans to destroy the
Spanish army and navy. Aguinaldo returned to the Philippines to lead the Filipino forces. After the destruction of the Spanish Navy by Dewey, Aguinaldo organized a provisional revolutionary government and proclaimed independence on June 12, 1898, in Kawit, Cavite. However, the Americans refused to recognize the Aguinaldo government and hostilities began when an American sentry shot three Filipino soldiers who were crossing the San Juan Bridge in Rizal province. This incident sparked the Philippine-American Revolution. Aguinaldo and his forces fought a protracted guerrilla war against the Americans. The war ended when he was captured by the Americans on March 23, 1901, in a remote town in Isabela province.
At age 32 he took the oath of allegiance to the Americans and retired to his hometown of Kawit to lead the life of a gentleman farmer. His first wife Hilaria Del Rosario, with whom he had five children, died on March 21, 1921. He married his second wife, Maria Agoncillo, on July 14, 1930. He ran for the presidency of the Philippine Commonwealth in 1935 and lost to Manuel L. Quezon. He spent the rest of his life leading the veterans of the Revolution, which he organized to secure pensions for its members. He died of coronary thrombosis on February 6, 1964, at the age of 95.
Taken from Artemio R. Guillermo and May Kyi Win. Historical Dictionary of the Philippines. Asian / Oceanian Historical Dictionaries, No. 24. (Lanham, Maryland and London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. 1997), pp. 19-20.