First Philippine Republic

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Philippine Republic

República Filipina
Repúblikáng Pilipino
1899[Note 1]–1901
Territory claimed by the Philippine Republic, most of which it occupied except Manila and parts of Mindanao.
Territory claimed by the Philippine Republic, most of which it occupied except Manila and parts of Mindanao.
StatusUnrecognized state
Official languagesSpanish, Tagalog (de-facto)[a]
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional republic
• 1899–1901
Emilio Aguinaldo
• 1901–1902
Miguel Malvar (Unofficial)
Prime Minister (President of the Council) 
• 1899
Apolinario Mabini
• 1899
Pedro Paterno
LegislatureNational Assembly
Historical eraPhilippine Revolution
• Established
January 23, 1899[Note 1]
• Dissolved[i]
March 23, 1901
• Total
298,712[4] km2 (115,333 sq mi)
• 1898
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Spanish East Indies
Revolutionary Government
Military Government of the Philippine Islands
Repúbliká ng̃ Katagalugan
  1. ^ For further info re-dissolution, see capture of Emilio Aguinaldo.
First President of the Philippines, Emilio Aguinaldo, in the field.
The Inauguration of the First Philippine Republic in Malolos, January 23, 1899

The Philippine Republic (Spanish: República Filipina; Tagalog: Repúblikáng Pilipino), more commonly known as the First Philippine Republic or the Malolos Republic, was a nascent revolutionary government in the Philippines. It was formally established with Emilio Aguinaldo as president by proclamation of the Malolos Constitution on January 21, 1899, in Malolos, Bulacan,[Note 1] succeeding the Revolutionary Government of the Philippines. It endured until the capture of Aguinaldo by the American forces on March 23, 1901, in Palanan, Isabela, which effectively dissolved the First Republic.

The First Philippine Republic was established after the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish Empire (1896–1897) and the Spanish–American War between Spain and the United States (1898). Following the American victory at the Battle of Manila Bay, Aguinaldo returned to the Philippines, issued the Philippine Declaration of Independence on June 12, 1898, and established successive revolutionary Philippine governments on June 18 and 23 of that year. In December, Sovereignty over the Philippines was transferred from Spain to the United States in the 1898 Treaty of Paris, making the United States formally the Philippines colonial power. The Malolos Constitution establishing the First Philippine Republic was proclaimed the following month. The Philippine–American War began in February 1899, eventually resulting in American victory.

The Philippine Republic was the first constitutional republic in Asia.[5] Although there were several Asian republics predating the First Philippine Republic for example, the Mahajanapadas of ancient India, the Lanfang Republic, the Republic of Formosa or the Republic of Ezo, the Republic at Malolos was the first to frame a comprehensive constitution duly approved by a partially elected congress.[6][failed verification]


In 1896, the Philippine Revolution began against Spanish colonial rule. In 1897, Philippine forces led by Aguinaldo signed a ceasefire with the Spanish authorities and Aguinaldo and other leaders went into exile in Hong Kong. In April 1898, the Spanish–American War broke out. The U.S. Navy's Asiatic Squadron, then in Hong Kong, sailed to the Philippines to engage the Spanish naval forces. On May 1, 1898, the U.S. Navy decisively defeated the Spanish Navy in the Battle of Manila Bay. Later in May, Aguinaldo returned to the Philippines, established a dictatorial government on May 24, 1898[7][8] (formally established by decree on June 18[9]), and on June 12, 1898, at Aguinaldo's ancestral home in Cavite, issued the Philippine Declaration of Independence from Spain. Following the proclamation of independence Aguinaldo established a revolutionary government on June 23, 1898, under which the partly-elected and partly-appointed Malolos Congress convened on September 15 to write a constitution.[10]

On December 10, 1898, the 1898 Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Spanish–American War and transferring the Philippines from Spain to the United States.[11]

The Malolos Constitution written by the congress was proclaimed on January 22, 1899, creating what is known today as the First Philippine Republic, with Aguinaldo as its president.[12][7] The constitution was approved by delegates to the Malolos Congress on January 20, 1899, and sanctioned by Aguinaldo the next day.[12] The convention had earlier elected Aguinaldo president on January 1, 1899, leading to his inauguration on January 23. Parts of the constitution gave Aguinaldo the power to rule by decree.[Note 3] The constitution was titled "Constitución política", and was written in Spanish.[14][12][15]

Philippine–American War[edit]

When the First Philippine Republic was constituted on January 22, 1899 in Malolos, that municipality became the seat of government of the Philippine Republic, and was serving as such when hostilities erupted between U.S. and Filipino forces in the Second Battle of Manila on February 4.[16] On February 4, 1899, armed conflict erupted in Manila between Philippine Republic forces and American forces occupying the city subsequent to the conclusion of the Spanish–American War.[17] That day President Aguinaldo issued a proclamation ordering and commanding that "peace and friendly relations with the Americans be broken and that the latter be treated as enemies, within the limits prescribed by the laws of war."[18] The fighting quickly escalated into the Second Battle of Manila, with Philippine Republic forces being driven out of the city.[19]

American forces pushing north from Manila after the outbreak of fighting captured Caloocan on February 10.[20] On March 29, as American forces threatened Malolos, the seat of government moved to San Isidro, Nueva Ecija.[21] On March 31, American forces captured Malolos, the initial seat of the Philippine Republic government, which had been gutted by fires set by withdrawing Philippine Republic forces.[22] Emilio Aguinaldo and the core of the revolutionary government had by then moved to San Isidro, Nueva Ecija.[23] Peace negotiations with the American Schurman Commission during a brief ceasefire in April–May 1899 failed,[23] and San Isidro fell to American forces on May 16.[24] The Philippine Republic core government had moved by then to Bamban, Tarlac, and subsequently moved to Tarlac town.[25] Aguinaldo's party had already left Tarlac, the last capital of the Philippine Republic, by the time American troops occupied it on November 13.[26]

American forces captured Calumpit, Bulacan on April 27 and, moving north, captured Apalit, Pampanga with little opposition on May 4 and San Fernando, Pampanga on May 5. This forced the seat of government to be shifted according to the demands of the military situation.[27][Note 2]

In October 1899 American forces were in San Fernando, Pampanga and the Philippine Republic was headquartered not far north of there, in Angeles. On October 12, an American offensive to the north forced the Philippine Republic to relocate its headquarters in November to Tarlac, and then to Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.[28] On November 13, under pressure by American forces, Aguinaldo and a party departed Bayombong by rail for Calasiao, Pangasinan, from where they immediately proceeded eastwards to Sta. Barbara in order to evade pursuing American forces. In Sta. Barbara, they joined a force of some 1200 armed men led by General Gregorio del Pilar.[29]

On November 13, in a conference in Bayambang, Pangasinan, Aguinaldo decided to disperse his army and begin guerrilla war. From that point on, distance and the localistic nature of the fighting prevented him from exercising a strong influence on revolutionary or military operations.[26] Recognizing that American troops blocked his escape east, he turned north and west on November 15, crossing the mountains into La Union province.[30] Aguinaldo's party eluded pursuing American forces, passing through Tirad Pass near Sagada, Mountain Province where the Battle of Tirad Pass was fought on December 2 as a rear guard action to delay the American advance and ensure his escape. At the time of the battle, Aguinaldo and his party were encamped in Cervantes, about 10 km south of the pass. After being notified by a rider of the outcome of the battle and the death of del Pilar, Aguinaldo ordered that camp be broken, and departed with his party for Cayan settlement.[31]

Aguinaldo's party, traveling with del Pilar's force, reached Manaoag, Pangasinan on November 15. There, the force was split into vanguard and rear guard elements, with Aguinaldo and del Pilar in the vanguard.[32] The vanguard force overnighted in Tubao, La Union, departed there on November 16, and was in Naguilian, La Union by November 19, where word was received that American forces had taken Santo Tomas and had proceeded to Aringay. Aguinaldo's force arrived in Balaoan, La Union on November 19, pushed on the next day, and arrived at the Tirad Pass, a natural choke point, on November 23. General del Pilar decided to place a blocking force in Tirad Pass to delay pursuing American forces while Aguinaldo's party moved on.[33]

The Battle of Tirad Pass took place on December 2, 1899. 52 men of del Pilar's 60-man force were killed, including del Pilar himself. However, the Filipinos under del Pilar held off the Americans long enough for Aguinaldo's party to escape. Aguinaldo, encamped with his party about 10 km south of the pass in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, was apprised of the result of the battle by a rider, and moved on. The party reached Banane settlement on December 7, where Aguinaldo paused to consider plans for the future. On December 16, the party departed for Abra to join forces with General Manuel Tinio.[34] The party traveled on foot through a pass at the summit of Mount Polis, and arrived at Ambayuan the next morning. The party pushed on to Banane, pursued closely by American forces. At this point, Aguinaldo's party consisted of one field officer, 11 line officers, and 107 men. The remainder of December 1899 was spent in continuous trek.[35]

The party was at the border of Abra and Cagayan provinces on Aguinaldo's 31st birthday on March 23, 1900. The trek from place to place continued until about May 22, 1900, when Aguinaldo established a new headquarters in Tierra Virgen.[36] On August 27, 1900, after American forces landed at Aparri, Cagayan, Aguinaldo concluded that Tierra Virgan had become untenable as a headquarters and decided to march to Palanan, Isabela.[36] On December 6, 1900, the party reached Dumasari, and arrived in Palanan the following morning.[37]

Aguinaldo remained in Palanan until his capture there by American forces with the aid of the native scouts on March 23, 1901.[37] Following his capture, Aguinaldo announced allegiance to the United States on April 1, 1901, formally ending the First Republic and recognizing the sovereignty of the United States over the Philippines.



Executive power was exercised by the President, through his cabinet secretaries. The incumbent president of the Revolutionary Republic initially assumed the presidency. Presidents were elected by the legislature to terms of four years and is eligible for reelection.

1. Confer civil and military employment in accordance to the law; 2. Appoint Secretaries of Government; 3. Direct diplomatic and commercial relations with other powers; 4. Ensure the swift and complete administration of justice in the entire territory; 5. Pardon lawbreakers in accordance to the law, subject to the provisions relating to the Secretaries of Government; 6. Preside over national solemnities, and welcome accredited envoys and representatives of foreign powers.

National cabinet[edit]

The constitution established a Council of Government (Cabinet), composed of a President and seven Secretaries. The following individuals were appointed to Cabinet positions:[39]

Office Name Term
President of the Cabinet[40][41][42] Apolinario Mabini January 2 – May 7, 1899[42]
Pedro Paterno May 7 – November 13, 1899[42][b]
Secretary of Foreign Affairs[40][41] Apolinario Mabini October 1, 1898 – May 7, 1899[42]
Secretary of the Interior[40][41] Teodoro Sandico January 2 – May 7, 1899[42]
Secretary of Finance[40][41] Mariano Trías January 2 – May 7, 1899[42]
Hugo Ilagan May 7 – November 13, 1899[42][b]
Severino de las Alas May 7 – November 13, 1899[42][b]
Secretary of War and Marine[40][41] Baldomero Aguinaldo July 15, 1898 – May 7, 1899[42]
Mariano Trías May 7 – November 13, 1899[42][b]
Secretary of Justice Gregorio Araneta September 2, 1898 – May 7, 1899[42]
Secretary of Welfare[40][41][c] Gracio Gonzaga January 2 – May 7, 1899[42]
Felipe Buencamino May 7 – November 13, 1899[42][b]
Maximo Paterno May 7 – November 13, 1899[42][b]
Secretary of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce[40][41] León María Guerrero May 7 – November 13, 1899[42][b]
  1. ^ The Malolos Constitution was written in Spanish,[1] and specifies, "Spanish language will be used in the meantime."[2] Laws were promulgated in Spanish and Tagalog. Official communications were conducted primarily in Spanish and Tagalog.[3]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Several sources assert that shortly after installation of the Paterno cabinet, General Antonio Luna arrested Paterno and some or all of the cabinet secretaries.[43][44] At least one source asserts that the Mabini cabinet was reinstalled after the arrests.[44] Another source asserts that those arrested were released on orders of President Aguinaldo, but does not provide any indication about whether the Mabini or the Paterno cabinet was in office after the release.[43]
  3. ^ In the Mabini cabinet, the Secretary of Welfare had responsibility for Public Instruction, Communications & Public Works, and Agriculture, Industry & Commerce.[42]

The following are the executive departments: Foreign Relations, Interior, Finance, War and the Navy, Public Instruction, Public Works and Communications, Agriculture, Industries and Commerce.


Legislative power was exercised by an Assembly of Representatives initially composed by members of the Revolutionary Government and subsequently elected to four year terms and organized in the form and manner determined by law and referred to at various points in the constitution as the National Assembly. It specified that assembly members would be chosen by election, but left the manner of the election to be later specified by law. The assembly was initially composed of the former members of the Malolos Congress and had powers and responsibilities detailed in Title IV of the constitution.

Provincial and local government[edit]

Municipal and provincial governments under the Republic had quickly reorganized upon Aguinaldo's decrees of June 18 and 20, 1898.[45] The Malolos Constitution cited on Article 82 the organization of provincial and popular assemblies which had the power of taxation.

The government also claimed jurisdiction over the overseas territory of Palaos (Modern day Palau) and the Sulu archipelago. Both areas are represented in the Congress by representatives appointed by President Emilio Aguinaldo. Aguinaldo sent a letter to the Sultan of Sulu requesting that the islands be part of the First Philippine Republic, but the letter was ignored.[46]


Provisional Law on the Judiciary was issued on March 7, 1899, in accordance to the provisions of the 1899 Malolos Constitution providing that the Chief Justice shall be chosen by the National Assembly with the concurrence of the president and secretaries of the government. Aguinaldo appointed Apolinario Mabini to be the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on August 23, 1899; however, the appointment did not materialize because of the Philippine–American War.[47][48][49]

The Supreme Court included Gracio Gonzaga serving as president; Juan Arceo and Felix Ferrer as Chamber Presidents; and Deogracias Reyes, Juan Tongco, Pablo Tecson and Ygnacio Villamor serving as Associate Justices[50]


The postage stamps of the Revolutionary Government.
The one peso of the Revolutionary Government.

One of the important laws passed by the Malolos Congress was the law providing for a national loan to buoy up the national budget in which the Republic was trying to balance. The loan, worth 20 million pesos, was to be paid in 40 years with an annual interest of six percent. The law was decreed by Aguinaldo on November 30, 1898.[45][clarification needed][page needed]


When Philippine independence was declared on June 12, 1898, the Philippine Revolutionary Army was renamed the Philippine Republican Army. Aguinaldo then appointed Antonio Luna as Director or Assistant Secretary of War by September 28, 1898, and the Philippines first military school, the Academia Militar was established in Malolos.

When the Republic was inaugurated on January 23, Luna had succeeded Artemio Ricarte as the Commanding General of the Republican Army. With such powers at hand, Luna attempted to transform the weak, undisciplined revolutionary army into a disciplined regular army for the service of the Republic.[51]

Seats of government[edit]

First Philippine Republic is located in Luzon
Nueva Ecija
Nueva Ecija
Provinces that served as capital of the First Philippine Republic designated by Aguinaldo in his attempt to escape the American forces.
  • Cavite El Viejo – The hometown of General Aguinaldo where the declaration of independence was proclaimed on June 12, 1898.
  • Bacoor, Cavite – The declaration of independence was first ratified in Cuenca House by 190 municipal presidents of different towns from 16 provinces.
  • Malolos, Bulacan – In September 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo made the Paroquia dela Inmaculada Concepcion, an Augustinian-built town church (now Cathedral Basilica) of Malolos, the executive palace while the nearby Barasoain Church served as the legislative house where the Malolos Constitution was written. When the Americans captured Malolos, Aguinaldo ordered General Antonio Luna to burn the Malolos Church, including its huge silver altar.
  • Angeles, Pampanga – On March 17, 1899, General Emilio Aguinaldo transferred the seat of the First Philippine Republic to Angeles. It then became the site of celebrations for the first anniversary of Philippine independence.
  • San Isidro, Nueva Ecija – On March 29, 1899, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo arrived in Nueva Ecija and the town was made temporary capital of the First Philippine Republic. He stayed in this house which served as his executive office. When the Americans occupied San Isidro, the Sideco house served as the headquarters of Col. Frederick Funston who would later capture General Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela. General Aguinaldo's capture is said to have been planned in this house. It is now occupied by a Christian organization.[52]
  • Tarlac – The Casa Real de Tarlac served as headquarters of the revolutionary capital after Nueva Ecija was captured by the Americans in 1899.
  • Pangasinan – In November 1899, Emilio Aguinaldo designated Bayambang as seat of government after Tarlac was captured by the Americans.
  • Kalinga – Emilio Aguinaldo made Lubuagan the seat of government for 73 days, from 6 March 1900 to 18 May 1900 before his escape and eventual capture at Palanan, Isabela.
  • Palanan, Isabela – On March 23, 1901, General Aguinlado was captured by American forces with the aid of the native scouts and eventually detained in a villa near Malacañang Palace.[53]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c The Malolos Constitution was approved by the Malolos Congress on January 20, 1899, sanctioned by Aguinaldo on January 21, and promulgated on January 22 (see items 27 and 27a in Guevara 1972). The republic was proclaimed on January 23 (see items 28, 28a and 28b in Guevara 1972).
  2. ^ a b Sources disagree regarding the specific locations which were temporarily capitals of the Philippine Republic. For example: | Duka 2008, p. 191 lists a progression after Malolos from Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija to Tarlac to Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya to Bayambang, Pangasinan. | Schultz 2000, p. 322 says that the capital transferred from Malolos to San Fernando, Pampanga. | Calit 2003, p. 57 asserts that Aguinaldo established his capital at San Isidro, Nueva Ecija after abandoning Malolos. | Linn 2000a, p. 136 does not give a comprehensive list, but notes that Aguinaldo's cabinet, reduced to a handful of ministers, moved from capital to capital.
  3. ^ The three parts of the constitution which are of particular interest are:
    Article 4 -- paragraph 1 lists three distinct powers: "the legislative, the executive, and the judicial", and paragraph 2 provides: , "the legislative, the executive, and the judicial", specifies that any two or more of these powers shall never be vested in a single individual, and specifies that the legislative power shall never be vested in a single individual.[10]
    • Articles 54 and 55 -- these mandate the election of seven legislators to a Permanent Commission which is to meet when convoked by its presiding officer during periods of legislative adjournment. This commission is mandated, among other things, "To act on pending matters which require proper action."[10]
    • Article 99 --"Notwithstanding the general rule established in paragraph 2 of Article 4, in the meantime that the country is fighting for its independence, the Government is empowered to resolve during the closure of the Congress all questions and difficulties not provided for in the laws, which give rise to unforeseen events, by the issuance of decrees, of which the Permanent Commission shall be duly apprised as well as the Assembly when it meets in accordance with this Constitution."[10]
    In April 1899, the Permanent Commission is said to have been composed of Pedro A. Paterno, Felix Ferrer, Juan Nepomuceno, Arsenic Cruz Herrera, Joaquin Gonzales, Hugo Ilagan, and Alberto Barretto.[13]


  1. ^ "The 1899 Malolos Constitution in Spanish with a sideby-side English translation". Official Gazette of the Philippine Government. Retrieved May 24, 2021.
  2. ^ Guevara 1972, p. 117
  3. ^ Taylor, John R.M., ed. (1903). Philippine Insurgent Records. U.S. Department of War. pp. 8, 16-18, 37.
  4. ^ a b La Dinastía (Barcelona). 29/11/1898, page 3. as returned in search results at the National Library of Spain.
  5. ^ Guevara 1972, pp. 104–119 (English translation by Sulpicio Guevara)
  6. ^ Tucker, Spencer C. (2009). The Encyclopedia of the Spanish–American and Philippine–American Wars: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. p. 364. ISBN 978-1-85109-951-1.
  7. ^ a b Kalaw 1927, pp. 423–427
  8. ^ Titherington 1900, pp. 357–358
  9. ^ Guevara 1972, pp. 10–12
  10. ^ a b c d Guevara 1972, pp. 104–119
  11. ^ Treaty of Peace Between the United States and Spain; December 10, 1898, Yale
  12. ^ a b c Guevara 1972, p. 104
  13. ^ Zafra 1967, p. 239
  14. ^ Guevara 1972, p. 88
  15. ^ Tucker 2009, pp. 364–365
  16. ^ Agoncillo 1997, p. 373
  17. ^ Linn 2000a, p. 46
  18. ^ Halstead 1898, p. 318
  19. ^ Linn 2000a, pp. 46–49
  20. ^ Agoncillo 1997, pp. 379–381
  21. ^ Agoncillo 1997, p. 388
  22. ^ Linn 2000a, p. 99
  23. ^ a b Linn 2000a, p. 109
  24. ^ Linn 2000a, p. 116.
  25. ^ Linn 2000a, pp. 115–116
  26. ^ a b Linn 2000b, p. 16
  27. ^ Agoncillo 1997, p. 392
  28. ^ Agoncillo 1997, p. 446
  29. ^ Agoncillo 1997, p. 447
  30. ^ Linn 2000a, p. 148.
  31. ^ Teodoro A. Agoncillo (1997). Malolos: The Crisis of the Republic. University of the Philippines Press. p. 454. ISBN 978-971-542-096-9.
  32. ^ Agoncillo 1997, pp. 447–448
  33. ^ Agoncillo 1997, p. 449
  34. ^ Agoncillo 1997, p. 455
  35. ^ Agoncillo 1997, pp. 456–458
  36. ^ a b Agoncillo 1997, p. 460
  37. ^ a b Agoncillo 1997, pp. 485–486
  38. ^ Guevara 1972, p. 115
  39. ^ Details of the composition of the cabinet differ between sources. Master List of Cabinet Members since 1899 in the Philippine Government's Official Gazette is more comprehensive than other sources seen, listing information for both the Mabini and Paterno cabinets.[38]
  40. ^ a b c d e f g Guevara, Sulpico, ed. (2005). "Title IX The Secretaries of Government". The laws of the first Philippine Republic (the laws of Malolos) 1898–1899. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Library (published 1972). p. 115. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  41. ^ a b c d e f g Tucker, Spencer (2009). The Encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. p. 496. ISBN 978-1-85109-951-1.
  42. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Master List of Cabinet Members since 1899" (PDF). Philippine Government. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 20, 2016. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  43. ^ a b Constantino, Renato; Constantino, Letizia R. (1975). A History of the Philippines. NYU Press. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-85345-394-9.
  44. ^ a b Golay, Frank H. (1997), Face of Empire: United States-Philippine relations, 1898-1946, Ateneo de Manila University Press, p. 50, ISBN 978-971-550-254-2
  45. ^ a b Agoncillo, Teodoro (1960). Malolos: The Crisis of the Republic.
  46. ^ "Greater Philippines: Captaincy General of the Philippines". Presidential Museum and Library. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  47. ^ Pobre, Cesar. Philippine Legislature.
  48. ^ Blocked from being chief justice
  49. ^ History of the Supreme Court
  50. ^ The Laws of the First Philippine Republic, Sulpicio Guevarra
  51. ^ Jose, Vicencio (1972). The Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna. Solar Pub. Corporation. ISBN 9789711707002.
  52. ^ Capture of Aguinaldo, March 23, 1901, Philippine-American War, 1899–1902 by Arnaldo Dumindin
  53. ^ Benjamin R. Beede; Richard L. Blanco (1994). Benjamin R. Beede (ed.). The War of 1898, and U.S. Interventions, 1898-1934. Taylor & Francis. p. 281. ISBN 9780824056247.