Philippines History: The Philippines Insurection (1899-1913)

Figure 1.--

The Philippines like Cuba were fighting to overthrow Spanish rule in the 1ate-19th century. The Philippines war for independence was not as widespread as the movement in Cuba, but it existed. The Filipino rebels were lead by José Rizal, but he was captured and executed by the Spanish. Emilio Aguinaldo who was in exile assumed control of the rebel movement. Commodore George Dewey after the triumph at Manila Bay (1898), arranged for Aguinaldo's return to the Islands. Most Filipinos rejoiced at the defeat of the Spanish and end to Spanish colonial rule (August 1898). Most Filipinos assumed that the United States would quickly grant independence which it did in Cuba. The United States was primarily focused on Cuba and had not given extensive thought on what to do with the Philippines. Admiral Dewey chastened by German moves in the lead up to the war with Spain, advised caution in the Philippines. He concluded that as a result of Spanish colonial rule, there was a relatively small republican element on which to found an independent democratic state. He was especially concerned that the islands would fall into foreign hands--especially Germany which was expanding its navy and actively seeking African and Pacific colonies. Some Filipinos resisted the Americans in a vicious guerilla war. Repeated insurrections and rebellions followed American possession of the Philippines (1898-1903). A young Douglas MacArthur was involved in the fighting.

Philippines Rebellion Against Spain (1897-98)

The Philippines like Cuba were fighting to overthrow Spanish rule in the 1ate-19th century. As is the case for other Asian colonies, many of the independence leaders were indiduals who has studied or lived in Europe. For some reason we do not fully understand, several Filipons seemed to have been attracted to Germany rather than Spain. (Other Asian colonials generally had experiences in the colonial country.) José Rizal who would come to lead the Phiippines independence movement published Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) in Germany (1887). It is often described as the beginning of the Filipino National Awakening. Of course virtually no Filipinos could read it in German. Rizal returned to the Philippines after living in Europe and Hong Komg (June 1892). He founded the Liga Filipina at a Tondo meeting (July 3, 1892). La Liga was a political action group dedicated to non-violent actions to pursue political reforms in the Spanish colonial administration. Spanish police arrested Rizal 3 days later. They found anti-friar bills. He was banished to Dapitan. With out his direction, La Liga gradually floundered. Concluding that the Spanish were not going to allow Filipinos to openly seek cghange, Andrés Bonifacio formed the Katipunan--a secret organization to pursue Filipino independence (July 7). It was organized like a fraternal brotherhood and was intent on armed rebellion. The Katipunan quickly replaced La Liga as the most important Filipino national group. The beginning of the Filipino armed insurection was the Grito de Balintawak (August 26, 1896). It quickly developed in a significan national uprising. Rizal was still was cimmitted to peaceful reforms disassociated himself from the rebellion. He tried to leac=ve the Philippines. The Spanish saw him, however, as the rijg leader despite his public pronouncements. After a military trial, he was executed by firing squad (December 30, 1986). He thus became the martyr of the Philippine Revolution. American politicans and newmen begin to give increasing attention to the Cubn revolution against Spain. There was virtually no discussion of thecPhilippines. American naval intelligence officer William Warren Kimball seems to hace been the first American naval officer to actually assess the possibility of war with Spain. He abticipated a naval action and blockade to free Cuba as well as attacks on Manila the Spanish Mediterranean coast. The Spanish appointed General Fernando Primo de Rivera y Sobremonte governor-general of the Philippines (April 25, 1897). Aguinaldo as leader of the Filipino revolutionary forces issued the Philippine Declaration of Independence (June 12, 1898). This proclaimed the sovereignty and independence of the Philippine Islands from Spain following defeat at the Battle of Manila Bay. Philippine revolutionaries approved a constitution approving the Biak-na-Bato Republic (November 1, 1897). Spanish authorities already bogged down in an interminable guerrila war in Cuba, sought to end a similar protracted conflict in the Philippines. Authories pursued negotiations to end the war before it gews into a major conflict. Pedro Paterno, a noted Filipino intellectual and lawyer, mediated the negitiations. Aguinaldo represented the revolutionists and Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera representing the Spanish colonial government. The result was the Pact of Biak-na-Bato (December 14-15, 1897). The Spanish offered "indemnities" to the revolutionists--800,000 Mexican pesos. The Spanish granted amnesty and permitted Aguinaldo and his associates a voluntary exile to Hong Kong. The Spanish paid most, but not all of the indemnity, in part because scattered resistance continued. The Revolutionaries maintained control of the rebels and used much of the Spanish money to purchase arms. Commodore George Dewey after the triumph at Manila Bay (1898), arranged for Aguinaldo's return to the Islands.

German Interest

Germany at the time of the Spanish-American War had been in contact with Spain. They hoped to purchase the islands. Germany had already acquired several Pacific islands, including parts of New Guinea. Germany acquired the eastern half of New Guinea (1873). A German resident of Jolo, Captain Hermann Leopold Schuck, asked his country to intervene in the Philippines on the behalf of the Sultan of Sulu. The sultanate at that time was fifgting Spanish colonial. (1876). Next theGermans aquired half of Samoa (1889). The Philippines would have been a particularly valuable addition to the German Empire. The German Far Eastern Fleet was substantial and could have contested possession of the Philippines with Admiral Dewey's Dewey's squadron. The Germans apparently contemplated intervention. We do not yet have details on German decision making. Some German officials wanted the Kaiser to support Spain against the United States. The Germans dispatched their Far Eastern Squadron to Manila Bay whith the possible intention of making their own claim to the Philippines. It was unclear at the time just what American intentiins were. The close proximity of the two fleets were a dangerous situation. The German squadronn of five ships arrived (June 1898}. The German squadron consisted of SMS Kaiser, SMS Irene, SMS Cormoran, SMS Kaiserin Augusta and SMS Prinzess Wilhelm. And notably the SMS Kaiserin Augusta was commanded by Kaiser's brother Prince Heinrich. The future World War II German naval commander, Erich Raeder, was a crew member. These ships were a stronger force than the ships available to Dewey until August when more American ships arrived. Thecsize of the fleet was a challenge as well as Admiral Otto von Diederichs' challenge to Dewey's blockade could caused an actual military incident. Admiral Dewey at one point informed the German commander, Admiral Otto von Diederichs, "if Germany wants war, all right, we are ready". Other colonial powers (Britain, France,and Japan) also had ships in the area. The appearance of the Royal Navy may have disuaded the Germans. Germany did eventually purchase Spain's remaining Pacific islands, islands inckuding the Marianas that would play a major role in World War II. The Germans also split Samoa with the United States.

Spanish American War (1898-99)

The Spanish-American War announced America's arrival on the world stage. While one of the lesser known American wars, the War had huge implications for America's world role in the 20th century. The path to war led through Cuba. Cuba was the last important Spanisg colony in the Americas. Attempts by the Cubans to ver throw Spanish rule failed. A new revolution broke out (1895) and was brutally supressed by Spanish authorities. American economic interests were damaged in the fighting. Some American began to see strategic interests in Cuba, especially as interest was building for a canal in Central America. The situation in Cuba was brough to the attention of the American public through "yellow journalism" reporting lurid details of actual ad imagines Spanish attrocities. W.R. Hearst's New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer's New York World competed with each other for the most luris stories to increase circulation. War fever grew when a letter written by a Spanish diplomat disparaging President McKinley was published. The sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor made war inevitable. The United States demanded Spain withdraw from Cuba. Spain declared war (April 24, 1898). The American Pacific Fleet commanded by George Dewey was ordered to engage the Spanish Fleet at Manila Bay. Dewey destoyed the Spanish Fleet (May 1). The American Atlantic Fleet sought out the Spanish Atlantic Fleet, but it sought refuge in Santiago Harbor. The advancing American Army forced the Spanish Fleet out and it was destoyed (July 3). Santiago subsequently surrendered. An Armistace was reached (August 12). The Treaty of Paris ending the War was signed (December 10). Spain granted Cuba independence. The United States attempted to control political developments in Cuba, even after withdrawing by insisting that the Platt Amendment be inserted in the Cuban Constitution. Spain ceeded Puerto Rico and Guam to the United States and the Philippines for a $20 million payment. This ended the long history of the Spanish Empire in the America. It also began an involvement of the United States in Latin American affairs. America had earlier acquired the Hawaiian Islands. The acquisition of the Spanish territories (the Philippines and Guam) also further involved America in the Far East.

American Policy

Most Filipinos rejoiced at the defeat of the Spanish and end to Spanish colonial rule (August 1898). There wasa general assimption that the United States would quickly grant independence which it did in Cuba within a few years. The United States was primarily focused on Cuba and had not given extensive thought on what to do with the Philippines. Admiral Dewey chastened by German moves in the lead up to the war with Spain, advised caution in the Philippines. He concluded that as a result of Spanish colonial rule which did not encourage local participation in government. He thus concluded there was a relatively small republican element on which to found an independent democratic state. He was especially concerned that the islands would fall into foreign hands--especially Germany which was expanding its navy and actively seeking African and Pacific colonies.

Philippines Declaration of War (June 1899)

Some Filipinos outraged that the United States did not move immediately to grant independence resisted the Americans in a war that evolved into a vicious guerilla struggle (1898-1903). That struggle is known as the Philippines Insurrection or Philippine-American War. (THe Philippines-American War in a more politically corrected world has come to be the most widely used term.) The U.S. army was pitted against the poorly financed and equipped forces of the First Philippine Republic that had begun the effort to achive Filipino independence from Spain. The United Sttes refused to regognize the Phillipes Declaration of Independenve which had been issued by Tensions between the Philippine Government established by Aguinaldo's rebels escalated. The Filipinos resisted U.S. occupation, especially when it became clear that the United States was not prepared to move immediately to grant independence. Aguinaldo for his part felt betrayed by the American authorities. The Malolos Congress declared war on the United States (June 2, 1899). The Congress President, Pedro Paterno, issuing the Proclamation of War.

Fighting on Luzon (1899-1902)

The conflict began as a conventional war on Luzon, the principal island. The United States deployed a force of about 126,000 men. The United States recruited Macabebe Filipinos. It soon becme clear that The Filipinos did not have the military capability of wageing a conventional war with the United States. The initial struggle was for Manila. The United States had conttrol of the city (late February 1899). The Philippine Army retreated north was forced to retreat north. The Americans pursued them and engagenents were fought at Quingua (April) and Zapote Bridge (June) as the Americans drove north. Rivals assasinated General Antonio Luna (June). The Americans won another victory at Tirad Pass (December). Here Brigadier General Gregorio del Pilar fought a delaying action allow Aguinaldo to escape, but Gregorio was killed in the process. These costly battles and the loss of two of their most effective military commanders seriously weakened tge Philippines ability to contunue conventiinal military operations. . General Frederick Funston finally captured Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela (March 23, 1901). The Americans were auded by Macabebe Scouts. Aguinaldo subsequentky at the Malacañang Palace swore an oath accepting the authority of the United States over the Philippines and pledging his allegiance to the American government (April 1, 1901) He then a few weeks later called on his followers to lay down their arms. “Let the stream of blood cease to flow; let there be an end to tears and desolation,” Aguinaldo said. “The lesson which the war holds out and the significance of which I realized only recently, leads me to the firm conviction that the complete termination of hostilities and a lasting peace are not only desirable but also absolutely essential for the well-being of the Philippines.” While a major step toward ending the war, it did notvend Philippines resistance. General Miguel Malvar took over the leadership of the Filipino government and refused to honor Aguinaldo's call. He launched an attack in Batangas. Other commanddrs like General Vincente Lukban in Samar also continued to resist. General J. Franklin Bell as the war devolved into a guerilla war, adopted increasingly aggressive tactics against . Malvar. He forced civilians into protected hamlets. Suspected guerrillas and civilians were harshly interogated. He also adopted scorched earth tactics agains civilians held to be supporting Malvar. Bell also aggressively pursued Malvar with highly mobile forces. Many of Malvar's supporters deserted or were captured. Malvar finally had to surrender (April 13, 1902). He turned himself in with his sick wife and children. Most of Malvar's supporters , about 3,000 men, soon surrendered. This was the end of effective resisrance and is odten seen as the end of the War.

Philippine Organic Act (July 1902)

Congress passed the Philippine Organic Act (July 1902). This confirmed President McKinley's Executive Order establishing the Philippine Commission. The Act also authorized a legislature. The lowerhouse, the Philippine Assembly was to be popularly elected. An upper house would consist of the Philippine Commission. The Act also extending the United States Bill of Rights to Filipinos. The Secretary of War reported that the insurrection against the United States had ebded and the provincial civil governments was established. Thus the office of Military governor was terminated (July 2, 1902). Two days later, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed a full and complete pardon and amnesty to all persons in the Philippine archipelago who had participated in the conflict (July 4). This was the official end of the conflict. The Filipino elite by this time generally decided that military resistance was futile and accomdated themselves to American rule.

Continued Resistance (1902-13)

While the Philippines Insurection largely ended with General Malvar's surrebder (1902). Resistance continued in the countryside at low-level for another decade. A young Douglas MacArthur was involved in the fighting. Remnants of the Philippine Army continued to resist the Americans and other resistance groups were active. The resistance to American rule was not cebterally controlled and was conducted by wideky varried groups. These groups were a moxture of patriots, reigious zealts and bandits. There were periodic clashed with American Army or Philippine Constabulary units. Governor-General Taft generally preferred to use Philippine Constabulary in a law-enforcement role rather than deploy the U.S. army. There were critics of Taft's policy, generally by those who wanted a more aggressive stance. Yhe last actual Philippines general to surrender was Simeon Ola of Guinobatan, Albay in the Bicol region (September 25, 1903). After this resistance was by small bands operating independently. A long-time fredom fighter and original Katipunan member, Macario Sakay, proclaimed another republic--Katagalugan. He operated in southern Luzon for several years. He was captured and executed (1907). messianic leaders organized resistance group resisted for several years. They included the Pulajanes (because of their red garments), colorum , and Dios-Dios (literally "God-God"). They operated in several provinces. THeir theology varied, a highly combustable mixture if Catholcism and traditional folk beliefs. They were recruited in poor rural areas and had little following in the cities. They wwre poorly armed. Some carried amulets whichbsuposedly made them bullet proof. One of the best known leaders was Dionisio Seguela, called Papa Isio (Pope Isio). These groups took years to tack downnand arrest or kill. This was finally accomplished (1913). This marked the ebd of the Phillipes resistance.

Moro Rebellion

Often associated with the Philippines Insurection was the Moro Rebellion. But this would be an roneous assessment. The Spanish while claiming soverignity over the Philippines Islands, it was never in effective control of the southern islands, especially the Sulu Archipelago and the large island of Mindanao which were heavily popilated by Muslims. This area of the Philippines is sometimes known as Moroland after the Filipino term for Muslims--Moros. The Moros were not participants in the First Philippines Republic and Philippines Insurection which was primarily organized and conducted by Spanish-speaking Christian Filipinos. The Moro Rebellion refers to the Muslim Moro resistance to American rule. after the Spanish-American War. It essentially the continution of their resistance to the Spanish. The term "Moro Rebellion" conveys a unified resistance that was never the case. The Sultan of Sulu was the preminant Islamic fifure, but the Moro Rebellion was more of a struggle betwwen local leaders which were not under the effective control of the Sultan. As a result of the resistance by Muslim leaders, American military authorities did not hand over control of Moroland to civilan authorities until (1913).


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Created: 5:19 PM 9/15/2008
Last updated: 5:19 PM 9/15/2008