11 Things to Remember about Apolinario Mabini on his 150th Birth Anniversary

Apolinario Mabini is a highly educated young man who, unfortunately, is paralyzed. He has a classical education, a very flexible, imaginative mind, and Mabini's views were more comprehensive than any of the Filipinos that I have met. His idea was a dream of a Malay confederacy. Not the Luzon or the Philippine Archipelago, but I mean of that blood. He is a dreamy man, but a very firm character and of very high accomplishments. As said, unfortunately, he is paralyzed. He is a young man, and would undoubtedly be of great use in the future of those islands if it were not for his affliction.”

July 23, 2014, is the 150th Birth Anniversary of Apolinario Mabini. Here are some facts about him that we were able to gather as we celebrate his birthday.

1. We keep his memory alive by having him on the 10 peso coin (which he shares with Andres Bonifacio). How ironic that he shares it with Bonifacio since Mabini was a known affiliate of Emilio Aguinaldo, Bonifacio's rival. A few years ago, when we still used to have the 10 peso bill, Mabini was the only one depicted on it.

2. Mabini St. which is located in the city of Manila was named after him. Whoever honored Mabini by naming this street after him would be appalled to know that it’s infamously known as the Red Light District. Funny that a lot of Filipinos still believe the rumors that the cause of Mabini’s paralysis is the venereal disease, Syphilis. The rumors were quelled in the 1980’s when an autopsy was conducted on his bones. The medical conclusion was that Mabini suffered from Polio and it caused paralysis on his legs. Ambeth Ocampo in one of his articles stated that the syphilis rumor came from the Elitist members of Aguinaldo’s Malolos Government who were against Mabini’s appointment since he belonged to the “Masa” class.

If Mabini was as rich as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, four-term U.S. President who also suffered from Polio Paralysis, he might have accomplished more in Aguinaldo's government. His detractors would have avoided him and this would have lead to a better relationship with Aguinaldo.

3. Mabini was born in Tanauan, Batangas on July 23, 1864. He was the second out of eight children from a working-class family. There is a Mabini Shrine in Tanauan which was designed by National Artist for Architecture, Juan F. Nakpil. When he transferred to Manila, he lived with his brother in Nagtahan, Sta. Mesa. Nagtahan Bridge was renamed Apolinario Mabini Bridge. There is also another Mabini Shrine in Nagtahan as well as in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

4. Against all odds, Mabini graduated from Colegio de San Juan de Letran with a Bachelor’s in Arts as well as the title of Professor of Latin. He earned his law degree at the University of Santo Thomas in 1894 and passed the Bar Exam in 1895.

Mabini learned English through reading books. He has several correspondences in English. 
He wrote a copy of Francisco Balagtas' Florante at Laura from memory. 

5. Before Rizal’s execution in 1896, Mabini joined La Liga Filipina which advocated for the peaceful coexistence of Spain and the Philippines rather than a radical separation which the Katipunan was promoting. But after Rizal’s death, his ideology shifted and he fully immersed himself in the Katipunan Revolution.

6. In 1898, after Emilio Aguinaldo summoned him to actively participate in the creation of the Malolos Government, he was named Chief Adviser and drafted a proposal for the Malolos Constitution. Ultimately, it was the version by Felipe Calderon that was ratified by the members. 

7. In 1899, He was named Prime Minister as well as Foreign Minister of the fledgling Philippine Revolutionary government. He had doubts about the sincerity and intentions of the McKinley-led American Government. He had a foreboding that all’s not well with the negotiations that the Americans had with Spain during this time. The Treaty of Paris was signed by the United States and Spain in December 1898, in which Spain granted Cuban Independence and ceded control of Puerto Rico, parts of Spanish West Indies, Guam, Marianas and the Philippines to the Americans for the amount of $20 million. The Treaty was ratified and took effect on April 11, 1898.

By 1899, The Aguinaldo government was at war with the Americans. The Philippine government became a mobile one since they had to avoid being caught by the Americans. Due to the nature of his paralysis, he had his own set of carriers to transport him from one location to another. 

8. Mabini resigned from the Aguinaldo Government on May 7, 1899, amid political intrigues and innuendos propagated by his enemies. I also believed that Aguinaldo must have shown that he has lost confidence in Mabini because of these rumors. Mabini wanted to end the conflict with the Americans through peaceful means in ways of a ceasefire and armistice but could not get the proper support needed.

9. He was captured by the Americans on December 10, 1899. He became troublesome for the Americans and considered an agitator. He was deported and exiled to Guam in 1901. Military Governor-General Arthur McArthur (father of Gen. Douglas McArthur) was quoted as saying, “Mabini deported: a most active agitator; persistently and defiantly refusing amnesty, and maintaining correspondence with insurgents in the field while living in Manila, Luzon.”

10. Apolinario Mabini returned to the Philippines in February 1903, two years after being exiled to Guam. He suffered from poor living conditions. In order to be sent back to the Philippines, he had to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.

11. Three months after his return to his beloved country, Mabini contracted cholera and died from it on May 1903. There were reports that the coffin used for Mabini was short for his tall frame and in order to fit his body, they used some methods that might not be considered a proper send-off to a Philippine Hero.

Mabini's death as reported in a U.S. newspaper (photo from Ambeth Ocampo's Facebook Page)