Apolinario Mabini

Apolinario Mabini

Sublime paralytic and the brain of the revolution. Born in Talaga, Tanauan, Batangas, on June 22, 1864. He joined La Liga Filipina in 1892 and Aguinaldo’s revolutionary government from June 1898 to May 1899. He was captured by the American forces in December 1899 and deported to Guam in January 1901. He died in Manila on May 13, 1903.


Apolinario Mabini

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For the municipality, see Mabini, Batangas.
For the school, see The Mabini Academy.
Apolinario Mabini

1st Prime Minister of the Philippines
Prime Minister of the Revolutionary Government
1st Prime Minister of the First Republic
In office
January 2 – May 7, 1899
President Emilio Aguinaldo
Deputy Pedro A. Paterno
Preceded by Newly Created
(The Philippines had just proclaimed its independence from Spain.)
Succeeded by Pedro A. Paterno

In office
June 23, 1898 – December 10, 1899

Born July 23, 1864(1864-07-23)
Talaga, Tanauan, Batangas
Died May 13, 1903 (aged 38)
Manila, Philippines
Political party no political party

Apolinario Mabini y Maranan (July 23, 1864 — May 13, 1903) was a Filipino political philosopher and revolutionary who wrote the constitution for the first Philippine republic of 1899-1901, and served as its first prime minister in 1899. In Philippine history texts, he is often referred to as “the Sublime Paralytic“, and as “the Brains of the Revolution.” To his envious enemies, he is referred to as the “Dark Chamber of the President.”



Early life of Apolinario Mabini

Mabini was born on July 23, 1864 in Barangay Talaga in Tanauan, Batangas.[1] He was the second of eight children of Dionisia Maranan, a vendor in the Tanauan market, and Inocencio Mabini, an unlettered peasant.[2]

Mabini began informal studies under his maternal Grandfather, who was the village teacher. Because he demonstrated uncommon intelligence, he was transferred to a regular school owned by Simplicio Avelino, where he worked as a houseboy, and also took odd jobs from a local tailor – all in exchange for free board and lodging. He later transferred to a school conducted by the Father Valerio Malabanan, whose fame as an educator merited a mention in Jose Rizal‘s novel El Filibusterismo.[1][2]

In 1881 Mabini received a scholarship to go to the Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Manila. An anecdote about his stay there says that a professor there decided to pick on him because his shabby clothing clearly showed he was poor. Mabini amazed the professor by answering a series of very difficult questions with ease. His studies at Letran was periodically interrupted by a chronic lack of funds, and he earned money for his board and lodging by teaching children.[2]

Mabini’s mother had wanted him to take up the priesthood, but his desire to defend the poor made him decide to take up Law instead.[1] A year after receiving his Bachilles en Artes with highest honors and the title Professor of Latin from Letran, he moved on to the University of Santo Tomas, where he received his law degree in 1894.[1][2]

[edit] Early political activity

Mabini is said to have demonstrated leanings towards egalitarian ideas early on, during his stay in Letran. When on the way back to Tanauan one day, he met a priest on the road. When the priest extended his hand so that Mabini could kiss it, a common practice in those days, Mabini only shook the priest’s hand. He would later explain to his brother that only parents’ hands should be kissed.[2]

But it was Mabini’s stay at the University of Santo Tomas that marked his first recorded contact with the Reform Movement, becoming a member of Rizal’s La Liga Filipina and working secretly for the introduction of reforms in the administration of government.[1]

He was given the task of sending regular letters to Marcelo del Pilar so that the propagandist would be updated on events in the Philippines and write about them in La Solidaridad.[2][3]

[edit] Illness and Paralysis

Apolinario Mabini.

Early in 1896, he contracted an illness, probably infantile paralysis, that led to the paralysis of his lower limbs.[1] Later in his life, detractors would use Mabini’s illness against him, falsely claiming that he had been paralyzed as a result of a venereal disease – an accusation that would later be disproven.[3]

When the revolution broke out the same year, his earlier involvement in the Reform Movement made the Spanish authorities suspicious enough to arrest him. The fact that he could not move his lower limbs showed the Spaniards that they had made a mistake. He was released and sent to the San Juan de Dios Hospital.[1][2]

[edit] The 1896 Revolution

Believing that the Reform Movement still had a chance to achieve success, Mabini did not immediately support the revolution of 1896. When Jose Rizal was executed in December that year, however, he changed his mind and gave the revolution his wholehearted support.[2]

In 1898, while vacationing in Los Baños, Laguna, Emilio Aguinaldo sent for him. It took hundreds of men taking turns carrying his hammock to portage Mabini to Kawit. Aguinaldo, upon seeing Mabini’s physical condition, must have entertained second thoughts in calling for his help.

Mabini was most active in the revolution in 1898, when he served as the chief adviser for General Aguinaldo. He drafted decrees and crafted the first ever constitution in Asia for the First Philippine Republic, including the framework of the revolutionary government which was implemented in Malolos in 1899.

[edit] Prime Minister

Apolinario Mabini was appointed prime minister and was also foreign minister of the newly independent dictatorial government of Emilio Aguinaldo on January 2, 1899. Eventually, the government declared the first Philippine republic in appropriate ceremonies on January 23, 1899. Mabini then led the first cabinet of the republic.

Mabini found himself in the center of the most critical period in the new country’s history, grappling with problems until then unimagined. Most notable of these were his negotiations with Americans, which began on March 6, 1899. The United States and the new Philippine Republic were embroiled in extremely contentious and eventually violent confrontations. During the negotiations for peace, Americans proffered Mabini autonomy for Aguinaldo’s new government, but the talks failed because Mabini’s conditions included a ceasefire, which was rejected. Mabini negotiated once again, seeking for an armistice instead, but the talks failed yet again. Eventually, feeling that the Americans were not negotiating ‘bona fide,’ he forswore the Americans, rallied the people, and supported war. He resigned from government on May 7, 1899.

[edit] Later life and death

He also joined the fraternity of Freemasonry.

On December 10, 1899, he was captured by Americans at Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, but was later set free. In 1901, he was exiled to Guam, along with scores of revolutionists Americans referred to as ‘insurrectos,’ but returned home in 1903, after agreeing to take the oath of allegiance to the United States. He took the oath on February 26, 1903 before the Collector of Customs, which paved the way for his return to the Philippines. On the day he sailed, he issued this statement to the press:

After two long years I am returning, so to speak, completely disoriented and, what is worse, almost overcome by disease and sufferings. Nevertheless, I hope, after some time of rest and study, still to be of some use, unless I have returned to the Islands for the sole purpose of dying.[4]<

On May 13, 1903 Mabini died of cholera in Manila, at the age of 38.

[edit] Legacy


The Mabini Academy logo carries Mabini’s image.
  • Two sites related to Mabini have been chosen to host shrines in his honor:
  • The house where Mabini died is now located in the campus of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Pandacan, Manila, having been moved twice. The simple nipa retains the original the furniture, and some of the books he wrote, and also contains souvenir items, while hosting the municipal library and reading facilities.[5]
  • Mabini was buried in his town of birth – what is now Talaga, Tanauan City, Batangas. A replica of the house Mabini was born in was also constructed on the site, and also contains memorabilia.
  • Four Philippine municipalities are named after Mabini:
  • The Mabini Academy is a school in Lipa City, Batangas named after Mabini. The school logo carries Mabini’s Image.

[edit] Controversy about Mabini’s paralysis

Even during his lifetime, there were controversial rumors regarding the cause of Mabini’s paralysis. Infighting among members of the Malolos congress led to the spread of rumors saying that Mabini’s paralysis had by caused by venereal disease – specifically, syphilis. This was debunked only in 1980, when Mabini’s bones were exhumed and the autopsy proved once and for all that the cause of his paralysis was Polio.[3]

This information reached National Artist F.Sionil Jose too late, however. By the time historian Ambeth Ocampo told him about the autopsy results, he had already published Po-on, the first novel of his Rosales Saga. That novel contained plot points based on the premise that Mabini had indeed become a paralytic due to syphilis.[7]

In later editions of the book[8] , the novelist corrected the error and issued an apology,which reads in part:

I committed a horrible blunder in the first edition of Po-On. No apology to the august memory of Mabini no matter how deeply felt will ever suffice to undo the damage that I did…. According to historian Ambeth Ocampo who told me this too late, this calumny against Mabini was spread by the wealthy mestizos around Aguinaldo who wanted Mabini’s ethical and ideological influence cut off. They succeeded. So, what else in our country has changed?

In the later editions of Poon, Mabini’s disease – an important plot point – was changed to an undefined liver ailment. The ailing Mabini takes pride in the fact that his symptoms are definitely not those of syphilis, despite the rumors spread by his detractors in the Philippine Revolutionary government.

[edit] Quotes

[edit] From Mabini

  • Describing his cabinet:

“… it belongs to no party, nor does it desire to form one; it stands for nothing save the interest of the fatherland.”

[edit] About Mabini

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 I 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.[9]


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