Not generally known are the historical facts that Miguel Malvar succeeded Aguinaldo as president of the Philippine Republic, the last revolutionary general to lay down his arms in the war against Spain, and the last Filipino rebel to surrender to the Americans.
Malvar was born in Barrio San Miguel, Santo Tomas, Batangas, on September 27, 1865, the eldest of the three children of Maximo Malvar and Tiburcia Carpio. He and his brother, Potenciano, both attended the Malabanan school in Tanawan, the best secondary institution in Batangas. The Malabanan school moved to the town of Bauan in the 1882-83 school year. Miguel spent two years at the Malabanan school and one more year at another local educational institution. He married Paula Maloles and had 13 children, but only 11 survived. He engaged in commerce for a while, and with his earnings, purchased land on the slopes of Mount Makiling, where he planted oranges. The orange business prospered, he grew richer, and, like many other well-to-do men in the province, he began to take an interest in local politics.
Miguel Malvar first ran for gobernadorcillo in 1889, heading the slate of the town’s antifriar faction, led by his father, Maximo, and his father-in-law, Ambrosio Maloles, who was also the incumbent gobernadorcillo. He lost by two votes. Shortly after the election, an Augustinian priest named Fr. Felix Garces wrote to the provincial governor claiming that “Malvar is intimately acquainted with people who have little affection for Spain and are subversive.” Despite all that, Malvar won the next election for gobernadorcillo in 1890.
Malvar began his career as a revolutionary under the command of Emilio Aguinaldo. According to Malvar, he decided to join the struggle because of his earlier conflicts with the parish priest of Santo Tomas and the Spanish authorities. Shortly after the revolution broke out in August 1896, Malvar and Aguinaldo’s men successfully assaulted the Spanish quarters in Talisay, Batangas, in October 1896. Malvar served Aguinaldo again during the battle for Zapote Bridge in February 1897. After the last battle, he and his men withdrew to Indang, Cavite, where he stayed until the Tejeros Convention.
In the weeks following the Tejeros Convention, which Aguinaldo won as president, Malvar tried to remain on good terms with both Emilio Aguinaldo and Andres Bonifacio, the founder of Katipunan, a secret organization that launched the uprising against Spain in the Tagalog provinces in 1896. Intent on fighting the Spaniards, Malvar was forging an alliance with anyone who was in a position to provide him with the supplies and equipment he required. His alliance with Bonifacio did not last long because the promised help did not materialize, and so he depended more on Aguinaldo for rice and other supplies.
Determined to retain control over the revolutionary government, Aguinaldo decided to isolate his rivals. On April 24, he warned the regional government of Batangas that the results of the Tejeros meeting were to be respected. Two days later, he ordered Bonifacio’s arrest and set in motion the legal proceedings that led to Bonifacio’s execution. Bonifacio and his brother, Procopio, were shot on May 10, 1897, at Buntis mountain in Maragondon, Cavite. After May 1897, Malvar emerged as one of the staunchest advocates of continuing the fight against the Spaniards.
Although Aguinaldo prevailed in the councils of the state, he had not on the battlefield. The Filipino army in Cavite and Batangas had been shattered, and Aguinaldo found himself on the run and taking refuge in the wilderness of Biak-na-Bato in Bulacan. Malvar remained and established his headquarters in Laguna, on the eastern slope of Mt. Makiling, and prepared for future operations. In late June, he attempted to leave the mountains, but the Spaniards learned of his planned movement and intercepted them near Nagcarlang, driving them back to their hiding places. Then, in early October, he undertook the siege on the Spanish garrison in San Pablo, Laguna. He also attacked the Cazadores of Batallion No. 11 in a fierce battle in barrio Santa Clara in Santo Tomas on November 19, then encountered the enemy in a bloody clash in barrio Bilog-Bilog in Tanawan.
Malvar carried on the fight even after the Pact of Biak-na-Bato was signed on December 14 and 15, 1897. Seeing the stiff resistance of Malvar and his sympathizers, Aguinaldo issued a circular ordering the revolutionary generals to stop fighting.
By the terms of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato, Aguinaldo got paid a large sum of money and was allowed to go into exile in Hong Kong in exchange for a grant of amnesty to all revolutionaries and promised reforms as well. On December 27, the Philippine president and a few dozen companions left the Philippines. Before he left, Aguinaldo designated a number of his ranking officers to remain behind to convince the soldiers still in the field to surrender. Malvar was assigned to bring peace to Batangas. For about two weeks, Malvar traveled around the province, rounding up his followers. On January 18. 1898, his task completed, Malvar turned himself into the Spanish authorities, and shortly afterward, he joined Aguinaldo in Hong Kong. Aguinaldo named him his adviser on military affairs.
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