General Miguel Malvar and the Philippine Revolution – Conclusion

On February 23, General Antonio Luna needed Malvar and his unit to participate in a Filipino counterattack planned to regain ground lost earlier by Filipinos and capture Manila. However, the Filipino offensive collapsed.

Early U.S. Operations in Southern Tagalog Region

In mid-March, an expeditionary force under Brig. Gen. Loyd Wheaton moved eastward, clearing Filipino troops from the vicinity of the Pasig River, assuring the Americans of riverine access to Laguna de Bay. About a month later, Major Gen. Henry Lawton led an expedition to Santa Cruz on the eastern shore of Laguna de Bay, where the Filipinos had a large concentration of troops. Lawton’s force engaged the enemy several times, occupied Santa Cruz briefly, reconnoitered the area, and then returned to Manila. The foray by Lawton caused great concern to the Filipino high command, for it seemed to presage the onset of a major American campaign in southern Luzon.

Aguinaldo’s army, which had been fighting the Spaniards, now attacked the Americans. Aguinaldo decided to call into action his forces in the southern provinces. In late April, he ordered Gen. Trias to gather all available troops from Batangas, Laguna, and Cavite at Muntinlupa in preparation for an offensive against the American garrison in Pasig. Malvar and other commanders in the area launched occasional attacks against American positions, but for some reason, no full-scale operation against Pasig was undertaken.

Although the U.S. troops focused their attention on the northern provinces during these early months of the war, they made a few thrusts toward the east and the south. There followed hundreds of engagements before the islands were finally subjugated.

During June and most of July, Malvar’s men twice resisted American efforts to send landing parties ashore from vessels operating on Laguna de Bay. Then, at the end of July, a large amphibious force under Brig. Gen. Robert Hall landed at Calamba. Malvar’s troops rushed to the town’s defense for several days. With ten companies, about 2,000 men, of American soldiers in the town, Malvar unsuccessfully besieged Calamba from August to December 1899.

While the Batangas brigade saw action against the enemy, many Batangueños behind the lines demonstrated their support for the war effort. Municipalities contributed large sums of money to the local forces and furnished them food, uniforms, cigarettes, and an assortment of supplies. A military hospital was set up at Lipa with funds provided by private donations. When the local boys marched off to battle, the towns held celebrations in their honor, and when they returned from frontline duty, the populace turned out to greet them.

On November 13, 1899, Aguinaldo disbanded the Filipino regular army, forming them into guerilla units at Bayambang, Pangasinan, and afterward conducted his escape journey to Palanan, Isabela and made it on September 6, 1900. This move was not as successful as it had been against the Spaniards, and Aguinaldo was captured on March 23, 1901, by General Frederick Funston with help from some Macabebe scouts. General Trias, Aguinaldo’s chosen successor as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Filipino forces, had already surrendered on March 15, 1901.

Despite the capture of Aguinaldo by the Americans, Malvar continued fighting the new enemy. As designated in Aguinaldo’s decree of the line of succession, Malvar became the President of the Philippine Republic. The Hong Kong Junta affirmed Malvar’s authority in succeeding Aguinaldo. He set up his own government with him as the supreme head and commander-in-chief of the army to serve the maximum welfare of the Philippines. As he took over the affairs of the Philippine Republic, Malvar reorganized Filipino forces in southern Luzon and renamed the combined forces as “Army of Liberation,” which possessed around 10,000 rifles at the time. He also reorganized the regional departments of the Republic, which included the Marianas as a separate province.

Under Malvar’s overall command, the Filipino revolutionists took the offensive in the attacks on the Americans. But the American superiority in equipment and number soon gained way, and he resorted to guerilla activities.

Beginning January 1902, American General J. Franklin Bell took command of operations in Batangas and practiced scorched earth tactics that took a heavy toll on both guerilla fighters and civilians alike. Bell was determined to hunt down Gen. Malvar, who commanded 5,000 guerillas and effectively controlled local government. Malvar escaped American patrols by putting on disguises.

As early as August 1901, the Americans released a detailed description of Malvar’s physical features. Malvar surrendered to Bell on April 13, 1902, in Rosario, Batangas, mainly due to the desertion of his top officers and putting an end to his countrymen’s sufferings.

His capitulation signaled that the fighting was over. The remaining resisters were simply bandits and thieves, taking advantage of the war to practice their ancient trade under the guise of nationalism. On July 4, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the war or “insurrection” over. In 1916 the American Congress passed the Jones Bill, promising the Philippine independence after a stable government was assured.

Malvar did not return to political life. Shortly after his surrender, he and General Bell concluded an agreement requiring him to reside in Manila for a year in exchange for a payment of 1,800 pesos to cover living expenses. Malvar received the money, but he was still living in Santo Tomas in early September 1902, and it is unclear from the historical record whether he fulfilled his part of the bargain. Malvar devoted his energies to agricultural work in subsequent years, producing abaca, oranges, sugar cane, and building a poultry business. His enterprises prospered, and when he died on October 13, 1911, the victim of a liver ailment contracted during his years in the hills, he owned approximately a thousand hectares of productive agricultural land on Mount Makiling.

Even though Malvar did not hold office under the American regime, he and his family eventually negotiated with the former enemy. Four of Malvar’s sons received their university education in the United States – Bernabe at Cornell, Marciano at the University of Pennsylvania, Maximo at the University of Chicago, and Miguel, Jr. at Purdue – and his brother, Potenciano, served both as governor of Laguna and a member of the Philippine Assembly.

In his final days, Malvar himself came to be considered something of a friend of the Americans. A day after the famous Batangueño’s death, W. Cameron Forbes, then governor-general, confided in his diary that the onetime guerrilla leader was “a very strong and fine Filipino.” In 1922, another governor-general, Leonard Wood, approved an act of the Philippine legislature establishing an intermediate school in Santo Tomas as a memorial to Malvar.

References:

The Filipino Heroes – Maria Odulio De Guzman

Battle for Batangas -Glen Anthony May

Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia 1931 Edition

A History of the Philippines – Luis H. Francia


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