Mabini Letters: Week 1 April 1899

These past few days work in the office and important errands here at home has rendered me useless to pull together any traveling or even a good long read. Thank heavens there’s a bit of a lull in the activities during Sundays. As usual, I try to put myself to sleep reading books.

My favorite in these occasions are reading compiled letters of our great heroes. I’ve been reading Rizal’s for years now and I’m still not done – his is probably the best compiled available today (thanks to NHI). I like Plaridel’s also but lately its Apolinario Mabini for me. I’ve long been fascinated by his role in our history. If you want to understand a person, you must understand his values – letters, especially the personal ones, reveals, not only the writer’s point of view, but his intentions and his true character.

So what was  Mabini, whose revolutionary government had moved to Sn Isidro from Malolos, up to 112 years ago?

During the first two weeks of April he had been busy writing [some letters were handwritten] to  a variety of people. An intersting letter dated April 8, 1899 addressed to El Generalissimo, talks about the problem they had with one Hen. Antonio Luna. “He does not give account of what he does, we close our eyes”. Interesting is what Mabini said about the unsansctioned military actions of Luna, “what is taking place is sad because if we succeed, all honor will be Luna’s – and I am very willing that he should have it; but if we fail, if his plan should end in failure, the responsibility will be ours because we allowed him to go on”.

In the same letter, he had sought the intervention of Aguinaldo on behalf of the messenger who brought the letter. “the bearer is B. Teodoro, is requesting that you find out the reason why his brother was arrested there under the orders given by Gen. Luna”.

He had also informed the President, this time playing the role of an ombudsman, of the abuses of some of the soldiers in Iloilo, “did nothing but loot and rob the people…there were soldiers whose guns were broken because they used thme in carrying money… it is said that these soldiers not only refuse to fight the Americans but also refused to surrender their guns to those who were willing to fight”.

The squabbling among the military leaders  had caused the revolutionsary government great pains. I believe that we had lost the war not because we were confronted with superior arms but because the government and the military was not cohesive. The revolutionary government had lose the battle for the hearts and minds of the common man. Mabini in his letters had frequently reminded military leaders against abuse which was prevalent. He knew that these violence would have direct effect on the results of the war against the Americans.

Just imagine the stress and the pressure this man was subjected to. What was his day like? Did he ever sleep with all of these events taking place?  Reading his letters makes me accept that I have less to complain about in life.

Another letter to the President, during  the  first week of April, he expressed that he was “exerting efforts to reduce the salary expenses of the government”. This is where we can glimpse the role this man had in the government. He was everything and everywhere. With all the power he had during that time, managing even the payroll,  he could have retired a wealthy man. Well, we all know that he died penniless. His family did not inherit acres of lands or a large house. All he left them is a good name. Which, sadly, means less in our society today.


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