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Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo led his country to achieve independence after fighting off both the Spanish and the Americans.
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Revolutionary leader Emilio Aguinaldo was born on March 22, 1869, in Kawit, Cavite, Philippines. In 1898, he achieved independence of the Philippines from Spain and was elected the first president of the new republic under the Malolos Congress. He also led the Philippine-American War against U.S. resistance to Philippine independence. Aguinaldo died of a heart attack on February 6, 1964, in Quezon City, Philippines.
"I saw my own soldiers die without affecting future events."
Emilio Aguinaldo was born on March 22, 1869, in Kawit, Cavite, Philippines. Nicknamed Miong, Aguinaldo was the seventh of eight children. His parents were of Chinese and Tagalog descent. His father, Carlos, died when Aguinaldo was just nine years old. Widowed, his mother, Trinidad, sent him to attend public school in Manila.
After graduating from the University of Santo Thomas in Manila, Aguinaldo returned home to Kawit, where he developed a growing awareness of Filipino frustration with Spanish colonial rule.
While serving as the head of barter in Manila, he joined the Pilar Lodge chapter of the Freemasonry in 1895. The Freemasonry was a government- and church-banned resistance group. It was through his role as municipal captain of this fraternity that Aguinaldo met Andres Bonifacio, a key figure in the fight to overthrow Spanish rule.
Eager to fight for the cause of Philippine independence, in 1895 Aguinaldo took up with a secret society of revolutionaries headed by fellow lodge member Andres Bonifacio. When a rival faction executed Bonifacio in 1897, Aguinaldo assumed total leadership of the revolution against Spain.
By December 1897, Aguinaldo had managed to reach the Truce of Biak-na-Bato with Spain. He and his rebels agreed to a surrendering of arms and accepted exile to Hong Kong in exchange for amnesty, indemnity and liberal reform. However, neither side kept up their end of the bargain. The Spanish government did not deliver in full all that was promised, and the rebels did not truly surrender arms. In fact, Aguinaldo's revolutionaries used some of Spain's financial compensation to purchase additional arms for the resistance. From Hong Kong, Aguinaldo also made arrangements to assist Americans fighting against Spain in the Spanish-American War. As neither peace nor independence had been achieved, in 1898 Aguinaldo returned to the Philippines to resume his rebellion against Spanish rule.
Back in Cavite, Aguinaldo forcibly set up a provisional dictatorship. After meeting with the Malolos Congress and drafting a constitution for a new republic, on June 12, 1898, Aguinaldo at last declared Philippine independence. Announced from his home town of Kawit, Aguinaldo's proclamation put an end to four centuries of Philippine oppression under Spanish Colonial rule. In January of the following year, dressed in a white suit at Barasoain Church in Malolos City, Aguinaldo was sworn in as the first president of the new, self-governed Philippine republic.
The United States, however, was not eager to accept the Philippines' new government.
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