Martes, Nobyembre 24, 2015

Renato Constantino’s Erroneous Interpretation of Apolinario Mabini’s Letter Dated December 17, 1898

SOMETIME in the latter part of 1898, Apolinario Mabini received a letter from an old friend, Emilio Jacinto. Mabini was then serving as the top political adviser of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, president of the Philippine Revolutionary Government. The government was then headquartered in Malolos, Bulacan. Jacinto was the former right-hand man of Andres Bonifacio, founder of the Katipunan who was arrested, tried, and executed in May 1897 for his alleged rebellion against Aguinaldo’s government.

In his letter, Jacinto was asking Mabini if he could come to Malolos to enroll in a law course at the Literary University of the Philippines, which had just been established by Aguinaldo’s government. Jacinto also requested Mabini to ask Aguinaldo if “what had happened before” (the Bonifacio-Aguinaldo rivalry) would not affect his stay in Malolos.


Mabini answered Jacinto in a letter, which runs thus in full:

“Malolos, December 17, 1898


“My very dear Friend:

“Many thanks for your present. During the first days, I pretended not to remember you, fearing that they would not approve of our friendship. I needed, then, all their faith in me so that I could give the stamp of regularity on the progress of the government, although I did not accomplish this fully.

“When I received your letter, I sent someone to ask Captain Emilio whether you could stay in Malolos with the assurance that nobody would trouble you for what had taken place before. He answered yes, adding that you should forget everything.

“Regarding your matriculation fees, it is necessary that you come personally because, having lost your certificate, you have to present an affidavit, signed by two witnesses, to the effect that you have finished First Year Law and you were actually taking up Second Year course. There is still time. December 1st is the deadline.

“I am glad of your coming because I am confident that you can be of great help to us.

“I am ever at your service in anything that I can be of help.


(Source: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini, Manila: National Heroes Commission, 1965, p. 81.)

In his own letter, Mabini was 1) assuring Jacinto that nobody would cause him any trouble in Malolos; 2) telling Jacinto to forget the sad events of the past; and 3) instructing Jacinto how to enroll in a law course at the Literary University.

Those contents of Mabini’s letter are very clear.


In his book The Philippines: A Past Revisited (Quezon City: Tala Publishing Services, 1975), historian Renato Constantino quoted the said Mabini’s letter and concluded:

“Emilio Jacinto, for one, was still operating independently and as late as after the Malolos government had already been organized he was still being invited by Mabini to join Aguinaldo” (p. 212).

Constantino erred in his interpretation of Mabini’s letter because in the said letter, Mabini was not inviting Jacinto to become part of Aguinaldo’s government. It was Jacinto who was willing to come to Malolos to pursue his law studies and fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a lawyer.