In 1935, Aguinaldo ran unsuccessfully for president of the Philippine Commonwealth against Manuel Quezon. After the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in 1941, he cooperated with the new rulers, even making a radio appeal for the surrender of the American and Filipino forces on Bataan. He was arrested as a collaborator after the Americans returned but was later freed in a general amnesty and was subsequently exonerated.
Emilio Famy Aguinaldo Sr. was born on March 22, 1869 in Cavite el Viejo (present-day Kawit), in Cavite province, to Carlos Jamir Aguinaldo and Trinidad Famy-Aguinaldo, a Tagalog Chinese mestizo couple who had eight children, the seventh of whom was Emilio Sr. The Aguinaldo family was quite well-to-do, as his father, Carlos J. Aguinaldo was the community's appointed gobernadorcillo (municipal governor) in the Spanish colonial administration and his grandparents Eugenio K. Aguinaldo and Maria Jamir-Aguinaldo. He studied at Colegio de San Juan de Letran but wasn't able to finish his studies due to outbreak of cholera in 1882.
Emilio became the "Cabeza de Barangay" of Binakayan, a chief barrio of Cavite el Viejo, when he was only 17 years old to avoid conscription.
In 1895 the Maura Law that called for the reorganization of local governments was enacted. At the age of 25, Aguinaldo became Cavite el Viejo's first "gobernadorcillo capitan municipal" (Municipal Governor-Captain) while on a business trip in Mindoro.
On January 1, 1896, he married Hilaria del Rosario (1877–1921), this was his third wife. They had five children: Carmen Aguinaldo-Melencio, Emilio "Jun" R. Aguinaldo Jr., Maria Aguinaldo-Poblete, Cristina Aguinaldo-Sunday, and Miguel Aguinaldo. Hilaria died of leprosy on March 6, 1921 at the age of 44. Nine years later, on July 14, 1930, Aguinaldo married Maria Agoncillo (February 15, 1879 – May 29, 1963) at Barasoain Church. She died on May 29, 1963, a year before Aguinaldo himself. His grandsons Emilio B. Aguinaldo III and Reynaldo Aguinaldo served three-terms as mayor (2007–2016) and vice-mayor of his hometown Kawit, Cavite, respectively. One of his great-grandsons, Joseph Emilio Abaya, was a member of the Philippine House of Representatives representing Cavite's first district (which contained their hometown, Kawit) from 2004 until his appointment as Secretary of Transportation and Communications in 2012, a post he served until 2016, while another great-grandson, Emilio "Orange" M. Aguinaldo IV, married ABS-CBN news reporter Bernadette Sembrano in 2007.
On January 1, 1895, Aguinaldo became a Freemason, joining Pilar Lodge No. 203, Imus, Cavite by the codename "Colon". He would later say:
"The Successful Revolution of 1896 was masonically inspired, led, and executed, and I venture to say that the first Philippine Republic of which I was its humble President, was an achievement we owe largely, to Masonry and the Masons."
On March 7, 1895, Santiago Alvarez whose father was a Capitan Municipal (Mayor) of Noveleta encouraged Aguinaldo to join the "Katipunan", a secret organization led by Andrés Bonifacio, dedicated to the expulsion of the Spanish and independence of the Philippines through armed force. Aguinaldo joined the organization and used the nom de guerre Magdalo, in honor of Mary Magdalene. The local chapter of Katipunan in Cavite was established and named Sangguniang Magdalo, and Aguinaldo's cousin Baldomero Aguinaldo was appointed leader.
The Katipunan-led Philippine Revolution against the Spanish began in the last week of August 1896 in San Juan del Monte (now part of Metro Manila). However, Aguinaldo and other Cavite rebels initially refused to join in the offensive alleging lack of arms. While Bonifacio and other rebels were forced to resort to guerrilla warfare, Aguinaldo and the Cavite rebels won major victories in set-piece battles, temporarily driving the Spanish out of their area.
In August 1896, as coordinated attacks broke out and sparked the revolution beginning in Manila. Emilio Aguinaldo marched from Kawit with 600 men and launched a series of skirmishes at Imus which eventually ended in open hostilities against Spanish troops stationed there. On September 1, with the aid of Captain Jose Tagle of Imus, they laid siege against Imus Estate to draw the Spanish out. A Spanish relief column commanded by Brig. General Ernesto de Aguirre had been dispatched from Manila to aid the beleaguered Spanish defenders of Imus. Supported only by a hundred troops and by a cavalry, Aguirre gave the impression that he had been sent out to suppress a minor disturbance. Aguinaldo and his men counter-attacked but suffered heavy losses and almost cost his own life. Despite the success, Aguirre did not press the attack and felt the inadequacy of his troops and hastened back to Manila to get reinforcements. During the lull in the fighting, Aguinaldo's troops reorganized and prepared for another Spanish attack. On September 3, Aguirre came back with a much larger force of 3,000 men. When Spanish troops arrived at the Isabel II bridge, they were fired upon by the concealed rebels. As surprise was on the side of the revolutionaries, almost all the Spaniards that were sent there were trapped and annihilated, among them was Gen. Aguirre.
Alarmed by previous siege, led by General Aguinaldo in Imus, Cavite in September 1896, Governor-General Ramón Blanco y Erenas ordered the 4th Battalion of Cazadores from Spain to aid him in quelling the rebellion in Cavite. On November 3, 1896, the battalion arrived carrying a squadron of 1,328 men and some 55 officers. Apart from that, Blanco ordered about 144,000 men who recently came from Cuba and Spain to joint in suppressing the rebellion. Prior to the land attacks, Spanish naval raids were conducted on the shores of Cavite, where cannonballs were bombarded against the revolutionary fortifications in Bacoor, Noveleta, Binakayan and Cavite Viejo. The most fortified locations in Noveleta are the Dalahican and Dagatan shores defended by Magdiwang soldiers under the command of Gen. Santiago Alvarez, while the adjacent fishing village of Binakayan in Kawit was fortified by Magdalo under Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. Spanish naval operations were determined to crush the fortifications in these areas, mainly because the lake around Dalahican was so strategic as it connects to the interior of Cavite. Apart from defending Binakayan, the Magdalo soldiers also kept the lower part of Dagatan up to Cavite's border near Morong province (now Rizal province). On November 9, 1896, Spanish forces laid simultaneous attacks on the two fortified rebel strongholds with many Spaniards losing their lives. At each advancement, more Spanish soldiers were killed, including the officers. Aguinaldo then ordered his soldiers to counterattack at the right moment with the most number of men available for the engagement, and so they did. Huge numbers of Katipuneros rushed into the fight, swarming into several enemy units until one by one they were destroyed piecemeal. When the surviving Spaniards saw that their pofficers were killed by the defense of Binakayan, they were demoralized with many retreating back to their ships while some of them headed back to Manila, thus, terminating the attack in Binakayan. The Filipinos were in hot pursuit over the enemy, killing stragglers in the process, and it resulted in an utter rout for the Spanish and scattered them apart. The attack on Filipino positions by the Spaniards at Dalahican completely failed, suffering more than 1,000 casualties in the process, and by nightfall on November 11, the battle was over. They tried to retreat back towards Manila at the end of the battle, but, now cut off from Manila due to Filipino victory at Binakayan, fell back instead to Cavite City. Alvarez's revolutionaries, including those commanded by Aguinaldo who quickly joined the fray after Binakayan as reinforcements, pursued the retreating Spanish and for a while besieged Cavite City, where many Spanish soldiers surrendered to Aguinaldo.
The newly appointed Governor-General Camilo de Polavieja now fully aware that the main weight of the revolution is in Cavite, decided to launch a two-pronged assault which will defeat the revolutionaries led by Aguinaldo. He ordered General José de Lachambre with a much bigger force to march against Silang to take on the Katipuneros from the rear, while he himself will engaged the Filipinos head on. On February 17, 1897, Aguinaldo ordered soldiers to plant dynamite along the bridge and place pointed bamboo sticks in the river beds below the bridge. Several hours later, 12,000 Spaniards began to cross the bridge. The trap was sprung and the dynamite was detonated, killing several Spanish troops and injuring many more. The rebels then emerged from the bushes and fought hand-to-hand, repelling consecutive waves of enemy troops charging across the river. During this fight Edilberto Evangelista was shot in the head and died. The province of Cavite gradually emerged as the Revolution's hotbed, and the Aguinaldo-led katipuneros had a string of victories there. After the battle, the demoralized Spanish soldiers retreated towards Muntinlupa.
On February 15, 1897 the Spaniards launched the powerful Cavite offensive to drive and crush Filipino revolutionaries under General Emilio Aguinaldo and his Magdalo forces which held numerous victories against the Spanish in the early stages of the revolution. Renewed and fully equipped with 100 cannons, 23,000 Spanish cazadores forces under Major General Jose de Lachambre have seen town after town, falling back to the Crown. Starting the offensive at Pamplona, Cavite and Bayungyungan, Batangas, Lachambre's men would later march deep into the heart of Aguinaldo's home province.
Having just won the battle of Zapote, Aguinaldo turned his attention at the new Spanish threat determined to recapture most of Cavite. Aguinaldo decided to deploy his forces at Pasong Santol that serves as a bottleneck of Perez Dasmariñas on the way to Imus rendering the Spanish lack of mobility and serving the revolutionaries with natural defensive positions. On February 19, Silang fell to the Spanish juggernaut despite attempts by Filipino forces to defend and then later, recover it. Nine days later, Spanish forces marched into Dasmariñas to reclaim the town. The week after, Spanish troops with good use of artillery pieces they brought along were on the attack again as they moved towards the Aguinaldo's capital, Imus. Meanwhile, at the Tejero's Convention, Emilio was voted in absentia as the president of the reorganized revolutionary government. Colonel Vicente Riego de Dios was sent by the assembly to fetch Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo who was then in Pasong Santol. The General refused to come, so Crispulo was then sent to talk to his brother. He greeted and talked to his brother and explained his purpose, but Emilio was hesitant to leave his post because of the pending attack of the Spanish in Dasmariñas. In March 1897, a stalemated battle between the revolutionary army of Crispulo Aguinaldo, while taking over General Emilio Aguinaldo's leadership in battle, and the Spanish forces, led by José de Lachambre, occurred in this trail. The Filipinos' resistance was tenacious as ever, refusing to give ground but the far more disciplined Spaniards advanced steadily. Emilio Aguinaldo realizing the size of the enemy and the danger of the situation, sent Magdalo troops to reinforce the threatened salient but Supremo Andres Bonifacio summoned Magdiwang troops under Artemio Ricarte to intercept the Magdalo troops to Pasong Santol thus preventing help to the revolutionary soldiers, citing he needed the soldiers elsewhere. The Spaniards pressed the offensive achieving tactical superiority which led to the massacre of the Filipino soldiers, including Aguinaldo's brother. The Spaniards only captured this salient after Crispulo was killed during the battle, and the rebels promptly broke off the engagement and reorganized inside the town. Exploiting the gap among the revolutionaries, the Spaniards decisively defeated the Magdalo forces.
Conflict within the ranks of the Katipunan factions— and specifically between the Magdalo and Magdiwang—led to Bonifacio's intervention in the province of Cavite. The rebels of Cavite was rumored to have made overtures about establishing a revolutionary government in place of the Katipunan. Though Bonifacio acknowledged the existence of the considered Katipunan as a government, he acquiesced and presided over a convention held on March 22, 1897 in Tejeros, Cavite. The Republic of the Philippines was proclaimed, with Aguinaldo being elected as President, Mariano Trias as Vice-President, Artemio Ricarte as Captain-General, Emiliano Riego de Dios as the Director of War and Andres Bonifacio was elected Director of the Interior. The results were questioned by Daniel Tirona for Bonifacio's qualifications for that position, Bonifacio was insulted and declared ~ "I, as chairman of this assembly, and as President of the Supreme Council of the Katipunan, as all of you do not deny, declare this assembly dissolved, and I annul all that has been approved and resolved."
Bonifacio refused to recognize the revolutionary government headed by Aguinaldo and reasserted his authority, accusing the Magdalo faction of treason and issued orders contravening orders issued by the Aguinaldo's faction. In April 1897, Aguinaldo ordered the arrest of Bonifacio on some information alleging Bonifacio's involvement in some events at Indang. After the trials Andrés and his brother Procopio were ordered to be executed by firing squad under the command of General Lazaro Macapagal on May 10, 1897 at Mount Buntis, Maragondon, Cavite facts leading to Bonifacio's execution to this day remains questionable as Emilio Aguinaldo had opted to have the Bonifacio brothers immediately exiled rather than have them executed.
Having lost to the Spanish forces several weeks after at the battle of Perez Dasmariñas, Aguinaldo's rear guard fought delaying action against Spanish spearheads until troops and stragglers retreated southwest of Cavite. In late May 1897, with good concealment of retreating soldiers, Aguinaldo, manage to evade the Spanish to establish link up with Gen. Mamerto Natividad. With the revolutionaries overwhelmed in Cavite, Natividad was commissioned to look for a place of retreat. He found Biak-Na-Bato. The Spanish pursued the Katipunero forces retreating towards central Luzon, killing many of the revolutionaries. However, some of them joined General Manuel Tinio's revolutionary army in Nueva Ecija, where they decisively won the Battle of Aliaga, "The glorious Battle of the Rebellion", only a few weeks after the retreat.
The Spanish army launched an attack which forced the revolutionary forces under Aguinaldo into a retreat. On June 24, 1897 Aguinaldo arrived at Biak-na-Bato in San Miguel, Bulacan, and established a headquarters there, located in Biak-na-Bato National Park in what is now known as Aguinaldo Cave. In late October 1897, Aguinaldo convened an assembly of generals at Biak-na-Bato, where it was decided to establish a constitutional republic. A constitution patterned closely after the Cuban Constitution was drawn up by Isabelo Artacho and Felix Ferrer. The constitution provided for the creation of a Supreme Council composed of a president, a vice president, a Secretary of War, and a Secretary of the Treasury. Aguinaldo was named president.
From March 1897, Fernando Primo de Rivera, 1st Marquis of Estella, the Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines, had been encouraging prominent Filipinos to contact Aguinaldo for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. On August 9, Manila lawyer Pedro Paterno met with Aguinaldo at Biak-na-Bato with a proposal for peace based on reforms and amnesty. In succeeding months, Paterno conducted shuttle diplomacy, acting as an intermediary between de Rivera and Aguinaldo. On December 14–15, 1897 Aguinaldo signed the Pact of Biak-na-Bato, under which Aguinaldo effectively agreed to end hostilities and dissolve his government in exchange for amnesty and "₱800,000 (Mexican)" (Aguinaldo's description of the amount) as an indemnity. The documents were signed on December 14–15, 1897. On December 23, Aguinaldo and other revolutionary officials departed for Hong Kong to enter voluntary exile. ₱400,000, representing the first installment of the indemnity, was deposited into Hong Kong banks. While in exile, Aguinaldo reorganized his revolutionary government into the so-called "Hong Kong Junta" and enlarging it into the "Supreme Council of the Nation".
On April 25, the Spanish–American War began. While the war mostly focused on Cuba, the United States Navy's Asiatic Squadron was in Hong Kong, and commanded by Commodore George Dewey, it sailed for the Philippines. On May 1, 1898, in the Battle of Manila Bay, the squadron engaged and destroyed the Spanish navy's Pacific Squadron and proceeded to blockade Manila. Several days later, Dewey agreed to transport Aguinaldo from Hong Kong to the Philippines aboard the USS McCulloch, which left Hong Kong with Aguinaldo on 16 May. arriving in Cavite on 19 May. Aguinaldo promptly resumed command of revolutionary forces and besieged Manila.
On May 24, 1898 in Cavite, Aguinaldo issued a proclamation in which he assumed command of all Philippine forces and established a dictatorial government with himself as dictator.
On May 28, 1898, Aguinaldo gathered a force of about 18,000 troops and fought against a small garrison of Spanish troops in Alapan, Imus, Cavite. The battle lasted for five hours, from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. After the victory at Alapan, Aguinaldo unfurled the Philippine flag for the first time, and hoisted it at the Teatro Caviteño in Cavite Nuevo (present-day Cavite City) in front of Filipino revolutionaries and more than 300 captured Spanish troops. A group of American sailors of the US Asiatic Squadron also witnessed the unfurling. Flag Day is celebrated every May 28 in honor of this battle.
On June 12 Aguinaldo issued the Philippine Declaration of Independence from Spain and on June 18, he issued a decree formally establishing his dictatorial government.
On June 23, Aguinaldo issued a decree replacing his dictatorial government with a revolutionary government, with himself as President.
The First Philippine Republic was formally established with the proclamation of the Malolos Constitution on January 21, 1899 in Malolos, Bulacan and endured until the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo by the American forces on March 23, 1901 in Palanan, Isabela, which effectively dissolved the First Republic.
On August 12, 1898, American forces captured Manila during the Battle of Manila and on August 14, 1898 established the United States Military Government of the Philippine Islands, with Major General Wesley Merritt as the first American Military Governor. On the night of February 4, 1899, a Filipino was shot by an American sentry. This incident was considered to be the beginning of the Philippine–American War, and culminated in the 1899 Battle of Manila between American and Filipino forces. Superior American technology drove Filipino troops away from the city, and Aguinaldo's government had to move from one place to another as the military situation escalated. Aguinaldo led the resistance against the Americans but retreated to Northern Luzon. On November 13, 1899, Emilio Aguinaldo disbanded the regular Filipino army and decreed that guerrilla war would henceforth be the strategy.
On March 23, 1901, with the aid of Macabebe Scouts, led by Gen. Frederick Funston, Aguinaldo was captured in his headquarters in Palanan, Isabela. One of these forces was led by Gen. Macario Sakay who established the Tagalog Republic. On April 19, 1901, Aguinaldo took an oath of allegiance to the United States, formally ending the First Republic and recognizing the sovereignty of the United States over the Philippines. After the capture of Aguinaldo, some Filipino commanders continued the revolution. On July 30, 1901 General Miguel Malvar issued a manifesto saying, "Forward, without ever turning back... All wars of independence have been obliged to suffer terrible tests!" General Malvar surrendered to U.S forces in Lipa, Batangas on April 16, 1902. The war was formally ended by a unilateral proclamation of general amnesty by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt on July 4, 1902.
During the American period, Aguinaldo supported groups that advocated for immediate independence and helped veterans of the struggle. He organized the Asociación de los Veteranos de la Revolución (Association of Veterans of the Revolution) to secure pensions for its members and made arrangements for them to buy land on installment from the government.
Displaying the Philippine flag was declared illegal by the Sedition Act of 1907. However, the Act was amended on October 30, 1919. Following this, Aguinaldo transformed his home in Kawit into a monument to the flag, the revolution and the Declaration of Independence. As of 2015, his home still stands and is known as the Aguinaldo Shrine.
Aguinaldo retired from public life for many years. In 1935, when the Commonwealth of the Philippines was established in preparation for Philippine independence, he ran for president in the Philippine presidential election, 1935, but lost by a landslide to Manuel L. Quezon. The two men formally reconciled in 1941, when President Quezon moved Flag Day to June 12, to commemorate the proclamation of Philippine independence.
During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II, Aguinaldo cooperated with the Japanese, making speeches, issuing articles and radio addresses in support of the Japanese—including a radio appeal to Gen. Douglas MacArthur on Corregidor to surrender in order to "spare the innocence of the Filipino youth." He explained his action by saying, "I was just remembering the fight I led. We were outnumbered, too, in constant retreat. I saw my own soldiers die without affecting future events. To me that seemed to be what was happening on Bataan, and it seemed like a good thing to stop." After the combined American and Filipino troops retook the Philippines in 1945, Aguinaldo was arrested along with several others accused of collaboration with the Japanese, and jailed for some months in Bilibid prison. He was released by presidential amnesty.
Aguinaldo was 77 when the United States Government recognized Philippine independence in the Treaty of Manila on July 4, 1946, in accordance with the Tydings–McDuffie Act of 1934.
In 1950, President Elpidio Quirino appointed Aguinaldo as a member of the Philippine Council of State, where he served a full term. He returned to retirement soon after, dedicating his time and attention to veteran soldiers' "interests and welfare".
He was made an honorary Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, by the University of the Philippines in 1953.
On May 12, 1962, President Diosdado Macapagal changed the celebration of Independence Day from July 4 to June 12. There is no doubt that President Macapagal intended the proclamation to have that effect. Although in poor health by this time, Aguinaldo attended that year's Independence Day observances. On August 4, 1964, Republic Act No. 4166 proclaimed the twelfth day of June as the Philippine Independence Day and renamed the Fourth of July holiday to "Philippine Republic Day".
Aguinaldo was rushed to Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City on October 5, 1962, under the care of Dra. Juana Blanco Fernandez, MD, where he stayed there for 469 days until he died of coronary thrombosis at age 94 on February 6, 1964. A year before his death, he donated his lot and mansion to the government. This property now serves as a shrine to "perpetuate the spirit of the Revolution of 1896".
In 1964, he published his book, "Mga Gunita ng Himagsikan" (Memoirs of the Revolution). A second publication was made in 1998 during the 100th year anniversary of Philippine Independence.
In 1985, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas issued a new 5-peso bill depicting a portrait of Aguinaldo on the front. The back features the declaration of the Philippine independence on June 12, 1898. Printing was discontinued in 1996, when it was replaced with a ₱5.00 coin one year earlier (BSP series, since the bill printed starting 1993 which also belongs in this series and concurrently produced starting 1995-1996 which is the reason) whose obverse features a portrait of Aguinaldo.Camp Aguinaldo is a military headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines named after the General Emilio Aguinaldo.
In 1951, Emilio Aguinaldo College a private, non-sectarian institute of education located in Manila named after Aguinaldo BRP Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.
In 1985, BRP Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo (PG-140) was launched an became the lead ship of the General Emilio Aguinaldo class patrol vessel of the Philippine Navy. This ship, along with her only sistership BRP Gen. Antonio Luna (PG-141), were made in the Cavite Naval Ship Yard.
In 1985, Aguinaldo Museum is a history museum in Baguio, Philippines was established by Cristina Suntay
In 1999, Aguinaldo International School Manila is a private school in Ermita, Manila named after Aguinaldo
The Aguinaldo Highway is a 6-lane, 41-kilometre (25 mi) highway passing through the busiest towns and cities of Cavite named after Aguinaldo
The EAC Generals are the varsity teams of Emilio Aguinaldo College, they currently play at the Universities and Colleges Athletic Association (UCAA) and the National Capital Region Athletic Association (NCRAA)
1931 an American Pre-Code documentary film Around the World in 80 Minutes with Douglas Fairbanks, Fairbanks poses and speaks for the camera as he talks with former Philippine president Emilio Aguinaldo.
Aguinaldo was also portrayed in various films which featured or centered on the Revolution. He was portrayed by the following actors in these films:1992 - Raymond Alsona in Bayani.
1993 - Mike Lloren in Sakay
1997 - Joel Torre in Tirad Pass: The Story of Gen. Gregorio del Pilar.
2008 - Johnny Solomon in Baler.
2010 - Lance Raymundo in Ang Paglilitis ni Andres Bonifacio.
2012 - Jericho Ejercito and E.R. Ejercito in El Presidente (lead role)
2013 - Nico Antonio in Katipunan.
2014 - Jun Nayra in Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo.
2015 - Mon Confiado in Heneral Luna.