Co-written with Bam Alegre
In the spotlight of Philippine history, many remember our hero Apolinario Mabini as a paralytic made immortal in ten-peso bills and coins. But there are unsung historical facts about the Brains of the Revolution you may not know about:
- Mabini was never a paralytic his entire life. He contracted polio in 1895 shortly before the Philippine Revolution.
- His mother was a market vendor while his father was a farmer.
- He is a lawyer and he received his degree from the University of Santo Tomas in 1894.
- But he had no law office. He practiced in the office of a notary public.
- Before he became a political adviser for Emilio Aguinaldo, he sought the hot springs of Los Banos, Laguna for its reputation for healing.
- His political enemies spread rumors that the reason for his paralysis was syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease. But autopsy results indicated this was not true. It was really polio.
- During the growing unrest between the Americans and Filipinos, Mabini was captured in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija.
- America exiled him to Guam but he was able to return to the Philippines two months before he died.
- The cause of his death was cholera.
- The Philippines celebrated his 150th birth anniversary this 2014.
To know more about Apolinario Mabini’s heroism, the Presidential Museum and Library published online a 1941 essay from former diplomat and writer Leon Ma. Guerrero about his patriotism.
The Last Signature
What was life like for Mabini during his exile in Guam? Dulaang UP explored the last few months of Mabini’s life in a foreign land until the moment he died in the Philippines in 1903.
The 2014 play Ang Huling Lagda ni Apolinario Mabini (The Last Signature of Apolinario Mabini) was short and simple. Director Dexter Santos weaved a magnificent tribute to the Sublime Paralytic, opening with Mabini’s helplessness and boredom as he was trapped in the islands of Guam. He was slowly pondering the offer of the United States of America to return to the Philippines.
But they needed something in return: Mabini’s signature of allegiance to the Americans.
There were no flashy production numbers, no glittery stuff. But there were eight thought-provoking songs, written by Floy Quintos with music from Krina Cayabyab. One highlight of the production is Ang Maikling Kasaysayan ng Ating Himagsikan (A Short History of Our Revolution). As its name suggests, the song is a beautifully choreographed re-telling of the failure of the revolution — a ‘product’ of Mabini himself.
The set is bare and gray but with intelligent design and an innovative stage set-up. It reflects the boring environment in Guam until it becomes colorful in the last few minutes when Mabini has already arrived in the Philippines.
The most emotional scene was when Mabini signs the pledge, leaving his companion General Artemio Ricarte alone and in exile in Hong Kong. Haunting chants sung by an all-male ensemble enveloped the theater.
Some people do not appreciate the heroism of Mabini. Jose Rizal’s two novels have endured the test of time and he even has Luneta. Bonifacio fought dramatic battes and became a symbol for the working class. Mabini’s written works, such as the Decalogue, is not even a required reading in school. Only a few know the date of his death: May 13, 1903. It’s not even a national holiday.
But Mabini left an important legacy for the Philippines. Amidst the bloodshed and battles of the revolution, he helped shape our democracy and republic. When the University of the Philippines celebrated its centennial year in 2008, the Batch Valedictorian Gabriela Francisco gave a fitting tribute to an underrated hero:
Born to a poor family who could barely make both ends meet, this man has been described by Arthur MacArthur as “a highly educated young man who, unfortunately, is paralyzed. He has a classical education, a very flexible, imaginative mind… He is a dreamy man, but has a very firm character and of very high accomplishments. He would undoubtedly be of great use in the future of those islands.”
[Entry 53, The SubSelfie Blog]
Editor’s Note: SubSelfie.com is an official media partner of Dulaang UP for this play.
About the Authors:
Jervis Manahan is a News Reporter for PTV 4. He is also a Contributor for SubSelfie.com but is part of the original roster that founded the site. He was previously a News Writer for 24 Oras and Unang Balita and a News Researcher for State of the Nation with Jessica Soho. Broadcast Communication 2012, UP Diliman. Read more of his articles here.
Bam Alegre is the founder of SubSelfie.com and writes from time to time as a guest contributor. He is a News Reporter for GMA News since 2012. Previously, he worked behind the scenes as a Segment Producer for State of the Nation with Jessica Soho and 24 Oras. He is also the vocalist and guitarist of the band No Parking. Broadcast Communication 2007, UP Diliman. Read more of his articles here.
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