Philippine-American War, 1899-1902


Sept. 15, 1898: The Malolos Congress

Following the declaration of independence from Spain on June 12, 1898 by the Revolutionary Government, a congress was opened in Malolos, Bulacan Province  on Sept. 15, 1898 to draw up a constitution for the First Philippine Republic. 

Sept. 15, 1898: Filipino soldiers commanded by Gen. Jose Ignacio Pawa await Emilio Aguinaldo's arrival at Malolos, Bulacan Province

Filipino soldiers at Malolos

Filipino soldiers at Malolos

President Emilio Aguinaldo and his cabinet in carriages are about to pass under the triumphal arch and over the stone bridge

Emilio Aguinaldo's carriage is about to pass between the ranks of Filipino soldiers drawn up in formation in the churchyard of Barasoain

The basilica at Barasoain was filled with delegates and spectators. Outside, the Banda Pasig played the National Anthem. When Aguinaldo and his officers arrived, the delegates, the cream of the Filipino intelligentsia, spread out to give way to the President. Cries of "Viva!" reverberated.

President Aguinaldo formally declared the victorious conclusion of the war of liberation against Spain.


The Congress proceeded to elect its officers, namely, Pedro A. Paterno, President; Benito Legarda, Vice-President; Gregorio Araneta, First Secretary; and Pablo Ocampo, Second Secretary.


On September 29 the Congress ratified the independence proclaimed at Kawit on June 12, 1898.  Aguinaldo partly said in Tagalog:


“ now we witness the truth of what the famous President Monroe said to the effect that the United States was for the Americans; now I say that the Philippines is for the Filipinos.”



A committee to draft the constitution was created with Felipe G. Calderon (LEFT, in 1900) as its most prominent member. With the advise of Cayetano Arellano, a brilliant mestizo, Calderon drew up his plans for a constitution, deriving inspiration from the constitutions of Mexico, Belgium, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil and France. In the session of October 8, Calderon presented the draft of this constitution.


A few other amendments were inserted in the draft constitution before it was sent to Aguinaldo for approval.

It was the first republican constitution in Asia. The document stated that the people had exclusive sovereignty. It stated basic civil rights, separated the church from the state, and called for the creation of an Assembly of Representatives which would act as the legislative body. It also called for a Presidential form of government with the president elected for a term of four years by a majority of the Assembly.

Filipino diplomats in Paris, France, 1898-99. From left: Antonino Vergel de Dios, Ramon Abarca, Felipe Agoncillo, and Juan Luna.

Aguinaldo declared that this constitution was “the first crystallization of democracy” in Asia. He sent ambassadors to the United States, Japan, England, France, and Australia to seek recognition for his government.

After promulgating the Malolos Constitution, the Filipino leaders made preparations to inaugurate the first Philippine Republic.



A session of the Malolos Congress




A session of the Malolos Congress



Aguinaldo's private office at Malolos, 1898



Officials in Aguinaldo's government, 1898.



Four unidentified prominent Filipinos drinking Schlitz beer. Photo was probably taken between July 1898 and January 1899, either in Cavite or Malolos, Bulacan. The photographer was Lt. James E. Ware of the 14th US Infantry Regiment. His unit arrived in the Philippines in July 1898 and departed in November 1899.



1898: A view of a section of Malolos



Article published in the New York Times on Sept. 17, 1898.





The San Francisco Call, issue of Sept. 23, 1898, Page 8



The San Francisco Call, issue of Sept. 23, 1898, Page 8






The St. Paul Globe, St. Paul, Minnesota, issue of Sept. 26, 1898




The San Francisco Call, issue of Sept. 30, 1898, Page 3



The San Francisco Call, issue of Sept. 30, 1898, Page 3



Filipino army officers in San Fernando, Pampanga Province, await President Aguinaldo's arrival from nearby Malolos, Oct. 9, 1898



Aguinaldo reviewing the Philippine Army led by Gen. Maximino H. Hizon, from the casa municipal of San Fernando, Pampanga Province, Oct. 9, 1898. Some American guests are seen with Aguinaldo in the photo.


On Oct. 14, 1898, Admiral George Dewey cabled Washington:  "It is important that the disposition of the Philippine Islands should be decided as soon as possible. . . . General anarchy prevails without the limits of the city and bay of Manila. Natives appear unable to govern."



The San Francisco Call, issue of Oct. 17, 1898, Page 1



The San Francisco Call, issue of Oct. 17, 1898, Page 1

Aguinaldo's official residence at Malolos. PHOTO was taken in 1898.

A church fortified and used as a prison by the Filipinos during their occupancy of Malolos. PHOTO was taken in 1898.

The building on the left was used as a prison during the occupancy of Malolos by the Filipino army. A number of Spanish (and later American) prisoners were confined there. PHOTO was taken in 1898.

A carromata at Malolos. PHOTO was taken in 1898.

Gen. Jose Ignacio Pawa's bodyguard at Malolos, Bulacan Province, Sept. 15, 1898.

The Malolos Congress is featured in Harper's Weekly, New York, Nov. 12, 1898.

Published in Manila on Nov. 1, 1898 by J.D. Mitchell. He wrote on the preface: "For the benefit of our readers we give here an explanation of the significance of the emblems on the Filipino flag and coat-of-arms which are on the cover. The red, white, and blue of the flag are respectively emblematic of the blood spilt in the cause of Liberty, the purity of Liberty, and the blue sky which covers all Liberty. The three stars represent the three rebellious islands of Luzon, Viscayas [sic] and Mindanao. The eight rays of the central emblem represent the eight provinces of these islands. Finally, the mountain on the coat-of-arms represents Biac-na-ba-to [sic], or 'Stone-cut-in-two,' the place where the afterwards violated treaty was signed between the Spaniards and the Filipinos."


Nov. 24, 1898: First Thanksgiving Dinner in the Philippines

The celebrants referred to the main dish as "Dewey's Turkey".  PHOTO was taken in Manila on Thursday, Nov. 24, 1898.

On Nov. 26, 1898, the New York Times reported the first observance of Thanksgiving Day in the Philippines by the Americans: