Manila, Philippines – On January 23, 1899, the First Philippine Republic (also known as the Malolos Republic) was inaugurated by President Emilio F. Aguinaldo at the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan, “in ceremonies marked by the reading of the whole Constitution by Secretary Pablo DL. Ocampo; proclamation of the Republic of the Philippines by Congress President Pedro A. Paterno, followed by the proclamation of Aguinaldo as the elected President of the new Republic and speeches by Aguinaldo and Paterno.”
A government having been formally established in 1899, the Malolos Republic “catapulted the Filipino nation onto the world’s consciousness, carving not only a place among the family of nations but also a distinct niche as the first republic in Asia.”
The establishment of the Philippine Republic capped our forefathers’ struggle against foreign rule. The struggle began when foreigners set foot on our native soil and Lapu-Lapu (also known as Kalipulaku), the valiant chieftain of Mactan, took action to defend his people’s freedom. The Portuguese sailed to the Philippines under the flag of King Charles I of Spain. We draw inspiration from the legacy of Lapu-Lapu.
These include Tariq Soliman against the troops of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1571; Magat Salamat who led the Lakans of Manila in 1587-88; Tamblot and Bankaw in Leyte and Bohol, respectively, in 1622; Sumuroy in 1649-50; Malong and Gumapos in 1660-1661; Palaris and Silang in 1762-1763; Novales in 1823; Hermano Pule in 1841; Cuesta in 1854; Gomburza in 1871; and those who mounted an armed resistance from 1571 to 1898.
As we observe the 114th Anniversary of the First Philippine Republic, let us teach our youth to embrace the principles for which our forefathers struggled – the true meaning of nationhood and the responsibility to safeguard our freedom and independence. MABUHAY!