CHAPTER XIX. Outbreak of Hostilities

While I, the Government, the Congress and the entire populace were awaiting the arrival of such a greatly desired reply, many fairly overflowing with pleasant thoughts, there came the fatal day of the 4th February, during the night of which day the American forces suddenly attacked all our lines, which were in fact at the time almost deserted, because being Saturday, the day before a regular feast day, our Generals and some of the most prominent officers had obtained leave to pass the Sabbath with their respective families.

General Pantaleon Garcia was the only one who at such a critical moment was at his post in Maypajo, north of Manila, Generals Noriel, Rizal and Ricarte and Colonels San Miguel, Cailles and others being away enjoying their leave.

General Otis, according to trustworthy information, telegraphed to Washington stating that the Filipinos had attacked the American Army. President McKinley read aloud the telegram in the Senate, where the Treaty of Paris of the 10th December, 1898, was being discussed with a view to its ratification, the question of annexation of the Philippines being the chief subject of debate, and through this criminal procedure secured the acceptation of the said Treaty in toto by a majority of only three votes, [7] which were cast simultaneously with a declaration that the voters sided with the "Ayes" on account of war having broken out in these Islands.

This singular comedy could not continue for a great length of time because the Filipinos could never be the aggressors as against the American forces, with whom we had sworn eternal friendship and in whose power we expected to find the necessary protection to enable us to obtain recognition of our independence from the other Powers.

The confusion and obfuscation of the first moments was indeed great, but before long it gave place to the light of Truth which shone forth serene, bringing forth serious reflections.

When sensible people studied the acts of Mr. McKinley, sending reinforcement after reinforcement to Manila at a time after an armistice was agreed upon and even when peace with Spain prevailed; when they took into account that the despatch of the Civil Commission to settle terms of a treaty of amity with the Filipinos was being delayed; when, too, they knew of the antecedents of my alliance with Admiral Dewey, prepared and arranged by the American Consuls of Singapore and Hongkong, Mr. Pratt and Mr. Wildman; when they became acquainted with the actual state of affairs on the 4th February knowing that the Filipinos were awaiting the reply of Mr. McKinley to the telegram of General Otis in which he transmitted the peaceful wish of the Filipino people of live as an independent nation; when, lastly, they riveted their attention to the terms of the Treaty of Paris, the approval of which, in as far as it concerned the annexation of the Philippines, was greeted with manifestations of joy and satisfaction by the Imperialist party led by Mr. McKinley, then their eyes were opened to the revelations of truth, clearly perceiving the base, selfish and inhuman policy which Mr. McKinley had followed in his dealings with us the Filipinos, sacrificing remorselessly to their unbridled ambition the honour of Admiral Dewey, exposing this worthy gentleman and illustrious conqueror of the Spanish fleet to universal ridicule; for no other deduction can follow from the fact that about the middle of May of 1898, the U.S.S. McCulloch brought me with my revolutionary companions from Hongkong, by order of the above mentioned Admiral, while now actually the United States squadron is engaged in bombarding the towns and ports held by these revolutionists, whose objective is and always has been Liberty and Independence.

The facts as stated are of recent date and must still be fresh in the memory of all.

Those who in May, 1898, admired the courage of Admiral Dewey's sailors and the humanitarianism of this illustrious Commander in granting visible aid to an oppressed people to obtain freedom and independence, surely cannot place an honest construction upon the present inhuman war when contrasting it with those lofty and worthy sentiments.

I need not dwell on the cruelty which, from the time of the commencement of hostilities, has characterized General Otis's treatment of the Filipinos, shooting in secret many who declined to sign a petition asking for autonomy. I need not recapitulate the ruffianly abuses which the American soldiers committed on innocent and defenseless people in Manila, shooting women and children simply because they were leaning out of windows; entering houses at midnight without the occupants' permission - forcing open trunks and wardrobes and stealing money, jewellery and all valuables they came across; breaking chairs, tables and mirrors which they could not carry away with them, because, anyhow, they are consequences of the war, though improper in the case of civilized forces. But what I would not leave unmentioned is the inhuman conduct of that General in his dealings with the Filipino Army, when, to arrange a treaty of peace with the Civil Commission, of which Mr. Schurman was President, I thrice sent emissaries asking for a cessation of hostilities.

General Otis refused the envoys' fair and reasonable request, replying that he would not stop hostilities so long as the Philippine Army declined to lay down their arms.

But why does not this Army deserve some consideration at the hands of General Otis and the American forces? Had they already forgotten the important service the Filipino Army rendered to the Americans in the late war with Spain?