Mabini Descendants InterviewedDecember 11, 2014
Last November 21, I interviewed two descendants of one of our great heroes, Apolinario Mabini whose Sesquicentennial Birth Anniversary is being celebrated this year. He was most vocal and active against Spanish and American sovereignty over the Philippines at the turn of the century. American newspaper reports called him the “Brains of the Insurrectos”. Fearing that his presence in our country would bring in trouble, they sent him on exile to Guam in 1901. He could only return to the Philippines — as their term of conditions — if he swears his oath of allegiance to the US. Ms. Pelagia Mabini, a third generation descendant recounted that when asked to kiss the American flag, Mabini vehemently refused.
An “insurrecto” to the Americans; he was to the Filipinos — the “Brains of the Revolution” and “The Sublime Paralytic.” Yes! he was a physically disabled man, paralyzed in 1896 two years after he graduated from UST. As a writer and political philosopher, Mabini was feared, and quite annoyed the Americans because of his unwavering conviction to fight for absolute independence. It just showed how much the Americans valued the power of the mind and the pen over physical disability. Isn’t that cool?
Mabini was appointed as Chief adviser of the first Philippine President, Emilio Aguinaldo in June 1898. He was also the first Minister of Foreign Affairs. He could have been the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court were he not discriminated due to his disability. In January 1899, he became the prime minister or president of the council of secretaries of Aguinaldo Cabinet.Mabini resigned however when factions and clashes of ideas with the ilustrados arose; time when he felt that was not serving the popular will as many were against his convictions. Even then, he continued to write inflammatory articles against the Americans when they took over the Spaniards after the Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10, 1898. The Filipinos’ trust was betrayed as time and history would reveal.
Anyway, during my research, I actually saw the need of providing Deaf access to information on Mabini. The audiovisual materials at the Mabini Museums, both in Tanauan, Batangas and in Sta. Mesa, Manila obviously only target the regular hearing audience and elementary students it seems, based on the treatment and the type of graphic presentations used. For our project, I want the students to feel the ambience of Mabini’s time. And that is only possible by showing actual photos and documents available, sparse illustration, if none at all, and news reports about him in the 1900’s. Most importantly, I want to expose the students to lesser known heroes at the time of Mabini and Rizal.
From July of this year, I have already visited museums, archives, went to the National Library to check on available microfilms that are relevant to his life, and maximized on the use of available books in the personal library of my deceased historian-brother Isagani Medina — a big influence on the type of docus that I am doing, and want to do. I also interviewed for the film a historian, Arch. Jaime Silva, the blind architect, and the curator of the Mabini Museum.
Apolinario Mabini was born in Talaga,Tanauan, Batangas on July 23, 1864. It is a town located outside Manila. Without traffic, one can get there in an hour or so. Nearly a month ago, I was there.
[The project is being made in collaboration with DLS-CSB School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies].