Monday, August 15, 1898

The Germans

The escape of the former Governor, Agustin, on board the Kaiserin-Augusta, the fastest German flagship, was the news of the day. It was a smart trick played on the Americans, who undoubtedly would have taken him prisoner. The flagship left on Saturday before the end of the bombardment and headed for Hongkong. The United States will evidently presume that this flight was made possible only with the complicity of the Germans, in particular, Admiral von Diederichs. A naval battle between these two countries would have been sensational! But a dog does not feed on another dog when there is a third victim that can be devoured. In this case, the prey is worth their while.

The bombardment of Manila has not caused much damage. General Merritt has requisitioned all public services, but refuses to pay the unsettled wages of the Spaniards who are leaving the country, indeed an incredible situation. Even the religious who were responsible for a great part of the problems show their desire to flee. All the Spanish property has been transferred to the Americans, thus leaving the Filipinos in the same miserable state. The shameful absurdities of the Spanish policies are evident. After having occupied this country for 350 years, all their soldiers, priests, monks, and public officials will leave, and not a single Spaniard will remain. According to the consul general, the Spaniards had one bank, but no large-scale rural development, no mining company, nor any form of public works company. The 1897 figures for trade show that the English represent 80 percent, the Chinese 14 percent, and the Spanish a mere 4 percent. The figures speak for themselves, and any further comment would be superfluous.


Sábado 13 de Agosto 1898

Hoy la plaza de Manila se ha rendido a los yanquis. Las primeras horas del día no anunciaban novedad alguna, (…) De repente se ha puesto en movimiento toda la escuadra yanqui. Los Vapores que estaban de guardia han ido á reunirse con los demás y se han dirigido hacia el fortín de S. Antonio. Cuatro barcos grandes que debían de ser el “Olympia”, el “Boston”, el “Raleig” y el “Baltimore” han cañoneado aquel fortín. Luego la han emprendido contra las trincheras perpendiculares á la línea de la playa, jugando el principal papel en el ataque un Cañonero que debía de ser el “Leyte” ó el “Callao”, En medio del cañoneo ha sobrevenido un fuerte chubasco que nada ha estorbado el ataque, A las cinco cuartos de hora de fuego han juzgado los Yanquis que el campo estaría completamente despejado, por lo cual han suspendido el fuego de los barcos empezando á marchar el ejército de tierra en formación hacia Manila. Nuestras tropas agazapadas en las trincheras que aún quedaban, han sorprendido con dos rociadas de balas á los yanquis que entraban con toda seguridad y que se han quedado parados. En esto el “Olympia” y el Monitor “Monterey” se habían colocado frente á Manila, y este último tenía sus cañones de 30^5 centímetros apuntando á la batería de dos cañones de La Luneta, Ha disparado el “Olympia” un cañonazo sobre nuestras trincheras cuyos soldados han recibido luego orden de retirarse mientras sobre las murallas de la Ciudad se levantaba una gran bandera blanca. La plaza, llena como estaba de gente indefensa, no ha hecho fuego sobre los barcos por no atraer sobre sí las balas enemigas. Ha habido parlamentó en el cual parece que los Yanquis se han mostrado generosos en todas las condiciones, con tal que se les entregue la plaza. Los insurrectos han estado á la mira con ánimo de sacar todo el partido posible de nuestra desgracia. La amistad que mostraban estos últimos días, era la simpatía que por el rico moribundo sienten sus domésticos quienes procuran apoderarse de sus riquezas , antes que de fuera venga otro á tomárselas. Un poco antes que los Yanquis han atacado ellos las trincheras y luego han entrado por la brecha que han dejado abierta nuestras tropas al retirarse. La Vanguardia Yanqui que iba á preparar sitio á los demás se ha dirigido al Observatorio…

(..,) hasta las 6 de la tarde se ha visto pasar por las calles de Manila diversos Cuerpos del ejército español que iban á dejar las armas en la fuerza de Santiago. A las seis la bandera española que coronaba esta fortaleza ha sido arriada, siendo izada en su lugar la bandera Yanqui. Los Yanquis que estaban en la fuerza han saludado la bandera con el grito de “urra”  y una banda de música ha tocado el himno nacional delante de la bandera en el paseo entonces solitario de María Cristina (…).

Las trincheras de la parte de Binando y Sta Mesa, continúan defendidas por nuestras tropas mandadas por el GraL Monet y el Coronel Carbó. Hay por aquel lado mucho tiroteo y mañana abandonarán los nuestros aquellas posiciones para que las ocupen los yanquis si les viene en gusto.

Las bajas se calculan en 400 por nuestra parte, y 2,000 por la de los Yanquis. Es probable que estas cifras sean exageradas como de primera impresión (…). Al caer la tarde se ha embarcado con su familia para Hong Kong el General Augustin.

Today the plaza of Manila surrendered to the Yankees. The early hours of the day gave no new signs at all. The Boston was guarding off Parañaque, the Petrel and McCallouch off the mouth of the river. The rest of the squadron was idling off Cavite. It must have been about 9:00 when we saw sailing into the bay a merchant vessel flying the German flag. Someone said it must have been the boat bringing peace, and secure in this, we positioned ourselves to watch it as she entered the bay. She was signalled off Cavite where she was heading, and turned back to join the rest of the German squadron near Pampanga. All of a sudden the entire Yankee fleet was in motion. The boats keeping guard sailed away to join the rest and headed towards Fort San Antonio Abad. Four big boats, which must have been the Olympia, Boston, Raleigh, and Baltimore, cannonaded that fort. Then they aimed at the trenches perpendicular to the beach . . . . During the attack, a heavy squall fell, but without disturbing the bombardment in any way. After five quarters of an hour firing, the Yankees thinking the field was already fully cleared, ceased firing their guns, while the land forces began their march towards Manila. Our troops crouched in the trenches still remaining intact surprised with a shower of bullets the Yankees who confidently came and were stopped in their tracks. At this moment, the Olympia and the monitor Monterey had moved themselves in front of Manila, the latter with her 30.5 cm. cannons pointing at the battery of two cannons on the Luneta. The Olympia fired a cannon shot over our trenches, where the troops subsequently received the command to retreat, while over the walls of the city a huge white flag was being hoisted. The plaza, filled as it was with noncombatants, had not fired at the ships lest it draw enemy fire. A parley followed during which apparently the Yankees have shown generosity in all the conditions, provided the plaza be surrendered. The insurgents have watched from the sidelines, intending to take all possible advantage of our disgrace. The friendship shown these past few days was that which his domestics feel for a dying rich man, and who seek to take possession of his riches before others come to claim them. Ahead of the Yankees, they had attacked the trenches, and later entered through the breach left open by our retreating troops. The Yankee vanguard which came to prepare the ground for the rest went to the Observatory, asking Fr. Algue if they could lodge there. Father answered politely he did not think so since the ground floor was filled with refugees, and mainly because if the city resisted anew (for the result of the parley was not yet known) the Observatory despite being a building of an international character would be a target of the cannons of the plaza. Accepting the explanation, they asked Father if there was a place where they could shelter themselves, and he indicated the volodrome. Within a few minutes, some insurgents came to the Observatory, and very politely asked the Father’s permission to put by the window grating the insurgent flag, lest the Yankees claim the building. While Father was trying to dissuade them from it, others proceeded to place it nonetheless. Two lieutenants ordered a soldier to remove it, and on obeying, he was rattan-whipped and the flag remained where it was.

[From the time of the noon meal] until 6:00 in the evening, one could see various units of the Spanish army passing through the Manila streets going to deposit their arms in Fort Santiago.  At 6:00 the Spanish flag which used to crown this fort was furled, in its place the Yankee flag was hoisted. The Yankees who were present in the fort saluted their flag with shouts of “Hurrah!” and a music band positioned at the time of the solitary passage of Maria Cristina played their national anthem before the flag. -— Since the Yankees have taken possession of all the barracks, the Spanish authorities cannot find sufficient place to lodge the troops who are retreating to Manila. The former have filled some churches, and our church, too, if we had not offered them a place in the Ateneo, where the native Regiment No.73 and two artillery companies have stayed.

The trenches along Binondo and Santa Mesa are still being defended by our troops under the command of General Monet and Colonel Carbo. There is plenty of shooting in that part and tomorrow ours will abandon those positions that the Yankees may occupy them if they wish.

Today’s casualties are calculated to total 400 on our side, and 2,000 on the Yankee side. Probably these numbers are exaggerated from first impressions. The family of Gen. Augustin boarded the ship for Hongkong at sunset.


Thursday, August 11, 1898

Still nothing. Admiral Dewey is essentially seeking an opportunity to bombard. But then again, the Americans are not so sure of themselves and fear being ambushed by the Tagals. This view is shared by many, in which case, Dewey will attack. If Merritt releases the insurgents in Manila, it would be the perfect excuse.

The Petrel and the Concorde are guarding the city and have completely blocked it from other ships anchored at bay. Yesterday the German consul had to request permission from Admiral Dewey to enter Cavite. Tension is constantly rising in the city. Fresh foodstuffs are unavailable, a rumor denied by some. The French consul has been advised that the Americans have categorically refused to grant the seven-day extension requested by the governor to enable him to inform his government.

Tonight, the American fleet is under pressure. The whole day was spent meeting with General Merritt at his camp. The Belgian consul was also present, having been designated the spokesman for the captain-general. While diplomatic discussions continue in diplomatic parlance, the most important element in the group remains silent but plans to attack anyway.

There is probably a plan to surrender Manila while pretending not to do so. What a contemptible idea! They are prepared to sacrifice these valiant people in order to provide these nonsensical negotiations a semblance of truth. Our sympathy goes to these brave Spanish soldiers. Never have soldiers had such poor leaders completely lacking in intelligence and consistently making incoherent and inconclusive decisions. They should have either surrendered Manila three months ago or defended the city to the very end. These small battles being waged by 10, 20, or a hundred poor souls, fighting hopelessly with all their strength, are futile. They are fighting for an unknown objective in the interest of a non-existent plan. This farcical attack will take its toll on more human lives, making them sacrificial lambs in the name of this so-called “honor.” The Spanish governor is resigned to give himself up but will go through the motions of actual battle, at the expense of 200 or 300 soldiers who will die for what he believes to be the real cause.

General Agustin was not willing to accept this plan up to the very end. He has consistently complained of his role in this deplorable situation. When someone had the audacity to declare and show evidence to the Cortes that there were 20,000 Spanish soldiers and 200 of the latest cannons in Luzon, the unfortunate general, outraged, responded with a telegram on June 21 describing the real situation, and this is the reason he was relieved of his command. Everyone praised him for his conduct and his sincerity. He took over the government of Manila the day before the Spanish defeat and surrendered it on the eve of the city’s capitulation.


Domingo 7 de Agosto 1898

Esta mañana les ha llegado a los yanquis un barco mercante con bandera inglesa que parece traía pliegos oficiales del Gobierno de Wasington (sic). A las 12 horas visita al Gral. el Vice Cónsul inglés y el Cónsul Belga, Traía el Cónsul inglés un pliego firmado por Dewey y Merrit, cuyo contenido era poco más o menos el siguiente: pudiera ser que dentro de 48 horas atacáramos la plaza por mar y tierra. Se lo decimos a usted con esta anticipación para que tenga tiempo de poner á salvo la gente indefensa. El Gral. ha contestado á los yanquis que bien sabían ellos que no podía sacar de la plaza á la gente indefensa por estar los insurrectos casi á las puertas de Manila. El Cónsul Belga que traía en el bolsillo las condiciones de la capitulación por si el Gral. hubiese deseado conocerlas, se las ha guardado sin decir palabra al oír la respuesta de este. La noticia del próximo bombardeo ha corrido como un rayo por la ciudad, y toda la gente se ha aprestado como podía á la defensa. Los militares no descansan un momento acarreando carros de pólvora y balas de cañón y aprestos de guerra.

This morning, a merchant vessel with the English flag seems to have brought to the Yankees official letters from the Washington government. At noon, the English vice-consul and the Belgian consul visited the captain general. They were bringing an official dispatch signed by Dewey and Merritt, whose message was more or less as
follows. It is possible within forty-eight hours we would attack the plaza on land and by water. We forewarn Your Excellency that you may have time to evacuate to safety the civilian population. The captain general answered the Yankees knew fully well they could not evacuate the civilians because the insurgents are almost at the very doors
of Manila. The Belgian consul who brought in his pocket the peace conditions in case the captain general would want to know them kept quiet on hearing the latter’s answer. News of this next bombardment spread like lightning through the city and all the people prepared for the defense. The military do not stop for one moment bringing in chariots of gunpowder and cannon shot, and other war materiel. It seems Commodore Dewey was surprised at the unexpected destitution of Gen. Augustin who, five times, had refused his attempts for a parley, telling Dewey to do what he intended as he himself knew what to do.


Viernes 5 de Agosto 1898

Durante la noche pasada no se ha oído un solo disparo, gracias á los chubascos y ventolinas que el baguio nos regala. A las 7 de la mañana ha habido media hora de tiroteo. (…) Con general sorpresa ha sido destituido el Capitán Gral. D. Basilio Augustín. Parece que ha motivado esta resolución del Gobierno un telegrama del Gral. en el cual declaraba que, puesto que no viene la escuadra de Cámara, el declina toda la responsabilidad que pueda recaer sobre él del éxito de la guerra. El Gral. ha reunido junta de Autoridades y delante de ellos ha hecho manifiesta la orden del Gobierno entregando luego el mando al Gral. de División D. Fermín Jáudenes. En lugar de este ha sido nombrado 2º cabo el Gral. Rizzo. Se han repartido cartas y periódicos que dan como seguras la siguientes condiciones de paz que está para firmase entre España y los Estados Unidos: 1º Independencia de Cuba, 2º Anexión de Puerto Rico y Marianas. Añádese que España está dispuesta afirmar esta paz con tal que los Estados Unidos ó Cuba libre, reconozcan la deuda que pesa sobre esta isla á lo cual se niegan los yanquis.

All night long, not a single shot was fired, thanks to the storm and the winds which the typhoon is donating to us. At 7:00 this morning, there was an exchange of fire for a half-hour. To everyone’s surprise, the Captain General, D. Basilio Augustin, has been demoted from office. It seems the reason for this government decision was his telegram declaring that, since the squadron commanded by Camara was not coming, he refused all responsibility for whatever would happen regarding the success of the war. The general convened the Board of Authorities and in their presence announced the government order, afterwards handing over the command to the General of the
division, D. Fermin Jaudenes. In the latter’s place, General Rizzo was named Segundo Cabo. Letters and newspapers have been spread in which the following are said to he certainly the conditions for peace: (1) Independence of Cuba and (2) Annexation of Puerto Rico and the Marianas Islands. Besides, Spain is ready to sign the peace provided the United States or independent Cuba acknowledge the public debt of the island. This the Yankees refuse to do.


Friday, August 5, 1898

It is said that the Monterey has brought formal orders to attack. But perhaps the victor and the vanquished would eventually end the fighting and maybe even settle their problem without combat.

There is threat of a typhoon. The strong winds from the west have worsened the situation at sea. We are forced to close all portsides and doors to keep the water from coming in. The defense mounted by the junk boats at the mouth of the Pasig River has failed. We have been enduring these torrential tropical rains for a month now. The Tagals, however, are indifferent to the weather, and continue surrounding Manila and the countryside. What would the Americans do here without them? Sinking a fleet at anchor is certainly only the first step towards the conquest of a country that is bigger than Hongkong or Ireland.

The shots heard on the evening of August 1 and 2 came from the attacks attempted by General Agustin and is units against the Americans in their trenches. Insignificant losses with no decisive results.

Tonight, a dramatic turn of events. We have learned from the consulate that the governor general of the Philippines, General Agustin, has been removed from office. Nothing could be more ridiculous; for the past four days, he has been working secretly at his desk. But what is more revolting is the example set by Madrid, whose policies are an incredible mixture of stupidity, incoherence, inertia and hysterical indecisions.

General Jaudenes y Jaudenes has been appointed governor, with Francisco Rizzo his deputy. This is nothing compared to General Monet’s appointment as chief of defense after deserting his post and his men, a constant subject of severe criticism. Together with his 2,800 men and General Agustin’s family, he found himself surrounded by insurgents since June. Under the pretext of escorting Mrs. Agustin and her five children across the Tagal lines, General Monet and his aide-de-camp abandoned their men. Some say that the true version of the story is that Monet abandoned his troops because he was aware of the implacable hatred of the Tagals. Of all the Spaniards, he is the most hated by the Tagals, having allegedly exerted heavy-handed authority by putting to death thousands of natives, women and children included, during the last repression of the uprising.

In order to promote more confusion, the same newspapers which carried news items regarding Agustin’s downfall have also reprinted an article published in Spain, dated the 21st of July, in which the new governor sings high praises to “the heroism of the Philippine army, its illustrious chief, and the nation.” The appointment orders dated the 24th were evidently pre-empted by the newspaper article.

All these insincere half-truths disgust us. Have people really reached this level? One could almost say that the empty pride of the vanquished found glory in their defeat. There is nothing else left for this nation but to face death.


Domingo 26 de Junio 1898

(…) Han logrado huir de la Pampanga acogiéndose á Manila la Señora é hijos del Capitán Gral. acompañado del anciano Padre del Coronel D. Eugenio Blanco. Han hecho el viaje en una barca sufriendo mucha hambre. También vino con ellos el general Monet á lo que parece contra la voluntad de aquella Señora. Ha producido mucho disgusto en Manila el abandono en que deja el Gral. a su gente.


Tuesday, 21 June, 1898

The Insurgents Make Progress

In my view, Aguinaldo would already be in Manila if Admiral Dewey had not closed the doors on him. And undoubtedly, the Americans are not too pleased with the natives’ continuing approaches towards the capital.

The insurgents are seen regularly on the beaches from Cavite to Manila, and have attempted an underground attack in Pasay, Santa Ana, and Paco. On the 10th of this month, they had grouped themselves into an extended semicircle. When the insurgents encircled the city from north to south, at least six kilometers from the wall, the Spaniards were forced to block their approach at Santa Ana. The Spaniards, too weak to mount a serious offensive at any point within the circle, remained on the defensive. They worked assiduously on the trenches, the embankments, and the small fortresses. Today, they worked 5,000 meters from the enemy line. The Spaniards’ intention to give the illusion of an efficient defense proved unsuccessful due to the lack of artillery and men, both of which were too dispersed. They have established 14 small forts. The troops, spread out in the trenches, are ready to move towards the Walled City if Governor General Agustin persists in fighting. What is he waiting for? Apparently, a squadron to help his forces. Maybe he is thinking of joining the insurgents?

And yet, this could be the best approach to take. The insurgents are no longer in doubt about the American sentiment towards them. The Americans do not wish to see them enter Manila. It was not Aguinaldo’s idea to subjugate the city by famine, but rather Admiral Dewey’s. At this point, Aguinaldo procrastinates because of the shame he might have to bear if he were held responsible for the massacre of the Spanish population.

Since the middle of the month, there has hardly been any fighting, except for occasional shootings at night. A substantial amount of ammunition is being used by both sides without result. The Americans continue their surveillance with floodlights. Occasionally, one of their warships ventures forth and is subjected to the night inspection of the foreign divisions. On land there is some artillery fired during the day. However, threats of famine are not sufficient to disturb the enthusiasm of the Filipino troops. It is evident that Manila will eventually fall; the insurgents are aware of their strength and have a nervous desire to use it. At the outpost, those who are detained are posing a problem. Armed with knives and axes to face the cannons, they throw themselves fanatically on the Spaniards. Now that they have guns, they are very eager to go to battle.

Deeply discouraged, the Spaniards are themselves faltering, feeling that the situation is desperate. These old leaders, who are disgustingly lax, have neither character nor strength. They are incapable of following through any idea. Their only strategy, if it can be called that, is essentially one of delaying tactics to gain time. Their despair springs from their lack of defense against the wave of insurgents, but from time to time they sacrifice small groups of men to show that they have a line of defense, which actually does not exist. Extremely courageous soldiers die bravely for the most senseless reasons, and behind their heroic deeds one only finds frightened generals. And in the end, a silence prevails over everything. The officers who are expressly forbidden to say anything to the press give a standard reply. “Nothing new.” However, this situation is becoming extremely complicated, making it difficult to discern the facts from the falsehoods. Everyone fears that the revelation of the truth would show their underhanded tactics and their savage appetite, which spares no one.

In spite of the usual daily routine, the city displays the strangest moral aspect. Outwardly, the people have not changed overnight. The Tagals still remain domestics or coachmen, engrossed in everyday life, and yet, they are insurgents. No one has any illusions on that matter, to the point where a Tagal offering a drink to a Spaniard could, should the occasion arise, strike him down that very night with the same hand. And then there are the Tagals who may be incapable of committing murder, but would welcome the insurgents with open arms at the appropriate moment. All this is evident in every face and is confided secretly among friends. An air of foreboding hangs eerily in the pleasing yet cruel ambiance of this city, where laughter is heard as it experiences pain.


Lunes 13 de Junio 1898

(…) Por la tarde un grupo de carabineros después de herir a un Sargento Peninsular y aun cabo, se han fugado, pero casi todos han sido muertos en la huida.

Invited by D. [Pedro] Alejandro Paterno, about forty Philippine-born Spaniards, mestizos, and indios come together at the house of Eite. All are persons of high social standing, with no political leanings, but patriotically volunteering themselves to serve the government to bring about the pacification of the country. These gestures are based on letters Paterno received from some revolutionary leaders who offer to surrender if they are granted autonomy. At the end of the meeting, the general of the Marines (who has received them very cordially) came up to apologize he cannot join them since he belongs to an armed entity. They then proceeded to visit His Excellency, the captain general, before whom they suggested as the only way rainbow of peace was for Spain to grant autonomy in the form the government thought convenient. His Excellency answered solemnly and energetically he is ready to grant the country as many concessions as he can, but before discussing this, the insurgents must first lay down their
arms. [He added] he is disgusted with the manner the country has responded to the first concessions he made, for, although a constitutive assembly and the native militia have been formed, thereby giving the country a place in the armed forces and in the government [a share] in planning, the insurgent ranks have grown, seriously endangering the sovereignty of Spain in these islands. In the afternoon, a group of carabineers escaped after attempting to wound a peninsular sergeant and corporal, but almost all of them have been either killed or apprehended before escaping from the zone of Manila.