Emilio Aguinaldo was a Filipino leader who led the revolutionary efforts for the Philippines against Spanish, and later the American, forces. Aguinaldo is today regarded as a national hero in the country and played a central role in efforts to have the Philippines established as a constitutional republic.
By the late 19th century, Philippine was a colony of the Spanish Empire. Aguinaldo launched efforts to have the country liberated from Spanish role. He was a well-known Freemason and used his Masonic ideals to pursue the freedom of the country.
As part of this effort, Aguinaldo launched an armed struggle with the help of his countrymen. In this struggle, he garnered significant success and was able to free many cities and towns of Philippine from American rule. However, this success was short-lived and the Spanish forces soon went on the offensive. In the end, the Spanish revolutionary under Aguinaldo were defeated and he went into exile in 1897.
Only a year or so after he had gone into voluntary exile, the Spanish-American War broke out. This war began in Cuba and soon spread to Philippines as well. United States forces contacted Aguinaldo who was ready to return to the Philippines and resume command of the revolutionary forces. He once again launched an armed offensive against the Spanish colonial regime.
This time he was able to muster significant success. He was later joined by American troops arriving on board US navy vessels. These troops joined the war against the Spanish government. By late 1898, the capital city of Manila fell and with it the last major Spanish stronghold was lost. This victory marked the end of Spanish colonial rule in Philippine.
Emilio Aguinaldo had helped the Americans in the hope that once the Spanish were defeated, he would be able to proclaim a free republic. However, he was mistaken. The American government signed a secret pack with the Spanish government.
Called the 1898 Treaty of Paris, this agreement allowed U.S. government to gain the ownership of Philippine in return for $20 million paid to Spain. Philippine changed from being a Spanish colony to being an American colony. Aguinaldo was naturally furious and decided to fight the American forces.
The Philippine-American War began in 1899. Emilio Aguinaldo was the main Filipino military and political leader of the Filipino forces during this war. He and his forces lost control of Manila to American troops.
They were then forced to retreat in the face of superior firepower and weaponry of the American forces. However, Aguinaldo and his forces continued to inflict heavy losses on the Americans. After a period of guerilla warfare, Aguinaldo was captured in 1901. He took an oath of allegiance to the United States and largely retired from public life.
In 1941, during World War II, Japanese forces invaded Philippine. They sought the support of the people in defeating the American forces and in doing so, they were able to list the help of Aguinaldo. Later in 1944, Americans returned and were able to retake Philippine. Aguinaldo was arrested for collaborating with the Japanese forces although he was released soon afterwards.