Palanan, Isabela – The Last Stand of the First Philippine Republic
After the proclamation of the Philippine independence from the Spanish colonial government on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite, the newly freed nation was living on a dangerous ground. With its former colonizers nearly at the end of its stranglehold of the archipelago, a new imperialistic master was preparing to take over.
The Malolos Congress ratified the Malolos Constitution on January 20, 1899 in Malolos, Bulacan; approved by General Emilio Aguinaldo on January 21; promulgated on January 22. On January 23, 1899, the First Philippine Republic was formally birthed with General Aguinaldo as the president.
The young republic however was soon dragged into a war against the United States of America. On June 2, 1899, the Philippine-American War formally commenced. With the Americans hot on his trails, General Aguinaldo transferred from one place to another.
For the next several months, General Aguinaldo and his forces were pushed up north until finally settling down into the depths of the Sierra Madre mountain range. Along the bank of a river in Palanan, Isabela, General Aguinaldo made this his home until his eventual capture on March 23, 1901.
The rugged terrain and isolated location of this coastal town helped extended the life of the republic that it took long for his eventual capture. With the help of Macabebe Scouts however, Brigadier General Frederick Funston captured the fugitive general. It signaled the beginning of the end of the First Philippine Republic.
On the occasion of the 64th anniversary of Philippine independence, a marker was erected on June 12, 1962 near the site where General Aguinaldo‘s house in Palanan, Isabela was built. And on the centennial anniversary of his capture, the National Historical Institute erected a monument and installed a historical marker.