In fact, from early on in his diary, he voiced out his doubts several times about American sincerity
and intention, almost shadowing Mabini’s prophesies. On the other hand he also rebukes the Spaniards who "prefer vengeance
to the most noble of interests." "Spain," he continued,"would rather deliver the Filipinos to the United States than recognize
them as a nation born of her colonization. In spite of high-sounding words, the narrow-mindedness of the Spaniard is evident."
Each event, as it developed, convinced him of American hegemonic intent and European impotence before the advancing American
His analysis of Aguinaldo’s actuations during this period and the direction which the
events were taking should be another confirmation to scholars and historians of the need to re-examine more closely Aguinaldo’s
role in the ultimate defeat of the revolution in the hands of the US, the new coloniser:
"June 2, Aguinaldo has not lost time. Within a few days he has established a revolutionary government
in Cavite...The American squadron is in no position to attack Manila. It has exhausted its ammunition and is waiting for new
supplies...Asiatic cunning is not evident in Aguinaldo. He appears to have implicit faith in the ability of the Americans
to bring independence to his country which shows a limited knowledge of history. One must hold to what one has, and if this
is not done from the start, one eventually loses one’s rights to his possessions. As long as the American soldiers have
not landed, Aguinaldo remains master of ths situation. With the arrival of each American regiment from San Francisco the threats
to the young republic increase...the provinces around Manila are all in a state of rebellion... If Aguinaldo has or pretends
to have, such confidence in the Americans, this is not shared by the Tagals. Actually they are neither for the United States
nor the Spaniards, they hope to use one against the other."
In an earlier entry dated May 29 long before the American reinforcements arrived Lieut X underlined
the revolutionary forces’ dominant position: "Essentially, the insurgents are at the moment the masters of the situation.
It is their word that prevails on land."
Aguinaldo’s failure to analyse the situation properly and push on for the capture of Manila
and the surrender of the Spanish authorities - when American reinforcements had not yet arrived, while they were short of
ammunition, and while the enthusiasm of the revolutionary forces was at its peak, flushed by victories in the provinces and
at the gates of Manila is an area that historians ought to study in detail.
Why did he trust the Americans so much, despite being rebuffed by Dewey on several occasions?
Why was he so obedient to Dewey ( "He was most obedient, he did what I told him to do," said Dewey)? Did he enter into some
secret deal, or was he just naive? Why did he not listen to the wise counsel of Mabini, and the demands of his own fighters
who were in control of the situation and were ready to enter Manila? Had the revolutionary forces captured Manila and demanded
surrender from the Spanish authorities, they would have been in a stronger negotiating position vis-a-vis the Americans and
the international community. Why did Aguinaldo allow himself to be dictated by Dewey not to enter the city at this point when
the revolutionaries had the upper hand? Capturing the city could have prevented the Spanish authorities from surrendering
to the Americans and giving them the rights of a victor to occupy the city, and gain a foothold in the country.
Lieut X admiringly observes the loftiness of spirit that propelled the Philippine revolution
and how well the Filipinos understood it:
"In their manifestos and their proclamations, as well as their gatherings, it is remarkable
that the Filipino leaders are haunted by the French revolution. Added to this is a religious undertone which recalls the American
independence. Whether one likes it or not, these Indians are talking of a republic, of liberty, equality, fraternity, of a
natural law reminiscent of western concepts. All revolutions resemble one another, based on the vindication of an ideal and
of human dignity. It says a great deal for the Filipinos that this sublime symbol is recognised."
"Prelude to the Fil-American War"
In anticipation of things to come Lieut X observes the behaviour of the Yanks when they landed:
"A considerable number of American troops seen at close range show no sign of order or discipline. It is obvious
why the Germans look down disdainfully on them. They look like an army organised for manhunts...The American soldiers are
hefty and tall but appear narrow in the chest in relation to their height..... It seems their Achilles heel is tuberculosis.
These men who exude self-confidence are more comfortable wearing cowboy outfits than military uniform...they all wear gaiters
and belts of cartridges. During the day they are in their best behaviour and pay for all their purchases. At night they rid
themselves of their inhibitions, drink excessively and, when quite drunk on whisky, become unbearable savages, killing at
the slightest provocation. They do not unleash their brutish behaviour on each other but on the natives. As soon as they see
one, the manhunt begins. This sport enjoyed by these who champion humanity was inherited from their forefathers, who pursued
the redskins and the negroes. This war has certainly given Americans the opportunity for magnificent manhunts in the Philippines
and Cuba at very little cost."
In contrast he notes how in the areas controlled by the Filipino revolutionaries:
"Order reigns in most areas in spite of the war and that a high level of discipline is observed. Some excesses,
naturally, have been committed, but which war has ever been exempt from them? In any event, there have been no massacres or
shedding of blood.
Retaliations have been limited to certain forms of vengeance directed mainly towards the monks...A certain
method is evident in this revolution. Their troops are not very different from the regular troops, and they handle their arms
rather well…Neither does the discipline of the Tagals suffer by comparison with the mediocre standards of the Americans."
In another entry Lieutenant Aime Motsch notes that the Filipinos would not easily accept subjugation, since
they were aware, after all, that they defeated the Spaniard forces in actual combat. He writes sagely:
"The real wealth of a country lies in the people themselves. They represent the work force, the land, the
culture, the enterprises all of which cannot be sustained without them...A Filipino rebellion is not simply a political movement,
it has the capacity to stop life itself. This is why exploiting the Filipinos could be a grave error on the part of the Americans.
If it is their intention to make the Philippines their private fiefdom, they will have to eliminate the Filipinos or reduce
them to slaves."
With the Americans gaining the Philippines through duplicity and not wanting to relinquish this prize; given
Spain’s unbending pride dictating it to cede the Philippines to the US at the Treaty of Paris, rather than recognise
defeat in the hands of its former colony; and given furthermore that the Filipinos would not allow themselves to be enslaved
once more so soon after they had freed themselves at great sacrifice, the stage was set for the Filipino-American war.
In his last entry dated August 31, 1898, Lieut X prophetically writes: "If the Filipinos deserve freedom,
all they need to do is to have a mass uprising." The following year, war between the Filipinos and the Americans would erupt.
This war that would determine the shape and direction of Philippine history in the 20th century broke out in February 1899. Towards the end of the first decade of the century when the war petered out, more
than 250,000 Filipinos had died in a terrible war defending their revolution and brief independence. The Americans, on the
other hand, gained the piece they needed for their grand design on the Pacific, and a rich colony whose economy, politics
and culture they still largely dominate with the help of their native collaborators long after they have relinquished direct
The Diary of a French Officer on the War in the Philippines, 1898 by Lieutenant X, Translated from the original
French by Marietta Enriquez de la Haye Jousselin, Published by the National Historical Institute, T.M. Kalaw St., Ermita,
Manila, Philippines, 1994