Opening of the Malolos Congress on September 15, 1898 (Kahimyang Project)

On September 15, 1898, the Malolos Congress opened in Barasoain Church with 95 delegates from various parts of the country, gathered to begin the national convention of the Philippine revolutionary government.

Pedro A. Paterno, the man whom the revolutionists had so satirically admonished for his leaning towards Spanish sovereignty less than four (4) months before, was elected President of Congress. He was chosen to guide the political destinies of this budding democracy and preside over their republican legislative body.

Benito Legarda was chosen to be Vice-President and Pablo Ocampo and Gregorio Araneta were secretaries.

Two days later, on September 17th, Pedro Paterno made an inspiring address, in which he said:

Filipinos, today begins a new era; we are beholding the political resurrection of our people. Amidst the glooms of yesterday; amidst the graves of our heroes and martyrs; amidst the ruins of the past, there arises and stands the refulgent genius of liberty, embracing all the islands and uniting the Filipinos with bonds of holy brotherhood.

Liberty is the real purpose of our existence on earth, the foundation of life and progress.

Our past, the era of cruelty, of deceit, of slavery, has ended. We shall renew the history of the Philippines … Filipinos, proceed! Let our steps be unflinching and ever forward; let them be steps of justice, of love, of harmony, and of charity; let us win the sympathy of the whole world with generous and humanitarian deeds; and let us write, in the presence of the Lord, of the Supreme Being, the oath of our independence.

Election of the Malolos Congress delegates was held between June 23 and September 10 following the declaration of independence from Spain on June 12, 1898 at Kawit, Cavite, and the transformation of the dictatorial government to a revolutionary government on June 23.

One of the first acts of the Malolos congress was the ratification on September 29, of the “June 12 Declaration of independence”.

The congress then drafted a Constitution, a decision which was opposed by Apolinario Mabini, the Prime Minister of the revolutionary government or President of the Council of Government.

The resulting Malolos Constitution was ratified on November 29, 1898, signed into law on December 23, approved on January 20, 1899, sanctioned by President Emilio Aguinaldo on January 21, and promulgated on January 22 1899.

Philippines News Agency archives
The Philippines, John Foreman, Filipiniana Book Guild, 1980, Manila
Pambansang Komisyong Pangkasaysayan
The development of Philippine politics, Maximo M. Kalaw, Manila
Kahimyang Project

(Filed by Jr. Amigo/ai/mnm)