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Pedro Paterno Essay

Pedro Paterno was born in Manila on February 27, 1857. Pedro Paterno was a Filipino statesman as well as a poet and writer. He was the author of Pacto de Biyak-na-Bato (Pact of Biyak-na-Bato), first published in 1910.

He studied at Ateneo de Manila and afterwards at the University of Salamanca. He likewise enrolled at the Central University of Madrid where he completed his law degree.

Paterno joined the Propaganda Movement. His greatest contribution to the country was his role as a mediator in the peace agreement between the Spaniards and the Filipinos.

Pedro Paterno contributed a lot in Philippine literature too. His writings showed how much he loved his country. He had also given the Filipinos a sense of pride through the honors and achievements he had contributed to our culture and literature. His work El Cristianismo en la Antigua Civilization Tagalog, was one work that achieved so much admiration and recognition.

Paterno was one of the representatives in the National Assembly on April 1899. He did not agree in the planned annexation of the Philippines to the United States. He believed that the Filipinos would rather choose to govern their own country than have it ruled by the Americans. Because of his refusal, other Filipinos followed suit. This refusal stirred their emotions to fight against the Americans later on.

Paterno died on March 27, 1911 at the age of 53.

Early life

As the son of Maximo Molo Paterno and Carmen de Vera Ignacio, he belonged to a wealthy family. His first education was under Florentino Flores, and he later enrolled at Ateneo Municipal de Manila where he graduated in 1871. He went to Spain and studied at the University of Salamanca, then transferred to the Central University of Madrid where he took his law doctorate in 1880.


Paterno helped in the negotiations of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato on December 15, 1897 and later wrote a book about it. While in Spain, he joined the Propaganda Movement. He wrote one of the first Filipino novels, entitled Ninay, which was published before Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere. He also wrote Sampaguita y Poesias, a collection of Filipino poems in Spanish that was published in Madrid in 1880. In the 1890s, Paterno became the Prime Minister of the first Philippine Republic, a cabinet member and an assemblyman. During the American invasion of the Philippines, he was one of the Filipinos who favored the coming of the Americans and advocated the incorporation of both countries.

Balimbing Reputation

The reputation has its origins in Pedro Paterno’s role in the negotiation of the 1897 Pact of Biyak-na-Bato between the Philippine revolutionaries and the Spanish. Paterno agreed to abandon his fellow revolutionaries struggle and collaborate with the colonial administration. Then when the USA in 1898 declared war on Spain, Paterno urged the revolutionaries to defend Spanish rule against the Americans, and he continued to urge resistance to the USA during the Philippine-American war. When captured, he swore allegiance to the USA, and was subsequently appointed President of the Consultative Assembly. He has long been an easy target for nationalist historians. Perhaps because as an author of a considerable number of works of history, historians place him as an ilustrado who compromised with both colonialism and nationalism, with loyalties split between Spain and the Philippines. For historians Paterno’s “The Pact of Biyak-na-Bato” is a primary source on the topic, but some historians (particularly Ambeth Ocampo) interpret this supposed historical writing as fiction.

Here are some passages that draw the question of whether Paterno’s writings are fact or fiction: “A lady, a beautiful lass of seventeen years came to me one night panting, trembling, with her long hair spread out on her shoulders down to her back like a dark night. Her sweet lips were rosy and quivering, with her eyes filled with tears and her chest palpitating. I asked her, ‘What do you want?’ And I came to learn that all she wanted was for me to take her along. She told me between sobs and tears that she was very unfortunate, having fallen prey to a revolutionary chief whom she hated. My soul was tearing me to pieces because of this enchanting lady. But what could I do?”

Another describes his wife on her deathbed. He wants to be with his wife, but then duty calls and he must forge peace in the Philippines between the revolutionists led by Emilio Aguinaldo and the enemy led by the Spanish governor-general. This is how Paterno resolves this delicate problem: “I reflected. Finally, I hit the nail on its head. With money everything could be done. I gave her a respectable sum of money so she could run away. The poor girl made her escape and left nothing but a great longing and a rosary of sampaguita flowers that she gave me in return. I kept it among my unredeemed receipts and old documents which were being eaten by years of disillusion.” Paterno died of cholera at the age of 53.

Pedro Paterno’s Proclamation of War
June 2, 1899

To the Filipino people:

No one is ignorant of the fact that since we took the direction of the Ship of State we have sacrificed ourselves to the services of the government of our republic, offering ourselves as victims for the sake of peace without abandoning the sacred idea of liberty and independence which fires our country; but the North Americans refuse to suspend hostilities, asked for by us so that we may consult the National Assembly, seat of free popular sovereignty. The Commissioners returning from Manila so declare. Since it is their desire, may the responsibility of the war and its consequences fall on the great nation of the United States of America. We have done our duty as patriots and human beings, showing the great powers of the world that the present cabinet has the diplomacy necessary to protect our casue as well as the arms required to defend our rights. The Council of Government, deciding to preserve our republican institutions, national independence, and the presidency of Don Emilio Aguinaldo, in spite of the Americans, who intended to construct upon our ruins the edifice of tyranny, has concluded to continue the war, preserving unhurt in their spirit and letter our constitution and laws, which we have conqured with so much blood and such sacrifices. To war, then, beloved brothers, to war!

In order that the people be free it is necessary that they be brave. Rich and poor, learned and ignorant, beloved Filipinos, hasten to unite to save our native land from insult and ignominy, from punishments and scaffollds, from the sad and fatal inheritance of enslaved generations. The God of War, in whom we have put our faith and hoppe, will help us. Confusion, internal and international dissensions and conflicts, rend the invading army; its volunteers, being aware that we are in the right, fight without enthusiasm and only in compliance with their forced military duty. Within the American nation itself, a great political party asks for the recognition of our rights, and the Divine Providence watches over the justice of our case. Forward, Filipinos, and the sun of vistory will shine upon us.

Long live the Filipino sovereign people !!
Long live national independence !!
Long live the liberating army !!
Long live Don Emilio Aguinaldo, President of the Republic !!

Pedro Alejandro Paterno (February 27, 1858 – March 11, 1911) was a Filipino politician, as well as a poet and novelist.[1] His intervention on behalf of the Spanish led to the signing of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato on December 14, 1897, an account of which he published in 1910. Among his other works include the first novel written by a native Filipino, Ninay (1885), and the first Filipino collection of poems in Spanish, Sampaguitas y poesías (Jasmines and Poems), published in Madrid in 1880.[2]


At the trial of José Rizal in 1896, it was suggested that Paterno, along with Rizal, had incited the Katipunan because they had both written about the ancient Tagalog civilization. As evidence for their complicity, the Spanish prosecution cited Paterno’s earlier work “Antigua Civilización” as promoting ideas which had “consequences both erroneous and injurious to Spanish sovereignty.” Nobody moved against Paterno, however, because he was close to a significant number of Spanish officials – both military and civilian – who could vouch for him. Thus, Paterno, like many others of the Manila elite, distanced himself from the events of the Katipunan revolution.[1] In 1897 the Philippine revolutionary forces led by Emilio Aguinaldo had been driven out of Cavite and retreated northwards from town to town until they finally settled in Biak-na-Bato, in the town of San Miguel de Mayumo in Bulacan. Here, they established what became known as the Republic of Biak-na-Bato.[3]

In late July, 1897, Paterno voluntarily presented himself to Governor General Fernando Primo de Rivera, whom he had known while living in Spain, and offered his services as a mediator.[1] Because many highly-placed Spaniards of the time thought Paterno held great sway over the natives, Primo de Rivera accepted Paterno’s offer. He called for a truce, explaining his decision to the Cortes Generales: “I can take Biak-na-Bato, any military man can take it, but I can not answer that I could crush the rebellion.”[3] Paterno left Manila on August 4, 1897 and found Aguinaldo five days later. This began a three-month-long series of talks which saw Paterno constantly shuffling between Manila, Biyak-na-bato, and some areas in Southern Luzon where a number of revolutionary chiefs held sway. During the negotiations, Paterno’s wife Luisa died on November 27, 1897.[1] In ceremonies on December 14-15 that year, Aguinaldo signed the Pact of Biak-na-bato. He proclaimed the official end of the Philippine revolution on Christmas Day, and on left for Hong Kong via the port of Dagupan on December 27.[3] He returned to Manila on January 11 amidst great celebration, but was spurned by Primo de Rivera and other authorities when he asked to be recompensed by being granted a dukedom, a seat on the Spanish Senate, and payment for his services in Mexican Dollars.[1]

The Filipino negotiators for the Pact of Biak-na-Bato. Seated from left to right: Paterno and Emilio Aguinaldo with five companions

Prime minister

He served as prime minister of the first Philippine republic in the middle of 1899, and served as head of the country’s assembly, and the cabinet. American Colonial Period With the Philippine-American War after the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1898, he was among the most prominent Filipinos who joined the American side and advocated the incorporation of the Philippines into the United States.


He died of cholera on March 11, 1911. His literary work was not appreciated until several decades after his death.


Pedro Paterno
Despite Paterno’s prominence in the many upheavals that defined the birth of the Philippine nation during his lifetime, Paterno’s legacy is largely infamous among Philippine historians and nationalists.

Philippine historian Resil Mojares notes that:

History has not been kind to Pedro Paterno. A century ago, he was one of the country’s premier intellectuals, blazing trails in Philippine letters. Today he is ignored in many of the fields in which he once held forth with much eminence, real and imagined. No full length biography or extended review of his corpus of writings has been written, and no one reads him today.[1] Much of this is attributed to Paterno’s penchant for turncoatism, as described by historian Ambeth Ocampo, who sums up his career thus: Remember, Paterno was one of the greatest “balimbing” [turncoats] in history (perhaps he was the original balimbing in Philippine political history).

He was first on the Spanish side, then when the declaration of independence was made in 1898, he wormed his way to power and became president of the Malolos Congress in 1899, then sensing the change in political winds after the establishment of the American colonial government, he became a member of the First Philippine Assembly.[2]

Original author
Paterno, Pedro
Original date of document
Original place of publication
Limbagan Nang La Republika Kiotan Bilang 30, 1908.
Limbagan Ng La Republika Kiotan Bilang 30
Place of Publication
Limbagan Nang La Republika Kiotan Bilang 30, 1908.
American Occupation
Culture Society
Textual Physical Form
Physical description

Ninay is considered the first Philippine and Tagalog novel. Written by Pedro Paterno and published in 1908, it portrayed the richness of the Philippine environment and culture through intertwined narratives and descriptions of the countries sights and rituals. It served to disprove the Spanish assertion that the Philippines did not have a distinct culture. Contents[hide] * 1 Synopsis * 2 External Links * 3 References * 4 Citation| [edit] Synopsis

The novel uses the local tradition of pasiyam or nine-day novena as a frame to two narratives of unrequited and ill-fated love. The pasiyam is being held for Ninay.

The first narrative is that of Ninay and her lover Carlos Mabagsic who is wrongly accused of leading an insurrection by a Portuguese businessman, Federico Silveyro. Carlos leaves for a colorful journey abroad, but when he comes back, Ninay has entered the convent. He acquires and dies of cholera and soon after, Ninay is struck and killed by the same disease.

The second narrative is that of Loleng and Berto. Don Juan Silveyro’s evil schemes prevent the lovers from being together. Loleng dies and Berto turns into an outlaw to take revenge on Don Juan. Berto also unwittingly avenges Ninay and Carlos by ending Federico’s wickedness as well.

The novel has ten chapters: an introduction followed by one chapter for every night of the pasiyam.

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