The Biography of General Miguel Malvar

Link to Original Article published by the Philippine Government , by E. Arsenio Manuel in the Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume 1, published in 1955.

Miguel Malvar

MALVAR, MIGUEL (Sept. 27, 1865 – Oct. 13, 1911), farmer, businessman. Revolutionary general, was born in the small town of Santo Tomas, Batangas province. He was the first of three children of Maximo Malvar and Tiburcia Carpio. His father was a timber cutter by occupation and operated logging activities on Mount Makiling;. later he accumulated some money and bought lands which he planted to sugarcane and rice; and then he became a teniente del barrio, sometime in 1890 or 1891. From his mother, a virtuous woman, he inherited that strong individuality of character and resolve and that independent spirit which characterized the man in later life. Miguel learned his first letters from the town school; then he was sent to the school conducted by Padre Valerio Malabanan (q.v.) in the neighboring town of Tana wan, then a renowned teacher and moulder of character; and later he was sent . to another school in Bawan where he finished the second year of latinidad. During the vacation period he married Paula Maloles, daughter of Ambrosio Maloles, who was for sometime a capitan municipal of the town, and Crispina Chavez. The newly married couple started an independent life at once, then an unusual way of beginning married life among Filipinos during the Spanish period.

Evidently the young Miguel Malvar had less liking for books than his younger brother, Potenciano Malvar, who was sent to Spain to pursue a course in medicine. But he took life seriously. He was brought up that way; while yet. a boy he was already a useful hand to his father in cutting grass and raising chickens. He knew his breed so well that when a cock happened to be stolen, according to tradition, he spotted it a week after it was taken by recognizing its crowing in the house of the thief!

The Malvars and Rizals were close friends. After Miguel Malvar got married, the oldest sister of Jose Rizal (q.v.) gave him a thousand pesos with which to start a business undertaking. Malvar was the industrial partner. It was during this period that he established a good name for himself, both as an honest dealer and one endowed with remarkable business acumen. He gained the esteem and confidence of merchants in Manila, and later that of Don Carlos Palanca; this wealthy Chinese merchant lent him considerable sums, without any receipt whatsoever, which he invested in the sugar business. His activities were rewarded, and with his savings he bought lands on Mount Makiling and in Santo Tomas which he planted to oranges. The Malvar orange culture was thus started and once became so famous that a variety of orange came to be called after him, and was propagated. At the outbreak of the Revolution in Aug. 1896, he was financially well established.

He was elected gobernadorcillo of his town in recognition of his growing affluence. It was while holding this office in 1892 that he had a disagreement over the local elections with the parochial priest and the provincial governor who sided with the former dignitary. When the Revolution started he disarmed the local police and successfully beat a small Spanish force in Talisay. Pursued afterward, he took refuge on Mount Makiling. He was gaining some following. With seventy-five men and ninety-seven rifles previously captured or seized he presented himself in Jan. 1897 at the headquarters of Emilio Aguinaldo (q.v.), who was then making a name in the battlefields of Cavite province. He was immediately dispatched to the defense of Zapote and later of Longos. After the loss of Zapote and the heroic death of Edilberto Evangelista (q.v.), the Revolutionary forces retreated; Malvar then moved his men to Indang. It was there while awaiting further orders that he received his appointment as lieutenant general in the Revolutionary army on Mar. 31, 1897. Upon the organization of the Revolutionary government and the Regional government of Batangas, he was designated commanding general of the province. He directed the operations in the fighting at Santo Tomas de Tana wan and Lemery. In the combat of May 31, 1897 at Talisay twice he nearly fell into the enemies’ hands. He was engaged in other encounters; he directed, together with General Trias (q.v.) the siege of San temporarily. General Malvar was the last to give up his arms. On the fourth day they retreated after a fierce onslaught by the reinforced Spanish force.

After the Pact of Biyak-na-bato, revolutionary activities ceased temporarily. General Malvar was the last to give up his arm. On Dec. 27, 1897 Aguinaldo together with an entourage of generals and officers went on voluntary exile. Malvar was not among them. It was only in the following year that he joined the exiled leaders. In Hong Kong, where the revolutionists established their headquarters for the time being and planned for a second revolution, taking into consideration his demonstrated financial and executive ability, Malvar was chosen as the first cashier-administrator of the revolutionary funds. About a month after Aguinaldo’s return to the Philippines, Malvar followed; he arrived in Manila on June 15, 1898 with two thousands rifles. Thereafter he busied himself organizing forces in Batangas, Mindoro, and Tayabas’ provinces upon being named commanding general for Southern Luzon. He established his headquarters in Lipa, and was responsible in the organization of military expeditions to the Visayan Islands which were headed by General Ananias Diokno and Macario Adriatico (qqlv.). After the outbreak of the Filipino-American war, he was appointed brigadier general in Mar. 1899. He had successive engagements with the American forces at Muntinglupa, San Pedro Tunasan, Kalamba, and Kabuyaw. Then he was appointed division general and chief of the second zone of operations comprising the southern provinces of Luzon, General Juan Cailles (q.v.) being the second in command. Retreating eastward, Malvar with General Artemio Ricarte (q.v.) defended for a time the towns of Pagsanjan, Pila, and Santa Cruz. The latter town capitulated on Apr. 10, 1899, but he regained it two days later; and then he was driven out finally.

The superiority of American arms now becoming evident, warfare in the open became a costly affair to the revolutionary forces. After the death of General Luna in Cabanatuan, the Filipino army became disorganized. Smaller units under the command of a general became the pattern of military organization with a territory or zone assigned to each. Guerrilla warfare became the safer tactic.’ General Malvar being familiar with the vicinities in and around Mount Makiling, he made this area a point for launching harassing incursions into American positions. But his field of operation and sources of supplies became more and more limited as American positions became strengthened; then Brig. Gen. Franklin J. Bell adopted the policy of “reconcentration” forcing barrio folks to live within certain zones in order to break up the supply lines of the insurgents. Sometime in the following year, 1900, Major J. H Parker of the 39th Infantry, U.S.A., wrote him as follows:

General, you have gallantly fought, and have had great achievements which will leave a memory in the history of our country and in the minds of our children. But, sir, you have already fulfilled the duty of a soldier, and it is not possible to prevent the American soldiers from carrying out the order of their superiors, and still less to send them away. I will soon give orders to surround you and take you prisoner. I desire nothing but peace and prosperity in this place where I have to reside. I think it is in your power to bring that peace and prosperity. I would rather you would come to your native town as an honorable and honest soldier, who has fulfilled his duty, this being better than to be a prisoner like General Rizal. I will feel myself flattered by the honor of receiving your honorable capitulation, and happy to see you in your own house here at Tanawan or at Santo Tomas…

To this General Malvar replied on May 11th as a fine soldier, diplomat, and gentleman as follows:

I and all the forces under my command are witnesses before the whole world of the valor of the American blood, of the honor and discipline of their army, of the superiority of their artillery, and of the humanity and chivalry of her nation. But the same facts cause us to hope greatly, that the American people, deceived by certain Filipinos, who misinformed them that the people like annexation, be acquainted with the fact that for every soldier they lose on the battlefield the Filipinos lose 100, their very power and greatness compel them to give us the independence which has been commenced since the first coming of the powerful fleet of the United States for the honor and glory of the American people. I must also signify to you that till the moment when our scarce bullets shall meet for the last time the overwhelming numbers of those of your powerful army, our shots demand not the death of any American, but the freedom.of a people who for 300 years have dragged the chain of slavery.

After the capture of Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela, on Mar. 23, 1901, Malvar issued a proclamation regarding, in effect, every officer or official falling into the hands of the enemy as out of the Revolutionary army and hence without authority or power to give orders, much less expect obedience; and any official of any class, civil or military, who submits or intends to submit to the enemies shall forthwith be considered a traitor “before my authority.” Upon the surrender of General Trias and General Tinio (q.v.), he assumed sole command of the Revolutionary forces in the South, which fact he proclaimed on Apr. 19, 1901 “to defend our legitimate rights and to have a government all our own and an independent national life.” On July 31 he assumed the full command of the Revolutionary forces, this action being approved by the Revolutionary Junta in Hong Kong. He established his headquarters in the vicinity of Taal volcano. In an effort to effect his capture. Brig. Gen. J. F. Bell issued on Dec. 24, 1901 a very interesting memorandum-circular as follows:

The following description of General Malvar has been compiled from the most reliable sources In Manila and transmitted to this brigade by the department commander:

Complexion rather dark, weighs about 145 pounds, about 5 feet 2 indies in height, short and heavy set; with unusually thick and heavy jawbones; hair blade; with perhaps a few gray hairs, about 40 or 42 years old, wears a gold ring with a stone set on the third finger of the left hand, feet a little broad, wean a 5 or 6 shoe (when wearing shoes), has well-shaped hands.

His hair is liable to grow long in front of his ears, giving an appearance of small ride whiskers. He usually wears a small black mustache, and while conversing with anyone is liable to bat his eyes in a peculiar way.

Goes about country with an Indian shirt and trousers cut off or rolled up to the knee (to avoid detection). If captured, will affect being very simple, inoffensive, and ignorant native who knows nothing, and will give a wrong name. Mouth large, nose ordinary, but slightly resembling Philippine nose, eyes black. Sometimes chews betel nut.

In the same circular is this interesting anecdote:

…He passed American troops with a rooster under his arms, and has ridden on a carabao through Santo Tomas and Lipa, stopping at Lipa to talk to the presidente, without being detected.

…When the troops are hunting him he never sleeps twice in the same place, and sometimes changes his place during the night.

By this time the revolutionary spirit was gradually waning; his former , chiefs and comrades had either been killed in battle, or surrendered, or captured. The following months marked no important engagements. Guerrilla warfare was resorted to and was the only effective method used in harassing and surprising the American troops which were increasing in strength from day to day. Meanwhile Malvar’s men dwindled and some of his trusted officers were deserting him. He continued yet eluding his captors and fighting when, there was occasion until Apr. 16, 1902 when after severe exhaustion and practically without ammunition and supplies with which to continue the struggle, he surrendered with all his men to General Bell in Batangas. His surrender was in a way due to the supplication of his wife, who now and then succeeded in seeing him in his mountain headquarters. By effecting his surrender civil government was instituted by the Philippine Commission in Batangas on July 4, 1902.

Once more becoming a private citizen he devoted the remainder of his life to recovering a lost fortune in order that, as he said, he might have something to leave to his family. To him his wife and children were next to his country. He engaged himself once more in agricultural and commercial pursuits and he succeeded in his enterprises. Governor Taft offered him, it is said, any government position of his choice, but this he declined naively. He had not an inconsiderable part in pacifying remnants of the old spirit, restless elements, and outlaws who had not altogether ceased to ravage the province of Batangas. He distributed rice and other foodstuffs worth several thousands of pesos to victims and sufferers when the Taal Volcano erupted and wrought havoc in the neighboring towns and vicinity. He died of a disease in the. kidney, evidently contracted during the arduous campaigns of the two wars, on Oct. 13, 1911, in the city of Manila, at the age of forty-six years.

He had the following children and descendants: 1 Bernabe (B.S.Agr., Cornell, 1914) m. Amelia Quintero (children: Jose; Antonio, captain PQOG, killed in action June 11, 1943 in San Pablo against Japanese; Francisco; Angelita; Josefina; Tomas, M.D., UST, 1952; Manuel, L1.B., UP, 1951; Teresita, Pharm., PWU; and Nati- vidad); 2 Aurelia (PNS grad.) m. Feliciano Leviste, ex-governor of Batangas (son: Expidito, Ll.B., Lyceum); 3 Marciano (M.D., USA), died single in 1928; 4 Maximo (L1.B., ex-governor of Batangas) m. (1) Mildred Haydel (son: Potenciano), (2) Aurora Castillo; 5 Crispina (Pharm., UP) m. Bibiano Meer (children: Alberto, lawyer, Virginia, and Antonio, lawyer); 6 Mariquita, single, coconut planter;. 7 Luz Constancia m. Aproniano Castillo (children: Senencio, B.S.C., FEU; Rodolfo, B.S.C., La Salle; Oscar; and Exaltacion); 8 Miguel Jr. (C.E., Purdue) m. Loreto Karunungan (children: Miguel III, Don, Azucena, and Tomas); 9 Paula m. Agustin Comcom, lawyer (children: Amanda, Lourdes, and Paula Cristina); 10 Isabel (D.D.M., UP) m. Jose Villegas (M.D.) (children: Jose, Bernardo, Edilberto, Teresita, Porciano, Maria Victoria, and Severina); 11 Pablo L1.B.,’ UM, 1935) m. Elisa Mendiola (M.D., UP, 1933) (children: Aurora, Arturo, Amando, Angela Eloisa, Antonio, Alberto, Alicia, Ana, and Arsenio).

Malvar’s last words to his children were:

“You should respect and love the rich, but more so, much more, the poor. Preserve the family tie, avoid dissensions among you, and always love your mother. Study, for knowledge is a good companion of man.”

After his death. General Bell wrote:

“I have lost a great friend and the community an upright man and a great citizen.”