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A Filipino Representative Appeals to the American People

Galicano Apacible, a Filipino nationalist, wrote the following letter opposing U.S. annexation of the Philippines.  Apacible represented the Filipino Central Committee, a revolutionary group that supported independence from Spanish colonial rule.  In 1899, Apacible and another committee member travelled to the United States seeking American assistance in making a peace treaty with Spain, but failed in their mission.  Unable to convince the McKinley administration to recognize Filipino self-government, the Philippines declared war against the United States on June 2, 1899.  Apacible's letter was published eight days later in The Public, a liberal weekly magazine.

The following remarkable and affecting letter was written to the Cincinnati Single Tax club in answer to resolutions adopted by that organization protesting against the American war on the natives of the Philippines. It is dated Hong Kong, April 26, 1899, and is signed G. Apacible, Presidenti (sic) del Comite Central Filipino.

In replying to your kindly letter I avail myself of the opportunity to correct a very false impression which seems unfortunately to have been generally accepted as an undeniable truth by millions -- for all I know, some tens of millions -- of your countrymen. I refer to the false and mischievous notion that the Filipinos are engaged in a war with and against the American people. Treated with contumely [scorn] by Gen. Merritt and Gen. Otis, harassed by vexatious delays in the settlement of the most simple questions, treated as friends and allies at one time and as dangerous enemies at another, our special envoy treated with supreme contempt, our people treated more like beasts of burden than human beings by the American troops and military police in Manila; frequent attempts made by Gen. Otis to lower our great leader, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, in the eyes of his own people, and finally fired upon during the night of the 4th of February by the American outposts, Aguinaldo had no alternative but to at last pick up the gauntlet which had so repeatedly been thrown at his feet. Gen. Aguinaldo and the members of our national government had for over six months repeatedly strained their authority with our people to give effect to the wishes of Gen. Otis respecting the withdrawal of our forces from the outskirts of Manila and to prevent retaliation for outrages upon and irritating affronts to our countrymen. . .

We desire to be on the best of terms with your people of all peoples. It is indeed deeply regrettable that your government should wage war upon us; that millions of dollars and many valuable American lives should be sacrificed under what you so aptly describe as a pretense of suppressing an insurrection. We are fighting for our homes, for all that is dear to us. If we did not fight under the circumstances, which are now generally known, and which herein I have briefly outlined, we should be giving proof of our utter unfitness for self-government. During the trying period of six months prior to the outbreak of hostilities we carried on self-government, extended our rule throughout the provinces and kept perfect order. There has been no anarchy except that which has been created by the overt acts of the McKinley government. We have proved our ability to maintain order in the provinces, to carry on the post and telegraph services throughout the country, and we can conduct the business of all departments of government in a manner that would satisfy all the nations having business relations with us. But Mr. McKinley won't give us an opportunity to demonstrate our ability. We were kept down by the Spaniards, and it seems that it is the desire of your government to keep us down.

…I hope, dear sir, that you will put it very clearly before your countrymen that the Filipinos do not regard the American people as their enemies. We do not. We regard them as our friends, and we wish to be on friendly terms with them. It is against the actions, the tyranny, the ruthless invasion of our country sanctioned by Mr. McKinley and his colleagues, that we protest by fighting as best we can. It is a hard struggle for our little nation against the great forces which McKinley is able to bring against us, but we shall struggle on, for life without liberty is valueless. We hope for the best. We hope that the great American republic may yet give a helping hand to the youngest republic, the only republic in Asia.

Source | Galicano Apacible, "A Letter from the Filipino Junta," The Public, 10 June 1899.
Creator | Galicano Apacible
Item Type | Newspaper/Magazine
Cite This document | Galicano Apacible, “A Filipino Representative Appeals to the American People,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 20, 2021,

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