It was immediately before the
proclamation of independence that a young man was brought before
Aguinaldo as his adviser. He was Apolinario Mabini. Born of very poor
parents, Inocencio Mabini and Dionisia Maranan, in Talaga, Tanawan,
Batangas. Mabini studied in a school in Tanawan, then conducted by a
certain Simplicio Avelino. Much later, he transferred to a school
conducted by the famous pedagogue, Father Valerio Malabanan. He
continued his studies at the San Juan de Letran and at the University of
Sto. Tomas where he received his law degree in 1894.
His dream to defend the poor led him to forsake the priesthood, which
his mother wanted him to take. Early in 1896, he contracted an illness,
probably infantile paralysis, that led to the paralysis of his lower
limbs. When the revolution broke out the same year, the Spanish
authorities, suspecting that he was somehow involved in the disturbance,
arrested him. The fact, however, that he could not move his lower limbs
showed the Spaniards that they had made a mistake. He was released and
sent to the San Juan de Dios Hospital.
Mabini, it must be noted, was not entirely free from nationalistic
association, for he was a member of Rizal's La Liga Filipina and worked
secretly for the introduction of reforms in the administration of
government. In 1898, while vacationing in Los Baņos, Aguinaldo sent for
him. It took hundreds of men taking turns at carrying the hammock he was
in to bring Mabini to Kawit. Aguinaldo, upon seeing Mabini's physical
condition, thought that he must have made a mistake in calling for him
to help him in his work. What could a man in such a condition do to help
But when Mabini spoke, Aguinaldo's doubts vanished. There was
firmness in the sick man's voice, and Aguinaldo decided to make him his
trusted adviser. From then on, it was Mabini who stood behind Aguinaldo.
Envious enemies called him the "Dark Chamber of the President", but his
admirers called him the "Brains of the Revolution".
History of the Filipino People. Teodoro A. Agoncillo