Heneral Luna: The Mothers behind Luna and Aguinaldo (Part 2 of 2 parts)

Heneral Luna: The Mothers behind Luna and Aguinaldo (Part 2 of 2 parts)

Oct 01, 2015

Thank you very much for your warm reception of yesterday’s Part 1, the “Artikulo Uno” of this two-part series. To those who have not yet read it, please click this link. Let’s continue our discussion on the parenting that Laurena Novicio Luna and Trinidad Famy Aguinaldo might have done on Antonio and Emilio, RaisingPinoyBoys circa 1800s.

 4. Paninindigan. I don’t know if there’s a single English word that can express this completely, but it means standing up for something. This is a positive offshoot of confidence. Mommy Luna raised Antonio to have a strong sense of paninindigan that he was not afraid to say the darnedest things. Walang paliguy-ligoy(no beating around the bush). He was so sick and tired of the Filipinos’ lack of nationhood and lambasted his colleagues calling them traitors!

On the other hand, I don’t know if it was a negative offshoot of over protection and the self-preservation skill developed that Aguinaldo could not say it straight to his foe’s face what he really felt. Maybe he thought it would undermine his position. He was always politicking with whoever was in power. In some accounts, he was found siding with the Japanese during the Japanese occupation. Here’s the thing about paninindigan. It cannot be just about the self. Paninindigan is standing up for lofty dreams and values like independence in their case. Maybe the sense of independence Aguinaldo had was overshadowed or muddled up by self-preservation and that’s why he bungled along the way.

Some hugot lines from the movie that are worth reflecting on for all of us are these: “Negosyo o bayan? Bayan o sarili? Pumilika!” “Ang Pilipino laging inuuna ang pamilya. Yan din ang sakit natin. Kaya nating magbuwis ng buhay para sa pamilya pero hindi para sa isang prinsipyo ng makabayan!”

01 Movie with lines

Again, a very important parenting reminder is to raise children with paninindigan. Most of the time, in our usual Pinoy pursuit to be always nice, we end up not wanting to offend anybody; consequently, not standing up for anything. We have to raise our children to stand for up something, otherwise, they would fall for anything.

  1. Oftentimes, it’s better to be liked. Now here’s the challenge, another balancing act for parents. In terms of trying to be liked, Luna and Aguinaldo were probably on opposite extremes. One didn’t care if he was liked, while the other cared too much about being liked. In the previous number, I discussed having a paninindigan even if you become unpopular at times. However, the holier than thou attitude or the superiority complex or even just the quick temper can make it harder for leaders to get the support of their followers. You are more effective if you are both respected and liked. I knew of a boss back in the day who was brilliant but would always give credit to his subordinates and that earned him a lot of support. This is a complex balance of being authentic and being nice. A good dose of humility to acknowledge that no one has the monopoly of great ideas, and the patience to listen and try to learn from others will work its magic. Maybe if Heneral Luna were a bit more diplomatic without being balimbing, he would have accomplished more.
  1. Be good even while you’re young. I don’t believe in the common saying (or excuse) that goes, “Mag loko kana habang bata ka pa!” Sure some of us are given second chances and they would say that their loko experiences made them who they are. But what if you don’t get a second chance? Note that this is different from making mistakes while you’re young which is a product of trying out things whether certain or not. What I’m talking about is doing bad things just for the heck of it using youth as an excuse, or using the principle “The end justifies the means.” in the hope of “laundering” them as one gets older. It’s possible to have fun without doing bad things. It’s helpful to have a clear compass of what’s right and wrong so you don’t end up making compromises when faced with difficult decisions. Remember, no matter how much we hide it, our past will come and haunt us sooner or later.

Take the case of Emilio Aguinaldo. As I mentioned in Part 1, I have always wondered why in my History classes back in the day I never encountered Aguinaldo as a traitor. He was a hero printed on our five peso bill! It’s only recently that his bad acts in the past are coming into the consciousness of the common Filipinos, thanks to the movies Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo and Heneral Luna.

Here are possible reasons why Aguinaldo’s image was kept clean based on what I’ve inferred from my readings:

  1. Aguinaldo lived to almost a hundred while his major opponents were all dead. Filipinos are too nice to say, “Hey this old man was a traitor!”
  2. He did some good acts for his fellow soldiers putting up the Veterans of the Revolution, an organization that arranged their pensions and affordable payment plans for land purchases.
  3. He has a handful of descendants in politics. A few days ago a great grandson even said, “Heneral Luna was not assassinated!” But of course, he’s the same guy who said, “Metro Manila traffic is not fatal to anyone.”
  4. Probably the most significant reason is this: Our history books (at least in my school days) were mostly authored by Teodoro Agoncillo who wrote The Story of Bonifacio and the Katipunan in 1956 and many others. He became the chairman of the Department of History in U.P. He was related to Felipe Agoncillo, a diplomat who represented the Philippines in the negotiations that led to the Treaty of Paris (signed on December 10, 1898 that ended the Spanish-American war where Spain surrendered control over the Philippines for the sum of US$20 million). There’s more. Emilio Aguinaldo married twice. After his first wife died of leprosy, he married Maria Agoncillo, the niece of Felipe Agoncillo. So we see where the bias is coming from. In history textbooks the death of Bonifacio was tackled by Agoncillo just using the account of Aguinaldo’s Magdalo faction, not the Magdiwang’s, not even the account of Bonifacio’s own wife.
History books written by Teodoro Agoncillo
                                                  History books written by Teodoro Agoncillo

It is impossible to write history  (or anything for that matter) without biases. Historians are only humans with their own set of circumstances. Facts are always narrated from a perspective. This is the reason why knowing the author is an important component in fully understanding the piece of literature you’re reading.

The descendants of Aguinaldo are probably at a loss right now. All along they (together with a whole bunch of Pinoy History students) thought that their ancestor was a heroic leader worth emulating. I am not discounting the pivotal role that he played in our history but I’m imagining a young grade school boy who comes home crying, “Ma, my classmates said my great great grand lolo was a traitor! Didn’t you tell me he was a hero and that’s why you named me after him? Now my classmates are making fun of me!” In as much as “the sin of the father is not the sin of the son” people can’t help but associate you with your family. So No. 6 above becomes even more important. Our actions today will have consequences not just in our own life but also in our descendants’ lives.

And take note, today everyone is writing history. This is the power of social media. Everyone is free to express his own take on everything. It’s good that we are able to see the facts and the different perspectives immediately that could facilitate productive discussions. It’s also a reminder to be more prudent with our own actions as everything can now be “recorded in history.”

Back to the Moms

Mommy Luna and Mommy Aguinaldo only did what they thought was best for their sons, as we all mommies (and daddies) do. And sometimes we overburden ourselves with guilt if something goes wrong with our kids. It was a comforting piece of information when I heard child psychologist Dr. Honey Carandang say in one of her parenting workshops that parents always feel guilty about their parenting. It’s not necessarily because they are lacking, but because they love their children so much that they always want to make sure that they are giving their best in raising them.

I wish to share with you my take on this. Let’s do our very best to raise our children well but let’s also remind them and ourselves that there’s an expiry date to blaming (or giving credit to) childhood in assessing one’s failures and triumphs in life. At home we came up with the age of 24. At this age, one should take full control of his life. Stop blaming your childhood for your failures and difficulties. On the other hand, you may continue to thank a great childhood if you had one (it’s always better to have an attitude f gratitude) but bear in mind that a great deal of your triumphs are now your efforts.

In the lives of Luna and Aguinaldo, they were 32 and 30, respectively when the assassination happened. Their actions were theirs, probably affected by their partners? As they say, “Your biggest career decision is who you marry.” At that time Luna was single but with a paramour Ysabel Cojuangco, and Aguinaldo was married to his first wife Hilaria Del Rosario Aguinaldo. Oh but that’s another article.

Again, thank you very much for your warm reception of yesterday’s “Artikulo Uno” of this two-part series. Let’s take the lessons from the movie and apply them in choosing our leaders and in raising our children, our country’s future leaders.

Antonio Luna and Emilio Aguinaldo
                                                       Antonio Luna and Emilio Aguinaldo

Here’s the link to Part 1



  1. I will speak at the Junior FINEX on Personal Finance for students at the Adamson University on October 3, 2015.
  2. I will speak at the St. Paul Pasig in their event My Profession, My Passion, My Service to Nation on October 16, 2015
  3. I will speak at the ADMU John Gokongwei School of Management during their JGSOM week on October 30, 2015.
  4. I will speak at the 6th PANA (Philippine Association of National Advertisers) Foundation IMC Youth Congress on November 27, 2015 at the Philippine Trade Training Center, Sen. Gil Puyat Ave. cor. Roxas Blvd., Pasay City.

Rose Fres Fausto is the author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon. Her new book is the Filipino version of the latter entitled Ang Muling Pagsasalaysay ng Ang Pinakamayamang Tao sa Babilonya. Click this link to read samples of the books. Books of FQ Mom Rose Fres Fausto. She is also the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards.


Attribution: Images from retrato.com, webzoom.com, photos.geni.com, uploadwikimedia.com, xiaocua.files.wordpress.com, myrizal150.com, marymemary13.files.wordpress.com.

Readings: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Emilio_Aguinaldo







This article is also published in PhilStar.com and RaisingPinoyBoys.com.