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#OnThisDay: Selected Historical Events in the month of February

From February to May 1995, tensions strained diplomatic relations between PR China and the Philippines over the issue of Mischief Reef (Panganiban Reef) when Chinese-built structures supposedly serving as "fishermen shelters" were discovered in the area, protected by at least eight Chinese ships. As a response, not only did Filipino authorities arrest Chinese fishermen in the disputed area, the Philippine government also sent its entire fleet of supersonic F-5 fighter planes, much to the dismay of the Chinese government. Filipino defense officials subsequently arranged a visit to the vicinity of Mischief Reef, taking along with them at least 38 local and foreign media personnel to reveal the Chinese structures. A 9-nation marine research workshop was also organized as an exercise of diplomatic action in the region.

International support for the Philippines surfaced when a 98-nation declaration was approved by the Non-Aligned Movement in April 1995 to back up the Filipino position on the issue. In this regard, it was the Filipino triumph which prevailed in the internationalization of the Spratlys dispute. The Mischief Reef incident also saw warming of ties with the United States after the removal of American bases three years earlier. Citing freedom of navigation as sufficient cause to engage in hostile action, even against China, the American government only fell short of recognizing the legality of any claims in the area. The 1995 standoff, however, did not check Chinese expansionism by sea. Structures continued to be built not only in Mischief Reef, but in at least seven other areas, including Subi Reef (Zamora Reef), Fiery Cross Reef (Kagitingan Reef), and Johnston South Reef (Mabini Reef).

As early as 1992, China had already institutionalized the so-called Nine Dash Line through its Law on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, which claims they expanded later, in May 1996. Despite Chinese claims, Vietnam exercises actual occupation over the most number of maritime features in the disputed territory (29), followed by the Philippines (11). Other countries such as Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan (Republic of China) also had claims in the area.

In February 1939, Japan established its military presence in the Spratlys, which they called New Southern Islands (新南群島). At this time, they began operating some of the maritime features as submarine bases. By virtue of a decree by Japanese Governor General Kobayashi Seizō, who administered Taiwan, the following were claimed by Japan as of March 30, 1939:

Northeast Cay (Parola Island, 北子岛)
Southwest Cay (Pugad Island, 南子岛)
West York Island (Likas Island, 西月島)
Thitu Island (Pag-asa Island, 中业岛)
Loaita Island (Kota Island, 南钥岛)
Flat Island (Patag Island, 费信岛)
Nanshan Island (Lawak Island, 馬歡島)
Itu Aba Island (Ligao Island, 太平島)
Sand Cay (Bailan Island, 敦謙沙洲)
Namyit Island (Binago Island, 鸿庥岛)
Sin Cowe Island (Rurok Island, 景宏岛)
Spratly Island (Lagos Island, 南威岛)
Amboyna Island (Datu Kalantiaw Island, 安波沙洲)

After the Second World War, the official designation of the islands became res nullius (owned by nobody) pursuant to the 1952 San Francisco Treaty, which invalidated Japanese claims, but did not assign the territories specifically to which claimant nation. The Philippines was signatory to the said treaty.

In 1974, the Philippines occupied at least five islands, including Pag-asa Island (Thitu), establishing what was regarded as the first postwar military installation in the Spratlys. Initially exclusive for military use, civilians would later occupy the island, reinforcing the continuous administration of the Kalayaan Island Group. Almost 400 voters were reported from the municipality in the 2019 elections.

The Rancudo Airfield, completed in 1978, was the last major upgrade in the island until the establishment of a seaport and beaching ramp in 2020 in the midst of being swarmed by Chinese vessels. The heavy landing craft BRP Ivatan would be the first Philippine Navy ship to dock in the newly finished port.

1st February
On February 1, 1737, a treaty of "permanent peace and alliance" was signed between Sulu Sultan Azim ud-Din I (Fernando Alimuddin) and Spanish Governor General Fernando Valdez (Valdes). The sultan was represented in Manila by his Rajah Laut, Datu Muhammad Ismail.

Among the provisions of the treaty include the cessation of hostilities between the two parties, the mutual commitment to defending each other, the establishment of free trade, and the exchange of captives and religious items taken during the conflict. Mutual assistance, however, did not include fighting against any European nation. This indicated the geopolitical reality that the Spanish government in Manila could not formally declare war without an act from Madrid.

Since at least 1734, Alimuddin's father and predecessor Sultan Badar ud-Din I had been at war with the Spanish, the aging Sulu leader attacking Zamboanga, acting in coordination with his ally, Maguindanao Sultan Bayan ul-Anwar. Badar had an unfortunate experience in his diplomatic ventures with Spain. In 1726, he sent an embassy to both Qing China and the Spanish government in Manila. Successful were his endeavors in China that Sulu was provided port of entry in Fujian (Fukien). In addition, the descendants of Sulu ruler Paduka Batara (Pahala) were formally granted Chinese citizenship in 1731. Paduka Batara died while on a diplomatic mission to China in 1417.

While his relations with the Chinese flourished, the sultan's ties with the Spanish soured. Badar ud-Din was particularly affected by Spanish interventions in Maguindanao, who recognized a challenger to the sultanate's throne in Farqir Maulana Hamza (later crowned as Sultan Muhammad Khair ud-Din in Zamboanga), and believed it was an affront to their sovereignty.

In 1735, Badar retired to Tawi-Tawi and designated his son Alimuddin as successor. The treaty he entered and the reforms he introduced, however, disappointed his father. While Alimuddin poised himself as a strong bulwark of Islam, mandating strict compliance to Muslim traditions such as the daily prayer (salah/salat), he permitted the entry of Christian missionaries in his territory. While he campaigned to expand Sulu territories in Borneo, he requested Spanish assistance.

So much was the Spanish trust for Alimuddin that in one of his military campaigns in Borneo, when the sultan asked for only 50 Spanish soldiers, they provided him some 650 troops. By 1750, Alimuddin and five other officials were converted to Christianity. He was recognized by the Spanish as the "Catholic Sultan of Jolo."

As soon as Alimuddin left for Manila two years prior, meanwhile, his throne was assumed by his brother Datu Bantilan. He was proclaimed by followers as Sultan Muizz ud-Din. He would rule Sulu until Alimuddin's reinstatement in 1764, this time through British aid.

2nd February
On February 2, 1900, the MANILA BULLETIN was founded as a four-page newspaper. It has since grown to become one of the longest standing dailies in the Philippines. It has also expanded its media network to other platforms such as digital. According to Statista, the Bulletin garnered 21 percent share among online news brands in the Philippines as of 2021.

2nd February
On February 2, 1899, Colonel Luciano San Miguel received a protest from General Arthur MacArthur concerning the presence of Filipino soldiers "more than a hundred yards" within the designated line of American occupation. This came after the arrest of American military engineers in Tondo for approaching Filipino defense installations. The engineers were later released, but it was representative of the rising tensions between the two nations at this time.

Until January 29, negotiations were ongoing as Filipino President Emilio Aguinaldo sent a peace commission composed of Florentino Torres, Ambrosio Flores, and Manuel Arguelles to avoid any armed conflict to occur. They also sought American recognition of the newly inaugurated Filipino republic, giving a copy of the ratified constitution to the Americans. However, the following meeting on January 31 did not push through as the Aguinaldo government suspected the delaying tactics of the American panel assigned by General Elwell Otis, who was already acting as military governor of the United States in Manila.

Meanwhile, San Miguel sought to keep the peace with the Americans, and thus withdrew his troops on February 3 even as he believed they were only passing through. The colonel operated in the Third Zone which surrounded Manila when war erupted the day after.

3rd February
On February 3, 1927, Senate President Blas Ople was born in Bulacan. His secondary education was interrupted by the Second World War, when he fought against the Japanese as a guerrilla. After the war, he pursued a career in journalism and public relations. In 1953, he headed the Executive Planning Committee for the Ramon Magsaysay for President Movement. Upon Magsaysay's election in the same year, Ople became a technical assistant to the President on labor and agrarian affairs.

President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. would appoint him Labor Secretary in 1967. In this capacity, Ople would begin work on the Labor Code, which Marcos would issue as Presidential Decree No. 442 on Labor Day of 1974. This would earn Ople the moniker "Father of the Labor Code." He would cease his service as secretary when he ran as a Nacionalista for the Senate in 1971. He failed to win a seat.

Marcos, however, would appoint him once more as Labor Secretary in 1972, a position which would become Minister of Labor and Employment until the end of the Marcos administration 14 years later. During his tenure, Ople would be elected as president of the International Labour Organization Conference (1975), the first Filipino to assume the post.

Ople would be among the officials in the Marcos administration who would bare publicly concerns about President Marcos's health, describing the Philippines being in "a kind of interregnum" in 1984. When the EDSA People Power Revolution occurred in 1986, Ople was in the United States, tasked to help improve Marcos's reputation with the US government.

However, Ople refused to deal with the Soviet Union when Marcos considered to have their assistance at the height of People Power. Even as Labor Minister, Ople was known to have publicly lambasted the Soviets. This despite him being a former chairman of the RP-USSR Friendship Society. Ople also attempted to argue that Marcos should not expect aid from the Soviet Union when the Philippines remains an American ally. Upon his return to the Philippines, he would be part of the commission which would create the 1987 Constitution, a charter still in effect to this day.

In 1992, his third bid for the Senate finally bore fruit, landing 11th as a candidate of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP). The resignation and eventual death of Marcelo Fernan in 1999 saw Ople rise to the presidency of the Senate, a position he would serve until 2000. Among his landmark contributions was the approval of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States. While initially opposed to the agreement, he eventually saw reason in the sense that the "security alliance with the United States remains a major anchor of national safety, security, and freedom."

During the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, he would be appointed as Foreign Affairs Secretary. His tenure lasted nearly 17 months, but Ople was instrumental in organizing Filipino participation in the Iraq War, which began in 2003. The 51-strong humanitarian contingent would be pulled out of Iraq a year later. Then again, Ople would not live to see this development. He died on December 14, 2003.

4th February
A tale of two markers: On the night of February 4, 1899, the first shot of the Filipino-American War was fired by American soldier Private William Grayson. The outbreak of fighting almost caught the Filipino forces by surprise, as most of their leaders were at the time outside Manila. General Artemio Ricarte and Colonel Luciano San Miguel were with President Emilio Aguinaldo in Malolos, while General Antonio Luna was en route to visit Pampanga. Only General Pantaleon Garcia and Captain (later Major) Fernando Grey were the ranking Filipino officers on ground zero.

The Battle of Manila had began. Despite the US seizing the element of surprise with the pretext of rising tensions, it was said that the Filipinos fought so ferociously that the Americans had to request for reinforcements to push further the lines to San Juan. At about the same time, American forces also advanced to Makati and Caloocan, extending their front from north to south until they were eventually stopped by the thinning of supply lines. The Americans reportedly suffered over 250 casualties, as against more than 500 from the Filipino side.

For the longest time, it was believed that Grayson fired the first shot at San Juan Bridge, which bore the marker erected by the National Historical Institute (now NHCP) until 2003. But through extensive research, notably by Dr. Benito Legarda, it was established that the bridge was not the accurate site. Moreover, photos of Grayson returning to the site where he fired showed no bridge in the vicinity. In light of these, new markers (one in English and another in Filipino) were placed in the intersection of Silencio and Sociego Streets in Santa Mesa, Manila to indicate the right spot.

5th February
On February 5, 1842, a treaty protecting American trade in Sulu was signed between Sultan Jamal ul-Kiram I and United States Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, commander of the 1838-1842 United States Exploring Expedition. Initially assigned to Commodore Thomas ap Catesby Jones, he resigned as commander in 1837, prior to the expedition's commencement.

This came after the 1836 Capitulation of Peace, Protection, and Commerce between the sultan and Spanish Governor General Pedro Antonio Salazar, then represented by Captain Jose Maria Halcon. The 1836 treaty affirmed the friendship between Sulu and Spain, as well as the guarantee of Spanish protection in exchange for "unity with the Spanish provinces in the Philippines" and for consideration of raised Sulu armies "as if they were Spanish."

Then again, it also affirmed the provision in the 1737 treaty signed by Sultan Azim ud-Din (Fernando Alimuddin) that Sulu's protectorate status did not extend to waging war with any European nation, as the Spanish government in Manila did not possess the capacity to declare war without orders from Madrid.

Kiram might have understood that his amity with the Spanish did not mean integration in the Philippines, and thus continued to enter treaties and agreements with other nations. Apparently, this was not the first time the Americans visited Sulu. It was believed that as early as 1790, through a schooner called "Massachusetts", earlier contact has been established between Sulu and the United States. This preceded the landmark journey of Astrea to Manila six years later, in 1796. This desirable memory with past American ventures likely influenced Kiram's decision to afford "full protection" of all US vessels and granting America trade status of "most favored nation."

Also by 1842, the Spanish further pressed for effective occupation within the Sulu sultanate. At this time, they built a stone fort at what is now Isabela City in Basilan. The French Navy, however, came to blockade Basilan a year later to punish actions by a Samal datu against the French warship "Sabine," which resulted to the death of at least one French naval officer.

It would not be until 1845, after Kiram's death, would negotiations to lift the French blockade progress. It seemed that the French wanted to acquire Basilan for 100,000 Mexican dollars, intending to use the island for trade with China. The succeeding Sulu Sultan, Muhammad Fadl (Pulalun), appeared to be quite friendly with France. He entered a treaty with the French Corvette Captain Theogene Francois Page, similar to that which Kiram signed with Wilkes. This prompted the Spanish to remind Pulalun of his commitments to Spain, as stipulated in the 1836 treaty signed by his father.

On February 21, 1845, the French agreed to pay Pulalun the full amount upon actual occupation of Basilan, provided this was done within six months from the ratification of the agreement. Then again, anticipating a response from Spain, the supposed cession of Basilan was not ratified by the French government. This was sufficient for the Spanish to doubt the sultan, who later explained that he never meant to sell Basilan, citing Islamic law as his basis.

Regardless of Pulalun's reasoning in dealing with other nations, the Spanish went on to build another fort in Basilan at Pangasahan by 1846. This earned protests from the sultan, who believed his father's treaties with Spain were more commercial than military in nature. The Spanish, meanwhile, used the previous French blockade to rationalize their military occupation of Basilan. Instead of offering the Basilan datus protection, however, it alienated them for the Spanish fortifications proved to have grown too powerful for comfort.

5th February
On February 5, 1885, King Leopold II of Belgium established the Congo Free State as a private venture, the Force Publique (Public Force) tasked to enforce his reign over the Congolese. Also known as the Roi-Bâtisseur (Builder King), it was hoped that Leopold gaining Congo from the Berlin Conference would bring progress to the African nation as he did with Belgium.

Instead, it was said that Leopold's rule saw self-enrichment at the cost of Congolese lives. Despite attempts to manage the image of his personal rule, international attention on the Congo pressured Leopold to officially turn over the country to the Belgian government by 1908, the cost of which ran over 215 million francs. His legacy in Africa earned him a less favorable moniker. That is, "the Butcher of the Congo."

Since his ascension to the throne in 1865, Leopold sought to expand Belgium overseas. One of the dominions he set his eyes on was the Philippines. His appointed ambassador to negotiate with Spanish Queen Isabel II, however, did not take the task seriously, believing that both Spain and Belgium would scoff at the king's idea. When Isabel's rule ended as result of La Gloriosa (Glorious Revolution) in 1868, Leopold made another attempt, setting aside financing of 150 million francs, and then filling up the balance through loans. The banks refused to fund this project.

Perhaps as a last resort, Leopold tried to organize a Belgian company which would pursue Philippine independence under a Belgian ruler, and incorporate it under a 90-year concession. Thereafter, the company would have ceded the Philippines to Belgium. Nothing significant came out of this venture. One could only speculate the Filipino life under Leopold.

6th February
On February 6, 1922, the Washington Naval Conference concluded with at least three treaties signed, namely the Four Power Treaty (Treaty on Peace in the Region of the Pacific Ocean), the Five Power Treaty (Washington Naval Treaty), and the Nine Power Treaty (Treaty on the Sovereignty of China). In particular, the Five Power Treaty was regarded as the first effective arms limitation treaty in the world. Among its landmark provisions include placing of caps on ship tonnage, ship armaments, and prohibitions on repurposing scrapped ships as war vessels in the future.

The nations involved in the negotiations which began in 1921 were the United States, Belgium, Great Britain, the Republic of China, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and Portugal.

Japan was the only Asian signatory in all three treaties, but the backlash at home threatened the stability of the national government. Even before the conference was convened, Prime Minister Takashi Hara (原敬) was assassinated on November 4, 1921. The prime minister, like his representative to the conference Admiral Katō Tomosaburō (加藤友三郎) and those in the so-called "treaty faction", believed that arms limitation would be beneficial for Japan's long-term growth in national strength, especially since it could not hope to outpace the more economically developed nations in military production. However, the Japanese public did not seem to appreciate the fact that it was given lower caps than America and Britain. That is, the so-called 5:5:3 ratio, wherein for every 5 capital ships possessed by the two nations, Japan was allowed to have 3. Two more prime ministers would take office in Japan before the conference was concluded.

The results of the conference also had repercussions on the Philippines, which military growth was basically hindered for the Washington Naval Treaty disallowed any new fortifications and naval bases to be built in all Pacific possessions of the United States. The exceptions would be Alaska, Hawaii, and the Panama Canal Zone. The same prohibitions were applied to British and Japanese territories in the Pacific. Earlier during the First World War, the Philippines eagerly raised a 25,000-strong armed force called the "Philippine National Guard" in hopes of making its mark in the global conflict. They never saw action outside the Philippines, and would be dissolved later.

The Philippines also experienced troop reductions starting 1922, with the 62nd Infantry and 25th Artillery of the Philippine Scouts disbanded. Meanwhile, officers from the 43rd Infantry and the 9th Cavalry were distributed to other units. There were four regiments formed in 1920 to initially constitute the Philippine Scouts, which by this time were integrated as part of the United States Army.

7th February
On February 7, 1899, General Antonio Luna issued an order to all officers of the territorial militia (sandatahanes) to "avenge themselves of treachery and deceit" by burning all houses occupied by the Americans and the Spanish. He also ordered attack against Filipinos "who have been pointed out as traitors." To add to their forces, Luna sought to free the prisoners of Bilibid and permitted to equip them "in the most practical manner." This came three days after the Filipino-American War erupted.

The American response was to take precautionary measures in preventing the "massacre" and destruction by fire. It would not be until February 22, 1899 when a massive force led by General Luna himself would attempt a counterattack to roll back all the American gains since the outbreak of the war. This early order, however, became a demonstration of how Luna intended to lead the Filipino forces throughout the conflict.

A month later, in March 1899, Luna issued his infamous Articulo Uno proclamation, and had it publicly posted in Meycauayan, Bulacan. The said order had as its first article "shooting without court martial" spies, robbers, those who violate women, and those who aid the enemy. The same proclamation also ordered the adoption of scorched earth tactics as towns abandoned by Filipino forces were to be burned. This was the second article. Soon after, he allegedly shot a Chinese "without trial."

Then serving as President of the Cabinet, Apolinario Mabini observed the following on Luna's behavior: "We do not expect him to consult with the Government in so far as battle plans and dispositions are concerned, but he should inform us of his plans regarding the civil population, the foreigners, and other matters concerned with the policy of war."

Mabini even recommended to President Emilio Aguinaldo the removal of Luna as Chief of Operations and Director of War because "he does not understand his powers." The Articulo Uno proclamation, for instance, also covered Bulacan and Pampanga, whereas at the time his primary operational zone was in Manila. Luna, however, believed that his actions were necessary sacrifices to achieve independence.
The Americans would later confirm with President Aguinaldo in 1901 if Luna's February 7, 1899 order was authentic. He recognized that Luna's signature in the order was genuine.

7th February
On February 7, 1986, the snap election for president and vice president in the Philippines was conducted. Although the ballots were still cast manually, that is through writing, the vote tabulation was already computerized.

Three months earlier, President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. announced on American television (broadcasted also in the Philippines through state television) holding elections on January 17, 1986, a full year before the constitutionally mandated date, and the anniversary of the official lifting of Martial Law. This schedule was eventually moved to February.

The opposition, led by the coalition called United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO), may have been taken by surprise as much as the nation was at the time, since they have yet to decide on a unified candidate for president, and would therefore have to fast track their preparations for the election.

Then again, in an earlier survey done by the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development (BBC) in June-July 1985, Marcos's lead over the prospective opposition candidates was commanding, with 52 percent believing that he would be reelected. While Salvador "Doy" Laurel and Jovito "Jovy" Salonga were behind in double digits, UNIDO's future standard bearer Corazon "Cory" Aquino was only at 8 percent in voters' preference.

The Marcos administration may have also taken the prevailing numbers leading to 1986 into account, which showed the president having a moderately high net satisfaction of +19. In context, this was higher than Cory Aquino's +10 during her last year of office (1991), Joseph Ejercito Estrada's +13 (2000), and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's -31 (2009).

8th February
On February 8, 1890, Senator Claro M. Recto was born in Tiaong, Tayabas (now part of Quezon). Regarded as one of the finest minds of his generation, Recto was known for his nationalist views. He finished his bachelor's degree at Ateneo de Manila as maxima cum laude in 1909. Thereafter, he had his Master of Laws at the University of Santo Tomas in 1914. He passed the bar exam upon his second take. Recto also developed a literary career as early as his student days, publishing his poem collection "Bajo los Cocoteros" in 1911.

His foray in government service began when he became secretary to Philippine Commission Member Vicente Ilustre. In 1919, Recto was elected representative of Batangas 3rd District as the candidate of Partido Democrata, a position he would keep until 1928. There was a time when he served as minority floor leader.

In 1931, after a stint in teaching, Recto returned to government upon being elected as senator. He would again become minority floor leader, but the eventual dissolution of the Democratas as the opposition bloc by 1932 led Recto to join the dominant Nacionalista Party. By 1934, he became Senate majority floor leader. During the same year, he was elected as President of the Constitutional Convention, approving by February 8, 1935 the Commonwealth charter. This was also known as the 1935 Constitution.

Five months later, Recto was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. By 1941, he was reelected to the Senate, but their tenure was interrupted by the Second World War. Under the Japanese-sponsored Second Republic, Recto would occupy key positions such as Commissioner on Education, Health, and Public Welfare (1942) and Minister of Foreign Affairs (1943). This service, however, earned him the charge of collaboration.

Instead of availing President Manuel Roxas's amnesty, he pleaded his case with the People's Court and was eventually acquitted. Recto would attempt to return to the Senate in the 1949 elections, but was nearly 100,000 votes short of 8th place, which seat was won by Liberal Party candidate Teodoro de Vera. All eight seats were won by Liberal candidates.

It would not be until 1952 when Recto finally assumed the post after winning his case with the Electoral Tribunal. During his postwar legislative career, among his landmark campaigns was the passage in 1956 of the Rizal Law (Republic Act No. 1425), which mandated the institution of the Rizal course in universities. While vehemently opposed by many, including the Roman Catholic Church, he persevered with the belief that Rizal's life would inspire nationalism. Another of his struggles would be the question of American military bases in the Philippines, wherein he argued with US Attorney General Herbert Brownell. While passing through Clark Air Base, he boldly asked, "Is this United States territory or the Philippines? Where is the Philippine flag?"

In 1955, Recto introduced to Filipino electoral history a novel development - even though running for Senate reelection as a Nacionalista, he was also taken as guest candidate of the Liberal Party. He ranked 6th out of eight available seats, making him the first successful guest candidate in the Philippine Senate.
His 1957 presidential campaign, however, did not meet as much triumph. The death of President Ramon Magsaysay, once viewed as the potential unified candidate for both the Nacionalistas and the Liberals, months before the election saw fragmentation across party lines. Recto and some in the Nacionalista Party abandoned Vice President Carlos P. Garcia to join forces with Lorenzo Tañada's Citizens' Party, the two eventually becoming standard bearers of the said political organization. Meanwhile, some of Magsaysay's close aides such as Manuel Manahan and Raul Manglapus also bolted from the Nacionalistas to form the Progressive Party. The oppositionist Liberals were also in trouble. Judge Antonio Quirino, founder of Alto Broadcasting System (ABS), broke away from the party's official candidate for president, Chief Justice Jose Yulo.

Recto was said to have been subjected to intense black propaganda. His nationalistic "Filipino First" campaign was distorted as an elitist rhetoric that was out of touch for the masses, or as an enemy of prevailing traditions and values. He earned criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. Recto garnered a little over 8 percent of the vote. After the elections, he remarked, "You must always make yourself available to your country and be willing to run for public office. But before you run, just make sure you have your own poll inspectors."

He died on October 2, 1960, while serving as Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in Rome. His reported last words were as follows: "It is terrible to die in a foreign country." Perhaps ironically, he died in the heart of the very Church which opposed him throughout his political career.

10th February
On February 10, 1899, the Battle of Caloocan commenced with American bombardment coming from their artillery and gunboats. The strategic objective was to eliminate the pocket north of Manila, secure railway access, and reinforce a continuous line from Caloocan to San Juan. The brigade under General Arthur MacArthur then followed with a ground offensive, where some 4,000 to 5,000 Filipino soldiers were said to have "contested every step." The entrenched Filipino troops, led by General Antonio Luna, fought what was described as one of the bloodiest battles during the course of the Filipino-American War.

Eventually, the Filipinos retreated further north to Polo (now Valenzuela). The Americans captured 5 engines, 50 passenger coaches, and more than a hundred freight cars. Some Chinese, meanwhile, allegedly took advantage of the aftermath by "securing many minor articles of property." Witnessing Chinese support for their cause, the Americans enlisted their assistance to improve their supply lines, which by this time have been spread too thin after their military victories. For the meantime, the American offensive had generally halted as they awaited reinforcements. They also hoped that Filipino morale would collapse. Instead, the administration of President Emilio Aguinaldo used the temporary pause to plan their counterattack and regain lost territory.

11th February
On February 11, 1860, General Vicente Lukban was born in Labo, Camarines Norte. After studying law in Manila, he became an oficial criminalista in the Court of First Instance. He would later return to Labo where he served as juez de paz. When the Philippine Revolution erupted, he was involved in the agricultural and commercial society "La Cooperativa Popular."

Lukban would find himself arrested on September 29, 1896 for suspicions that his entrepreneurial ventures were financing the revolutionaries. He was released in 1897 upon being granted amnesty by Spanish Governor General Fernando Primo de Rivera. Thereafter, he supposedly tore his pardon document and joined the Filipino revolutionaries. Lukban would become one of the ratifiers of the Biak-na-Bato Constitution in November 1897.

During the second phase of the Revolution, Lukban would be appointed General in Chief of Operations for Southern Luzon by President Emilio Aguinaldo, a position he assumed on July 9, 1898. When he arrived in Batangas, however, General Miguel Malvar refused to spare Lukban any troops or armaments as he reasoned that they were needed for the liberation of Laguna and Tayabas. The least Malvar was able to accommodate the Lukban expedition was some of his officers.

To recall, Malvar had to struggle in acquiring their fair share of weapons from the Aguinaldo government, even as Malvar dedicated his allocation of the indemnity from the Pact of Biak-na-Bato for the purchase of armaments. Only after Aguinaldo ordered Malvar did the Batangueño general supply the half the needed arms. Meanwhile, troops from Cavite were dispatched to reinforce Lukban's expedition.

Thus, Lukban decided to stay in Tayabas, establishing their small force in the town which name was similar to his, until the Spanish surrendered on August 17, 1898, believing it was improper to resume his mission without sufficient support. For the meantime, he helped organize the Red Cross in Tayabas. By September, the Lukban expedition reached Daet, where he assigned the area to Captain Antonio Sanz. The following month, they entered Nueva Caceres (now Naga City), where Lukban replaced Elias Angeles as governor of Ambos Camarines and Leon Reyes as governor of Catanduanes. Angeles and Reyes were both municipal captains when the Spanish handed them command over their respective provinces.

Also in October 1898, troops under Major Estanislao Legaspi were sent to assume command in Catanduanes. By November 1898, Lukban's representative Fulgencio Contreras arrived in Albay, where he was received well by the delegation led by Julian Gerona. The warm welcome for the Lukban expedition, however, was replaced with anxiety when Sorsogon was attacked by two Spanish gunboats. This prompted Lukban to come personally to Albay.

By December 1898, Lukban's assignment in Bicol was officially over, with local elections successfully held among its provinces. He was given a new mission in Samar and Leyte, while General Vito Belarmino was tasked to the Bicol region. President Aguinaldo approved the election results via decree on December 20, 1898. Two days later, the new officials took their oaths. Lukban, meanwhile, would issue his first proclamation for Samar and Leyte by January 1, 1899, where he became governor.

At the outbreak of the Filipino-American War, a small American contingent was sent to occupy Samar, which military campaigns met limited success due to Lukban's fierce resistance. It was during Lukban's service in the area when the Balangiga Conflict occurred. While the general was not directly involved in the planning of the Filipino attack on September 28, 1901, he nonetheless promoted to all forces under his command to follow the example of Balangiga. Lukban, however, was captured on February 19, 1902. And thus, his impending promotion as military commander of Filipino forces in Visayas and Mindanao was not fulfilled. He was imprisoned until the war was formally declared over by July of the same year, after which he was released.

From 1912 to 1916, Lukban served as governor of Tayabas. He was part of the Nacionalista Party. Prior to this, Lukban returned to business with a certain Esperidion Borja. He died in Manila on November 16, 1916.

11th February
Every February 11 is regarded as National Foundation Day (建国記念の日) in Japan, commemorating the date when the legendary Emperor Jimmu ascended the Yamato throne in 660 BC, 50 years after his supposed birth. Prior to Jimmu's reign, it was believed that Japan was in the "Age of the Gods" (神代), and Jimmu allegedly descended from the gods.

Among the major historical accounts detailing Jimmu's reign over the Yamato state, however, would only appear nearly a thousand years later with texts such as Kojiki (古事記) and Nihon Shoki (日本書紀), making critical analysis of Jimmu's place in recorded history quite difficult. In addition, since the start of Jimmu's reign was celebrated along with the Lunar New Year, the event would usually be overshadowed by the latter. Nonetheless, it was after the Meiji Restoration when Jimmu's role in forming Japan as a nation was given renewed emphasis by separating its traditional remembrance coinciding with the Lunar New Year to designating February 11 as the new date in 1873. This exact date was supposedly calculated from available records at the time. Coincidentally, it was also February 11 in 1889 when the Meiji Constitution was proclaimed. Until the Second World War, this annual commemoration was called Kigensetsu (紀元節). The modern law, meanwhile, designating it as a public holiday was approved in 1966.

Meanwhile, the Meiji Restoration seemed to have caught the attention of the Philippines as well. In 1896, the Filipino revolutionary committee working in Japan claimed have acquired some 22,000 signatures to formally request Emperor Meiji's assistance for the Philippine Revolution. Through efforts of key figures like Jose Ramos and Doroteo Cortes, who provided updates on the matter, it was said they managed to gain audience with high officials of the Japanese government via an interview and made an appeal for the emperor.

The officials who they supposedly met with and gave the petition signed by 22,000 Filipinos were supposedly Prince Konoy (probably a reference to Tadahiro Konoe, great grandfather of wartime prime minister Fumimaro Konoe), Prince Aritomo Yamagata (who supposedly offered 40 million in pound sterling to buy the Philippines from Spain in 1894), and the Japanese foreign minister known as Count of Tokogana (probably a reference to Count Munemitsu Mutsu, who resided in Takinogawa, now part of Greater Tokyo Area).

Not only were weapons arranged for delivery by June or July of 1896, Ramos claimed that these officials were intending for the Philippines to be an independent country under their protection, a setup similar to what Japan would do in Korea. However, this delivery did not seem to materialize, nor did it appear that the Japanese government was inclined towards challenging the world powers for the sake of the Philippines at that moment.

Mutsu resigned as foreign minister in May 1896, while Japan suffered from a strong earthquake in June 1896. The Sanriku earthquake, at magnitude 8.5, had a death toll of some 22,000. In addition, Korea's independence also produced issues for the Japanese, as the new Korean ruler Gojong leaned towards Russian expertise to build his new military. Perhaps beyond the knowledge of many Filipinos at the time, despite Japan's victory against China in 1895, the ceding of certain territories such as Liaotung Peninsula was hindered by Russia, which then used the area as a naval base. Other factors may have intervened with the Japanese government's stance on the Philippines. Some may even argue that the interview, similar to the contemporary meeting with Japanese military personnel of the ironclad corvette Kongo, did not really produce substantial results.

Meanwhile, the immense number of signatures taken for this endeavor, even if one is to give or take a few thousand, may be a demonstration of the Katipunan's extensive network by this time. The population of the Philippines was around 7 million, which would make 22,000 a substantial number for a petition campaign.

12th February
On February 12, 1899, the Americans declared victory in Iloilo City after some fierce fighting. The brigade under General Marcus Miller was supported by the guns of the cruiser Boston, as well as the gunboat Petrel. Meanwhile, the Filipino forces were led by General Martin Delgado and "Henerala" Teresa Magbanua (pictured), who refused to avail of the American call for surrender on February 11.
Notably, the Americans reported no casualties.

Within days, neighboring areas such as Oton, and Jaro were also occupied by American troops, forcing the Filipinos to further retreat. Resistance, however, stiffened after the initial shock of the American advance as the Filipinos attempted to retake Jaro by March.

To recall, Filipino forces under General Delgado received in Iloilo City the surrender of Spanish Governor General Diego de los Rios, who would evacuate with his troops on Christmas Eve of 1898. Shortly after, on December 28, the Americans under General Marcus Miller arrived in Iloilo with the intent to "take possession" of the province. When Filipino officials refused to make a decision without consulting Aguinaldo, Miller gave an ultimatum of until December 31 to vacate Iloilo City or the Filipinos had to face their armed intervention.

12th February

On February 12, 1931, Filipino architect Francisco "Bobby" Mañosa was born in Manila. Known for his unique take on "neo-vernacular architecture" which integrated Filipino culture, he was recognized as a National Artist in 2018.

While having an initial leaning to pursue music, Mañosa eventually finished architecture at the University of Santo Tomas. Thereafter, he spent time in Japan where he was supposedly influenced by their modern architecture which retained the features of historical Japanese culture. Organic architecture, a term credited to American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, was also believed to be one of his influences. For his part, he drew inspiration from Filipino cultural aspects such as the bahay kubo and the rice terraces, a practice he would carry over in the next six decades of his career. It made him regarded as one of Filipino architecture's most influential in the past century.

Among his more notable projects include the Pearl Farm Resort (Samal City), the San Miguel Building (Pasig City), the Lanao del Norte Provincial Capitol (Tubod), La Mesa Watershed Resort (Quezon City), and the stations of Manila Light Rail Transit Line 1 (or LRT-1). Then again, he also designed structures which became charged with intense political intrigue, including the Our Lady of Peace Shrine (EDSA Shrine), the Coconut Palace (commissioned for the 1981 Papal Visit), and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games cauldron (SEA Games cauldron).

Mañosa died on February 20, 2019, leaving behind a legacy in the development of Filipino architecture, which combined both ancient and contemporary techniques in his designs.

14th February
On February 14, 1911, Senator Maria Kalaw Katigbak was born in Manila to then Batangas Representative Teodoro Kalaw and suffragist Pura Villanueva. Elected to the Senate in 1961, Kalaw became the third Filipina to assume office in the august halls of the Upper House, preceded only by Geronima Tomelden Pecson (1947) and Pacita Madrigal Warns (1955).

She finished secondary education at Philippine Women's University in 1928 and tertiary education at the University of the Philippines, during which she entered the 1931 Manila Carnival. With a vote of over 2.5 million, Kalaw was crowned "Miss Philippines" with the title "Maria I" (Maria Primera). After the Second World War, Kalaw would be involved with the GIRL SCOUTS OF THE PHILIPPINES (GSP), where she became national president from 1963 to 1971. Among her programs was the "Filipinization" of the girl scouts, emphasizing values and public service as fundamentals.
Kalaw also proved to be a prolific writer, beginning her career during her student days. After completing her studies at UP in 1932, she pursued further education at the University of Michigan and the University of Santo Tomas.

In 1961, her husband Dr. Jose "Pepito" Katigbak encouraged Kalaw to run for the Senate under the Liberal Party, knowing well that the party was actively searching for a female candidate. At the time, she was not only a leader in the GSP, she also held a position in the Catholic Women's League. Then again, the party directorate doubted her viability to win a seat, especially since she had not been in elected office. They already had another woman, Albay Representative Tecla San Andres Ziga, in the slate. Nonetheless, the Liberals could not hope to complete eight senatorial candidates in time for 1961 - they even had to convince former Magsaysay aides Raul Manglapus and Manuel Manahan to run with them as guest candidates of the Progressives. Thus, Kalaw was included.

Her campaign featured not only her capacity of delivering speeches in English and Filipino, but also in Ilonggo, the language of her mother's home province. Kalaw insisted on keeping a positive campaign instead of throwing politically charged statements against rivals. She ranked 7th of eight available seats, earning over 2.5 million votes. She was also the only woman elected that year, with Ziga ranking 9th, and the Nacionalista Pacita Madrigal at 11th.

Among her notable legislative work included the Truth in Lending Act (Republic Act No. 3765), the National Commission on Culture (Republic Act No. 4165), the National Board of Education (Republic Act No. 4372), and the Cultural Properties Preservation and Protection Act (Republic Act No. 4846). In 1966, she was part of the survey mission to Vietnam in aid of legislation that would fund further assistance to the said nation. On her part, Kalaw wanted to limit Filipino assistance to humanitarian terms. That is, no military personnel should be sent.

She failed to win a second term in 1967, with Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. being the only survivor among the Liberal candidates for the Senate. She was the first in her party to concede. Perhaps as a consolation, Kalaw received the next highest vote share among the Liberals, garnering 11th place overall.

In 1981, President Ferdinand Marcos appointed her as chair of the Board of Review for Motion Pictures and Television (now known as the MTRCB) despite their political differences. It was also said that Carmen Guerrero Nakpil's recommendation helped Marcos arrive at this decision, noting that the president wanted the board's role to go beyond "censorship." While Kalaw was more experienced as a writer, she demonstrated integrity in management in the midst of perceptions of incompetence. She was also attacked by some in the film industry for having no significant experience in movies.

Eventually, Marcos himself would assume the chairmanship of the board, replacing Kalaw without prior notice. She supposedly learned from the newspapers her removal from office.
She died on December 10, 1992 after suffering a heart attack days earlier.

15th February
On February 15, 1897, the anticipated large-scale Spanish offensive against Cavite began, with Governor General Camilo de Polavieja designating General Jose de Lachambre to personally lead around 13,000 troops. The attacks against Bacoor and Silang coincided with the bombardment of Noveleta.

Lachambre, a veteran of the wars in Cuba and recipient of the Grand Cross of Military Merit, had formal studies in artillery tactics at the Real Colegio de Artillería in Segovia. He was assigned to serve in the Philippines by October 1896, when the cazadores began to arrive. To finance his campaign, Polavieja had to rely more on funds raised by the Roman Catholic Church and by private individuals, with Madrid hesitant on sending more troops and money as Polavieja requested since it might well be a subtle admission of the Revolution's gravitas.

Since January 1897, the Katipunan had been closely monitoring Spanish troop movements, as Polavieja was then bent on clearing the nearby provinces of revolutionaries. However, there were apparent disagreements in strategy. General Emilio Aguinaldo, correctly predicting that the Spanish thrust would begin through Magdalo-occupied towns, believed Magdiwang forces should fight with them from the start. Andres Bonifacio, who by this time was already in Cavite, was not inclined to fight the decisive battle at the beginning. The Supremo argued that Magdiwang-held towns could also be attacked. If the Spanish did begin their campaign against Magdalo areas first, they could retreat in Magdiwang territories later.

The Battle of Zapote Bridge on February 17, which saw both sides suffer heavy casualties, helped Lachambre decide on bypassing Bacoor and focusing his drive against Silang. Two days later, Silang fell in the face of Spanish might. They would use the church as their temporary barracks. A counterattack, this time combining Magdalo and Magdiwang forces, failed to recapture Silang on February 22.

In reviewing at Imus the aftermath of battle, Aguinaldo thought the Magdiwang troops moved too late, while Generals Artemio Ricarte and Santiago Alvarez argued that the Magdalo troops retreated too early. As internal conflict strained the revolutionary leadership, the Spanish continued to make gains, occupying Dasmariñas by February 25. This time, Aguinaldo claimed that the only Magdiwang commander who arrived for the defense of Dasmariñas joined them "without orders" from superiors, whereas Ricarte was firm that Magdiwang forces in Dasmariñas were quite significant, and that Bonifacio himself even participated in the subsequent counterattack.

Perhaps as an attempt to divert the Spanish attention, a group of revolutionaries tried to attack a guardia civil garrison along Pasig River on the same day, February 25, but this was thwarted. The captured were burned to death.

15th February
"There is no other big news! This means war!"

On February 15, 1898, the USS Maine was sunk off Havana, Cuba, perishing with the ship some 260 sailors. Although regarded as a "second class battleship", it would not qualify in the battleship category of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, which classified battleships and other capital ships as exceeding 10,000 tons. The USS Maine weighed around 6,600 tons.

Commissioned in 1895 after years of delay, it was the first American warship named after the state of Maine. It was sent to Cuba in January 1898 in efforts to protect American interests in the island, already shattered by the Cuban Revolution which began the previous year. Although the sinking of the Maine remained a mystery, as later research appear to indicate an internal explosion as the probable cause, the American media immediately picked up on the issue and blamed the incident on the Spanish.

On the part of the Spanish, Governor General Ramon Blanco proposed to the United States a joint Spanish-American investigation on the incident. Then again, any of the contemporary findings which did not fit the narrative leading to war were largely ignored by American media. In fact, the Spanish inquiry done by Pedro del Peral and Javier de Salas were among the first to come out with the conclusion that the Spanish had no hand in the sinking of the Maine. Their investigation result, which pointed to coal bunker combustion as the cause of the explosion, was released on February 21, 1898, the same day the American board headed by Captain William Sampson arrived in Cuba.

Nonetheless, it did not immediately lead to war between the two nations. Only by April 20 did the United States Congress pass a joint resolution supporting Cuban independence and empowering President William McKinley to use "the entire land and naval forces of the United States" to enforce the demands of the resolution. Five days later, the United States finally declared war against Spain. No mention of the Maine was made in any of these texts.

By May 1, 1898, within days after declaring war, the United States would achieve a naval victory that would reinforce its standing during the course of the Spanish-American War. This would not be in Cuba, but in the Philippines.

15th February
On February 15, 1942, the Battle of Singapore ended with the surrender of combined Allied troops from Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Malaya under General Arthur Percival. More than 80,000 Allied soldiers became prisoners of war. It included troops diverted from the North African theater, who were more experienced in fighting in the desert than in tropical climate. The numerically inferior Japanese troops, led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita, took only a week to achieve this feat. Not only was it among the largest surrenders in modern history, it helped reduce the prestige of the British in Asia.

The defeat of the British stood in contrast with the continued resistance in the Philippines. The Japanese troops under General Masaharu Homma would eventually receive additional forces coming from the Singapore campaign. Among them were the Kawaguchi Detachment (from the 18th Division) and the Kawamura Detachment (from the 5th Division). Prior to this, the Southern Army Command were not too anxious about the extended campaign in the Philippines. Homma even had to send some of his troops to reinforce the Japanese offensive against the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). Besides the reinforcements from Singapore, Homma also began to have new troops from China. His supply lines also began to improve, whereas the Allied troops still defending in Bataan had to be work with reduced rations.

By March 3, Homma ordered a general advance against the main Allied line as he attempted to sort out the shortcomings of the campaign.

16th February

On February 16, 1848, the Spanish expedition against Balangingi in Sulu commenced. Led personally by Governor General Narciso Claveria, the campaign introduced the steam warship to warfare in the Philippines. Of the 19 ships Claveria's fleet prepared for the expedition, three of them were driven by steam power. The flagship, Reina de Castilla, had a 160-horsepower engine. Meanwhile, the two other steam warships used, namely Elcano and Magallanes, featured 100-horsepower engines.

Coming off from his campaigns against Davao, where Judge Jose Oyanguren was appointed governor, Claveria sought to enforce Spanish power among the Samals. After the initial battle, 100 Samals lay dead, while the Spanish suffered 10 fatalities. A second offensive was launched on February 18, where over 400 Samals were killed, as against 17 Spanish. Supposedly to avoid outbreak of disease, the Spanish razed the Samal settlements and burned the corpses of fallen Samal fighters.

The last fort to hold out against the Spanish was attacked on February 21, where they destroyed some 150 vessels, mainly proas. Four days later, upon confirming that their mission was successful, Claveria's fleet sailed off, stopping by Tongkil and Pilas to impress on the locals the results of their expedition. Some of the datus eventually recognized Spanish sovereignty. For the success of this military campaign, Claveria was granted the title "Conde de Manila" (Count of Manila). Soon enough, Spanish efforts focused on rebuilding the fort at Sipak in a bid to demonstrate their effective occupation of Balangingi Island.

Observing Dutch and British operations in the area, Claveria himself was not convinced that his victory was complete, writing in 1849 to Madrid the following recommendation: "The only advantageous issue for us would be to send a strong expedition and to occupy Jolo." His service would end on December 26, 1849.

While he was not directly involved in the affairs of Balangingi, Sulu Sultan Muhammad Fadl (Pulalun) had to face the fallout caused by the Spanish expedition as the other European powers still regard him as claiming sovereignty over the island. In December 1848, Panglima Tampan requested authority to raid Spanish territories, but the sultan turned it down.

17th February
On February 17, 1859, the combined French, Spanish, and Filipino forces captured Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). While initially a conflict sparked by religious reasons, since the Empire of Dai Na

This post first appeared on Filipino Historian, please read the originial post: here

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#OnThisDay: Selected Historical Events in the month of February


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