Miguel – from the Blog of a Filipino Historian

Original Post by Kristoffer Pasion

Miguel Malvar (1865-1911), was one of the less popular Filipino heroes who lived in the early years of the 20th century. It was at the end of the Philippine-American War, as Emilio Aguinaldo was captured and imprisoned in Malacanang Palace in 1901 (wait, you call that a prison?), that he sent out an order calling every Filipino revolutionary to lay down their arms and surrender to the Americans. The rewards were tempting: full amnesty and a good quiet life in exchange for surrender. As many gave up and joined the Americans, there was one Filipino who kept fighting on and refused to give in. His name was Miguel Malvar.

He assumed control of the Philippine Army who had low morale due to the series of defeats they had suffered. Add to that the lack of resources since the American soldiers, led by James Franklin Bell, destroyed all possible source of food, water, and shelter. Finally in 1902, thinking what’s best for his men, Malvar surrendered, without condition, to the amazement of the Americans (The news even made it to the Washington Post). The Americans kept their word and he was pardoned. He lived a simple life thereafter. He was offered the position of governor of his home province, Batangas, but he politely declined. He died due to liver complications.

As for surrendering to the U.S., was he a lesser hero because he ‘gave up’? His surrender had cast a shadow over his heroismr, and even Mabini’s. While some are quick to judge, Mabini wrote the reason of surrender clearly. I would picture Mabini in tears while writing this:

“We fought in the conviction that our dignity and sense of duty required the sacrifice of defending our freedoms as long as we could, since without them social equality between the dominant class and the native population would be impossible in practice and perfect justice among us could not be achieved. Yet we knew it would not be too long before our scant resources were exhausted, and our defeat inevitable. The struggle thus became unjustified and indefensible from the moment the vast majority of the population chose submission to the conqueror, and many of the revolutionists themselves joined his ranks, since, unable to enjoy their natural freedoms–being prevented from doing so by the American forces–and lacking means to remove this obstacle, they deemed it prudent to yield and put their hopes on the promises made in the name of the people of the United States.”

–Apolinario Mabini, The Philippine Revolution

Perhaps, we can call Malvar a hero because he pushed the possibility of independence through guerrilla warfare to its greatest extent until he found the futility of fighting the general will of the people. And it clearly showed the Americans that we mean business when we say la independencia.

At last, proper recognition for a revolutionary war hero

by Norman Santos Sison✝ RIP ,VERA Files


If there is anything that the town of Santo Tomas is best known for, it would be bulalo, a light colored stew of beef shanks and — the star attraction — bone marrow. Cholesterol heaven.

With Mount Makiling looming kilometers away, the largely farming town of 125,000 is a popular stopover for travellers. Restaurants serving bulalo line up the highway connecting the town with Manila to the north and the rest of Batangas Province to the south. It even boasts a Starbucks, notwithstanding Batangas’ famed barako coffee.

A road sign at a highway junction outside Santo Tomas is all that gives travellers an idea that the town is also home to a revolutionary war hero.

Maj. Gen. Miguel Malvar (1865-1911) once led a war against America and — if you want to stretch it — assumed the presidency of the Philippines during the conflict. However, unlike historical figures Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio and several others, Malvar is inexplicably among the lesser known ranks in the Philippines’ pantheon of national heroes.

A sepia-colored photo shows Malvar, in his rayadillo uniform, with a steely gaze — a “veteran with a satanic beard”, described American journalist Stanley Karnow in his book “In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines.”

Malvar fought in the 1896 revolution against Spanish colonial rule, commanding forces in Batangas. Following the revolution’s defeat, he was exiled to Hongkong along with revolutionary leader and first Philippine president Emilio Aguinaldo and several others.

After returning from Hong Kong, he rose to the rank of major general in the Ejercito Republicano Filipino — the nascent Philippine Army — when the revolution resumed in 1898.

In February 1899, however, war broke out between the Philippines and the United States. America had refused to recognize Philippine independence and took over from Spain as the new colonial master. It was in the Philippine-American War, listed in US history books as the Philippine Insurrection, in which Malvar would earn his place in history.

Malvar took overall command of the revolutionary forces following Aguinaldo’s capture by US forces in March 1901 — and, in line with Aguinaldo’s succession decrees — the Philippine presidency as well. His appointment was approved by the ruling revolutionary committee.


“Perseverance, perseverance and always perseverance, without fear of sacrifice,” Malvar rallied his troops in a manifesto dated July 13, 1901. “Let us continue, as the will of the people has always been more powerful than the most powerful armies.”

Malvar reorganized the army’s command structure and divided the country into autonomous military zones. By that time, however, Malvar and Gen. Vicente Lukban on Samar Island were the only ones who had considerable forces capable of resisting the Americans.

Malvar waged a guerrilla war of attrition, a strategy predating the Vietnam War generations later.

“It is really all a smaller power has as an option when fighting a superpower,” says American history professor Brian Linn, who has studied the Philippine-American War. “They did not challenge their enemies on the battlefield. They worked hard at disciplining their forces to prevent abuses on Filipino civilians, they practiced hit-and-run raids, they controlled the information getting to the enemy, and they dragged out the war in hopes the Americans would get tired and quit.”

Unlike most of his fellow generals, Malvar adopted measures to build a mass base among the populace, realizing that he could not win without support from the people.

“Malvar had imposed his stamp on his native province’s resistance movement in a way few other leaders were able to do,” wrote Linn in his book “The Philippine War 1899-1902”, describing the general as one of the war’s “excellent regional guerrilla commanders”.

Malvar’s guerrilla tactics and the stiffness of the resistance in Batangas moved one Lt. Col. Leonard of the US Army to complain that “more weight is given to this brigand than he is entitled to.”

To force Malvar out, US forces under Maj. Gen. Franklin Bell, adopted scorched earth tactics beginning in January 1902. The populace was herded into controlled zones. Rice fields and towns were torched. Suspected revolutionaries and their supporters were tortured and, in many cases, executed.

Finally, on April 13, 1902, deserted by his men and with his wife dangerously ill, Malvar surrendered. “I found myself without a single gun or clerk,” he said, emphasizing that he didn’t want to add further hardship on the people.

An elated US President Theodore Roosevelt declared victory on July 4, 1902, to placate a US public that had grown weary of the war. Sporadic fighting persisted until 1907, however.

Malvar declined any position offered by the American colonial government and returned to his profession as a farmer. He died of liver failure in 1911 and was buried in Santo Tomas. Among those who attended his funeral was Bell.

Today, Malvar isn’t recognized as the Philippines’ second president. Two other revolutionary generals, Antonio Luna and Gregorio del Pilar, are more famous than him. A Philippine Navy corvette, the BRP Miguel Malvar, dates back to World War II. The Philippine Army’s website doesn’t include Malvar in its roster of commanding generals.

But justice is finally coming.

Next year, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines will open a museum in Santo Tomas to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Malvar’s birthday on September 27. Outside is a statue designed by nationally acclaimed sculptor Napoleon Abueva. It depicts Malvar with saber and revolver drawn — defiant to the end.

Revisiting the Philippine-American War

By: Bernardo M. Villegas

As the nation prepares to celebrate another holiday in honor of Andres Bonifacio on November 30, I would like to revisit some details of the Philippine-American War that involved my maternal grandfather, General Miguel Malvar. Since my mother, Isabel Malvar Villegas, is still living and is in good health at the age of 99, General Malvar is the only national hero with a surviving child. We, his descendants, should continue our efforts to set the historical records straight about his role in the Philippine-American War.

In the most complete biography about my grandfather, written by UP historians Doroteo Abaya and Bernard Karganilla, we read (pp. 108 to 109) that upon the death of Andres Bonifacio and the assumption of the presidency by Emilio Aguinaldo, a series of events unfolded which led to General Malvar’s becoming the Second President of the Philippines and Chief of Staff. Upon Aguinaldo’s capture in Palanan, Isabela, by the Americans on March 23, 1901, a leadership vacuum was created but only temporarily. Based on the succession decrees that Aguinaldo himself issued, General Malvar would take the presidency of the republic: “The June 27, 1900 decree specifically designated General Trias to succeed Aguinaldo in the event of his capture, death, or whatever form of incapacity to perform the function of office of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Philippine Republic and its Army. General Malvar became a contender to Aguinaldo’s post when General Trias surrendered. Malvar was Trias’ second-in-command. Thus, by virtue of Aguinaldo’s succession decrees of February 16, 1899; November 13, 1899; and June 27, 1900, General Malvar, with Trias’ surrender, became the logical successor to Aguinaldo’s post and to the leadership of the Filipino struggle against the Americans.”

Likewise, the Filipino Revolutionary committee (or Hong Kong Junta) officially confirmed Malvar’s assumption of Aguinaldo’s post. This was in consonance with a provision of Aguinaldo’s June 27, 1900, decree where it vested the Hong Kong Junta with the authority to assume Aguinaldo’s post during the interregnum following his possible death or captivity while looking for a successor. It was this authority that the Hong Kong Junta invoked when it confirmed Malvar as Aguinaldo’s successor.

Recently, a relative of mine, Dr. Potenciano Malvar, got hold of an original letter written by my grandfather to General Arcadio Maxilom, one of the generals fighting the Americans in the Visayas and Mindanao regions. Written in Spanish, the letter clearly indicated that General Malvar was acting as the Commander-in-Chief after the capture of General Aguinaldo. Let me translate the letter into English:

“My distinguished lord and companion: The trials that have fallen on us during our campaign have been such that your official and private correspondences addressed to our honorable President and Chief of Staff General Aguinaldo, whose whereabouts are unknown as he is hiding from our enemy, have come into my possession. I have opened these letters so that I can answer you in the name of our government.

“Upon learning of your most appropriate actions, I am highly gratified by your policies and the decisions you have made to reestablish order in your area of jurisdiction. I applaud your activity for the good impression that I have obtained in reading the brilliant account of your operations. For this reason, it is with great pride that we manifest the confidence that our country has in those children of hers who have suffered so much as slaves of duty and discipline. For you, as worthy Chief, our heartiest congratulations.

“For the 20th of July following the holding of the General Assembly, my headquarters have appointed the Generals. On my part, I assure you that on that same day you will receive the corresponding title. If you are not able to attend the Assembly, we shall send the appointment through the officers who will come to represent you and all the others in your territory.

“I am sending you enclosed my own manifesto and a list of the guidelines and instructions which have been issued up to now for general knowledge and fulfillment. I expect that through said representatives of yours, I can be apprised of everything that has occurred in the provinces of your Islands, both as regards civil as well as military affairs.

“I request you to send to their respective addresses the enclosed documents. Receive the appointments of those in the staff that you have formalized which will be ratified by the documents when they do arrive.”

“Here in Luzon, there are frequent combats with American military detachments which have helped us increase the number of guns in our possession. For this reason, we have to discredit the many erroneous reports that come from the newspapers in Manila taken generally from sources that are against us or from the offices of the occupying American forces.

“Other matters can be recounted to you verbally by the bearer of this note.

“I take advantage of this opportunity to greet all of you and to send you my most cordial embrace. I offer myself to you as your unconditional friend, comrade and servant.”

Signed: Miguel Malvar, 14 May 1901

“P.S, I ask my General to disseminate the manifesto and guidelines herewith contained to the Islands and provinces of Jolo, Cotabato, Iligan, Puerto Princesa, Mindanao, Calamianes, Paragua, Zamboanga, Davao, and others by means of exact copies of these documents, translating them into the languages of the localities for general knowledge and compliance.”

Given this authenticated document in the handwriting of my grandfather, I have no doubts that General Miguel Malvar was indeed the Second President of the Philippine Republic. For comments, my e-mail address is bvillegas@uap.edu.ph.

Hero in war and peace

By: Bernardo M. Villegas
Link to Original Post published 01:09 am September 19th, 2015

On Sept. 27, we will mark the 150th birthday of my maternal grandfather, Miguel Carpio Malvar, the last Filipino general to surrender to the American forces during the Fil-American war for independence. The province of Batangas and its municipality of Santo Tomas will join forces with the National Historical Commission to celebrate this important milestone with official ceremonies and festivities.

Miguel MalvarMy Lolo Miguel was fundamentally a man of peace. Before he decided to join the revolutionary forces against the Spaniards, his only desire was to contribute to the wellbeing of his community through his passion for agriculture. Only the abusive practices of the friar in his parish provoked him to go to the hills. After he surrendered to Gen. Franklin Bell of the US occupying forces, the two became the best of friends, and my grandfather again devoted the rest of his short life to farm entrepreneurship. The only favor he accepted from the Americans was the grant of scholarships to some of my uncles, who traveled to the United States to pursue studies in agriculture.

Miguel MalvarI have no doubt that my grandfather deserves to be a national hero for his valor in leading his men to put pressure on the Spanish colonizers to grant independence to the Philippines, and later to fight the Americans for their betrayal of deciding to annex the Philippines as a colony of the United States. Unlike many of his contemporaries in the Philippine revolutionary army, who wasted a lot of time in sowing political intrigues instead of fighting in the battlefield, the Batangueño general spent practically all of his time leading his men in battling for independence from Spain, from August 1896 to December 1897.

Malvar’s first armed action was the immobilization of his town’s police force. Then, with his 70-man army who were mostly relatives and friends armed with bolos, a few revolvers and shotguns, he raided the Spanish quarters in Talisay, Batangas. From that moment on, he abandoned the comforts of home and business, seeking sanctuary in the wilds of Mount Makiling, which he made his headquarters as he waged guerrilla warfare, first against the Spaniards, then against the Americans until his surrender on April 16, 1902.

As military commander of Batangas, Malvar coordinated offensives with Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, leaders of revolutionaries in Cavite, and his close friend Paciano Rizal, a brother of our national hero and leader of the revolutionaries in Laguna. After the Tejeros Convention, from which Aguinaldo emerged as president, Malvar decided to side with Andres Bonifacio, the Supremo of the Katipunan. Unfortunately, in a struggle for power, the Aguinaldo camp succeeded in eliminating Bonifacio and his brother Procopio; the brothers were executed on May 10, 1897, in the mountains of Maragondon, Cavite. With Aguinaldo in complete control of the revolutionary forces against the Spaniards, he arrived at a pact (called the pact of Biak-na-Bato) which subsequently led to the exile of Aguinaldo and his ilustrado cohorts to Hong Kong.

In this stage of the struggle for independence, Malvar proved his integrity by not following the example of other rebels who took the money paid by the Spaniards for the upkeep of the exiles in Hong Kong and pocketed the amount instead of turning it over to Aguinaldo. Only Malvar went to Hong Kong to turn over his share of P8,000 to the revolutionary funds to buy arms.

After his surrender, Malvar was happy to go back to his growing family and once more devote his efforts to agribusiness. To prove that my constant reference to my grandfather’s passion for agriculture is not just a product of my imagination resulting from my own magnificent obsession with farming, let me quote profusely from the biography written by University of the Philippines historians Doroteo Abaya and Bernard Karganilla:

“Malvar devoted his remaining years to business concerns, raising poultry and growing sugarcane, rice, oranges and other fruit trees, shipping his product to Manila and neighboring provinces. He also had a bungliw (trees used for making match sticks) joint venture in Bataan and dealt with Germans … and other foreign partners. Malvar supplied a German match factory in Manila with lumbang trunks that earned a weekly net of P500… Like his father, Malvar’s first love was agronomy. He poured resources into the vast tract of land at Makiling that he had bought with hard-earned earnings before the Revolutionary Wars. He was so suited to tilling the soil that he managed to develop a new variant of the orange which was named after him—the ‘malvarosa.’ He was consulted by fellow farmers from Laguna and Tayabas. In 1907, he told an agri-conference in his hometown that they should all grow more oranges, coffee and cocoa, punctuating the priority of cultivating one’s own yard with banana, eggplant, gabi, kamote, papaya, squash and string beans.”

If a liver disease that he contracted in the forests of Makiling had not led to his early demise at the age of 47, as an influential leader during the US Commonwealth, Malvar could have laid the foundation of a development strategy based on a focus on agricultural and rural development, in an analogous way that the passion of the Thai king for agriculture has significantly influenced the outstanding success of Thailand in agricultural development. That is why I consider my Lolo Miguel a hero in both war and peace.

Bernardo M. Villegas (bernardo.villegas@uap.asia) is senior vice president of the University of Asia and the Pacific.

The Last Holdout

Few men lead lives with unquestionable conviction and character. And when it comes to the leaders of the revolutionary movement, such a person would definitely be the exception. Bickering and personal rivalries plagued the movement, caused factionalism and disunity, and may have prevented the revolution from reaching its full potential.

© 1996 by Paul Dimayuga and PHGLA All rights reserved

Few men lead lives with unquestionable conviction and character. And when it comes to the leaders of the revolutionary movement, such a person would definitely be the exception. Bickering and personal rivalries plagued the movement, caused factionalism and disunity, and may have prevented the revolution from reaching its full potential.

One person of such exceptional character was Miguel Malvar(1865-1911). There may have been flaws in his character but none were in the same league as those of the more controversial and celebrated revolutionary leaders.

Malvar was born in 1865 in Santo Tomas, Batangas to Maximo Malvar and Tiburcia Carpio. Maximo was an enterprising businessman who improved his lot from a simple logging operation to owning rice and sugarcane fields just off the slopes of Mount Maquiling. This success enabled his children to acquire an education, an achievement common to those who would eventually lead the revolution. Malvar spent three years in secondary school, married, and started acquiring land. He prospered from the oranges he planted there. In turn, Malvar sent his brother Potenciano to secondary school. Potenciano finished his studies and later became a doctor.

By the mid-1880’s, discontent among the Filipinos resulted in organized movements for reform. Batangas was no different from the rest of the Tagalog region. Earlier leaders of the reform movement in Batangas were Felipe Agoncillo, Ananias Diocno, and Ruperto Laurel among others. Agoncillo has been identified as an active member of the Liga founded by Rizal. This point is important because some historians do not believe that the Katipunan existed in Batangas before 1896. It is clear that when the Liga dissolved most of its members reorganized into other societies, many into the secret society of the Katipunan. No undisputed proof exists but it seems unlikely that the reform movement followed a different path in Batangas.

Early discontent

Early Batangas political leaders used their influence to agitate against Spanish authority personified by the friars. The movement spread rapidly because of strong anti-friar sentiment. In Santo Tomas, this action was led by Malvar who had been elected gobernadorcillo in 1890 against the Recollect Fr. Garces. After gaining influence and respect, Malvar made known his opposition to friar control of much of their daily lives. Garces worked intensively to defeat Malvar in subsequent elections. This started a power struggle between the two which often featured the fielding of puppet candidates, bribery, and other irregularities. Throughout the province, anti-friar sentiment grew to strain relations between the native political elite and the colonial power. By the eve of the discovery of the Katipunan in Manila, Batangas was rife with resentment and ready for a revolution.

While Andres Bonifacio was not very successful in Manila and its environs, Emilio Aguinaldo was scoring significant gains in Cavite. So successful was the revolution there that his army made a push across the Batangas border in late September 1896 and occupied Talisay in hopes of spreading the revolution. Intense fighting quickly broke out in the western and northern parts of the province. Civilians were massacred in Nasugbu and this became the rallying point for people to rise up in arms. As a man of political power, Malvar personally put an army together and participated in the battle for Talisay with Aguinaldo’s men. This was the beginning of Malvar’s military life.

Colorful though they may be, the revolutionaries lost most of the battles they fought. Luckily, the colonial government’s priority was to pacify Manila and the suburbs north of it. For a while there seemed to be a chance of keeping the revolution alive. Then on February of 1897, Governor-General Polavieja ordered a multi-pronged attack on the southern provinces, which isolated Cavite from Batangas. This caused the revolutionaries to retreat all the way to Biak-na-Bato. While the more prominent figures of the revolution were embroiled in personal conflicts, Malvar regrouped and linked up with Sebastian Caneo of the Colorum and the bandit Aniceto Oruga to broaden his area of operation. Though not very successful, he was able to consolidate the leadership in Laguna, Tayabas, and Batangas and keep the momentum of the revolution going.

He was opposed to negotiating peace with Spain and he ably showed his willingness to fight on but the Pact of Biak-na-Bato was signed by other less enthusiastic leaders. That officially ended the fight for independence.

Tasked with rounding up his followers, Malvar traveled around the province of Batangas to make sure the terms of the agreement were met and left for Hong Kong as part of the negotiated terms.

A new enemy

Not long after Dewey decimated the Spanish armada, fighting broke out again in May 1898. With the help of the Americans, Aguinaldo returned in mid-May, followed shortly by Malvar. The revolution the Spaniards had left for dead was very much alive. In fact fighting was already taking place in many parts of Batangas when Malvar returned to take charge of an army once again. By late July, much of the province had been liberated and Malvar and his troops turned towards Tayabas. Local governments had already been set up as the first shots were being fired in Manila to mark the beginning of the Philippine-American War. Around this time, Malvar was in the process of setting up a real provincial army. He recruited people who he believed would be loyal to him. In doing so, he inadvertently chose people who would later lead their own armies and not cooperate with each other.

By May 1899, Malvar’s Batangas Brigade was ordered to reinforce troops in Muntinglupa to prepare for an assault on American garrisons. The main thrust of the American offensive until then had been concentrated north of Manila making the battles in the southern provinces relatively light. This situation changed when the American command decided to pacify the rest of the Tagalog region. Malvar retreated slowly to Calamba and from there supervised the defense of Batangas. An elaborate trench defense was created around Santo Tomas and Tulo, Laguna. Other towns likewise prepared trench lines. The seaside communities prepared for an amphibious assault which, however, never materialized.

In retrospect, Malvar may have spread his forces too thinly so that when the American assault in January 1900 finally came much of the established defenses were easily overrun. As Malvar’s army suffered consecutive defeats, it started dissolving. When the order to conduct guerrilla warfare was given, Malvar had been mainly hiding in the hills around Maquiling and traveling occasionally to check with his field officers. Morale had dropped but Malvar was determined to keep the fight going. This was enough to inject new vigor into his army which he reorganized into zonal columns led by officers with their own areas of responsibility. He imposed taxes on the populace to feed his troops.

He understood that it was essential to maintain favorable relations with the civilians because his army’s success depended on their help. At this point, much of the people still supported their general. But as the war dragged on, many of the well-to-do started seeing the benefits of cooperating with their new colonial masters. Collaboration became widespread and support for Malvar started waning. Even if the majority were still for resistance, it was impossible to get needed support. Crops were left unharvested, people were sick from various diseases, work animals were being stolen, and there was too much hardship to endure.

Malvar takes over

Aguinaldo was captured and shortly after, his successor Gen. Mariano Trias also surrendered. The task of running whatever was left of the resistance fell on Malvar. He accepted the task with realistic expectations, saying that although there were others more capable of the job, the rule of succession dictated that he take the job.

One of his first manifestos reversed Aguinaldo’s policy of favoring the elite. He described the role of the peasantry in the struggle and how through them it might still be won. So while American-formed civil governments were being established, the resistance movement was still active. Many towns showed two faces: one for the benefit of the Americans, the other to aid their resistance fighters. The result was a significant upsurge in military activity. In December 1901, Malvar who had previously taken only a defensive stance launched a major offensive against several American-held towns in Batangas. Though their gains were short lived, it was proof that the war was far from over.

A month before that offensive, significant changes had taken place in the American command. Gen. Samuel Sumner had been relieved of command of the Third Brigade and replaced by Gen. James Franklin Bell. Convinced of the need to end the war soon, Bell resorted to controversial tactics and strategies. He instituted a “scorched earth” policy. Civilians had to live in hamlets. Men were rounded up routinely for questioning. This marked the most destructive phase of the war. Relentlessly pursuing Malvar and his men who were close to starvation, his strategy worked. Ranks were broken, morale dropped, and surrender of Malvar’s forces grew extremely high.

End of revolutionay succession

By April 1902, many of Malvar’s former officers had changed sides and had become volunteers for the American force. They exposed his hideaway. Believing that a few more months of fighting would only imperil the masses and surrounded by Americans and their native troops, Malvar with his sick wife and children surrendered on April 13, 1902. By the end of April, most of Malvar’s troops had also surrendered and the battle for Batangas was over.

Malvar retired to a quiet farming life and prospered from the land he had fought hard for. He died in October 1911, the last general to surrender to American occupational forces.

General Miguel Malvar

This is a biography of Miguel Malvar, the last general of the First Philippine Republic who surrendered to the Americans, by E. Arsenio Manuel in the Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume 1, published in 1955.

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.”