Apolinario, the second of the eight sons of Inocencio Mabini and Dionisia Maranan, a peasant couple, was born on July 23, 1864 in barrio Talaga, Tanauan, Batangas.
He showed early a rare intellect and proclivity for study.
In Manila he won in 1881 a partial scholarship that enabled him to enroll at the College of San Juan de Letran. He had to work for his sustenance as a teacher of Latin at the school of Melchor Virrey in Manila, of Father Malabanan in Bauan and of Sebastian Virrey in Lipa. He completed his Bachelor of Arts in 1887.
His law studies at the University of Santo Tomas from 1888 to 1894 were similarly grim. He had to support himself by teaching and working as a copyist in the court of first instance in Manila and later as an assistant to law clerk Numeriano Adriano and as a clerk in the Intendencia General.
He joined Masonry in September 1892, affiliating with lodge Balagtas, and adopting the name Katabay. In 1893, he was one of those who revived the Liga Filipina to extend support to the Reform Movement. The Cuerpo de Compromisarios emerged in September, 1894 with the dissolution of the Liga. Mabini was its secretary. It lent moral and financial support to the Filipino propagandists in Spain.
In 1895, Mabini was admitted to the bar and was designated Colegial of the third class. He worked as a notary in the office of Adriano.
On October 10, 1896, he was arrested by the Guardia Civil because of his connection with the reformists. Both of his legs were already paralyzed, having contracted polio during the early part of the year. He was placed under house arrest at the San Juan de Dios Hospital. His condition saved him from being shot.
His imprisonment hindered his active participation in the initial uprising of the Katipunan. But upon his release, he became acquainted with the lesser revolutionary leaders. During this period he was mostly in Los Baños and Bay, Laguna where he sought relief for his ailment in the sulfuric hot springs.
In April 1898, he wrote a manifesto addressed to the revolutionary leaders wherein he analyzed the probability of the cession of the Philippines to the United States in case Spain was defeated in the Spanish-American War. He thereby exhorted them to preserve their country and its independence.
It must have been this document that was received by the Hongkong junta headed by Felipe Agoncillo who, impressed by the logical views presented therein, recommended its author to General Emilio Aguinaldo as his adviser upon his return to the Philippines from his exile.
When Aguinaldo returned to the Philippines on May 19,1898, he sent runners to Bay, Laguna to fetch Mabini. At the same time, the general ordered twelve municipalities to furnish the necessary manpower to carry Mabini in a hammock to Cavite. After the first meeting of the general and the paralytic on June 12, 1898, the latter became the indispensable adviser of the former on state matters.
One of the first significant recommendations of Mabini was the abolition of the Dictatorship of the Aguinaldo government and its conversion into a revolutionary government; the organization of the municipalities, provinces and judicature and police force; the establishment of the civil registry of property; the issuance of regulations for military procedure; and the ultimate policies of government as were embodied in Aguinaldo’s decree dated June 23, 1898.
He served in the Aguinaldo cabinet as President of the Council of Secretaries and as Secretary of Foreign Affairs. He tried every means to win foreign recognition of Philippine independence.
He penned most of Aguinaldo’s decrees to the people. An important document he produced was the “Programa Constitucional de la Republica Filipina,” a proposed constitution for the Philippine Republic. An introduction to the draft of this constitution was the “El Verdadero Decalogo” written to arouse the patriotic spirit of the people.
When the Filipino-American war broke out and Aguinaldo’s revolutionary government became disorganized, Mabini fled to Nueva Ecija, carried in a hammock. He was captured by the Americans in Cuyapo on December 10, 1898.
He was kept a prisoner of war until September 23, 1900 He resided in a small nipa house in Nagtahan, Manila, earning his living by writing for the local newspapers. His virulent article in El Liberal entitled “El Simil de Alejandro” caused his rearrest and deportation to Guam, together with other Filipino patriots. His exile in Guam afforded him the time to write his memoirs, La Revolucion Filipina.
Reluctantly, he took the oath of allegiance to the United States and was returned to the Philippines on February 26, 1902. The Americans offered him a high government position but he turned it down and retired to his humble residence in Nagtahan.
On May 13, 1903, he died of cholera at age 39.
Source: Filipinos in History, Vol. II, National Historical Institute, Manila: 1990, pp. 23-25.
THE TRUE DECALOGUE
First, Love God and your honor over all things: God as a source of all truth, all justice and all activity; your honor, the only power that obliges you to be truthful, just and industrious.
Second, Worship God in the form that your conscience deems most upright and fitting, because it is through your conscience that God speaks to you, reproaching you for your misdeeds and applauding you for your good deeds.
Third, Develop the special talents that God has given you, working and studying according to your capabilities, never straying from the path of good and justice, in order to achieve your own perfection, and by this means you will contribute to the progress of humanity: thus you will accomplish the mission that God himself has given you in this life, and achieving this, you will have honor, and having honor, you will be glorifying God.
Fourth, Love your country after God and your honor, and more than you love yourself, because your country is the only paradise that God has given you in this life; the only patrimony of your race; the only inheritance from your ancestors; and the only future of your descendants: because of your country you have life, love and interests; happiness, honor and God.
Fifth, Strive for the happiness of your country before your own, making her the reigning influence for reason, justice and work; if your country is happy, you and your family will also be happy.
Sixth, Strive for the independence of your country, because you alone can have a real interest in her aggrandizement and ennoblement, since her independence will mean your own freedom, her aggrandizement for your perfection, and her ennoblement your own glory and immortality.
Seventh, In your country, do not recognize the authority of any person who was not elected by you and your compatriots, because all authority comes from God, and as God speaks to the conscience of each individual, the person chosen and proclaimed by the consciences of all the individuals of a whole town is the only one that can exercise the real authority.
Eighth, Strive that your country be constituted as a republic, never as a monarchy: a monarchy empowers one or several families and lays the foundation for a dynasty; a republic ennobles and dignifies a country based on reason, it is great because of its freedom, and is made prosperous and brilliant by dint of work.
Ninth, Love your neighbour as you love yourself, because God has imposed on him and on you the obligation to help one another, and dictated that he does not do unto you what he does not want you to do unto him; but if your neighbour is remiss in this sacred duty and makes an attempt on your life, your freedom and your properties, then you should destroy him and crush him, because the supreme law of self preservation must prevail.
Tenth, Always on your countryman as more than a neighbour: you will in him friend, a brother and at least the companion to whom you are tied by only one destiny, by the same happiness and sorrows, and by the same aspirations and interests.
Because of this, while the borders of the nations established and preserved by the egoism of race and of family remain standing, you must remain united to your country in perfect solidarity views and interests in order to gain strength, not only to combat the common enemy, but also to achieve all the objectives of human life.