Philippine-American War, 1899-1902

by Arnaldo Dumindin

May 22-23, 1899: Filipinos negotiate with the Schurman Commission

The Anaconda Standard, Anaconda, Montana, issue of Aug. 29, 1899, page 15.

With the Philippine army unable to contain the American offensive, President Emilio Aguinaldo created a peace commission to negotiate an armistice. He appointed 23-year-old General Gregorio del Pilar to head the Filipino panel, with Captain Lorenzo Zialcita, Alberto Barretto and Gracio Gonzaga as members.

May 22-23, 1899:   The Filipinos conferred with the U.S. First Philippine Commission, also known as the Schurman Commission, at the house occupied by the Americans at Malate district, Manila.

The Philippine government was represented by, left to right:  Captain Lorenzo Zialcita, Alberto Barretto, General Gregorio del Pilar, and Gracio Gonzaga.  [Captain Zialcita, who had taken a business course in Hong Kong, spoke English; General Del Pilar was killed in action at Tirad Pass, Concepcion, Ilocos Sur Province on Dec. 2, 1899].

The members of the Schurman Commission, left to right:  Jacob Schurman (Chairman), Charles Denby, Dean C. Worcester, and John MacArthur (Secretary).

The armistice sought by the Filipinos was rejected. The American panel insisted on the recognition of United States sovereignty which the Filipinos understood to mean the unconditional surrender of the Filipino army.

Ten days later, on June 2, Pedro Paterno, the head of Aguinaldo's cabinet,  issued a manifesto recognizing the futility of the peace efforts with the Americans and exhorted all Filipinos to continue the struggle: "To war, then, beloved brothers, to war."

House occupied by the US First Philippine Commission (aka Schurman Commission) at Malate district, Manila. Photo was taken in 1900.

Living room of the house occupied by the US First Philippine Commission