Pedro Alejandro Paterno
President of the National Assembly
Concurrently as President of the Council of Government (1899)
In office
September 15, 1898 – March 23, 1901
Appointed byNational Assembly
Preceded byInaugural holder
Succeeded bySergio Osmeña as Speaker of the Philippine Assembly
2nd Prime Minister of the Philippines
In office
May 7, 1899 – November 13, 1899
PresidentEmilio Aguinaldo
DeputyTrinidad Pardo de Tavera
Preceded byApolinario Mabini
Succeeded byOffice abolished
(Position next held by Ferdinand Marcos)
President of the Revolutionary Congress
In office
September 18, 1898 – January 23, 1899
PresidentEmilio Aguinaldo
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Member of the Philippine Assembly from Laguna's 1st District
In office
October 16, 1907 – May 20, 1909
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPotenciano Malvar
Member of the Malolos Congress from Ilocos Norte
In office
September 15, 1898 – November 13, 1899
Serving with Gregorio Aglipay, Primitivo Donato, Martín García, José Luna, and Pio Romero
Personal details
Pedro Alejandro Paterno y de Vera Ignacio

(1857-02-27)February 27, 1857
Manila, Captaincy General of the Philippines, Spanish Empire
DiedApril 26, 1911(1911-04-26) (aged 54)
Manila, Philippine Islands
Alma materAteneo de Manila University

Pedro Alejandro Paterno y de Vera Ignacio[1][note 1] (February 27, 1857 – April 26, 1911[note 2][2]) was a Filipino politician infamous for being a turncoat. He was also a poet and a novelist.[3]

His intervention on behalf of the Spanish led to the signing of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato on December 14, 1897, an account of which he published in 1910. Among his other works include the first novel written by a native Filipino, Ninay (1885), and the first Filipino collection of poems in Spanish, Sampaguitas y otras poesías varias ("Jasmines and Other Various Poems"), published in Madrid in 1880.[4]

Early life

Paterno was born on February 17, 1857. He was a "child of privilege in a society of limited opportunities."[5] He was one of 13 children born to Don Máximo Paterno and his second wife, Doña Carmen de Vera Ignacio. Máximo was exiled to Guam (then also part of the Spanish East Indies) for ten years following the 1872 Cavite mutiny and died on 26 July 1900, leaving behind considerable wealth.[6]: 411–412 

Paterno finished Bachiller en Artes at Ateneo de Manila and gained fame with his conclusion. At the age of 14, he was sent to study in Spain, where he spent the next 11 years at the University of Salamanca and then the Central University of Madrid (now the Complutense University of Madrid).[6]: 412  At Salamanca, he took courses in Philosophy and Theology, while at Madrid, he graduated with an expertise in law in 1880. In 1893, he was awarded the Order of Isabella the Catholic.[6]: 412 

In 1876, he wrote his first opus entitled Influencia Social del Cristanismo wherein it shows how he consciously located himself in the metropolitan stream of Spanish Culture. It also unveiled the major themes of Paterno's works to come: law of social evolution, value of reason, human perfectability, and a synthesis of an essentialized "Orient" and "Occident" in Christianity.[7][8]


At the trial of José Rizal in 1896, it was suggested that Paterno, along with Rizal, had incited the Katipunan because they had both written about pre-Spanish Philippine history. As evidence for their complicity, the Spanish prosecution cited Paterno's earlier work Antigua Civilización as promoting ideas which had "consequences both erroneous and injurious to Spanish sovereignty". Nobody moved against Paterno, however, because he was close to a significant number of Spanish officials – both military and civilian – who could vouch for him. Thus, Paterno, like many others of the Manila elite, distanced himself from the events of the Katipunan revolution.[3]

In 1897, the Philippine revolutionary forces led by General Emilio Aguinaldo had been driven out of Cavite and retreated northwards from town to town until they finally settled in the village of Biak-na-Bato, in the town of San Miguel de Mayumo in Bulacan. Here, they established what became known as the Republic of Biak-na-Bato.[9]

In late July, 1897, Paterno presented himself to Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera, whom he had known while living in Spain, and offered his services as a mediator.[3] Because many highly placed Spaniards of the time thought Paterno held great sway over the natives, Primo de Rivera accepted Paterno's offer. He called for a truce, explaining his decision to the Cortes Generales: "I can take Biak-na-Bato, any military man can take it, but I can not answer that I could crush the rebellion."[9]

Paterno left Manila on August 4, 1897 and found Aguinaldo five days later. This began a three-month-long series of talks which saw Paterno constantly traveling between Manila, Biak-na-Bato, and some areas in Southern Luzon where a number of revolutionary chiefs held sway. During the negotiations, Paterno's wife Luisa died on November 27, 1897.[3] In ceremonies from December 14 to 15 that year, Aguinaldo signed the Pact of Biak-na-Bato. He later proclaimed the official end of the Philippine Revolution on Christmas Day and on left for Hong Kong via the port of Dagupan on December 27.[9]

Paterno returned to Manila on January 11, 1898 amidst great celebration, but was spurned by Primo de Rivera and other authorities when he asked to be recompensed by being granted a dukedom, a seat in the Spanish Senate, and payment for his services in Mexican dollars.[3]

The Filipino negotiators for the Pact of Biak-na-Bato. Seated from left to right: Paterno and Emilio Aguinaldo with five companions.
The Filipino negotiators for the Pact of Biak-na-Bato. Seated from left to right: Paterno and Emilio Aguinaldo with five companions.

Prime minister

Paterno was elected President of the Malolos Congress in September 1898.[6]: 469  He served as prime minister of the First Philippine Republic in the middle of 1899, and served as head of the country's assembly, and the cabinet. Paterno was captured by the Americans in April 1900 in Antomoc, Benguet.[6]: 504 

American colonial period

Emilio Aguinaldo and Pedro A. Paterno miniature model at Barasoain Church (in the horse carriage-parade for Aguinaldo's oath-taking as Philippine President on January 23, 1899).
Emilio Aguinaldo and Pedro A. Paterno miniature model at Barasoain Church (in the horse carriage-parade for Aguinaldo's oath-taking as Philippine President on January 23, 1899).

With the Philippine–American War after the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1898, he was among the most prominent Filipinos who joined the American side and advocated the incorporation of the Philippines into the United States. As the editor and proprietor of the newspaper La Patria, he supported American dominion and gratitude towards Spain, from whence "the Filipinos derived their civilization."[6]: 412–413  He died of cholera on April 26, 1911.

Legacy and notoriety

Pedro Paterno
Pedro Paterno

Despite Paterno's prominence in the many upheavals that defined the birth of the Philippine nation during his lifetime, Paterno's legacy is largely infamous among Philippine historians and nationalists.

Philippine historian Resil Mojares notes that:

History has not been kind to Pedro Paterno. A century ago, he was one of the country's premier intellectuals, blazing trails in Philippine letters. Today he is ignored in many of the fields in which he once held forth with much eminence, real and imagined. No full length biography or extended review of his corpus of writings has been written, and no one reads him today.[3]

Mojares also indicated that his sarcastic and flamboyant attitude, wherein he seeks a high regard in the social hierarchy wherever he goes, invited the criticisms he received.[10]

John Schumacher dismissed Paterno's works as "scholarly" in nature. He remarked that:

Paterno's "eccentric and ingenious lucubrations" on Philippine civilization undermined the national cause. "Reconstructing a Filipino past, however glorious in appearance, on false pretenses can do nothing to build a sense of national identity, much less offer guidance for the present or the future."[11]

Much of this is attributed to Paterno's penchant for turncoatism, as described by historian Ambeth Ocampo, who sums up his career thus:

Remember, Paterno was one of the greatest "balimbing" (turncoat) in history (perhaps he was the original "balimbing" in Philippine political history). He was first on the Spanish side, then when the declaration of independence was made in 1898, he "wormed his way to power" and became president of the Malolos Congress in 1899, then sensing the change in political winds after the establishment of the American colonial government, he became a member of the First Philippine Assembly.[4]

List of works

Media portrayals

See also


  1. ^ Also spelled Pedro Alejandro Paterno y Debera Ignacio.
  2. ^ In some references, the birth date is February 27, 1858 while the death date is March 11, 1911.


  1. ^ García Castellón, Manuel. "Pedro Alejandro Paterno y de Vera-Ignacio (Manila, 1858 - 1911)". Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  2. ^ Tucker, Spencer C. (2009). The Encyclopedia of Spanish-American and Philippine-merican Wars: a political, social, and military history, Volume 1. ISBN 9781851099511. Retrieved 2 June 2011., 993 pages
  3. ^ a b c d e f Mojares, Resil (2006). "Pedro Paterno". Brains of the Nation: Pedro Paterno, T.H. Pardo de Tavera, Isabelo de los Reyes, and the Production of Modern Knowledge. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press. pp. 1–118. ISBN 971-550-496-5.
  4. ^ a b Ocampo, Ambeth (December 4, 2005). "Looking Back: "Looking Back: The First Filipino Novel"". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on 3 April 2007.
  5. ^ Mojares 2006, p. 4.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Foreman, J., 1906, The Philippine Islands, A Political, Geographical, Ethnographical, Social and Commercial History of the Philippine Archipelago, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
  7. ^ Mojares 2006, p. 9.
  8. ^ Paterno 1917, p. 5.
  9. ^ a b c Don Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy (1899). "Chapter III. Negotiations". True Version of the Philippine Revolution. Authorama: Public Domain Books. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
  10. ^ Mojares 2006, p. 11.
  11. ^ Schumacher 1991, p. 204.
Political offices Preceded byApolinario Mabini Prime Minister of the Philippines 1899–1901 VacantPosition abolishedTitle next held byFerdinand Marcos New title — TITULAR —Prime Minister of the Philippines1899 - April 1, 1901 Succeeded byJorge B. Vargas(Ministries involved)