English version of the message of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, on the 41st anniversary of the death Apolinario Mabini, Manila, May 13, 1944:

Apolinario Mabini died 41 years ago today He is known in history as the “Sublime Paralytic” and the “brains” of the Philippine Revolution.

In his most active years he was private adviser to General [Emilio] Aguinaldo and first minister of the first Constitutional Cabinet under the first Philippine Republic. As such he was largely responsible for the framework of Government established and for the decrees issued above the President’s signature. Original thinker and political philosopher, he is justly regarded as of most among the architects of the Filipino nation.

What is the pertinence of the Sublime Paralytic to the Filipino people today as faced by seemingly insuperable problems of nation-building?

From the beginning, he had been schooled in adversity; he mastered it. Stricken with paralysis, he found the opportunity to wrestle with problems of destiny above that of his own personal welfare. His affliction was the goad to his most creative service to his people and by that way incidentally found immortality in the memory of the nation.

It would not be unlike Mabini to be indifferent to that immortality. “Virtue, to him, was its own reward.

Mabini had sure instincts as a nation-builder. He wrote the True Decalogue to be the foundation of the social and political fabric of the people. Then, as now, character was at a premium.

“I have offered you the True Decalogue,” he told the people, “so that you may understand that reason, your own conscience, constitutes the only true and solid basis for your moral education, and that honest work is the most firm foundation for your material education. In this way, you will know that true honor, true nobility, does not reside in blood but in a man’s character formed in the atmosphere of reason and trained in work.”

For a man, a Filipino, who behaved as a man of honor and put his duties and honor above everything else, the True Decalogue was Mabini himself made flesh.

Thus it was that when Aguinaldo thought of resigning, in 1898, from the presidency because of certain limitations and because of the “favoritism, selfishness and bribery shown by other officials,” he instinctively thought of Mabini as the man most fit to exercise the office.

It was not enough, according to Aguinaldo, indicating the character of the possible successor, that one should be learned for mere are learned men who do not want to snare the fate of their country when she is in peril,” nor enough that one should be wealthy, for there are rich men who will not help with their wealth although they see the country menaced by a new slavery. What was wanted was somebody who, besides showing learning and ability, had proved his loyalty to the cause of his country. Aguinaldo remembered that in his two revolutions he had to rely on the poor people to support him; the rich would follow him only when there was a measure of success in sight.

The behavior of Mabini sorely afflicted by ill health when offered a government position shortly before he died betokens the true measure of a man who at one time was virtual ruler of the nation’s fate. Declining the opportunity, he said:

“Fearing that my infirmity might have been the principal cause of inefficiency of my labor and that it might unfit me for the work which is demanded by the great problems of the present situation, I am going back to the obscure position from which, impelled by circumstances, I have come, in order to hide my shame and anguish, not for having committed an unworthy act, but for not having been able to do better service. It is true that I am not the one called on to declare whether I proceeded well or not, rightly or wrongly; however I will not conclude without saying that I have no other balm with which to soothe the bitterness of my painful life than the satisfaction produced by the conviction of not having committed any error unknowingly. May I say the same at the hour of my death.”

The life of Mabini is both a rebuke and an encouragement to us today. It is a rebuke to a situation that needs more of discipline, abnegation, work, loyalty, determination and sacrifice. It is an encouragement in that Mabini, by doing as he did, as a human being and as a Filipino, has proved to us that we also, who are descended from him, should no less be capable, and on a bigger scale, because our opportunities and advantages are bigger and better. Once upon a time, Mabini walked this blessed land of ours. Why should we expect less today? We should strive to be more worthy.

Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library