He had fought the Spaniards since the beginning of the Philippine Revolution. He had also been wounded and cited several times for gallantry in action. In time he was promoted to brigadier general. Now, here was another general, who had joined the Revolution in the second phase, but who was now his superior officer, ordering him not to leave his headquarters, even to inspect on the frontline, without the latter’s permission.
The first general was Tomas Mascardo of Kawit, Cavite, the second was Antonio Luna, erroneously referred to as an “Ilocano general,” although he preferred to be known as a Tagalog. In fact, Luna was born in Binondo, Manila, of a Tagalog father and an Ilocano mother. In his contributions to the propaganda organ La Solidaridadin Madrid, Spain, Luna used the pseudonym “Taga-Ilog” or Tagalog for short.
Luna, the irascible commander-in-chief of revolutionary forces in Luzon, was peeved upon learning that Mascardo had left his headquarters in Guagua, Pampanga, to visit a girl friend in Arayat, another Pampanga town. But Mascardo insisted that he had done there to inspect his soldiers at the front. The two generals nearly came to a duel which could have also involved their respective troops but for General Emilio Aguinaldo’s timely intervention.
The truth of the matter was that Mascardo had long wanted to resign as field commander to avoid any possible misunderstanding with Luna, his superior, whom he has bested in a suit for the hand of a beauteous Pampanga girl. Mascardo, the more handsome and dashing of the generals, had run off with the girl, and naturally Luna was furious. Hence Luna wanted to assert his superiority over Mascardo. [Note: This incident is fully explained in the authors’ latest book, Emilio Aguinaldo: Generalissimo and President of the First Philippines Republic – First Republic in Asia. Quezon City. Phoenix Publishing House, Inc. 1983.
Born in Kawit on October 9, 1871, Mascardo was one of seven children of Valentin Mascardo, a landowner, and Dolores Echenique, a rice dealer. He graduate with a teacher’s diploma from the Escuela Normal in Manila, and then taught in the barrio school of jHalang, Amadeo, Cavite. In the early days of the revolution, General Emilio Aguinaldo, the jefe abanderado (chief flag officer) of the Magdalo Council, ordered Mascardo to attack the Spanish garrison in barrio Bilog-Bilog, Tanauan, Batangas. Aguinaldo was impressed by Mascardo’s bravery. Commanding a unit under General Edilberto Evangelista, Mascardo was wounded in the Battle of Zapote on February 17, 1897. It was in this battle that Evangelista was killed by an enemy sniper.
Mascardo was at one time the chief of the revolutionary intelligence service in Manila, succeeding Miguel Lledo who had been captured by the Spaniards and put to death. He was the commanding general of all revolutionary forces in the Pampanga-Bataan-Zambales sector when Aguinaldo was treacherously captured by the Americans in Palanan, Isabela, March 23, 1901.
To verify the news of Aguinaldo’s capture, Mascardo ordered a subordinate officer, Major Manuel L. Quezon, to surrender to the Americans and find out if Aguinaldo had really been captured and, if so, to ask him for final orders. Consequently Quezon was led into the room of Aguinaldo in Malacañang Palace. A prisoner of war, Aguinaldo told him that Mascardo from thereon was free to decide the matter for himself. To save his men from total annihilation, and facing certain defeat because of lack of arms and ammunitions, Mascardo gave up to the Americans on May 15, 1901.
Released afterward by the Americans, Mascardo returned to his family in Cavite. Induced to enter politics, he was elected governor of Cavite for one term, 1910-1912, afterwhich he retired to private life. He died on July 7, 1932. He was survived by his wife, Carmen Topacio of Imus, and eight children; namely, Modesto, Dominador (who became a general), Petra, Pura, Jaime, Tomas, Salvador (former collector of customs at the Manila International Airport), and Emiliano.
[Sources: (1) Victoria Cairme, “Gen. Tomas Mascardo, 1871-1932,” Prominent Caviteños in the Philippines History. Manila, 1941; (2) Jose Alejandriano, The Price of Freedom. Manila, 1949; (3) Manuel L. Quezon, The Good Fight. New York and London, 1946; (4) Eminent Filipinos, National Historical Commission, 1965; (5) Gregorio F. Zaide, Great Filipinos in History. Manila. 1970; (6) Leon S. del Rosario, “ Hero of the First Revolution: General Tomas Mascardo,” Philippines Free Press, August 29, 1953; and (7) Biodata furnished by Governor Remulla’s Office.]