On June 12, 1898, in the presence of a huge crowd, the Philippine national flag, which was designed by General Emilio Aguinaldo, and made in Hong Kong by Marcela Agoncillo, Lorenza Agoncillo and Delfina Herboza, was unfurled for the first time at Aguinaldo’s ancestral home in Cavite el Viejo (now Kawit), Cavite between four and five in the afternoon, while a marching band from San Francisco de Malabon played the Marcha Filipina Magdalo, the country’s national anthem (today known as Lupang Hinirang), composed by Julian Felipe.

Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista read the Act of the Declaration of Philippine Independence, which he himself had penned in Spanish. Patterned after the American Declaration of Independence, it invoked the protection of God in heaven, and the “Mighty and Humane North American Nation” on earth, dissolved all bonds between Spain and the Philippines, and proclaimed the right of the new Republic to exercise all the attributes of a sovereign nation-state. It was signed by 98 persons, among them an American Colonel of Artillery, L.M. Johnson, who witnessed the proclamation.

On that very day, Apolinario Mabini, a paralytic who had to be brought to Cavite in a hammock, became Aguinaldo’s chief adviser on political and constitutional matters.

Mabini immediately pointed out the grave implications of the absence of any written pledge of American support for Philippine independence. He opposed the unilateral declaration on 12 June, regarding it as politically unwise in view of America’s apparent intention to keep the Philippines; and advised Aguinaldo to form and consolidate a competent government that would win recognition from foreign powers, to neutralize any American moves against it. Aguinaldo himself viewed the phraseology of the independence proclamation with disfavor, and did not sign it. Under the auspices of Mabini, a new proclamation was drafted on August 1, 1898, and ratified by the Malolos Congress.