EMILIO D. JACINTO
Brains of the Katipunan
The “Brains of the Katipunan”, Emilio Jacinto was born in Trozo, Manila on December 15,
1875 to a poor couple, Mariano Jacinto, a bookkeeper, and Josefa Dizon, a midwife.
Jacinto grew up exposed to the harsh effects of poverty. His clothes were bought at the
Casa de Agencia where unredeemed pawned clothes were being sold. He made his shoelace from a
black rug and his belt from the hemline of his mother’s skirt. Such poverty that made the young
Jacinto a butt of jokes to other children but nonetheless pushed him to give his best in school. He
finished his early education in the school of Maestro Pascual Ferrer.
Jose Dizon, his maternal uncle, helped him to further his studies at the Colegio de San
Juan de Letran, where he obtained his degree in Bachelor of Arts. He proceeded to take up Law at
the University of Santo Tomas. By that time, discontent of the natives against the colonial
government was becoming evident. The Katipunan had already been formed and two years after it
had started propagating liberal ideas, Jacinto had joined and used the name Pinkian
(inflammable). Thus, when the revolution finally broke out in 1896, Jacinto left his studies and
joined his comrades in the battle.
By the time he joined the Katipunan in 1884, Jacinto became indispensable to Andres
Bonifacio. He became the think-thank of Bonifacio. Jacinto wrote the Kartilla (primer of the
Katipunan), which served as its guiding principles. He served various post in the Supreme Council
of the organization: as Secretary, later Fiscal, and editor of its newspaper Kalayaan (Liberty).
Emilio Jacinto, Andres Bonifacio, and Pio Valenzuela wrote most of the contents of the
newspaper’s first issue dated January 18, 1896. Its second issue did not reach circulation as the
authorities have discovered the printing press.
On August 30, 1896 Jacinto and Bonifacio launched their first attack on a Spanish garrison
at San Juan del Monte, where many of their men perished. After the failed attack, the Supremo and
his young comrade separated; Jacinto went to carry the torch of the revolution in Laguna while
Bonifacio remained in Manila and later in Cavite. One of his most dangerous missions in the
Katipunan was to get Rizal out from the Spanish warship that would sail to Cuba. He dressed as a
Chinese coolie and succeeded in reaching Rizal, however, the latter refused.
In February 1898, Jacinto fought against the Spanish cazadores (riflemen) in Barrio
Maimpis of Magdalena, Laguna. During the combat, he was wounded in the thigh and was
captured by the enemy. He was freed, however, when the Spanish authorities found in his
possession a pass as Filipino spy in their service. The pass actually belonged to a spy Florentino
Reyes, whom Jacinto have captured in Pasig weeks before the Maimpis encounter.
Given a new lease on life, Jacinto went into hiding in Manila where he wrote to Apolinario
Mabini, expressing his desire to continue his law studies at the Literary University of the
Philippines, which the Government of Aguinaldo have established in Malolos. However, the
demands of war prevented Jacinto from going to Malolos. He heeded the urgent appeal of his
compatriots in Laguna who wanted his military leadership. Jacinto established a new headquarter
in Majayjay. Unfortunately, he contracted a malignant malaria that later caused his death on 6
April 1899. He was only 24 years old.
Jacinto died a patriot, one who carried his arms the battlefield and wrote with his pens
when nestled in safety under the fire of the enemy, and many times with hands that were still
grimy from combat. He had written several political and social essays: Ang Ningning at ang
Liwanag (Light and Darkness); Ako’y Umaasa (I’m Hoping); Kalayaan (Independence); Ang
Tao’y Magkapantay (All Men are Equal); Ang Pag-ibig (Love); Ang Bayan at ang Gobyerno (The
People and the Government); Ang Maling Pagsampalataya (False Belief); Ang Gumawa (The
His other works include: Ang Kasalanan ni Cain (The Crime of Cain); Pagkatatag ng
Pamahalaan sa Hukuman ng Silangan (Establishment of the Government of the Judiciary of the
East); Samahan ng Bayan sa Pangangalakal (Commercial Association of the People); Ang Anak
ng Bayan (The Son of the People); and Ang Pahayag (The Manifesto). The most popular was his A
La Patria (To My Fatherland) which he signed Dimas-Ilaw, his pen name after he composed it on
October 8, 1897 in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
Agoncillo, Teodoro A. History of the Filipino People. 8th ed. Quezon City: Garotech, 1990.
De Los Santos, Epifanio. The Revolutionist: Aguinaldo, Bonifacio, and Jacinto. Manila: National
Historical Commission, 1973
Eminent Filipinos. Manila: National Historical Commission, 1970.
Zaide, Gregorio F. Great Filipinos in History. Manila: Verde, 1970.