JOSE I. PAUA
( ? - 1922)
A Chinese foundry man-turned-general during the Philippine Revolution and the
Philippine-American War, Jose Ignacio Paua was one of the Chinese migrants in the country who
helped Filipino freedom fighters in the struggle for colonial liberation.
He was born in Lamua, China. An adventurer and a fortune seeker, he found his way to
Manila sometime before the outbreak of the Revolution in 1896. He worked as an apprentice in a
foundry shop managed by a Chinese in the district of Binondo. Later, he “mastered the techniques
involved in beating metal into finished products."” He also learned that the trade was good
business. So, he decided to establish his own foundry shop on Jaboneres Street.
During his trips to Binakayan, a barrio in the town of Kawit, in Cavite, he met Antonia
Jamir, a cousin of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, then the municipal captain of Kawit. He was about 25
years old when he decided to marry her. Subsequently, he settled in Cavite, where he established
an iron-works shop besides engaging in the salt-making trade.
When the Revolution broke out, Paua joined the Filipino revolutionists in Kawit, who
belonged to the Katipunan’s Magdalo faction, led by Aguinaldo. He was employed by Aguinaldo in
the production of locally made cannons, called lantaka. Later, Aguinaldo took him under his
command and gave him the rank of a major.
Paua participated with Gen. Pio del Pilar in the assault against a regiment of Spanish
troops stationed in Imus, Cavite. with Col. Agapito Bonzon, he participated in the arrest of the
Bonifacio brothers. Due to his bravery, he was promoted to colonel. He was a signer of the Biakna-
Bato Constitution, the provisional constitution of the first Philippine Republic. After the Pact of
Biak-na-Bato was signed on December 16, 1897, he was one of the revolutionary leaders who joined
Aguinaldo in hi self-imposed exile in Hong Kong. Although the revolutionary against Spain
was resumed in 1898, Paua returned to the Philippines only after American forces had arrived in
Manila. Immediately, he was ordered to take over the military defense against the Spaniards of
Manila’s northern end. One of the encounters he figured in was reported by Marshall Everett, who
wrote that a certain Chinese commander by the name of “Pao-Wah” led the insurgents in Sta. Cruz,
a major town of Laguna de Bay. In that encounter, Everett reported further, 95 had been killed
and 40 were wounded among the rebels, while the Americans lost only five enlisted men and one
Paua’s next assignment was in Bicolandia. He was given charge of the Bicol sector, with
headquarters in Camarines. On January 23, 1900, he joined Gen. Vito Belarmino in defending
Albay from the attacks mounted by Gen. William Kobbe, commander of the American
expeditionary force to the Bicol region. Together, they ably repelled the imperialists if only for a
Paua was known as the “best collector” of funds for the revolution. A few months after the
Philippine-American War broke out, the treasury of the newly proclaimed Philippine Republic was
practically empty. In Bicol, from February to October 1899, Paua was able to raise P386,000 for
the beleaguered Republic. This was supplemented later by P220,000 which he had collected in the
province of Tayabas.
Shortly after the capture of General Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela, on March 23, 1901,
Paua surrendered to the Americans. He died of cancer in Manila, on May 27, 1922. Before his
death, he had said: “I want to live up to Independence Day to have the joy and pleasure of seeing
the Philippine flag flying alone.”
Alvarez, Santiago. The Katipunan and the Revolution: Memoirs of a General. Quezon City:
Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1992.
Cristobal, Adrian. The Tragedy of the Revolution. Makati: Studio 5 Publishing Inc., 1997.
Historical Markers, Region I-IV and CAR. Manila: National Historical Institute, 1993.
Saulo, Alfredo and Esteban A. de Ocampo. History of Cavite : The Mother Ground of the
Philippine Revolution, Independence Flag and National Anthem. Trece Martires : Provincial
Government of Cavite, 1985.