Alternate Outcomes: Emperor Novales Declares Independent Philippines

The mutiny by Spanish creole officer Andres Novales didn't happened without a lot of thinking. There was widespread discontentment towards the treatment of creoles and Filipinos (Philippine-born Spanish that were also called as "Insulares") by the "Peninsulares" (the colonial administrators that were from mainland sent by the Crown to the colony).


After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, there was a spread of liberalism throughout Europe as well as its colonies where there is a growing clamor for natural rights and popular sovereignty. It was the Liberales, who was formed three years earlier in Spain, that advocated for greater rights for every citizen both from the motherland and its far-flung colonies. The Philippines is no exception and the growing influence of this movement has inspired the people to demand more rights from their colonial masters.

The mutiny by Spanish creole officer Andres Novales didn't happen without a lot of thinking. There was widespread discontentment towards the treatment of creoles and Filipinos (Philippine-born Spanish that was also called "Insulares") by the "Peninsulares" (the colonial administrators that were from the mainland sent by the Crown to the colony). By this time, Spanish America was already in a state of rebellion with Mexico gaining independence in 1821.

It was this time that Novales became more and more militant after Peninsulares were sent to replace the creole officers in the colony. He found sympathy of many Creoles including the self-styled Conde Filipino Luis Rodríguez Varela. As punishment for the rising sense of discontentment, many military officers and public officials were exiled including Novales, who was exiled to Mindanao to fight the Muslims. However, he managed to return to Manila. On the night of June 1, 1823, Novales along with other subordinates in the King's Regiment went out to start a revolt.

Along with 800 Filipinos recruited to join them, they managed to seize the royal palace, the Manila Cathedral, the city's cabildo, and other important government buildings in Intramuros. However, the failure to find Governor-General Juan Antonio Martínez so they killed the lieutenant governor and former governor-general Mariano Fernandez de Folgueras, the one who suggested the replacement of the creole officers.

Following the footsteps of the Mexican Revolution led by Miguel Hidalgo and Agustin Iturbide (who, at one time, became Emperor Agustin I of the First Mexican Empire), the soldiers shouted with ecstasy Viva la independencia (Long live independence) and Viva el Emperador Novales (Long live the Emperor Novales) as they head towards Camino Real.


In just one day, the fate of the colony hangs in the balance. "Emperor" Novales and his supporters were already en route towards Intramuros and there was one man standing in their way - Lieutenant Mariano Novales, his own brother.

"This is my moment dear brother, to liberate our country from the hands of oppressors. I am already master of the city and of the palace, and all of the constituted authorities. I, therefore, exhort you to join me in proclaiming independence in the fort you command, and to prepare to defend the sacred cause like a true citizen."

"Like you, I am a Filipino. I feel the injustice done to the loyal sons of the soil, and I know that what has happened to some of you will eventually happen to the rest of us."

In this forgotten moment in Philippine history, Mariano, who commanded the citadel, refused to open its gates. What would have happened if Andres Novales and his supporters got inside the Intramuros?

The divergence in this event would have created a butterfly effect that would have drastically changed the course of history and we would have never recognized what the country would be like in their alternate 2015.

Growing popular support will ensure the survival of an independent Philippines ruled by creoles and Insulares. This is where the lessons of the liberal movement have to be applied so that the country will survive. He witnessed and learned about the events of the French Revolution (1789), the Cadiz Constitution (1812), and the burgeoning republics in the former colonies. It is likely that Novales would have installed a constitutional monarchy.

Best Case Scenario:

The country would slowly grow and have its own Industrial Revolution in the late 1850s. At this time, the Philippines would have a decent-sized military to protect itself as Spain may have intentions to retake the colony by force. As the only Western-civilized independent nation in East Asia, it will maintain good relations with European powers in the region. It will gain support from the independent republics of the Western Hemisphere, from the United States to Brazil. Good relations with other countries will allow the Philippines to bring in Western ideas to modernize and industrialize itself.

The Philippines would have increased its influence on other Asian colonies still controlled by the British, Dutch and French so that India might revolt early or the Dutch East Indies will implode and balkanized into smaller independent states and sultanates.

Worse Case Scenario:

As an archipelago, the Philippines would have suffered the divisiveness that still plagues us today. We can compare an early 1820's independent country with that of Mexico, a country that suffered its share of civil wars and brigandage in the countryside. The British, Dutch, and French colonial powers in the region would probably contain the Philippines and may intervene in any internal conflicts in order to project their influence.


Too bad, the mutiny was crushed in our historical timeline. The Novales mutiny is just a forgotten moment in Filipino history not even given its deserved attention. In fact, it is not even a footnote in most textbooks today. As we commemorate our Independence Day, it is worthy to remember his drive for independence. Although a man of mixed blood, Andres Novales was a veteran soldier who fought in many wars including the independence of the Philippines.

If the Novales Mutiny became a successful declaration of independence, we would have celebrated that historical event every June 1 in Manila and not the June 12, 1898 event in Kawit, Cavite.

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Istoryadista | History Blog | Cebu Blogger: Alternate Outcomes: Emperor Novales Declares Independent Philippines
Alternate Outcomes: Emperor Novales Declares Independent Philippines
The mutiny by Spanish creole officer Andres Novales didn't happened without a lot of thinking. There was widespread discontentment towards the treatment of creoles and Filipinos (Philippine-born Spanish that were also called as "Insulares") by the "Peninsulares" (the colonial administrators that were from mainland sent by the Crown to the colony).
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