Today in Philippine History, February 4, 1899, marked the start of the Filipino-American War

Friday February 03, 2012 () Last updated February 04, 2017 10:36:57

On February 4, 1899 at about eight o'clock in the evening, Private William Walter Grayson, together with two other members of his patrol, entered Barrio Santol in Sampaloc, Manila to find out whether there were Filipino soldiers in the vicinity.

Upon seeing the Filipino soldiers, in the Santa Mesa area, the American sentry shouted "Halt!" When the Filipinos continued their way, the American fired and killed one of them instantly along the now Sociego Street in Santa Mesa, Manila. This triggered firing between both sides, which spread to Paco and Sta. Ana.

San Juan Bridge, Santa Mesa, where the first shot was fired.
(Filipino outpost at the San Juan Bridge, Santa Mesa)

And so the Filipino-American War began.

According to Spanish Professor J. A. Ranes in his Biographical Sketch of "Vibora", it was General Artemio Ricarte who led the Filipino troops, who were around Manila at the time, against the Americans.

Although the Filipino forces were at a disadvantage, having no sufficient arms to fight the American troops, still it took the Americans almost three years to conquer the Filipinos.

The war came to an end on March 23, 1901 with the capture of Aguinaldo by the Americans in Palanan, Isabela but resistance against the American occupation lingered in some parts of the country.

A popular belief prevailed for over a century, that the first shot of the Philippine-American was fired on San Juan Bridge, Santa Mesa. In 2003, the Philippines' National Historical Institute (NHI) recognized this error through Board Resolution 7 Series of 2003. On February 4, 2004 the historical marker on the bridge was removed and transferred to a site at the corner of Sociego and Silencio streets, Santa Mesa.


  1. Philippine News Agency archives
  2. Himagsikan nang manga Pilipino laban sa Kastila, page XXII, Artemio Ricrate, Yokohama, Japan, 1927.
  3. Philippine-American War, 1899-1902, Arnaldo Dumindin


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