Luna and Agoncillo under Secret Service Surveillance

In 1899, Felipe Agoncillo, a lawyer and husband of Marcela Agoncillo (the seamstress of the first Filipino flag), and Juan Luna, Filipino artist best-known for his Spoliarium (which won the gold medal at the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in Madrid about 15 years earlier), were in Washington to block the Senate ratification of the Treaty of Paris. They stayed at The Arlington Hotel, a luxury hotel which was torn down and replaced in the early 1900s, and the present site of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. The Washington Post published an account of a secret service member assigned to follow the Filipinos, providing a glimpse into some of their habits: “[At] about 10 o’clock every morning, a Secret Service man may be seen…somewhere in sight of the public exit of the Arlington Hotel. He doesn’t need to be on hand any sooner, because the Philippine legation does not come out until that time.”

Arlington Hotel

Lobby of the Arlington Hotel Circa 1920. Photo credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Further information

An office building was constructed on the site of the Arlington Hotel in 1917. Today it is the office building of the Department of Veteran Affairs.  Vermont and I St., NW, Washington, DC. 


“Keen Eye on Filipinos,” The Washington Post, 1 Feb. 1899: 9. A detailed account of the history of the Arlington Hotel can be found on

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