According to the Commission of Filipinos Overseas, approximately 10.5 million Filipinos were recorded to be living or working outside the Philippines in 2012—either permanently or temporarily. Despite the fact that many Filipinos leave their homeland for various reasons, they still bring to their adoptive countries their deep-rooted traditions and culture, and even pass them on to their children. The Philippines is among the nations in the world with the richest culture and history, and we Pinoys, wherever we are in the world, are always proud of that. But do we really know enough about our history? This month, the Philippines will be celebrating its 116th Independence Day, and it is the perfect time to refresh our knowledge of our rich past or learn something new about it. Did you know that until 1946, our Independence Day was celebrated on July 4 and not June 12? If you don’t, then you may also have not heard of these yet:
Did you know that Andres Bonifacio was the first to translate Jose Rizal’s “Mi Ultimo Adios” to another language?
“The Great Plebeian” was born in Tondo, Manila to a lower middle class family. When both of his parents died, he had to quit school to be able to support his brother and sisters. Despite only having four years of formal schooling, he became fluent in written and spoken Spanish. Aguinaldo, who had seven years, was barely able to speak the language. Being a big fan of Rizal and his works, Bonifacio translated Rizal’s last poem “Mi Ultimo Adios” to Tagalog and titled it “Pahimakas.” Bonifacio’s Tagalog translation of the poem came long before linguist Charles Derbyshire’s English translation. It was believed that Bonifacio had also learned English through his work at a British trade company, J.M. Fleming and Co, where he worked as a broker. Rizal’s works inspired Bonifacio to establish the Katipunan (KKK), which became the onset of the revolution.
Did you know that both Rizal and Bonifacio died at the hands of Filipinos?
Jose Rizal’s firing squad was composed of Filipino soldiers of the Spanish army. On standby behind them were Spanish soldiers, who were instructed to shoot the Filipino executioners should they disobey orders. Rizal requested to be shot facing the squad, but was ordered to turn his back against everyone. The hero made an effort to face his firing squad, but because of the shots he received, his body turned rightwards with his face directed to the morning sun. He died at 7:03 a.m. in the Bagumbayan field on December 30, 1896. His last words were those of Jesus Christ’s: “Consummatum est” (“It is finished”). On the other hand, his fellow Katipuneros killed Andres Bonifacio. During the Tejeros convention, when Aguinaldo (in absentia) was elected to be President, Bonifacio was offered the position of Secretary of Interior. Daniel Tirona contested the decision because Bonifacio didn’t have a law degree. Bonifacio demanded Tirona’s apology, but instead, the latter turned to leave. The “Supremo” then pulled out a gun and tried to shoot down Tirona. The Katipunan leader was then accused of failing to recognize the new government, was put on trial for treason and sedition, and sentenced to death. He was executed in the mountains of Maragondon in Cavite with his brother Procopio on May 10, 1987. Philippine Independence was proclaimed a little more than a year later, and the Father of Revolution wasn’t there to witness the conclusion of the fight he started.
Did you know that there were no words to our national anthem when our independence was first proclaimed?
Days before the declaration of the Philippine Independence Day in June 12,1898, Emilio Aguinaldo commissioned Caviteño composer and pianist Julian Felipe to prepare a composition for the independence ceremonies. A day before the historical event, Felipe presented his work before the president and his officers. Aguinaldo approved the composer’s work on the spot. The music, originally titled “Marcha Nacional Magdalo,” was renamed to “Marcha Nacional Filipina.” On the day of the ceremonies, the music band San Francisco de Malabon played the melody in public for the very first time. Hearing the melody and seeing the Philippine flag being unfurled for the first time as well stirred patriotic fervor among the people. However, the stirring strains remained just a march till more than a year after, when a 23-year-old soldier named Jose Palma, who also was a talented writer, penned the poem “Filipinas.” The poem, written in Spanish and translated to Tagalog later on, and Felipe’s composition became the national anthem we know and sing today.