An appeal from a hero’s descendant

By , on November 30, 2017


The single known extant photograph of Andres Bonifacio. Only surviving photograph of Bonifacio, founder of the Philippine revolutionary society Katipunan. (Photo By Unknown photographer - http://kasaysayan-kkk.info/gallery.kkk.htm, Public Domain)
The single known extant photograph of Andres Bonifacio. Only surviving photograph of Bonifacio, founder of the Philippine revolutionary society Katipunan. (Photo By Unknown photographer – http://kasaysayan-kkk.info/gallery.kkk.htm, Public Domain)

MANILA — Oftentimes, Bonifacio Day or any commemorative anniversary of a fallen hero goes with the traditional wreath laying ceremonies and speeches to impress on everyone how we as Filipinos must love the country the way our forefathers did.

November 30, 2017 marks the 154th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, leader of the anti-colonial revolutionary movement Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan or the Katipunan.

His descendant, lawyer Gary Bonifacio, great-great grandson of Andres’ brother Procopio, asked for a more worthy tribute — sincere remembrance and acknowledgement of the real historical score behind his ancestors’ death.

The story how Procopio and Andres met their tragic fates in Maragondon, Cavite, began when, according to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, bad blood erupted between the two Katipunan Councils in Cavite— the Magdalo and Magdiwang due to territorial competition and lack of respect for each other.

On March 22, 1897, a convention was held in Tejeros to settle the dispute and decide what type of government should be installed.

As leader of the council, Andres presided in the election and Emilio Aguinaldo eventually won as president. Bonifacio was then elected Secretary of Interior, to which Daniel Tirona contested, arguing that a lawyer should handle the position.

Insulted, the Supremo demanded an apology from Tirona. Because of humiliation and anger, Bonifacio declared that all matters convened in the Tejeros Convention were null and void. Together with his supporters, he left the estate house.

‘Conflicting accounts’

As the familiar story goes, Bonifacio as a result of his experiences in Cavite, Bonifacio decided to return to Montalban and San Mateo.

However, on their way, he and his followers passed by Limbon, Indang, to which according to NHCP was then a place in Cavite where food was scarce and people were tightfisted.

At this point, Severino de las Alas turned his back against Bonifacio. The angered Bonifacio responded with threats and words that were wrongly interpreted by the people of Indang. NHCP noted that the people sought the help of Aguinaldo, who immediately ordered the arrest of Bonifacio.

On the book Bones of Contention: The Andres Bonifacio Lectures, Ambeth Ocampo cited contradictions on General Mariano Noriel’s written report on the arrest of Andres in Limbon and the detailed testimony of Bonifacio himself during a trial in a military court.

Noriel’s document, as per Ocampo, only states that Colonel Agapito Bonzon, head of the arresting party tried to convince Bonifacio to recognize Aguinaldo’s government, but latter did not only refused he also ordered his men to fire at them.

The testimony of the Bonifacio’s, however, clearly narrates that Bonzon’s party on the day before the arrest entered the Supremo’s camp and were even received as “friends”.

When Bonzon’s party left, Ocampo noted how Bonifacio even gave them cigarettes as pabaon.

In the said testimony of Andres, Ocampo detailed that when Bonzon returned the next day, he fired at Bonifacio’s trenches and more shots followed, Ciriaco Bonifacio, younger brother of Andres, was hit.

The rest that ensued was history. In the said scuffle, Procopio and the Supremo were caught. The latter was stabbed in the neck, weakening him and soaking him in blood.

According to Ocampo, “Bonifacio was shot in the arm when he approached  the arresting officer peacefully. Despite the gunshot wound, Colonel Ignacio Pawa still stabbed Bonifacio in the neck.”

Later in trial, Ocampo described how “half-hearted defense” Bonifacio was supplied. Denying accusation that they fired first, Bonifacio requested his revolver to see that no single shot was fired. The gun was never presented as evidence.

The death of a leader

Procopio and Andres were shot at Mount Nagpatong, near Mount Buntis in Maragondon, Cavite. Some accounts, particularly those of Guillermo Masangkay, said Andres was pursued, stabbed with bayonets in the body, and struck on the head with bolo that cracked his skull.

Nevertheless, the event still ended with the Supremo living his life short.

Gary said the Katipunan established by Andres “was not only a revolutionary organization but a revolutionary government of the Philippines.”

If the Philippines was to have Andres Bonifacio in this modern society, he said political landscape would be way different than it is today, “magbabago ang kultura ng ating pulitika.”

He narrated that his ancestor “referred to all Filipinos and the Philippines as Tagalogs and the Tagalog republic, because he refused to use the colonial name imposed by the Spanish colonizers.”

“When he used the term ‘Tagalog people’, it referred to all of us whether Tagalogs, Visayan, Ilonggo, Ilocano, Tausug,” he said. “Andres Bonifacio had a vision and concept of our nationhood, in fact, he even opened Philippine citizenship to foreigners living in our isles, to Chinese who were already second-generation here and to fourth-generation Spaniards here.”

Applying lessons

Gary called on all Filipinos to open their eyes and be objective in accepting what is needed to be revised in the textbooks.

“Dapat maitama ang ating kasaysayan. I-rewrite at itama and dapat itama,” he said as he called for the appropriate recognition that Andres Bonifacio deserves.

On the sincere remembrance of Bonifacio, his great-great-grand-nephew said: “Tulad po ng lagi kong binabanggit, hindi man natin mapantayan, sundan natin yung naging pagmamahal ni Bonifacio at ng rebolusyon sa ating bayan.”

“Sa bawat kilos natin, isaisip natin ang ating pangsariling interes at yung interes ng bayan. Hindi pupuwedeng magkahiwalay ‘yan, sa bawat kilos mo, habang ikaw ay umuunlad, dapat pinauunlad mo rin o nagbibigay ka ng kontribusyon sa ating bayan.”