Father of the Philippine Revolution: Andres Bonifacio

Features Philippines May 29, 2009 at 1:38 pm

In commemoration of the 111th anniversary of the 1898 declaration of Philippine Independence

Andres Bonifacio was born on November 30, 1863 to Santiago Bonifacio and Catalina de Castro.
Orphaned at an early age, the siblings made canes and paper fans to meet their necessities. He also made posters for commercial firms as he had a fine penmanship. He was later employed as a clerk messenger in the British commercial firm of Fleming and Company. His industry and honesty earned him promotion. As agent of the firm, he was authorized to sell rattan and other articles of trade. It was while working for this firm that he learned the rudiments of the English language. Later, he transferred as an agent at Fresell and Company, a German commercial firm.

To educate himself, he bought a few good books and read them avidly. Among these were Robiespier’s The French Revolution, Eugene’s Sue’s The Wandering Jew, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Rizal’s Noli and Fili, The Ruins of Palmyras, the Holy Bible, International Law, Penal and Civil Code, the Lives of the Presidents of the Unted States and the novels of Alexander Dumas and his son. He also joined dramatic societies in Tondo. He took part in moro-moros, founded the El Teatro Porvenir and gradually changed to Tagalog the names of things, places and scenes in Spanish plays staged in the vernacular.

The founding of the Katipunan took place on July 7, 1892 in a house on Calle Ilaya with Ladislao Diwa, Teodoro Plata and Deodato Arellano. Its full name was the Kataastaasang Kagalang-galang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan. Bonifacio’s adopted name was Maypagasa. His wife, Gregoria de Jesus was initiated into the organization as Lakambini and was made custodian of the Katipunan seal and of the society’s valuable papers.

It was at this time that Bonifacio became closely acquainted with Emilio Jacinto, then a law student of the Unviersity of Santo Tomas. Bonifacio chose Jacinto to be the Secretary of the Supreme Council.

In San Mateo and Montalban mountains, they came upon the caves of Makarok and Pamitinan. Deep inside the cave of Pamitinan, they undertook the initiation rites and Andres wrote on its wall, “Long live Philippine independence.”

Back in Manila, he expanded the society’s activities, imposed discipline on its members, embarked on espionage missions to keep them well informed of the movements of the Spanish civil and ecclesiastical officials.

In May 1896, it was decided to consult the support of Rizal the moment the armed clash start. Dr. Pio Valenzuela was chosen to go to Dapitan. Dr. Rizal, however, advised the group that the Filipinos must be financially and militarily prepared before staging an armed revolution.

After the discovery of the Katipunan by the Spanish authorities, Bonifacio ordered his men to assemble in Balintawak. In a place called Kangkong, on the 21st of August in the house of Apolonio Samson, they discussed the start of the armed rebellion. On August 23, in the yard of Juan Ramos, the son of Tandang Sora, Bonifacio and his men decided to start the armed uprising on the 29th. There they tore their cedulas to symbolize their determination to rise in arms and to free the country from Spanish rule. After some skirmishes in Balara, Marikina and then HalangBato, Bonifacio proclaimed the general uprising against Spain on Saturday, August 29, 1896.

The flame of armed resistance swiftly engulfed nearby towns. On August 30, 1896, the Governor General Blanco declared Martial law in the provinces of Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija.

Meanwhile, in Cavite, Aguinaldo proposed the establishment of a revolutionary government. However, the issue issue as to who should head the new government divided the Katipunan, Cavite chapter. The Magdalo faction maintained that the victories were attributed to Aguinaldo’s leadership while the Magdiwang faction held on to the idea that since they were the instigators of the rebellion in Cavite, they were entitled to higher recognition as leaders of the armed organization. They also believed that the question of leadership can only be resolved by Bonifacio, thus they invited him to the Imus Assembly. No agreement was reached though they agreed to hold another meeting in Tejeros on March 22, 1897.

Before the assembly started it was agreed that everyone will respect the decision of the majority. In the election for presidency, Aguinaldo was elected in absentia. Bonifacio placed second. Severion de las Alas suggested that Bonifacio be the vice president but his idea was not heeded. Mariano Trias was elected vice president and Bonifacio was chosen minister of the interior. His qualifications, however, were questioned by Daniel Tirona who said that a lawyer was more fit to occupy the office. Feeling gravely insulted, Bonifacio threatened to shoot Tirona but cooler heads intervened. Bonifacio and his followers believed that as Bonfacio was the initiator of the armed rebellion, he should have been president.

Bonifacio and his followers declared the Tejeros Convention null and void. Even Gen. Ricarte affirmed the irregularity of the elections by refusing to take his oath as Captain General but he was prevailed. Bonifacio, his wife, brothers and few followers left for Indang, Cavite but were overtaken by the followers of the Magdalo faction. In a fight, his brother Ciriaco was killed and Bonifacio was severely wounded. Gregoria, Andres and another brother, Procopio were taken to Maragondon where they were tried by a military court presided by General Mariano Noriel and were found guilty of sedition. They were condemned to death but this sentence was commuted by Aguinaldo to exile. Upon learning of this decision, Gen. Mariano Noriel and General Pio del Pilar rushed to Aguinaldo and prevailed upon him to confirm the original sentence in order to safeguard the interest of the revolution and prevent the demoralization of the officers and men. Aguinaldo acceded to their entreaties.

On May 10, 1897, Bonifacio and his brother Procopio were taken by Maj. Lazaro Makapagal from the prison at Maragondon and were brought to Mt. Buntis where they were shot.

(From An Online Guide About Philippine History)