As we look back, we shall never forget the persons behind the colorful, painful, victor and tragic past that significantly molded the history of our land. One of these men, the Ama ng Katipunan, Andres Bonifacio, is my great, great grandfather. As we celebrate his birthday today, my cousin Patricia Page Bonifacio pays tribute to our grandfather by writing an article about him.
The Legacy of Andres Bonifacio
by Patty Bonifacio
The last day of the month of November marks one of the most important dates in the history of our Filipino heritage. In 1863 a little baby boy was born in a small hut among a cluster of humble residences in Azcarraga (now Claro M. Recto Avenue), Manila. Twenty nine years later that child would establish the Katipunan, the secret society that would unite the Filipinos against the colonial forces. That man, later recognized as the Father of the Philippine Revolution and the Great Plebeian, was destined to change the story of the Filipino people. One hundred and forty seven years ago, Gat Andres Bonifacio was born.
A poor boy who was orphaned at the age of fourteen, Bonifacio had to stop schooling in order to support his five younger siblings. In spite of his lack of formal education, he taught himself to read and write in Spanish and Tagalog, and was actually so good at it that he later got a job as a clerk-messenger at Fleming and Company. He was also a wide reader, always seen with a book open in front of him even while having his lunch. Later on, his exposure to novels that tackled American politics and the French Revolution would spark a sense of patriotism in Bonifacio that would fuel one of the greatest episodes in our history.
But behind the wielded bolo and fierce, fearless stance lies great suffering at the hands of his fellow Filipinos. Bonifacio and his brother Procopio were unjustly accused of betraying the country, and were sentenced to death. One would be shocked to find out that contrary to popular belief, Bonifacio was not shot. Eyewitness accounts tell of a more gruesome demise: he was hacked to death by bolos and bayonets of Katipuneros ordered by General Aguinaldo to carry out the death sentence. His remains were buried in an unmarked tomb. As the years passed the great Supremo’s story was forgotten, until his memory was diminished to a footnote in the history books of our time.
Where does Bonifacio stand thus, in the age of DotA, nightclubs, and jejemons? Does the memory of the Supremo of the Katipunan thrive merely on a once-a-year non-working holiday, ten peso coins, or cold, looming monuments? Sadly, Bonifacio is but a faded memory in the lives of most young Filipinos today: a paltry name memorized at the age of seven, forgotten by the age of seventeen. Nowadays the day of his birth simply translates to a long weekend. Who is Bonifacio, then, to the Filipino youth?
Bonifacio was not merely a revolutionary; he was a Filipino who put his life on the line for a cause he believed in. Bonifacio was not just a supreme chief of some secret society; he was a leader who was determined to bring his people together in the name of solidarity and freedom. Bonifacio serves not just as a champion for the sake of bravery and bravado: he is also an example of a just, hopeful, and humane hero amidst the desolate condition of his country. Dig a little deeper, and one will find that aside from the countless revolts and uprisings he led, his values and principles also constitute his legacy to the modern-day Filipino.
The sacrifices, hardships, and death of Andres Bonifacio may be things of the past, but absolute recognition has not yet been granted to his name. Therefore, a humble plea for the Supremo: do not bury his name in the sands of time. Instead, remember his deeds and live by his example. Do not crush the dreams of the Great Plebeian: strive to live for the good of others, for the benefit of all, for the advancement of the Filipino people. Permit not the recurrence of his demise: do not slay the Father of the Katipunan by sentencing him to a death by lack of remembrance. Only then, only when we truly understand the significance of the last day of November, shall Bonifacio be justly honored.
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