Bonifacio: breaking down the barrier
for social Equality and national Independence
At first, this writeup is made in commemoration of the 150 birth anniversary of Andres "Maypagasa" Bonifacio, the man who turned Jose Rizal's works into a series of national resistance against Spanish occupiers and traitors, all in pursuit of National and Social independence a once oppressed nation yearned for.
But despite celebrating the day of his birth, of offering flowers and marching to the tune of "Alerta Kaptipunan" and Nakpil's "Marangal na Dalit", few people had seriously advanced the late Supremo's views; and just like Dr. Jose Rizal, Bonifacio's views had radicalized the ideas the doctor advocated for, replacing autonomy with Independence, of appeasement with resistance, of reformation with revolution, and popularizing it to those who had yearning for it, such as those deemed as Indio.
And knowing that everyone had acknowledge the fact that Andres Bonifacio as a lower-level Ilustrado working as a secretary in a warehouse, of having self-taught by reading books and studying English and German; yet with those experiences rather make him no different from a Masa (term for the Philippines' poor majority, popularized by Ex-President Estrada) who experienced hardship. But with his works, such as his poetry and other literary pieces somehow no different from a typical illustrado who usually taught in the convent and seminary schools of Intramuros just like Dr. Rizal. And with those same experiences, both through reading and countless labors made him least becoming an ilustrado, that he can afford to wear the clothes the illustrado had, of joining a Masonic lodge and La Liga Filipina; but again, true to his experiences as a laboring man of mind and sinew, Bonifacio rather remained closer to those who comprise the majority of the Filipinos who really had stood for independence and national dignity- in a way there are those who, like him had steadfastly stood for rights such as the mutineers at Cavite. He even turned the remains of La Liga Filipina into a native-sounding one, the Kataastaasang, Kagalanggalang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK) , or Katipunan for short.
Katipunan had continued to pursue the basic ideas of the La Liga, but the repressive conditions of the Spanish occupiers had radicalized it, even filipinizing an hispanic-sounding name into a much nobler Tagalog-sounding, with the Anak ng Bayan, the sons of the people as the Filipino itself.
In fact, there are earlier ones who had called for independence prior to Rizal and the Katipunan, such as the Spanish officals Bayot, of minor noblemen like Novales, and other Insulares who wanted to break free from the Spanish crown; of passionate natives whom stood for the defence of their communities like Palaris and Silang; but the generation of Rizal and Bonifacio, influenced by the works of the west and mystical aspirations of their compatriots had broke down the barriers of being ilustrado and masa, of Mestizo and Indio, transcending their regionalism, and their realities and aspirations, found and shared in a common cause in making Las Islas Filipinas, the so-called Haring Bayang Katagalugan of the Katipunan be declared independent. His followers like Emilio Jacinto, Pio Valenzuela, Miguel Malvar and Macario Sakay had even followed the Supremo's cause, gving up their backgrounds by joining in the ranks of the disposessed, and teaching them struggle, realizing their aspirations and taking the arm that led to a strong resistance for bread and freedom, that until today being fought at the halls of congress, streets, and at the countryside.
And furthermore, the typical camisa-wearing and Bolo-weilding Katipunero, were consists of the dispossessed Masa, and these people cannot just fight merely for independence alone as most textbook says, knowing that with the repression made by corrupt officals, of bastinado-insisting friars and the land problem made by Feudalism had offered revenge; that the land Spaniards dare to control are theirs as communal and hence anyone had to share the fruits of their labor equally; Bonifacio had even sought the hardship as he worked as a secretary in a warehouse, and with his work somehow sought the unfairness treated on the stevedores at the port in their wages, that in the farms lies the feudal ways alongside the use of Religion as a tool of repression by the friars. Most of the experiences had also been written at Rizal's Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, turning an idealistic person like Crisostomo Ibarra into a Realistic and vengeful Simoun, while Bonifacio himself, an avid reader of Rizal's works, and personifying the peasant Elias, had to realize it, making an open ended story pave way to a new chapter of an unfinished novel. Those times replacing the pen with a revolver, and the ink of the scholar with the blood of a martyr; and instead of a purely Tagalog one centered in Manila and the rebellious provinces such as Cavite and Laguna during the leaderships of Deodato Arellano and Ladislao Diwa, Bonifacio had expanded the revolutionary movement in every province such as Cebu under Leon Kilat and Ilocos under Valentin Diaz; making every oppressed Indio around the archipelago follow the banner of the Katipunan struggle and its quest for National and Social independence.
However, as everyone had knew the fact that despite having a common cause, there are those who wanted to stress their upbringings rather than getting close to the majority; that the arrogance of Emilio Aguinaldo, Daniel Tirona, and those of Ilustrado gentry had resulted to the Supremo's demise and those who had loyal to the revolutionary Katipunan cause. That they had even replaced the existing Revolutionary government with a bourgeois "Republic" at BiaknaBato that end sold for a thousand pesos and forcing themselves to live in exile at Hong Kong.
Not knowing that there are those who, despite recognizing the "Republic" Aguinaldo had made and eventually dissolved, remained clinging to the Supremo's yearning such as generals Miguel Malvar, Macario Sakay, and others whom continuing the wearing of the Anting Anting and carrying the Revolver and the Mauser rifle. It was undeniable during those times, coming from the native, Mestizo and even the Spaniard that there are those who chose not to surrender and instead pursuing the Independence what their former leader insisted, they had even called them as Ladrones and Bandoleros, Thieves and Brigands rather than rebels and freedom fighters. But come to think of this, why the surrender since Spain had been battered by guerilla warfare from the forests? Of the rain that often stops the battle? The Spaniards had even used native puppets like Pedro Paterno, whom using a hodge podge of promises, monetary support that consists a thousand pesos, and even then-"progressive" rhetoric just to make them surrender into their terms, yet in fact most of those who have up their guns been treacherously killed at the dungeons of Fort Santiago or at the field of Bagumbayan.
Even during the early days of the first Philippine Republic lies the mistrust instead of unity what Bonifaico and earlier ones had yearned for; Apolinario Mabini, one of the members of La Liga Filipina and radical in his views, had sought the irroncilable differences of those pursuing independence and those who gave up and submit to the wishes of another occupier; that Pedro Paterno still loved his España, and even gave up his post for a position under the Americans than defending the young republic he had sworn to defend till its last breath.
Yes, there are traitors whom still living until present day, choosing privilege over sacrifice, of self interest than those of the people. And somehow it is the duty of the people, of those who have an undying love for their homeland to oppose their motives that brought disunity and oppression.
It is uncommon indeed, that from past till present there are those who chose to stay in their comfortable backgrounds than breaking down the barriers in pursuit of advancing people's interest; everyone had sought how most politicians rather wanted higher positions at the bureaucracy and treating it as a job than a national commitment, as evidenced by having kickbacks and at the same time corruption charges filed against these privilege-seeking personages; meanwhile most peasants and workers, even those who earned their degrees faced the still greater challenge of having their lands not given, wages not been fairly distributed, job mismatches, brain and brawn drains that benefits those on high, hence aggravating existing problems what Bonifacio and his people wanting to end for.
Or let's just say that the war of independence Bonifacio had made most textbooks said much is not a just war for independence as these books being told so, and until today it was and is a revolt of the poor, a prolonged peasant struggle whose majority of the fighters still called for social justice!
Anyways, Andres Bonifacio Maypagasa still offers hope, and his hope for freedom and justice had made him alive and youthful. And in breaking down the barrier of differences, of joining into the people lays the greater chances of fulfilling an unfinished revolution.
Thank you for reading and long live the legacy of his life struggle!
And to use Rizal's characters from El Fili, this writer would say that may a thousand Simouns lead a million Eliases and Salomes of today!