Killing Bonifacio, ‘Killing Patton’
Last Saturday, Nov. 30, was the 156th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, better known as the “Father of the Katipunan,” the secret society that brought about the Philippine Revolution against Spain in 1896.
“Supremo — The Story of Andres Bonifacio” by Sylvia Mendez Ventura, provides us with a picture of his short career from birth in Tondo, Manila, to his death at age 34 in the mountain ranges of Maragondon, Cavite. His father Santiago Bonifacio, was a tailor and a minor municipal employee who was classified as an “indio” while his mother Catalina de Castro was listed as a “Spanish mestiza.” Nov. 30, his birth date, is also the feast day of St. Andrew, so Bonifacio was baptized with the name Andres, the patron saint of Manila.
Bonifacio had, at best, a second-year high school education but reports say that he was “astute and intelligent and spoke Tagalog fluently.” Although his readings were limited to a few books, he possessed a vision of freedom and liberty for his people. Together with like-minded friends, Ladislao Diwa and Teodoro Plata, the three formed a secret society known as the Katipunan with the ultimate objective of separation from Spain. The Katipunan had two major factions, Magdiwang and Magdalo, and at the Tejeros Convention in March 1897, Emilio Aguinaldo was voted president of the revolutionary government. This was resented by Bonifacio who stormed out of the conference with his supporters.
There are only two individuals who we honor by setting aside as a national holiday either the day of their birth or the day of their death. In the case of Jose Rizal, it is Dec. 30, 1896, the day he was executed by firing squad at the Luneta. The firing squad was composed of Filipino riflemen under a Spanish captain. For Bonifacio, we remember him on his birth date, Nov. 30, 1863. Perhaps, it is best this way. His death is a painful reminder of our continuing weakness as a people, unable to go beyond tribal concerns and uniting for the common cause. Some sources say Bonifacio and his brother Procopio were executed by Maj. Lazaro Makapagal and his men on orders of the Aguinaldo Council of War headed by Mariano Noriel. Prior to their execution, Bonifacio had been arrested by Col. Agapito Bonzon and tried before a military court in Limbon, Cavite, where he was adjudged a traitor who conspired to overthrow the revolutionary government.
Filipino riflemen shot Rizal on orders of Spanish officials. Filipino soldiers executed Bonifacio on orders of fellow Filipinos. Filipino soldiers killed Gen. Antonio Luna whom an adversary considered as “the only general in the revolutionary army.” When Filipinos stop killing Filipinos, only then would we be able to make meaningful progress as a nation.
In a pep talk with the men of the US Third Army just before the Normandy landings in June 1944, Gen. George S. Patton Jr. told his soldiers: “I don’t want any messages saying, ‘I am holding my position.’ We are not holding a goddamn thing. We are advancing constantly and we are not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy’s balls. We are going to twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all of the time.”
Considered the best US Army field commander in the European theater of operations during World War II, Patton was the one most feared by the Germans. Throughout the course of the war, he made many enemies in part because of his brusque manner and outspoken nature. On two occasions, he slapped soldiers during hospital visits, suspecting them of malingering and cowardice. In December 1945, just a few days before he was to return to the United States, he died in a mysterious car collision in Mannheim, Germany, near the town of Heidelberg. In their book “Killing Patton,” Bill O’Reilly, anchor of “The O’Reilly Factor,” once the highest-rated cable news show in the United States, and author of several No. 1 best-selling books, and Martin Dugard, another best-selling author of history books, narrated how Patton’s limousine was hit by a US Army truck going in the opposite direction. Patton was rushed to the US Army 130th Station Hospital at Heidelberg where he expired 12 days later.
The driver of the truck, Sgt. Robert Thompson, was not punished and vanished without a trace. No criminal charges were filed. The official accident report was lost. More than 30 years after Patton’s death, OSS agent Douglas Bazata revealed that he was part of a hit team waiting to assassinate Patton. Many did not believe his story but he was a highly decorated officer.
The authors concluded that Patton’s death should be reexamined by American military investigators. It has not happened.
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