Rizal or Bonifacio? There should be no competition
It has always been a point of argument among Filipinos as to who should be our national hero: Jose Rizal or Andres Bonifacio? This has stirred a virtual schism, in which we have to identify ourselves either as a reformist or a revolutionary and choose between an intellectual and a rebel, the elite versus the masses. This Filipino split personality has caused a huge identity crisis in us. But this should not be the case.
In fact, it is unfair that as we celebrate Bonifacio Day every Nov. 30, we continue to subconsciously think about Rizal in the background — as if Bonifacio does not have an equal claim and place in our history. Bonifacio’s legacy should stand on its own. It is my dream that one day we will also have monuments of Bonifacio around the country and the globe, like Rizal.
There should be no competition as to who is better or greater between the two heroes. They chose different paths, but both genuinely dedicated their lives to our country. The Philippines would not be the same without these two great men. Rizal’s weapon was the pen, Bonifacio’s the bolo. Whether the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, what is essential is that both men fought for the country with all their capabilities and skills.
Bonifacio was born on Nov. 30, 1863, in Tondo, Manila. Unlike Rizal, Bonifacio did not finish his education. However, despite this limitation and condition, he exhibited a natural intelligence and sense of leadership. He sought to improve himself by reading books, among them Rizal’s two novels “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo.” The lack of adequate education did not hinder him from becoming the Father of the Philippine Revolution. Bonifacio’s life proves that patriotism requires two essential ingredients: true love of country, and bravery. Alas, he was murdered by fellow Filipinos under the order of Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Republic of the Philippines. In fact, both Bonifacio and Aguinaldo were Masons, but this did not prevent the latter from ordering the death of the Katipunan’s founder.
My hope for all the new generations to come is to never forget how Bonifacio was killed by fellow Filipinos. This is a reminder that our own countrymen can be our worst enemies—and that we always need to be prepared and cautious.
As we celebrate Bonifacio Day, may it become our mission to educate the youth about this sad part of our history—and to learn from it.
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