Andres Bonifacio’s BPI and HSBC accounts?
One would think that on National Heroes’ Day, monuments to our heroes all over the country would be spruced up to receive flowers from a grateful nation. National Heroes’ Day should be like “Undas” on Nov. 1, but it isn’t. People don’t even know what National Heroes’ Day is all about, except the hardy bunch who are required to be at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio for taps, military honors, and floral offerings at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Some people I know reported for work or set out early to do errands last Monday morning only to find out that it was a holiday.
Unlike holidays that fall on specific dates like Christmas (Dec. 25), Independence Day (June 12) , All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1), and Rizal Day (Dec. 30); National Heroes’ Day falls on the last Monday of August. It has a moveable date like Chinese New Year, Good Friday, and Eid-al-Fitr. As it is, National Heroes’ Day is bound to be forgotten given the present work or study from home arrangement. Many of us have lost the pre-pandemic rhythm of life that revolved around fixed dates and regular schedules.
National Heroes’ Day 2021 fell on Aug. 30, stealing the thunder from Marcelo H. del Pilar’s 171st birthday that should have been properly commemorated in a physically distanced way in Bulacan, Bulacan, the hero’s birthplace, as well as Plaridel, the Bulacan town honored by Del Pilar’s pen name. President Duterte’s absence at the Libingan ng mga Bayani this year downgraded the event and made hollow the speech read for him by the executive secretary. It was yet another lame salute to health workers at the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 still waiting for the promised hazard pay. In contrast, the Vice President released a more relevant statement, in Filipino, calling on the nation to simple acts of heroism: getting vaccinated, following health protocols, debunking lies, heralding truth, and helping those in need.
While sorting out my files, I came across photocopies of archival documents on Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan gathered over the past three decades. One that stood out was a file dated October 1896 naming people involved or implicated in the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution. Bonifacio was on the Most Wanted list and his two known addresses were on Calle San Jose (Trozo) and the house of Capitan Quicoy on Calle Lavezares. Certifications from the Banco-Español Filipino (now Bank of the Philippine Islands) and the Hong Kong Shanghay Banking Corporation (now HSBC) stated that Bonifacio did not maintain an account or have funds in these banks. “Shanghay” is correct because in old Spanish archival documents, “y” and “i” are interchangeable like Ibarra/Ybarra in Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere.” Did Andres Bonifacio have a bank account? Or did he have one under an assumed name? Or maybe he had closed the account in August using the cash for the revolution?
Then, there is the question of Bonifacio’s wedding to Gregoria de Jesus who said they were married twice: first in Binondo church in March 1893, and later in Katipunan rites. There is no church record of such a marriage for 1893 but in the Casamientos 1894-1899 is a marriage record for June 20, 1894, between ANDRES CIPRIANO, indio natural, resident of and from Tondo, widowed from Esperanza Francisco, and GREGORIA DE LA CRUZ, india natural, resident of Binondo, single, daughter of Felipe de la Cruz, deceased, and Gabina Cesar.
Officiating priest was Fr. Simon Sanchez Contador, witnesses were Espiridion Baniquit and Vicenta Zapanta, residents of Binondo. Could Andres Cipriano and Gregoria de la Cruz be Andres Bonifacio and Gregoria de Jesus using assumed names?
National Heroes’ Day made me realize how meaningless our monuments and historic sites have become. A sure way to make people forget about the past is to erect a monument or install a historical marker because they tend to fossilize history. By making history permanent in bronze and marble, we rob ourselves of a conversation with the past. While the dates, names, places, and events in history do not change, the way we see and understand them changes over time. This is why each generation must write its own history from its point of view.
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