10 commandments to be broken

/ 10:03 PM January 02, 2014

Last year saw the commemoration of Andres Bonifacio’s 150th birthday. This year we will hopefully do more than celebrate Apolinario Mabini’s 150th birthday because the so-called “The Sublime Paralytic” scribbled a lot for a nation that does not read him. Young Filipinos do not know that during the American colonial period, Mabini’s portrait appeared on the one-peso bill and Rizal’s on the two-peso bill. When the Philippines became a free and independent nation in 1946, it soon issued its own banknotes and Mabini remained on the face of the one-peso bill that had Barasoain Church on the reverse to remind the public of the First Philippine Republic. It was only much later that Rizal moved into the one-peso bill, and later to the one-peso coin—not because he is worth less than other significant people on higher denomination notes and coins, but because one peso is the basic unit of our currency. Mabini was later kicked upstairs to the 10-peso bill. Bonifacio was on the five-peso bill until he was replaced by Emilio Aguinaldo. Reacting to criticism, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, in 1997, made Mabini share the 10-peso bill with Bonifacio. This debate is now mute as Aguinaldo was relegated to the five-peso coin, Bonifacio and Mabini to the 10-peso coin.

When I ask people to draw the heroes on our money, Rizal is always drawn in profile because that is his position on coins. It is unfortunate that when people are asked to draw Bonifacio from the 10-peso coin, some people draw Mabini instead. It is unfortunate that Mabini has been reduced to a disabled man in a wheelchair because many of his writings remain relevant over a century since they were first written. I remember hearing about Mabini’s “Verdadero Decalogo” (True Decalogue) in school, but we were not made to understand how important these 10 points are in our continuing search for nation and nationhood. Mabini took the Ten Commandments as a model instead of picking another random number like seven or 69. I reread Mabini’s “Decalogo” to jump-start my new year knowing that if I take these on as part of my New Year’s resolutions, I will break all within the first quarter of 2014.


“First. Love God and your honor above all things: God as the fountain of all truth, of all justice and of all activity; and your honor, the only power that will oblige you to be faithful, just and industrious.

“Second. Worship God in the form that your conscience may deem most righteous and worthy: for God speaks in the conscience that condemns your evil deeds and praises your good ones.


“Third. Cultivate the special gifts that God granted you, working and studying according to your ability, never leaving the path of righteousness and justice, in order to attain your own perfection by which means you shall contribute to the progress of humanity; fulfill the mission to which God has appointed you in this life, and by so doing shall be honored, and being honored, you glorify God.

“Fourth. Love your country after God and your honor more than yourself: for she is the only Paradise which God has given you in this life, the only patrimony of your race, the only inheritance of your ancestors, and the only hope of your posterity; because of her you have life, love and interests, happiness, honor and God.

“Fifth. Strive for the happiness of your country before your own, making of her the kingdom of reason, of justice and of labor: if she is happy, your family shall likewise be happy.

“Sixth. Strive for the independence of your country: for only you can have any real interest in her advancement and exaltation, because her

independence constitutes your own liberty; her advancement, your perfection; and her exaltation, your own glory and immortality.

“Seventh. Do not recognize in your country the authority of any person who has not been elected by you and your countrymen; for authority emanates from God, and as God speaks in the conscience of every man, the person designated and proclaimed by the conscience of a whole people is the only one who can use true authority.

“Eighth. Strive for a Republic and never for a monarchy in your country: for the latter exalts one or several families and founds a dynasty; the former makes a people noble and worthy through reason, great through liberty, and prosperous and brilliant through labor.


“Ninth. Love thy neighbor as yourself: for God has imposed upon him, as well as upon you, the obligation to help and not to do unto you what he would not have done unto him; but if your neighbor, failing in this sacred duty, attempts against your life, liberty and interests, then destroy and annihilate him for the Supreme Law of self-preservation prevails.

“Tenth. Consider countrymen more than your neighbor; see him as friend, brother, or at least comrade, with whom you are bound by one fate, by the same joys and sorrows and by common aspirations and interests.

“Therefore, as long as national frontiers subsist, raised and maintained by the selfishness of race and of family, with your countryman alone shalt you unite in perfect solidarity of purpose and interest, in order to have force, not only to resist the common enemy but also to attain all the aims of human life.”

I deleted the: “thys,” “thees,” and “thous” that make the decalogue sound old and obsolete. A contemporary rendering of Mabini’s decalogue will make it sync with a generation that needs guidance from the past.

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Comments are welcome at [email protected]

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TAGS: 10 Commandments, Ambeth R. Ocampo, Apolinario Mabini, column, True Decalogue
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