Missing Bonifacio’s continuing relevance
When Andres Bonifacio was executed by Filipino soldiers loyal to Emilio Aguinaldo on May 10, 1897, his body was buried in an unmarked shallow grave at the foot of Mt. Nagpatong, Maragondon, Cavite. Bonifacio’s widow searched the locale where her husband’s body was possibly buried, but in vain. To date, the whereabouts of Bonifacio’s remains remain a mystery.
Keeping secret the actual site of Bonifacio’s grave must have been deliberate. His adversaries did not want him to be remembered and revered as the “Supremo” of the Katipunan, the nationwide organization that launched an armed revolution to free the country from the clutches of colonial Spain. The Katipunan later formed the Republika ng Katagalugan, with Bonifacio elected as president.
(“Katagalugan” referred to all the provinces of the archipelago held by the Spaniards. The revolutionaries did not use “Philippines” because the name was in honor of King Philip, the king of Spain when the Spanish forces first landed in the country; nor did they use the term “Filipino” to refer to the native populace, because “Filipinos” during the Spanish colonial times referred to persons of Spanish parentage, who were born in the Philippines, a privileged—and oppressive—class.)
After Bonifacio’s death, Aguinaldo led the revolution. However, in December 1897, just a few months after the killing of Bonifacio, Aguinaldo surrendered to the Spanish forces. In March 1901, Aguinaldo would again surrender, this time to the American forces who had duped him into believing that the United States would fight the Spaniards on our country’s behalf. What followed was 35 years of direct US occupation in the Philippines.
Although the new conquerors tried to erase the revolutionary example of Bonifacio, the fervor for independence continued among the revolutionaries. They were inspired by the great thoughts of Bonifacio on independence, freedom from the clutches of imperialist forces and their local cohorts, and the building of a nation that cares for its people.
Bonifacio and the Katipunan remain relevant today.
JULIE L. PO, Linangan ng Kulturang Pilipino, [email protected]
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