Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gat Andres Bonifacio: The Anti-Colonial National Hero of the Philippines (Bonifacio Series I)



  • EVERY November 30, the Philippines celebrates Bonifacio Day to commemorate the birthday of the Father of Philippine Revolution, Andres Bonifacio y de Castro. The second foremost figure in the country's pantheon of heroes, he is in fact regarded by Filipino nationalists more highly than the only one other but 'more official' national hero,* Jose Rizal, who is criticized as having been an "American-sponsored hero" chosen by the United States colonial government over the "too radical" Bonifacio and the 'Sublime Paralytic' Apolinario Mabini.

    The Anti-Colonial National Hero

    Rizal, writes eminent historian Renato Constantino, was undoubtedly a great Filipino--true martyr and patriot-- but the fact remains that veneration to him was promoted by the US colonial government because among others, he did not advocate independence, neither armed resistance to the government. This, in contrast to Bonifacio, who founded the revolutionary secret society Kataastaasan Kagalang-galang na Katipunan nang manga Anak nang Bayan ((KKK), and subsequently launched the revolution against Spanish colonial rule. Choosing the "unregenerate" Mabini, who lived long enough to support continued war against America well into his last years, or Bonifacio, who clearly aimed for independence for his country, would have been counter to the colonial policy of the new imperialist master.

    Supremo of the Filipino Revolutionary Government

    Bonifacio, in fact, formed the first national government of the natives with the intent and vision that the Katipunan would govern the islands after any overthrow of Spanish colonial rule. Beyond being a secret militant organization, the Katipunan was a revolutionary government with a bureaucratic framework, own set of laws and founded on democratic and moral principles summed up under the KKK Cartilla or primer. Even the US Library of Congress record proves such to an extent: "the Katipunan insinuated itself into the community by setting up mutual aid societies and education for the poor." The same text points to how Bonifacio, with a 30,000-strong** KKK "proclaimed Filipino independence on August 23, 1896."***

    After the Katipuneros launched the uprising against the Spaniards, the "Great Plebeian" hero set out to transform the national secret organization into an open and de facto revolutionary government. The founder of the Katipunan became the president and headed a cabinet composed of those he trusted, including Emilio Jacinto, Secretary of State; Teodoro Plata, War; Aguado del Rosario, Interior; Briccio Pantas, Justice; and Enrique Pacheco, as Secretary of Finance. While certain historians had tried to downplay or dispute his formation and leadership of the earliest national government by and of the Filipinos, clear evidence that had only quite recently been made available bestows on Andres Bonifacio the glorious, unequivocal title of being the truly first President of the Philippine Revolutionary Government.

    Surviving official letterhead communications dated 1897 point to the great hero’s various designations that include being the "Supreme President, Government of the Revolution." Perhaps the most telling proofs come from non-partisan sources of the period. Nineteenth century Spanish historian Jose M. del Castillo, in his 1897 writing "El Katipunan" or "El Filibusterismo en Filipinas," describes the first national elections in the Philippines from which Bonifacio emerged as the President, and Plata, Jacinto, del Rosario, Pantas and Pacheco as cabinet officials. This is corroborated by the February 8, 1897 issue of the international publication "La Ilustracion Espanola y Americana" in its article about the Philippine revolution and which featured an engraved portrait of “Andres Bonifacio, Titulado ‘Presidente’ de la Republica Tagala,”**** clad in a dark suit and white tie.

    Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa" (Love of Motherland)

    Bonifacio Day for 2008 is the 145th birth anniversary of this fervent, plebeian, nationalist hero who might arguably have not been very effective in the battlefield, but possessed the organizational genius that paved the way for the revolutionary struggle for independence by the Malay race of the Philippine Islands. The depth of Gat Andres Bonifacio's ardent love for his country and people can be gleaned from his famous poem "Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa" (Love for Motherland), which has been popularized as a song in the modern times.

    The poem is a poignant call for nationalism that emanates from within the people and not from anyone or anywhere else. In it, Katipunan Supremo Andres Bonifacio laments the suffering of his people under Spanish colonial misrule and as well, the seeming loss of pride in their race. A patriotic song, it views love for country as perhaps the noblest and purest love there is. "Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa" was first disseminated during the Philippine Revolution against Spanish rule in the 1890s, appearing in the first and only issue of the Katipunan publication, Kalayaan. It was adapted to music during the Martial Law years.



    PAG-IBIG SA TINUBUANG LUPA
    (ni Andres Bonifacio y de Castro)

    Aling pag-ibig pa ang hihigit kaya
    sa pagkadalisay at magkadakila
    Gaya ng pag-ibig sa sariling lupa?
    Aling pag-ibig pa? Wala na nga, wala.

    Pagpupuring lubos ang palaging hangad
    Sa bayan ng taong may dangal na ingat,
    Umawit, tumula, kumata't at sumulat,
    Kalakhan din niya'y isinisiwalat.

    Walang mahalagang hindi inihandog
    Ng may pusong mahal sa Bayang nagkupkop,
    dugo, yaman, dunong, katiisa't pagod,
    Buhay ma'y abuting magkalagut-lagot.

    Bakit? Alin ito na sakdal ng laki,
    Na hinahandugan ng busong pagkasi,
    Na sa lalong mahal nakapangyayari,
    At ginugulan ng buhay na iwi?

    Ay! Ito'y ang iang bayang tinubuan:
    Siya'y iona't tangi sa kinamulatan
    Ng kawili-wiling liwanang ng araw
    Na nagbigay-init sa buong katawan.

    Kalakip din nito'y pag-ibig sa Bayan,
    Ang lahat ng lalong sa gunita'y mahal,
    Mula sa masaya'y gasong kasanggulan
    Hanggang sa katawa'y mapasa-libingan.

    Sa aba ng abang mawalay sa bayan!
    Gunita ma'y laging sakbibi ng lumbay,
    Walang alaala't inaasa-asam
    Kundi ang makita'y lupang tinubuan.

    Pati ng magdusa'y sampung kamatayan
    Wari ay masarap kung dahil sa bayan
    At lalong mahirap. Oh, himalang bagay!
    Lalong pag-irog pa ang sa kanya'y alay.

    Kung ang bayang ito'y masasa-panganib
    At siya ay dapat na ipagtangkilik,
    Ang anak, asawa, magulang, kapatid;
    Isang tawag niya'y tatalidang pilit.

    Hayo na nga, hayo, kayong nagabuhay
    Sa pag-asang lubos ng kaginhawahan
    At walang tinamo kundi kapaitan,
    Hayo na't ibangon ang naabang bayan!

    Kayong nalagasan ng bunga't bulaklak
    Ng kaho'y ng buhay na nilanta't sukat,
    Ng bala-balaki't makapal na hirap,
    muling manariaw't sa baya'y lumiyag.

    Ipahandug-handog ang busong pag-ibig
    At hanggang may dugo'y ubusing itigis;
    kung sa pagtatanggol, buhay ay mapatid,
    Ito'y kapalaran at tunay na langit!


    Legend:

    *According to the NCCA,

    No law, executive order or proclamation has been enacted or issued officially proclaiming any Filipino historical figure as a national hero... Aside from Rizal, the only other hero given an implied recognition as a national hero is Andres Bonifacio whose day of birth on November 30 has been made a national holiday.

    **Estimates vary from 30.000 to 400,000
    ***Recent records have established the true date to be August 24, 1896
    ****Bonifacio referred to the whole of the Philippine Islands as Katagalugan or Tagala in his writings.



    ________

    References:


    Andres Bonifacio: “Titulado Presidente De La Republica Tagala”. http://www.geocities.com/umalahokanstribe/EXHIBIT.html.


    Constantino, Renato. Veneration without Understanding. Third National Rizal Lecture, December 30, 1969. 13 January 2008. PinoyPress Site. http://www.pinoypress.net/2008/01/13/jose-rizal-veneration-without-understanding/7/.


    Guerrero, Milagros, Emmanuel Encarnacion, and Ramon Villegas. Andres Bonifacio and the 1896 Revolution. In Sulyap Kultura. National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 1996. NCCA Site. 16 June 2003. http://www.ncca.gov.ph/about-culture-and-arts/articles-on-c-n-a/article.php?i=5&subcat=13.


    Medina, Isagani. Heroes of the Philippines Revolution. In The Great Lives Series, Andres Bonifacio, Tahanan Books for Young Readers, Bookmark, 1992. Bakbakan Site. http://www.bakbakan.org/heroes.html.


    Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa. Philippine Revolution Web Center Site. http://www.philippinerevolution.net/cgi-bin/kultura/awit.pl?title=pag-ibig%20sa%20tinubuang%20lupa.


    RevoluciĆ³n filipina (1896-1898). Museo Oriental de Valladolid Site. http://www.museo-oriental.es/ver_didactica.asp?clave=138&loc=0.


    *Selection and Proclamation of National Heroes and Laws Honoring Filipino Historical Figures. *From the Reference and Research Bureau Legislative Research Service, House of Congress. NCCA Site. http://www.ncca.gov.ph/about-culture-and-arts/culture-profile/culture-profile-nationalhero.php.

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