Bonifacio Day

November 30 is Bonifacio Day in the Philippines.

Who is Andres Bonifacio?

Andres Bonifacio is the antithesis to Jose Rizal, the unofficial national hero of the Philippines.  Accolades have been poured on Rizal’s memory from far and wide; there is even a brotherhood in his honour called the Knights of Rizal.  He was born from a well-to-do family. He was learned, well-educated; became a medical doctor, well-travelled, and a very accomplished writer and poet to boot.  It was his two books, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo that inspired the likes of Andres Bonifacio to rise up against the hundreds of years of colonialism from Spain.  For this reason, Jose Rizal was martyred at Bagumbayan.  This should have not happened as Rizal  often said  that he never wanted Filipinos to completely separate from Spain.  He did not want blood shed.  He was into “the pen is mightier than the sword”.

Allegedly  it was the American who mooted that Rizal be the National Hero because of his qualities, some says that this alleged encouragement from the Americans was to subliminally curve Filipinos’ fighting spirit. Hehehe

Anyway many of us, yes including me, are pro-Bonifacio.


Andres Bonifacio

Andres Bonifacio came from an ordinary family, he was to my mind as brilliant as Rizal.  He was well read but did not have the same opportunities as Rizal.  Bonifacio was self-taught.  As most Filipinos, he was also multi-lingual.  He spoke Tagalog, Spanish and a little English (and probably a few Philippine dialects as well).  He read voraciously including Rizal’s novels  (I read the novels too as part of our high school curriculum and it pained me to say that it did not hold my attention for long, found the novels rather laborious and tedious at times, sorry Rizal ;( !!! ),  which apparently touched him to the core, he found the hidden message that there was no other way to sling the butts of the Spaniards out of the country but through the swords and brutal force.

Like Rizal, Bonifacio was a member of the La Liga Filipina which folded eventually.  The members  were divided into two factions, one for reforms through peaceful means and the other was for a truly radical and, dare I say, more credible option of baring arms against the unacceptable long running subjugation from Spain.  Bonifacio was a member of the latter. He then founded the KKK which an acronym for kataastaasang Kagalanggalang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (I would translate this as Superemely Proud Organization of the Children of the Country, LOL), and  it was more known as Katipunan.  And this was the beginning of the end for the 333 years of Spanish colonialism of the Philippines.

But not a happy ending I am afraid, because we became a “colony” of the USofA.  And then the Japanese came…

I hope another Bonifacio or Rizal will rise up from the masses right now and do a total clean up of the Philippines inside and out.  It is a shame that the Philippines seems to be forever lagging as a Third World country when it has so much to offer to the world.

All the blood shed by brave Filipinos, the named (famous) ones  and those who died in obscurity, seem to amount to nothing as the country is gripped by a different force, a more heartbreaking one, CORRUPTION.

I hope this Bonifacio Day will jerk us from our stupor, and about time too.  There is a real freedom crying to get out.  It is time Filipinos to choose the people we put in office.  Choose the most learned, the most efficient, the most trustworthy, the most experience; not the has-been movie/tv stars, not the boxer, not your street preacher, not because he is good-looking, not because he has money, not because he is white in complexion, not because he speaks perfect English.  Choose the one who will promote the will of the people and the constitution.

Thank you Happy Bonifacio Day.

Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa
Andres Bonifacio

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

Walang mahalagang hindi inihandog
Ng may pusong wagas sa bayang nagkupkop.
Dugo, yaman, dunong, katiisat pagod:
Buhay may abuting magkalagot-lagot

Ang nakaraang panahon ng aliw
Ang inaasahang araw na darating
Ng pagkatimawa ng mga alipin
Liban pa sa bayan saan tatanghalin?
Sa aba ng abang mawalay sa bayan

Gunita may laging sakbibi ng lumbay

Walang alaalang inaasam-asam
Kundi ang makita lupang tinubuan.

Kayong nalagasan ng bungat bulaklak
Kahoy niyaring buhay na nilantat sukat
Ng bala-balakit makapal na hirap
Muling manariwat sa bayay lumiyag

Ipakahandog-handog ang buong pag-ibig
Hanggang sa may dugoy ubusing itigis
Kung sa pagtatanggol buhay ang kapalit
Itoy kapalaran at tunay na langit

Aling pag-ibig pa ang hihigit kaya
Sa pagkadalisay at pagkadakila
Gaya ng pag-ibig sa tinubuang lupa
Aling pag-ibig pa wala na nga wala
Gaya ng pag-ibig sa tinubuang lupa
Aling pag-ibig pa? Wala na nga wala .


Andres Bonifacio


From the Moon King

By Atty Alma Luna-Reyes

September 29, 2012 was a day of celebration among Filipinos in Southern California. But, of course, they have a reason to celebrate. An 8 foot statute of the Philippine National hero, Jose Rizal, was unveiled in the City of Carson in the morning and a thanksgiving gala was held at the Westin LAX in the evening.

The events had all the elements of festivities and the usual incidents that come along Filipino organized events. There were minor issues on seating arrangements, sound system glitzes and not only numerous but long speeches. The program was too long that some attendees, including a lady seated by our table (who happens to be a President of one organization) fell asleep during the program. In general, however, I did enjoy the evening. It was an opportunity to see and be with friends and do a couple of dance pieces.

What I want to take a closer look in the midst of all this celebration is whether Jose Rizal deserves all of the accolades. Should he be our National Hero? Or is Andres Bonifacio more deserving of the deference?

Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio opted for different courses of action. Rizal fought against the friars with the use of his pen. Bonifacio advocated for revolution. There is nothing wrong with advocating for something without revolt. In fact, a nonviolent means is the best way of achieving political change. Although I admire Rizal’s accomplishments, it seems like Rizal opted against the revolution because he was for the preservation of the status quo. This is why according to author Renato Constantino, the reason Rizal was given special attention as a hero by the American colonial administration because Rizal was interpreted to represent peaceful political advocacy, unlike more radical people whose ideas could inspire resistance against American rule.

If we look at Rizal’s life circumstances, he is among the rich. His family is one of the landed gentry of the province of Calamba. Rizal was able to travel and study abroad at a time when most Filipinoswere not even able to leave their home province. The success of Bonifacio’s Revolution may mean that Rizal’s family would lose their privileged position. There are also some historians who believe that Rizal did not actually advocate independence but merely wanted representation and better rights for Filipinos while remaining under Spanish rule. Bonifacio’s cause was more people-oriented. There was no indication of any type of self-service or of any type of self-preservation. He just fought to end the foreign rule. No properties to protect, no interest group to favor, no allegiance to anyone other than to the Filipinos. Contrary to popular belief and urban legends, Bonifacio was not an uneducated brute. He was self-educated and was well-read. He spoke Tagalog and Spanish and a little English as well. Despite this, his image is still that of the bare-chested insurgent and common man who launches himself into battle without regard for his safety.

Choosing Rizal as the national hero is for the benefit of the ruling class who will always favor preservation of the status quo. But in terms of nobility of the cause, passion, dedication and price of sacrifice, Bonifacio is by far more deserving of all accolades.

It bears noting that Jose Rizal is not the official national hero of the Philippines. In fact, the country does not have any official national hero. There has never been any law passed to recognize a national hero in the country.

Any Rizalitas out there? What do you think?


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