Andres Bonifacio was born on November 30, 1863 in a small hut at Calle Azcarraga, presently known as Claro M. Recto Avenue in Tondo, Manila. His parents were Santiago Bonifacio and Catalina de Castro.
Andres was the eldest in a brood of five. His other siblings were Ciriaco, Procopio, Troadio, Esperidiona and Maxima. He obtained his basic education through a certain Guillermo Osmeña of Cebu. The Bonifacio family was orphaned when Andres was barely fourteen. With this, Andres assumed the responsibility of raising his younger siblings.
In order to support the needs of their family, he maximized his skills in making crafts and sold paper fans and canes. He also worked as messenger in Fleming & Company. Eventually, he moved to Fressel & Company, where he worked as warehouse man until 1896. Poverty never hindered Andres’ thirst for knowledge. He devoted most of his time reading books while trying to improve his knowledge in the Spanish and Tagalog language. The warehouse of Fressel & Company served as his library and study room.
Andres was married to Gregoria de Jesus who happened to be his second wife. His first wife – Monica- died of leprosy a year after their marriage. Gregoria was only sixteen years old and Andres was twenty-nine when their romance sprung. At first, Gregoria’s parents were against their relationship, but in time, allowed the couple to be married in Catholic rites. The two were married in 1892, both in Catholic and Katipunan rites. Gregoria chose “Lakambini” as her nom de guerre.
THE TEJEROS CONVENTION
On March 22, 1897, a convention was held in Tejeros in order to settle the dispute between the two councils and to decide on what type of government should be installed. During the early phase of the convention the crowd became unruly, causing a recess. When the convention resumed, Bonifacio was assigned to preside in the election of the officers of the new government that was to be set up. Before this, however, Bonifacio laid down the rule that the assembly should respect whatever would be the outcome of the election.
When Bonifacio was elected Secretary of Interior, Daniel Tirona contested and argued that a lawyer should handle the position. Bonifacio felt insulted and demanded an apology from Tirona. Because of humiliation and anger, Bonifacio declared that all matters convened in the Tejeros Convention were null and void. Together with his supporters, he left the estate house.
“ACTA DE TEJEROS,” “NAIC PACT” AND THE REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT OF AGUINALDO
The next day, Bonifacio stressed out his reason for invalidating the Tejeros Convention through a document known as “Acta de Tejeros” signed by his supporters. Meanwhile, the elected officers of Magdalo held a meeting at Sta. Cruz de Malabon. That night, Aguinaldo and the other elected officers in Tejeros took their oath of office.
Bonifacio decided to establish another government independent from that of Aguinaldo in accordance with the “Naic Pact” enacted by him which signed by his 41 supporters including two of Aguinaldo’s general. These two generals, however, turned their back on Bonifacio after a talk with Aguinaldo, pledging loyalty to the latter, instead.
The Revolutionary Government was established without the customary elections on 17 April 1897 with Aguinaldo completing his Cabinet members through appointment.
THE CRY OF PUGADLAWIN
On 23 August 1896, the Supremo and his troops formally launched an armed revolution against Spain. They tore their resident certificates or cedulas which symbolized their defiance against from the colonizers. This became known in history as “The Cry of Pugadlawin.”
On 29 August 1896, Katipunan members tried to seize Mandaluyong, Pandacan and Pasig. However, the attacks were unsuccessful. The Battle at San Juan del Monte was a military disaster after the death of more than a hundred Katipuneros. Gen. Ramon Blanco, as a response, declared in a state of war in the eight provinces believed to be the hotbeds of revolution namely: Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Bulacan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga.
MAGDIWANG VS. MAGDALO
Bad blood erupted between the two Katipunan Councils in Cavite—the Magdalo and Magdiwang due to lack of respect and territorial competition prompting Mariano Alvarez to invite Bonifacio to Cavite and intercede. On 17 December 1896, Bonifacio together with his brothers, wife and troops went to Cavite –the province where the Supremo met his tragic fate.
An assembly was held at Imus estate house on December 29 with both Magdalo and Magdiwang members attending. A disagreement arose between the two councils on the issue of establishing a revolutionary government to replace the Katipunan. The assembly ended without the issue being resolved.
SITUATION DURING BONIFACIO’S TIME
Andres Bonifacio was born in an era when the natives were considered Indios and the Spanish friars were believed to be God’s representative on earth. He observed that the Filipinos during his time were not free and the Spanish government and the Catholic Church enslaved them. During the same period, Freemasonry and its doctrine gained popularity.
Bonifacio admired Jose Rizal for his great effort in awakening Filipino nationalism. He even witnessed and joined the founding of La Liga Filipina spearheaded by Rizal on 3 July 1892. Sadly, the organization died naturally after Rizal was exiled in Dapitan. Prior to his involvement in free masonry and Liga, Bonifacio continued to work in Fressel & Co. and sell fans and canes. He met Ladislao Diwa, and Teodoro Plata who would play major roles in the establishment of the Katipunan.
On July 7, 1892, the Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan was founded in the house of Deodato Arellano at 734 Calle El Cano cor. Azcarraga. Membership was through blood compact symbolizing the foundation of the secret society, which aimed the separation of the Philippines from Spain and the expulsion of the Spaniards in the country. The first Supremo of the Katipunan was Deodato Arellano, followed by Roman Basa and finally, Andres Bonifacio.
In 1893, women were given the chance to join the organization. The first members were Gregoria de Jesus, Josefa Rizal, Marina Dizon and Angelica Lopez. They served as the keepers of important and confidential documents of the Katipunan and staged galas as fronts for the regular meetings of the male members. By 1894, the Katipunan spread throughout Manila.
In order to strengthen and further widen the operations of the organization, the Kalayaan, the official organ of the Katipunan was published with Emilio Jacinto as editor. Two works of Bonifacio were published in the Kalayaan– “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa” and “Ang Dapat Mabatid ng mga Tagalog.”
THE PLAN FOR A REVOLUTION
An important meeting held on 3 May 1896 concluded with a plan to rescue Rizal from Dapitan to lead the revolution. The task was assigned to Dr. Pio Valenzuela. Unfortunately, Rizal expressed his opposition to the idea of launching an unprepared revolution against a strong nation protected by well-armed defense force. In the end, he urged that if the revolution is inevitable, the revolutionary members should seek the help of the rich and influential people to convince them to support the cause of the revolution. He also suggested that the service of Antonio Luna be secured by the organization because of his military expertise and affiliation with rich and influential Filipinos.
THE DISCOVERY OF THE KATIPUNAN
The quarrel between two employees of the printing shop publishing Diario de Manila resulted in the discovery of Katipunan. This happened after Apolonio dela Cruz was given a P2 raise in salary and Teodoro Patiño was not given any. A heated argument sparked between them which led Patiño to confide the secrets of the Katipunan to his sister Honoria at the convent where she was staying, her tearful reaction attracted the attention of one of the nuns. The nun in turn, persuaded Patiño to tell everything he knew to Fr. Mariano Gil, the parish priest of Tondo. After hearing the revelations, Fr. Gil contacted the authorities and urged them to raid the printing shop. Documents, oaths signed in blood, receipts and ledgers related to Katipunan were confiscated from the shop.
ILL FATED DESTINY
As a result of the fateful experiences he encountered in Cavite, Bonifacio planned to return to Montalban and San Mateo. On their way to Montalban, he and his followers passed by Limbon, Indang – a place in Cavite where food was scarce and people were tightfisted. At this point, Severino de las Alas turned his back against Bonifacio. The angered Bonifacio responded with threats and words that were wrongly interpreted by the people of Indang. The people sought the help of Aguinaldo, who immediately ordered the arrest of Bonifacio.
On 27 April 1897, skirmishes took place between the forces of Bonifacio and Aguinaldo. In the said scuffle, Ciriaco was killed, while Procopio and the Supremo were caught. Andres Bonifacio was stabbed in the neck, weakening him and soaking him in blood.
The next day, the prisoners were brought to Indang Tribunal, then to Naic. Within the day, Gen. Mariano Noriel created the tribunal that eventually tried and convicted the Bonifacio brothers of sedition, and sentenced them to death. Surprised by the decision of the tribunal, Aguinaldo commutated the verdict. He recommended the Bonifacio brothers be exiled to an isolated island also found in Cavite. However, Gen. Noriel and Gen. Pio del Pilar dissuaded him, arguing that by reducing the sentence, the Revolutionary Government of the Philippines would once again be at stake. Aguinaldo, in the end, changed his mind and signed the death sentence of the Bonifacio brothers.
On 10 May 1897, Procopio and Andres were shot at Mount Nagpatong, near Mount Buntis in Maragondon, Cavite. This event ended the short life of the Supremo. His educational attainment and military expertise may not have been equal to that of other heroes but his love for the country was absolute. His name will always be revered and serve as the battle cry of Filipinos who yearn for freedom oppression and injustice.