Every 30 November, the Filipino people celebrate the birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, founder of the Katipunan and initiator of the Revolution against Spanish Rule in 1896.
This year’s celebration is special not just because it is the second during a pandemic, but because it is technically the 100th Bonifacio Day.
Senator Lope K. Santos filed a Senate Bill No. 152 to declare 30 November a national holiday on the same day in 1920. Action on the bill was quick. By 16 February 1921, the Governor General had approved the measure as Act No. 2946.
The law did not explicitly name Bonifacio and simply added the day in the list of existing national holidays previously designated by Act No. 2711. Thus, the date also became a time to commemorate all Filipino heroes. This practice persisted even after a separate National Heroes Day was created through Act No. 3827 on 28 October 1931.
Under Japanese rule, 30 November was reinstated as National Heroes Day through Executive Order No. 20 (20 March 1942). It was signed by Chairman Jorge B. Vargas of the Executive Commission, the temporary government set-up by the Japanese military.
In 1952, an Administrative Order by President Elpidio Quirino definitively separated National Heroes Day and Bonifacio Day.
Nonetheless, Bonifacio’s birthday had been celebrated by civic organizations even before it was recognized by the government. Hermenegildo Cruz records in his book Kartilyang Makabayan (1922) that a commemorative program was annually held since 1901.
Cruz, Hermenegildo. Kartilyang Makabayan. Manila: Lupong Tagaganap ng Araw ni Bonifacio 1922, 1922.
Official Gazette 19(45). 14 April 1921. p. 970. Retrieved from HathiTrust Digital Library.
Gaceta Oficial 29(146). 5 December 1931. p. 3861. Retrieved from the National Library of the Philippines website.
Official Gazette 1(3). March 1942. p. 79. Retrieved from the National Library of the Philippines website.
Official Gazette 48(8). August 1952. p. 3158-9. Retrieved from the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines website.