KATIPUNAN: A PRECURSOR TO A WOKE GENERATION
Christian Bernard A. Melendez
Senior Shrine Curator, Museo ng Katipunan-Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine
In today’s world, the reality is that injustices, biases, racism are prevalent—from hatred towards the other gender to prejudices to skin color. However, to counter this hatred, there are human beings who exert their efforts in advocating inclusivity, fairness, and objectivity. In modern parlance, they are called as the ‘woke’ people. Whenever and wherever injustices are felt, the woke people take charge to protect their fellowmen and the oppressed.
But does inclusivity and fairness manifest itself only to this woke people? Or only to this generation? Or through this time only? The Philippines, as the first Asian country to gain independence, was fought for by the people with the same sentiments and advocacies. The Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan is a very good example of people who banded together with equality, fraternity, and liberty on their minds. Their main objective was to liberate the Philippines from Spanish colonial rule. But how credible was the Katipunan? What made them a believable organization? What drew the people to join their causes? The answers might be within the structure of Katipunan itself.
Examining the kind of members the Katipunan had, we can observe that members came from all walks of life. The Katipunan was a well-represented society. And with this kind of set-up, we can fairly assume that the Katipunan’s aim was legitimate since they all included the various sectors of society, who are important in nation-building.
Below, we identified the different sectors within the Katipunan and the popular members that best represent them.
The Masses en masse
Probably the largest sector inside the Katipunan, the masses identified in this article, were those whose jobs were blue-collar – from farmers, sales agents, vendors, to bodegeros. And the best representative of this sector was none other than Andres Bonifacio. Though latest research about Bonifacio tells us that as a bodegero, he commanded a sufficient salary, nevertheless, his humble beginnings as a bodegero and a simple man from Tondo, has made him the best representation of the masses inside the Katipunan. Representing the Filipino masses, Bonifacio is a prime example of achieving success despite coming from humble beginnings.
Other notable Katipuneros who represented the masses were Macario Sakay, a sales agent, and Guillermo Masangkay, a buyer and seller.
The Licensed to Revolt Katipuneros
The Katipunan also consisted of people who carried licenses to practice their occupations. These professionals, known as white-collar workers, were helpful and useful to further the Katipunan’s causes. A forefront personality was Pio Valenzuela, who, by profession, was a doctor. As a licensed doctor, he was a surgeon-general within the Katipunan. And nobody in the group held the same position since. It was due to his professional background that the Katipunan’s leaders chose him to seek the advice of Dr. Jose Rizal in Dapitan about the forthcoming revolution. Doctors discussing their professions will not invite the suspicion of the Spanish authorities.
One more noteworthy professional in the Katipunan was Feliciano Jocson. As a pharmacist, he permitted the Katipunan to use his pharmacy for their clandestine meetings. He also used his personal savings to fund the Katipunan—this personal fund was most probably earned from his profession as a pharmacist.
Behind the Strong Katipunan were Women
The secret society also accepted women as part of their group. These women were related to members of the Katipunan. The likes of Gregoria de Jesus and Espiridiona Bonifacio, wife and sister of Andres respectively; Trinidad and Josefa Rizal, sisters of Jose Rizal, are a few examples on the list. Their role in the Katipunan was to safekeep Katipunan documents.
The Empowered Youth of the Nation
The Katipunan also recruited the youth to the organization. These young fellows had shown grit, tenacity, and most of all, deep love for the country. Emilio Jacinto served as the best example. He should have taken up law but he was deeply involved in the group. Being intelligent, he steadily rose in the ranks of the Katipunan. He was regarded as the Brains of the Katipunan because of his superior intellect.
His female cousin, Marina Dizon, who was of the same age as he, also became a member of the Katipunan. As mentioned, one of her roles was to safely keep the documents of the Katipunan from the prying eyes of colonial authorities.
Another youth worthy of mention was the young general Gregorio Del Pilar. As a young member of the Katipunan, Del Pilar bravely fought in the Battle of Kakarong de Sili at Pandi, Bulacan in 1897 and escaped the massacre of his fellow Katipuneros. As a young general, he became famously known as a martyr in the Battle of Tirad Pass. He engaged the pursuing American forces in combat in this mountainous area of Ilocos Sur, allowing President Emilio Aguinaldo to safely escape to Palanan, Isabela.
Ode to Joy of the Elderly Revolutionary
As someone who should have peacefully enjoyed the remaining days of her twilight years, Melchora Aquino found joy in helping the cause of the Katipunan. Though not officially a member of the Katipunan, Tandang Sora, a term of endearment given to her by Bonifacio and the others, she contributed much to the welfare of the group by providing food and nursing their wounds. She was captured at the outbreak of the war, but nevertheless, stood firm and did not divulge what she knew about the Katipunan. This led to her eventual deportation and exile to Guam, which lasted seven years (1896-1903).
A Well-represented Nation is an All-In Nation
The credibility and integrity of a society is reflected on how it accepts acknowledges, and includes every member that constitutes its existence. This receptive viewpoint indicates a mature, considerate, and tolerant leadership. Thus, the Katipunan, though imperfect, remains an ideal group which we can continue to admire and emulate. Their aims were consistent with their core beliefs of humanity, solidarity, and inclusivity.
It is our hope that we will continue to discover archival materials on the Katipunan, which will reveal the participation of the LGBT and PWD communities in the Philippine Revolution. If this be the case, the argument that the Katipunan is a well-represented group will be further validated and commended.
Dr. Pio Valenzuela and the Katipunan; Arturo E. Valenzuela, Jr.
Gregoria de Jesus
Gregorio s. del Pilar