by: Rey Andres

The stubbornness Andres de Castro Bonifacio who refused to listen to an intellectual and well-educated Jose Protacio Rizal sparked a revolution in August of 1896 to signal the struggle to end the three-and-a half centuries of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines. The man from Tondo did not give in to the pacifist’s reasoning that an armed struggle had to be carefully timed and that the Filipino people who had long endured the indignities of subjugation were not ready for blood-shedding to earn their freedom, the walls of colonial power would not have been toppled down.

It was 149 years ago on Dec. 30, 1863 that the great commoner was born in Tutuban in Tondo, Manila to a poor couple Santiago, a boatman in Pasig River, and Catalina de Castro, who earned her living teaching and working in a cigarette factory in what is today known as Manila Chinatown. Andres was named after Manila’s patron saint, St. Andrew the Apostle, as was the custom of the deeply-religious to name their children after their favorite saints.

Bonifacio was nationalist and a revolutionary. He is also known as “the great plebeian,” “Father of the Philippine Revolution,” and “father of the Katipunan.” He was the founder and later Supremo (“supreme leader”) of the Katipunan movement which led the fight for independence

Bonifacio is also considered a de facto national hero of the Philippines, and considered by some Filipino historians to be “The first President” although not officially recognized as such.

Bonifacio was a community organizer of sort who drew inspiration from the books written by Rizal, the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, which were banned by the Spanish authorities because they depicted the oppressions that the Filipinos suffered in the hands of their colonizers.

The Great Plebeian, his other attribute, was a leader who believed “that the commoners could be organized and put into action and good patriots could be found among them”. Many Filipinos even then were willing to die for their country and the lack of war materiel did not deter them from pursuing their cause even at the cost of their lives.

In spite his poverty and lack of education, Bonifacio transcended the steps taken by the educated and privileged class of Filipinos who pushed for peaceful changes.

It is tragic that in spite of what he did to further the cause of freedom, he had to die in such a tragic way in the hands of the Filipinos themselves when he was barely 34 years old. He was treacherously killed, together with his brother Procopio, in the mountains of Maragondon, a victim of power grab and injustice.

There is always a disharmony even among scholars on who should be considered the national hero of the Philippines every time a commemoration is held involving Bonifacio and Rizal. Both men are two of the most notable heroes who lived in the annals of Philippine history. They showed exemplary acts of compassion and patriotism and were determined to fight for freedom for the beloved country. Both sacrificed their personal goals and ambitions and offered their lives fighting for their cause.

What set them apart notably were their economic stations in life with Rizal being the illustrado, well- educated man, well-traveled and privileged. He was also an orator, a fearless propagandist, a reformist and influential.

On the other end of the spectrum, Bonifacio was poor, and was not even a high school graduate and was always struggling economically. He was self-learned and had a big heart to lead.

Although Rizal and Bonifacio did not meet, both ensured in a way the success of one another. Bonifacio’s founding of the secret society called Katipunan led the revolution and was inspired by Rizal’s two patriotic books. Rizal’s dream of freedom was realized because Bonifacio led the uprising. The Philippine revolution had entwined Rizal and Bonifacio’s struggles into one.

Both great men, from different economic classes, were united in their dream of freeing the Philippines from the bondage of its colonizers.

MANNY PACQUIAO’S TRAINER: The Filipino boxing Champion Manny and “the best boxing trainer in the world Freddie Roach tandem has been one of the most profitable boxer-trainer relationships. Roach, shown at right obliging to fan’s photo op request, has harnessed the brawling south-paw’s aggression into a more patient fighter and developed the boxer’s right hand to be nearly as dangerous as his left.
Photo: Freddie