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Often known as “The Father of the Philippine Revolution”, Andres Bonifacio was a revolutionary leader and the president of the Tagalog Republic. He was the supreme leader of the nationalist Katipunan society, who provoked the revolt of August 1896 against the Spanish.
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Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
- Born in Tondo, Manila, on November 30, 1863, Andres Bonifacio y de Castro was the eldest of the six children of Catalina de Castro, a Spanish mestiza, and Santiago Bonifacio, an alkalde of Tondo.
- He attended Guillermo Osmeña’s private school and studied English while working as a clerk-messenger in a British firm.
- Bonifacio was skilled in crafts and visual arts, and he created canes and paper fans that he and his other siblings sold. He even made posters for business firms. This turned out to be their family’s thriving source of income that continued even when he, Ciriaco, Procopio, and Troadio worked for private and government agencies.
- In his late teenage years, Bonifacio worked as a mandatario (agent) for the British trading firm Fleming and Company, where he got promoted and became a corredor (broker) of tar, rattan, and other goods. Soon, he transferred to German trading firm Fressel and Company, where he worked as a bodeguero (storehouse keeper) in charge of the warehouse inventory.
- Bonifacio was also a theater actor and played the role of Bernardo Carpio, a fictional character in Tagalog myths.
- He did not finish school but enriched his natural intelligence with self-education, reading books about the French Revolution, contemporary Philippine penal and civil codes, biographies of Presidents of the United States, novels like Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Eugene Sue’s Le Juif errant, and Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.
- On top of speaking Tagalog and Spanish, Bonifacio was also well-versed in English, which he learned while being an employee at J.M. Fleming and Co.
- Bonifacio was married twice – initially to a someone named Monica of Palomar, Tondo, who seemed to be his neighbor. She died of leprosy and had no children with him.
- In 1892, 29-year-old Bonifacio met 18-year-old Gregoria de Jesus through his friend and her cousin, Teodoro Plata. Gregoria’s parents disapproved first of their relationship since Andres was a freemason, a person considered enemies of the Catholic church back then.
- However, they gave in as soon as the couple got married through a Catholic ceremony in Binondo Church in March 1893 or 1894. Andres and Gregoria also got married through Katipunan rites in a friend’s house in Santa Cruz, Manila, on the same day of the church wedding.
- In early 1896, they had a son, who later died of smallpox.
EARLY POLITICAL ACTIVISM
- In 1892, Bonifacio was among the proponents of Jose Rizal’s La Liga Filipina, a society that raised concerns and political reforms in Spain’s colonial government in the Philippines. However, La Liga got disbanded after Rizal’s arrest.
- Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, and others revived the organization in Rizal’s absence, and Bonifacio started establishing local chapters within Manila.
- He became the chief propagandist of the revived Liga, which contributed moral and financial support to the Propaganda Movement of the Filipinos against Spain.
- On the night of July 7, 1892, the day after Rizal got deported, Bonifacio and his colleagues “founded” the Kataas-taasan, Kagalang-galang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (“Highest and Most Respected Society of the Country’s Children”, commonly known as the Katipunan).
- This secret society sought independence and freedom from Spain through an armed uprising, instigated by Freemasonry through its rituals and organization. Within the Katipunan, Bonifacio used the pen name May pag-asa (“There is Hope”).
- Over a period of time, Bonifacio was active in both the Katipunan and La Liga Filipina. However, the latter eventually split because some members, including Bonifacio, thought that peaceful reform would not solve anything. The more conservative and wealthy members who still believed in La Liga’s objective set up the Cuerpo de Compromisarios, which pledged continued support to the reformists in Spain.
- The Katipunan had several branches in some provinces, such as in Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Nueva Ecija. A majority of its members, referred to as Katipuneros, were from the lower and middle classes, and most of its local leaders were well-known figures in their municipalities. Initially, the Katipunan was an exclusively male society, though the membership was later extended to females, with Bonifacio’s wife Gregoria leading the group.
- From the beginning, Bonifacio was among the chief Katipunan officers, though he did not become its Supremo (supreme leader) or Presidente Supremo (supreme president) until 1895. He was considered the third head of the secret society after Deodato Arellano and Roman Basa. Before this, he acted as the organization’s comptroller and ‘fiscal’ (advocate/procurator).
- Within the Katipunan, he established a strong friendship with Emilio Jacinto, who became the society’s adviser and confidant. Bonifacio, Jacinto, and Pio Valenzuela worked together on the society’s organ, Kalayaan (Freedom), which had only a single printed issue. Bonifacio wrote a number of articles and pieces for the paper, including the poem “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa” under the pen name Agapito Bagumbayan. The publication of the paper in March 1896 catapulted its popularity, thus increasing the society’s membership, which spread throughout Luzon, Panay, Visayas, and even Mindanao. With no more than 300 members in January 1896, the Katipunan grew to 30,000 to 40,000 by August 1896.
- The rapid increase in Katipunan activity alarmed the Spanish government. By early 1896, Spanish intelligence had news of the existence of the militant secret society, suspects were kept under watch, and arrests were made.
- On May 3, Bonifacio called for a general assembly of the Katipunan leaders in Pasig, where they argued when to start the revolution.
- Spanish troops confirmed the existence of the Katipunan on August 19, 1896. Hundreds of Filipino suspects, both innocent and guilty, were arrested and jailed for treason.
- Eluding the manhunt, Bonifacio gathered thousands of Katipuneros in Caloocan, where they decided to start the revolution. The event, marked by the tearing of personal identity documents, known as cedulas, was called the “Cry of Balintawak” or “Cry of Pugad Lawin”.
- The Supreme Council of the Katipunan agreed on a nationwide armed revolution against the Spanish government and called for a simultaneous coordinated siege on the capital of Manila on August 29. Bonifacio assigned generals to lead rebel forces to Manila. Before this, he reorganized the Katipunan into an open de facto revolutionary government, naming the nation and its government Haring Bayang Katagalugan, with him acting as the president and commander-in-chief of the rebel army and the Supreme Council as his cabinet.
- “This manifesto is for all of you. It is absolutely necessary for us to stop at the earliest possible time the nameless oppositions being perpetrated on the sons of the country who are now suffering the brutal punishment and tortures in jails, and because of this please let all the brethren know that on Saturday, the 29th of the current month, the revolution shall commence according to our agreement. For this purpose, it is necessary for all towns to rise simultaneously and attack Manila at the same time. Anybody who obstructs this sacred ideal of the people will be considered a traitor and an enemy, except if he is ill; or is not physically fit, in which case he shall be tried according to the regulations we have put in force.is Mount of Liberty, 28 August 1896” – Bonifacio’s general proclamation on August 28, 1896
- On March 22, 1897, revolutionary leaders conducted a meeting in a Friar Estate Residence at Tejeros to continue their discussions about the escalating tension between the Magdalo, headed by Emilio Aguinaldo’s cousin Baldomero Aguinaldo, and Magdiwang, led by Mariano Alvarez, uncle of Bonifacio’s wife, as well as to settle the conflict of governance within the Katipunan through an election.
- Despite the implications of whether the government of the Katipunan should be categorized as monarchy or republic, Bonifacio firmly suggested it should be republic. According to him, all Katipuneros of any rank should serve under the notions of liberty, equality, and fraternity, upon which republicanism was established.
- Before the election started, Bonifacio asked that the results should be respected by everyone, and all agreed. The Magdalo forces elected Emilio Aguinaldo as their president, though he was absent, as he was involved in the battle of Perez Dasmariñas. That revolutionary government, now called the Republic of Biak-na-Bato, referred to itself as the Philippine Republic and lasted for only a month.
- A later revolutionary government, now known as the First Philippine Republic and now considered the first Republic of the Philippines, was established on January 23, 1899, with Aguinaldo inaugurated as president.
- Bonifacio got the second-highest count of votes for president. Though it was proposed that he should automatically be the vice president, no one seconded the motion, and so the election continued. Mariano Trias, under Magdiwang, was elected vice president, and Bonifacio was elected the Director of the Interior. However, Daniel Tirona protested, suggesting that the position should be occupied by someone with a lawyer’s diploma, such as Jose del Rosario. Insulted and angered by Tirona’s comment, Bonifacio demanded an apology, since all of them agreed to respect the results prior to the election. Tirona ignored Bonifacio’s demand, which made Bonifacio draw his gun and aim at Tirona, who hid among the people but was restrained by Artemio Ricarte of the Magdiwang, who was elected as Captain-General.
- As the elections ended, Bonifacio declared “I, as chairman of the assembly and as President of the Supreme Council of the Katipunan, as all of you do not deny, declare this assembly dissolved, and I annul all that has been approved and resolved.”
AFTER THE TEJEROS CONVENTION
- On March 23, 1897, Aguinaldo took his oath of office as President of the Republic of the Philippines in a chapel officiated by Catholic priest Cenon Villafranca. According to Gen. Santiago Alvarez, guards were on standby outside with strict instructions not to let any unwanted member of the Magdiwang into the building while Aguinaldo was taking his oath. Artemio Ricarte also took his office “with great reluctance” and admitted he found the Tejeros elections “dirty”.
- In late April, Aguinaldo fully assumed the position as president after consolidating his position among the Cavite elite, most of which were Bonifacio’s Magdiwang supporters who had shifted allegiance to Aguinaldo. Aguinaldo’s government then ordered Bonifacio’s arrest.
TRIAL AND DEATH
- In April 1897, Aguinaldo called for the arrest of Bonifacio after he got a letter claiming that Bonifacio had burned down a village and commanded the burning of the church of Indang after the locals refused to give him provisions. The majority of the principal men of Indang, including Severino de las Alas, complained to Aguinaldo about Bonifacio’s men stealing carabaos and other work animals by force, butchering them for food.
- On April 25, a group of Aguinaldo’s men, headed by Colonel Agapito Bonzon and Major Jose Ignacio Paua raided Bonifacio at his camp in barrio Limbon, Indang. Bonifacio warmly welcomed them without any idea. Early the next day, these two generals attacked the Supremo’s camp. However, Bonifacio refused to fight against “fellow Tagalogs”, asking his men to hold their fire, but shots were still exchanged. He was shot in the arm by Bonzon and stabbed in the neck by Paua, although one of his men prevented Paua from striking further by offering himself to die in Bonifacio’s place. Bonifacio’s brother Ciriaco was shot dead, while his brother Procopio was beaten and Gregoria, his wife, may have been raped by Bonzon. From Indang, the wounded Bonifacio was brought to Naic, which had become Aguinaldo’s headquarters.
- He and Procopio were brought to Maragondon, Cavite, from Naic on May 5, 1897, and charged with sedition and treason against Aguinaldo’s government with conspiracies of murder. The majority of the jury consisted of Aguinaldo’s men, and even Bonifacio’s defense lawyer declared Supremo guilty.
- Procopio and Andres were found guilty despite lack of evidence and were recommended to face execution. Aguinaldo commuted the sentence to deportation on May 8, 1897, but Pio del Pilar and Mariano Noriel asked him to retract the order to preserve unity. Even though other people seconded this plea, the Bonifacio brothers were still executed on May 10, 1897, in the mountains of Maragondon.
Andres Bonifacio Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Andres Bonifacio across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Andres Bonifacio worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Andres Bonifacio who was a revolutionary leader and the president of the Tagalog Republic. He was the supreme leader of the nationalist Katipunan society, who provoked the revolt of August 1896 against the Spanish.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Andres Bonifacio Facts
- Fascinating Facts
- Notable Katipuneros
- Ask Bonifacio
- A Debate of Heroes
- What Makes a Leader?
- Our Founding Mothers
- Quotable Quote
- Breaking News
- An Open Letter
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