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Sword and other Bonifacio ties to Pampanga

/ 10:08 PM December 03, 2011

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—An herb soup and a sword are the latest pieces of evidence that national hero Andres Bonifacio, a revolutionary leader who grew up in Tondo, Manila, also has connections to Pampanga, a historian said.

Francis Musni, a researcher for the Center for Kapampangan Studies (CKS) of Holy Angel University (HAU), said they discovered the “sabo Bonifacio,” a local soup made from boiled leaves called “bulong Bonifacio,” and a sword made in Apalit town, called “Bartolome,” which is similar to the Moro kris.

“The items indicate that Bonifacio was rooted among Kapampangans. There might be some affinity to him because why would a soup or leaves be named after him? Why would a sword be made in Pampanga when this could be made in Cavite?” said Musni, whose research was mounted to augment the study on the Kapampangan connections of Bonifacio, which is being conducted by HAU professor Joel Regala.


“We somehow see connections of Bonifacio in these almost forgotten items,” said Musni.

He said bulong Bonifacio is similar to the leaves of the siling labuyo (Capsicum frutescens), the local variant of the chili pepper. Chef Lillian Mercado-Lising Borromeo has preserved bulong Bonifacio by growing it in her herb garden.

“The oral history we gathered said this sabo Bonifacio was what the Katipuneros in Pampanga survived on in the last phase of the revolution,” Musni said at a program organized by the city government as a tribute to Bonifacio, whose 148th birth anniversary was remembered by the country last Nov. 30.

“Many of us are too busy about survival or self-interest that we forget those who [offered] their lives for freedom and independence,” Mayor Oscar Rodriguez said.

Musni said the research team came across Bartolome in Barangay Capalangan in Apalit, which is often portrayed as the base of Panday Pira, who forged cannons and other weapons for the pre-Spanish Kapampangan kingdoms.

Musni said unlike the common sword, the blade of Bartolome is “wave-like,” owing to curves similar to the kris.

“We’re told by old swordsmiths that the favorite of Katipuneros were this Bartolome. Those Katipuneros belonged to the Magdiwang group that Bonifacio led,” he said.

A foot and a half in length, the Bartolome had long been out of production, Musni said.


Last year, Regala checked the records of the Commission on Elections where he discovered that 1,009 people, surnamed Bonifacio, live in Masantol town. Another 256 Bonifacios live in Macabebe, the town from where Masantol was carved out.

In contrast, there were only 102 Bonifacios living in Tondo, he said. Fewer Bonifacios live in Taguig City, which is said to be the hometown of the hero’s father, Santiago, Regala’s research showed.

Another Kapampangan connection to Bonifacio is the presence of Katipunero cells in Guagua town, near Bacolor, Pampanga’s capital during the Spanish colonial period.

These cells were attributed to the organizing work of Aurelio Tolentino, Faustino Mañalac and Guillermo Masangcay, Musni said.

He said the relatives of Bonifacio in Masantol have passed the three-generation test, a validation requirement for oral history.

As related by Proceso Bonifacio, 66, in the Wednesday tribute, it was public knowledge in the town that relatives of the hero lived in the remote coastal village of Matikling, which is now known as Sta. Cruz in Masantol.

Proceso’s mother, Catalina de Castro, lived in neighboring San Esteban.

Claiming Bonifacio as their own, the relatives, with the help of the CKS, built a bust of the hero at Sta. Cruz Elementary School.

Proceso said the connection with Bonifacio begins with Narciso, their great-great-grandfather.

Luciano, now 85 and a cousin of Proceso, said Narciso sired 11 children, including Agustin, Benito, Felix, Manuel, Patricio, Basalisa and Margarita.

Benito is Luciano’s father while Manuel is Proceso’s father. Felix is the father of Aurelia, now 85.

She recalled that Narciso had often told her that he paddled his boat to Cavite several times to bring rice to Bonifacio.

The relationship of Santiago, Catalina or their son, Andres, to Narciso is unclear, however.

Proceso said they could not determine the exact relationship because older Kapampangans usually referred to their relatives by only using the term “pipumpunan” (elders).

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TAGS: Andres Bonifacio, History, Pampanga
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