Latest Stories

Aquino delivers fighting speech on Bonifacio Day


President Benigno Aquino III extolled national hero Andres Bonifacio for sparking the Philippine revolution for independence from Spain in 1896 despite seeming “insurmountable obstacles.”

Mr. Aquino led celebrations at Pinaglabanan Shrine in San Juan City for the 149th birth anniversary of Bonifacio, Supremo, or supreme commander of the Philippine revolutionary army, the Katipunan.

In his speech, Mr. Aquino threw jabs at China, which is aggressively claiming Philippine territories, parts of the South China Sea known as West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines claims sovereignty over Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) and some islets, reefs and cays in the Spratly islands in the West Philippine Sea.

On Thursday, China announced that its coastguardsmen will board and expel foreign vessels that enter disputed waters in the South China Sea.

“Now, we are a free nation—no foreign invaders, no shackles of Spain. We have proven to those who had attempted to enslave our race that we would not be intimidated, and we are ready to fight for what is truly ours,” Mr. Aquino said.

But he did not expressly mention China in his speech, delivered in Filipino.

Mr. Aquino repeatedly called on Filipinos to remember and emulate the sacrifices of Bonifacio and those who died fighting for the country’s emancipation from foreign subjugation.

He said Filipinos had a “simple responsibility” today.

“We all have a role to play in shaping our country. Let us not be enslaved by our own limitations. Let us not be enslaved by fear and doubt that serve as the deep scar of our history. Let us not be enslaved by those attempting to restore the oppression of the past,” he said.

“We must always remember: We have a heroes’ lineage. We will never run out of Bonifacios. We will never run out of (Jose) Rizals. We will never run out of Ninoys (his late father, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.). We will never run out of Filipinos who are ready to answer the call of flag and country,” he said.

Poverty, corruption

The President then segued into his anticorruption campaign, saying “corruption and poverty” had shackled the country during the last decade.

“However, because of our unity and concern for others, these chains are being loosened as we (tread) the straight path,” he said.

Mr. Aquino devoted much of his speech to lauding the virtues of Bonifacio, praising the hero’s sacrifices and dogged determination to free the Philippines from more than 300 years of Spanish rule.

He recalled that on Aug. 30, 1896, Bonifacio led hundreds of members of the secret society, “Katipunan,” in attacking a Spanish arsenal and gunpowder plant in San Juan del Monte (former name of San Juan).

“The Pinaglabanan battle is recognized as the first direct attack launched by Filipinos to reclaim their freedom from Spain. This happened a week after the historic Cry of Pugadlawin, where the revolutionaries tore their cedulas (community tax certificates), and this aspiration to be free reverberated in every corner of the country,” Mr. Aquino said.

Victory possible

The Pinaglabanan battle may have been lost because the Spanish troops had superior weapons, but the “heroism exhibited by the Katipuneros here in Pinaglabanan stoked the fires of unrest in various provinces,” he said.

Drawing parallelism to the uprising, Mr. Aquino said the uncertainty of victory did not always lead to defeat.

“This (lesson) is seared in the Filipino consciousness: Victory is possible; leading an honorable life in one’s own country is possible; freedom is possible—but we must fight for it,” Mr. Aquino said.

The President urged the entire country to remember and celebrate Bonifacio’s legacy and realize that his ideals remain alive in so many Filipinos today, here and abroad, seeking and working for a better Philippines.


Mr. Aquino said the 149th birth anniversary of Bonifacio was a fitting occasion to launch his “sesquicentennial anniversary in 2013.”

Before his speech, Mr. Aquino, assisted by a descendant of Bonifacio, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Undersecretary Manolo Quezon III, San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez and her son, Rep. JV Ejercito, unveiled the “Bonifacio@150” logo.

The logo depicts an image of Bonifacio charging ahead with a clenched left fist. Its unveiling kicked off yearlong activities that would culminate on Nov. 30 next year.

According to presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, the activities would be a  “yearlong commemoration of the life, works and achievements of Andres Bonifacio, culminating in the sesquicentennial of his birth.”

Spearheaded by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, numerous activities, publications and events are lined up for Filipinos to remember and celebrate Bonifacio.

The Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO), a member of the National Committee for the Bonifacio Sesquicentennial, will publish online a series of feature articles about Bonifacio, the Katipunan, and the Philippine Revolution of 1896.

Betrayal of history

Mr. Aquino said Bonifacio’s life was an open book. Orphaned early, he had to take on odd jobs to raise his siblings. He was largely self-educated.

These hardships, coupled with the experiences he and his contemporaries suffered in the hands of Spanish colonizers, helped him develop strength of character and principles that put others’ interests above oneself.

But Mr. Aquino said, there are instances when “history becomes a traitor.”

In a nutshell, the President acknowledged that Bonifacio had been unfairly maligned in history books produced under the tutelage of the West.

Contrary to the belief that he epitomized “violence and impulse” because he was a revolutionary, Bonifacio had a flair for writing, Mr. Aquino said.

Through his writings, “Dekalogo ng Katipunan” (The Katipunan Decalogue) and “Ang Dapat Mabatid ng mga Tagalog,” (What the Tagalogs Should Know) Bonifacio’s “voice of calm and reason” could be clearly deduced, Mr. Aquino said, explaining that Bonifacio also advocated the pursuit of good intentions through “restraint, patience and reason.”

Although in the attacks he led, not once did Bonifacio prevail, “but for every small setback, every life snuffed out, every drop of blood shed … watered the land [that was thirsting] for freedom,” Mr. Aquino said

“He may have fallen several times, but these (defeats) did not alter Bonifacio’s resolve: ‘We will fight until independence is achieved.’ He was focused on his goal: ‘We may lose in small battles, but it won’t take long before we could claim victory in battle; we will achieve true independence,’” the President said, quoting Bonifacio’s mantra.

New face of heroism

Mr. Aquino spoke about Bonifacio’s dogged determination to achieve his noble goal as worthy of emulation.

The President encouraged Filipinos to help bring about change in the land, learn to rise from every setback, believe in their abilities to excel, and sacrifice for the common good.

“This is the new face of heroism; this is the face of the new patriots; this is the idea being handed down by this sacred meeting place: Then, now and in the future, there are Filipinos who are ready to respond to the call of the time, and wholeheartedly join the fight, so that we can all direct our nation toward a righteous and straight path,” he said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

west philippine sea

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Andres Bonifacio , Benigno Aquino III , Pinaglaban Shrine , San Juan City , Supremo , West Philippine Sea

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  2. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  3. Palace prepared to charge its allies
  4. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  5. Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  6. What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  7. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  8. Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  9. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  10. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima


  • Drilon denies involvement in pork scam
  • Complex health care system for California’s elderly and poor explained
  • Malang the croc must regain strength before return to swamp, says mayor
  • Palace: Lacson’s version of Napoles testimony to be evaluated
  • Scientists eye iceberg bigger than Guam
  • Sports

  • Guiao summoned by PBA for name-calling incident
  • Promoters Dela Hoya, Arum in talks for Pacquiao-Alvarez—report
  • Benzema guides Madrid to 1-0 win over Bayern
  • Suns’ Goran Dragic win NBA’s Most Improved Player award
  • Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
  • Marketplace