MANILA, Philippines?On Tuesday, we celebrate the 147th birth anniversary of one of the great heroes of our country?Andres Bonifacio.
To many of us, this event is much awaited not because we are commemorating the greatness of our hero, but because it happens to be a national holiday (although it was moved to Nov. 29 as part of holiday economics.)
Filipinos will either go to the malls, amusement parks and tiangges, go out of town or stay at home and watch television all day. Sometimes we forget the true essence of this holiday.
The declaration of Nov. 30 as a national holiday started when the Philippine Legislature passed Act No. 2946 on Feb. 16, 1921, making that day of each year a legal holiday to commemorate Bonifacio?s birth.
Bonifacio was one of the leading protagonists in the struggle for freedom against the Spaniards.
Together with Ladislao Diwa, Deodato Arellano, Teodoro Plata and a few others, he established the secret society called Katipunan.
They decided that they should do something radical to achieve independence because the peaceful campaign for reforms had proven to be ineffective.
Through the Katipunan, Bonifacio launched a nationwide revolution. He called for recruitment of members of the Katipunan which led to simultaneous raids on various armories and camps of the Spaniards.
Bonifacio became the commander in chief of the revolutionary army with the power of appointing Katipunan military leaders in provinces around the country. He even led battles in Manila. He won some battles and lost some.
Early struggles for freedom were concentrated in small, disparate areas. The revolts waged at the time were confined to a limited territory and had diverse motives and goals. In contrast, the revolution led by Bonifacio and the Katipunan became nationwide with one goal: to overthrow the colonizers.
As the flames of the revolution raged the struggle for supremacy in Katipunan heated up. Factions arose, with the Magdiwang and Magdalo chapters in Cavite province vying for leadership.
Bonifacio became the target of Spanish forces who believed his death would weaken the Katipunan. But, he did not die at the hands of the enemy, but at the hands of rivals in the Katipunan.
Together with his brother Procopio, Bonifacio was killed on May 10, 1897. After the death of Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo became the overall leader. The struggle for independence was no longer focused on Manila. The focus shifted to Cavite and to the other Tagalog provinces.
Bonifacio was the light that guided the revolution. The struggle for freedom he and the Katipuneros started became the inspiration of other revolutionary groups to continue the fight for freedom.
He fought for something he believed was right and his launching the Philippine Revolution was an act of courage.
He may not be an intellectual like Jose Rizal, Marcelo del Pilar or Apolinario Mabini but he loved his country equally and dreamed of a self-governing Philippines. Bonifacio truly deserves to be included in the pantheon of our heroes.
The red mark on the calendar on Nov. 30 not only reminds us that it is a holiday but more importantly that it is the birth of a freedom fighter.
(Editor?s Note: Mona Lisa H. Quizon is a History Researcher II at the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.)