" Fear history, for it respects no secrets" - Gregoria de Jesus (widow of Andres Bonifacio)
"Those who profess to favor freedom
and yet deprecate agitation
are men who want crops without plowing up the ground;
they want rain without thunder and
They want the ocean without the
awful roar of its waters.
This struggle may be a moral one
or it may be a physical one
or it may be both moral and physical
but it must be a struggle.
Power concedes nothing without a
It never did, and never will."- - Frederick Douglass, Abolitionist, Author, Slave (1817-1895)
(from Fr. Pedro V. Salgado, O.P.,The Philippine Economy: History and Analysis, 1985)
When I read this short piece written by Bonifacio, I see with great sadness and deep anger, in our recent and present generations, our fellow native Filipino socioeconomic-political elites/technocrats -- beholden to their foreign partners -- doing now to our native (Malay) Filipino majority in our homeland; what our former colonial masters did to us natives: i.e. by the Spaniards for over three centuries, by the Americans for half-century and by the Japanese for four years then).
Since post-WW2, while supposed to be "independent," the same national socioeconomic and political conditions remain, thanks in a large part to the destructive Bell Trade Act-1946 (Parity Rights) , US Military Bases & Military Assistance Agreements (1947), i.e. that were presented to us natives and which our so-called leaders lied about and railroaded for national acceptance; thus propagating and perpetuating the economic, political and social conditions suffered by the ordinary Filipino natives.
These agreements, most of which the native citizenry never fully knew nor understood, made the promised and "gifted" independence wrapped with ties that bind, that is, us natives and our homeland tied to conditions of neocolonialism. while blinded by "special relations," annually highlighted each July 4th.
With the continuous cooptation and collaboration by our ruling class --comprised of aristocratic and/or half-breed landholders and with Americanized minds --we slowly realize that the main and primary enemies are amongst us and confuse us. It has become such given the subtleness of the colonial conditions being perpetuated via neocolonialism.
Therefore the much more difficult tasks and need to study, to/know and understand, to decide, plan and to act for our common good - to finish our unfinished revolution.
In retrospect, we can see the pattern of treachery, class consciousness, tribal mentality, subservient mentality, selfish opportunism, corruption, etc. throughout our national history; not unique but to a much greater degree; thanks to our lack of a deeper common identity and untiy as a people with shared national heritage, culture, aspiration of common purpose for the common good, etc.
Some nowadays describe such desires, feelings and thoughts for national unity as just, if not depreciatingly, "imagined communities," but for us native Filipinos, it is imperative that we struggle with nationalism in heart and mind and work for a common purpose and the common good.
If we do not do what is imperative, then we really deserve and shall always have the kind of rulers and national predicaments we suffer in our homeland.
[The following works, show why Bonifacio, who had but scanty education, won the masses to his side and consequently succeeded where the reformists, with all their learning and culture, failed.
Belonging to the lowest class of Filipino society, Bonifacio lacked the education and culture of the ilustrados. It is this circumstance that made generations of Filipinos describe him as the "Great Plebeian." sensitive and sensible, he saw, as Rizal and his colleagues in the Reform Movement did not see, the futility of asking for reforms and so founded his revolutionary Katipunan with separatist aims.
Unlike the ilustrado reformists who naively believed that Spain would grant the reforms they demanded, Bonifacio realized that freedom and independence could be won only through force. His writings are few and unpolished, but they were instrumental, together with the works of his close friend, Emilio Jacinto, in bringing about the revolution that the ilustrados feared and wanted to prevent from exploding.
Unlike the reformists, Bonifacio and Jacinto were not merely anti-clerical but anti-Spaniard. To Bonifacio especially, it did not matter whether a Spaniard was a friar or a government official --to him the friar and the government official, being Spaniards, were ipso facto abominable and should therefore be expelled from the Philippines.
Bonifacio's writings though bereft of literary qualities, nevertheless have brute power which was necessary in an age characterized by chicanery, dishonesty, immorality, cowardice and extravagant pretensions.
- Professor Teodoro A. Agoncillo, translator]
ANTI-SPANISH WRITINGS OF ANDRES BONIFACIO (1896) - Translated by Prof. Teodoro A. Agoncillo
I. What the Filipinos Should Know
The Filipinos, who in early times were governed by our true countrymen before the coming of the Spaniards, were living in great abundance and prosperity. They were at peace with the inhabitants of the neighboring countries, especially with the Japanese with whom they traded and exchanged goods of all kinds. The means of livelihood increased tremendously, and for this reason, everybody had a nobility of heart, whilst young and old, including women, knew how to read and write in our autochthonous alphabet.
The Spaniards came and offered us friendship. The self-governing people, because they were ably convinced that we shall be guided toward a better condition and led to a path of knowledge, were crumpled by the honeyed words of deceit. Even so, they [the Spaniards] were obliged to follow the customs of the Filipinos, their agreement having been sealed and made binding by means of an oath that consisted in taking a quantity of blood from each other's vein, mixing and drinking it, as a token of their true and loyal promise not to be faithless to what had been agreed upon. This was called the Blood Compact of King Sikatuna and Legazpi, who represented the King of Spain.
More than three hundred years have elapsed since then, and for that length of time we have been bountifully supplying the needs of Legazpi's countrymen, we have been feeding them lavishly, even if we had to suffer privation and extreme hunger; we have spent our wealth, blood and life itself in their defense; we even went so far as to fight our own countrymen who refused to submit to them; and likewise, we combated the Chinese and the Dutch who attempted to wrest the Philippines from them.
Now, for all this, what is the tangible concession that has been bestowed upon our country in exchange for what we have done? What do we see in the way of keeping faith with their promise that was the cause of our sacrifices? None but treachery is the reward for our munificence, and instead of keeping their promise that we would be led to the path of knowledge, they have blinded us and contaminated us with their meanness of character and forcibly destroyed the sanctity of our country's customs.
We have been nurtured in a false belief and the honor of our people has been dragged into the mire of evil. And if we dare beg for a little love, they retaliate by banishing us and tearing us away from our beloved children, wives, and aged parents. Every sigh that escapes our breast is branded as a grave sin and is immediately punished with brute ferocity.
Now nothing can be considered stable in our loves; our peace is now always disturbed by the moans and lamentations, by the sighs and griefs of innumerable orphans, widows and parents of the countrymen who were wronged by the Spanish usurpers; now we are being deluged by the streaming tears of a mother whose son was put to death, by the wails of tender children orphaned by cruelty and whose every tear that falls is like molten lead that scars the painful wound of our suffering hearts; now we are more and more being bound with the chains of slavery, chains that are shameful to every man of honor.
What, then, must we do? The sun of reason that shines in the East clearly shows to our eyes that have long been blinded the path that we ought to follow: by its light we can see the claws of cruelty threatening us with death. Reason tells us that we cannot expect anything but more and more sufferings, more and more treachery, more and more insults, and more and more slavery. Reason tells us not to fritter away time hoping for the promised prosperity that will never come and will never materialize. Reason teaches us to rely on ourselves and not to depend on others for our living. Reason tells us to be united in sentiment, in thought, and in purpose in order that we may have the strength to find the means of combating the prevailing evils in our country.
It is now time for the light of truth to shine; it is now time for us to show that we have feelings, honor, shame, and mutual cooperation. Now is the time to commence the diffusion of the noble and great gospel that will rend asunder the thick curtain that obfuscates our minds; now is the time for the Filipinos to know the sources of their misfortunes. Now is the time to realize that for every move we make we are stepping on and heading toward the brink of the abyss of death that our enemies have dug to ensnare us.
Therefore, O my countrymen! let us open the eyes of our minds and voluntarily consecrate our strength to what is good in the true and full faith that the prosperity of the land of our birth, which is aimed at, will come to pass.
The valor that you have manifested in the fight against the Spanish enemy since the commencement of the revolution proves that you are not disheartened by the signs of military preparations and imminent attack by Polavieja's army which, in so short a time, has already shown sheer cowardice and a slave's meanness of character in torturing and killing so many Filipino noncombatants. The burning of children, the rape of the women whose honor and weakness were not even respected, the snuffing out of the lives of the aged who could not move and of the sucking infants, acts which would never have been done by the honorable and brave men, call for the immediate vengeance and punishment to the fullest extent.
In the fury of your struggle, some of you might die in the midst of battle, but this is an honor that will be a legacy to our country, to our race and to our progeny.
Your death will infuse life into our country and will serve as a sweet remembrance to your sisters and brothers who will be left behind.
Bear in mind that the cause of our sacrifices is the realization of the dreamed-of liberty of our native land that will give us freedom and will vindicate the honor that, through slavery, was interred in the grave of incomparable oppression.
Will you, perchance, be disheartened and your feeling visited by a sense of regret in dying for this cause? No! No! For there in your memory are painted the thousands upon thousands of lives snuffed out by the brutal hands of the Spaniards; the groans, the sighs and the sobs of those orphaned by cruelty; the picture of our brothers who were thrown into the horrible jails and suffering untold miseries; the interminable flow of the tears of those who were snatched from the sides of their children, wives and aged parents by being exiled to far-off places; and the unjust murder of our beloved countryman, Jose Rizal, have already opened a wound in our hearts that will never be healed. All these are sufficient to set even the coldest blood afire and to launch us into a struggle against the ignoble Spaniards who have caused us all these miseries and death.
And so, my brethren prepare yourself for the fight and rest assured that victory will be ours, for righteousness and the sanctity of duty are on our side. the enemy, that execrable foreigner who happened to come to these shores, is fighting only to victimize and dominate us in this our land.
In all these, and in order that the sacredness and honor of our country be made complete, in order that the whole world might witness the nobility of our character, let us not emulate our enemy in this detestable conduct of the war, let us not go to battle merely in the interest of killing, but rather in defense of the liberty of our country, and thus fighting cry out at the top of our voices: Mabuhay! LONG LIVE THE SOVEREIGN PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES!
- FILIPINO NATIONALISM (1872-1970) - Teodoro A. Agoncillo, R.P/ Garcia Publishing Co., Published 1974; also in
- HISTORY OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE -Teodoro A. Agoncillio and Oscar M.Alfonso, Malaya Books, 1967
The efforts of a determined few to honor the memory of Andres Bonifacio at a way that befits his true stature have been deterred somewhat by the supercilious conviction which prevails in the upper classes that Rizal cannot be replaced as the hero of the Filipinos.
This conviction has even acquired the nature of an official one, a fact that can easily be seen in the almost complete indifference of the national government to the City of Manila's determination to impart a more substantial meaning to the celebration of Bonifacio's centenary.
And yet, nothing could be more harmful than the cultivation of an artificial rivalry between Rizal and Bonifacio. Nothing could be more revealing of the ignorance of social and revolutionary action on the part of the so-called Filipino educated class than the insidious campaign it is waging that the man from Calamba and the man from Tondo were poles apart in their aims and purposes.
The simple truth, we believe, is that like the famous bow and arrow of Longfellow, Bonifacio and Rizal were useless each without the other. They complemented each other, although they identified themselves with the use of apparently divergent means. There was, to be sure, a difference in view asto the future of the Philippines, but this difference was dictated by the difference in their character and in their basic orientation.
All this may sound paradoxical, even contradictory. But not when it is considered that in the Philippine revolution, as well as in all the classic revolutions which have shaped human institutions, there was always a division of labor instinctively arrived at.
Rizal and his group in the Propaganda Movement were the men who laid down the theoretical foundations, the justifications and the morality of the Filipino grievance against Spain. It was they who, by the power of the written word or by the urgency of vocal appeal, opened the eyes of their countrymen to their own plight and who inspired them to aspire for dignity.
Rizal then was essentially a man of thought. He was the encyclopedist, the pamphleteer, the philosopher, the poet who wrote and sang of love of country. He was the theorist, immersed in thought and rendered incapable of action, not only by the corrosive effects of "thinking too precisely on the events," but also by his implacably safe and middle-class background.
But after he has achieved his assigned task --after, in other words, the man of thought had reached the end of the tether -- the man of action had to take over and give reality to what had been said and discussed before.
The man of action in Philippine history was Andres Bonifacio. here was a man who could not boast of the profundity of learning and of the eloquence of the men of the propaganda Movement. But here, also, was a man who had been endowed with the gift of action.
Bonifacio saw the situation steadily and he saw the whole, and he acted on what he saw. he acted, not by propounding more theories or indulging in more philosophical vacillations, but in laying the foundation of the Katipunan the one and only purpose of which was to fight a necessary and timely revolution. (12-01-1963)
They fear that Bonifacio's brand of nationalism might lead, as surely it will lead, to inconveniences and sacrifices. And so, they decided to embrace the nationalism sanctioned by the state department and judiciously propagated by the Lions, Jaycees and Rotarians. (11-30-1955)
A number of them who feel the tragedy of being grooved have realized the terrible blunder of acceding to the systematic propaganda of relegating Andres Bonifacio to the status of a second-class hero. And some of them, with a prescience that comes along with time, are beginning to understand the meaning of the fact that when Rizal was hard at work laying the foundation of La Liga Filipina and preaching the notion that the Philippines should not separate from Spain and that the Filipino should be contented with reforms, Bonifacio was organizing a secret society aimed at the overthrow of Spanish domination.
While the intellectual middle class awaited confidently the reforms asked for and promised," Teodoro M. Kalaw, one of the nation's real historians, wrote 28 years ago in the Philippine free Fress, "Bonifacio, with the instinct and discernment of the masses, had already lost faith in Spain, and while many of his countrymen were satisfied to lead a life of ease in the Oriental fashion, without giving a thought to their position as slaves or to the future of their country, he prepared the masses for a moral revolution by describing to them their sad plight and speaking to them of a new day which, he said, would come only through union, discipline and sacrifice."
But the tremendous truth in these phrases and clauses have fallen on the ears of Filipinos who have been subjected from birth to senility to the propaganda about the greatness, courage and wisdom of Rizal.
The Rizal cult has grown to such proportions that an execrable word --Rizalist-- had been coined to describe thae fatuous boobs who are still shouting at the international conferences that the Martyr of Bagungbayan "spoke 19 languages," as if proficiency in languages had any relevance to the grim business of changing society.
But it has become the truism to say that Rizal is a safe hero, particularly in those places in the suburbs where time does not seem to move. And the inhabitants of suburbia have not stopped thanking the Americans for their choice of Rizal as the national hero, for even today, despite a heresy here and a heresy there, Rizal fulfills the need for permanence.
The almost secure position of Rizal in the national pantheon, however, is more a reflection of the deteriorating character of the Filipinos than a tribute to his greatness. For there was a time, not so long after the coming of the Americans in 1898, when the Filipino intellectuals --the professionals mostly --looked up to Bonifacio rather than Rizal for the inspiration of their nationalism.
One of them and perhaps one of the most eloquent of them was Fernando Ma. Guerrero. He came from Ermita, not Tondo, but he knew what Bonifacio stood for, and for what it was worth, he sang the man's praises. Teodoro Kalaw was another, and the whole membership of Philippine masonry during the era when being a mason meant something, worshi[pped at the shrine of Bonifacio.
But the replacement of these people by a race of middle men, by a race of jaycees and Rotarians seem to have doomed the Founder of the Katipunan to an inferior category.
The relegation, it is becoming increasingly clear, will not last forever. Already the rising generation of Filipinos has begun to see more than the symbolism of Bonifacio Day and Rizal Day, and seeing, they might learn that the choice of heroes is their exclusive prerogative. (11-30-1968)
- Source: SOLIONGCO TODAY, A Contemporary from the Past..Edited by Prof. Renato Constantino, 1981, pages 243-254
NOTE: As alluded to in the Preface: Mr. Indalecio (Yeyeng) P. Soliongco was editorial writer/columnist of the Manila Chronicle from the late 1940s to 1971. He wrote over 8000 columns in his "Seriously Speaking" column. He discussed various subjects but concentrating on day-to-day sociopolitical developments; exposing the hypocrisy, lack of intellectual and moral integrity of many public figure.
“We gave the Philippines political freedom to enter the world family of nations, but did we give them internal political liberty? More important still, did we grant them economic freedom? – Harold L. Ickes, longest tenured U.S. Secretary of the Interior (1933-1946)
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