Erle Frayne D. Argonza
Magandang araw! Good Day!
I will dedicate this piece to the late patriot Andres Bonifacio, founding Supremo of the first national liberation movement in the Philippines. We will be celebrating National Heroes’ Day on the 30th of November, largely as a commemorative day to honor the feat of one of the founding patriarchs of the Republic of the Philippines.
The Philippine Republic was the first nation-state in all of Asia, a historic milestone that was later emulated by the patriots of other countries who were decided on breaking away from the yokes of imperialist Western control and domination. To recall, the core patriots of the years 1880s through 1890s were Jose Rizal Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and Apolinario Mabini who can be considered as our founding patriarchs here.
A plebian by class, Bonifacio was sired by a state official who was equivalent to vice-mayor of Manila in the latter half of the 1800s. Hispanic a man, the father married a native, thus birthing the mestizo tot Andres. The father died though while Andres was still a very young boy, and so Andres was compelled by circumstance to help earn money for his family as a teenager.
Young and poor as he was then, his mindset was no ordinary plebeian but intelligentsia. He did self-learning through voracious readings, and it was through his studies that he encountered the works of the liberals of Europe (liberal at that time was to the Left of the center). At the time of the launching of the Philippine revolution, his library had an appreciable collection of books.
Joining the fraternity of freemasonry during his formative years, he was offered the opportunity to immerse with young nationalist patriots whom he met in his fraternal order. Having witnessed the cruelties of the Spanish authorities and friars, he got more convinced each day of the non-negotiable goal of an independent republic sooner or later.
It must have been through the network of freemasonry that Bonifacio was able to learn of the enormous sacrifices of Dr. Jose Rizal (also a freemason) whose books he read. In 1n the early 1890s, Rizal, who was out of the country for a decade (he wrote his searing anti-friar novels in Europe), finally decided to come home to wage a legal battle for Philippine independence from Spain. Bonifacio was among those young freemasons who volunteered for Dr. Rizal’s new club called Philippine League (equivalent to a civil society coalition today), the sociopolitical club that could have waged the campaigns on the legal front.
Unfortunately, the hyper-conservative Spanish authorities banned the League from operations and incarcerated Rizal barely three (3) days upon the launching of the club. History’s wheels simply moved on, and in 1896 the authorities decided on executing Rizal after a sham and farcical trial.
Witnessing how the noble League was sadistically clamped down and its officials gagged and detained, Bonifacio realized that the parliamentary path to independence was futile an option. From then on, together with youthful patriots, he launched a secret society—Most High & Venerable Order of the Scions of the Nation (KKK in Filipino)—that was to serve as the vehicle for rallying people to wage an insurrection in the short run.
And so the rest was history. The KKK did grow slowly at the start, and then rapidly upon modification of organizational methods. In 1896, before Rizal was executed at the Luneta Park, the colonial authorities discovered the KKK’s existence, thus giving way to series of events leading to open war versus Spain.
Though he never saw the light of day for the independent republic (short-lived as the USA invaded RP and grabbed it), his exemplary feats were nevertheless recognized by the true patriots of the nation. The seed of the modern nation planted by Rizal and empowered by Bonifacio’s liberation movement, was later to be calcified in policy and institutional form by Mabini, who became prime minister and executive secretary in the cabinet of the 1st president, Emilio Aguinaldo.
Bonifacio’s zeal for social change lives among us patriots of the Philippines, and inspires many Asians as well. May his exemplary feats and selfless sacrifice in the pursuit of the highest noble cause continue to guide us change agents in our daily lives as we build shared visions for a brighter world of the future.
Mabuhay si Gat Andres Bonifacio!
[Philippines, 22 November 2010]
[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,
BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,