“Aling pag-ibig pa ang hihigit kaya, sa pagkadalisay at pagkadakila, gaya ng pag-ibig sa sariling lupa? Aling pag-ibig pa? Wala na nga, wala. (Is there any love that is nobler, purer and more sublime, than the love of our native land? What other love? There is none. Nothing.)” -Andres Bonifacio, March 1896
The National COmmission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) re-cords that on 23 August 1984, the National Historical Institute (NHI) placed a marker on Seminary Road in Barangay Bahay Toro behind Toro Hills High School, the Quezon City General Hospital, and the San Jose Seminary – a place now famous in Philippines history called Pugad Lawin -which reads:
“ON THE SITE ANDRES BONIFACIO AND ONE THOU-SAND KATIPUNEROS MET IN THE MORNING OF 23 AUGUST 1896 AND DECIDED TO RE-VOLT AGAINST THE SPANISH COLONIAL GOVERNMENT IN THE PHILIPPINES. AS AN AFFIRMATION OF THEIR RE-SOLVE, THEY TORE UP THEIR TAX RECEIPTS (CEDULAS) WHICH WERE SYMBOLS OF OPPRESSION OF THE FILIPI-NOS. THIS WAS VERY FIRST CRY OF THE OPPRESSED NATION AGAINST SPAIN WHICH WAS ENFORCED WITH THE USE OF ARMS.”
LAST 30 NOVEMBER 1992, DURING FVR’S FIRST YEAR AS PRESIDENT, WE COMMEM-ORATED THE 129TH BIRTH ANNIVESARY OF ANDRES BONIFACIO AT THE QUIRINO GRANDSTAND. IT WILL BE RECALLED THAT 1992 WAS ALSO THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDING OF THE KATIPUNAN. WE MARKED THOSE TWO RELATED EVENTS WITH ONE GRAND PARADE AND NATIONAL
CELEBRATION AS AMONG THE MAJOR ACTIVITIES TO HIGHLIGHT OUR OBSERVANCE OF THE CEN-TENNIAL OF PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE THAT WOULD HAPPEN LATER ON 12 JUNE 1998.
THE EARLY KATIPUNAN
IT IS IMPORTANT FOR FILIPINOS TO RECALL THE EARLY BEGINNINGS OF OUR NATIONAL REVOLUTION AGAINST SPAIN IF ONLY TO APPRECIATE THE TREMENDOUS ODDS AGAINST ITS EVENTUAL SUCCESS. HISTORIANS OF THE U.P. TELL US THAT ON 12 APRIL 1895 (GOOD FRIDAY), A GROUP OF LEADERS OF THE KATIPUNAN MET IN THE SECRECY OF THE PAMITINAN CAVE IN SITIO WAWA, MONTALBAN (NOW RODRIQUEZ, RIZAL PROVINCE) AND INSCRIBED ON ITS WALL: “VIVA LA INDE-PEDENCIA DE PILIPINAS!!!”
THREE YEARS EARLIER, ON THE NIGHT OF 07 JULY 1892, BONIFACIO MET WITH SOME COMRADES IN TONDO AND, UNDER THE FLICK-ERING LIGHT OF A TABLE LAMP, SIGNED WITH THEIR OWN BLOOD AN OATH TO DEDICATE THEIR LIVES TO THE MOTHERLAND, AND TO ORGANIZE THEMSELVES INTO A SECRET SOCIETY TO BE KNOWN AS “KATAAS-TAASANG KAGALANG-GALANGANG KATIPUNAN NG MGA ANAK NG BAYAN ( SUPREME AND MOST HON-ORABLE SOCIETY OF THE CHILDREN OF THE NATION).”
THEIR AIM WAS TO SEP-ARATE THE PHILIPPINES AS AN INDEPENDENT NA-TION FROM SPAIN. THE HURRIED MEETING THAT NIGHT WAS THE OFFSHOOT OF THE NEWS THAT JOSE RIZAL HAD BEEN ARRESTED THE PREVIOUS NIGHT AND BANISHED TO DAPITAN.
From the date onward, the pace events went fast. A year after, the ka-tipunan has spread all over Manila and branched out into Cavite and Bulacan. By 1896 it had military contigents and political chapters in eight provinces, and was gathering adherents by the thousands.
The rebels leaders conspired to revolt for the cause of freedom. But more than just committing to rise against Spain, they also organized a ?gthing force among patriotic volunteers. They chose as their symbol of de?ance the letter “K” and, in the battles that followed, that symbol would be a potent weapon in itself – a badge of valor and image of what had, for centuries, been the people’s secret longing for independence.
Today, as we re?ect on these historic beginnings of the Katipu-nan, made holy by its covenant with God, country and people – as manifested in its “Decalogo” (Decalogue or 10 Commandments), we realize that the ka-tipuneros were driven by both their patriotic fervor and their holy faith -that of Pamathalaan -or Pamama-hala na kasama si Bathala (Governance with God as Companion). WHAT TOOK PLACE AT THE PAMITINAN CAVE WAS, ESSENTIALLY, A COMMIT-MENT TO A FUTURE OF SAC-RIFICE AND POSSIBLE EARLY DEATH. WITHIN MONTHS AFTER THAT SECRET CON-CLAVE, TH KATIPUNAN UN-DER ANDRES BONIFACIO HAD GATHERED ENOUGH FORCES -EVEN IF ARMED ONLY WITH BOLOS AND THE CRUDENT OF FIREARMS – TO CHALLENGE THE SPANIARDS.
Glory and Grief, Triumph and Tragedy
THUS BEGAN OUR NATIONAL REVOLUTION -IN THE HEART OF ANDRES BONIFACIO AND UPON THE FABRIC OF SPANISH OPPRES-SION. WHAT FOLLOWED IS A SAGA OF GLORY AND GRIEF, TRIUMPH AND TRAG-EDY THAT EVERY FILIPINO MUST UNDERSTAND, IM-BIBE AND REVERSE BE-CAUSE IT WAS A HISTORICAL ACHIEVEMENT OF WHICH WE ALL CAN BE PROUD.
Of all the chapters of our national history, there is none more stirring than the birth of the ka-tipunan and the cry of Andres Bonifacio to his countrymen to rise up in arms. Since then, many more have offered life, fortune, and honor so that our nation might prosper, compete and achieve.
Later would follow the many grief and tragedies of the revolution -the martyrdom of Rizal, the division of the Katipunan into factions, the denial to Bonifacio of a lead position in the organization he founded, his treacherous assassination, and other unfortunate setbacks.
NO NATION AND NO PEO-PLE, INDEED, CAN AFFORD TO BE SELECTIVE ABOUT THEIR HISTORY -BY CHOOS-ING ONLY THE PLEASANT THINGS TO REMEMBER AND RELEGATING THE NEGA-TIVES TO FORGETFULNESS.
They fought for the Nation
ONE THING IS CLEAR ABOUT THE STORY OF BONI-FACIO AND THE KATIPUNAN. THEY FOUGHT FOR THE NA-TION, AND NOT FOR ONE CLASS FOR SELFISH PUR-POSES. THEY EXPRESSED ARDENTLY THE HOPES OF THE POOR UNDER A FREE PHILIPPINES, AND THEY BROUGHT INTO THE CAUSE OTHER GROUPS -THE EDU-CATED AND THE AFFLUENT -AND TURNED THE REVOLUTION INTO THE STRUG-GLE OF ALL FILIPINOS.
TODAY, WE ARE AGAIN AT A CRITICAL JUNC-TURE IN OUR NATIONAL LIFE. DEPENDING ON HOW WE ACT, OUR COUNTRY WILL EI-THER PROSPER OR DECLINE. IF WE MATCH BRAVE WORDS WITH SOLID ACHIEVMENTS OUR NATION COULD BE-COME “BETTER THAN THE OTHERS.” WHAT BONIFACIO AND THE KATIPUNAN BE-GAN, WE MUST CONTINUE. AND WE MUST NOT ALLOW A REPEAT OF THE MISTAKES AND DIVISIONS OF THE PAST.
ON 12 JUNE 1898, AYOUNG AND DETERMINED GENERAL EMILIO AGUINALDO PROUD-LY RAISED OUR NATIONAL FLAG IN KAWIT, CAVITE, AC-COMPANIED BY THE SPIRIT-ED RENDITION OF THE ORIG-INAL MARCHA NACIONAL FILIPINA COMPOSED BY JULIAN FELIPE WHICH IS NOW OUR NATIONAL ANTHEM. TO ARRIVE AT THAT LANDMARK IN KAWIT, A LONG LINE OF GENERATIONS -FROM LAPU -LAPU (AND EVEN BEFORE), TO JOSE RIZAL, TO ANDRES BONIFACIO -GAVE FREELY OF THEMSELVES ON THE ALTAR OF NATIONHOOD.
No Greater Gift Than Freedom
Those principles upon which our new Republic was founded at Kawit and Malolos are still relevant and paramount, and continuously animate the desire of peoples around the world for self -determination and independence.
Of all the gifts one generations can give another, none is greater than freedom -which every generation must expand. Freedom is a legacy we must enrich – and not abuse. I tis also a call to duty for each Filipino.
IF WE ARE TO EXTRACT THE FULL MEANING OF PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE, WE CANNOT BE CONTENT WITH MERELY REPLAY-ING OUR GLORIOUS PAST. IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO EU-LOGIZE OUR HEROES. WE MUST EMULATE THEM, AND ENHANCE THEIR ACHIEVE-MENTS WITH OUR CARING, SHARING AND DARING FOR GOD, COUNTRY, PEOPLE, AND THE ENVIRONMENT.
Plainly stated, we did not acquire Philippine democracy because of colonial benevolence. It was born out of our people’s protracted struggles against foreign and homegrown tyrants. Given the comparative advantages of the Philippines in terms of our talented people, vast natural resources, and strategic geopolitical position in the AsiaPaci?c, we ought to have succeeded much better by now in governing ourselves, accelerating our economic development, and strengthening our social cohesion.
THAT WE HAVE NOT FULLY ATTAINED SUCH DESIR-ABLE CONDITIONS IS HIS-TORY REPROACH TO US.
LEARNING FROM OUR FAILURES
REFLECTING ON THE BOOMS-AND-BUSTS IN OUR HISTORY, OUR PEOPLE SEEM TO HAVE REPEATEDLY FAL-TERED DURING EACH NEW ERA. AFTER BRILLIANT TRIUMPHS, WE APPEAR TO FALL SHORT AGAIN AND AGAIN IN THE AFTERMATH.
THAT IS HOW WE LOST OUR HEADSTARTS IN NA-TION-BUILDING-IN THE 1950S BY CLINGING TO THE ILLUSION THAT SELF-GOVERNMENT WOULD EF-FORTLESSLY BRING ABOUT DEVELOPMENT. EQUIPPED WITH ABSOLETE TOOLS OF EARLIER PERIODS, WE TRIED TO MAKE OUR WAY UP IN THE POSTWAR WORLD. BY ADOPTING UNWORK-ABLE MODELS AND COPY-CAT IDEAS, WE MISSED THE BOAT OR MODERNIZA-TION IN THE ‘60S’ ‘70S, ‘80S.
WE CAN NO LONGER AF-FORD THESE PAST FAIL-URES AND PRESENT-DAY DELUSIONS THAT:
• DEMOCRACY WITH-OUT CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY CAN INSURE DEVELOPMENT;
• WHILE MAINTAINING THE UNJUST STRUCTURES THAT HAVE KEPT OUR ECON-OMY STAGNANT, WE CAN PROGRESS SUSTAINABLY;
• PROSPERITY AUTO-MATICALLY TRICKLES DOWN FROM THE RICH FEW TO THE IMPOVERISHED MANY.
EXPECTEDLY, WE MAY FAIL AGAIN – IF WE CONTENT OURSELVES AT THIS TIME WITH FLAWED POLICIES, GREEDY OFFICIALS, SELF-SERVING DYNASTIES AND WIDESPREAD CORRUPTION.
AND, LET US BE SURE TO PERFORM AS WE PRAY, AND PRAY AS WE PERFORM.
KAYA NATIN ITO!!!
By Fidel V. Ramos