Andrés Bonifacio y de Castro (30 November 1863 – 10 May 1897) was a Filipino nationalist and revolutionary. He is often called "the great plebeian," "father of the Philippine Revolution," and "father of the Katipunan." He was a founder and later Supremo ("supreme leader") of the Katipunan movement which sought the independence of the Philippines from Spanish colonial rule and started the Philippine Revolution. He is considered a de facto national hero of the Philippines, and is also considered by some Filipino historians to be the first President, but he is not officially recognized as such. Bonifacio joined Freemasonry in 1892 at Taliba Lodge No. 165.
On 7 July 1892, the day after Rizal's deportation was announced, Bonifacio and others founded the Katipunan, or in full, Kataastaasang Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan ("Highest and Most Respected Society of the Children of the Country"). The secret society sought independence from Spain through armed revolt. It was influenced by Freemasonry through its rituals and organization, and several members aside from Bonifacio were also Freemasons. Within the society Bonifacio used the pseudonym May pag-asa ("There is Hope").
For a time, Bonifacio worked with both the Katipunan and La Liga Filipina. La Liga eventually split because less affluent members like Bonifacio lost hope for peaceful reform, and stopped their monetary aid. Wealthier, more conservative members who still believed in peaceful reforms set up the Cuerpo de Compromisarios, which pledged continued support to the reformists in Spain. The radicals were subsumed into the Katipunan. From Manila, the Katipunan expanded into several provinces, including Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Nueva Ecija. Most of its members, called Katipuneros, came from the lower and middle classes, with many of its local leaders being prominent figures in their municipalities. At first exclusively male, membership was later extended to females, with Bonifacio's wife Gregoria de Jesús as a leading member.
From the beginning, Bonifacio was one of the chief Katipunan officers, though he did not become its Supremo (supreme leader) or Presidente Supremo (Supreme President) until 1895, and he was the third head of the Katipunan after Deodato Arellano and Román Basa. Prior to this, he served as the society's comptroller and then as its fiscal. The society had its own laws, bureaucratic structure and elective leadership. For each province it involved, the Katipunan Supreme Council coordinated provincial councils in charge of public administration and military affairs and local councils in charge of affairs on the district or barrio level.
Within the society, Bonifacio developed a strong friendship with Emilio Jacinto who served as his adviser and confidant, as well as a member of the Supreme Council. Bonifacio adopted Jacinto's Kartilya primer as the official teachings of the society in place of his own Decalogue, which he judged as inferior. Bonifacio, Jacinto and Pio Valenzuela collaborated on the society's organ Kalayaan (Freedom), which only had one printed issue. Bonifacio wrote several pieces for the paper, including the poem Pag-ibig sa Tinubúang Lupà (approx. "Love for the Homeland) under the pseudonym Agapito Bagumbayan. The publication of Kalayaan in March 1896 led to a great increase in membership. The Katipunan movement spread throughout Luzon, to Panay in the Visayas and even as far as Mindanao. From less than 300 members in January 1896, it had about 30,000 to 40,000 by August.
The rapid increase of Katipunan activity drew the suspicion of the Spanish authorities. By early 1896, Spanish intelligence was already aware of the existence of a seditious secret society, and suspects were kept under surveillance and arrests were made. On 3 May, Bonifacio held a general assembly of Katipunan leaders in Pasig where they debated when to start their revolt. While Bonifacio wanted to revolt as soon as possible, Emilio Aguinaldo of Cavite expressed reservations due to a lack of firearms. The consensus was to consult José Rizal in Dapitan before launching their revolt, and Bonifacio sent Pio Valenzuela to Rizal, who was against a premature revolution and recommended more prior preparation.
Start of the uprising
The Spanish authorities confirmed the existence of the Katipunan on 19 August 1896. Hundreds of Filipino suspects, both innocent and guilty, were arrested and imprisoned for treason. José Rizal was then on his way to Cuba to serve as a doctor in the Spanish colonial army, in exchange for his release from Dapitan. When the news broke, Bonifacio first tried to convince Rizal, quarantined aboard a ship in Manila Bay, to escape and join the imminent revolt. Bonifacio, Emilio Jacinto and Guillermo Masangkay disguised themselves as sailors and went to the pier where Rizal's ship was anchored. Jacinto personally met with Rizal, who rejected their rescue offer. Rizal himself was later arrested, tried and executed.
Eluding an intensive manhunt, Bonifacio called thousands of Katipunan members to a mass gathering in Caloocan, where they decided to start their revolt. The event, marked by the tearing of cedulas (community tax certificates) was later called the "Cry of Balintawak" or "Cry of Pugad Lawin"; the exact location and date of the Cry are disputed. The Supreme Council of the Katipunan declared a nationwide armed revolution against Spain and called for a simultaneous coordinated attack on the capital Manila on 29 August. Bonifacio appointed generals to lead rebel forces to Manila. Other Katipunan councils were also informed of their plans. Before hostilities erupted, Bonifacio reorganized the Katipunan into an open de facto revolutionary government, with him as President and commander-in-chief (or generalissimo) of the rebel army and the Supreme Council as his cabinet. On 28 August, Bonifacio issued the following general proclamation:
This manifesto is for all of you. It is absolutely necessary for us to stop at the earliest possible time the nameless oppositions being perpetrated on the sons of the country who are now suffering the brutal punishment and tortures in jails, and because of this please let all the brethren know that on Saturday, the 29th of the current month, the revolution shall commence according to our agreement. For this purpose, it is necessary for all towns to rise simultaneously and attack Manila at the same time. Anybody who obstructs this sacred ideal of the people will be considered a traitor and an enemy, except if he is ill; or is not physically fit, in which case he shall be tried according to the regulations we have put in force. Mount of Liberty, 28 August 1896 – ANDRÉS BONIFACIO
On 30 August 1896, Bonifacio personally led an attack on San Juan del Monte to capture the town's powder magazine and water station (which supplied Manila). The defending Spaniards, outnumbered, fought a delaying battle until reinforcements arrived. Once reinforced, the Spaniards drove Bonifacio's forces back with heavy casualties. Bonifacio and his troops regrouped near Marikina, San Mateo and Montalban. Elsewhere, fighting between rebels and Spanish forces occurred in Mandaluyong, Sampaloc, Santa Ana, Pandacan, Pateros, Marikina, Caloocan, Makati and Taguig. The conventional view among Filipino historians is that the planned general Katipunan offensive on Manila was aborted in favor of Bonifacio's attack on San Juan del Monte, which sparked a general state of rebellion in the area. However, more recent studies have advanced the view that the planned offensive did push through and the rebel attacks were integrated; according to this view, Bonifacio's San Juan del Monte battle was only a part of a bigger whole – an unrecognized "battle for Manila". Despite his reverses, Bonifacio was not completely defeated and was still considered a threat. Further, the revolt had spread to the surrounding provinces by the end of August.
Campaigns around Manila
By December 1896, the Spanish authorities recognized three major centers of rebellion: Cavite (under Emilio Aguinaldo, Mariano Alvarez and others), Bulacan (under Mariano Llanera) and Morong (under Bonifacio). The revolt was most successful in Cavite, which mostly fell under rebel control by September–October 1896.
Apolinario Mabini, who later joined the rebels and served as Aguinaldo's adviser, wrote that the government troops in Cavite were limited to small, scattered constabulary detachments and thus the rebels were able to take virtually the entire province. The Spanish government had transferred much of its troops from Cavite (and other provinces) to Manila in anticipation of Bonifacio's attack. The Cavite rebels won prestige in defeating Spanish troops in set piece battles, using tactics like trench warfare.
While Cavite is traditionally regarded as the "heartland of the Philippine Revolution", Manila and its surrounding municipalities bore the brunt of the Spanish military campaign, becoming a no man's land. Rebels in the area were generally engaged in hit-and-run guerrilla warfare against Spanish positions in Manila, Morong, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga. From Morong, Bonifacio served as tactician for rebel guerrillas and issued commands to areas other than his personal sector, though his reputation suffered when he lost battles he personally led.
From September to October 1896, Bonifacio supervised the establishment of Katipunan mountain and hill bases like Balara in Marikina, Pantayanin in Antipolo, Ugong in Pasig and Tungko in Bulacan. Bonifacio appointing generals for these areas, or approving selections the troops themselves made.
In November, Bonifacio led an assault on San Mateo, Marikina and Montalban. The Spanish were forced to retreat, leaving these areas to the rebels, except for the municipal hall of San Mateo where some Spanish troops had barricaded. While Bonifacio's troops laid siege to the hall, other Katipunan forces set up defensive lines along the nearby Langka (or Nangka) river against Spanish reinforcements from Marikina. After three days, Spanish counterattacks broke through the Langka river lines. The Spanish troops thus recaptured the rebel positions and surprised Bonifacio in San Mateo, who ordered a general retreat to Balara. They were pursued, and Bonifacio was nearly killed shielding Emilio Jacinto from a Spanish bullet which grazed his collar.
In Balara, Bonifacio commissioned Julio Nakpil to compose a national anthem. Nakpil produced a hymn called Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan ("Honorable Hymn of the Tagalogs"). However, it was rejected years later in favor of the Marcha Nacional Filipina commissioned by Emilio Aguinaldo.
Bonifacio in Cavite
There were two Katipunan provincial chapters in Cavite that became rival factions: the Magdalo, headed by Emilio Aguinaldo's cousin Baldomero Aguinaldo, and the Magdiwang, headed by Mariano Álvarez, uncle of Bonifacio's wife. Leaders of both factions came from the upper class, in contrast to Bonifacio, who came from the lower middle class. After initial successes, Emilio Aguinaldo issued a manifesto in the name of the Magdalo ruling council which proclaimed a provisional and revolutionary government – despite the existence of the Katipunan government. Emilio Aguinaldo in particular had won fame for victories in the province. The Magdalo and Magdiwang clashed over authority and jurisdiction and did not help each other in battle. Bonifacio was called to Cavite to mediate between them and unify their efforts. In late 1896 he travelled to Cavite accompanied by his wife, his brothers Procopio and Ciriaco, and some troops.
In Cavite, friction grew between Bonifacio and the Magdalo leaders. Apolinario Mabini, who later served as Emilio Aguinaldo's adviser, writes that at this point the Magdalo leaders "already paid little heed to his authority and orders." Bonifacio was partial to the Magdiwang, perhaps due to his kinship ties with Mariano Álvarez, or more importantly, due to their stronger recognition of his authority. When Aguinaldo and Edilberto Evangelista went to receive Bonifacio at Zapote, they were irritated with what they regarded as his attitude of superiority. In his memoirs Aguinaldo wrote that Bonifacio acted "as if he were a king". Another time, Bonifacio ordered the arrest of one Magdalo leader for failing to support his attack in Manila, but the other Magdalo leaders refused to surrender him. Townspeople in Noveleta (a Magdiwang town) acclaimed Bonifacio as the ruler of the Philippines, to the chagrin of the Magdalo leaders (Bonifacio replied: "long live Philippine Liberty!"). Aguinaldo disputed with Bonifacio over strategic troop placements and blamed him for the capture of the town of Silang. The Spanish, through Jesuit Superior Pio Pi, wrote to Aguinaldo about the possibility of peace negotiations. When Bonifacio found out, he and the Magdiwang council rejected the proposed peace talks. Bonifacio was also angered that the Spanish considered Aguinaldo the "chief of the rebellion" instead of him. However, Aguinaldo continued to arrange negotiations which never took place. Bonifacio believed Aguinaldo was willing to surrender the revolution.
Bonifacio was also subject to rumors that he had stolen Katipunan funds, his sister was the mistress of a priest, and he was an agent provocateur paid by friars to foment unrest. Also circulated were anonymous letters which told the people of Cavite not to idolize Bonifacio because he was a Mason, a mere Manila employee, allegedly an atheist, and uneducated. According to these letters, Bonifacio did not deserve the title of Supremo since only God was supreme. This last allegation was made despite the fact that Supremo was meant to be used in conjunction with Presidente, i.e. Presidente Supremo (Supreme President) to distinguish the president of the Katipunan Supreme Council from council presidents of subordinate Katipunan chapters like the Magdalo and Magdiwang. Bonifacio suspected the rumor-mongering to be the work of the Magdalo leader Daniel Tirona. He confronted Tirona, whose airy reply provoked Bonifacio to such anger that he drew a gun and would have shot Tirona if others had not intervened.
On 31 December, Bonifacio and the Magdalo and Magdiwang leaders held a meeting in Imus, ostensibly to determine the leadership of Cavite in order to end the rivalry between the two factions. The issue of whether the Katipunan should be replaced by a revolutionary government was brought up by the Magdalo, and this eclipsed the rivalry issue. The Magdalo argued that the Katipunan, as a secret society, should have ceased to exist once the Revolution was underway. They also held that Cavite should not be divided. Bonifacio and the Magdiwang contended that the Katipunan served as their revolutionary government since it had its own constitution, laws, and provincial and municipal governments. Edilberto Evangelista presented a draft constitution for the proposed government to Bonifacio but this had earlier been rejected as too similar to the Spanish Maura Law. Upon the event of restructuring, Bonifacio was given carte blanche to appoint a committee tasked with setting up a new government; he would also be in charge of this committee. He requested for the minutes of the meeting to establish this authority, but these were never provided.
The Tejeros Convention
The rebel leaders held another meeting in a friar estate house in Tejeros on 22 March 1897 on the pretense of more discussion between the Magdalo and Magdiwang, but really to settle the issue of leadership of the revolution. Amidst insinuations that the Katipunan government was monarchical or dictatorial, Bonifacio maintained it was republican. According to him, all its members of whatever rank followed the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, upon which republicanism is founded. He presided over the elections that followed, despite his misgivings over the lack of representation by other provinces. Before elections started, he asked that the results be respected by everyone, and all agreed. The Cavite leaders voted their own Emilio Aguinaldo President in absentia, as he was in the battlefield. That revolutionary government, now known as the Republic of Biak-na-Bato, styled itself as the Philippine Republic or Republic of the Philippines. It lasted just over a month. A later revolutionary government now commonly known as the as First Philippine Republic and also with Aguinaldo as President was inaugurated on 23 January 1899 as the Republica Filipina (Philippine Republic). That later government is now considered to be the first Republic of the Philippines, the present-day government of the Philippines being the fifth.
Bonifacio received the second-highest number of votes for President. Though it was suggested that he be automatically be awarded the Vice Presidency, no one seconded the motion and elections continued. Mariano Trías of the Magdalo (originally Magdiwang) was elected Vice President. Bonifacio was the last to be elected, as Director of the Interior. Daniel Tirona, who had helped distribute the ballots, protested Bonifacio's election to Director of the Interior on the grounds that the position should not be occupied by a person without a lawyer's diploma. Tirona suggested a prominent Cavite lawyer for the position. Hurt and angered, Bonifacio demanded an apology, since the voters had agreed to respect the election results. Instead, Tirona left the room. Bonifacio drew his gun and nearly shot Tirona again, but he was restrained by Artemio Ricarte of the Magdiwang, who had been elected Captain-General. As people left the room, Bonifacio declared: "I, as chairman of this assembly and as President of the Supreme Council of the Katipunan, as all of you do not deny, declare this assembly dissolved, and I annul all that has been approved and resolved."
The next day, Aguinaldo surreptitiously took his oath of office as President in a chapel officiated by a Catholic priest Cenon Villafranca who was under the authority of the Roman pope. According to Gen. Santiago Alvarez, guards were posted outside with strict instructions not to let in any unwanted partisan from the Magdiwang faction while the oath-taking took place. Artemio Ricarte also took his office "with great reluctance" and made a declaration that he found the Tejeros elections "dirty or shady" and "not been in conformity with the true will of the people." Meanwhile Bonifacio met with his remaining supporters and drew up the Acta de Tejeros (Act of Tejeros) wherein they gave their reasons for not accepting the election results. Bonifacio alleged the election was fraudulent due to cheating and accused Aguinaldo of treason due to his negotiations with the Spanish. In their memoirs Santiago Álvarez (son of Mariano) and Gregoria de Jesús both alleged that many ballots were already filled out before being distributed, and Guillermo Masangkay contended there were more ballots prepared than voters present. Álvarez writes that Bonifacio had been warned of the rigged ballots before the votes were canvassed, but he had done nothing.
Aguinaldo later sent a delegation to Bonifacio to get him to cooperate, but the latter refused. Bonifacio appointed Emilio Jacinto general of the rebel forces in Manila, Morong, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija. In Naik, Bonifacio met with Artemio Ricarte and others, including generals Pío del Pilar and Mariano Noriel of the Magdalo who had gone over to his side. Bonifacio asserted his leadership of the revolution with the Naik Military Agreement, a document which appointed Pio del Pilar commander-in-chief of the revolutionary forces. Bonifacio's meeting was interrupted by Aguinaldo himself, and del Pilar and Noriel promptly returned to Aguinaldo's fold. In late April Aguinaldo fully assumed presidential office after consolidating his position among the Cavite elite – most of Bonifacio's Magdiwang supporters declaring allegiance to Aguinaldo. Aguinaldo's government then ordered the arrest of Bonifacio, who was then moving out of Cavite.