Andres Bonifacio(left), General Emilio Aguinaldo: 2019 is his 150th birth anniversary
Aguinaldo topples Bonifacio once again, confession rings in P5.8 Million
TREASURE HUNTING - Lisa Guerrero Nakpil (The Philippine Star) - March 11, 2019 - 12:00am

One-hundred-twenty-two years after Emilio Aguinaldo toppled Andres Bonifacio at the controversial Tejeros Convention, old Miong would take the title once again. This time, it would be for the highest-priced historical document in the Philippines, recently ringing in P5.8 million at the León Gallery auction floor. The handwritten confession was accompanied by a typewritten sheet that featured crossed-out passages and amendments that aligned it with the main declaration.

“I ordered General Noriel to carry out the judgment of the Council of War and to shoot the brothers (Bonifacio), for the sake of the Country, (Iniatas ko kay Heneral Noriel na ipatupad ang kahatulan ng Consejo de Guerra na barilin ang magkapatid, alang-alan (sic) sa kapakanan ng Bayan,” he wrote on March 22, 1948, more than 50 years after the dark deed.

The Bonifacio letter dated April 24, 1897 was the previous record-holder for the most expensive historical document in the country.

Aguinaldo loyalists raged online that the stunning confession was a mere “clarification.” Toxic attacks were heaped on anyone who said differently, despite the very clear evidence in Aguinaldo’s own hand, confirmed by dozens of historians including Teodoro Agoncillo who was related to the dictator.

“For years,” eminent KKK scholar Jim Richardson explained,  “Aguinaldo refused to answer a simple question: ‘Why were the Bonifacio brothers shot after you pardoned them?’ Not until 1948 did he give the answer: ‘Because I changed my mind.’ In that sense, his 1948 statement was clearly a confession, the admission of fact that he had refused to admit for 50 years.”

Aguinaldo’s handwritten confession became the priciest document in the Philippines, at P5.8 million, including buyer’s premium.

ABS-CBN reporter Kristine Sabillo called to ask plaintively, “Why only now? Why are we only being told about this confession now?” In fact, one UP professor of history complained that she had been woken up in the middle of the night by another reporter just to be asked about the Aguinaldo document.

Could all the brouhaha have pushed up the prices? The record for top spot was previously held, ironically enough, by Andres Bonifacio’s last letter to Emilio Jacinto, written just days before his arrest, trial and tragic death. That letter, pursued by various collectors including action-star Robin Padilla, came in just a whisper below at P5.6 million. Padilla, at the time, expressed his concern that “certain factions” were eager to acquire the Bonifacio documents in order to destroy them.

The country’s most expensive antique bed, the “Ah-Tay” matrimonial, at P10.5 milion.

Like the Bonifacio papers, the Aguinaldo confession has been the subject of several books and periodicals, admittedly not everyone’s favorite bedside reading but enough to fill an entire bookshelf. If these letters were artworks, they would be called “book pieces” — or the holy grail of authentications — having been laboriously vetted, examined, transcribed and translated, and in some cases photographed in life-size and reproduced.

Unlike Bonifacio, however, Aguinaldo and his henchman Lazaro Macapagal would live for several years after sending off their letters. (In the case of Aguinaldo, he lived for almost two decades more.) Neither of them ever denied the contents.

Anita Magsaysay-Ho’s “Siniguelas Gatherers” tied with Amorsolo’s “Cooking under the Mango Tree” for the top spot at P23.3 million each.

*   *   *

In other news, the country’s most expensive bed reigned supreme at the recent auction. The astounding record was set for a Filipino antique bed at P10.5 million (inclusive of buyer’s premium). This one was from the fabled Ah Tay workshops, which catered to the rich and famous across the archipelago and was dated from the last quarter of the 19th century, according to heritage expert, Martin Imperial Tinio Jr.

The graceful bed, however, did not unseat the Philippines’ most valuable piece of furniture, the elegant Gabaldon Cabinet, which fetched P18.7 million a few years ago.

Tied for No. 1 at the recent auction were Anita Magsaysay-Ho’s “Siniguelas Gatherers” and Fernando Amorsolo’s “Cooking under the Mango Tree,” each bringing in P23.3 million. A very close third was Lorenzo Guerrero’s “Vendors (Tuba-Seller)” at P22.2 million.

ANITA MAGSAYSAY-HO FERNANDO AMORSOLO MARTIN IMPERIAL TINIO JR.
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