Gat Andres Bonifacio

ROSES & THORNS - Pia Roces Morato - The Philippine Star

In 1896, following the execution of Jose Rizal, Filipino nationalist and Freemason Andres Bonifacio led the revolt against the Spaniards and declared Philippine independence. Although born poor and with little education, Andrés was an avid reader and read all of Rizal’s writings, as well as the Bible.

Bonifacio founded the Katipunan, a secret society based on the Masonic order where, by 1896, it was said to have had around one hundred thousand members stretching from Manila to the islands of Mindanao. Known as the Father of the Katipunan and a native of Tondo, Andrés Bonifacio will always be remembered as the young revolutionary who fought for our country’s liberation from colonization and, while his goal was to free his countrymen from Spain, we commemorate his birth also as a reminder to us that a young hero was killed by his fellow countrymen. Nevertheless, Andres Bonifacio gave up his life for the Filipino people.

On Nov. 30, 2022, in his speech commemorating the 159th birth anniversary of Andrés Bonifacio, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. addressed all Filipinos to honor Bonifacio’s life of extraordinary selflessness by being responsible and law-abiding citizens that will contribute to nation building. Vice President and Secretary of Education Sara Duterte also commemorated our national hero by rekindling our sense of patriotism that should inspire us to be constantly united as a nation in facing all difficulties.

Indeed there is much to learn from Andrés Bonifacio in this current day and age and the younger generation has asked what it is they can apply from national heroes such as Andres.

For one, given his humble beginnings, we continue to learn from Andres Bonifacio that one’s social status does not define success. Bonifacio’s life story gives all of us the chance to reflect on life where, with the right motivation and putting your mind to it, we can achieve anything. Bonifacio after all drafted the Declaration of Independence while scribbling away in a cave.

Although Andres Bonifacio dropped out of school at the age of 14 to support his siblings, he managed to build a successful business and he never gave up. Even when La Liga Filipina fell apart, Bonifacio picked himself up and started the Katipunan which, as we know, became very instrumental to the political changes in our nation.

As PBBM said, Bonifacio should inspire us to be the best versions of ourselves as we work towards a common goal for our nation. While we live in different times, the values impressed upon us by our national heroes remain the same, where the energy and enthusiasm from our deep love for country should drive us to defend, protect and further empower each and every one of us to rise – even after 159 years. Today’s challenges, though different from those of our heroes, come in varying forms and perhaps one can even say in very unexpected ways, such as Covid-19.

Threats can prove most crucial, especially to the family unit, as this to me has always served as the most basic and most sacred component in our society. We are all called to do our part as members in communities that make up our beloved nation and many of us find ourselves actively participating in groups that strive to cooperate in nation building.

An organization I am happy to be part of as a volunteer, The Republic Defenders, continues to advocate what the forefathers of our nation have instilled in us as advocates of good governance, women empowerment and protectors of our environment in support of our government and its chosen leaders.

Andres Bonifacio was a man who gallantly fought for real change and our past experiences have continued to show us that many times, change should start within us first. Bonifacio did exactly this. He changed his life first by never giving in to his difficult circumstances. While the life of Andres Bonifacio was tragic, his example should continue to inspire us to transcend the challenges we encounter in both our personal lives and as members of society. His life was as extraordinary as the circumstances he chose to make significant change in.

While bravery and patriotism are cornerstones of heroism, self-sacrifice being another cornerstone is, to me, the most difficult of virtues yet the highest form of humility. This is the biggest lesson we can learn from our hero Andres Bonifacio – selflessness. May we all undeniably be the best versions of ourselves through his example.

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