MAYPAGASA: A Bonifacio tribute

PERCEPTIONS - Ariel Nepomuceno - The Philippine Star

Everyone knows who Andres Bonifacio is. With titles like the Great Plebeian, Father of the Philippine Revolution, Supremo of Katipunan, president of the Tagalog Republic and several others, Bonifacio was hailed to the pedestal as a hero. During his time on Earth, amidst the harsh realities he faced in his political and personal life as a member of the working class, Bonifacio was a beacon of hope. He even chose his codename, “MAYPAGASA” as his fervent aspiration for our country’s freedom.

His experiences and struggles prepared him in fulfilling his dreams for the country. At an early age, he was already an orphan after his parents died of cholera. He married twice but his first wife died due to leprosy. Ka Oryang, his second wife, gave birth to their only child, who just then again died, this time of smallpox in infancy. Unbeknownst to everyone, the house of the Bonifacio family in Manila was burnt down while he was in a Katipunan assembly in Cavite to strengthen their organizing efforts. And in the end, he was killed by the same people he called brothers, our very own fellowmen.

Despite these tragic events, Bonifacio never lost hope and remained steadfast in fighting for his aspirations for the country.

When the Katipunan was founded in 1892, the Katipunan Code of Conduct or “Kartilya ng Katipunan” was written by Emilio Jacinto to inspire the Filipinos to think and act like the Supremo. This will continue to resonate across generations.

He notes how any individual, no matter what social class or race they belong to, can be noble by having dignity and love of his or her motherland:

“The nobility of a man does not consist in being a king, nor in the sharpness of his nose and the whiteness of his skin, nor is it in being the priest representing God, nor in the exalted position he has on this earth; but pure and truly noble is he who, though born in the woods, possesses an upright character, who is true to his word, who has dignity and honor, who does not oppress and does not help those who oppress, and he who knows how to look after and love the land of his birth.” (#13, The Katipunan Code of Conduct)

The Katipuneros believed that real freedom can be achieved in a land where its countrymen know how to look after each other, be resilient even in the most dreadful times and to have good intentions for the nation’s well-being.

With a firm commitment of sacrificing for the country, even offering his own life through martyrdom, Bonifacio expressed in “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa” that there is no greater love than love for your own country.

Bonifacio’s steadfast devotion to the Philippines is evidently hard to match by our modern leaders and citizens; however, the Supremo’s heroism can be seen in the daily lives of Filipinos such as our diligent government officials and employees, health workers, teachers, military, police, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and all other laborers willingly serving each day.

The dedication of our national athletes such as Manny Pacquiao, Gabriel Elorde, Hidilyn Diaz, Efren Bata Reyes and EJ Obiena, and Filipino singers like Lea Salonga and Bruno Mars must also be recognized. Along with our Miss Universe contestants, award-winning actresses like Dolly de Leon and many more National Artists in different fields – they all represent the greatness of the Philippines and how we are capable of showcasing world-class talents, beauty and skills.

Nevertheless, we do not need to be grand public personalities or leaders to be called a hero. Even an ordinary person can be heroic like Supremo if we stay honest, compassionate and have genuine care towards our people and our country, even in the presence of danger.

Amidst all the challenges we’ve faced and will face as a nation, the future is full of hope when we honor heroes like Andres Bonifacio by keeping them alive in our hearts and actions throughout the quest for dignity, unity, social justice and true freedom.

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