Gat Andres Bonifacio deserves equal billing with Rizal

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - November 30, 2019 - 12:00am

Today is the 156th birth anniversary of one of the finest Filipinos who ever lived, the orphaned labor leader, from Tondo, Manila, hero of the working class, warrior, revolutionary, and action man, Gat Andres Bonifacio, less appreciated than Rizal, and whose life most Filipinos know less about.

Bonifacio was Supremo of the KKK, which spearheaded the revolution against Spain, he betrayed and murdered by fellow Filipinos in the greatest treachery akin to Judas' betrayal of Christ. Bonifacio was the factory worker, bodegero, and made canes and fans to support his siblings. He never studied high school or college, but educated himself by reading world history and biographies of foreign leaders, including American presidents. He was a voracious reader, inspired by lessons read from “Les Miserables” about the struggles of the poor working masses against their oppressors, the French monarchs and royalty.

Bonifacio, like Rizal was a freemason, considered an enemy of the Church. It was said that Rizal retracted his masonry moments before he was shot in Luneta. But Bonifacio remained steadfast. He hated the clergy for their abuses but remained a faithful Catholic. In fact, he was married in Catholic wedding rites in Bonondo to Gregoria de Jesus, a young maiden from a rich Caloocan family. That was after he was widowed after his first wife died of leprosy. Gregoria was allegedly ravished by the same treacherous men from the Magdalo faction in Cavite, after Bonifacio and his two brothers were murdered.

The life of Bonifacio was a sad one, filled with anguish and pains, while that of Rizal was largely one of joy and fun. Bonifacio founded the KKK secretly in Tondo as he was discontented with Rizal's La Liga Filipina, which denounced war as a means of gaining freedom. La Liga was much like Rizal, all discussions, all arguments and debates, no action. Bonifacio wasn’t a reformist; he wanted freedom gained by the sword or the gun. Poorly armed, inadequately fed, and ill clad, Katipuneros of the Magdiwang faction from Tondo were outsmarted, outmaneuvered, and outshone by the illustrado Magdalo faction in Cavite. The Magdalos grabbed from Bonifacio the overall leadership through a rigged Tejeros Convention.

Rizal was enjoying Europe and travelling as if he was a rich man, funded by his doting father and his self-sacrificing elder brother, Paciano who kept on sending money from their farms in Calamba, Laguna. Bonifacio worked odd jobs in Tondo. He never left the Philippines, unlike Rizal who traveled from Spain to Germany and many other countries, where he met and romanced women of different nationalities. Rizal is preferred by the Americans because he was cool, with many gifts and talents. He was a novelist, poet, essayist, painter, sculptor, world traveler and a lover of beauty and nature. Bonifacio was a bloody warrior, a troublemaker in the minds of Americans.

But to me, we need both Rizal and Bonifacio side-by-side. Rizal represents the supremacy of the mind. Bonifacio represents the need for action. Rizal, without Bonifacio, is all thinking with no action. Bonifacio, without Rizal, is all action without thinking. We need a balance to inspire our young and make the older ones more proud of our heroes.


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