The Summing Up
THUS THE HEAVY curtain falls and the actors backstage prepare for the last act of the Katipunan revolt that temporarily ended in the Truce of Biyak-na-bato. From hereon the Revolution that Andres Bonifacio prepared and started takes on a new color, and a new element enters into it that complicates the pattern to an extent that only Rizal was seer enough to visualize. No qualm of conscience, no regrets, no sentimental lamentations accompanied and followed the removal of the Father of the Revolution, for all -- the living, that is -- were more concerned with the fate of the new-born nation. There were more sacrifices ahead, more bitter and more galling, that required singleness and intensity of purpose. There was not much time to look back and take stock of what had been accomplished. The immediate past was but a tiny speck, insignificant and hollow compared with what should be done in the days fast approaching. Morality was temporarily suspended because the epoch demanded absolute unity and a new set of values that would justify
and rationalize acts that in more fortunate times would be tagged indecent or atrociously inhuman. Justice that all freedom-loving peoples of all ages worship and demand of society can be fully realized only in time of peace and plenty. There has never been, nor will there ever be, justice in abnormal times no matter how educated and intelligent may be the individual members of society, for as a group, in a period of storm and stress, they lose their identity in a mass that is goaded and led by herd instincts.
Hence the excesses and the apparent mistakes of the Revolution. All revolutions, whether led by the nobility or by the middle class or by the peasants and workers, have their extremes. Yet compared with other social upheavals of mighty proportions, that of the Philippines at the close of the last century was tame and carried on with due regard for individual life and property. There was no mob violence on a large scale; there was no useless destruction of property motivated by racial or class hatred; there were few, if any, instances of abuse of authority and arbitrary employment of new-found power. The Bonifacio brothers, though accused of sedition, usurpation of authority, bribery and treason -- in themselves fatal at such a time -- were at least given the benefit of a trial. Yet, many, who were guilty of crimes that even in normal times would deserve severe penalty, went unpunished, not because they were tolerated, but because the temper of the period demanded cooperation of all elements in the face of the enemy. To pursue the guilty party at such an epoch would be to waste valuable time that could otherwise be spent in fighting the common enemy. To punish them would be to alienate their sympathy and so to create an intolerable military situation for the rebels. Unity -- this was the leading imperative of the Revolution, and everything, including justice itself, was sacrificed at its altar in the interest of a larger, deeper issue: freedom. The Revolution, therefore, must be judged in its totality, not in separate and isolated incidents. To judge it properly, one must be equipped with an understanding of the forces that breathed life into it.
THE FORMULA THAT fathered the Katipunan and the Revolution that it brought forth was fundamentally economic. The restiveness that found its outlet in occasional bursts of physical indignation, though caused on the surface by religious intolerance and the various modes of cruelty perpetrated by the Spanish overlords, had its roots in the economic stratification that made for the division of the people into sharply contrasted classes. The encomienda system that developed a landed aristocracy was also responsible for the introduction of a peonage that constituted the lowest stratum of society. There was at first no middle class. The priestly orders that should have acted as the leveling influence by virtue of their contacts with both the aristocracy and the unlettered commoners failed in their mission to check the abuses of the former. On the contrary, the friars, coming into power after the breakup of the encomenderos, became, as time went on, the higher aristocracy, with the Spanish civil authorities occupying the middle aristocracy, and the lay Spanish adventurers satisfied with the cellar role in the pyramid of high society. At their feet lay prostrate the ignorant and starving masses -- confused, hopeless, abused.
Once entrenched in power and position, the friars took upon themselves the responsibility of seeing to it that they were secure, on the one hand, against the encroachment and interference of the Spanish civil and lay authorities, and on the other, against the potential power of the masses to change the status quo by any other means. With respect to the first, the good friars did not mince words in reminding their lay countrymen that a word delivered by them from the pulpit could turn the people against them. In the struggle for power, therefore, the friars sided with the people against the authorities when the latter showed they had convictions opposed to those of the friars. Education was in the latter's hands -- they could poison the minds of the masses and turn them loose on the lay authorities. With respect to the Filipinos, the friars steeped them in superstitions cloaked
under the guise of religion. They were taught to obey and follow blindly the teachings of the priests in order to make them docile. The result was the complete subordination of Filipino family life to the whims of the friars. In the name of religion, they perpetrated the most heinous crimes to keep the Filipinos obedient and ignorant and superstitious. It was through this Machiavellian intrigue that the friars were able to maintain power. It was this power and economic puissance that made them brutal and unjust, and jealous of any movement that would tip the scale unfavorably for them. All the unfair and immoral practices of both the lay and clerical groups in the Philippines were the direct result of their desire to perpetuate the existing order under which they held the key to the economic and political power.
THERE WAS ONE fateful error that the friars in the Philippines committed which redounded to the benefit of the Filipinos. It was the obsessive insistence upon the teaching of the autochthonous languages to the broad masses instead of Spanish, as directed by various royal decrees, with a view to averting the full flow of nationalist ideas. While destroying the pagan elements in what was indigenous, the friars nevertheless enriched the native languages and so unwittingly perpetuated the media of the ancient civilization that became the rallying cry of the rabid Filipino nationalists in later years. It was surmised that in this way the natives would remain ignorant and would not become restive even in the face of an intolerable economic condition. Spanish, on the other hand, was taught only to a select few -- to those "natives" who were financially able and who were descended from Spanish dons.
The authorities did not suspect that the Philippine languages, invigorated and enriched by grafting Spanish onto them, had won a decisive victory, albeit unseen and unfelt, over all attempts to stifle the germinal idea of protest and, therefore, of freedom. And so Francisco
Baltazar, popularly known as Balagtas, educated though he was in Spanish, wisely employed the medium of expression that he correctly felt would reach the greatest number, namely, Tagalog, and wrote the first severe indictment of Spanish misrule in the Philippines. With a subtlety that even the most discerning of the censors failed to detect, Baltazar planted the seed of revolt in the minds of the masses and pioneered in the dangerous task of reformation in the administration. If Voltaire paved the way for the later encyclopedists to undermine the power of the Bourbons and prepare the French Revolution, so Baltazar, by his Plorante at Laura, blazed the way for the later Filipino reformists to bring about the propaganda movement that resulted in the development of national consciousness which, in turn, exploded into the Revolution.
WITH AN AGRARIAN economy that was basically unsound and incapable of supporting a vicious and expanded official hierarchy, the country suffered enormously from foolish extravagance and restrictive internal policy. It was due to a sudden realization of the calamitous situation that the Spaniards thought of opening the Philippine ports to international trade and commerce. The prosperity that followed in its wake led, as was natural, to the slow yet continuous infiltration of modern ideas that found fertile ground in the minds of the emerging middle class. The opening of the Suez Canal brought about a migration of Spanish progressives to the Philippines and by contacts with the Filipinos, especially the intelligentsia, they inspired the middle class to clamor for political and religious reforms.
The second half of the nineteenth century found the educated Filipinos openly, though not obtrusively, demanding reforms that would give the middle class the right to be heard on governmental matters. The tangible assurances of success came to this group when Spain fell into the hands of the liberal Spaniards, a development that
Maj. Lazaro Makapagal
He carried out the orders to execute the Bonifacio brothers.
(Courtesy of Antonio K. Abad)
Facsimile of a document signed by General Pio del Pilar in which he maintains that President Aguinaldo's official letter of pardon came too late to save the Bonifacio brothers from being executed.
(Courtesy of Antonio K. Abad)
found echo through the colony. Yet despite the apparent success of the intellectuals in the intensification of their campaign for reforms, they nevertheless failed miserably in presenting a scientific program of an economic nature that would become the broad basis of a stable Philippine life. The Filipino priests harped exclusively upon the secularization of the parishes because they and they alone were to be benefited by it. The propagandists -- Del Pilar, Rizal, Lopez-Jaena, Panganiban and others -- were vocal in their protestations of loyalty to Spain and demanded, in ringing tone, that the Philippines be made a province of Spain. Not once did they broach the subject of emancipating the masses from an economic bondage that had remained thoroughly medieval in the light of an aggressive liberalism that was then sweeping Europe.
It was evident that the emergent middle class, conscious of its power and potentialities, was fighting not for the majority of the Filipinos but for its own sake. Its attitude toward any means other than its own for bringing about reforms showed that it was after a mere change of masters: let the middle class rule the Philippine life because its members belonged to the ilustrado, the only people among the Filipinos who could take care of the entire country.
This mental attitude was boldly projected when the Katipunan was founded. Still believing that they could persuade the Mother Country to think in their own terms, the ilustrados, themselves landed gentlemen, set up the La Liga Filipina for mutual protection and succeeded only in making themselves non grata both to the Spaniards and to the masses. On the one hand, they gave the authorities reason to suspect that they were plotting a subversive movement, and on the other, they won the hatred of the masses by openly exhibiting their contempt for them. There was a taint of arrogance in the behavior of the intellectuals and the wealthy in holding on to the belief that they alone could change the color of the Philippine landscape. Naturally, they set up a sort of caste
system from which the unlettered commoners were contemptuously excluded. Hence the Liga Filipina. Hence the hostility of its members to the ideal of the Revolution as the last resort.
None of the intellectuals and the wealthy, who constituted the middle class of the period, ever sensed the stirring of the masses. Only Marcelo H. del Pilar, on the eve of his death, thought as one with the revolutionists. All of them merely echoed the spirit of their time and did not have the courage to look beneath the placid surface for the true feelings of the people. They were detached and aloof from the current of life. They were moving in a different circle. They constituted, in fact, the bulwark of the Spanish reactionary party. And they were after respectability. Had the friars been a little less bull-headed in dealing with the ilustrados, especially in befriending rather than in antagonizing them, the Revolution would have failed or would not have taken place at all. Indeed, even at a time when the Katipunan had already been founded and making converts everywhere, the authorities could have nipped it in the bud had they had the insight to win over the wealthy and the educated Filipinos by giving them a few harmless privileges that would flatter them and so make them a strong buffer against the impact of the awakening masses. Stupidity reaped its harvest of blood and fire and led to the downfall of Spanish colonial imperialism.
IT NOW REMAINED for Andres Bonifacio to see through the thin mask worn by the complacent middle class and to feel the dismal failure of the campaign for reforms through peaceful methods. He witnessed with his eyes the futility of the La Liga Filipina, especially after Rizal's banishment to Dapitan. Wary of the methods employed by this society, he proceeded to found his revolutionary Katipunan with separatist aims.
Bonifacio came into the world with nothing but brawn and his native intelligence supplemented by self-study.
Almost illiterate, he did not possess Rizal's culture and depth, nor the gift of healthy satire and barbed wit of Marcelo H. del Pilar, but what he lacked in culture and facility of expression he made up for in his sincerity of purpose, simplicity of style, a will-power that overcame the ignominy of poverty, and most of all, the practical wisdom that he extracted as the quintessence of experience. His rugged simplicity, born of the arduous lessons of bitter existence, his penetrating insight that enabled him to see far ahead of contemporaries more learned than he, and the robust hope that found justification in his faith in the inherent capacity of the masses, led him to reject with passionate outcry the duality of conscience that makes men spiritual helots.
It is to the supreme credit of Bonifacio that, living in an era savagely hostile to the idea of reforms, let alone freedom, and hemmed in on all sides by the unyielding forces of reaction, he was able by sheer will-to-power to make his Katipunan the orbit of all aspirations when everything seemed lost in a maze of intellectual confusion and mistaken concepts of values. It was not his intuition that made him breathe life into the Katipunan but his plain common sense that sharpened his feelings for actuality. That the members of the middle class failed to detect the real intentions of the Spanish authorities in obstinately refusing to heed the urgent demands of the times, was to be expected, for they did not have the common touch, the common sense of Andres Bonifacio, who did not rely upon "promised comforts" that the middle class was dying to possess. Bonifacio, on the other hand, because he belonged to the lowest class which had nothing to lose but its bonds, grasped the situation correctly and, making his appeal through the medium of the language of the masses, whipped the passion and prejudices of the people against the rule of the caciques. If for no other achievement than the founding of the revolutionary society, Bonifacio deserves immortality.
WHY DID BONIFACIO succeed where others, more brilliant and educated had failed?
It seemed incongruous that a man so devoid of formal education and family tradition, so simple in his ways, in a word, so common, could have made the people act and think as one, could have made their hearts throb in a mighty cadence, and could have fashioned them to his liking. All this is explained by his personality. A society such as the Katipunan, with all its secrecy, revolutionary aims, and hostility to the land-owning class, needed a man of steel nerves, intense in purpose, and by nature sympathetic to the aspirations of the masses. Men, superior to Bonifacio in anyone of these qualities, had tried and were defeated. But he had, of all men, the happy combination of those qualities of leadership necessary to make the Katipunan a success. Because he was one-sided in outlook, he never bothered to imagine or invent pitfalls, alternative plans and possibilities such as would serve to confuse the mind and weaken one's resolutions and will-power. It was perhaps to his advantage that he did not have the culture of Rizal whose many-faceted mind generated doubt and fear as to the ability of his people to stand on their own feet. For had Bonifacio dilly-dallied or had he shown the least fear and doubt of results, the Katipunan would never have been what it was. It would have been a tragic failure. As it was, his intellectual shortcomings and weaknesses became his strength. They were, in relation to the revolutionary ideals, his greatest assets.
The present-day Filipinos have been taught to believe that Bonifacio succeeded because of his aggressiveness and recklessness. That the Katipunan became what it was because of these presumed qualities is doubtful and questionable. There was nothing aggressive or reckless in his manner or voice. If he had these qualities, as claimed, the Society which he founded would have been discovered before it had time to ramify, and he would have exposed all its members to unnecessary dangers of
persecution or execution. He would have antagonized from the very beginning those that he needed most, and thereby wrecked his plan of revolution.
It was, on the contrary, his modesty, coupled with his tolerance and even temper, that made him the natural leader of the Katipunan. To carry on its propaganda campaign, the society needed a reserved man from whose lips nothing would flow that would give the authorities suspicion of conspiracy. He was patient and intent upon the work before him. He was tight-lipped and usually given to meditation. Such a man, intense in his feelings, resolute in his aims, greatly influenced in his thought and actions by the doctrines of the French Revolution, calculating in his plans, and careful in his outward expression -- such a man alone was destined to be a great organizer.
If the Katipunan had succeeded in welding together men of common fate, it was not only because of Bonifacio's personality, but also because of the inability of the middle-class intellectuals to understand the needs of the masses and to include in their platform sound economic principles upon which the nation could build its foundations. The failure of the Liga to introduce a single significant reform created in the minds of the common people's leaders the impression that all appeals emanating from the middle class were destined to fall on deaf ears. The Spanish authorities, even when there was some hint of internal rumblings, persistently refused to heed the demands of the time because it would have meant a diminution in their authority and economic puissance. The situation became unbearable, and the masses, the most affected by the Spanish attitude, found it necessary to repudiate the method that was tried and found wanting.
It needed the strong convictions of Bonifacio and his belief in the futility of continuing the peaceful methods of propaganda to make radicalism triumphant. Bonifacio, like Samuel Adams, was a rebel, an agitator, who would not stop at employing any method in the struggle to wrest
the power from the Spanish royalists and their Filipino counterparts. No educated man could have succeeded as had Bonifacio in rousing the masses to action. The Katipunan, as a commoners' society, must necessarily be led by a man of Bonifacio's nerve: no regard for the existing social order and without undue thought for propriety and the social amenities. These qualities, in such a period, were the handiwork of the upper class and should not stand in the way of making economic democracy a pulsating reality. In an era such as that in which he lived, the principle that the end justified the means was the only sound principle to go by. And Bonifacio, with plenty of common sense, saw the necessity of exploiting it to the advantage of his society. He could not have done otherwise, for that would have meant failure. He was thus, in a different sense, a product of his own time.
BONIFACIO WAS NOT less a gentleman because he thought that the master-morality must be destroyed if democratic life was to succeed and become regnant. The methods he employed may appear dubious to the priggish, but the personality behind the mask was immaculate and beyond reproach. In impliedly denouncing the master-morality that nourished itself upon hypocrisy, he also brought to light the lovable virtues that he preached and practiced religiously. He was calm and he preached equanimity; he was industrious and he taught industry. He labored hard and honestly and imparted to his fellow-men the dignity of labor. It is only necessary to read his Duties of the Sons of the People, the first Filipino Decalogue, to understand how true to himself Bonifacio was and how, by their implications, he contemptuously repudiated that duality of conscience that had plagued human society for ages. Thus, while insisting upon the rights of the masses in a society of which they were the broad foundation, he nevertheless emphasized the importance of recognizing the duties incumbent upon them. He knew the shortcomings of the class to which he belonged and so he
preached to all the doctrine of earning one's living through one's honest efforts. There was born, therefore, the idea of the individual's economic independence and the attitude that enthrones labor as a virtue.
The politico-ethical concepts that he fashioned out of common sense and extracted from the demands of the times were to replace the prevailing master-slave morality that encouraged ignorance and taught blind obedience to authority. It was made abundantly clear to Bonifacio that continuance of authoritarianism in its ignoble form was out of keeping with the changing kaleidoscope of society. Life was sensitively dynamic and could not go on moving in a vicious circle. What had been taught by the Spaniards as true for the last three centuries must be continually re-interpreted from age to age if society should remain intact and progressive. The medieval interest in the life beyond, which the friars took pains to impose upon the minds of the Filipinos, had to be substituted with a sincere interest in the life of this world. It was this lingering consciousness of the inadequacy of the old order that inspired Bonifacio to reject it and to enunciate his more Christian concepts of the brotherhood of men, love of God and country, work, patience, the duty to God and man, industry and honor. There was in his politico-ethical concepts nothing of the supernatural, nothing of the superstitious, and certainly nothing of the intolerance that vitiated the rule of the friars. He was not God-fearing in the sense in which the term was commonly employed to make men behave. He was not godless just because he rejected the tenets of the friars. He did not fear God, because he loved Him, and he believed that only through love could He be approached. To love God was to love one's country and one's fellow-men, for they were of God and with God. Such doctrines, naturally, were repugnant to the clergy and so made the Katipunan a subversive society
Bonifacio's doctrine gained wide adherence, as proved by the expansion of the society, because the mentality
of the masses was prepared for them not by Bonifacio himself, but by the very acts of the friars which were the direct antithesis of what they preached. Common sense was awakened and penetrated the mask of religion. And with a leader who was well versed in the language of the people and who was quite adept in demagoguery, the Katipunan grew in strength until it considered itself ready to wrest the power from the insolent masters.
SEEDING OUT OF disgust over effete measures to curb Spanish excesses and bring about thorough reforms in the social and economic fields, the Katipunan had, as the Revolution gathered momentum, shed off its pleasant idealism to put in its place a concrete plan of action. Starting with the emotive cry of freedom, followed with the instinctive resort to physical force to realize the primitive urge to be free, the Katipunan had adopted, first, the political philosophy of the French Revolution -- Liberty, Equality and Fraternity -- then, the American system of free elections, and finally, the principles of universal freedom of thought, of conscience and of education.
With areas secure in the hands of the revolutionists, a plan was evolved whereby the conduct of the war and of the affairs of the state would be lodged in a Central Committee of six men, excluding the President, whose duties were to maintain peace and order in those places that adhered to the principles set forth. The Government was to be like that of the United States, republican in form, with every town under its jurisdiction electing a Municipal Committee which would "carry on the government and the administration of justice," a committee that was independent of but answerable to the Central Committee. A democratic structure was provided for by giving each Municipal Committee a delegate to the Central Committee, all of whom would compose the Congress which would "deliberate upon the sending of contingents of troops, food and contributions of war."
Even in such harassed and unstable conditions of the period, the leaders of the Revolution did not forget to strengthen and broaden their democratic foundations: the encouragement of universal education, the care of the sick and the wounded, the right to private property, the freedom of thought and of conscience, the encouragement of the arts and sciences, and the enjoyment of the blessings of liberty.
By April 1897, therefore, the Filipinos had already thought out a plan of government that was republican in form and nourished upon strict democratic principles. The Katipunan, because of its plebeian origin, must by its very nature be democratic, especially because it was an outgrowth of a colonial system that was in practice, if not in theory, fundamentally at variance with ordinary morality and common decency. Small at its inception, it naturally could put into practice the democratic principles until in its expanded form they took deep roots in the minds of the masses.
BUT WHY DID Bonifacio become the victim of his own methods and of the very society which he founded?
Circumstances beyond his power and which modified his personality after the outbreak of the Revolution inexorably moved towards a climax that neither patriotism nor the spirit of self-sacrifice was able to surmount. The Katipunan had become unwieldy because of its mass and energy. It had won over men of opposing personalities and temperament. It was inevitable then that in liberation there was projected in bold lines the baser instincts of men who would bow only to a force mightier and haughtier than they possessed. The attendant conflict of power, heightened by regional prejudices and love of personal glory, almost led to an untimely failure for the Revolution.
Bonifacio, as the moving spirit behind the Katipunan and the initiator of the revolt of the masses, was naturally the only person to whom the rival factions within the Society could appeal. It was not his mistake, as some writers on the Revolu-
tion would have us believe, that he accepted the invitation to mediate in the internal conflict. In the circumstances it was his duty to maintain order and harmony within the ranks. He could not have done otherwise unless he was prepared to see the work of the best years of his life shattered ignominiously. That he answered the frantic call of duty at the most trying period of the Katipunan was a proof of his greatness.
It was with the faith and confidence of a man respected and loved by his colleagues that he went to Cavite to head off the disaster that was threatening the ranks of the rebels. If, upon his arrival, he created a situation that augmented rather than diminished the tension to a point where it would snap, it was because he thought that as the recognized Supremo, his words would be listened to unquestioningly and without mental reservations. His mistake, then, lay in this: that he took everything for granted and, flattered to the limit by the signal honor of having been asked to intervene, he disregarded the psychology of regionalism. His actuations upon setting foot on a region about which he was ignorant, actuations that gave rise to suspicions, as proved by the impressions he made on the minds of Edilberto Evangelista and other leaders of Cavite, were fatal to the cause for which he was called upon to mediate. The conflict within became serious when he openly sided with the Magdiwang and, in the Imus Assembly, arbitrarily took the chair and called his Ministers to his side to the exclusion of those of the Magdalo.
Rightly or wrongly, the Cavite leaders suspected that he came over not to mediate but to impose his will. His immediate order for the arrest of Vicente Fernandez, though done in good faith and moved by his sense of duty and patriotism, aggravated the feeling of antagonism against him. Thus, balked in his attempts to exercise his rights as Supremo, he came to the conclusion that the leaders of the province had very little respect for him. He could have left at once at the first intimation of failure, but he chose to remain because some of the leaders pro-
Facsimile of the last page of Lazaro Makapagal's account of the execution of the Bonifacio brothers. (Courtesy of Antonio K. Abad)
Facsimile of General Aguinaldo's "confession" setting forth the reason why the Bonifacio brothers were executed despite his previous order commuting the sentence to banishment. This document is an affirmation of what the General told the writer in an interview on January 26, 1948, at his office on San Nicolas Street, Manila.
fessed loyalty to him and so made him believe that his
presence was necessary. From here on, Bonifacio's personality suffered modifications that were in direct contrast to the character that had made him the unchallenged organizer and leader of the early Katipunan.
RUMORS AND SUSPICIONS that had no basis in fact led to intrigues that taxed the patience and tolerance of Bonifacio. He himself became suspicious and wary of the actions of his fellowmen. The atmosphere, clouded with a heavy pall of restrained accusations and mutual distrust, made Bonifacio intolerant. It was inevitable. He had no other choice. To show weakness of character at such a moment was to invite abuse and contempt. His sacrifices did not allow compromise with what he considered an unfair and unjust usurpation of his authority as Supremo. He must have his way at all cost.
He was in this frame of mind when he attended the historic Tejeros Convention. It was made clear from the very beginning that his wishes would be ignored not only by the rival faction but, to his mortification, by the men who had sworn allegiance to him. The Convention was not called to supplant the Katipunan government, much less to elect officers. But he had to bow to the inevitable. The majority wanted a new government and a set of officers to carry on its functions. And when he failed to get the highest position that he believed should have been given to him as a matter of priority and right, his human weakness came to the fore and, finding an excellent excuse in the unfortunate Tirona incident, he denounced the proceedings as marred by intrigues and irregularities. Acting in his capacity as Supremo and chairman of the Convention, he declared the results null and void.
Briefly, he and his men, resenting the defeat at the polls, enumerated the reasons why they could not abide by the results of the election, to wit:
(1) That the Convention lacked legality because of the force exerted upon the Magdiwang presidency;
(2) That the ballots had been prepared by only one person and distributed to unqualified electors;
(3) That intrigues were resorted to in the election of officers and that the Magdalo men did not prepare the minutes;
(4) That the Magdiwang officials were not present during the election;
(5) That the Magdalo faction tried, by underhand tactics, to defeat the Magdiwang's candidate for the presidency;
(6) That General Aguinaldo considered things "not mentioned in the printed letter" and gave no notice of them to the Magdiwang;
(7) That the protestants had never solicited aid from the Magdalo, while the latter had constantly requested help from them;
(8) That the valuable services rendered by the Magdiwang men were repaid by "snatching the Presidency" from them; and
(9) That because they were the "first to raise the standard of rebellion," the Magdalo men should submit to them.
It is palpably obvious that the Tirona incident was only an excuse to repudiate the results of the Tejeros election, for as a matter of right, the Magdiwang men, with whom Bonifacio threw in his lot, believed that the Presidency should have been theirs. It was childish of the protestants to argue that they should have the Presidency if only because "they were the first to raise the standard of rebellion." The plain fact was that none of the Magdiwang leaders had achieved brilliant military successes as General Aguinaldo had. The popularity that he enjoyed throughout Cavite was the fruit not of intrigues but of sheer courage and sound military strategy. Bonifacio, though a great organizer, was not a brilliant military leader. He could not have done what Aguinaldo had achieved in the field. Bonifacio's de-
feat in the battles of San Juan del Monte and Balara was proof of his inability to lead men in hectic battles. He was the undisputed master organizer and leader up to the time of the discovery of the Katipunan, but when the Revolution broke out in all its fury and tragic implications his services became almost negligible. A new leader in the person of Emilio Aguinaldo had to take his place, for the character of the former was more apposite to the exigencies of the time.
That the election was dirty, according to the protestants, was something that was doubtful on its face value. Had it been so, none of the Magdiwang candidates would have been elected. As it was, all officers elected, with the exception of General Aguinaldo, belonged to the Magdiwang. In the second place, it was hardly fair to accuse the Magdalo of not preparing the minutes of the Convention, for the secretaries of the Convention, namely, Teodoro Gonzales and Artemio Ricarte, were all Magdiwang men. In the third place, it was not true that most of the Magdiwang officials were not in the Convention. The meeting was called by the Magdiwang followers and the election was held on Magdiwang territory. Because of the battle then raging in Dasmariñas and Imus, both Magdalo terrain, most of the leaders of this faction were unable to attend the meeting. Bonifacio himself was present, while General Aguinaldo was in the front lines fighting the enemy. General Aguinaldo could not have been guilty of the charge imputed to him by the Magdiwang protestants, for he was absent during the election and was totally ignorant of the existence of the convention. His refusal to leave his post on the battlefield when he was notified of his election to the presidency showed clearly where his interest lay, namely, in military operations. This line of thought manifested itself once more when, in December 1899, he printed a manifesto asking the Filipino people for a Christmas gift -- the approval of his resignation as President of the Republic and his continuance as mere military commander. And Mabini, reading a copy of this
manifesto, secretly ordered the confiscation of all copies printed and had them burned.
There is, however, one aspect of the election that merits serious reflection. Epifanio de los Santos, in his study of Andres Bonifacio, lightly dismissed the charge that regionalism played a role in the Tejeros election. He was quite one-sided in his attempt to justify the reason why General Aguinaldo was elected president over Andres Bonifacio. He was, however, right in assuming that the latter could not have done better than the former. However, in analyzing the situation and the personalities involved, one is led to believe that General Aguinaldo was elected to the highest office not only because of his popularity that stemmed from his brilliant military successes and the bravery and courage that he had shown, but also because of the deep-rooted idea and feeling of regionalism that characterize the Filipinos as a people.
While it is true that most of the officers elected, with the exception of General Aguinaldo, belonged to the Magdiwang, it is nonetheless true that those officers were all Caviteños. General Ricarte, an Ilokano, was elected commander of the armed forces in spite of his being a non-Caviteño, not because of any sense of fairness on the part of the Cavite electors -- though this element must have played a negligible role -- but because he was considered a Caviteño since he had lived among them and had even married a native of San Francisco de Malabon, where he was a teacher. Bonifacio, then, was looked upon as a stranger in Cavite, and regionalism, which even the most highly educated among the Filipinos could not shake off, played a significant role in his defeat. There was evidently some truth in his complaint that "some of the Imus crowd... had quietly spread the statement that it was not advisable that they be governed by men from other pueblos..."
Bonifacio's defeat at the polls was significant in at least one respect: that even his close friends and associates in the Magdiwang, though personally close to him and owing allegiance to him as their Supremo, were nevertheless pow-
erless to overcome the spirit of regionalism and, giving voice to their hidden sentiments, turned against him at a critical period of his career. General Artemio Ricarte, who was brave enough to denounce the Tejeros election and said so in no uncertain terms, remained inert and passive at a time when the Supremo needed his moral and physical support. General Pio del Pilar, Mariano Alvarez, Mrs. Bonifacio's uncle, Severino de las Alas, Emiliano Riego de Dios and a host of others -- all admirers of the Supremo -- either turned against him or remained indifferent to his fate. The spirit of regionalism, therefore, was partly responsible for his undoing.
IN ANALYZING THE documents of the period, there seems to be no doubt that the two papers prepared by Bonifacio and his associates -- namely, the so-called Acta de Tejeros and the Naik Military Agreement -- were obstreperously seditious and defiant in tone. The implications, particularly of the latter document, were such as to put the government headed by Aguinaldo at a potential disadvantage. Some of the government leaders were itching to put the Bonifacio brothers to the sword, while the public, taxed on the one hand by the Spanish threat from without and, on the other, by the flying rumors evidently unflattering to Bonifacio, demanded the punishment of the "guilty" ones. Under this tremendous pressure, General Aguinaldo ordered the arrest of Bonifacio.
A semblance of democratic procedure was followed by establishing a military tribunal to try the case. In sizing up the situation, one must remember that the composition of the court was not conducive to the dispensation of justice, for the men who composed it were all from the Magdalo and even Bonifacio's counsel was at the same time a member of the Council of War, a body that was decidedly predisposed against the man on trial for his life. Teodoro M. Kalaw, however, dismisses this point with a wave of the hand: "Even if this court could be charged with partiality because it was composed of men of only one side, the fact that Bonifacio and his followers submitted to it without any
protest, prevented them from taking exceptions to its decision. Under the circumstances, how could Bonifacio and his followers have protested against the action of the government and insisted on their refusal to recognize the authority of the Council of War? He was helpless, having been wounded and taken prisoner. He did not of his own free will submit to the authority and decision of the military body -- he was forced, whether he liked it or not, to bow to its authority. He was defeated in the field, and a defeated man has no choice of what should be done with him.
The whole trial of the Bonifacio brothers was conducted in an atmosphere of intrigue. The members of the military tribunal which investigated Bonifacio and his men asked the same set of questions calculated to mislead and to show, prior to the presentation of concrete proofs, the guilt of the accused. The ideas that the investigators wanted to bring out to show the guilt of Bonifacio were injected into their questions which may be summarized as follows:
(1) Was there a revolutionary government in the province?
(2) Who were the persons with whom Bonifacio held secret meetings in Limbon for the purpose of discussing the overthrow of the government?
(3) What did they agree upon or talk about in those meetings?
(4) How many guns had Bonifacio while in Limbon?
(5) Who fired first?
(6) Did Bonifacio have any permit to stay in Limbon?
(7) Had Bonifacio any legal permit from the government to recruit soldiers?
(8) Did Bonifacio offer bribes to the officials and soldiers of the government to join him with their guns?
(9) Did Bonifacio plan to kill the President?
Yet in spite of the obvious partiality of the questions which presupposed the guilt of the accused, the defense
counsel did not raise a single objection. Morality had gone down so low, in fact, that the counsel demanded a stiff penalty for his client -- a procedure which was extraordinarily unethical and which implied a secret connivance with the court to condemn the accused even before the start of the trial. There was nothing in the testimonies of the witnesses, except that of Pedro Giron, that gave ground for the court to condemn Bonifacio or his brother. Reading through the documents of the trial, one is impressed with the idea that nothing could have saved the brothers from the verdict of death since it was apparent that the prosecutors were in a prejudiced frame of mind. This, in spite of the fact that Procopio, according to all the witnesses, including Giron himself, had nothing to do with what his elder brother supposedly had contemplated to do. Moreover, it was not clearly established beyond reasonable doubt that the first shot came from Ciriaco Bonifacio, for one witness, Julian Aguila, testified that "he heard two shots opposite the place where he was" and that he "suspected that the government soldiers fired the shot, according to hearsay." Andres himself denied that the first shot came from his side and pointed as proof to the cartridges of his brothers. Francisco Carreon's account of the shooting also showed that the first shot that started the skirmish came from the ranks of the government soldiers. The military tribunal, over and above the testimonies of competent witnesses, chose to believe, quite arbitrarily, the garbled account of Pedro Giron whom Mrs. Bonifacio accused of having been bribed to testify against his chief. His account, together with that of Major Benito Torres, "strengthened" the position of the military court.
A few observations may be made of Pedro Giron's testimony. There is something in the whole testimony, in its tone at least, that immediately repels the reader. The sinister insinuations and the volubility of the witness make one suspect that he had, as Mrs. Bonifacio charged, a secret understanding with the prosecutors. He referred
for instance, to Bonifacio's "evil intentions" as the reason why he, the witness, "did not wish to join him and be involved in trouble," and yet he himself was found with his chief in Limbon when the fighting took place. The witness also referred to the Tejeros election as "the meeting in Tanza to elect a president" -- a statement that has no historical worth and that shows ignorance of what he was talking about.
One democratic principle of fair trial was ignored, to wit, the right of the accused to confront the witness against him. There was the semblance of a court, yet Bonifacio was denied the right to face his accuser, Pedro Giron, and was told that the latter had been killed in Naik, when in fact he was seen with the prosecutors' faction immediately after the execution of the Bonifacio brothers. Nor was the accused allowed to retain a counsel of his own choice who knew the circumstances of the case. The trial, then, was a farce and the members of the court could have been saved the trouble of a mock trial if the Bonifacio brothers had been shot outright, since the Naik Military Agreement was a concrete proof of Bonifacio's guilt involving sedition. At the trial itself, no such concrete proofs were adduced and the man at bar should have merited at least a less severe punishment.
THE QUESTION NOW arises why the Bonifacio brothers, found guilty by the Military Tribunal but ordered by General Aguinaldo banished to a solitary mountain instead of being executed as recommended by the trial court, were shot. Teodoro M. Kalaw searchingly asks: "In brief, if the accused had to die, why were they pardoned? And if they were pardoned, why were they executed?"
General Aguinaldo himself confesses that his previous order of pardon was withdrawn when Generals Noriel and Del Pilar prevailed upon him to do so in the interest of unity. This confession, then, coming as it does from the most authoritative source, definitely solves the so-called mystery of Bonifacio's death.
However, it seems not quite superfluous to examine the various excuses put forward by Generals Del Pilar and Noriel to justify Bonifacio's death, for they show what part intrigues and bad faith had played in the tragedy.
General Pio del Pilar, originally a Bonifacio man, in a signed statement obviously designed to clarify or rather rationalize the unfortunate incident, contends that
General Aguinaldo's order granting pardon to the Bonifacio brothers did not at once reach General Noriel's headquarters in Maragondon because General Aguinaldo was then in the field between Mt. Buntis and Maragondon and was gathering his men in order to reinforce the revolutionary army fighting the Spaniards who were then attacking the town of Maragondon.Continuing, General Del Pilar says:
General Noriel also told me the same, namely, that the Supremo, Bonifacio, and his brother, Procopio, were already dead when he received the order of pardon. The reason why the order did not reach him on time was that there was a battle raging and it could not be ascertained where General Noriel and his companions were.Students of the Revolution have time and again pointed out that if such was the case, General Noriel had no right to order the execution of the prisoners before the receipt of General Aguinaldo's decision. This argument is valid enough and strong enough to compel General Noriel to account for his hasty action and so morally and legally answer for the murder -- for murder it was -- of the two brothers. But quite apart from this indictment, the excuse so skillfully woven around the incident in the hope of covering it with a thin veneer of rationality, is in itself irrational and does not present the faithful picture of the circumstances involved. A critical analysis of the documents of the trial immediately reveals the excuse to be weak and unfounded.
Andres Bonifacio was investigated on May 4, 1897, in Maragondon, then the headquarters of the revolutionary army. On the same day, the Judge Advocate forwarded the papers, including his recommendations, to General Aguinaldo, and the latter, on the same date, sent the documents to the Council of War. The next day, May 5, the trial was commenced and finished. On May 6, the Council of War met and handed down the death sentence on the two brothers. The papers containing the investigation and the decision of the Council of War were forwarded to General Aguinaldo's headquarters, located in the same town, and Baldomero Aguinaldo, the Auditor of War, wrote his recommendations to the President on May 8. On the same day, President Aguinaldo wrote his order of pardon. The documents further reveal that on the day General Aguinaldo handed down his decision, it was supposedly shown, as required by General Aguinaldo himself, to the attorneys for the defense and to the prisoners, with Major Lazaro Makapagal attesting to it in both cases. There cannot be any doubt that the endorsements, if the documents do not contain forgeries, were received by the defense counsels and the prisoners on the very day that Aguinaldo's decision was written. If the order of pardon was received not only by Makapagal himself but also by the defense attorneys, then it is logical to conclude that General Noriel's excuse was a plain distortion of the facts. For if, as claimed, General Aguinaldo was "at the time between Mt. Buntis and Maragondon gathering his men in order to re-enforce the revolutionary army," how could he have penned his decision and still be able to send it to Major Makapagal who in turn showed it to the prisoners and their attorneys that same day? The Bonifacio brothers were shot on May 10, two days after the receipt of the order of pardon. Moreover, it is clear that when the prisoners were taken to the mountains, the Spaniards had not as yet attacked the town. Major Makapagal himself, who was ordered by General Noriel -- note that Noriel was in his headquarters in the
early morning of May 10th when he called in Makapagal -- to take the prisoners to Mt. Buntis to be shot as decided upon by the Council of War, testifies that Noriel, after giving his final instructions relative to the condemned, reportedly told him: "Hurry up! The Spaniards will attack today." In other words, the enemy was not yet attacking but was about to attack the rebel capital where Noriel, Aguinaldo, and the prisoners were. And yet the excuse unabashedly claims the Spaniards were "attacking the town of Maragondon" at the time Makapagal was ordered to take the prisoners to the mountains! The excuse, therefore is unacceptable and shows clearly that the death of Bonifacio and his brother was a foregone conclusion the moment they were arrested in Limbon on April 28th. And the court that sat ostensibly to conduct a fair trial of the case, in making a farce out of the judicial process, brought upon its head its own severe condemnation.
THE PIO DEL PILAR statement helps, however, to prove that there was something irregular in the execution of Bonifacio. For there are other angles to the puzzle that do not fit in with the circumstances. Makapagal, who attested to Bonifacio's receipt of the order of pardon, says in the last of the documents: The Secretary [that is, Makapagal] informs Mr. Andres Bonifacio of the accompanying decision. After understanding it, he acquiesced, but on account of some trouble with his arm, he was not able to affix his signature. Two witnesses testified and the Secretary attests to it."
The document has neither the signature of Makapagal nor of the two witnesses mentioned. It is strange that in all documents of the trial where a witness was illiterate, the signatures of the proxy and Makapagal appear, whereas in this particular document, important not only for Bonifacio but for those concerned, no signature is discernible. Doubt may, therefore, be raised whether the order of pardon was shown to Bonifacio. The doubt is
doubly augmented when one considers that it was impossible for him not to have signed it, if it was ever shown to him, for he was wounded in the left and not in the right arm. And Bonifacio, according to his living associates, was a right-handed man!
Probably more important is the psychological element involved, for had Bonifacio seen the order of pardon, as claimed, he would undoubtedly have argued his case with Major Makapagal when the latter read General Noriel's order to shoot the two brothers. The convicted men were fighting for their lives and no amount of logic or pressure from above could have dissuaded them from mentioning the order of pardon. It was, under the circumstances, instinctive and natural. Instead, they were pictured as desperately imploring Makapagal's forgiveness* -- a poignant scene that would not have been enacted if it were true that the order of pardon was shown to them.
Another important and equally baffling point is that while the documents show Colonel Pantaleon Garcia as the Judge Advocate, he himself denied having had anything to do with the trial of the Bonifacio brothers, a denial that cannot be dismissed with impunity since General Aguinaldo avers that Colonel Pedro Lipana and not Colonel Garcia was appointed as such. The question of who the actual Judge Advocate was assumes a significant aspect inasmuch as it implies that some of the signatures on the documents were forged and could have been made only with ulterior motives. All the documents of the trial wherein Colonel Pantaleon Garcia's name appears are open to doubt in so far as his signature is concerned, for he only signed not his complete name or initials, but his family name alone, that is, "Garcia," -- an unnatural thing in one who, no matter how eccentric -- and Colonel Garcia was far from being eccentric -- was confronted with state papers. Formality, even in such a small matter as one's signature, was the unwritten rule
*See p. 273.
and no one, in his official capacity, has been known to violate it, least of all the Filipinos of that period who were Spanish-educated and steeped in tradition.
Some inferences may, therefore, be drawn. First, that Colonel Pantaleon Garcia was "framed" by someone who had reasons to hate him. Second, that the forger or the man responsible for the forgery was far-sighted enough to realize that the documents might be handed down to posterity and sought thereby to evade responsibility for the unfair conduct of the trial. Lastly, it is highly probable that the forgery was done at the instance of a higher authority than the Judge Advocate, in this case Colonel Pedro Lipana, or on the latter's own responsibility. In either case, the Judge Advocate was guilty of acting in bad faith, since he alone could have had any interest in making it appear that he was not the Judge Advocate who condemned the Bonifacio brothers to death.
THE EXECUTION OF Andres Bonifacio, carried out in an atmosphere of intrigue, was a glaring evidence of the abnormal psychology that pervaded the revolutionists toward the close of the first epoch of the national struggle for emancipation. The Katipunan that accumulated its power out of the violent impulse of the masses to shake off the grip of the ruling class in an effort to found an economic and political democracy, had become unwieldy. The people, because of a sudden exercise of freedom that was won with blood and tears, had acquired habits of thought that were tinged with suspicion. They became jealous of their newfound power and authority and consequently looked upon all modes of actions contrary to their own as a potential danger and threat to their very existence. Out of these jealousies and suspicions arose an attitude that in normal times would have been labeled brutish. Even Bonifacio himself, far from being suspicious and misanthropic in nature, had developed into a personality opposed to his real character and so was forced by circumstances beyond his control
to act in a way that gave his colleagues grounds to accuse him of that which was alien to his real intent or purpose.
In a critical situation in which the existence of a nation is at stake, the psychology of the people, thinking and acting under the stress of the moment, is impregnated with a virus of distrust that becomes malignant with each passing hour. Lies and unfounded rumors give substantial nourishment to the virus and make vision shortsighted, nay, distorted. Hence, acts that in auspicious moments would not even create the least ripple on the mental surface become, in time of stress, treasonous. No one, no matter how patriotic he has been or how much he has achieved for the common weal, is safe from the immediate and vicious condemnation of the people when his opinion at such an unfortunate period runs counter to the violent tide of current feelings.
Such was the misfortune of Andres Bonifacio. Born and nurtured in proletarian surroundings, he had known and understood the uneven flow of life in all its vicissitudes. He did not come under the leveling influence of culture, but he steeped himself in that aspect of history which unfolded before his eager eyes the only method open to peoples everywhere in attaining freedom during the nationalist struggles of the Nineteenth century. The French Revolution, with its gory incidents and impulsive surge of mass feelings, with its desperate multitudes, fighting almost barehanded against the armed authority of the extravagant Bourbons, fired his imagination and made him feel called upon by destiny to sow in the country the seeds of democracy. It was to his eternal credit that in thus creating the Katipunan, he was able to penetrate the depths of the people's thoughts and so gave his country the most significant and glorious age of its history. Whatever had been achieved by the Revolution was due almost entirely to him.
Yet the very epoch that he created was also one that misunderstood him. Driven by a fiery patriotic fervor, he
Facsimiles of Colonel Pantaleon Garcia's signature. No. 1 is the signature that appears in the records of Bonifacio's trial and dated April 29, 1897. No. 2 is the signature on a document dated September 22, 1899. No. 3 is the signature on another document dated October 31, 1899; and No. 4 is that on the back of Garcia's portrait given to Mr. Antonio K. Abad and dated May 10, 1929.
Note that No. 1 is different from the rest. The difference lies not only in the fact that the strokes are obviously at variance with the other three samples, but also in the fact that only "Garcia" appears on the document, whereas in the rest the signature is invariably "P. Garcia."
When one considers that General Aguinaldo himself said colonel Garcia was not the Judge Advocate and that Garcia denied, in the 1920's, having seated as such during the trial of the Bonifacio brothers, the inescapable conclusion is that somebody must have forged Garcia's signature in order to make it appear that he was the Judge Advocate.
Facsimile of a document in which Lazaro Makapagal, the secretary of the military court, states that Aguinaldo's order commuting the death penalty to banishment was read to Andres Bonifacio, as provided in the order. Note that the document does not show the signature either of Makapagal or of the two witnesses who allegedly testified to the fact that Bonifacio had read Aguinaldo's commutation order.
resorted to acts that to him were necessary in the interest of revolutionary unity but which, to others, were arbitrary and unfair. His intentions were honorable and he thought them just under the circumstances, but their meaning was lost upon those who were equally patriotic and well-intentioned. There was no conflict of ideals; there was only the clash of interests. Bonifacio was not less human than the others and so aspired to continue as the supreme head of the movement that he had initiated. If in losing the highest position to a much younger man he also lost his mental balance, it was because the tense atmosphere of the period, heightened by unflattering rumors that he felt insulting to his person, gave occasion to show his wounded feelings and to express his beliefs in a manner that seeded into serious misunderstandings. He became suspect in the eyes of the people; and to him, on the other hand, the opposite faction was no less dubious.
Unfortunately for him, he was on strange ground where, unlike in his metropolitan Manila, regionalism was almost a virtue. The struggle for power that was inevitable in such a hostile atmosphere demanded loyal followers, and although apparently he had enough of them, they nevertheless saw fit to change allegiance at an opportune time. Some, like Judas, vociferously exclaimed their protestations of loyalty but conveniently deserted him and, worse, condemned him in his hour of need. Such blows of personal misfortune, augmented by the sacrifices he had endured in his desire to free all from bondage, including those who were now against him, radically modified his personality and made him morose and over-sensitive. That he committed improper acts under such psychological compulsion was natural, for he was human. That his enemies should have accused him of sedition and treason was equally understandable and fairly human, too. But that he was convicted of sedition by a court that was from the very beginning prejudiced against him, while purporting to be democratic in its procedure and just in purpose, was highly irregular and
most unfair. If Bonifacio was guilty, as indeed he was, he should have been shot without resort to intrigues to make it appear that he had been fairly tried in a court of justice. It is not the punishment meted out to him that demands a reconsideration of historical judgment, but the irregular method employed by his accusers in making him expiate for his errors. It seems quite certain that in forcing Bonifacio to face the trial court, his accusers -- who acted as judges at the same time -- were instinctively thinking in terms of the future and were convinced that posterity would condemn them if they were found guilty of not giving him the benefit of a fair and honest trial. It was probably this premonition and perhaps the belief that Bonifacio, as the founder of the Katipunan and the leader of the Revolution, would live in history, that drove his accusers to resort to intrigues to remove him, although it was plain to them that they could properly have executed him on the evidence of his plan to form and organize an independent government and army.
IN THE GATHERING dusk of a summer day not long ago, a young man in search of materials on the Revolution came upon an old man whose face showed traces of battle scars. There was something fiercely noble in the gait of him on whose shoulders hung the heavy weight of years. His white hair contrasted sharply with his tanned face.
A conversation was struck up. The Revolution became the major topic and the old man who in his younger years had fought the Spaniards recalled those days when heroism was a rare privilege and patriotism a magnificent duty. He mentioned Bataan as a solemn reaffirmation of man's struggle to be free and cited Corregidor as a happy reminder of the glorious and deathless epoch of Philippine history. He spoke of the men, crude in their learning yet pure and undaunted in their aims, who left family and home to pursue the illusive ideal of freedom, not for themselves but for the coming generations who were their fear and faith and hope. Recalling Andres Bonifacio,
he looked back through the mellowing pathos of distance to the beginnings of the vast underground movement that sustained men in their quest for a fuller life...
At the end of more than one hour, the visitor stood up and prepared to leave. A faint ray from the setting sun crept into the dark corner of the room and lighted the shadowy form of the old man now immobile and silent. As the darkness closed in, the old man stood up and walked with the young man to the head of the stairs.
"If I were to sum up Andres Bonifacio," said the young man before descending the stairs, "what do you think should I say?"
The old man gazed at his feet for a moment and then slowly raised his head.
"Tell the whole world," came his ringing answer -- "tell all the world that he was a noble plebeian."