Monday, September 19, 2005

Bonifacio, Andres. "What the Filipinos Should Know." In The Writings and Trial of Andres Bonifacio, trans. Teodoro A. Agoncillo and S. V. Epistola. Manila: Antonio J. Villegas; Manila Bonifacio Centennial Commission; University of the Philippines, 1963. 2-3.


What the Filipinos Should Know1

The Filipinos, who in early times were governed by our true countrymen before the coming of the Spaniards, were living in great abundance and prosperity. They were at peace with the inhabitants of the neighboring countries, especially with the Japanese with whom they traded and exchanged goods of all kinds. The means of livelihood increased tremendously, and for this reason, everybody had a nobility of heart, whilst young and old, including women, knew how to read and write in our autochthonous alphabet. The Spaniards came and offered us friendship. The self-governing people, because they were ably convinced that we shall be guided toward a better condition and led to a path of knowledge, were crumpled by the honeyed words of deceit. Even so, they [the Spaniards] were obliged to follow the customs of the Filipinos, their agreement having been sealed and made binding by means of an oath that consisted in taking a quantity of blood from each other's vein, mixing and drinking it, as a token of their true and loyal promise not to be faithless to what had been agreed upon. This was called the Blood Compact of King Sikatuna and Legazpi, who represented the King of Spain.2

More than three hundred years have elapsed since then, and for that length of time we have been bountifully supplying the needs of Legazpi's countrymen, we have been feeding them lavishly, even if we had to suffer privation and extreme hunger; we have spent our wealth, blood and life itself in their defense; we even went so far as to fight our own countrymen who refused to submit to them; and likewise, we combated the Chinese and the Dutch who attempted to wrest the Philippines from them.3

Now, for all this, what is the tangible concession that has been bestowed upon our country in exchange for what we have done? What do we see in the way of keeping faith with their promise that was the cause of our sacrifices? None but treachery is the reward for our munificence, and instead of keeping their promise that we would be led to the path of knowledge, they have blinded us and contaminated us with their meanness of character and forcibly destroyed the sanctity of our country's


customs. We have been nurtured in a false belief and the honor of our people has been dragged into the mire of evil. And if we dare beg for a little love, they retaliate by banishing us and tearing us away from our beloved children, wives, and aged parents. Every sigh that escapes our breast is branded as a grave sin and is immediately punished with brute ferocity.4

Now nothing can be considered stable in our loves; our peace is now always disturbed by the moans and lamentations, by the sighs and griefs of innumerable orphans, widows and parents of the countrymen who were wronged by the Spanish usurpers; now we are being deluged by the streaming tears of a mother whose son was put to death, by the wails of tender children orphaned by cruelty and whose every tear that falls is like molten lead that scars the painful wound of our suffering hearts; now we are more and more being bound with the chains of slavery, chains that are shameful to every man of honor. What, then, must we do? The sun of reason that shines in the East clearly shows to our eyes that have long been blinded the path that we ought to follow: by its light we can see the claws of cruelty threatening us with death. Reason tells us that we cannot expect anything but more and more sufferings, more and more treachery, more and more insults, and more and more slavery. Reason tells us not to fritter away time hoping for the promised prosperity that will never come and will never materialize. Reason teaches us to rely on ourselves and not to depend on others for our living. Reason tells us to be united in sentiment, in thought, and in purpose in order that we may have the strength to find the means of combating the prevailing evils in our country.5

It is now time for the light of truth to shine; it is now time for us to show that we have feelings, honor, shame, and mutual cooperation. Now is the time to commence the diffusion of the noble and great gospel that will rend asunder the thick curtain that obfuscates our minds; now is the time for the Filipinos to know the sources of their misfortunes. Now is the time to realize that for every move we make we are stepping on and heading toward the brink of the abyss of death that our enemies have dug to ensnare us.

Therefore, O my countrymen! let us open the eyes of our minds and voluntarily consecrate our strength to what is good in the true and full faith that the prosperity of the land of our birth, which is aimed at, will come to pass.

1Ileto literally (and more accurately) translates the title as "What the Tagalogs Should Know." Reynaldo Clemena Ileto, Pasyon and Revolution: Popular Movements in the Philippines, 1840-1910 (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1989 [1979]), p. 82.

2Ileto's translation:

In the early days, before the Spaniards set foot on our soil which was governed by our compatriots, Katagalugan enjoyed a life of great abundance (kasaganaan) and prosperity (kaginhawaan). She maintained good relations with her neighbors, especially with Japan, and maintained trade relationships with them all. That is why there was wealth and good behavior in everyone; young and old, women included, could read and write using their own alphabet. Then the Spaniards came and appeared to offer to guide us toward increased betterment and awakening of our minds; our leaders became seduced by the sweetness of such enticing words. The Spaniards, however, were required to comply with the existing customs of the Tagalogs, and to bind their agreements by means of an oath, which consisted of taking blood from each other's veins, mixing and drinking it as a sign of genuine and wholehearted sincerity in pledging not to be traitorous to their agreement. This was called the "Blood Compact" of King Sikatuna and Legaspi, the representative of the King of Spain.

Ileto, Pasyon, p. 83

3Ileto's translation:

Since then, for three hundred years, we have been giving a most prosperous life to the race of Legaspi; we have let them enjoy abundance and fatten themselves, even if we ourselves were deprived and hungry. We have wasted our wealth and blood in defending them even against our own countrymen who refused to submit to their rule; and we have fought the Chinese and the Hollanders who tried to take Katagalugan from them.

Ileto, Pasyon, p. 84.

4Ileto's translation:

Now, after all this, what prosperity (ginhawa) have they given to our land? Do we see them fulfilling their side of the contract which we ourselves fulfilled with sacrifices? We see nothing but treachery as a reward for our favors; as their fulfillment of the promise to awaken us to a better life, they have only blinded us more, contaminating us with their lowly behavior, forcibly destroying the good customs of our land. They have awakened us to false beliefs, and have cast into a mire the honor (puri) of our land. And if we beg for scraps of compassion, their reply is banishment and separation from our beloved children, spouses, [end of page 84] and parents. Every sigh we utter is branded by them a great sin and punished with inhuman cruelty.

Ileto, Pasyon, p. 84-5.

5Ileto's translation, beginning with the second sentence of the paragraph:

What should be done, then? The sun of reason that shines in the East clearly shows, to our eyes long blind, the way (landas) that must be taken; its liwanag [end of Ileto, page 85] enables us to see the claws of those of inhuman character who brought us death. Reason (katwiran) shows that we cannot expect anything but more and more hardships, more and more treachery, more and more contempt, more and more enslavement. Reason tells us not to waste our time waiting for the promised ginhawa that will never arrive. Reason tells us that we must rely upon ourselves alone and never entrust our right to life to anybody. Reason tells us to be one in loob, one in thought, so that we may have the strength in finding that evil,reigning in our land.

Ileto, Pasyon, p. 86.