The Original Katipunan
The 7 July decree deporting Rizal to "one of the Southern islands" also provided for stricter rules throughout the archipe-
lago against the entry and circulation or possession of Rizal's writings, as well as of every manifesto or handbill "directly or indirectly attacking the Catholic religion or the national unity." A decree the next September dismissed a number of persons from government employment in Batangas, Binondo, and Pampanga and ordered the "enforced change of domicile" (euphemism for exile) of Doroteo Cortes and Ambrosio Salvador of Manila; Antonio Roxas of Bulacan; Mariano Alejandrino of Pampanga; Leon Apacible of Batangas; Jose Basa of Cavite; and Vicente Reyes of Laguna.
But the Katipunan was in no position to take action. Isabelo de los Reyes, who claims intimate knowledge of the origin and development of the Katipunan, wrote of its handful of founders that Jose Dizon was an employee in the Mint; Deodato Arellano was a clerk in the arsenal; Bonifacio was a warehouseman in a brick factory; and the others "clerks, assistants of the Secretaries, or clerks of courts. Among them there was not a single rich man, nor one of a learned profession...."
De los Reyes would conclude from the persons of its founders that the Katipunan was a plebeian society: "I have said, and I will repeat a thousand times, that the Katipunan was a plebeian society; that is certain." But this plebeian character was not the most important feature of the society at this time. What was important was its secret character, as reflected in its recruitment and organizational systems. The basic units were three-man cells, where only one man in each knew one man in the next cell. The result was that membership was very small and growth was very slow. This soon became evident, and the cell or triangle system was discarded and replaced by recruitment and organization on the basis of district councils, copied from Rizal's Liga.
Another innovation in the membership of the Katipunan was adopted at this time: admission of women to membership. This was consistent with the society's principle that women were "helpers and partners in the hardships of life." But there was a practical side to the matter, according to De los Reyes. The Katipuneros' wives were worried over their husbands' nightly absences; since the latter carried money, the women thought that their husbands were going out "for quite another purpose." So a women's chapter was set up; the Katipuneros' wives, daughters, or sisters became members. But if the men members were few,
getting the women in only meant keeping the society's membership "within the family."
Aside from its secrecy, the society's growth was restricted in its early years by the character of its officers. Roman Basa and Arellano, the first two Supremos or heads of the Supreme Council of the Katipunan, belonged to fhe old propagandist group and were horrified by the entry of Bonifacio's plebeians into the Liga's rolls. This was a major reason for the slow growth of the Katipunan's membership during their terms as Supremo. This would also explain the long period of four years between the founding of the revolutionary Katipunan, back in July 1892, and the outbreak of the Revolution in August 1896, although there were other factors.
During this period the Katipunan never grew like wildfire. Valenzuela's Memoirs show how excruciatingly slow was its growth. Bonifacio's biographer Epifanio de los Santos cites Valenzuela as saying that over the period July to December 1892 there were only "30 members at the most." But Bonifacio was a dogged organizer. Over 1894 and 1895, with the Liga finally dissolved, he was able to work full-time on the Katipunan and patiently went into the pueblos.
Still, Valenzuela records that "according to Bonifacio, the Katipunan did not have over 300 members" from the night of its founding until 1896.
The society began to really grow after two events. The first was the recruitment of a remarkable young man in 1894; the second was Bonifacio's becoming Supremo in December 1895.
Emilio Jacinto joined the Katipunan in 1894; he was nineteen years old. He was born 15 December 1895 in Tondo, son of Mariano Jacinto, a small tradesman, and Josefa Dizon, midwife. Every account of Jacinto's life points to his valuable contributions to the Katipunan. He was the author of the primer, or Teachings, of the society, Bonifacio withdrawing his own version in recognition of Jacinto's superior expression. To Bonifacio, Jacinto (nom de guerre, "Pingkian") was the "soul of the society." In the Katipunan elections of 31 December 1895 Jacinto, only a pre-law student in the University of Santo Tomas, became fiscal or number two man on the Supreme Council. Bonifacio, Valenzuela, and Jacinto constituted the council's "Secret Chamber" and made all its important decisions.
In April 1895 Bonifacio (nom de guerre, "Maypagasa") brought a band of Katipuneros into the Montalban hills, initiating some men of the area. Here in the Pamitinan cave the band assembled; their presence is evidenced by an inscription scratched in charcoal on the walls: "Viva la Independencia de Filipinas!" This was the Filipinos' first cry for liberty and independence.
This same year the Katipunan was picking up members in Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, and Cavite. A new leader was emerging south of Manila. Emilio Aguinaldo, six years younger than Bonifacio, became gobernadorcillo or municipal capitan of Cavite el Viejo (Kawit) in January 1895. He was as energetic as the Supremo; he became an apprentice Mason with the lodge "Pilar" in Imus on the day he took his oath as capitan. One day in March, with Santiago V. Alvarez of Noveleta, he crossed the bay to Manila. At 7 P.M., blindfolded, he was brought in a calesa to Binondo and underwent the Masonic style initiation rites of the Katipunan. He took the name "Magdalo" after the patron saint of his town Mary Magdalene. After the rites were over his blindfold was removed, and he met Andres Bonifacio, in whose house the ceremonies were held.
The December elections to the Katipunan council were held at night in the Bonifacio house on Zurbaran street in the district of Santa Gruz. Some 200 of the 300 members were present. The new element in the society's life was that, for the first time, it had a printing press. We do not know whose idea it was. It was a fortuitous development. Two Visayan sea divers who had worked for some years in Australia had come home. Francisco del Castillo and Candido Iban of Kalibo, Capiz joined the society upon their return this year. They had 1,000 pesos between them; they heard that the Katipunan needed a press; they bought one for 400 pesos from a shop on Carriedo street and turned it over to Bonifacio.
How the press lacked type faces for various letters and how Jacinto remedied the problem by buying or arranging to get the needed types from here and there; how the Katipunan paper was named KALAYAAN (Liberty; Independence); how Jacinto labored on the paper after classes, assisted by Ulpiano Fernandez, a printer of the Manila newspaper El Comercio and Faustino Duque, a student in Letran; how Bonifacio, Jacinto, and Valenzuela contributed the materials for the first issue; how they placed Del
Pilar's name as editor, with Jacinto rewriting one of the former's editorials into Tagalog; how Yokohama was printed as the paper's place of publication; and how only the first issue of the paper could be distributed, are all told in Valenzuela's Memoirs. The 18 January 1896 number of KALAYAAN came out in March. Of the press run of 2,000 copies, Aguinaldo paid for 200 for his men in Cavite; Valenzuela paid for 100 for his province, Bulacan; and Bonifacio paid for 700 for Manila.4
The busy festival month of May, the season for the traditional pilgrimage to the shrine of the Virgin of Antipolo, was used by Bonifacio as cover for a meeting to which he had summoned all the leaders of the Katipunan town councils. The meeting was set for 3 May, a Sunday, the Virgin's fiesta. The Magdalo council of Cavite sent three delegates: Aguinaldo; Benigno Santi, school teacher of Kawit; and Raymundo Mata. The assembly point for delegates coming from south of Manila was the foot of the old suspension bridge of Quiapo (now Quezon Bridge); from here five river boats, each with at least ten men, rowed upriver as if going to Antipolo.
There were some sixty council heads who responded. They landed on the right bank of the Beata (an arm of the Pasig) and took an early supper at the place of the capitan Ramon Bernardo, and then returned to their boats and proceeded to Sapang Nabas. There was a constant drizzle, the clouds were dark, and since the meeting was expected to run into the next morning, the Pasig Katipuneros suggested that they move there, and the meeting was held in the house of Valentin Cruz, behind the
Bonifacio presided. He had bad news. He told the assembly that the Katipunan was like a woman with child who had to deliver prematurely. This was because, he told them, "our secrecy has been broken," and the Spaniards were keeping them and their movements under close surveillance. In this situation, therefore, they had to decide whether or not to begin the Revolution. He was in favor of an immediate rising. Aguinaldo took the floor, and pointed out to the lack of weapons and preparations. He proposed that the day of the uprising be put off for a time when the chances of success were better. Bonifacio insisted that the issue was not weapons, but whether to fight or not. Santiago V. Alvarez (nom de guerre, "Apoy") of the Mag-
diwang council of Noveleta reported that their president, Mariano Alvarez (nom de guerre, "Mainam"), wanted the assembly to consider the terrible consequences of the terror of 1872, which he himself had suffered.
Aguinaldo then moved that a decision be deferred until after they had obtained the counsel of Dr. Rizal (honorary president of the Katipunan, but without his knowledge) in Dapitan. The meeting received this suggestion favorably, and Bonifacio was constrained after a recess to name Dr. Valenzuela as the emissary to Dapitan. The meeting ended at 5 A.M.
This decision was the reason for Valenzuela's trip to Dapitan in June. Valenzuela reported to Rizal that the Katipunan membership was growing every day and that total membership had reached 30,000. This is almost surely overstated; other estimates, citing Valenzuela himself, range from 15,000 to a high 43,000.
In any case, the single issue of the KALAYAAN spread knowledge of the Katipunan widely and drew the common people into its membership. By March, hundreds were said to be joining nightly in the Manila area. The councils in the provinces of Morong, Cavite, Bulacan, and Nueva Ecija likewise grew, and the society appeared in the provinces of Pampanga, Batangas, and Laguna.
As membership increased, of course, the Katipunan was more and more exposed to inevitable discovery. The initiation of new members took place in night meetings. Most town fiestas in Filipinas were celebrated after the rice harvest, beginning around October; the, late fiesta months were April and May, when the first rains would begin in most of Luzon. From here on the nightly meetings, especially in the Manila area, would not have the cover of fiesta crowds. The masses of new members, full of revolutionary fervor and eager for action, had to be restrained.
Even the leadership aggravated the exposure of early May. This was an offshoot of Dr. Valenzuela's visit to Rizal in June. The latter had advised that efforts be made to get the support of the rich; otherwise, they would be the Revolution's "worst enemies." In any case, they must be neutralized. After Valenzuela returned to Manila he, Bonifacio, and Jacinto decided to send a Katipunan officer to approach a rich Filipino, with instructions to solicit a money contribution for the purchase of arms and
ammunition. The latter, however, would have nothing to do with the Katipunan and threatened to denounce it to the authorities if he were molested.
As a result of this incident, the Secret Chamber decided to forge papers implicating "many rich and aristocratic Filipinos" as Katipunan organizers or members. The first of them was Francisco Roxas, the millionaire who refused to help; he was named in the false papers as president of the society. The incriminating papers evidently found their way into the authorities' hands; an October 1896 report by a Spanish officer refers to them as "rich proprietors" and despicable, "shameless filibusteros" who enjoyed high social position and benefited from Spain's protection. It must be said, however, that not one of the men who were falsely implicated betrayed the society to the authorities.
The Katipunan continued to grow in June and July, At this time when recruitment was going apace, some Katipunero councils would sponsor dances, beauty contests, and other festive gatherings to cover their meetings and spread propaganda among the people. The newfangled bicycles offered another ruse; the Katipunero recruiters took to them, cycling and recruiting outside
And then, in mid-July, fate stepped in. All the workmen in the printing shop of the Diario de Manila, a Manila newspaper, were Katipuneros. Their foreman Apolonio de la Cruz was treasurer of the Maghiganti council in Tondo. The other foreman, named Patiño, in charge of supplies and equipment, was the only non-Katipunero; he was the protegé of the Spanish shop manager Lafon. Patiño was not a bad sort; it is almost certain that he knew that there was Katipunan material in the premises, but it was no business of his and he pretended to be deaf and blind. This was before Lafon told the men that a salary increase of from 14 pesos to 18 or 20 pesos a month was being considered for either Patiño or De la Cruz. The two were torn apart by rivalry. There was a near scuffle after a poison pen letter to Lafon charged Patiño with stealing supplies.
It was Saturday afternoon. Lafon dismissed the men, closed the plant, and left by calesa. Before 6 P.M. he was back with a lieutenant of the Veterana. They forced open De la Cruz' lockers and found paraphernalia of the Maghiganti council: a set of stamps, a primer, a list of members and membership oaths
signed in blood, receipts, and ledgers of accounts of De la Cruz. That evening, at 10 P.M., police agents and the Veterana armed with copies of the membership list were searching the houses of the men. Those who were not arrested were hunted. Next day, Sunday, and through the weeks that followed the hunt continued. Wives thought to save their husbands and only made things worse by confessing to their curates.
The above account is by Santiago V. Alvarez. At least the date is confirmed by Aguinaldo in his memoirs when he records that the bad news of the discovery of the Katipunan reached them in Cavite in July.
Bonifacio had to go into hiding; many of the Katipuneros felt he had abandoned them. He would surface again in the last days of August, fail in battle, go to the hills, and reappear in Cavite, but it may be said that he had fulfilled his historic role. He is deservedly called the Father of the Revolution. Neither Rizal nor Lopez Jaena nor Aguinaldo nor any of the other notable Filipinos of the time earned that role. There were many tasks to be done, some of them were noble, most were undistinguished; the different tasks fell to different men. The noblest work of the time was the founding of the Kamahalmahala't Kagalanggalang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Most Exalted and Most Respected Society of the Sons of the People). It was Bonifacio who founded it, and to it he gave his own selfless spirit and unbounded patriotism.
Bonifacio was born of Santiago Bonifacio and Catalina de Castro in Tondo on 30 November 1863. He is said to have been orphaned at age fourteen. He survived through non-ilustrado means of livelihood. His biographer De los Santos also calls him the Father of Philippine Democracy; it seems more proper to call him the Great Plebeian, as he is also often called. That he was well read in the literature of the Propaganda, on the lives of American presidents, on the Bible, on the French Revolution and similar materials, all on his own time, is not incompatible with his humble origins.
He became a Freemason, which we know was not generally open to the masses or commoners, but he was then already a leader among the patriots of Manila. His membership in the Masonic fraternity and in the revived Liga did not make him an ilustrado; indeed his bringing in of his own recruits into the
revived Liga had given the latter a plebeian element. He came to be related by affinity to Mariano Alvarez, leader of the Magdiwang council in Noveleta, Cavite. This was from Bonifacio's marriage to Gregoria de Jesus, niece of Alvarez, when Bonifacio was already Katipunan head.
Neither did this circumstance make him an ilustrado: the key factor was wealth. He was a self-made man who had no inheritance; he received no allowances. And his family was not landed gentry, which was how all ilustrado families began. Bonifacio and Jacinto belonged to that politically volatile and often angry class, the ambitious urban poor that has improved itself but sees no hope in the existing regime.5
The Execution of the Supremo
The fiasco of 29-30 August 1896 marked Bonifacio's fading out, for all practical purposes, from the military record of the Revolution. He took part in minor field actions until towards the end of the year. His return to the limelight in December involved him in the war-related politics in Cavite. This weakened the Revolution in the face of Polavieja's offensive, and the rebel setbacks in turn intensified the political rivalry, resulting in his death in May.
When Bonifacio escaped after August, the Katipunan councils in the Manila area were left leaderless. Weeks were spent tracking him. Loyalty to the Supremo led to the reforming of small bands, but they were all stragglers, and their activities were not much of a war. Once or twice he revisited his old base in Balara. But the capital area remained secure for the Spaniards. It was different in Cavite. The two leading Katipunan councils proclaimed themselves revolutionary governments. Aguinaldo's proclamation of 31 October was addressed to the Filipino nation. As a result of the victories of November, the Caviteños developed a deep sense in the righteousness and ultimate victory of the Revolution. They were elated, universally committed to the Katipunan and its teachings, and proud of their province. Cavite came to be known as "the Province of the Revolution." The enemy defeat and withdrawal were followed by a period of joy and peace. The Magdiwang Santiago V. Alvarez records:
All day and all night the dalagas kept their tindahan (small makeshift shops) open; there were singing, dances, picnics under the trees, gambling and cockfights right and left, distractions from the coming moment for sacrificing blood and life....
During this period Cavite attracted a stream of refugee families and partisans of the Revolution from Manila and nearby provinces. Among the latter was Ramon Bernardo, the commander of the ill-fated Katipunan force that had awaited Bonifacio in vain in Santa Mesa all the night of Saturday, 29 August. He was received by the Magdiwang leaders, to whom he recounted what had befallen him since, including his efforts to locate Bonifacio. As a result of Bernardo's report, the Magdiwang looked for a man who knew the fields and hills and rivers of Morong Province, and directed him to search for the Supremo and deliver a letter from the Magdiwang chairman, Mariano
Alvarez. The search was successful.
According to Artemio Ricarte (nom de guerre, Vibora), an early Magdiwang general, Alvarez invited Bonifacio to visit "so that he might witness and examine the very difficult but satisfactory situation in which the Cavite Katipuneros found themselves." Bonifacio did not immediately accept the invitation, but a second and third were sent (Ricarte says he wrote the communications). In his replies, Bonifacio praised the successes of the Revolution in Cavite. He regretted that he had so far not captured a single town; he and his band were in remote hill bases. He looked forward to his visit to Cavite. But he did not intend to stay long there; and he said that when in Cavite he would not make any changes but would recognize and respect the Revolutionary Government and its policies and acts, because it was the authority that was uniting the people and promoting the teachings of the Katipunan.
Aguinaldo's memoirs record that the Revolution in Cavite had lost contact with Bonifacio and that nobody knew in "which corner of the districts and woods of Caloocan, San Mateo, and Montalban" the Supremo and his companions were resting. Search parties were sent to "the forests of Caloocan and Malabon." Blanco states that in late September Bonifacio had joined General Llanera, commander in Morong and Bulacan, and that the Llanera-Bonifacio force attacked the Morong cabecera on 6 October but was repulsed and retreated into the hills. Blanco regarded the force at this time as a minor target, reserving his main effort for Aguinaldo in Cavite. Blanco finally records that the Llanera-Bonifacio group received "severe punishment" in an early November action.
In early December Bonifacio, accompanied by General Lucino de la Cruz (nom de guerre, "Ipo-ipo"), twenty men, his wife, and his two brothers Procopio and Ciriaco, arrived in Bacoor. The Father of the Revolution commanded no army. Bacoor, in northern Cavite, was a Magdalo town, proudly described by Aguinaldo as "the portal of freedom in Cavite." But the Magdiwang Santiago V. Alvarez says that Bonifacio arrived at dusk in Imus. The next day he received Aguinaldo, his cousin Baldomero, and Daniel Tirona, and the three accompanied him to Noveleta and then to San Francisco de Malabon, the new Magdiwang capital. Along the way and in the latter town the people welcomed the Supremo warmly.
In Aguinaldo's view, in December Cavite had been a liberated province for three months, and it had its "free and independent Revolutionary Government." He was referring to the government set up by his council, the Magdalo. But the true situation was not so simple. In fact there was not only another revolutionary government, but a rival government, that of the Magdiwang. Practically all the Cavite towns were under either the Magdalo or Magdiwang. Aguinaldo put it generously: "The successful fight for freedom in the entire province of Cavite against the Spanish regime was dut to the leadership and efforts of the two councils...."
The Magdiwang capital was originally in Noveleta, near Kawit the Magdalo base, but it was near the sea and subject to shelling by the enemy's gunboats, and the Magdiwang moved to San Francisco de Malabon. The other Magdiwang towns were: Santa Cruz de Malabon (Tanza), Rosario (Salinas), Naic, Ternate, Maragondon, Alfonso, Magallanes, Bailen, Indang, and San Roque. The Magdalo also moved their capital to Imus after the Magdiwang moved theirs. The other Magdalo towns were: Bacoor, Carmona, Silang, Dasmarinas, Amadeo, and Mendez Nunez. Although the Magdalo towns were less in number, they were as a whole more important than the Magdiwang towns, the most noteworthy of which were Noveleta, San Francisco de Malabon, and Indang.
We must understand the system of Katipunan councils. According to Ricarte, the councils in towns with few Katipunan members were Sangguniang balangay or local councils. But in towns or provinces where there were many Katipunan members,
there was a Sangguniang bayan or provincial council.
Bonifacio went to Noveleta on Good Friday, April 1896 to officiate at the founding of the Magdiwang Sangguniang bayan. On the invitation of Aguinaldo he went that same afternoon to Kawit, for the purpose of founding the Magdalo council as well as witnessing the initiation of new Katipuneros. However, they could see flames from across the bay that evening, and Bonifacio had a premonition that his house in Manila was burning. (He was right.) The inauguration ceremonies did not go through. Soon afterward, Aguinaldo visited Mariano Alvarez in Noveleta to take up the matter of his council. He was told that the Magdalo could set up a Sangguniang balangay; as for a Sangguniang bayan, however, that could be done only with authorization from the Supremo. But this did not stop Aguinaldo; a few days later the Magdalo had a provincial council, presumably without sanction from Bonifacio.
The setting up by the Magdalo of a second provincial council, apparently without official Katipunan sanction and when there was already a sanctioned council, was something of an anomaly. Moreover, when the Magdiwang provincial council elevated itself on 31 August into a revolutionary government, the Magdalo also founded their revolutionary government.
At first the Caviteños did not mind it, and the victories won in November even led to the idea that the two governments, united in the common goal to fight the Revolution, was an advantage.
Bonifacio's arrival in Cavite, almost immediately followed by his partisan identification with the Magdiwang, made him a party in the rivalry. There were dark forces at work. After Christmas that year anti-Bonifacio gossip and poison pen letters were circulating, some saying that he had poor schooling. Daniel Tirona, a Magdalo, was suspected as one of the letter writers. One day, in San Francisco de Malabon, Bonifacio accosted Tirona about the letters; he aimed to shoot, but Mariano Alvarez saved Tirona.
On 29 December 1896, the two councils met at the old hacienda house in Imus in an effort to strengthen the Revolution through a settlement of their differences. The matter of uniting the two councils was taken up, but there was no agreement. The presiding officer was Bonifacio. Santiago V. Alvarez records that
Bonifacio and Aguinaldo were trying to conceal the deepening animosity and widening rift between them, amidst rumors attacking each other's person and honor. And then, one evening in January, Aguinaldo and Mariano C. Trias (nom de guerre, "Labong"; Magdiwang officer who would defect to the Magdalo in February), and Bonifacio and his brother Procopio, each with a gun, were seen leaving the house of Mrs. Epifania Potente (Bonifacio's lodgings) in San Francisco de Malabon. The moon was full. They were seen to halt under a tree along a nearby street. Then they exchanged heated words and aimed their guns at each other. The timely arrival of S.V. Alvarez, who placed himself between the duelers, prevented a shootout.
Certainly it was fate. (It is still a truism in modern Philippine politics that no President of the Republic gains anything by interfering in contests between provincial political chieftains.) The
schism in the leadership of the Revolution in Cavite came at the worst possible time, because Polavieja was already preparing his great offensive.
The fall of the major Cavite towns one by one after the battle losses of mid-February further embittered the Aguinaldo-Bonifacio hostility in March, leading to the sad events of April and May.
It will be recalled that the 29 December 1896 meeting held in Imus to settle differences considered the matter of unifying the two factions. Unification would produce a common government, and the question of the constitution arose. Ricarte's memoirs record that in the view of the Magdiwang a constitution already existed, that of the Katipunan; while to the Magdalo the Katipunan was a secret society, and so its government and constitution had ceased upon the outbreak of the Revolution. On the government issue, the Magdiwang held that the Katipunan Supreme Council and provincial councils constituted an already functioning government. Aguinaldo claims that the Magdiwang were prepared to have elections for the officers of a new revolutionary government, but that they wanted the position of the head of government reserved for the Supremo. Aguinaldo adds that while the Magdalo had initiated the meeting, "the Supremo called the meeting to order and presided over it." There Were no minutes made of the proceedings of this meeting.
In April Bonifacio wrote Jacinto, telling him that "the enmity
between the two factions" was "very great." But Bonifacio was not a neutral Supremo. When the enemy was taking the rebel towns, he wrote anew to say that General Malvar of Batangas was "a very intelligent man," and added that Malvar was "better perhaps, than the general we know here...," referring to Aguinaldo. Of the losses being suffered by the rebels, he suggested that they had been due to poor defense, or "without any struggle."
In truth, the Spaniards had overwhelming superiority in almost every material battle factor. Both Magdiwang and Magdalo fought gallantly and honorably, but they had been overrun. And a glance at the map will show that the Magdiwang towns were ensconced comfortably behind the Magdalo towns, with the latter having to bear the brunt of the enemy attack that would come from the north and from the east and south (Laguna and Batangas). Aguinaldo was correct in saying that the Magdiwang were "always very happy because the twelve towns under their control were peaceful, being located behind the Magdalo towns, which were always under fire." And:
We might say that the Magdiwang leaders were lucky, since from the beginning of the Revolution until April 1897 they figured in only one encounter..., unlike the Magdalo, who almost every day had a battle to fight and never had peace of mind.During this time the relations between Aguinaldo and Bonifacio progressively deteriorated against a backdrop of losses of territory, both Magdiwang and Magdalo. Their perceptions of events began to be more and fnore critical of each other. But it was due to their humanity and sense of responsibility to the Revolution, not evil motive. The written record by AguinaJdo is lengthy and more detailed than Bonifacio's, and we present part of it only to show the deterioration of the warmth with which the former greeted the Supremo in December, when the Revolution was winning, into clear enmity in February, when the Magdalo were losing.
Aguinaldo claims that he had gone to Bonifacio three times, in late December, in January, and again in February, to ask for some troops from the Magdiwang against Polavieja's offensive. He says that he had to humble himself each time. Bonifacio refused, saying that he needed his own men. Aguinaldo ex-
plained (he says) that the Magdiwang positions were to the rear Of the Magdalo lines, but to no avail. Then the major town of Silang fell. Aguinaldo went directly to two Magdiwang generals, Mariano Riego de Dios and Ricarte, for assistance in the retaking of the town. He says that they agreed to a three-pronged maneuver, which promised success, but that they did not appear at the agreed hour and the counterattack was aborted.
That was part of the fortunes of war. But March hit Aguinaldo with a personal tragedy. General Crispulo Aguinaldo, his elder brother, died in the defense of Imus fighting at Pasong Santol, near Dasmariñas, on 25 March. The battle for Imus had raged since 28 February. It was no consolation that the Spanish General Zabala, the conqueror of Dasmariñas, was a casually.
Aguinaldo says that the fall of Imus was due to Bonifacio's ordering Ricarte to intercept the Magdalo reenforcements for Pasong Santol, and concludes:
When I realized what the Supremo had done, I sighed and said to myself: "He wishes to destroy our Revolution." General Mariano Trias, in anger, recommended that the traitors be arrested. What did our country, aspiring for freedom, gain from that loathsome act and selfish purpose?It was during the fighting and imminent fall of Imus, the Magdalo capital, that the assembly at Tejeros met on the 22nd March. Tejeros was in San Francisco de Malabon, the Magdiwang capital. Aguinaldo did not attend. He was fighting at Pasong Santol front. The day was his 28th birthday.
The meeting was called by Bonifacio to discuss the strengthening of the defense of Magdiwang territory, in view of the fall of many Magdalo towns to the enemy. Jacinto Lumbreras, secretary of the Magdiwang, initially presided. But the proceedings got out of hand, and Bonifacio took the chair. Ricarte was named secretary. His record covers the whole meeting, and our account is based on his memoirs supplemented by those of Santiago V. Alvarez, who was also present. Ricarte's record identifies many of the principals:
From the early hours of the day set for the assembly, the Hacienda Tejeros was filled not only by the chiefs of the Magdiwang jurisdiction but also with many of the Magdalo government. Among
the leading Magdiwang men, besides the chief of the Katipunan, were the following: Mariano Alvarez, Pascual Alvarez, Santiago Alvarez, Luciano San Miguel, Mariano Trias Closas, Severino de las Alas, Santos Nocom, and among those of the Magdalo government were Baldomero Aguinaldo, Daniel Tirona, Cayetano Topacio, and Antonio Montenegro.Lumbreras opened the proceedings by stating the announced purpose of the assembly. Severino de las Alas was recognized, and he said that before discussing the minor matter of the defense of a small piece of Cavite territory, the assembly should consider the major issue of what kind of government the country ought to have. Once this government was approved, he said, it could resolve what defense measures were required. Lumbreras and then Bonifacio explained by restating the Magdiwang position: that the Katipunan had a government and a constitution
(Alituntuning pinaiiral). Bonifacio said that the letter "K" in the middle of the Katipunan flag stood for "Kalayaan." De las Alas replied that neither the "K" nor the flag indicated whether the government was a monarchy or a republic. Bonifacio replied that the Katipunan was based on the equality of all; in the Katipunan government "The People rule the People," and therefore it was "rigidly republican."
There was uproar when Montenegro criticized the existing system. Order was restored. Lumbreras quit the chair because issues other than that announced in the call for the meeting were being taken up. Bonifacio took the chair, and the assembly shouted its approval.
He explained that the effect of the assembly's wish for a new government was to abolish the government that the Katipunan had established, and also to negate the decision adopted in Imus. But he respected their decision; this was because the assembly should be governed by the decision of the majority. Then the "Republica Filipina" (Santiago V. Alvarez memoirs) was proclaimed, and there was another round of approving cheers. The election of officers of the new government was next. Before proceeding to the election of officers, Bonifacio proposed: that the will of the majority be recognized so that, whoever was chosen, "whatever be his means of livelihood or degree of culture," so long as he was not a traitor to the Motherland, be recognized as elected. The assembly adopted this rule; there were shouts of:
"That is how things should be -- Equality of all! Love of Country should prevail!"
The following were chosen by written ballot:
President: Emilio Aguinaldo, over Andres Bonifacio, Mariano TriasThe nominations and ballot counting for the election of the president had taken one hour. Dusk was setting, and the assembly decided on viva voce election for the other offices, those voting for a candidate standing on one side while those against stood on the other. The following were elected:
Vice-President: Mariano Trias, over Andres Bonifacio, Severino de las Alas, Mariano Alvarez
Captain-General: Artemio Ricarte, over Santiago V. Alvarez
Director of War: Emiliano R. de Dios, over Ariston Villanueva, Santiago V. Alvarez, Daniel TironaThe directors of State, Finance, Development, and Justice were not elected. Daniel Tirona contested Bonifacio's election on the ground that he was not a lawyer, and nominated Jose de Rosario. This was in violation of the rules, and Bonifacio was deeply hurt and angry. He demanded that Tirona retract what he had said, apologize to the assembly, and recognize its decisions. Tirona slunk into the crowd, and Bonifacio drew his revolver to shoot him, but Ricarte prevented him. Bonifacio then declared the assembly dissolved, ruled all its decisions null an of no effect, and walked out with his followers.
Director of Interior: Andres Bonifacio, over Mariano Alvarez, Pascual Alvarez (now de guerre, "Bagong Buhay")
Santiago Rillo, the Katipunan delegate from Batangas, presided over the rump assembly. There were efforts toward reconciliation. The Magdiwang moved to the hacienda house in Naic. The Magdalo no longer had a town capital; some Magdalo leaders stayed on in San Francisco de Malabon after the meeting. On the night of 23 March in Tanza, Aguinaldo, Trias, and Riejo de Dios took their oaths to the posts they were elected to.
Ricarte took his after midnight.
At the beginning of April Emilio and Baldomero Aguinaldo went to Naic and called on Bonifacio. One of the sore points that the latter held against the Magdalo at this time was the surrender of Tirona, a Magdalo, under the amnesty declared by Lachambre. Bonifacio and Aguinaldo exchanged views; the latter declared that he likewise condemned the surrender of Tirona and Cailles, at which S.V. Alvarez records that the two leaders embraced fraternally.
Aguinaldo's leadership was formalized a few days later. He had made conciliatory approaches to the other revolutionary generals, and after Easter Sunday he called for a meeting of the leaders at the hacienda house in Naic. This was the Magdiwang headquarters, and Bonifacio was holding office here! The meeting agreed on the founding of a new government. The latter installed itself in the Naic house. There were no elections. The officers were:
President Emilio AguinaldoThis new government is called the "Pamahalaan ng Sangkatagalugan" in Aguinaldo's memoirs. Bonifacio was isolated. There was a trooper posted at his door to intercept people going to see him. Within the week the new government required all troops, including the Magdiwang, to show papers issued by it as authority to carry guns. It also issued commissions to all military ranks; Magdiwang officers received theirs.
Vice-President Mariano Trias
Director of the Interior Pascual Alvarez
Director of Finance Baldomero Aguinaldo
Director of Development Mariano Alvarez
Director of Justice Severino de las Alas
Director of War Emiliano Riego de Dios
Captain-General Artemio Ricarte
Bonifacio gathered his loyal followers, and with his wife and two brothers, retired to Halang, then Limbon, barrios of Indang. He had decided to leave Cavite and proceed to the Silangan hills in San Mateo, Morong. But he stayed in Limbon too long. Food ran short. He had his men go to the población for contributions, but they were turned away. When the men gave their report, Bonifacio felt betrayed and shouted: "Burn the
town! Spare no one!" He was heard by a passersby; that evening the news of Bonifacio's "orders" spread in the town. Many anti-Bonifacio reports reached Aguinaldo in Naic.
On Tuesday, 27 April, Aguinaldo issued orders to Colonel Agapito Bonzon, Felix Topacio, and Jose Ignacio Pawa to arrest Bonifacio and bring him to Naic. There was a fire fight with the government troops in Limbon early the next morning. Ciriaco Bonifacio died and Procopio was wounded. Bonzon fired at Bonifacio and hit his left arm. Pawa stabbed him at the right side of the neck, but was prevented from killing him.
Bonifacio was brought to Naic, a prisoner of the Pamahalaan ng Sangkatagalugan, the government of the Revolution. The pre-trial hearing was conducted by a board under Colonel Pantaleon Garcia. It heard witnesses from 29 April, receiving the testimony of Bonifacio and his wife on 4 May. It found cause for trial. The court-martial was convened the same day under the chairmanship of General Mariano Noriel. In the following day's session Jose Elises, the prosecutor, asked for the death penalty. Placido Martinez, Bonifacio's counsel, asked for clemency. Teodoro Gonzalez, Procopio's counsel, asked for acquittal.
The court-martial adjourned the same day, "in order to submit its decision within twenty-four hours." The next day it issued its verdict: death for the Bonifacio brothers. The decision went to Aguinaldo on 7 May. Baldomero Aguinaldo, as military assessor, endorsed the verdict, but left the final decision to Aguinaldo as commander-in-chief. Aguinaldo approved the court-martial findings but commuted the penalty to: indefinite exile (destierong walang taning) to an isolated place, with the prisoners under guard and incommunicado to each other and all other persons. It was the 8th May. The decision was issued under the letterhead of the: "Office of the President of the Sangkatagalugan and Commander-in-Chief of the Army."
How Aguinaldo's decision was not obeyed might never be fully explained. The Bonifacio brothers,were executed by a detail under Major Lazaro Makapagal in the woods of Mt. Buntis on 10 May.
The drama of the taking of Bonifacio's life began in Naic with the pre-trial hearing. But Naic was about to fall to the enemy, so the Pamahalaan moved to Maragondon. The court-Partial was held here, in a little nipa house. Before the month
ended Maragondon, too, would fall, to be followed shortly wl the towns of Alfonso, Mendez Nuñez, and Amadeo. In other words, the trial of Bonifacio was being held against the backdrop of a larger drama wherein the Pamahalaan, the Revolution was fighting for its own life.
The case against Bonifacio was sedition. The principal issues in the court-martial were: whether Bonifacio knew and recognized the existence of the Pamahalaan; whether he was authorized by the Pamahalaan to carry firearms, maintain an armed force, and take prisoners; whether the Bonifacio force had engaged and fired at government troops; whether they had resisted the arresting force, leading to the death of Ciriaco Bonifacio and two government men; and the like. The swiftness of the trial and issuance of the verdict was incidental. Bonifacio could not be acquitted. His only hope was clemency.
What he received was a show of clemency. Pascual Alvarez (as told by his cousin Santiago V. Alvarez), together with Aguinaldo and some men, was listening through the thin wall in the thatch hut where the court-martial was proceeding. He later said that he believed that Aguinaldo's commutation order would never be obeyed because he (Pascual) saw that "one of the plates hanging from the balance of justice was heavier than the other, weighted in favor of the need to do away with the Supremo...."
S.V. Alvarez, who was loyal to the end to Bonifacio, records a feeling and dignified memoir of the tragedy:
Caught in the typhoon that was Tejeros, the Supremo Bonifacio did not immediately make for port. It was only after he saw that no one wished to board and be at his side, and when his boat was slowly sinking, that he thought of shelter. He made for the fatal and rocky shoals of the barrio of Limbon in Indang, Cavite, as we have said in this account. A sad and bitter death, coming as it did at the hands of comrades, and not by the judgment of Justice, was the fruit of the pain and hardship, blood and life, that the Supremo Andres Bonifacio and other brethren had sacrificed at the altar of the Nation.Events and his love for the Katipunan and the Revolution overrode Bonifacio's intentions of November 1896, when he had planned on a short Cavite visit and on not interfering in local affairs. Fate pushed him to join his life to the Caviteños, proud
men who had won back their province from the enemy, to whom he had confessed that he had not taken a single town. He lost his life when his allies joined their old rivals. Divided by their successes, the Caviteños were reunited by their losses. Bonifacio was caught in the crisis that every revolution reaches, when there has to be a contest for leadership -- not for military preeminence, which is won through victory in the field, but for primacy in the politics of the revolution, wherein strength, shrewdness, and one's stars must settle the conflicting claims.11