Sunday, December 02, 2012

Mojares, Resil B. Excerpt from Brains of the Nation: Pedro Paterno, T.H. Pardo de Tavera, Isabelo de los Reyes, and the Production of Modern Knowledge. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2006. 464-466.


In August [1895], Mabini wrote del Pilar saying that the decision had been reached to stop the publication of Solidaridad. Intimating that the mood had turned insurrectionary, Mabini wrote that many people have lost hope in the paper and "have transferred it [hope] wholly to another direction."181 (Within a few years Mabini himself would change direction and become the leading theoretician of the Philippine Republic.)

Solidaridad folded up with its issue of November 14, 1895. Del Pilar and Ponce were informed that a meeting would take place in Hong Kong to discuss plans (including Solidaridad's possible revival somewhere outside Spanish jurisdiction). To escape persecution at home and solicit Japanese assistance for the movement, Jose Ramos was already in Japan in August of 1895 and was joined there by Doroteo Cortes in May 1896.182 Del Pilar and Ponce were preparing to leave Barcelona for Hong Kong when del Pilar was taken ill. He died in Barcelona on July 4, 1896.

What Mabini meant by "another direction" was the Katipunan. On the night Rizal was arrested, July 7, 1892, Andres Bonifacio, a member of Liga, and others founded Kataastaasan Kagalang-galang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Highest and Most Respectable Society of the Sons of the People), a secret society committed to uniting Filipinos to wage a revolution for Philippine independence.
The society did not seem to have been very active until the breakup of the Liga in mid-1894 forced the final split in the movement. In 1894 the Katipunan purchased an old handpress for 650 pesos from a Manila bazaar and fitted it out with types bought from Isabelo de los Reyes and stolen from the shop of Diario de Manila by employees who were Katipunan members. With the press, the Katipunan issued its organ Kalayaan in January 1896 (with the claimed circulation of 1,000) and tried to mislead authorities with a masthead saying it was printed in Yokohama with M. H. del Pilar as editor. Within a year, membership in the Katipunan was estimated at 20,000.

Andres Bonifacio (1863-1897) has been variously described as a vendor of canes and fans, warehouseman, and agent or employee


of English and German trading firms. His associate Emilio Jacinto (1875-1899), the son of a poor bookkeeper, briefly studied at Santo Tomas. Though they did not have the education of the likes of Rizal and Paterno, neither were they of the "unlettered folk." They were part of that segment of clerks, artisans, students, and petty merchants who formed the backbone of the first organized groups of Filipino reformers. Their in-between location in society invested them with entry to both "outside" and "inside" but Katipunan, unlike the reformist associations, was dedicated to addressing the masses (las masas). Isabelo de los Reyes spoke of it as a "plebeian society" : "the people speak little and perhaps think little, and I wish to say, perhaps without the artificial complication of a cultivated intelligence, but the little they think is intense, forms their second nature, and that which they believe  is their faith is fanaticism in them and works miracles, moves mountains, creates new worlds and other prodigies."183

Later historians would claim an Enlightenment lineage for Bonifacio by suggesting that he read Victor Hugo, Eugene Sue, and works on the French Revolution and U.S. history. Moved by the impulse to "intellectualize" the revolution, the earliest portrayals of Bonifacio draw attention to his literariness. These range from the repeated mention of the Katipunan library to Francis St. Clair's disparaging remarks that Bonifacio was "a great reader" who, like Don Quixote, "passed many a night burning away oil and candles, sacrificing needed sleep in reading, until his brain was turned and his whole mind given up to ideas of revolutions."184

Others ground Bonifacio in indigenous tradition. It may be closer to the available evidence to locate him in an intermediate cultural zone. Raised in colonial-urban Tondo in a milieu of sailors, artists, merchants, and lower-order bureaucrats, he was the type of person involved in the manifestation of 1888 and addressed by del Pilar's Tagalog propaganda and the anonymous broadsides and pasquinades of the 1880s. In the same way that the pasyon was not pure indigeneity, the revolutionary poetry and manifestoes attributed to Bonifacio and Jacinto appropriated Spanish-colonial forms (cartilla, pasyon), Masonic themes, and ilustrado interpretations of history. It is likely, for instance, that such symbols and practices as the pacto de sangre and baybayin may have entered into the Katipunan through the mediation of texts rather than directly from folk tradition. What is important of course is that they infused


these forms and symbols with a revolutionary semantic content and affective power185

The discovery of the Katipunan by the authorities on August 19, 1896, precipitated the start of the insurrection. Hostilities quickly spread such that, on August 30, the governor-general declared a state of war in eight Luzon provinces (Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac). Rizal's execution on December 30, 1896, further inflamed the colony.

For Filipinos, revolution was not just a crash course in warfare, it was a school of learning. The forms of writing and composition corresponded to the exigencies of the time: proclamations, manifestoes, improvisatory theater, verses, and songs. The literature produced was not just war propaganda but texts that aimed to constitute a nation. The revolution (as in France) gave rise to the writing of moral "catechisms" and "decalogues" and the framing of constitutions that showed Filipinos quite skilled in the modern discourse on state and republicanism.186

It was the country's most complex and politically turbulent period. The revolution stalled with the treaty of Biyak-na-Bato in 1897, gathered new force in 1898 against the background of the Spanish-American War, widened into a war of resistance against the US occupation in 1899-1901, and was suppressed in the years that followed. These events exacted their toll. Marcelo del Pilar and Graciano Lopez Jaena died stranded in Barcelona in 1896, Jose Rizal was executed in Bagumbayan in the same year, Andres Bonifacio and Antonio Luna were killed in 1897 and 1899, respectively, in fratricidal struggles within the revolution. More perished in the war. Others -- like Pedro Paterno, T.H. Pardo de Tavera, and Isabelo de los Reyes -- survived and tried, with varying degrees of sense and success, to ride out and direct the changes. A generational change of leaders took place, a new colonial order was established, and the challenge of creating a nation remained.



181. The Letters of Apolinario Mabini (Manila, National Heroes Commission, 1965), 10, 12, 14, 32-33, 34, 38; Agoncillo, Revolt of the Masses, 37-41. On Mabini: Cesar Adib Majul, Mabini and the Philippine Revolution (Quezon City: University of the Philippine Press, 1996; first ed., 1960)

182. Letters of Apolinario Mabini, 34-35; Ponce & de Veyra, Efemerides Filipinas, 569-74. On the Comite's attempts to secure Japanese assistance: Josefa M. Saniel, Japan and the Philippines, 1868-1898 (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1996; first ed. 1969), 171-75, 254-55.

183. In Taylor, Philippine Insurrection, I:210

184. St. Clair, Katipunan, 87; de los Santos, Revolutionists, 91-93; Taylor, Philippine Insurrection, I:107.

185. Ileto, Pasyon; de los Santos, Revolutionists; Glenn Anthony May, Inventing a Hero: The Posthumous Re-Creation of Andres Bonifacio (Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, 1996); Bernardita Reyes Churchill, ed., Determining the Truth: The Story of Andres Bonifacio (Manila: Manila Studies Association, 1997). Also see Reynaldo C. Ileto, "Bonifacio, The Text, and the Social Scientist," Philippine Sociological Review, 32:1-4 (1984), 19-29.
Tondo's urbanization is indicated by the following figures: 40% of men and women in Tondo in 1893 were born outside Manila and at least 40% of adult males


native to Tondo-Sampaloc in 1889-1893 were in white-collar jobs (esp. clerk), commerce (agents, dealers, storekeepers), skilled production trades (printers, machinists, blacksmiths), skilled construction trades, transport, and others (tailors, artists, cigar workers). See Daniel F. Doeppers & Peter Xenos, eds., Population and History: The Demographic Origins of the Modern Philippines (Quezon City: ADMU Press. 1998), 165, 256.

186. See Cesar Adib Majul, The Political and Constitutional Ideas of the Philippine Revolution (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1996; first ed., 1967).