Today is the 149th birthday of one of the greatest heroes in Philippine history, Andrés Bonifacio. His birthday has been celebrated by the Filipinos for many years and he became an inspiration especially for the nationalists and left-leaning people who taught that Andrés Bonifacio came from the same ranks of his but actually, Andrés Bonifacio came from a middle class family, who became an orphan at his early teenage as his both parents died of illness and working for the British and German business interests before he joined the La Liga Filipina founded by José Rizal, then he created his own Kataastaasang Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan or Katipunan.
The arrest of José Rizal changed the life of Andrés as he decided to establish a secret society called Kataastaasang Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan or Katipunan, with the goal of freeing the Philippine Islands from the Spanish rule through armed revolt. He was influenced by the ideals of Freemasonry through its rituals and organization, and several members aside from Bonifacio were also Freemasons.
At that point, Andrés Bonifacio was losing hope for a peaceful means of getting the Philippine Islands an independence from Spain as the La Liga Filipina founded by José Rizal was split between his Katipunan and the Cuerpo de Compromisarios, dominated by the wealthy members of the La Liga Filipina.
Within four years, the Katipunan grew up from 30,000 to 40,000 members by the time it was divulged by the Spanish authorities through a member who told a Spanish priest. In reaction of the Spanish manhunt, Andrés Bonifacio called thousands of Katipunan members for a gathering in Caloocan, where they decided to start their revolt through tearing the community tax certificates or Cedula and the event was called as the Cry of Pugad Lawin.
The revolt at first was successful as the Katipunan members took some towns around Manila, Morong, Bulacan, and especially in Cavite (under the command of Emilio Aguinaldo and Mariano Alvarez). However, Andrés and the Katipunan suffered defeat in battles as the Spanish government with mostly native Filipino mercenaries were able to retake Katipunan bailiwicks due to lack of armed equipment financial constricts, and factional differences especially between Andrés Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo.
It was in Cavite where Katipunan suffered total defeat where the factions of Magdalo led by Emilio Aguinaldo and the Magdiwang led by Mariano Alvarez put Andrés under peril that cost his life later as the two factions cannot agreed on how to establish a national government once they defeated the Spaniards.
Tejeros Convention was held which the delegates elected him as the Director of the Interior which was later protested by a certain Daniel Tirona, who taught that lack of formal education of Andrés will be the hindrance of running such position. Such an insult by Daniel Tirona brought Andrés Bonifacio into anger and decided to annul the election. The complicated factional situation between the Magdalo and the Katipunan derailed the efforts of the Filipinos to gain freedom from Spanish rule as the Spaniards were able to retake all Cavite towns and Emilio Aguinaldo and the remaining members of Magdalo, had to flee to Biak na Bato then to Hong Kong while Bonifacio and the Magdiwang members had been scattered all over the Tagalog region to continue their fight against the Spaniards and the Magdalo.
Andrés Bonifacio died on 10 May 1897 in Maragondon, Cavite after he was sentenced by a court, established by Emilio Aguinaldo with the counts of sedition and treason. According to Apolinario Mabini, one of Aguinaldo’s aide, Bonifacio’s death demoralized the revolutionaries from Manila, Laguna, and Batangas while other Bonifacio aides like Emilio Jacinto had to hide to avoid Emilio Aguinaldo and his minions.
Andrés Bonifacio was an exceptional man who fought for the freedom of the Filipino people from the excess of the Friar-dominated Spanish colonial rule. He was not intended to make an armed rebellion against the Spanish authorities had they not arrested José Rizal and heeded the peaceful demand of Rizal for a reform or much earlier, the Spanish authorities grant the Filipinos the self-government after the Gomburza fiasco. Factionalism and envy by other Katipunan was the start of his unintended downfall and eventually unintended death. Our country would have been a better ones than right now had the factions of Katipunan stepped aside their differences and focused their energy to defeat the Spaniards and then govern the government of all Filipinos.