ANDRES BONIFACIO AND THE 1896 REVOLUTION The transformation of the Katipunan on 24 August 1896 into a democratic national government signaled the start of the revolution Milagros C. Guerrero Emmanuel N. Encarnacion and Ramon N. Villegas On 24 August 1896, Andres Bonifacio convened tha Kataastaasang Kapulungan or National Assembly of the Katipunan in Melchora Aquino’s barn in barrio Banlat, then part of Kalookan. Assembled were the members of the Kataastaasang Kapulungan (Supreme Council), as well as the pangulo (heads) of the sangunian (supra-municipal) and balangay (chapter) units. There they made three major decisions. First, they declared a nationwide armed revolution to win freedom from Spain. Second, they established a national government. And third, they elected officials who would lead the nation and the army. Katipunan Founding The ilustrado-initiated propaganda movement had failed to persuade the Madrid government to effect urgent reforms distant Asian colony. The Filipino activists in Europe eventually realized the change had to come about from within the archipelago itself. With this in mind, Jose Rizal came home to the Philippines on 26 June 1892. After meetings with local activists, Rizal established a civic society called the Liga Filipina. On 3 July, a week after he arrived in Manila, Rizal launched the organization in Doroteo Ongjunco’s house on Ilaya Street, Tondo. The aims of the society were national unity, mutual aid, common defense, the
Michael Charleston B. Chua, KasPil1 readings, DLSU-Manila
encouragement of education, agriculture and commerce, and the study and application of reforms. The Liga Filipina was short-lived. On 6 July, Rizal was arrested and detained upon the orders of the Governor-General Eulogio Despujol. Two weeks later, he was sent to Dapitan, Mindanao, where he lived in exile for four years. One of the founding members of the league was Andres Bonifacio. On 6 and 7 July, when it had become apparent that an openly pro-Filipino organization like the Liga Filipina would be suppressed by the colonial government, Bonifacio and some friends formed a secret society. Among them were Deodato Arellano, Ladislao Diwa, Valentin Diaz, Jose Dizon, and Teodoro plata. The organization was called the Kataastaasan Kagalang-galang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan. The aims of the Katipunan were to unite the country and to win independence from Spain by means of revolution. Bonifacio, however, continued to work with the Liga, which its other prominent members had resurrected in April 1893 because of his personality and communication skills, the Supreme Council of the Liga appointed him chief of propaganda. Bonifacio’s success in recruiting members unnerved the more conservative elements of the Liga, who did not agree with his revolutionary ideas. The Liga ceased to exist as October 1894. Bonifacio did not become president of the Katipunan until 1895, although he had always been an officer. Under his guidance, the Katipunan prepared for revolution. Emilio Jacinto, Bonifacio’s trusted friend and adviser, wrote the Cartilla or primer, which embodied the teachings of the organization. The Katipunan operated a clandestine printing press and published a newspaper, Kalayaan. By 1896, on the eve of the revolution, the membership of the society had expanded dramatically. Estimates vary from 30,000 to 400,000. The Spanish secreta or secret police knew of the existence of a dangerous clandestine organization by early 1896. The Governor-General believed the government was still on top of the situation, but there was no let-up in the surveillance of suspect personalities. By April 1896, the rebels were reported to have cut railroad lines in Kalookan and environs. By May, the general assembly of pangulo and representatives from all the balangay (chapters) of the Katipunan were locked in heated discussions on the timing of the revolution. To...