Life and Times of Andres Bonifacio

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  • Topic: Katipunan, Philippines, Andrés Bonifacio
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Life and Times of Andres Bonifacio
Andres Bonifacio simmered with rage and humiliation. The movement that he had created to oppose Spanish colonial rule inthe Philippines had just voted (likely in a rigged election) to make his rival Emilio Aguinaldo president in his stead. Bonifacio was given the lowly consolation prize of an appointment as Secretary of the Interior in the revolutionary government. When this appointment was announced, however, delegate Daniel Tirona objected on the grounds that Bonifacio did not have a law degree (or any university diploma, for that matter). Incensed, the fiery rebel leader demanded an apology from Tirona. Instead, Daniel Tirona turned to leave the hall; Bonifacio pulled out a gun and tried to shoot him down, but General Artemio Ricarte y Garcia tackled the former president and saved Tirona's life. Who was this scrappy and hot-headed rebel leader, Andres Bonifacio? Why is his story still remembered today in the Republic of the Philippines?

Bonifacio's Birth and Early Life:
Andres Bonifacio was born on November 30, 1863 in Tondo, Manila. His father Santiago was a tailor, a local politician and a boatman who operated a river-ferry; his mother, Catalina de Castro, was employed in a cigarette-rolling factory. The couple worked extremely hard to support Andres and his five younger siblings, but in 1881 Catalina caught tuberculosis ("consumption") and died. The following year, Santiago also became ill and passed away. At the age of 19, Andres Bonifacio was forced to give up plans for higher education and begin working full-time to support his orphaned younger siblings. He worked for the British trading company J.M. Fleming & Co. as a broker or corredor for local raw materials such as tar and rattan. He later moved to the German firm Fressell & Co., where he worked as a bodeguero or grocer.

Family Life:
Andres Bonifacio's tragic family history during his youth seems to have followed him in to his adulthood. He married twice, but had no surviving children at the time of his death. His first wife, Monica, came from the Palomar neighborhood of Bacoor. She died young ofleprosy (Hansen's disease). Bonifacio's second wife, Gregoria de Jesus, came from the Calookan area of metro Manila. They married when he was 29 and she was just 18; their only child, a son, died as an infant.

Establishment of Katipunan:
In 1892, Bonifacio joined Jose Rizal's new organization La Liga Filipina, which called for reform of the Spanish colonial regime in the Philippines. The group met only once, however, since Spanish officials arrested Rizal immediately after the first meeting and deported him to the southern island ofMindanao. After Rizal's arrest and deportation, Andres Bonifacio and others revived La Liga to continue pressure on the Spanish government to free the Philippines. Along with his friends Ladislao Diwa and Teodoro Plata, however, he also founded a group called Katipunan. Katipunan, or Kataastaasang Kagalannalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan to give its full name (literally "Highest and Most Respected Society of the Children of the Country"), was dedicated to armed resistance against the colonial government. Made up mostly of people from the middle and lower classes, the Katipunan organization soon established regional branches in a number of provinces across the Philippines. (It also went by the rather unfortunate acronym KKK.) In 1895, Andres Bonifacio became the top leader or Presidente Supremo of the Katipunan. Along with his friends Emilio Jacinto and Pio Valenzuela, Bonifacio also put out a newspaper called the Kalayaan, or "Freedom." Over the course of 1896, under Bonifacio's leadership, Katipunan grew from about 300 members at the beginning of the year to more than 30,000 in July. With a militant mood sweeping the nation, and a multi-island network in place, Bonifacio's Katipunan was prepared to start fighting for freedom from Spain.

Philippines Uprising Begins:
Over the...
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