The execution of Bonifacio
By Ambeth Ocampo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:02:00 05/15/2009
Filed Under: Anniversaries, history
There are two death anniversaries falling this week that often go unnoticed. May 10 marks the death, in 1897, of Andres Bonifacio, and May 13 marks the death, in 1903, of Apolinario Mabini. The Supremo of the Katipunan was executed somewhere in the Maragondon range, and his remains have never been found. Bones were exhumed there in 1918, but I believe those were fake. The Brains of the Revolution died of cholera in his brother?s home in Nagtahan which was recently relocated, we hope for the last time, to the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Mabini campus in Manila by the banks of the Pasig River. Our textbooks are understandably vague regarding the death of Bonifacio because it is very difficult to explain politics and power struggle to children who then grow up thinking Emilio Aguinaldo had Bonifacio killed. In a nutshell, a revolutionary government was born from the Katipunan in what is known as the Tejeros Convention. Bonifacio did not agree, and so we had two governments. He was captured, tried for treason, found guilty and sentenced to death. Aguinaldo hesitated and considered commuting the sentence, but was convinced by one of Bonifacio?s men, Artemio Ricarte, to proceed with the execution. This is one of the problem areas of textbook history. Unlike Rizal who was technically killed by ?the enemy,? Bonifacio was killed by fellow Filipinos. Like many in the French Revolution he read about, Bonifacio was a victim of the very revolution he started. Discussion on this is endless, and it will fill many more May 10 columns in the future. Today I reproduce Lazaro Makapagal?s eyewitness account of the execution of the Bonifacio brothers published in the Dec. 1, 1928 issue of the Philippines Free Press. This is supposed to be an English translation of a Tagalog document then preserved in the archives of the Veteranos de la Revolucion. ?I received orders from General Mariano Noriel to take over Andres Bonifacio and Procopio Bonifacio, from the place where they were detained, and to conduct them to the hill of Tala in Maragondong, Cavite. General Noriel handed to me at the same time a sealed package with orders that it be not opened until we reached the place I mentioned. I was charged to follow to the letter, the instructions contained within the package. ?In compliance with these orders, I took with me the two brothers to the place mentioned, together with four soldiers under my command. On the road we conversed like friends. But I already had a presentiment of the order contained within the parcel. ?On reaching Tala hill in Maragondong, I opened the order, read it, and then let the brothers read it. It was an order for the execution of the brothers. The two brothers were terror stricken; Andres told me in Tagalog, ?Patawarin ninyo ako, kapatid.? (Brother, forgive me.) I answered that I was very sorry, but by military discipline I had to carry out the unhappy task. ?I conducted Procopio, who was stronger, to a wooded place, and on reaching the top of the hill, I ordered one of the soldiers to shoot him in the back. This done, I and the soldiers, using bayonets and bolos, dug a pit where we buried Procopio. ?When I approached the place where Andres was, he said, ?Patay na kapatid ko.? (My brother is dead.) And he added, ?Patawarin ninyo ako, kapatid.? I replied that I was sorry, but it was my military duty to follow the order. ?Andres Bonifacio tried to escape, but he could not go far because of the thick shrubbery around. One of the soldiers reached him, firing at him from behind and shooting him in the back. After digging one more grave with our bayonets and bolos, we buried Andres in it. ?Procopio and Andres were not taken to Tala hill bound but free. Andres had only one wound, in one of his arms. From the hill where Procopio was buried to the grave of Andres, on a hill...
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