Aurelio Tolentino and His Play Kahapon, Ngayon, at Bukas


Not all Filipinos are aware of the historical importance of May 14.

On May 14, 1903, Aurelio Tolentino (October 13, 1867-July 3, 1915), a Pampango playwright, poet, essayist, educator, novelist and public servant was arrested because of his play, Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas (Larawan ng Inang Bayan).

Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas: a play of struggle vs. imperialist powers

It is an anti-imperialist play attacking the new colonizers (at that time), the Americans, while not forgiving the old ones – Mother Spain and Old China, who want to feast on the Philippines’ wealth.

The play was shown at Teatro Libertad in Manila on May 14, 1903 and its focus is the triumph of Inang Bayan (Motherland) over her tormentors, Haring Bata (Child King) who is the symbol of the Old China; Halimaw (Monster), the symbol of the Spanish friars who continued dominating the church and influencing local politics despite the mock battle in Manila Bay; Dilat-na-Bulag (Eyes Open, yet Blind), the ever ‘royal’ Spain; and Bagong Sibol (The Budding One), which is the new superpower of the capitalist world, the United States of America.

Its main scene is the liberation of Taga-Ilog or Juan de la Cruz who is, at the play’s beginning, shackled and in prison.

In that particular scene, he throws the American flag to the ground and tramples upon it until it is torn, then he breaks the shackles and forces the jail open. At this point the rest of the characters shout: “Long live Freedom! Long live the Motherland!”

According to Pampango blogger Alex R. Castro, who dabbles in history, when the actor was about to do the act, “he froze for he saw a number of Americans in the audience.” Because of this, Castro wrote in his blog (, “Tolentino ascended the stage and did the act himself, to the horror of the Americans who saw it as an act of sacrilege against their Stars and Stripes.”

Castro wrote that because of this, he was arrested. When the authorities turned to arrest the other actors as well as those in the audience, Tolentino saved them by declaring sole responsibility for the play as its writer and director.

Upon his admission of the crimes he was accused of, he was convicted of sedition, rebellion, insurrection and conspiracy and was imprisoned. In 1912 he was pardoned by then Governor-General W. Cameron Forbes and a US$7,000 fine was meted.

This was his second time in prison. The first was when Spanish authorities launched a witch-hunt against suspected Katipuneros in 1898 and Tolentino failed to elude authorities. He was imprisoned for nine months.

Still relevant today

Though the play was written and shown 106 years ago, Tolentino’s Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukasis still relevant to Philippine conditions.

Our politics are still under the influence of Washington, D.C. The Philippine economy still suffers from backwardness. The poor are getting poorer while the rich are getting richer because of the anti-poor policies being crafted by politicians, many of whom are educated in foreign schools, particularly, in the US. The basic freedoms of the people are still being suppressed.

In other words, the Philippines is still under colonization, albeit in its new form.

But these realities are being veiled by anti-nationalist propaganda channeled through the mass media and the educational system by the foreign dominating power and its collaborators in the executive, legislative and judicial departments.

Because of all these, the voice of Juan de la Cruz retains its urgency. (


The Life of Aurelio Valenzuela Tolentino
(1865 – 1915)

The youngest among three children of Leonardo Tolentino and Patrona Valenzuela, Aurelio Tolentino was born on October 13,1867 in Barrio (sub-village) Santo Cristo, Guagua, Pampanga.

Aurelio and his brother both obtained their primera enzeñanza (primary lessons) under the school master Pedro Serrano Laktaw. He then transferred to the Colegio de Latinidad, under the baton of Angel Jimenez.

After finishing the third year of the segunda enseñanza (second lesson), he was already well-grounded in rhetoric, poetics and philosophy.

He transferred to Manila and completed the requirements for his Bachelor of Arts degree at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. Later, he enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) to study law, but had to stop schooling when his father died.

Returning to his hometown, he taught in his old college, Colegio de Latinidad. At that time the college’s director was Tomas Gamboa.

He was forced to leave Pampanga after an altercation with a Spanish pharmacist. The pharmacist called him a barbaro (barbarian), which led to Tolentino striking him in the face.

To escape from possible arrest because of his action, he went to Tondo and lived there.

After a few years, Tolentino secured the position of oficial de mesa (desk official) at Tondo’s Court of First Instance.

While living in Tondo, he became acquainted with Andres Bonifacio, who would later become the Supremo of the Kataas-taasan, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK) and other patriots who engaged his help in the printing and distribution of the censored La Solidaridad and other propaganda literature. He eventually joined the Katipunan.

Like other Katipuneros, Tolentino became a Freemason. He became an orator at the Monditia Lodge, which was presided over by Vicente Lukban.

From Holy Tuesday to Holy Thursday of 1895, he and Bonifacio explored the terrains of Montalban and San Mateo in what is now the province of Rizal in search for an appropriate place from which to direct military operations in case the secret society was discovered.

On April 12, Good Friday, with torches, their group visited Makarok and Pamitinan.

Inside the cave where the folkloric hero Bernardo Carpio supposedly lived, they deliberated on their plans about the revolution, as well as the gathering of arms and funds. On the cave walls, Bonifacio wrote, “Viva la Independencia Filipina!” (Long-live Philippine Independence!)

When the 1896 Revolution broke out, Tolentino was the escribano (scribe) in the provincial court of Morong. When the Spanish authorities launched a crackdown on the Katipunan, Tolentino failed to escape, and was incarcerated for nine months.

Upon his release, he took part in the Bicol campaigns of Gen. Vicente Lukban.

Tolentino is one of the signatories of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s declaration of Philippine independence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898.

Despite the declaration of freedom, however, Tolentino gathered his former comrades in Katipunan who were residents of Manila and organized the secret society Junta de Amigos in August 1900. Under his leadership, they formed guerilla units and carried on the resistance against America.

His group burned American military stores in Tondo, Sampaloc, and Pandacan, captured blacklisted collaborators, and killed American sentries. Eventually, however, the Americans would discover and dismantle the secret society.

In 1903, Tolentino and Artemio Ricarte attempted to organize a new revolutionary army.

Using his genius in letters, he wrote two unsigned editorials for the newspaper La Independencia, both of which were openly critical of the United States.

The two other newspapers which he edited, La Patria and El Liberal were suppressed by the US government. Filipinas, a newspaper which he published, was also forcibly closed down by the authorities.

Still, however, his journalistic career, was not stymied.

He edited El Pueblo and El Imperial, two Spanish-language newspapers, and their Pampango counterparts, Ing Belen and Ing Emangabiran.

A playwright and true-blooded propagandist, he used the theater as his main medium in attacking the imperialist power.

He wrote the famous Tagalog verse drama, Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas, which was played to a packed audience at Teatro Libertad in Manila on May 14, 1903.

A part of the script called for the actor playing Taga-Ilog or Juan de la Cruz, who was shackled and imprisoned, to tear down American flags, break his shackles and force the jail open.

At this time the rest of the audience shouted: “Long live Freedom! Long live the Mother-land!”

This was witnessed by some Americans among the audience, who were shocked.

After the show, the authorities went up the stage and arrested everybody, but Tolentino told them that it was he alone who was responsible, for he was the writer and director of the drama. He was convicted of sedition, rebellion, insurrection and conspiracy. Finally in 1912 he was pardoned by the then Governor General W. Cameron Forbes and the US$7,000 fine was meted.

Imprisonment did not cow his patriotic soul. Tolentino continued to engage in nationalistic activities after his release.

One of his principal concerns was the plight of the Filipino working people. Because of his admiration for labor leader Dr. Dominador Gomez’s works, he wrote Bagong Cristo (New Christ), a play which dealt with the antagonistic relations between capital and labor.

He also founded the Katimawan, identified as a “Samahang Hanapbuhay ng Mahihirap” (Livelihood Association), which is said to be the first workers’ cooperative in the Philippines.

Though a Pampango, he became an early advocate of the adoption of Tagalog as the national language, believing that a common language would help ensure national unity.

Later, he founded El Parnaso Filipino, a school for the promotion of Tagalog literature, to advance his advocacy.

He married Natividad Hilario in 1908. They had four children: Cesar, Corazon, Raquel and Leonor. Only Corazon and Raquel survived early deaths among the four siblings.

He and his family lived in Manila until his death in July 1915. He was buried at the Manila North Cemetery. In 1921, his bones were transferred to Guagua, Pampanga where they were buried at the base of a monument erected by the townspeople to honor him.

References:; accessed May 16, 2009; accessed May 16, 2009; accessed, May 16, 2009

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22 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. sana ho may makkpagsabi po kung bakit kahapon,ngayon at bukas ang pamagat ng dulang sinulat niya..kailangan lang po tlga!!!

  2. wala bang buod na maayos ? yung kumpleto po sana .. kailangan lang talaga !!

    ang iikli po kase bg mga naka post na mga buod eii .. hope na sana makapost agad kayo thank you .godbless

  3. aurelio tolentino galing poh nyo

  4. hai.. i just wanna knw if you can prvide us wth the summary of kahapon, ngayon at bukas… i hope you can provide as soon as possible or right now..

    thank you!!!!
    more power!! God bless

  5. Sa mga kamag-anak po ni aurelio tolentino, malugod po nmin kayong iniimbitahan sa dulang ito sa february 2012, maari po kau magtext sa 09189303839. Maraming salamat po.

  6. · Edit


    Wow! I’m so glad to have found this site. I’ve been trying to research more information about my great-grandfather Aurelio Tolentino and trying to get more information about his descendants.

    My grandmother was Leonor Tolentino Cruz, Aurelio’s youngest daughter. Leonor married Carlos Garcia Cruz and my father Jaime was their only son, who was born in 1937. Leonor passed away in 1945. My father (along with my mother, my siblings and I) moved to Canada in 1988 and we’ve lived here ever since. My father passed away in 2010. But I would really like to get in touch with the Tolentino side of the family. My father had left memorabilia of his late mother, including some photos of her childhood with her mother Natividad Hilario.

    Thank you,
    Elizabeth Anne (“Anna”) Cruz Zalamea

  7. Hindi po pala hangarin Collective Arts of Students and Thespians (C.A.S.T.) na kumita bagamat isang sitwasyon sa amin kung paano ito matutustusan upang mabuo sa pinakamataas na antas pang-aestiko kung kaya’t humihingi kami ng tulong… Isang taon po ang pag-aaral ng mga artista na boluntaryo na gaganap bilang simbolo ng mga tauhan… Sa nais pong tumulong ay lubos po naming pauunlakan…

  8. Isasadula po nmin ang dulang ito sa pebrero… Sana po ay makatulong ang blog na ito para maipromote ang kahalagahn ng dula… Simboliko ang dula kung kaya hindi nararapat na pahapyaw lamang ang pag-aral nito sa mga mag-aaral sa high school… Di rin makakatulong sa pang-unawa ng mag-aaral kung buod lamang nito ang ipaparanas o ang palaging isang yugto lamang sa mga aklat… Gaya ng noli at el fili ni rizal ay dapat din bigyan ito ng buong curiculum unit sapagkat magkasintimbang kung susukatin ang impluwensya nito sa pagtamasa ng kalayaan… At mahalagang sundan kung ano ang sinasabing bukas sa pamagat nito… Malaya na nga ba tau?

    -Collective Arts of Students and Thespians, University of Makati

  9. xana phoe,,, mag kroon pho kau ng complete details ng kahapon,ngayon at bukas ni aurelio tolentino ksi pho nag ha2nap pho kc kmi ng dulang kahapon,ngayon at bukas salamat pho >.>>.:)

  10. is there a website that can give a copy of the script of kahapon, ngayon at bukas?

  11. ,,, xan ko po ba maaaring makita ang buod ng kahapon ngayon at bukas ni aurelio tolentino??

    hope maibigay nio xkin ung webxite,, xav kaz ng teacher nmin na ang haba-haba nga dw po ng dulang iyon,, more tha 10 copies,, kya ill juxt trying kung meron,, bka mejo short lng un,,

    xna ,, nbxa nio 2,, and u can give me the ryt webxite,,, thanx po tlga,,,,


  12. san po makikita yung kumpleto kwento.. ska yung buod din po? wala po kasi akong makitang nmatinung buod.

  13. kung pwede lng po sana mag post po kayu ng kumpleto,maayos,at detalyadong Kahapon,Ngayon at bukas ni aurelio tolentino ang hirap po kac humanap sa mga library eh!

  14. …bakit walang mahanap na ( kumplet at maayos ) na buod ng dulang Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas ni Aurelio Tolentino? Napakahaba ng isang book nito kung ipababasa sa isang mag-aaral na napipilitan lamang tumupad sa requirement…( maintindihan kya kung binasa man ang buong aklat?) Sana magkaroon…advantage to sa mga mag-aaral…

  15. Hi Jap, you can get this in the UP Diliman Main Library, Filipiña Section.
    Good Luck and I hope you will recognize his genius.
    go to this site:

    btw, he(Aurelio Tolentino} is my greatgrandfather.

  16. Hi po, which website can I get the full story of Mr. Tolentino's Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas? I'ts our project in Filipino…And if there is no website, what book can I buy(title)?


  17. To Rene Victoria,
    Hi Tito, I am Pinky the daughter of your cousin Ben Singson. We have been trying to locate you. We know you are in Australia, but that is all we know. At the moment, Tito Carding is involved with preparations to relocate the monument of Aurelio Tolentino in Guagua. I hope you read this blog again. You can email me at I hope you get this message.

  18. Hi Rene and Josephine,

    This is in regard to our great grandfather, Aurelio Tolentino, Corazon Tolentino, was my grandmother, and was the daughter of Natividad Hilario who was his wife. The remains of our great lolo are still in Guagua and there are plans of it being moved as they (his monument) are sitting in the middle of a road. We would sincerely appreciate your input in this as if you can please contact us through

  19. Hellow Rene V.T. Victoria,

    My name is Josephine Deguzman. I have been gathering information about my descendents. My mother's name is Raquel Tolentino and my grandfather's name was Aurelio Tolentino. My grandfather's family came from the Pampanga region. Ever since I can remember my mother often told me stories about a famous relative named Aurelio Tolentino.. However, she would often times get confused sometimes stating that he was a great-grandfather or a great-grand uncle. Could you give me more information regarding the Tolentino family and what you know of its descendents? I would finally like to set the record straight.

    Awaiting anxiously for your response,

    Josephine Tolentino Padigos Deguzman

    Los Angelels, California

  20. · Edit


    I would like to correct a wrong entry in history where one of Aurelio Tolentino's children is Rafael, the name is Raquel, and she is my mother, who is now 97 yrs. old and residing in Australia, she is the only surviving children of my grandfather Aurelio, kindly correct the name or kindly get in touch on who ever wrote the history of my grandfather.

    My mom was born on 1912 and was married to Jose Victoria and they had one child which is me.


    Rene V. T. Victoria

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