By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – If there is a subject dedicated to national hero Jose Rizal in the collegiate curricula, why not have one on the life and contributions of Gat Andres Bonifacio?
Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino called on Congress to pass House Bill 4353, which seeks to provide for the inclusion of a course on the life, works and ideals of Bonifacio in the collegiate curricula.
While the whole country commemorates Bonifacio’s birth anniversary every year on Nov. 30, Palatino said, Filipinos remember and honor Bonifacio only during that day. In his privilege speech last Nov. 26, Monday, Palatino encouraged a “deeper” commemoration of Bonifacio’s birth anniversary.
“Who is Bonifacio, the man whose face is on the ten peso coin or the man who wields a bolo in front of Manila’s post office and at the end of the LRT station? What does the surname Bonifacio mean other than being a classy place where affluent people go? A mural of Bonifacio and other katipuneros was painted on a footbridge at Philcoa, but not one week has passed when a graffiti was painted over it. That’s how we remember Bonifacio, much like greeting each other on birthdays, but after that we forget about it and go about our normal, daily activities,” Palatino said in his privilege speech at the House of Representatives on Nov. 26, Monday.
Palatino filed HB 4353 last March 8, 2011. However, the said bill has yet to be discussed at the committee level.
“Including a course on the life, works and ideals of Andres Bonifacio in the collegiate curricula will strengthen the values of nationalism and patriotism. Lessons on national independence, collective action, civic consciousness and patriotism will be inculcated among the students. These lessons will shape the character needed for personal, community and national development,” Palatino said in the explanatory note of the bill.
Bonifacio, father of democracy
Palatino said there is more to know about Bonifacio, the father of democracy who loves to read revolutionary books like Les Miserables, Historia De La Revolucion Francesca and Rizal’s El Filibusterismo and Noli Me Tangere among many others. Bonifacio was orphaned when he was 14, and since then took care of his other five siblings and sold cane and fans made of paper that he and his siblings made. Even though he did not finish his schooling, Bonifacio could read and write both in Filipino and Spanish. He was a true blue Manileño, as he was born in Azcarraga, Tondo, Manila.
But what else do our textbooks say about Bonifacio? Palatino said Bonifacio and other revolutionaries have remained a footnote in history. “Many of us very well know about Rizal’s love story, but only few of us know that Bonifacio was from Tondo or his body was buried under the Alibangbang tree.”
Aside from establishing the KKK or Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan and led the Filipinos in the fight against the Spanish colonizers, Palatino said, Bonifacio has also taught Filipinos the importance of collective action. “We honor Rizal because his writings like Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo have served as an eye opener to our forefathers about the rottenness and oppressive reign of Spaniards in our country. But Bonifacaio too has written the same like ‘Dekalogo’ (Decalogue) that guided the Katipunan and the poem ‘Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa’ (Love of Country).”
Rizal’s poem Mi Ultimo Adios or Last Farewell that was originally written in Spanish was translated by Bonifacio in Tagalog. Also, according to Jose P. Santos’s book about Bonifacio, he also wrote poems “Katapusang Hibik ng Pilipinas” and “Tapunan ng Lingap.” However, Palatino added, more than his writings, Bonifacio also encouraged Filipinos to revolt against and resist the colonizers.
Bonifacio taught Filipinos to fight and this lesson, Palatino said, remained to be significant up to this day. “The 1896 revolution is not only a struggle against the Spanish colonizers, but also a struggle against widespread hunger, poverty, slavery and violations of human rights. We know that up to this day, these are the same problems that we confront and Gat Andres’s advice to us is to fight.”
Bonifacio also taught Filipinos the real meaning of nationalism, Palatino added. “Bonifacio taught us that nationalism is fighting against any form of slavery and occupation.” He said if Bonifacio is still alive, he too would protest against the deployment of US troops and the toxic wastes being dumped in the country’s waters. “Bonifacio taught us that more than an oath to our flag, nationalism is about defending our sovereignty. If he is alive today, I know that he too would be on the side of the people calling for agrarian reform, national industrialization and government reorientation toward giving services. To be a nationalist, it is not enough to declare one to be so. The more important thing is to take action.”
The life story of Bonifacio that was written by Santos and Hermenegildo Cruz illustrates how and why Bonifacio established the Katipunan, his works and how he died. Both books portray Bonifacio as a patriot who, through the Katipunan, organized Filipinos suffering from slavery and poverty to collectively fight against Spanish rule and free the country from colonizers.
Relive Bonifacio’s life
As the country will once again commemorate Bonifacio’s 149th birth anniversary on Nov. 30, Palatino encouraged the government to relive the memories of Bonifacio and conduct lectures about his contribution to the 1898 revolution. He also called on the youth to practice Bonifacio’s lessons and continue to get involved in the issues of the society.
“It is sad that under this regime, KKK now means ‘kamag-anak, kaklase, at kaibigan’ (relative, classmate, and friend). Gat Andres challenged us to be critical and get involved in bringing about change from this kind of situation.”
A network of different organizations called BONI150 was recently launched for the 150th birth anniversary of Bonifacio to be celebrated next year. Different lectures will be conducted in different universities through the mobile school. Also, since July of this year different activities such as a concert at the park featuring Filipino artists were also held. The Paaralang Andres Bonifacio (Andres Bonifacio School) also held its first class in UP Manila on Nov. 28.
As the struggles of the 1896 revolution was not yet over, Palatino encouraged Filipinos, especially the youth, to continue the struggle Bonifacio began, which, up to this day, has not yet been won.
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If ever this will be passed, I think it is should be in the same course as the Rizal course, and not a separate course.