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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tragic unto kinetic


‘The Bonifacios rendered the ultimate sacrifice of being killed at the hands of their erstwhile comrades in the Revolution.’

COME to think of it, we do have unique tourist spots in this country. Not anywhere near the likes of the Currywurst Museum in Berlin , Germany or the Cockroach Hall of Fame Museum in Plano, Texas, USA.

The Museum of the Holy Souls in Purgatory in Rome and the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi, India do probably attract the spiritual as well as the mundane. But the Casa Hacienda de Naic now part of the Naic Elementary School in Cavite may be of interest only to Filipinos. Why would visiting Americans from Seattle be concerned with the historic site connected with intrigues, betrayals and murders among Filipino revolutionaries in the 1890s?

The former Dominican Hacienda de San Isidro Labrador gained its Philippine significance when in April of 1897 the chief executive and leading light of the Revolution, Gat Andres Bonifacio, crafted the Acta de Naic (aka Naic Military Agreement), which re-affirmed the socio-political and combat goals of the 1896 Revolution, in this plantation house. This act by the KKK Supremo and Pangulo of the Republika ng Haringbayang Katagalugan was said to be one of the main justifications for the hero’s arrest, trial and execution at the hands of Generalissimo Emilio Aguinaldo.

Although the same place later hosted the establishment of the national Departments of Defense, Finance, Justice and Interior and Local Government, the bad mojo generated by the unjust execution of Bonifacio and his brother permeates. How can Aguinaldo’s "Cabinet of Reconciliation" that was formed in this Casa justify the killing of one of the founders of the Katipunan?

The touring Washingtonians might be mildly curious about the Naic Hacienda House as the site where the red Sun of Liberty flag was designed and approved as the banner of national unity. But can this Cavite historic spot compete for attention with the likes of the Dog Collar Museum, Leeds Castle, Kent in England?

In addition, Filipinos may recall with dread and awe that Casa Hacienda de Naic was converted into an enemy garrison by the invading Japanese fascists during World War II. For which, the building was bombed by the defending Americans and their Filipino allies. Today, the nearby church and the school grounds contain ecclesiastical relics and collectibles and local kids eager to learn.

The delegation from the University of Washington who stopped at and entered the Bonifacio Trial House in Poblacion, Maragondon, Cavite may not have been moved by the drama that occurred in that building. This is the place where one of the architects of the Philippine Revolution, Andres, and his brother, Procopio, were subjected to the indignities of a kangaroo court.

Aguinaldo and his faction, of course, found the brothers "guilty" and meted them the death sentence. High above that town of Maragondon, in the heights of Mount Nagpatong, the Bonifacios rendered the ultimate sacrifice of being killed at the hands of their erstwhile comrades in the Revolution.

This narrative is taught with varying interpretations within the Philippine educational system – a phenomenon that the traveling students from Seattle are welcome to investigate since their sojourn in the Rizaline islands is a requirement of their course on American Ethnic Studies, grappling with the theme of "Education, Memory, Ethnicity."

These students toured the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit where the General proclaimed on June 12, 1898 his dictatorship and the offering of the Philippines as a protectorate of the "mighty and humane North American nation."

The young American travelers also glimpsed the Cañacao Bay, Fort San Felipe, Tejeros Convention Site, and the Battle of Binakayan Monument, among others. In their R&R at Tagaytay City, however, they missed visiting the 41st Division USAFFE Marker and the 11th Airborne Division Marker, which commemorate Filipino and American units that effectively battled the imperialist Japanese in the Pacific War.

Hopefully, the Seattle delegation will learn much about the Philippines through the itinerary prepared for them by the Yslas De Oro Travel and Tours agency.

Meanwhile, the Filipinos in the Philippines can review their own historical sources in their country, thus, avoiding the mistakes of the Revolutionary generation. Among others, they can re-read Bonifacio’s correspondence with fellow patriots and gather the following:

1. The resolve of the towns of Bulacan and Nueva Ecija were meant to be awakened and the townsfolks’ spirit not be "broken by the Spanish advances here in the towns of Cavite, because the Revolution here is spreading and getting much stronger due to the towns of Batangas and Laguna crossing over, and perhaps Tayabas, Mindoro and Camarines will cross over also." [Letter of Andres Bonifacio, Maypagasa, the President of the Sovereign People, to Julio N. Nakpil, Exalted President of the Council in the Northern District, Limbon (Indang, Cavite), 24 April 1897]

2. "It is urgent necessity that you gather up all the guns there, even if you have to pay for them, but they must become the property of the Association so that we may have a real and proper fighting army. If you succeed in effecting this shortly, it will be an easy thing to invade any pueblo and fortify ourselves there in such a way that it will not be easy for the enemy to reconquer the place...The men who know how to set "spear traps" (balatek) for whom you ask I have already summoned from Marigondon, but they have not yet arrived; as soon as they arrive, I shall have them go to your place...Hunt up some brass there and I shall send you cannons and lantakas immediately." [Letter of Andres Bonifacio, to Don Emilio Jacinto Pedernal, Chief of the Army of the North, 1897]

3. "The District of Batangas has organized a provincial government which it places under my orders, according to the four letters I have received. I sent 20 riflemen and 25 Balara bolomen to help them." [Letter of Andres Bonifacio, to Jacinto, Limbon, April 24, 1897]

Probably, the most important points to keep in mind are that Bonifacio and the original Katipuneros carried out Rizal’s "arduous mission" of nation-formation, bannered the ideals of "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" and personified hope and integrity in the teeth of enemy attacks and betrayals by faithless comrades.

Bonifacio’s heroism and the Katipunan legacy are worthy of reflection and action on the seventh of July of every year.

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