For the first feature of the Secrets and Scandals in 7107 Islands, we bring you the open-ended question about heroism of two controversial personalities of Philippine History under the regime of Spain, the life and suffering of Andres Bonifacio, and the untold secrets of the administration of Emilio Aguinaldo.
Emilio Aguinaldo is the face of our 5 peso coin. A hero proclaimed by History books as the first president of the Philippine government, who waived the first Philippine flag at Kawit, Cavite and proclaimed independence of the nation against the abusive Spaniards. As kids, we never failed to visit his house at Kawit, Cavite during field trips. There we saw the balcony, the old furniture, the wishing well or fountain as I hardly remember, and a long standing tree.
In one of News TV Channel 11 shows Case Unclosed, it featured a show which deep-dived into the untold truths of the lives of heroes. One of its unforgettable offerings was the truth behind Gregorio del Pilar being a berdugo (executioner) who was loyal to Emilio Aguinaldo. Another sensational case was the intrigue whether it was President Emilio Aguinaldo who instructed some close soldiers to kill General Antonio Luna who was suspected to launch a coup d’ etat against him.
Still, one of the most intriguing issues of all time is the death of Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio on May 10, 1987 at Mount Buntis, in Maragondon, Cavite. Some say it was Emilio Aguinaldo who ordered the death of the two. With this clamor, there are some people saying that the heroism of Emilio Aguinaldo, as falsely depicted in History books as some say, should be retracted.
Taken from a writing by Ed Aurelio Reyes, (see whole post at http://www.tribo.org/history/bonifacio.html) the memoirs written by Aguinaldo himself:
“By virtue of my power as head of the revolutionary movement, I ordered Colonel Pedro Lipana, the presiding judge, to ask the military court to relax the penalty on the brothers. My reasons were pity, my desire to preserve the unity of the Filipinos, and above all, because I did not want to shed the blood of other revolutionists. I therefore suggested that the brothers be banished to Pico de Loro, a mountain quite far but still within Cavite.
“Upon learning of my wish, Generals Pio del Pilar and Mariano Noriel rushed back to me.
“‘Our dear general,’ General Pio del Pilar began, ‘the crimes committed by the two brothers, Andres and Procopio, are of common knowledge. If you want to live a little longer and continue the task that you have so nobly begun, and if you wnat peace and order in our Revolutionary Government, do not show them any mercy. (etcetera, etcetera).’
“Besides these two generals, many people, most of them former followers of Andres Bonifacio, came to me to dissuade me from my decision of relaxing the sentence on them. Because of their explanations and requests, plus the strong evidence to prove their criminal acts (sic), I rescinded my order. Thereupon, General Mariano Noriel ordered Major Lazaro Macapagal to bring with him a squad of soldiers to fetch the prisonores and carry out the orders originally imposed by the military court.
“Very early on the morning of May 10, 1897, Major Macapagal and his men took the prisoners to Mount Tala where they were shot.”
As Ed Aurelio Reyes continues:
Bonifacio is said to have been buried in a shallow grave by one of his executioners who must have been conscience-stricken. His bones, later exhumed, eventually wound up being displayed as an exhibit in the Philippine Library and Museum where the Legislative Building cum Executive House cum National Museum now stands at the heart of Manila. That building was completely leveled by boms during World War II, and Bonifacio’s remains were lost, remaining unrecovered to this day.
The nation still owes the Great Plebeian a formal funeral ceremony as a human being and as one of two national heroes officially declared by the Philippine government. Almost nobody knows that we have not accorded him the basic honor of an interment ceremony. And almost nobody cares.
Most Pinoys would compare Rizal as someone who fought using words, while Andres Bonifacio fought using his bolo. Some would think that Andres Bonifacio came from a poor family, illiterate and uneducated. However his line of readings from Les Miserables to The French Revolution proved it wrong.
But reading closely the memoirs, Andres Bonifacio mentioned about the crimes committed by the two brothers. What could those crimes be? We hope history officials would be able to unravel the mystery.
If the above memoirs are true and indeed came from Aguinaldo, then it can be said that the case is closed. However, the generation of then and today may have forgotten to pay respect to a great hero like Bonifacio, unkilled by foreigners but by kindred of same nation.
Should we believe that the President Emilio Aguinaldo killed Andres Bonifacio? And if he did, for a reason acceptable?
This is one of the Secrets and Scandals in 7107 Islands.
Credits to Ed Aurelio Reyes whose original issue printed in Health Alert Issue 158, May 1994