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Rewriting history

TWO years ago, on November 30. 2017 during the 154th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, it was reported that his brother Procopio’s great-great grandson Gary Bonifacio asked for a more worthy tribute than the traditional wreath laying ceremonies and speeches. He suggested a sincere remembrance and acknowledgement of the real historical score behind his ancestors’ death. Both Andres and Procopio met their tragic fate in Maragon, Cavite when bad blood erupted between the two Katipunan Councils in Cavite— the Magdalo and Magdiwang due to territorial competition. On March 22, 1897, a convention was held in Tejeros to settle the dispute and decide what type of government should be installed. As leader of the council, Andres presided in the election and Emilio Aguinaldo eventually won as president. Bonifacio was then elected Secretary of Interior, to which Daniel Tirona contested, arguing that a lawyer should handle the position. This insulted the Supremo who demanded an apology from Tirona. Because of humiliation and anger, Bonifacio declared that all matters convened in the Tejeros Convention were null and void. As the familiar story goes, Bonifacio after what happened in Cavite decided to return to Montalban and San Mateo. However, on their way, he and his followers passed by Limbon, Indang, to which according to the National Historical Commission was then a place in Cavite where food was scarce and people were tightfisted. At this point, Severino de las Alas turned his back against Bonifacio. The angered Bonifacio responded with threats and words that were wrongly interpreted by the people of Indang. The local residents then sought the help of Aguinaldo, who immediately ordered the arrest of Bonifacio. On the book Bones of Contention: The Andres Bonifacio Lectures, Ambeth Ocampo cited contradictions on General Mariano Noriel’s written report on the arrest of Andres in Limbon and the detailed testimony of Bonifacio himself during a trial in a military court. Noriel’s document, as per Ocampo, only states that Colonel Agapito Bonzon, head of the arresting party, tried to convince Bonifacio to recognize Aguinaldo’s government, but the latter did not only refuse but also ordered his men to fire at them. Bonifacio’s testimony, however, clearly narrates that Bonzon’s party on the day before the arrest entered the Supremo’s camp and were even received as “friends”. When Bonzon’s party left, Ocampo noted how Bonifacio even gave them cigarettes as pabaon. In the said testimony of Andres, Ocampo detailed that when Bonzon returned the next day, he fired at Bonifacio’s trenches and more shots followed and Ciriaco Bonifacio, younger brother of Andres, was hit. The rest that ensued was history. In the said scuffle, Procopio and the Supremo were caught. The latter was stabbed in the neck, weakening him and soaking him in blood. According to Ocampo, “Bonifacio was shot in the arm when he approached the arresting officer peacefully. Despite the gunshot wound, Colonel Ignacio Pawa still stabbed Bonifacio in the neck.” Incidentally, Pawa, of Chinese descent, was eventually based in Albay where he married a local girl from the Imperial clan. He remained loyal to the Aguinaldo revolutionary movement. Later in trial, Ocampo described how “half-hearted defense” Bonifacio was supplied. Denying accusation that they fired first, Bonifacio requested that his revolver be examined to see that no single shot was fired. The gun was never presented as evidence. Procopio and Andres were shot at Mount Nagpatong, near Mount Buntis in Maragondon, Cavite. Some accounts, particularly those of Guillermo Masangkay, said Andres was pursued, stabbed with bayonets in the body, and struck on the head with bolo that cracked his skull. Nevertheless, the event still ended with the Supremo living his life short. Gary called on all Filipinos to open their eyes and be objective in accepting what is needed to be revised in the textbooks. “Dapat maitama ang ating kasaysayan. I-rewrite at itama and dapat itama,” he said as he called for the appropriate recognition that Andres Bonifacio deserves.

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