Thursday, May 25, 2006


During one of my college history classes, our professor, a well-known historian and writer, Dr. Marcelino Foronda, recounted this interesting anecdote. As part of his historical research, he had occasion to interview Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo when Aguinaldo was pretty advanced in age but still lucid.

Dr. Foronda recounted that he was tempted to ask the venerable general this question. The question was, did he (Aguinaldo) order the execution and death of Andres Bonifacio, supremo of the Katipunan (KKK)? But Dr. Foronda admitted he chickened out, thereby allowing Emilio Aguinaldo to carry that secret to his grave.

The facts leading to the death of Andres Bonifacio seem to be straightforward enough.

Initially allies, Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo quickly became bitter rivals for leadership of the fledgling revolution. The relationship between the Bonifacio supporters called the Magdiwang Faction and the Aguinaldo followers called the Magdalo Faction strained to the breaking point.

To resolve the leadership issue, the revolutionaries agreed to meet at what would be called the Tejeros Convention, where Andres Bonifacio lost to Emilio Aguinaldo in the elections. Aguinaldo was sworn in as President of the revolutionary government, but Bonifacio refused to recognize Aguinaldo’s government and set up his own government.

Followers of Aguinaldo convinced him to arrest Bonifacio for treason. A detachment of Aguinaldo’s soldiers surprised Andres Bonifacio and his brothers at breakfast. A short fight ensued in which Andres Bonifacio was wounded in the neck and Andres Bonifacio’s brother Ciriaco was killed. Andres Bonifacio and another brother Procopio were brought to Naic, Cavite, where Aguinaldo had his headquarters.

From this point, the details start to get hazy.

On May 8, 1897, both brothers were sentenced to death by a military court.
On May 10. 1897, a detachment of soldiers headed by General Lazaro Makapagal escorted both brothers to the Maragondon mountains. Interestingly, three mountains are mentioned as the possible execution sites of the Bonifacio brothers—Mount Tala, Mount Buntis and Mount Nagpatong.

There, as ordered, General Makapagal opened and read his sealed orders. He wept when he read that the council was ordering him to execute the Bonifacio brothers. Presumably, the Bonifacio brothers were executed by a firing squad, and buried in shallow graves in the Maragondon mountains.

Emilio Aguinaldo’s involvement in the execution is unclear. In some accounts, he opposed the execution of the Katipunan supremo, and voted instead for banishment. But Aguinaldo’s generals demanded the death of Bonifacio. Whatever Aguinaldo’s final decision was, the military council voted for and signed Bonifacio’s death warrant, and also that of his brother Procopio.

Thus did Andres Bonifacio’s quest for independence for his beloved country end, in his own violent death at the hands of his fellow independence fighters. But a grateful nation honors Andres Bonifacio as the Father of the Philippine Revolution, whose cry for freedom in August of 1896 eventually ended decades of colonial rule.

Questions for discussion :

Do you think Aguinaldo issued direct orders to execute the Bonifacio brothers?

If there was less infighting and actual bloodshed between the Magdiwang and the Magdalo factions, and more unity among the Filipino forces fighting the Spaniards, would that have resulted in the Filipinos winning the Revolution and gaining their independence?


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