ANDRES Bonifacio celebrates his 155th birthday on November 30. Bonifacio is remembered as the father of the Philippine Revolution and of the Katipunan.
There is so much a mystery surrounding the Great Plebeian, as he left only a few but significant writings that mirror his passion for the country. There is so much more mystery surrounding his death as his and his brother’s bodies remain missing after their execution.
The tragic ending of Bonifacio still continues in our present scene, in the politics of factionalism, elitism and power play. Historians such as Constantino and Ocampo reflect on this betrayal of the elites and ilustrados and the legacy it left us. Recent films by Enzo Williams (Bonifacio ang Unang Pangulo) and Jerrod Tarog (Heneral Luna, Goyo) also carry such these theme to this millennial generation with such relevant medium.
Another personality born on this date is Mark Twain (real name Samuel Clemens) in 1835, an American author who wrote about adventures of young runaways and slaves in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and the pretentiousness of the American aristocrats. He also wrote essays questioning the American colonization of the Philippines, how America acted to put our country under its heel instead of letting us find our freedoms. He called it imperialism. He is perhaps one of the first to strike solidarity with the Filipinos before there came such a word.
There is so much to learn from this history, yet here we are, more absorbed in Facebook, popular books of dystopia and young romance and adventure, and school textbooks offer limited texts to fire the idealism and proper grounding of the youth on our society today.
Those who continue the fire of Bonifacio’s legacy are the likes of youth activists. The Kabataang Makabayan, the group that sparked the First Quarter Storm in the Marcos’ years, was founded on November 30. The youth group AnakBayan was also founded on the same date. This honors nationalist, anti-colonial struggle that Bonifacio waged.
November 30 is also the founding of the Lumad group in Talaingod, the Salupongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon, which translates to Unity to Defend our Ancestral Land. It brings an organic dimension to the nationalist struggle of Bonifacio, one that is rooted on defending indigenous traditions and territories against globalization’s plunder of natural resources.
Salupongan’s celebration though, is marked by more struggles. The Lumad schools they started in Talaingod had been forcibly closed by the paramilitary the past few days. Strangely, the school heads and support groups that rescued the children, led by Bayan Muna’s Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers’ Rep France Castro, are charged with “trafficking the Lumad children”.
It seems those who have well intentions are now treated as criminals. While those with arms and allies of imperialists are lording over the law. It’s a legacy of betrayal felt by Bonifacio, thus his legacy of struggle continues.
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear” – Mark Twain.