On this day, November 30

november 30
On this day, November 30 | @indiohistorian via Bonifacio’s only surviving portrait, from Jim Richardson


On this day, November 30, in 1863, Andrés Bonifacio y de Castro, revolutionary leader and 3rd president of the revolutionary organization, the Katipunan, was born in Tondo, Manila, Philippines. Under his leadership, the Katipunan lead an all-out revolution vs. Spain beginning Aug 1896.

Born to Santiago Bonifacio and Catalina de Castro, a tailor, and a housewife, Andres was born to a poor family, and the eldest of his siblings—Ciriaco, Procopio, Espiridiona, Troadio, and Maxima. Upon the early death of their parents, Andres stood as the breadwinner for the family.

First selling canes and paper fans, and juggling several jobs, Andres Bonifacio was employed as clerk and liaison for the British company Fleming & Co in Manila. He eventually became an agent of the company, but soon decided to switch to the German company, Fressel & Co.

His work in foreign companies made him a self-made man, exposed to the cosmopolitan issues of the day. His resources enabled him to self-study, reading several classic works of Western literature while having read for himself Jose Rizal’s Noli & El Fili.

Andres was also active in Philippine theatre, where he honed his oratorical skills in Tagalog which would be valuable in rousing his countrymen to revolt. He married twice, first, to a certain Monica (who died of Leprosy), and later, to Gregoria de Jesus.

The underground organization, Katipunan, was conceptualized as early as January 1892. When Rizal established La Liga Filipina, Andres was there as one of the 1st members. Upon Rizal’s exile to Dapitan, Ladislao Diwa, Teodoro Plata & Bonifacio formally established the organization.

As members were recruited, and chapters established even to as far as Panay, Bonifacio sought Rizal’s advice by sending Pio Valenzuela to Dapitan. Soon after, 2 of Rizal’s sisters, Trinidad and Narcisa, and Rizal’s eldest brother, Paciano, became members of the Katipunan.

The organization, however, was discovered prematurely. It was decided that an all-out coordinated revolution must take place. Signifying the tearing of the cedula (a means of the government to monitor citizens & avail tax), on 23 Aug 1896, Philippine Revolution began.

As Gov-Gen Ramon Blanco declared Martial Law on 8 provinces, Bonifacio led the Battle of Pinaglabanan on 30 Aug 1896 in a bid to capture the water source of Intramuros, but they were soon overwhelmed.

As the revolution was triumphant in Cavite, Bonifacio was called upon to settle the growing tensions between two Cavite Katipunan chapters, Magdiwang in Noveleta and Magdalo in Kawit. In March 1897, the Tejeros Convention was held.

It was decided that the convention would elect a revolutionary government. However, Bonifacio was relegated to Interior Secretary but even then, this was challenged due to his supposed unfinished schooling. Seeing this as dishonorable, Bonifacio declared the election void.

Caught in a bitter power struggle, Andres and brother Procopio were arrested, while another brother, Ciriaco, was shot dead. The two were tried for treason by a military tribunal and were executed in the mountains of Maragondon on 10 May 1897.

Even when Andres Bonifacio met an unjust tragic end at the hands of a few of his countrymen, the Nation decided to mount a monument to honor his life & legacy. The cornerstone of the Bonifacio National Monument in Caloocan designed by Guillermo Tolentino was laid on 30 Nov 1929.