Andres Bonifacio (Full name: Andres Bonifacio y de Castro), a Filipino nationalist and revolutionary was born in November 30, 1863 to parents Santiago Bonifacio and Catalina de Castro. He was the eldest among the five children and named after Saint Andrew. Unlike Jose Rizal, Bonifacio was born of poor parents and at a young of 14, Bonifacio was orphaned and had no choice but to quit school to support his younger siblings. He made rattan canes and paper fans for selling and also made posters for several business companies. During his late teenage years, he also had a job with the British trading firm Fleming and Company and later on with the German trading firm Fressell and Company where he worked as a bodeguero, or a storehouse worker.
Although he didn’t finish a normal education, Bonifacio was self-educated and read books about International Law and French Revolution, biographies of the presidents of the United States, Philippine penal and civil codes, and the famous novels of Jose Rizal which is Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. He can also speak in Tagalog, Spanish and a bit of English. His first wife Monica, who hails from Bacoor, died of leprosy and so he remarried a certain Gregoria de Jesus of Caloocan in 1893 and they had a child Andres, who died in infancy because of smallpox.
Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan (KKK)
The Katipunan or KKK is an acronym for Kataastasang, Kagalanggalangang, Katipunang Anak ng Bayan, which translates to “Highest and Most Respected Society of the Children of the Country.” Bonifacio is the founder of the group which is influenced by Freemasonry, to which Bonifacio is also a member. The Katipunan is a secret society group which goal is to seek independence from Spain by means of an armed revolt. Bonifacio also worked before with both Katipunan and Jose Rizal’s La Liga Filipina, but decided to quit on the latter since he lost hope for a peaceful reform with Spain. He then expanded the Katipunan into several provinces including Laguna, Batangas, Cavite, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga. The member, which are called Katipuneros, mostly belong to the middle and lower classes. It was exclusive to male members at first but later decided to also include females in their membership where Bonifacio’s wife Gregoria de Jesus, also became a leading member and goes under the name of Lakambini. The members formalized their membership by signing the pact with their own blood. Bonifacio was one of the chief Katipunan officers from the start but he only became a Supremo (Supreme Leader) in 1895.
The Spanish authorities found out about Katipunan in August of 1896 and arrested hundreds of Filipino suspects, both innocent and guilty, and were imprisoned for treason. This made Bonifacio call the members of the Katipunan for a mass gathering in Caloocan where they decided to start their revolt and tore up their cedulas or community tax certificates and shouted “Long Live the Philippines”. This event was later referred to as the Cry of Pugadlawin. On August 29, he appointed generals to attack Manila but did not push through due to the lack of arms. On August 30, Bonifacio decided to personally lead an attack in San Juan del Monte, where at first they outnumbered the Spanish troops but didn’t expect a possible arrival of reinforcement troops which caused the Filipino’s defeat and a heavy casualty on Bonifacio’s men.
Andres Bonifacio’s militant katipunero life was ended in Mount Hulog in Maragondon, Cavite. A group was sent to arrest him and his younger brother Procopio. Without him having any clue that the group has an ill intent, he allowed them in his camp and they shot his brother Ciriaco and seriously beat his brother Procopio. Other reports also say that his young wife Gregoria was also raped.
Bonifacio and his brother Procopio was then tried of treason and sedition. Both brothers were convicted and sentenced to death. On May 10, 1897, a group of soldiers led by General Lazaro Makapagal brought both Andres and Procopio from Maragondon jail and this was ordered by General Mariano Noriel, who is also the president of the council that tried the Bonifacio brothers. General Makapagal had been handed a sealed letter, with strict orders that he can just open and read it after reaching Mount Nagpatong in the Maragondon mountains. He also brought with him four soldiers to accompany the prisoners and when they reached Mount Nagpatong, General Makapagal opened the sealed letter. The letter states an order of General Noriel to execute the Bonifacio brothers and upon reading it, Makapagal immediately carried out the command and shot both Andres and Procopio. That day, Andres Bonifacio, the Filipino who is the father of the Philippine Revolution against Spain, succumbed to death. He was only 34 years old.