Category: bonifacio

day 22: still, unmitigated grief

Why is the Filipino flag not flying at half mast? Instead of fudging the death toll figures, why hasn’t the President declared a period of national mourning? We should be allowed to grieve for the mothers, fathers, daughters and sons who perished in the storm. We need to perform the rituals and prayers for the dead, the way it has always been done in our culture, as a means for the living to come together and start healing.

that was direk butch perez’s facebook status on the 13th day after the sudden deaths, the disastrous drowning, of thousands upon thousands of our kababayans, their lives wiped out, snuffed out, by superstorm yolanda.  only then did i realize that the 9th day, traditionally the culmination of nine days of mourning and remembering and praying for the dead, had passed us by unmarked, except perhaps in sunday masses that 17th of november.  and i have since been trying to figure out why…

why has the president not declared a period of national mourning?  it is the right, the appropriate, the humane, thing to do in the face of these grievous mass deaths, with the deepest sympathy for bereaved families and orphans, friends and communities, who need to go through the process of grieving and healing if they are to find their way to acceptance and closure.

it is also the honorable thing to do.

today in honor of bonifacio, let us spare a thought, nay, many thoughts, for the dead of yolanda.  there was something heroic, too, about husbands and fathers and sons who felt strong and brave enough to stay behind, look after their shacks and boats and scanty possessions, so that their wives and children would have something to come home to, but who lost their lives.  there was something heroic, too, about whole families leaving everything behind, fleeing to evacuation centers, trusting they would be safe in the hands of government, but who lost their lives anyway.  there was something heroic, too, about survivors searching for loved ones and sleeping beside their dead mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, as they waited, prayed, despaired, for help.

today in honoring bonifacio, the president paid tribute to soldiers and policemen, doctors and nurses, students and professionals, volunteers and fund-raisers, young and old, rich and poor, far and near, everyone who pitched in, and continues to help, in relief and rehab.

but still no words for the dead, no words of comfort for the bereaved.


Yolanda in grim numbers
Corpses still scattered across parts of Tacloban 
Tacloban and body bags
Mirror neurons
PNoy: ‘Yolanda’ responders just as heroic as Bonifacio 

independence day, june 12, macapagal

i laughed inside when i saw this article July 4, not June 12 in the opinion page of inquirer online.  it’s been 50 years since president diosdado macapagal moved it to june 12 (from july 4 which is also america’s independence day), and june 12 has worked pretty well, at least hindi masyadong halata o buking ang american hand.

i wondered if that was why macapagal made the change and if there was a clamor for it at the time.  or was it purely a president’s sensitivity to anti-neocolonial sentiments.  so i googled it, and LOL this is what i found in wikipedia: stanley karnow (In Our Image) quoting macapagal as saying, some years later:

“When I was in the diplomatic corps, I noticed that nobody came to our receptions on the Fourth of July, but went to the American Embassy instead. So, to compete, I decided we needed a different holiday.”

only in the philippines.  and then, again, baka naman it was just one of many reasons, just the one karnow chose to highlight?  so i googled it some more, and found the official reasons in the national historical commission’s website.

First, United States celebrates independence day every July 4, the day Americans declared their independence not 3 September 1783 when Great Britain recognized their liberty;

Second, if the Philippines celebrates its independence day every July 4, our celebration would be dwarfed by the US celebration;

Third, June 12 was the most logical date since Filipinos were not actually particular about fixing of dates, what we actually cared for is independence itself;

Fourth, if the Philippines celebrates common independence day with USA, other nations might believe that the Philippines is still a part of United States.

‘yun na pala ‘yon.  wala lang, para me dumating sa party.  wala man lang pretense at a sense of history.  wala lang.

so no to that same old debate.  if we cared more, we would want a bonifacio kind of declaration, a celebration of those first shining moments — no back stories, no unseen hands, purely indio, purely pinoy.  never mind that it was aborted nine months later.  kahit credit where credit is due man lang.

DepEd endorses El Presidente :(

The Emilio Aguinaldo biopic of the country’s first president, and one that revisits the first Philippine Republic, is clearly of quality. In fact it has been graded ‘A’ by the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB) and is endorsed by Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (Ched), and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).

endorsed by DepEd and CHED?  ano ba yan!  DepEd and CHEd should be the last to endorse hagiographic material such as this that exalts emilio aguinaldo at the expense of andres bonifacio and others like antonio luna.  this is blatant historical revisionism, mostly based, not surprisingly, on aguinaldo’s memoirs — and we know how self-serving memoirs can be.

if anything, DepEd and CHED should be warning the public that there is much much more to the 1898 revolution than the depicted cinematic heroics of aguinaldo.

jessica zafra is right, Bonifacio was NOT a traitor!

Salbahe pala si Andres Bonifacio.

Mark Meily’s film El Presidente would have viewers believe that Andres Bonifacio, Supremo of the Katipunan, was a traitor who was plotting against the revolutionary government. Naturally the film would take Aguinaldo’s side, being a biopic whose primary source, cited in the credits, is Aguinaldo’s memoirs. Writer-director Meily’s avowed intention is to clear up the misconceptions surrounding this controversial figure. I do not doubt Meily’s sincerity, but I have a problem with his history.

Like our grade school textbooks, El Presidente oversimplifies the facts. It is correct in its general outlines: elections were held in Tejeros, presided over by the visiting Supremo (Cesar Montano, who now has the distinction of having played Rizal and Bonifacio). Aguinaldo was voted in as president in absentia; Bonifacio got the consuelo de bobo post of Director of the Interior. Then Daniel Tirona rose to question Bonifacio’s credentials in a most insulting manner, saying that the position required a lawyer and not a mere laborer from Tondo. Bonifacio lost his temper, drew his gun on Tirona, declared the elections null and void, and stormed out of the room.

Historians have long noted Bonifacio’s foul temper and his unwise decision to encroach on Aguinaldo’s territory. (I am citing Bones of Contention: The Bonifacio Lectures by Ambeth R. Ocampo, who cites Apolinario Mabini’s La Revolucion Filipina and other sources.) The movie goes further, painting Bonifacio as a man who would betray the Revolution he started. In one scene Aguinaldo himself overhears Bonifacio and his supporters planning to spread false news of his arrest. In another, Artemio Ricarte (Ian de Leon) on Bonifacio’s orders sends reinforcements away so that Aguinaldo’s men are defeated by the Spanish.

The movie tells us that when Aguinaldo’s men arrested Bonifacio, he resisted, fought back action movie-style, and wounded some men before he was brought down. But the record of Bonifacio’s military trial tells a different story. Aguinaldo’s officers, led by Colonel Agapito Bonzon a.k.a. Col. Yntong, had been received by Bonifacio as friends. They were offered breakfast and cigarettes before they left. The following day Col. Yntong and his men returned, firing their weapons and accusing Bonifacio of planning to take off with the revolution’s money. The slander seemed calculated to set off Bonifacio’s temper. When it didn’t work, Bonifacio was shot in the shoulder. As he fell, someone stabbed him in the throat.

This does not seem to be the act of someone obeying orders to take the Supremo alive. The arresting officers claimed that the Bonifacio brothers had shot first, but when Bonifacio’s revolver was examined, all the bullets were intact.

It gets uglier. After Bonifacio’s arrest, Col. Yntong and his men captured Mrs. Bonifacio, Gregoria de Jesus. Col. Yntong ordered her beaten until she revealed the whereabouts of the money she’d allegedly hidden. The soldiers refused to obey, whereupon Col. Yntong forced her into an empty house with the intention of raping her to further humiliate the wounded Supremo.

Yes, this is the Bonifacios’ testimony, but as Teodoro Agoncillo said, Why did Aguinaldo never order an investigation into the charges against Col. Yntong?

The attempted rape is not mentioned in the movie. However, in the epilogue, we are told that during the election in Tejeros, Aguinaldo’s supporters were away fighting so most of the people present were Bonifacio’s men. (Historical accounts say otherwise.) It’s not enough that he lost the election; his own supporters rejected him. Nothing is said in Bonifacio’s defense, but the movie feels compelled to keep defending Aguinaldo long after he has won. He repeatedly declares that he had “no choice” but to act as he did. El Presidente does Emilio Aguinaldo a disservice by portraying him as a victim of circumstance.

Even if this movie is from Aguinaldo’s point of view, the goal should be the truth. We are talking about Bonifacio, the hero who started the Revolution. If you must unmask him as a traitor, you had better have irrefutable proof other than some shifty looks from Cesar Montano.

At times the history is merely sloppy – Jose Rizal’s imprisonment at Fort Santiago is mentioned casually, but his execution is ignored altogether. The long sequence of events from the Pact of Biak-na-Bato to the Philippine-American War is rushed through, presented in a series of meetings where we hear the contents of various documents. The Declaration of the Republic of the Philippines on June 12, 1898, surely the apex of President Aguinaldo’s career, is treated in a perfunctory manner.

Though it is heartening to see history as a subject for popular culture, El Presidente exemplifies what ails our nation. We have amnesia. We choose to forget the inconvenient past in the name of “moving on”. We edit history for general patronage. We reduce history to names and dates – as Ocampo points out, we enjoy the non-working holiday on Bonifacio’s birthday, but we never come to terms with his role in Philippine history. The disturbing reality is that the man who started the revolution against Spain was killed by his own countrymen. El Presidente sanitizes history some more by saying that on some level, he deserved it.

i would like to think that the descendants of aguinaldo, one of them a member of the cabinet, another a popular showbiz figure, are not entirely happy with this biopic.  i hope they realize that this movie is a disservice to nation because it is more of the old propaganda than it is a credible fleshing out of history.  it is all about painting aguinaldo as hero and everyone else as villain.  it is about refusing to take any kind of responsibility for bonifacio’s execution.  it is about refusing to dwell on the compromises he made with the spaniards that led to the pact of biak-na-bato and exile.  it is about glossing over his secret talks with, and faith in, the americans that led to his return, and eventually to the fil-am war.  aguinaldo had a lot of explaining to do, but he wouldn’t, until the very end, and you have to wonder why.

read teodoro m. locsin’s Interview with the General, June 11, 1949 .  asked about bonifacio’s death and mabini’s fall, aguinaldo said, “It was all politics, of course, and I wish you would not ask me more about it.”

yes, the devil is in the politics, and continues to reign supreme.

the aguinaldo family would serve the nation best by commissioning a fair and honest retelling of  their patriarch’s story, warts and all.

cha-cha crazy

there they go again, chattering about charter change, as if it were even do-able, what a waste of time.   read fr. joaquin bernas’s Finally a new Constitution in 2011?

In my view, one major obstacle to attempts to revise the 1987 Constitution is structural. It has a built-in unintended obstacle to change. And I do not know how this can be overcome this year.

Inmany respects the 1987 Constitution consists of significant borrowings from the 1935 Constitution. Unfortunately, however, the provision on the amendatory process is a carbon copy of the provision in the 1973 Constitution. Year after year since 1987 this has been the major obstacle to change. Why so?

The text says: “Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by: (1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or (2) a constitutional convention. . . . The Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of all its Members, call a constitutional convention, or by a majority vote of all its Members, submit to the electorate the question of calling such a convention.”

The provision is one formulated for a unicameral legislative body but it is now meant to work for a bicameral Congress. This was not a tactical product designed by an evil genius. It is merely the result of oversight. But the oversight has spawned major problems.

First, must Senate and Housecome together in joint session before they can do anything that can lead to charter change? The 1935 Constitution was very clear on this question: Congress could not begin to work on constitutional change unless they first came together in joint session. The 1987 Constitution is non-committal.

Second, since the text of the Constitution is not clear about requiring a joint session, can Congress work on constitutional change analogously to the way it works on ordinary legislation, that is where they are and as they are? I have always maintained that Congress can, but this is by no means a settled matter. There are those who believe that the importance of Charter change demands a joint session.

Third, should Congress decide to come together in joint session, must Senate and House vote separately or may they vote jointly? The 1935 Constitution was very clear on the need for separate voting; the present Constitution is silent about this. But I am sure that the Senate will not agree to a joint voting where their number can be buried in an avalanche of House votes, an avalanche of votes which can mean the abolition of the Senate! How will this issue be settled? Howsoever the matter might be settled by agreement of the majority of both houses, someone in the minority will run to the Supreme Court to challenge the decision.

What about a constitutional convention? But the business of calling a constitutional convention is fraught with the same problems. Should Congress choose to call a constitutional convention, must the two houses be in joint session? And if in joint session, should they vote separately?

Briefly, constitutional change in 2011 or later can happen only if the members of Congress can agree to work in harmony and if the Supreme Court will not throw a monkey wrench on how Congress decides to do it. Can the members of Congress rise above self-interest and work together harmoniously? Or are we waiting for an extra-constitutional change?

i like it, this obstacle not designed by some evil genius, rather an oversight of cory’s constitutional commission.   it means that charter change can happen only if and when our legislators get their act together, and that’s just so NOT in any one’s agenda.

extra-constitutional change?   another edsa, he means?   but a successful edsa, a successful revolutionary government, one that brings about deep-seated change, is soooo not in the stars, not until a true leader rises, one in the mold of rizal or bonifacio but wise to the ways of the world today and highly-biased for the filipino.