Andres Bonifacio, Eskrimador

Tomorrow is Philippine Independence Day and so I’d like to honor one of my most beloved heroes, Andres Bonifacio (1863-1897), leader of the Philippine Revolution.

He founded the Katipunan movement in 1892 and later became its Supremo (supreme leader). The Katipunan‘s radical platform was to secure the independence of the Philippines against Spanish colonizers by use of arms. The official name of his organization was Kataastaasan, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (The Highest and Most Honorable Society of the Children of the Nation). Acronym K.K.K.

The Katipuneros believed that the only way to be free from tyranny and oppression was through armed conflict. They began to fortify their ranks and prepared to fight using their revolvers and bolos.

Only surviving photograph of Andres Bonifacio, founder of the Philippine revolutionary society Katipunan. Source: www.kasyasayan-kkk.info.
The only surviving photograph of Andres Bonifacio, founder of the Philippine revolutionary society Katipunan.
Photo and Information Credit : http://www.kasaysayan-kkk.info.

Four years later, the Spanish authorities confirmed the existence of the Katipunan. Hundreds of Filipinos were arrested and imprisoned for treason.

Eluding an intensive manhunt, Bonifacio called thousands of Katipunan members to gather in Caloocan to start their revolt. They marked that moment of valor by the tearing of their cedulas or residence certificates. (In the nineteenth century, a cedula served as an identification card. It meant that the Spaniards have you in their official list.   If one is caught without a cedula, he would be punished and detained.)

On 28 August 1896, Bonifacio called for a nationwide armed revolt against Spain and a simultaneous attack on Manila.

Read his  brave and bold general declaration:

This manifesto is for all of you. It is absolutely necessary for us to stop at the earliest possible time the nameless oppositions being perpetrated on the sons of the country who are now suffering the brutal punishment and tortures in jails, and because of this please let all the brethren know that on Saturday, the 29th of the current month, the revolution shall commence according to our agreement. For this purpose, it is necessary for all towns to rise simultaneously and attack Manila at the same time. Anybody who obstructs this sacred ideal of the people will be considered a traitor and an enemy, except if he is ill; or is not physically fit, in which case he shall be tried according to the regulations we have put in force.

This attack did not prevail but it led other provinces to revolt and continue the Philippine revolution.

A power struggle among the revolutionaries led to Bonifacio’s execution in 1897. He was only 34.  

Although Bonifacio did not prevail, we call him the Father of the Philippine Revolution because his passion and bravery started it all. 

Now, we remember him in many ways:

Postage Stamps, Ten-Peso Coin, Bonifacio Avenue, Bonifacio Gobal City, and monuments in many areas of the country.

Here’s one Andres Bonifacio monument. Look at his revolver and bolo. 

Andres Bonfacio, wielding a revolver and a bolo, with katipuneros.
Supremo Andres Bonifacio leads the Philippine Revolution, armed with his revolver and bolo. By Guillermo Tolentino,1933, cast in bronze. Caloocan City.

Katipuneros were highly-skilled bolo (a.k.a. itak) fighters.

A Katipunan officer’s bolo.
The ornate brass inlays on the blade are remarkable.
The peened tang on the butt end of the hilt points to a Luzon origin of the sword. The leather scabbard further points to the swords Luzon provenance.
Overall length: 22.6 inches.
Blade length. 16.6 inches
Maximum blade thickness3/8 inch
Photo and information credit:  Lorenz Lasco < http://www.filhistory.com
A typical Katipunero bolo, commonly called “Luzon matulis”.
A peened tang on the butt end of the hilt points to a Luzon origin.
The leather scabbard points to a Visayan “service” of the sword.
Overall length: 22.2 inches
Blade length: 19.6 inches
Maximum Blade thickness: 5/16 inch
Photo and information: Lorenz Lasco < http://www.filhistory.com
The tang's protrusion on the hilt
The tang’s protrusion on the hilt.
Photo and information credit: Lorenz Lasco < http://www.filhistory.com
A close up of the leather "throat" exhibiting symbolism yet to be deciphered. Photo and info credit: Lorenz Lasco < www.filhistory.com
A close up of the leather “throat” exhibiting symbolism yet to be deciphered.
Photo and information credit: Lorenz Lasco < http://www.filhistory.com

Andres Bonifacio: A true hero. Brave, Passionate, skilled in armed warfare.

This eskrimador pays tribute to you, Supremo.

Pugay po.

**********************

Related post: See how the Katipuneros influenced what Arnisadors wear:  What is the Arnis uniform?

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