1896 Struggle:


By Ed Aurelio C. Reyes

Kamalaysayan Writers and Speakers

(May 1996)

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E HAVE LONG associated the Katipunan with Balintawak at least as much as we have pegged Andres Bonifacio at Tondo. However, much of the historical accounts have been overfocused on Cavite. Many of us have the grossly mistaken notion that the Revolution was only in Cavite and some other Southern and Central Luzon provinces now represented by the eight rays of the sun in our national flag, when in fact the struggle really spanned the full length of our archipelago.

        Cavite was overprojected because it was in this province where the American-sponsored  revolutionary leader and later Malolos Republic president Emilio Aguinaldo came from, gained his initial victories against Spanish forces thinned out by the August 1896 events at Balintawak and San Juan del Monte, established his brand of leadership, had Bonifacio executed, and declared his brand of independence ("under the mighty and humane North-American nation"). Aguinaldo lived to old age, thus giving him decades upon decades of granting interviews to historians scholars, including those whose topic of study was Bonifacio. No wonder, a lot of our people have mistaken "Magdiwang" and "Magdalo" to be factions of the Katipunan itself, when in fact these were factions only of a mere provincial chapter -- Cavite.

Only a very small section of the population know that the Katipunan was successful in advancing the struggles of the 1896 Philippine Revolution to as far north as the Batanes islands to as far south as Cotabato. The nationwide Asosasyon ng mga Dalubhasa, May-Hilig at Interes sa Kasaysayan (ADHIKA) ng Pilipinas established this fact in a national conference held in Batac, Ilocos Norte in November 1992.

The papers presented and the assertions made at that conference have been published as a book, titled Katipunan: Isang Pambansang Kilusan, edited by Ferdinand Llanes and published by ADHIKA. Copies are available with the UP Department of History in Diliman, Quezon City.

In his chapter called "Paglalagom: Isang Pambansang Kilusan" (Summing-Up: A National/Nationwide Revolution), UP Professor Dante L. Ambrosio gives us information on the presence and struggles of Katipuneros in the various areas of the country, as cited by various historians and scholars (he cites them by surname in parentheses): in Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga, Batangas, Laguna, Tayabas, Iloilo and Iligan (Zaide); in Bataan, Zambales; Puerto Princesa, and Jolo (Kalaw); in Negros (Cullamar, Cuesta); in Aklan (Regalado, Franco); in Batanes (Madrigal); in Cebu (Quisumbing); in Pangasinan (Cortes); in Palawan (Ocampo); in Camarines Norte (Dery, Gerona); in Ilocos Sur (Scott, Ochosa); in Misamis (Madrid); and in Cotabato (Cabanero-Mapanao).

It would be interesting and enlightening to see all these areas marked on a single map of the archipelago, and to have a glaring indicator of how narrow our view has really been about the actual breadth of the struggle of the people in the 1896 Revolution. It was the first time ever that our ancestors in all these areas came together to work and fight in a single unified struggle. The 1896 Revolution was no less than the birth of our nation. The transformation of the Katipunan from being a secret association into a mechanism for governance of "Haring Bayang Katagalugan" or Sovereign Nation of the Tagalogs, complete with a President and a Cabinet elected in August 1896, completed the "birth of the nation" scenario.

It was not an empty or illusory clarification that the Katipunan officially made in the footnote to be found on no less than the cover page of Emilio Jacinto's Sa May Nasang Makisanib sa Katipunang Ito , which we remember more by its nickname, "Kartilya ng Katipunan." The introductory text mentioned the word "Tagalog" and the footnote explains it thus: "Sa salitang Tagalog, katutura'y ang lahat ng tumubo sa Sangkapuluang ito. Samakatuwid, Bisaya man, Ilocano man, Capangpangan man, etc. ay Tagalog din." (By the word Tagalog is meant all who were born in this Archipelago. Therefore, be one a Visayan, an Ilocano, a Pampangueňo, etc. he/she is a Tagalog just the same.

Neither was it for aesthetic considerations that Bonifacio adopted the Katipunan flag with a sun that had an indefinite number of rays. Katipunan's predisposition was for "Kasali tayong lahat!" (We are all in this together), in contrast to Aguinaldo who played up the so-called first-eight, a number he got from the martial law declaration of Spanish Gov. Gen. Ramon Blanco, as against the rest.

Those who criticize Bonifacio and the Katipunan for narrow regionalism do not know what they are talking about. But we have to understand that this was the charge that was swallowed hook, line and sinker and then written as "historical fact" by those historians and scholars who undertook to study Bonifacio and the Katipunan and only had for their reference the aging Emilio Aguinaldo.

Those who know better are expected to spread the word. We cannot allow the people of all those provinces all over the archipelago to continue believing that the 1896 Revolution was an enterprise of only eight provinces and therefore excluded their ancestors.

In undertaking SENTENARYO 96, the KAMALAYSAYAN-promoted and -coordinated commemoration of the centennial of the birth of the nation in the 1896 Revolution, we have come up with the slogan, "Kasali tayong lahat," along with its slight variations. In celebrating this historic event, let us not allow large sections of the population to be excluded whether by indifference or by ignorance. And let us not allow ourselves to be so excluded. Kasali tayong lahat!  It's in keeping with the Katipunan's "kapatiran" spirit.

     (Kamalaysayan Media Service)


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