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Thursday, June 6, 2013


On November 30, 2013, the Filipino people will celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio. Each year, Filipinos observe and commemorate this event as much as Rizal Day is celebrated every 30th of December. Nonetheless, does anyone wonder why we celebrate the birthday of Bonifacio instead of his death? Does this follow that his death was of lesser importance to Filipinos relative to his birth? If yes, what is the historical basis for such perspective? This is only one of the several controversies which need to be addressed “officially” in mainstream historical literature.

Having read historical accounts about his early life, marriage, the Katipunan and other related events, how these facts were presented in most of our history books needs to be questioned. Such need also applies to other historical discourses taught in schools and other public institutions. Do our history books represent the “truth”? In this particular case, how authentic are these facts with respect to the way Andres Bonifacio was perceived, interpreted and regarded?

Historian Ambeth R. Ocampo has significant insights on certain controversies about the life and political career of the “Ama ng Katipunan” (Father of the Katipunan). According to Ocampo, definite answers are required in textbooks and quizzes as people want facts, not lessons or perspectives. As such and above all, both the academe and the public deserve to know which accounts are “facts” and which are not.

Let us review one particular controversy about the Supremo and the Katipunan as shaped by history.

Tearing of Cedulas

So far, what do we know about the tearing of cedulas? There are sources which claim that Bonifacio tore his cedula more than once; others claim that there was no such thing. Furthermore, there are some accounts which state that the cedulas were torn in two different places. Which among these is “true”?

What is a cedula? In the nineteenth century, a cedula served as an identification card which was the basis of being a “documentado”. One who was caught without a cedula was detained by the Guardia Civil. Today, a cedula is only used for legal documents. It has been documented that Bonifacio had the habit of carrying forged cedulas; that is, he had more than one cedula in his pocket.  Ocampo claimed that probably, this enabled him to “inspire” various groups through the act of tearing his cedula in front of the public.

This does not end here. The place where the cedulas were torn is also one point of contention. In the academe, students are told that the tearing of cedulas occurred in the house of Melchora Aquino commonly known as Tandang Sora. The question is, is this the only place where the KKK met? Other sources say that the Katipunan also met at several other houses. There were the houses of Juan Ramos and Apolonio Samson; and the house of Juan Ramos’ son also named Juan Ramos. Interviews and extensive research conducted with persons “remotely” connected to the event ended up with Pugad Lawin (now part of Barangay Bahay Toro, District II, Quezon City) as the actual site of the tearing of cedulas.

Historians say that what differentiates history from other disciplines is its dynamic nature. One cannot simply box history since existing facts are continuously bombarded with new ones; thus, contesting the former’s credibility. Nonetheless, what is important is how sources play in every historical data being presented. The quest for truth never ends as history can be rewritten, retold and rethought. 



  1. Well,It's not so perfect but a little information can get anything by a great website just like this.I wish you could put "Where Andress Bonifacio's School is " and Andress Bonifacio's Families just like that but the information is enough thank you so much.

  2. Hi! thanks for taking time reading on Bonifacio's biography....
    regarding your query, His first teacher was his aunt Remigia Castro de Sanchez, who taught him his prayers and the alphabet. Later, he attended the school of Don Guillermo Osmeña to Meisic in Binondo, Manila but did not continue because his parents died, though he is a smart man. He continue reading classic novels like Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. He was married twice, first with Monica who died and later with Gregoria de Jesus, the muse of the katipunan,... they have a child but died at the young age..... =)