Monday, 11 December 2006
Andres Bonifacio, Letter dated December 12, 1896 to the Mataas na Sangunian ng mga hukbo sa dakong Hilagaan
Transcribed below (in the original Tagalog, followed by an English translation with annotations) is a previously unpublished letter that Bonifacio wrote from Cavite on December 12, 1896 to the Katipunan military command in the “Northern District”, the region to the north and east of the capital.
In the days before he wrote this letter, Bonifacio had been greeted in the towns of Cavite by crowds shouting “Mabuhay!”, by brass bands, fireworks, the firing of rifles in the air, and the pealing of church bells. In Noveleta, he and Emilio Jacinto had been driven on a tour of inspection in a luxurious carriage pulled by a swift, well-fed white horse. But the acclaim with which he had been honoured, he sadly observes here, had awakened in a few hearts the “worm of envy”, and already he had become the target of falsehoods and malicious intrigues.
Aside from its significance as an addition to the still slender corpus of Bonifacio’s known writings, the letter is interesting as a pointer to his concerns at this critical time, and it establishes also that he arrived in Cavite earlier than many sources indicate.
The Tagalog text of this letter bears accents, but these have been omitted here due to the difficulties of rendering them in electronic format. Words that are difficult to decipher are followed by a question mark in square brackets – [?] – and round brackets – (Consejero) – are as found in the original. Paragraph numbers do not appear in the original, and have been inserted simply to facilitate comparison between the Tagalog original and the English translation.
The recipient of the letter was probably Julio Nakpil, and he or his secretary has written at its top the date a reply was despatched - “Sinagot ito ng ika 30 ng Dis. ng 1896”.
The text is as follows:-
K. K. K.
N. M. A. N. B.
Sa Mataas na Sangunian ng mga hukbo sa dakong Hilagaan
Minamahal na mga kapatid:
Tinangap dito ang inyong sulat taglay ang kaarawang ika apat ng umiiral na buan, kalakip ang mga sulat na salin buhat sa mga pinuno ng hukbo ng Ugong. Tungkol sa mga baril na nawaglit ay pagpilitan ninyong ipahanap at at [sic] kung hindi matagpuan diyan ay inyong ipahatid dito ang mga pangalan nang nangagsipagdala at aking ipauusig sa mga pinuno ng buong Katipunan.
Ang inyong pagdamay sa mga kapatid nating nasasa Antipolo at ang kanilang pagtatagumpay sa lumusob na kaaway ay malabis naming ikinatutua at ang pagdadamayan ay siyang tunay na diya’y naghahari.
Ang ginawang pagkahahalal sa kapatid na si G. Hermogenes Bautista sa katungkulang Punong hukbo ng mga kawal ng Pantayanin at gayon din naman sa mga na halal na Kasanguni (Consejero) ay amin minamarapat at inaayunan ang karapatan nila.
Ang pagsalakay sa bayan ng Pasig na ginagayak ay aming tunay na minagaling at ito’y siyang kapagdaka ay [?] siyang aming hinahangad na mangyari. Sa matanto ito ng Pangulong hukuman at ng General S. Alvarez ay malabis na ikinatua at sila’y nagkusang abuluyan ang hukbo diyan ng mga sandaang sandatahan ng pana at sibat, bukod pa ang mga dalawang puong barilan na taglay na ang kapsulang kakailanganin. May dalawa o tatlong falconete pang makakasama bukod sa naunang ipinagkaloob sa atin.
Ang lahat ng ito’y hindi na ipadalang kasabay ng kapatid na si G. Lucino de la Cruz sa kanyang pag uwi, sa pagkat nang nahahanda na ay siyang pagdatin ng kapatid na Jokson na galing sa Maynila at ito’y ang siyang nagbalita na sasalakain itong Tangway sa mga araw na ito ng tatlong libong Kastila na bagung dating, datapua’t ngayong araw na ito ay may bago namang balita na di umano’y sa ika 18 sa nitong umiiral na buan sa salakay dito, bagay na ipinagpasia ng General Santiago na palakarin na at salakayin sa madaling panahon.
Nang itong sulat na ito’y aking wawakasan ay siyang pagtangap ko ng panibagong sulat ninyo na taglay ang ika 9 na araw ng buang ito at sa kanya’y aking nabatid matapat na inyong kautusan tung[kol] sa pag uusig sa mga taksil na kababayan.
Ang mga salin ng sulat ng k. Dagoberto gr...3o ay pawa kong na pagtalastas ang kanyang mamalasakit na paglingap sa Banal na kadahilanan ng ating K. Katipunan at gayon din naman sa mga kaloob niyang salitre at kapsulang walang laman ay pinasasalamatan ko sa ngalan ng Bayan.
Tungkol ipinagkaloob na polvora ng kap na si G. Domingo Magampon ay amin din pinasasalamatan ang kanilang masikap na pag damay sa pag tatangol sa ating tinubuang bayan.
Ang sino pamang hindi ninyo kilalang kapatid at pinuno sa Katipunan ay hindi nararapat na inyong pagkalooban ng saklolong salapi ng Katipunan, kaya’t nararapat ang inyong hindi biglang pagkakaloob.
Aking inaayunan ang inyong matapat na pasya tungkol sa pagpapaayos ng hukbo sa mga bayan ng hukuman ng Bulakan, ito’y totoong kinakailangang pilitin ninyong lumaganap sa buong na sa saklawan ng daan ng Ferrocarril, at ng ang tropa ng kaaway ay magkakalat kalat at huang makapagtipon ng malaki.
Ang inyong ipinagkaloob sa kay G. Emilio Jacinto Pingkian ay aking minamarapat at ng siya’y may roong karakarakang pagkukunan sa ano pamang pagkakailangan ng Katipunan.
Ang mga kababayang ating sinulatan ay inyong tandaan ang mga pangalan at ating sisingilin pagdating ng araw ang kanilang pagsasarili at hindi pagdamay.
Hindi na gawang sagutin agad ang inyong sulat baga mat siya kong hangad sa pagka’t ako’y inanyayahang ng mga pinuno dito na dumalaw sa mga bayan nilang nasasakupan at dooy ipinagkakapuri ng ating Katipunang ibalita ko sa inyo na ako’y naging dahil ng malaking pag sasaya ng bawat bayang aming pasukin. Ito’y buhat pa nang aming pagdating ay siya nang isinalubong ng ating mga kapatid dito, at siyang naging mula na gumising sa hamak na kalooban ng ilang kababayan ang uuod ng kaingitan na bumubulog ng kaasalan ang ako’y ipamaraling bata ng mga fraile at ibat iba pang ugaling gamiting sandata ng mga taksil na gaya nang sinasabing lumabas sa diario ng kaaway na pag sira sa akin.
Tinangap naman dito ang polvora at salitre na dala ni gral. Lucino at gayon din naman ang huling nababalot ng banig, ito’y malabis na pinasasalamatan ng ating mga kapatid dito.
Ang mga taong kasabay nito na abuloy diyang ating mga kapatid dito na pawang may sandata at ang ibay barilan ay pilitin ninyong pag tulung tulungang pagpakitaan ng loob at tuloy ipakilala sa ating mga tao ang paggamit ng pitagan sa mga pinunong kasamahan at gayon din naman ipatanyag ang kanilang dating ingat na katapangan sa pakikipaglaban.
Buhat diyan ay maipag uutos ninyo sa mga kap. na nasa Pasig at Guadalupe na huak nilang papayagan ang sino pamang mangagaling diyan na walang katunayang inyong pinahintulutan ang paglalagbay dito sa Tangway at ng sa paraang ito’y mapigil ang sino pamang lumalayas ng hindi ninyo pahintulod buhat pa sa Pasig.
Tungkol sa kay Palamara y Ca ay aking pagpipilitang pag iisipin ang paraang magaling na silay marapatan ng kapatas na kagamutan ng kanilang sakit na dinaramdam. Kung sa pamagitan ng mga tao natin at mga ipadadala ko diyan kasabay ng sulat na ito ay magagawa ninyo samsaman ng armas at inyong mahahatulan ay inyong karakarakang gawin at ng hindi makasira at makadungis sa kalinisan ng banal na Layon ng ating Katipunan.
Ang ating kapatid na si G. Emilio Jacinto ay minatapat kong ihalal na General en Jefe sa mga bayan nasasakupan ninyo at siyang sa ngayon pag kikilalanin ng mga Generales na puno nila at siyang gagawa ng paraan sa pakikipaglaban.
Tangapin ninyong lahat diyan ang mahigpit ma yakap ng inyong kapatid.
Ang Plo. ng Haringbayan
Sa tatlong Consejeros na nalalagay inyong sulat ay hindi ko maalawian [?] kung ang lahat ng ito’y lumabas gayon may nagpadala ako ng tatlong nombramiento at kayo ang bahalang mag bigay sa dapat pag bigyan.
[Source: Archivo General Militar de Madrid: Caja 5677, leg.1.120].
K. K. K.
N. M. A. N. B.[ii]
To the High Council of the Armies of the North[iv]
Dear brothers :
Your letter dated the fourth of the present month has been received here together with the transcribed letters from the leaders of the army of Ugong.[v] Regarding the guns that have gone missing; make an effort to locate them, and if they are not found there, send here the names of those who were carrying them, and I will have it investigated by the leaders of the whole Katipunan.
Your solidarity with our brothers in Antipolo and their victory over enemy attacks pleased us greatly, for solidarity is what truly prevails.
We have approved the due election of brother Mr Hermogenes Bautista to the position of Military Commander of the soldiers of Pantayanin and likewise the election of Councillors, and we have ratified their authority. [vi]
The attack on the town of Pasig is being planned really well by us, and we hope to carry it out as soon as possible. In the meantime, the district President and General S. Alvarez are extremely pleased and they have voluntarily contributed to the army there a hundred troops armed with bows, arrows and spears, in addition to about twenty riflemen who already have the necessary cartridges.[vii] Two or three falconetes are also included aside from the ones given to us before.[viii]
All of this [military force] is not going to be sent with brother Mr. Lucino de la Cruz when he returns home, because as it was being prepared brother Jokson arrived from Manila and he gave us the news that Tangway would be attacked at this time by three thousand Spaniards who have newly arrived, although now today we have fresh information which says that this attack will come on the 18th of the present month, so Grl. Santiago has decided to set off and attack very soon.[ix]
When I was about to finish this letter, I received your new letter dated the 9th of this month, and from that I learnt directly about your order to prosecute the compatriots who are traitors.[x]
The transcribed letters of Bro. Dagoberto gr...3o have all informed me of his compassionate concern for the Sacred Cause of our K. Katipunan and also about his donation of saltpetre and empty cartridges, for which I am thanking him on behalf of the People. [xi]
In relation to the gunpowder donated by Bro. Mr. Domingo Magampon, we are also expressing thanks for their zealous support in the defence of our native land.
You must not grant financial assistance from the Katipunan to anybody you do not know to be brothers and chiefs in the Katipunan, and you must not make donations on the spur of the moment.
I agree with your sound decision regarding the organisation of forces in the towns of the province of Bulacan; it is truly essential that you press to widen out along the whole route of the Railroad so that the troops of the enemy get dispersed and are not able to form large concentrations.
I have approved the honour you have granted to Mr. Emilio Jacinto Pingkian so that he can immediately get whatever is needed by the Katipunan.
You should remember the names of the compatriots we wrote to, and when the day comes we shall take revenge for their selfishness and unhelpfulness.
Although I wanted to answer your letter immediately I wasn’t able to, because I was invited by the leaders here to visit the towns under their jurisdiction where, I can tell you, they honour the Katipunan, because there was great exultation in every town that we entered. This started as soon as we arrived and were welcomed by our brothers here, and it began to awaken in the base sentiments of a few compatriots the worm of envy, which became virile in their conduct, and they spread it about that I am a pawn of the friars, and all sorts of other insinuations the traitors are using as weapons to destroy me, like those it is said are coming out in the newspaper of the enemy.[xii]
We have received here the gunpowder and saltpetre that was brought by Grl. Lucino, and likewise the previous [consignment] wrapped in matting, for which our brothers here are deeply grateful.
The people coming with this [letter] are sent by our brothers here to assist there; each has a weapon and some have rifles; you should extend them every courtesy and at the same time you should show our people how to respect leading comrades, and also spread the word about the bravery they have displayed in battle.
From there you should order the brothers in Pasig and Guadalupe not to allow anybody from there to come here to Tangway without your due authority, and by this means stop anybody from abandoning Pasig without your permission.[xiii]
Regarding Palamara and Co., I will try to think of a clever way for them to get the proper medicine for their unhealthy sentiments. With assistance from our people and those I am sending there together with this letter you could confiscate their weapons and pass your sentence with immediate effect so that the purity of the sacred Aims of our Katipunan will not be broken and tarnished.[xiv]
I have approved the election of our brother Mr. Emilio Jacinto as General in Chief of the towns under your jurisdiction and he will now be recognised by the generals as their chief and he will make plans for the fight.
Everybody there receive the close embrace of your brother.
The President of the Sovereign People
As regards the three councillors mentioned in your letter; since I cannot know what the outcome of all this will be, I have sent three appointments, and you should just give them to those who need them.
[i] Parts of this letter are hard to translate, and I would like to express my gratitude as always to my wife, Clarita Policarpio Richardson, for her help and estimable patience.
[ii] Abbreviation of Kataastaasan Kagalang-galang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Most Elevated and Esteemed Society of the Sons of the People).
[iii] Abbreviation of Kataastaasang Sangunian (Supreme Council).
[iv] It is possible that this nomenclature deliberately echoes that of the American Civil War. Bonifacio wanted the Katipunan forces in the north to be under a single General-in-Chief – Emilio Jacinto - but to have distinct identities based on their geographical location. The two largest military encampments at this time were in the hills either side of the Marikina valley, one at Balara near the present-day campus of UP-Diliman and the other at a place variously called Mount Masuyod, Pasong Kawayan or Pantayanin in the vicinity of Antipolo. There was thus an “army of Balara” and an “army of Pantayanin”, and Bonifacio also mentions here an “army of Ugong” – a barrio in the municipality of Pasig.
[v] Bonifacio dated this letter December 12, 1896, and its content, together with his reference here to a letter being despatched to him on December 4, strongly suggest that he had by then already been in Cavite for at least a week. It is therefore evident that Santiago Alvarez was mistaken to state in his memoirs that Bonifacio arrived in Cavite on December 17, a chronology that Teodoro A. Agoncillo, Isagani R. Medina and other historians have more or less accepted. At least three other sources, however, put Bonifacio’s arrival at least two weeks earlier. Emilio Aguinaldo’s secretary, Carlos Ronquillo, places it as early as November 17; Aguinaldo himself recalls the date as being December 1; and another veteran, Col. Genaro de los Reyes, recollects that the Supremo departed from the encampment at Balara on his way Cavite in mid-November, which would make either the November 17 or December 1 dates feasible depending on whether the party went directly or stopped along the way at Pantayanin or other encampments. Santiago V. Alvarez, The Katipunan and the Revolution: the memoirs of a general, translated by Paula Carolina S. Malay (Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1992), pp.67; 170; Teodoro A. Agoncillo, The Revolt of the Masses: the story of Bonifacio and the Katipunan (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1956), p.203; Carlos Ronquillo, Ilang talata tungkol sa paghihimagsik nang 1896-1897, edited by Isagani R. Medina, Quezon City, 1996, pp.550; 738; 762; Emilio Aguinaldo, Mga Gunita ng Himagsikan (Manila: Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay, 1964), p.140; Genaro de los Reyes, quoted in Alvarez, The Katipunan and the Revolution, p.170.
[vi] Hermogenes Bautista, known as General Menes, was born in Marikina in 1866 and as a young man had worked in that area as a farmer and cochero. He had then served for over a decade in the colonial military and police forces, first as an infantry conscript in Lanao and later with the Veterana in Manila and the Guardia Civil in Bulacan. E. Arsenio Manuel, Dictionary of Philippine Biography, vol. I (Quezon City: Filipiniana Publications, 1955), pp.95-6.
[vii] The “Pangulong hukuman” mentioned here by Bonifacio was Mariano Alvarez, president of the Magdiwang council of the Katipunan. This council was initially founded in Noveleta, but by this time had transferred its headquarters to the larger town of San Francisco de Malabon. It was here that Bonifacio made his base following his arrival in Cavite, and almost certainly it was here that he wrote this letter. Santiago V. Alvarez, the son of Mariano, was captain general of the Magdiwang army.
[viii] A falconete was a small cannon, capable of firing shot weighing up to about a kilogram.
[ix] Lucino de la Cruz, known as General Lucino or Ipo-Ipo, had been elected in October 1896 as second in command (to Luis Malinis) of the troops based at Balara. He travelled from Balara to Cavite at about the same time as Bonifacio, and may have headed the Supremo’s escort party. Ronquillo describes him as Bonifacio’s adjutant. Feliciano Jokson (sometimes Jocson, or Jhocson) was one the most energetic Katipunan emissaries and suppliers at this time, travelling back and forth between Manila and the KKK’s encampments, on occasion disguised as a woman. A pharmacist by profession, he carried “brass sheet for the making of cartridges…and at other times saltpetre for the manufacture of gunpowder which, in order to mislead the Spanish authorities, he placed in demijohns as if it were wine.” He also taught the rebel forces how to fashion primitive types of blunderbuss and cannon – trabucos, lantakas and falconetes. The Spanish assault on Tangway – Cavite – that he reported might be imminent did not materialize until February 1897. Grl. Santiago here again refers to Santiago Alvarez. O.D. Corpuz, Saga and Triumph: the Filipino revolution against Spain (Manila: Philippine Centennial Commission, 1999), p.96; Ronquillo, Ilang talata, p.415; Miguel Samio Ignacio, Feliciano Jokson: datos biográficos (Manila: Renacimiento Filipino, 1912); Julio Nakpil, “Feliciano Jocson and his activities during the Revolution of 1896-1897”, in Julio Nakpil and the Philippine Revolution, with the autobiography of Gregoria de Jesus (Manila: Heirs of Julio Nakpil, 1964), p.61.
[x] Bonifacio may well be referring here to two prominent citizens of San Mateo who are mentioned in the memoir of Col. Genaro de los Reyes. Known as Kapitan Matias and Kapitan Ismael, these men were said to be “sworn enemies” of the Katipunan who denounced KKK members and sympathisers to the Spanish authorities and caused many to be tortured and summarily executed. De los Reyes, quoted in Alvarez, The Katipunan and the Revolution, p.173.
[xi] Dagoberto was the Masonic name of both Epifanio Cuisa and Lucas Ricafort, and the reference here could be to either. Cuisa had been in Taliba Lodge together with Bonifacio before the revolution, and Ricafort, a member of Dalisay Lodge, is known to have served as a captain during the Philippine-American war. Reynold S. Fajardo, The Brethren: Masons in the struggle for Philippine independence (Manila: Enrique L. Locsin and the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines, 1998), pp 142; 184; Manuel Artigas y Cuerva, Galeria de filipinos ilustres (Manila: Imp. Casa Editora “Renacimiento”, 1917-8), p.827.
[xii] Bonifacio was a “bata” (literally, “child”) of the friars, according to these hostile fictions, because he had been bribed by them to found the Katipunan and lead the poorly armed Filipinos to certain and disastrous defeat. Artemio Ricarte, Himagsikan nang manga Pilipino laban sa Kastila (Yokohama: “Karihan Café”, 1927), p.70.
[xiii] In the latter months of 1896, Cavite witnessed an influx of large numbers of Filipinos from the neighbouring provinces, some escaping from Spanish offensives against Katipunan forces and others wanting to share the exhilarating sense of freedom and hope that prevailed in the liberated territory. Many of those arriving came without means of support, and several sources relate that the Caviteños in general did not welcome them. They called them “alsa balutan”, which may be translated as “runaways” or “refugees”, but literally means “baggage carriers”. Bonifacio’s letter indicates that he too wanted to curtail the flow, partly perhaps because he recognised the tensions and divisions it was creating in Cavite, but also because a continued exodus from Pasig, Guadalupe and other towns around Manila would undermine the Katipunan’s efforts to establish some form of government in the area and would leave Katipunan fighters isolated and exposed.
[xiv] Palamara was the Katipunan alias of Juan de la Cruz, who had been elected in October 1896 as a General and second-in-command of troops based at Mount Tungko in San José del Monte. The nature of his unhealthy sentiments is not known. This Juan de la Cruz should not be confused with the Tagalog playwright Juan Cruz, whose Katipunan alias was Matapang.