Maligayang Kaarawan, Andres, Supremo ng Katipunan!
Look you don’t know me but I kind of know you, though not personally. I’ve read you in books, movies and those damn boring history classes. You’re like a rock star to many Filipinos in the 21st century, you are one of our National Heroes. Historians, professors and even the entire University of the Philippines look up to you as the guy to emulate as a role model. Because you are definitely one of the bravest Filipino who lived, for founding the revolution against the tyranny of the Spanish colonizers (er make that the Friars too). It take guts to make a secret society, but it takes major balls and big heart to go out into a battle with bolos and zero military training against disciplined, well-armed and well-trained Spanish Infantries. That’s why you are the symbol of a Filipino courage. That is why we celebrate your date of birth every single year.
Unfortunately that’s the last bit of information of what many of us know about you and the other heroes who fought with you in the Revolution. People only know you as a god-like warrior of unlimited amount courage with the red bandana and bolo on his arms. You were an extraordinary guy who loved his country dearly. That’s the clichés about you, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Only people in my generation have already resigned to that image and ultimately failed learn more about you and to look at your weaknesses and sins. Don’t get me wrong I also don’t know much about you before. Im not even a fan of yours, sorry. I’m a Rizalian just like you.
I only realized I have to understand your life story because, I believe you sent our idol Dr. Jose Rizal to Luneta to be shot. You may not have killed him directly, but his blood is on your hands. But you know it, and to be clear let us review the string of painful events that led to, then, Bagumbayn:
You met Rizal in 1892 when he founded the La Liga Filipinas, you were there as one of the founding members. If it happened today you probably took a selfie with The Great Rizal who wrote best-selling YA novels called Noli Mi Tangere and its dark sequel El Filibustirismo. The idea was to improve the conditions of the ‘Indios’ or the natives under the Spanish empire via access to better education, autonomy, commerce and equal rights via peaceful means. Peaceful. Unfortunately Rizal got arrested a few days after and got banished to Dapitan. You probably said Adios to diplomacy and peace because it failed before it could even start. The only logical solution on your mind was to turn to violence, a revolution, just like the Frenchmen did a century before in your favorite book Les Miserables! That’s when you founded the Katipunan or the KKK. So poetic and pure.
Four years later, the number of Katipuneros grew and you rose to become its supreme leader, the Supremo. You taught you were ready and you even consulted for the “Go Signal” from Dr. Rizal who was still exiled in Dapitan but yes happy and bored to death. But surprise, he said No and flat out wanted nothing to do with your poetic Katipunan. He however, recommended the services of this rich kid Antonio Luna guy. But just like Rizal, Luna said the same thing: without fund and weapons launching a revolution is too premature. I heard you were mad and all profanities when they declined.
You wanted to prove those rich kids wrong, so when the KKK was exposed in August 19, 1896 you tore your sedulas and make the “Cry of Pugad Lawin”. It was a point of no return and a declaration of war! 1896 is the biggest year of the Philippine History. Your first battle major battle was to take San Juan to secure it stocks of gunpowder and armoury. But the Katipuneros armed with only bolos and spears, boy it was a massacre. You lost in your first and last major battle. Even the guerrilla warfare you launched were also hopelessly lost. The bolos and over-sized courage are just no match against the rifles and the thing called “military science”. Your revolution only lasted for a week. Rizal, Luna, and the upper class was proven right.
Now lets get back to Rizal after you contacted him in Dapitan on May 1896 about the plans of the revolution. The guy got scared and un-heroically packed and left Dapitan for Spain. He could have said “Fck this exile, Im gonna save my butt and go to Mama Espanya”. Even before your Revolution exploded Rizal was already headed for Cuba to serve as a military doctor under the Spanish flag. You may call him a coward because he probably was, but we also have to understand he wanted to study how the Cubans did their revolution thing out there. But to cut the long journey short, Rizal was arrested and sent back to Manila. His charges was, of course, sedition for starting a Revolution (he had no business with). By December of that year while the revolution still going on in the provinces, #Aguinaldo #Cavite, a kangaroo court was made for the trial of Rizal. Unfortunately all the circumstantial evidence and witness were provided by the Katipunan. You are so fond of Rizal you made him an honorary president of the KKK, you even set the Katipunan password to “Rizal” and guess the witnesses who confirmed the involvement of Rizal to KKK and the Supremo, Pio Valenzuela. The same guy you sent to Dapitan is also the same guy who made the Judas Kiss to Rizal.
Did you frame Rizal? We will never know, but one thing we know karma happened, because the following year, four months after the Rizal execution, it was you who stood in front of a Kangaroo court. It is so tragic to believe that the two greatest national heroes of the Philippines suffered execution on Kangaroo courts. But don’t worry most of my generation doesn’t know about this, our education system made sure we won’t found out by making our lessons boring and full of shits like enumerations and multiple choice exams. There’s a reason we don’t celebrate your death because we don’t want to remind ourselves that the Supremo was killed by fellow Filipinos.
So why write this letter to you Supremo? Because in the present day there’s never been an urgent need to understand the very definition of Heroes or in our language Bayani. Our history, the Philippine History, are getting revised right in front of our very faces. The battle for your legacy and your true stories are at stakes. Powerful people who are the perpetrators of the darkest part of our history (around 70 years after you died there’s this Martial Law thingy) and they are trying to warp what truly happened. Their weapons are lies and manipulation, and war is waged in the field of Social Media. And I believed my generation is too damn weak to know the truth and how resist the lies. Why? Because, Supremo, somehow we lost our love to learn, to read our books and even the Love for our Country you fought so hard to emancipate. This a time when the only History books young people know, read and trust are the one found in Facebook. Its so ironic for a country with a high literacy rate we are a people of non-readers.
So how can we understand who we are if we are not going to read our very own history?
Don’t be surprised but people nowadays are really worshiping and idolizing a dictator who have stole billions, ordered to kill by the thousands and oppressed our freedom for three decades. We even bury that bastardo y salvaje in a grave for Heroes. That’s a painful lesson we have to learn and live with. We failed our History, period.
We want your legacy of bravery, of loving to read books in absence of education and most of all fighting for what is right. We are generation in trouble of losing our identities and weakened by unnecessary distractions, perhaps it’s really time for us to dig you out of the grave and celebrate the life that you led. You are our National Hero equally alongside Rizal, Mabini, the Lunas, and many countless others who fought for our freedom.