There are 8 sites in Metro Manila that are included in the Byaheng Bonifacio: Byaheng Bayani ng Bayan. This is a unique journey launched by the Department of Tourism and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to celebrate the life of Andres Bonifacio, one of the national heroes of the Philippines.
The first stop is the Bonifacio Monument in Tutuban, an area famous for malls and ambulant vendors that sell all kinds of dirt-cheap goods. Somewhere in this place almost one hundred and fifty years ago, Catalina de Casto and Santiago Bonifacio had a son and named him Andres Bonifacio.
Bonifacio was then the eldest of five. And by the time he was barely 14, he looked after his brothers and sisters when they lost their parents. But even if he had to quit schooling to support his siblings, Bonifacio still read a lot, from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, to Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, among many others.
A few minutes walk from Tutuban are the Binondo Church and the KKK Foundation Site. It is at Binondo Church where Bonifacio married Gregoria de Jesus in March 1892. She was his second wife, his first wife died of leprosy.
The Kataastaasan Kagalanggalang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan or more commonly known as the KKK, was founded on July 7, 1892 in Tondo, Manila. Bonifacio was one of the founders of this secret society, which aimed for the separation of the Philippines from Spain through revolution.
And on August 23 1896, the KKK members formally launched their revolution against Spain by tearing their cedulas or community tax certificates at Pugad Lawin. By tearing these, they are declaring their independence from more than three centuries of Spanish colonization. This event later became known in Philippine history as the Cry of Pugadlawin.
The remaining 4 sites are: in Krus Na Ligas, the Pinaglabanan Shrine, in Hagdan Bato and the Valentin Cruz Residence. These places chronicle the various struggles that were fought and meetings that were held by the KKK during their armed revolution.
It may seem now that these men were ill-equipped compared to the more experienced Spanish forces. Yet they still continued their fight despite the fact that many of their comrades have fallen. With hearts full of courage and determination, they sacrificed their lives all for the sake of their motherland.
What did I learn so far in this trip? That Bonifacio was a learned man even if he did not have a formal education. That you have to have a brilliant mind like his, to come up with a small secret society that later fueled many revolts all over the archipelago. And that unfortunately, not many Filipinos, myself included, know these and many other important details in his life.
Case in point: when I was looking for the Valentin Cruz marker in Pasig, I almost gave up if not for my good friend Popoy who gave me clearer directions. It’s supposed to be near the Pasig Catholic Church, but none of the people I approached knew where it was. A trike driver then asked what Bonifacio had to do with this church. I answered that he was probably baptized there. Looking back now, I could only wish that he could just forget what I told him.
I am thankful even so, that I embarked on this madness. It took me to places like Tutuban, which I rarely visit at all. But most of all, I got to see Andres Bonifacio, from a new and refreshing perspective.
The directions in getting around these sites are provided in the Byaheng Bonifacio brochure. If you don’t have one yet, you may also visit Tutubi’s blog, if you want to plan your itinerary in advance.