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The Supremo’s Unresolved Claims to Post-Revolution Presidency (Part 3 of 3 of the Posts Commemorating Andres Bonifacio)

More than a century after his death, Gat Andres Bonifacio has found an ally in several movements pushing for his recognition as the bona fide President of the First Philippine Republic.

Recently, certain historians and labor groups put forward their arguments claiming that Bonifacio was the real first president, based on evidences in the form of rare documents and the way that the Supremo ran the Katipunan as a revolutionary organization.

De La Salle University History professor Michael Charleston “Xiao” Chua said in a previous statement:

“Bagamat walang dokumento pang nakikita noong August 24, 1896, sinasabi ng mga nagkwento na may pulong doon at ginawang pamahalaang mapaghimagsik ang Katipunan. Ibig sabihin, hindi nalang siya samahan, siya ay isang pamahalaang mapanghimagsik.”

Chua also asserted that Bonifacio used the term “Haring Bayan” to refer to the “Pilipinas”, because the name “Pilipinas” was given by the colonizers.

He also added that the Spanish authorities back then recognized Bonifacio as the leader of the “Republika Tagala,” the Spaniards’ term for “Haring Bayan.”

The movements to recognize Bonifacio as the 1st President of the Philippine Republic started way back in 1994, with historians Milagros Guerrero, Ramon Villegas and Malou Encarnacion as its major proponents.

Moreover, the said movement is said to be gaining strength in the form of recent local government resolutions aiming to address the said claims.

However, some historians are in doubt as to whether they will consider the said claims to recognize Bonifacio as President.

In a previous interview with The Flame, the official student publication of the UST Faculty of Arts and Letters, Assoc. Prof. Augusto De Viana, Ph.D said that the problem with the claims might be the movement’s interpretation of the presented facts in history.

De Viana also noted that the title Supremo wasn’t solely accorded to Bonifacio, but it was passed on to him by Mariano Alvarez who previously held the said post.

Apart from the disputes as to whether the Katipunan was indeed a government in its own right with Bonifacio as its president, Chua, who was mentioned earlier, believes that the Kartilya of the Katipunan was a form of legislation in itself.

Chua insisted that even though the Kartilya and the Katipunan’s revolutionary government is lacking in some aspects, the Malolos Republic of Aguinaldo has likewise failed to meet certain ‘Western standards.’

“Konstitusyon din na maituturing yung Kartilya. Bakit kailangan ba may template? Ginaya lang sa Cuba ‘yan ah! ‘Yang konstitusyon na ‘yan ng Malolos, anung ipinagmamalaki nila, at least sa atin original na Kartilya. Ang pag-iisip ng mga iskolar ay natatali sa kung ano ‘yung western concept ng gobyerno.”

Discussions and arguments claiming whether or not Bonifacio was indeed the bona fide president of the 1st Philippine Republic may go on forever, but one thing is for sure; Bonifacio’s role in shaping the nation’s future is without a shadow of doubt a noble cause that surpasses controversy and transcends generations.

Sources:

Churchill, B., & Gealogo, F. (1999). Centennial Papers on the Katipunan and the Revolution (pp. 31-39). Quezon City: Manila Studies Association, Inc.

Papas, M., & Canivel, R. (2013). Beyond Katipunan: The Unresolved Presidency of Andres Bonifacio. The Flame, (Vol. 49, Issue 3).

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