Emilio Aguinaldo ordered the execution of Andres Bonifacio. But we are not commemorating this today, Bonifacio Day. We are celebrating instead his birthday. Is it because our revolutionary narrative is marred by powerplay, jealousy, and murderous intentions among leaders? We, as a former colonized nation, may need to revisit our history. We may need to decolonize ourselves from Spanish and American narratives in our consciousness as a people. But beware of the Marcos historical revisionism that is corrupting our historical decolonization process.
Bonifacio’s death is on Aguinaldo’s bloody hand. The official history of the Republic of the Philippines records that Aguinaldo, indeed, ordered Bonifacio’s execution: Emilio Aguinaldo, probably to get rid of his already fallen rival, who was covered with wounds which were almost in a state of putrefaction for lack of medicine and attention, ordered the execution, first of Procopio Bonifacio and then of Andres who, because of his wounds, was carried in a hammock to the place where his brother Procopio, two hours before, had been executed
Why not commemorate his death on this holiday? My friend, Taher Guiambangan Solaiman, who is a writer and a peacebuilder, explains why: Andres Bonifacio was born on November 30, 1863 and was executed by his fellow Filipinos, some men of Don Emilio Aguinaldo on May 10, 1897. The Filipinos commemorate the day he was born. Jose Rizal was born on June 19, 1861 and was executed by the Spaniards on December 30, 1896. The Filipinos commemorate the day he was executed. Having been executed by his fellow Filipinos, his countrymen do not find a reason to commemorate the day of his execution unlike that of Rizal who was killed by the colonizers. Many Filipinos believe that Bonifacio should have been declared as a national hero because of his crucial role in the founding of the Katipunan and not Rizal, the American-sponsored national hero.
Our nation’s healing must start with historical truth. Historiography helps us with this. This is the study of how history was written, by whom, and why it was recorded as such. Moreover, it is a look at if and how historical events have been reinterpreted by historians over time and why.
The correction and rewriting of history may be necessary especially among nations who have been colonized. Much of our narratives have been altered and re-shaped by the Spanish and American historians to perpetuate their colonial power over our hearts and minds. Historiography gives us an appreciation of how factors that shape and alter the recording of history shape and alter our interpretation of it as a result.
We must review who Bonifacio, Aguinaldo, and Rizal were, as well as their roles in the revolution, in the context of our decolonizing process.
But let’s be watchful. The historical revisiting being done in the process of decolonization is now being confused, wittingly, as historical revisionism. While the nation has been very busy getting back on our feet from centuries of colonization and from the recent 20 years of Marcos Dictatorship, history is being revised, not with truthful correction, but with utter lies.
This decolonizing transformation of our narrative is being hijacked right now. Our people’s story is being marred with untruth due to the false narratives propagated by the Marcos family. This family, who have been proven by various courts to have stolen public funds, are trying to revise history to whitewash their family’s name.
Let’s wake up as we decolonize our historical narrative, but we must not allow utter lies to corrupt the historical decolonizing process that must continue.