President Andres Bonifacio
by Ed Aurelio Reyes
Kampanya para sa Kamalayan sa Kasaysayan
Alert, August 1993. Reprinted with permission
It is common knowledge that Andres Bonifacio was founder and
Supremo of the Kataastaasang Kagalang-galangang Katipunan
ng mga Anak ng Bayan or Katipunan. What is not widely
known is that he was the first president of the Philippines, the
Father of the Philippines nation.
The government bore the seal of Haring Bayang Katagalugan
which roughly translates as Sovereign Country of the Tagalog
Archipelago. To the Katipunan, as declared in the cover page of
its Carilla, small pamphlet that served as a handbook,
containing the rules, the 14-point code of ethics and the
recruitment process), the word Tagalog stood for "all who were born
in this archipelago ...hence Visayans, Ilocanos and Pampangos were
all Tagalogs." The word Filipino at that time was used to refer to
the insulares, or Spaniards born in the Philippines, as
opposed to the peninsulares who were born in the Iberian
peninsula. The Spaniards called the natives indios.
On August 24, 1896, according to historical documents, the
following were elected to lead the de-facto government of Haring
Bayang Katagalugan: Andres Bonifacio, as president;
Emilio Jacinto, Minister of State; Teodoro Plata,
Minister of War; Aguedo del Rosario, Minister of War;
Briccio Pantas, Minister of Justice; Enrique Pacheco,
Minister of Finance; Daniel Tirona, Secretary General; and
Silvestre Baltazar, Treasurer General.
It is interesting to note that Daniel Tirona was one of those
elected with President Bonifacio in 1896, a good seven months
before he questioned the election of Bonifacio as Secretary of
Interior in the Tejeros Convention which elected Emilio Aguinaldo
as President. The book Katipunan and the Revolution: Memoirs
of a General by Santiago Alvarez (translated by Paula Carolina
Malay) reveals interesting incidents about Tirona's shifting
behavior toward Bonifacio.
It is also interesting to note that while Aguinaldo took his oath
as president the day after the Bonifacio-annulled Tejeros
Convention in March 1897, he deferred using the title "Presidente"
until after bonifacio had been "salvaged" the following May.
Some parents who have come to know of the fact of Bonifacio's
presidency are hesitant to tell their children about it. The
current textbooks still have Aguinaldo as the first president, and
the teachers might simply mark the children's answer wrong if they
say it is the Great Plebeian himself. A solution is underway,
however. A book, tentative titled Pangulo ng Haring Bayan
referring to Bonifacio and carrying adequate historical
documentations is currently being refined by Dr. Milagros Guerrero,
Emmanuel Encarnacion and Ramon Villegas for publication within the
next few months.
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