On November 30, the people will be commemorating the birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, supremo of the Katipunan. This occasion is significant not only because it forms part of the preparations for marking his 150th birth anniversary next year, but because it will be observed in the face of the worsening stranglehold of US imperialism over the Philippines and the utter treachery of the new ilustrados controlling the puppet government.
As in the past, the ruling classes will use this day to feign praises on Bonifacio, even as they dismiss his relevance to the present. They will avoid mentioning his distinct contribution as the leader of the working class and the first armed movement in Asia. For them, these concepts advocated by Bonifacio are dangerous and have no place in the present.
They insist on banishing from the people’s consciousness Bonifacio’s real relevance in an attempt to suppress current efforts to advance a national revolution like the one he led. They use the schools and other cultural agencies to teach a kind of nationalism limited to commemorating anniversaries of heroes who have long been stripped of their dynamic role in society.
Bonifacio and the Katipunan’s unique legacy is a love of country that translated to unstintingly devoting one’s life to the struggle for national liberation. It is this spirit that guided them as they trod the path of armed resistance to foreign occupation.
Through a correct reading of Bonifacio and the movement he led, it would not be difficult at all to connect prevailing conditions to those of the past. Contemporary Philippine society continues to suffer foreign domination. There is an unbroken thread of treachery by the ilustrados. Under the yoke of US imperialism, the country remains semicolonial and semifeudal.
The local economy is controlled by US imperialism and its partners the big comprador bourgeoisie. They are the main obstacles to industrialization and the improvement of the people’s socio-economic conditions. They exploit the country’s cheap labor and plunder the Philippines’ mineral resources and other raw materials to the detriment of the people.
The US overarches Philippine politics through puppet reactionary politicians. Since the establishment of the puppet republic in 1946, the country’s leaders have kowtowed to US imperialism. The laws passed and treaties signed by them all consolidate the neocolonial relationship between the Philip- pines and US imperialism.
US imperialism directly intervenes militarily in the country. Its troops which are permanently stationed in an exclusive facility within an AFP military camp in Mindanao are embroiled in the civil war, directing counterrevolutionary programs, funding the AFP and launching combat operations.
Local culture and education are dominated by imperialism. Colonial consciousness and taste are propagated through the media, the internet and the educational system. “Improvements” in the educational system are always geared towards the needs of big foreign capitalists and measures to “raise the quality of education” are mere coverups for the real objective of molding the Filipino youth in accordance with imperialist interests.
It is therefore the duty of all the patriotic and revolutionary forces to explain Bonifacio’s role and accord him his proper place not only in history, but more important, in the continuing armed movement for national liberation.
It was evident in Bonifacio and the Katipunan’s experience that armed revolution is the main form of struggle for national liberation. Through their efforts then to painstakingly arouse and organize the people, they were able to win over the workers, peasants and intellectuals to wage armed revolution. They did not hesitate or flinch in the face of the Spanish colonialists’ brutal campaign of suppression. Though guided by bourgeois liberal ideology, they succeeded in rousing the people’s latent national consciousness.
But without a comprehensive and all-sidedly scientific ideology, Bonifacio and his fellow workers failed to thwart the ilustrados from seizing the leadership of the revolution. It would be decades before the Filipino people would be guided by proletarian ideology, make correct analyses and take correct action. It is this ideology that currently guides the people’s movement for national liberation and explains that history is created by the masses and not by a few leaders.
It is but fitting to devote time and resources to the commemoration of Bonifacio’s approaching birth anniversary and use the coming months to prepare for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of his birth in 2013. It is important to use this time to underscore the need to revisit history in order to define its links to the present. This must be a dynamic endeavor that will resist the trend among the reactionaries to break the connection between past and present and conduct shallow commemoratives of historical events.
The Philippines has never been truly free and the people’s armed resistance continues. This is currently led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) along with the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. The CPP is launching a protracted people’s war being advanced in more than a hundred guerrilla fronts by thousands of Red fighters and millions of people.