November 30 – Bonifacio Day in the Philippines

Posted on November 30, 2016

Another day, another nation, another hero!

Today people in the Philippines celebrate the birthday of one of their greatest heroes, Andres Bonifacio.

Born on this date in 1863, Bonifacio had to drop out of school at age 14 to support his siblings when his parents died. He created a thriving family business making canes, paper fans, and posters. He continued his education by working at a German trading firm, where he learned English, and by reading a lot of history, biography, and fiction books. He studied Philippine penal and civil codes (hey, don't we all do that in our free time?), and he even founded a theater company with his friends!

At the time, the Philippines were a Spanish colony. But many Filipinos wanted to be independent. Bonifacio was one of the founding members of the political organization La Liga Filipina, which was Jose Rizal's “baby,” but when Rizal was seized and deported, Bonifacio and others began to think that armed insurrection was necessary rather than the oft-attempted peaceful reforms.

Bonifacio is considered the Father of the Philippine Revolution because he was one of the men who started a secret revolutionary society called the Katipunan, and he became the military leader and the president of the revolutionary government. He wrote articles that, when published, helped convince tens of thousands of Filipinos to join the revolution.

As usual, humans are complex, and history is messy. There was this whole complex, messy thing among the Filipino revolutionaries, and various historians give different accounts of how it went down that a man named Emilio Aguinaldo became the first president of the Philippines, and why he arrested, tried, convicted, and executed Bonifacio. Suffice to say that some Filipinos view Bonifacio as a hero and even as the rightful first President of the Philippines, but others view him as a traitor or criminal.

A lighter look at the “Phils”

Here are some interesting facts about the Philippines:

Four of the eleven largest malls in the world are in the Philippines!

A volcano with a lake in the caldera, with a volcanic cone forming an island in the lake, and a smaller lake inside that cone, and an even smaller cone inside that lake...all of that can be seen at Taal Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the nation!

The Philippines includes more than 7,000 islands, and Filipinos speak more than 125 languages!

Yo-yocooties and boondocks are all words English borrowed from Filipino languages.

There are rice terraces in the Philippines that remain as they have been for centuries and centuries – and that were built about 2,000 years ago!

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