You read about revolutionary leader Andres Bonifacio in history books. You see his ubiquitous statues at various parts of Manila, with eyes fierce with the fire of nationalism and holding a bolo as he leads his men to fight for freedom from the Spaniards. You even troop to The Fort in Taguig, a fort which was named after him but has now transformed into a hub for business and leisure.
But not much is known about the founder of the Katipunan and leader of the 1896 Revolution whose humble beginnings is more similar to ordinary Filipinos than Jose Rizal. Born on Nov. 30, 1863 in Tondo, Manila, the eldest in a brood of five was raised in a middle-class family. When his parents died, Bonifacio had to drop out of school to support his siblings. He sold canes, paper fans and took on odd jobs. He may not have finished his schooling but Bonifacio continued to foster that passionate love for education and insatiable thirst for knowledge by reading, writing and studying on his own.
A bill seeking the inclusion of a course on his life, works and ideals in the collegiate curricula is now being pushed by Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino. The bill doesn't only intend to let the youth know more about him, but also to strengthen the values of nationalism and patriotism. Rep. Palatino believes the youth could learn a lot from Bonifacio on national independence, collective action, and civic consciousness. These lessons, he says, are crucial in shaping the character needed for personal, community and national development.
As we celebrate the 149th birth anniversary of Bonifacio, the Students and Campuses Bulletin asks the youth how they can live up to the principles and ideals of the great plebeian. Here is what they have to say.
"In order to live up to the principles and ideals of Andres Bonifacio, we should first know the things he has done for our country. Andres Bonifacio is a simple man who loved his country too much that he fought hard not to be influenced by foreign invaders. As a student, we have to participate in national issues and go for what is right because this is the only way that we can live a life like Bonifacio." - Riel Picardal Villalon, 4th year Legal Management, San Beda College Mendiola
"One cannot emulate Gat Andres Bonifacio just by reading about his life and works but by studying the society as well. We go out of the confines of our schools and homes and live with the masses. It is in integrating ourselves with them that we can see and understand the ills of our society and feel the need to take part in the struggle towards liberating the oppressed. It is in immersing ourselves with them that we can understand why Bonifacio became a revolutionary and that the situation during his time is still happening today. It is then the task of our generation to continue Bonifacio's ultimate goal - to gain genuine independence for the country and total liberation of the oppressed from the hands of the ruling class. We must continue the revolution he has started and end it with victory for the masses and for our beloved country." - Kristian Jacob Abad Lora, BS in Computer Science, University of the Philippines - Cebu
"Ang mga kabataan ngayo'y kayang maisabuhay ang buhay ni Bonifacio sa pamamagitan ng pagpupunyagi sa pagpapalawak ng rebolusyonaryong mga ideya at sa pagsasapraktika nito gaya ni Bonifacio na hindi lamang nanatili sa kanyang isip ang mga binasa kundi isinapraktika niya ito. Ating mariing suriin na hindi pa rin tayo ganap na malaya, sa ekonomya, pampulitika, at pangkulturang aspeto. Gamitin natin ang pag-aaral, pinag-aralan, at ating mga nalalaman sa pagtatatag ng isang industralisadong bansa, hindi bansa ng mga empleyadong nakaabang sa pekeng malaking pasahod mula sa mga ganid na korporasyon. Makiisa sa mga movement na nagtataguyod ng tunay na pagbabago. Tumindig tayong mga kabataan sa mga adbokasiyang nakakaapekto sa ating lipunan. Hindi dapat tayo umasa sa iba. Makiisa sa pagbabagong panlipunan, at hindi sa mga adbokasiyang uso sa TV at Internet. Huwag matakot at mahiya, hindi baduy ang pagiging maalam sa pulitika at sa kalagayan ng nakakarami nating mga kababayang naghihirap!" - Karl Michael Nadunza, AB Political Science, Polytechnic University of the Philippines
"Andres Bonifacio obtained his knowledge by reading different books. He then used that knowledge and courage to put up a revolution. We must imbibe the same courage and hunger for knowledge to help us overcome the challenges that we may encounter in our lives." - John Mark Maiztegui, BS Criminology, Our Lady of Fatima University - Valenzuela
"As part of this generation, we need to become models and pillars of our society like Andres Bonifacio. To do this, we must use talents and abilities to do something good for our country or even in our community. Doing great does not require anything but believing in the power of the youth and doing something to make it happen." - Elaine Grace Caban, BSBA-HRDM, Polytechnic University of the Philippines
"I speak for myself as one of today's youth. Being courageous enough to face the ups and downs of my existence is what I learned from Bonifacio's principle of living. In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with being eager to do things right away as long as you accept the outcome of your action. The principles of Bonifacio should be in combination with those of Rizal. "Think before you act" is my philosophy. This is what I believe in." - Paul Aries Estrella, 4th year AB Communication, La Consolacion University-Malolos
"Andres Bonifacio created change not through words or literary works but by taking action. This is how he made his mark in history -- by igniting patriotism among his fellow Filipinos. These days, most of us are still struggling to escape from poverty, idiocy, abuse, colonialism, and intimidation. These were also the struggles he had to face during his time. Like Bonifacio, the youth can imbibe that same aggressiveness, passion, and selflessness to do a small act for others. We don't have to die for others anymore. We can show patriotism even through the simplest of acts, by offering our time, talent, and efforts for those who need it. If Bonifacio left the legacy of the Katipunan and the revolution, we can also mount a positive revolution on our own, and make this our lasting legacy." - Ghio Angelo Ong, BS Journalism, Polytechnic University of the Philippines
"Bonifacio taught me to think of the welfare of our country and countrymen, and to love and appreciate the importance of education. Our youth should know our country's history and put it in our hearts and minds. We should not only demand change, we should be a part of that change. Bonifacio also showed us that he didn't just complain about his country's problems, he also took part in solving them. I think that's what the youth should learn from him." - Rene Aldonza, BS Journalism, Polytechnic University of the Philippines
"The youth today can apply the ideals of Andres Bonifacio by actively participating in advocacy groups like the "BayanMo, Ipatrol Mo." Tayo'y mag balita ng mga nangyayari sa bayan at lumaban sa katiwalian." - Dawn Balili, Bachelor of Secondary Education, Philippine Normal University