On October 6, 2016, I joined members of the Committee on Pilipino Issues (CPI), a Chicago based community based organization, as they presented a series of “Filipinx X-Plore Our History Workshops” to help access Filipino culture and promote NEXTGEN Travel to the Philippines in June 2017. Three additional history workshops will be held on Thursday evenings, 6 PM till 9 PM: October 20; November 3; and November 17, 2016. 6:30 PM till 9 PM at DePaul University Lincoln Park Campus, 2315 N. Kenmore Ave. Room 101 Chicago, IL. I joined the exploration of Filipino history that is situated in the past yet so connected to the present and the challenges we face now. It seems that history repeats itself.
As I joined the history discussion, there were three questions that come to mind:
- How do I access my own Filipino culture despite often being encouraged by my own parents and community to assimilate to U.S. western culture and ‘forget’ about my own Filipino history?
- How do I connect to a sense of place and history and my own Filipino community to deepen my identity as both Filipino and American?
- How can the Bayanihan Foundation’s NEXTGEN Pagbabalik program promote such connections to home, heritage, and diaspora philanthropy?
I learned a lot from the history discussion. I was embarrassed that I was unaware of the basic facts of Philippine history; they were barely mentioned in schools in the US. I listened intently as Eugene Asidao, Senior Coordinator of CPI explained the mock trial of Filipino revolutionary Andres Bonifacio and his brothers that led to his eventual execution. Emilio Aguinaldo, former revolutionary colleague and now arch-rival signed for his execution (Constantino, Philippines: A Past Revisited, 1975).
The Filipino revolutionaries initially intended to unite the Katipuneros under a single leadership to fight the colonial Spanish government that were ruling the Philippines for over 350 years. However, the group devolved into factions. The Magdalo faction nominated Emilio Aguinaldo while Magdiwang faction retained Bonifacio, who was the “Supremo” of the Katipunan. On March 22, 1897, the revolutionary government was established at the Tejeros Convention. Emilio Aguinaldo was the president of the new government while Bonifacio was declared as the Minister of Interior. However, Daniel Tirona of Magdalo, questioned the Bonifacio’s qualifications for the said position. Upon his authority as the presiding officer, he declared all the proceedings null and void.
The bitter feud turned Andres Bonifacio to establish his own government in Naic, Cavite. Fellow revolutionary and arch-rival Aguinaldo ordered the arrest of Bonifacio for refusing to recognize the revolutionary government Aguinaldo established in Indang, Cavite. His wife, Gregoria de Jesus, and his brother, Procopio, was also arrested. Andres Bonifacio was brought to a military court in Maragondon for a pre-trial hearing. On May 5, 1897, the brothers of Bonifacio were charged by the court with treason and sedition. On May 6, 1897, they were sentenced to death.
On May 10, 1897, Major Makapagal, an ally of Aguinaldo carried out his orders and executed the Father of the Revolution, Andres Bonifacio and his two brothers. It remains to be controversial at present. The Philippine revolution resulted in acrimony and infighting rather than uniting against the colonial government of Spain.
After the workshop, it seems that the past is connected to the present and that I have more questions than answers:
- How is this related to the continuing infighting of Filipino community groups in the US?
- How is this connected to the crab mentality I experienced working with the Bayanihan Foundation?
- How will we heal the current infighting among Filipino community groups when we ignore the past?
I hope you will join me in exploring Filipino history that seems so remote in the past yet it seems so alive and connected to the challenges we face in the present. A big thanks to the curriculum committee volunteers for the history workshops: Cecily Hensler of University of Illinois at Chicago; Maria Ferrera of DePaul University; Jeselle Santiago of Loyola University Chicago; and Eugene Asidao of Committee on Pilipino Issues (CPI). The next history workshops are scheduled for Thursday evenings, 6 PM till 9 PM on October 20; November 3; and November 17, 2016. The workshops will be held at DePaul University Lincoln Park Campus, 2315 N. Kenmore Ave. Room 101 Chicago, IL. The remaining workshops are free of charge. A small donation is requested to cover costs for the light dinner and refreshments.