Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Remembering Bonifacio: The spirit of Hermenegildo Flores isn't far behind

"Andres Bonifacio" by Raymond C. Go of Boac, Marinduque was Grand Prize Winner of the Bonifacio Centennial Art Competition (1997). It hangs on display at the Bonifacio Trial House in Maragondon, Cavite.


The Tagalog poet Hermenegildo Flores who spent the last years of his life as the leader of the revolutionary struggle in Marinduque during the Filipino-Spanish War wrote the poem, “Hibik ng Filipinas sa Inang Espana”. The said stirring poem elicited a poetic response from Marcelo H. del Pilar (“Sagot ng Espanya sa Hibik ng Pilipinas”), and eventually from Andres Bonifacio (“Katapusang Hibik ng Pilipinas”).

The final Bonifacio poem of this historic poetic triad has been described as “the climactic moment to the history of Tagalog poetry during the 19th century” (Mabangio).

Flores led the first direct assault on the Spanish quarters at Casa Real of Sta. Cruz, Marinduque on March 4, 1897. He was incarcerated at the Casa Real in Boac and executed as a prisoner of war on Oct. 10, 1897. Five months later to the day, Bonifacio, whose 148th birth anniversary we mark today, a Philippine national holiday, was executed at Aguinaldo's hands in the mountains of Maragondon, Cavite.

Bonifacio Trial House in Maragondon, Cavite



The Last Appeal of the Philippines

(A translation of Andres Bonifacio’s poem, “Katapusang Hibik ng Pilipinas”. Trans. Teodoro A. Agoncillo and S.V. Epistola)

Mother, in the east is now risen
the sun of the Filipinos' anger
that for three centuries we suppressed
in the sea of suffering and poverty.

We, your children, had nothing to shore up
against the terrible storm of suffering,
the Philippines has but one heart,
and you are no longer our Mother.

Other mothers cannot compare with you:
your children's comfort are poverty and sorrows,
when they, in appealing to you, prostrate themselves,
your proffered balm is exceedingly painful.

The Filipinos are bound tightly,
they but moan when kicked, boxed, and hit with the butt of of the gun,
they are tortured with electric wires, hung like an animal,
is this, Mother, your love?

You order them imprisoned and thrown into the sea,
to be shot, poisoned to eradicate us,
to us Filipinos is this the decision
of a Mother affectionate to her vassals?

We suffered all this even unto death,
we are almost dead yet you don't stop your punishment,
so that when you throw us into our graves,
our bones are broken, our flesh smashed.

The Philippines has not received any legacy
of comfort from the Mother, nothing but sufferings;
our suffering continues, patents abound,
new charges and imposts are made.

Various ways of cheating us are devised
at the same time compelling us to give in,
we pay for illumination,
although we do not see even one light.

The land and the house we live in,
the field and farm so wide,
and so also the trees and plants --
to the Spanish priest we pay taxes.

Aside from this, the rest
need not be recited, O Mother Spain,
we follow all this to the last breath,
still, the Filipinos are considered bad.

You, O negligent and malevolent Mother,
we are no longer yours whatever happens,
prepare, then, Mother, the grave
where many dead bodies will find rest.

In the world today will explode
guns and cannons like lightning,
the terrible storm of blood that will flow
from their bullets in the struggle.

It is no longer necessary that Spain be pitied
by the Filipinos, O traitorous Mother,
it is our glory to die,
it is your glory if you defeat us.

The Philippines bids you farewell, Mother,
Mother, farewell, this one who is suffering,
farewell, farewell, pitiless Mother,
farewell now, the last appeal.

"Andres Bonifacio" by Carlos Botong Francisco

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