From Vinzons Hall to Monumento: Retracing the Image Bonifacio in our Consciousness





More than a century ago this month, on the morning of May 10, 1897, in hills of Maragondon, Cavite, Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio were executed by the Revolutionary Government for the crime of treason. According to historical accounts, Procopio was hacked to death while Andres was shot. Bonifacio was carried uphill on a hammock, being invalid from wounds he suffered when arrested. The brothers were buried where they fell. All this we’ve learned from textbook history. But how well do we know man whose death anniversary we celebrate today?



The Philippines has declared hundreds of historic sites. These sites are marked by a plaque or a representation of our history in murals or sculptures. These representations have successfully created a stereotyped image of our heroes and historic events in our consciousness. Thus, these representations have become a basis of drawings, paintings, sculptures, as well as music, dance interpretations and drama.




According to Ambeth Ocampo, “we actually have two Bonifacio in our consciousness one mythical, the other real and our problem is that myth is more popular than reality.”


Looking back to those days in grade school when we’re asked to watch school play about Bonifacio’s life, I vividly remember the hero was always portrayed by a man wearing an open camisa de chino and pants rolled up to reveal bare feet.



This plebian image of Bonifacio can be seen in Carlos “Botong” Francisco’s mural at Manila City Hall, or in different escayola or cement versions in numerous schoolyards and municipal plazas all over the country. Ocampo has observed that “everything seemingly comes from the same mold or idea.”


He traced the origin of this image to a drawing by Jorge Pineda which was reproduced on the cover of Renacimento Filipino on July 14, 1911. From this drawing came the monument by the Ramon Martinez entitled “Ala-ala ng bayang Pilipino sa mga Bayani ng 96” (Memorial of the Filipino Nation to the Heroes of ’96), which was unveiled on September 23, 1911 in Balintawak (this sculpture now stands on the driveway of Vinzons Hall in U.P. Diliman). This monument became famous as the Bonifacio monument commemorating the Cry of Bonifacio, until such an image was challenge by the late National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Tolentino.


To ensure authenticity, Tolentino painstakingly researched and interviewed people who had known Andres Bonifacio. He even consulted a espiritista (spirit medium) to discern the true likeness and character of Bonifacio. His efforts resulted into his creation of a masterpiece in bronze in Caloocan. Here Bonifacio is depicted wearing shoes, a buttoned Barong Tagalog and a handkerchief tied on his neck while standing defiantly with a bolo in one and a gun in other. Behind him is Emilio Jacinto and a standard bearer of the Katipunan flag. Over time, this monument has become known as the Monumento.



Tolentino’s sculpture was criticized. He countered his critics with his researched. Tolentino argued that the likeness of Bonifacio was not only based on the hero’s photograph the bone structure of his sister Espiridiona. His interviews of surviving Katipuneros gave an idea of his attire and revealed that, contrary to popular belief, Bonifacio favored his gun over his bolo. One account says that on their way to Caloocan in 1896, many Katipuneros traveled disguised as women to get pass the Spanish police and military (others gave an excuse that the bolo was for the Feast Day of St. Bartolomew in Malabon). To make his baro’t saya more convincing, Bonifacio had to leave his bolo and take his gun instead.


National hero Jose Rizal has left us with numerous photographs. However, we only have one authentic photo of Bonifacio of which its authenticity is also being questioned. In this particular faded studio photograph, Bonifacio is shown wearing a coat. Some people said that the photo was taken on the day of his wedding (though not certain whether if that with his first or second wife, Gregoria de Jesus) thus explaining his attire. Other sources said that he wore that to resemble Rizal (to gain authority) during an assembly in Cavite.



For Ocampo, “with only one extant photograph of Bonifacio, we will never know how her really looked. If we are confused by our Bonifacio stereotype when faced with historical facts, it could only mean that more research and writing need to be done.    


Information source: Ambeth Ocampo, Bonifacio’s Bolo


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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have heard from an old Caviteno that Aguinaldo sold the Philippines to the Americans for a price I can not remember. Is this true? Any one who knows the story? I could not understand everything that the old man was saying. He is so old and hard of hearing. I just understood some facts.

  2. Can somebody direct me to a biography of the sculptor Ramon Martinez? Other than being mentioned several times as the designer of the first known Bonifacio monument in Balintawak, which at present is moved to Vinzons Hall in UP Diliman, there is no more info about this sculptor. I have a small scupture/painting signed Martinez, dated 1903 and I suspect this is one of his few surviving works.

  3. Yekiboo, Take note that it was not Aguinaldo alone that made Bonifacio wrest out of his Power as the leader of Revolution. If you will draw the bigger picture, it was a collaborative attacks (fueled by Politics) of his former Magdiwang allies including Artemio Ricarte, Pio Del Pilar and of course the Aguinaldo’s Magdalo faction of the Katipunan (The Tirona’s, Noriel, Garcia, Makapagal etc) of whom are majority of Cavitenos and thru the advices of his men, he go on with the execution of the Bonifacio Brothers. Sad that Aguinaldo is a better “Politician” than the Supremo.
    Other than these, I agree on your post.

  4. Andres Bonifacio reminds me of Sir William Wallace of Scotland. A common man who has the braveheart to defy the spanish regime. He is the real hero. Even with less education & influence, he displays courage & sacrifice to unify our country. He ignites the revolution. That achievement alone is hearthbreaking.

    The way I see it, they were betrayed by corrupt nobles called aguinaldo clan. With bonifacio’s fame & heroism echos around the country, he would be a big treat from Aguinaldo’s desire of being the leader of the new republic.

    Our leaders has inherited Aguinaldo’s tactics. Time will come, a new Bonifacio will rise & lead this country to real freedom. A freedom with a sense of responsibilty.

  5. pwede po bang malaman kung papano makakarating sa lugar na pinag patayan ng ating bayani na si Gat Andres Bonifacio? ako poy pinanganak sa Tondo at lumaki sa Cavite, naging interesado po ako sa buhay ng ating bayaning Gat Andres ng mabasa ko ang aklat na Bones of Contention kung kayat gaya nyo isa po akong taga hanga ng ating Bayani!

  6. I have’nt seen any monument of The Supremo in Barangay A. Samson. Actually, it was a marker (at the Barangay Hall- Kaingin Rd. for the memories of K.K.K.1896. The area is Balintawak. Like the area in Pugad Lawin wherein it was said to be the “official” site of the Cry, a cry might also did happened there in the past since as of now historians still argues to the original site of the Cry. Numerous areas were debated (Pugad Lawin, Pacpac Lawin, Kangkong, Pasong Tamo etc. – all are in the district of Balintawak, Kalookan in 19th century). Cry might did happened in multiple locations (Balintawak, Kalookan) and the Supremo might have many cedulas with him (for different locations) to uplift the hearts of the people during that time but still nobody can deny his determined heart that defy and shook the Spanish Empire.
    About the monument in Pasig, according to Gregorio Bonifacio (decendant of Procopio), the said monument is the best picture of the Supremo (alongside with the Monumento).

  7. Wow it must be interesting to see the monument of Bonifacio in military regala up on a horse antonio. I’ll probably going to check it out when I go to see Pasig. I ‘ve heard Pasig town proper have several interesting old structures, though I haven’t confirmed that yet. The information you’ve shared means something to me. Thank you.

    The one in Edsa, Balintawak near Cloverleaf Market was recently erected after the War. The original pre-war Bonifacio monument that used to stand there was trasfered to UP. (Actually it was salvaged by UP students and they erected it in front of Vinzon’s Hall).

    I haven’t heard about that monument of Bonifacio Barangay A. Samson.

  8. By the way you did not mention the present monument near the corner of edsa and the North expressway. When was this erected? Was it a replacement of the one in Vinzon’s hall in Up, Diliman when it was transferred during the construction of the Expressway? Moreover I found an older monument in barangay Apolonio Samson in proj 8. It was erected in 1904 but no mention of Bonifacio then.

  9. there is one and only monument which depicts andres bonifacio in full military regala with a hat and up on a horse. This can only be found in Pasig City near the town proper.

  10. Thanks for sharing this information Arnaldo. Hope to hear from you again.

  11. Bonifacio the myth is more popular than the real one. Further research would show us why he failed and eventually killed alongside his brother.

    • Arnaldo, better read some books. There is no question Bonifacio was the punching bag of the Cavite elite.

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