San Bartolome Apostol and National Heroes Day

  

  

National Artist Nick Joaquin said that the knife is the tool of August and its apostle is San Bartolome Apostol, whose feast is celebrated on the 24th of the month. Unlike the image of St. Bartolomew in Nagcarlan Laguna that show the saint holding a chain restraining Satan, in Malabon the saint  is depicted wearing red and wielding a bolo making him the patron saint of cutlery.  

 

 

During the novena to San Bartolome, the main street of Malabon becomes a double row of feria stalls. It was in those olden days where one can buy all kinds of blade: balisong and kitchen knife and butcher’s cleaver, as well as the long bolo known as the sangbartolome, which is believed to be the weapon of the Katipunan. 

 

 

It is interesting to learn how our history and folk culture are wedded in the association of Saint Bartolomew the red saint and wields a bolo with the Katipuneros, which also wore red and wielded the bolo.  

 

 

The exodus of the Katipunan in Manila began when the secret society was betrayed on August 19, 1896. One account of the Revolution says that when Andres Bonifacio summoned the Katipuneros in Balintawak, they managed to get passed the Spanish police and military checkpoints by pretending to be pilgrims of San Bartolome on their way to attend the town fiesta in Malabon. 

 

 

From Balintawak, the Katipuneros moved to Pugad Lawin where the Cry of Bonifacio that strove to whip up spirits of the Katipuneros to the point they would spontaneously declare themselves ready to fight. What followed was the symbolic gesture of Bonifacio leading the tearing up the cedulas. But the tearing of cedulas in Pugad Lawin still did not commit the Katipuneros completely since the declaration was done in the secluded woods of Pugad Lawin. 

 

 

Bonifacio led his men back to Balintawak to raised the cry to revolt, where they could exposed themselves and be heard by the Spanish authorities. It was August 23, the eve of the feast day of Saint Bartolomew. The Cry of Bonifacio was heard as intended. The very next day the Guardia Civil attacked, but found only stagglers in Pasong Tamo, where the first skirmishes of the Revolution occurred. Bonifacio already move to San Juan for the Battle of Pinaglabanan 

 

 

Although the dates and even the location of the Cry of Bonifacio are in question, the National Heroes Day, which is celebrated today, was intended to commemorate the events during last days in August of 1896. 

 

This is the second of a six part article. Click here for the part 1. Click here to advance to the next post. 

Information source: Almanac for Manileños by Nick Joaquin

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