Leading to be Free


Jose Rizal’s banishment in the secret of the night, three days after he had catalyzed formation of La Liga Filipina (The Filipino League) startled the Filipino reform community. Probably shocked by the news about Rizal and the confused about the League’s direction, five men gathered in the house of Deodato Arellano at No.72 Azcarraga Street (now known as Claro M Recto Avenue) near the corner of El Cano. 



The Founding of the Katipunan


The five men have decided to create a new organization, the Kataastaasang, Kagalang-galang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Most Exalted and Most Respected Society of the Sons of the People). Popularly known as the Katipunan, it was a secret society that preached armed struggle, revolution, and separation from the Spanish Empire.


The founders of the new organization were: Deodato Arellano, Valentin Diaz, Andres Bonifacio, Teodoro Plata, and Ladislao Diwa.



The Katipunan became the powerful arm of the revolution. It went through different leaders, but Bonifacio who became head of the organization’s Supreme Council, is recognized as the Katipunan’s spiritual leader. He is certainly the one person who increased the society’s membership.


From the five founders, membership spread across the archipelago into the thousand. The founding of the Katipunan is immortalized at the Katipunan Foundation Site in 1892, a sculptural relief by Ros Arcilla located at the corner of El Cano and C.M. Recto.






Enter the Brains of the Katipunan


18-year old law student Emilio Jacinto was recruited to the Katipunan a year after it was founded. Although, was said to be poor in appearance but he proved to be rich in intellectual gift.


He wrote the Kartilla, the Katipunan primer containing the teachings of the society. The Kartilla espoused the principal ideas of liberty, patriotism, and equality.



His contributions to the society has earned him the title as the “Brains of the Katipunan”





The Lakambini and the Women of the Katipunan


The marriage of Gregoria de Jesus to Andres Bonifacio in church then under the rites of the Katipunan has earned her the title of Lakambini. She was the first woman to be initiated into the Katipunan.



Oriang, as she is fondly called, was given the crucial position as custodian of the society’s seal and secret documents. She recalled in her memoir, “Mga Tala ng Aking Buhay”, how she was literally clothed in Katipunan papers that she would hide in the folds of her skirts. To elude the impending raids of the civil guards, she would hire a quiles, or shuttered carriage, and ride around the streets of Binondo and Tondo for hours until it was safe.



The women’s chapter of the Katipunan admitted wives, daughters and sisters of Katipuneros. They provided a support system for the men’s activities.


Known women volunteers were the Rizal sisters, Josefa and Trinidad and their nieces, Angelica Lopez and Delfina Herbosa (who became one of the sewers of the Philippine flag). Marina Dizon (cousin of Emilio Jacinto) presided over initiation rites reminding women recruits to be“prepared to be orphans and widows someday.” 




The Discovery of the Secret Society


Teodoro Patiño had an argument with Apolonio de la Cruz, his “brother” in the Katipunan. On August 19, 1896, an angry Patiño told her sister about the secret society and its plan to begin the revolution at the month’s end. The house mother of the orphanage where she lived prevailed upon the distraught girl to confess all the Father Mariano Gil, curate of the Tondo parish.


The colonial leaders were aware the there was a separatist movement, but they lack the proof. Father Gil learned from Patiño that the lithographic stone used to print Katipunan receipts, as well as daggers made during lunch breaks, could be found at the Diario de Manila printing shop. That midnight, the stone and incriminating documents were discovered.


The discovery of the Katipunan has brought tension and terror to the archipelago as the Spanish civil authorities arrested, imprisoned, deported and executed suspected Katipuneros.



Information sources:


Visions of the Possible, Felice Prudente-Sta. Maria

Tragedy of the Revolution, Adrian Cristobal

Revolt of the Masses, Teodoro Agoncillo


Related links:

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

Monuments to Bonifacio’s Cry