The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War (Hispanic Division, Library of Congress)
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Andrés Bonifacio


Andrés Bonifacio was born in Manila in 1863, the son of a government official. When both his parents died in the 1870's, he left school to support his five brothers and sisters. By the mid-1880s, he had become a fervent Filipino nationalist; when José Rizal established the Liga Filipina in 1892, Bonifacio was one of its first members.

After the Spanish arrested Rizal in July 1892, Bonifacio decided that the Philippines would only achieve independence through revolution. On July 7, he founded the Katipunan, a secret society open to both peasants and the middle class that employed Masonic rituals to impart an air of sacred mystery. It insinuated itself into the community by setting up mutual aid societies and education for the poor. By 1896, the Katipunan had over 30,000 members and functioned at the national, provincial, and municipal levels.

Following the execution of Rizal in 1896, Bonifacio proclaimed Filipino independence on August 23, 1896. This time, the Spaniards moved against him, forcing his flight to the Marikina mountains, while other forces headed by Emilio Aguinaldo were more successful and won control over some towns. When Bonifacio tried to rein him in, Aguinaldo ordered him arrested and charged with treason and sedition. He was tried and convicted by his enemies and executed on May 10, 1897. Today he is regarded as a national hero.

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