Tuesday, October 14, 2008


The Birth of The Katipunan

Propaganda Movement inspired the founders of the Katipunan. The founders of the Katipunan were effectively successors of the La Liga Filipina founded by Rizal. Katipunan founders Andres Bonifacio, Ladislao Diwa and Teodoro Plata were all members of La Liga and were influenced by the nationalistic ideals of the Propaganda Movement in Spain. Marcelo H. Del Pilar, another leader of the Propaganda Movement in Spain, also influenced the formation of the Katipunan.

Because of the urge to freedom, the three founders mentioned gave birth to the Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK). Without the knowledge of Rizal, the founders named him an honorary president despite of his rejection to the revolution. Over the next four years, the Katipunan founders would recruit new members. When someone is recruited, that person will also recruit others to join. New recruits underwent the initiation rite three at a time so that no member knew more than two other members of the society. The rites are based on the masonry adapted in the European ideologies. One major factor that brought the fellow Filipinos to join the Katipunan was the fact of this is the only effective way of saving themselves and the motherland to the friars. They all wanted independence. Different from the propagandists, the Katipunan will do anything by force. Revolution was the answer.

The central leadership of the Katipunan was the Kataastaasang Sanggunian (or Supreme Council) which administered the provincial councils (called Sangguniang Bayan). The provincial councils in turn administered the Sangguniang Barangay (or popular councils) in their jurisdictions. The society also had a Sangguniang Hukuman (or judicial council) which settled disputes among members.

Kalayaan was the official publication of the Katipunan. Emilio Jacinto, a remarkable member of the Katipunan was the author of the Kalayaan. Kalayaan was published through the printing press of the Spanish newspaper Diario de Manila. This publication brought an important role to the outbreak of the revolution. It heightened the emotion and desire of the Filipinos to be independent from the colony. It also became an object that opened their innocent minds to be aware of the situation happening in their own territory.

Rizal junked Revolution

Jose P. Rizal, the founder of the La Liga Filipina and a propagandist, was against the revolution. He only wanted reform in the country’s situation. He expressly disapproved of an armed uprising at that time, believing it premature. He reasoned out that the Katipunan was not ready for a revolution against the Spaniards because of the lack of arm and forces. He also included to his essays and writings his position. He believed that the Philippines would be a better place to live in if it is well-represented to the Spanish cortes. He really insisted to the Spaniard government that he was only into reform, not independence.


In early August 1896, Teodoro Patiño, a worker at the Diario de Manila printing press, bare the existence of the society to his sister, Honoria. She notified it to Sor Teresa de Jesus who sought advice on what should be done to the organization to a Spanish Agustinian priest, Mariano Gil, who reported it to the authorities. Most of Patiño's co-workers were Katipuneros and they used the facilities and supplies of the newspaper to print Kalayaan.

Patiño supposedly got into a dispute with the press foreman Apolinario de la Cruz, who was also a Katipunero. De la Cruz tried to guilt Patiño for the loss of the printing supplies that were used for Kalayaan. Patinio hit back by revealing the secret society. Patiño supposedly used his sister to contact the priest, who was her confessor. Patiño's suspected disloyalty has developed into the normal account of how the revolution broke out in 1896.

In the 1920s, however, the Philippine National Library commissioned a group of former Katipuneros to confirm the truth of the story. Jose Turiano Santiago, Bonifacio's close friend who was expelled in 1895, denied the story. He claimed that Bonifacio himself ordered Patiño to reveal the society's existence to accelerate the Philippine Revolution and anticipate any opposition from members. After Patiño's alleged confession, the Spanish raided the printing press on August 18, 1896 and arrested De la Cruz, who was found in possession of a dagger used in Katipunan initiation rites and a list of Katipunan members. The Spanish set free an attack and arrested Filipinos.

Katipunan on the Job, The Revolution

When the Katipunan leaders learned of the arrests, Bonifacio called a meeting of all provincial councils to come to a decision the beginning of the armed rebellion. The meeting was held at the house of Apolonio Samson at a place called Kangkong in Balintawak. About 1,000 Katipuneros attended the assembly but they were not able to settle the issue.

They met again at another place in Balintawak the following day. Historians are still debating whether this event took place at the yard of Melchora Aquino
or at the house of her son Juan Ramos. The meeting took place either on August 23 or August 24. It was at this second meeting where the Katipuneros in attendance decided to start the armed uprising and they tore their cedulas as a sign of their commitment to the revolution. The Katipuneros also agreed to attack Manila on August 29. But Spanish civil guards discovered the meeting and the first battle occurred with the Battle of Pasong Tamo. While the Katipunan initially had the upper hand, the Spanish civil guards turned the fight around. The Spanish, however, regained it three days later. After regrouping, the Katipuneros decided not to attack Manila directly.

On August 30, the Katipunan attacked the 100 Spanish soldiers defending the powder magazine in the Battle of Pinaglabanan. About 153 Katipuneros were killed in the battle, but the Katipunan had to withdraw upon the arrival of Spanish reinforcements. More than 200 were taken prisoner. At about the same time, Katipuneros in other suburban Manila areas, like Caloocan, San Pedro de Tunasan (now Makati City), Pateros and Taguig, rose up in arms. In the afternoon of the same day, the Spanish Gov. Gen. Camilo de Polavieja declared martial law in Manila and the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija. The Philippine Revolution had begun.

Spanish Responses

Even before the detection of the Katipunan, Rizal applied for a position as doctor in the Spanish army in Cuba in a bid to convince the Spanish authorities of his loyalty to Spain. His application was accepted and he arrived in Manila to board a ship for Spain in August 1896, shortly before the secret society was exposed. But while Rizal was enrooted to Spain, the Katipunan was unmasked and a telegram overtook the steamer at Port Said, recalling him to the Philippines to face charges that he was the mastermind of the uprising. He was later executed by musketry on December 30, 1896 at the field of Bagumbayan (now known as Luneta).

While Rizal was being tried by a military court for disloyalty, the prisoners taken in the Battle of Pinaglabanan -- Sáncho Valenzuela, Ramón Peralta, Modesto Sarmiento, and Eugenio Silvestre -- were executed by musketry on
September 6, 1896 at Bagumbayan.
Six days later, they also executed by musketry the
Thirteen Martyrs of Cavite at Fort San Felipe Fort in Cavite.

The Spanish colonial authorities also pressed the prosecution of those who were arrested after the raid on the Diario de Manila printing press, where they found evidence incriminating not only common folk but also wealthy Filipino society leaders.
Bicol Martyrs were executed by musketry on January 4, 1897 at Bagumbayan.

But the executions, especially Rizal's, only added fuel to the rebellion, with the Katipuneros shouting battle cries.

Michael A. Deslate

1st year – BS Computer Science



  • Agoncillo, Teodoro C. (1990), History of the Filipino People (8th edition ed.), Quezon City: Garotech Publishing,

  • Guerrero, Milagros C. Balintawak: The Cry for a Nationwide Revolution. Sulyap Kultura. (Manila: National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 1996)

  • Kalaw, Maximo M. The Development of Philippine Politics (1872-1920) (Manila: Oriental Commercial Co. Inc., 1926; reprint ed., Manila: Solar Publishing Corp., 1986)

  • National Historical Institute. Filipinos in History 5 vols. (Manila: National Historical Institute, 1989)

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