The 84-year-old Kamuning Bakery Cafe in Quezon City played host to a “Pandesal Forum” on the 160th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio on Nov. 30.
Atty. Gary Bonifacio, great-grandnephew of the Philippine revolutionary hero, together with Atty. Harry Roque, former presidential spokesperson and former presidential legal counsel joined this writer-Pandesal Forum host to eulogize the life and ideals of the iconic figure.
The event began with a heartfelt tribute to Andres Bonifacio, a leader whose indomitable spirit ignited the flame of anti-colonial independence struggle in the Philippines.
All the forum speakers said that “despite the unjust circumstances surrounding Bonifacio’s controversial trial and tragic death at the hands of his political rivals, he (Bonifacio) should be rightfully regarded as the first President of the Philippines, having boldly proclaimed independence.”
They added: Andres Bonifacio had started Asia’s first nationalist, anti-colonial revolution in 1896.
Atty. Gary Bonifacio took the opportunity to advocate for the establishment of a dedicated museum in Manila to showcase the life and legacy of Andres Bonifacio.
He expressed his family’s willingness to contribute Bonifacio memorabilia, including the hero’s cane adorned with silver. He is assisted in this museum advocacy by a local historian King Cortez, who has drafted a resolution for Manila City officials to consider.
UNVEILING HIDDEN HISTORIES
Atty. Bonifacio further shed light on over a thousand documents from the Katipunan revolutionary movement.
The documents, once seized by Spanish colonizers, were recently disclosed by the Spanish government. Among the treasures found were handwritten proclamations by Andres Bonifacio, articulating his vision for a Tagalog Republic that encompassed all Filipinos.
Also among the documents were pages of handwritten, patriotic poetry by Andres Bonifacio and a Filipino/Tagalog poem set into music, and played by Atty. Harry Roque.
Roque also tackled contemporary issues surrounding the International Criminal Court (ICC) seeking to investigate former President Rodrigo R. Duterte due to his “War on Drugs,” which critics claimed had committed extra-judicial killings of suspected illegal drug pushers and criminals.
Roque stressed that the attempts by ICC to investigate had already legally lapsed, asserting the Philippines’ commitment to true independence by resisting foreign intervention in its judicial affairs.
He added that “like the US, the Philippines is not member of ICC, a Europe-centered organization.”
Lamenting the “dirty politics” behind the ICC case revival, Roque underscored the need for the Philippines to maintain sovereignty, akin to the nationalistic and anti-colonial spirit embodied by Andres Bonifacio.
PRESERVING PRESS FREEDOM
Roque likewise addressed concerns about potential threats to press freedoinm, particularly regarding the proposed congressional investigations reportedly targeting the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), the broadcasting arm of a Philippine television evangelist, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.
According to Roque, an SMNI host alleged that P1.8 billion pesos were spent as travel expenses in 2022 by House Speaker Martin Romualdez.
He expressed strong opposition to any attempts by politicians to curtail press freedom, emphasizing that such actions would have a chilling effect on political democracy in the Philippines.
Roque called upon all Filipino journalists and media organizations to stand united in defending SMNI and Philippine press freedom against political encroachments or threats.
On politics, Roque said he believed in the public statements of both President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice-President Sara Duterte that their “National Unity” political coalition is still intact, but not in the case of Speaker Martin Romualdez.
He also said he believes in the public warning of former President Rodrigo R. Duterte that he will run for Senator or another high position if some congressmen would start impeachment proceedings against his daughter Vice-President Sara Duterte.
As the Pandesal Forum concluded, the speakers reiterated the importance of preserving the ideals championed by Andres Bonifacio.
The commemoration served as both a reflection on history and a call to action, urging Filipinos to uphold the principles of patriotism, social justice, independent foreign policy, and press freedom that Bonifacio fought for more than a century ago.