The country marks Andres Bonifacio’s 155th birth anniversary tomorrow as a national holiday, but an antiques auction to be held the next day will be the real cause for celebration for advocates of the Father of the Philippine Revolution.
That’s because the auction, to be staged by Leon Gallery on Saturday (Dec. 1), will include a number of historical documents and items that will bolster claims that Bonifacio was betrayed by his fellow members in the revolutionary society Katipunan before he was executed in May 1897.
The government has asked the Makati-based gallery to stop the sale of eight historical items so the National Historical Commission of the Philippines could purchase them once it gets funding, a report by Ces Oreña Drilon on the ABS-CBN News Channel website said on Wednesday.
Jaime Ponce de Leon, director of Leon Gallery, confirmed to ABS-CBN that he received a letter from NHCP acting Executive Director Ludovico Badoy, requesting that he keep the items off the auction so the agency could ask Congress to include their cost in its 2019 budget.
The historical collection could cost the government millions, as Ponce de Leon said starting bids for the items range from P50,000 to P1 million each for the most important documents.
For comparison, Bonifacio’s personal flag ― sewn by his wife, Gregoria de Jesus―sold for almost P10 million last September, and his last letter to de Jesus went for P5.256 million at Leon last March.
The two most important documents among the eight already up for public preview are the Acta de Tejeros and the Acta de Naik or the Naik Military Agreement. The former was signed by Bonifacio and 44 others important personalities in the Philippine Revolution.
“Written and signed on the day after the tumultuous Tejeros Convention, this was Bonifacio’s outraged response to [Emilio] Aguinaldo’s election as president,” Leon Gallery said of the Tejeros paper.
Meanwhile, the Naik document “takes the Acta de Tejeros a step further―it proclaims, says noted Katipunan scholar Jim Richardson that some leaders (meaning but not naming Emilio Aguinaldo) have betrayed the revolution,” the gallery description added.
The six other items, as Leon Gallery described them, are:
An anonymous letter of a Katipunero to D. Hairdo S. Jose; “relating the ‘secret’ causes of the feud between General Emilio Aguinaldo and Andres Bonifacio”;
A declaration by General Artemio Ricarte; “The document was first mentioned by Andres Bonifacio in his very last letter before his death, written to his best friend Emilio Jacinto. In this declaration, Ricarte denounced the ‘dirty and shady election practices’ at the Tejeros Convention and for this reason confirmed his ‘great disagreement’ on the proceedings of the oathtaking (of Aguinaldo)”;
A map of North Cavite, hand-drawn and signed by Ricarte with his alias, “Vibora” (Viper);
An unpublished foreword, handwritten and signed by Ricarte, “who is considered the Father of the Philippine Army”;
A dagger with the initials T.B or Tinio Brigade. “The steel blade with an accompanying scabbard is dated 1899 and recalls one of the most heroic Filipino conflicts: The Philippine-American War”; and
A telegram from Aguinaldo to General Antonio Luna, dated June 4, 1899. The telegram is proof that Aguinaldo sent his summons to make sure Luna went to Cabanatuan, summoning him to his death.
Ponce de Leon told ANC he would relay the government’s request to the sellers, but ultimately the decision rests with those who own the historic pieces.
He also asserted that the gallery’s auctions “have ferreted out a veritable treasure trove of historical documents and personal effects of revolutionary heroes that would have otherwise been lost to oblivion.”
“The Acta de Tejeros and Acta de Naic complete the trajectory from Bonifacio’s glorious Decalogue to his last days in the mountains of Marogondon. They are important documents that give searing insight on our political lives,” curator Lisa Guerrero-Nakpil, daughter of the late historian Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil, wrote in a related essay on the collection also on the ANC website.
Bonifacio was just 34 years old when he and his brother Procopio were executed in the mountains of Maragondon, Cavite on May 10, 1897. Several statues have been raised in honor of the “Supremo,” including the Bonifacio Monument designed by National Artist Guillermo Tolentino in Caloocan City.
READ: Bonifacio honored at UP rites
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