7 Things You Didn't Know About Andres Bonifacio

If Jose Rizal is associated with the Ilustrados, Andres Bonifacio is linked to the masses. This popular notion was borne after World War II. Philippine Historians Teodoro Agoncillo and Renato Constantino provided these new perspectives. 

Andres Bonifacio was born on November 30, 1863. He is best known as one of the founders of the Katipunan, a Philippine movement which wanted independence and freedom from the Spaniards.

In 1921, November 30th was officially made a Philippine Holiday by virtue of Act No. 2946. One can say that Bonifacio was recognized by the American Colonial Government. 

A copy of the only known photograph of Bonifacio

As we celebrate Andres Bonifacio's birth anniversary, here are 7 things you probably didn't know about him.

1. Andres Bonifacio as a bookworm - he might not have been a voracious reader as Jose Rizal but he was well-read than Emilio Aguinaldo. He read Rizal's Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. He was also interested in the History of the French Revolution  and took the time to read Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. Just imagine if Bonifacio was alive today, he might enjoy the movie or Musical based on Hugo's novel.

2. Bonifacio only reached secondary education - Andres' father was a well-paid tailor and who hired a private tutor to teach his son how to read, write and do simple Math. His mother, Catalina, also became Andres' first teacher. 

He was eventually sent to a school owned by a Cebuano maestro, Don Guillermo Osmeña who was a relative of Sergio Osmeña. As per historian and professor Michael Cullinane, Bonifacio could have attended Osmeña's school in the 1870s. 

Andres also attended a school run by Don Epifanio del Castillo along Calle IIaya in Tondo. 

Bonifacio might have lacked formal education but his thirst for knowledge didn't stop him from learning. He continued on his own by reading books.

3. Bonifacio as a translator - Bonifacio translated Rizal's Mi Ultimo Adios from the original Spanish to Tagalog. He named it "Pahimakas" (final farewell).  He distributed copies of it to the members of the KKK.

4. Andres was married twice - Bonifacio's first wife, Monica, died from illness (leprosy) and they didn't have any children. 

In 1893, Bonifacio married 18-year-old Gregoria de Jesus. The couple was first married in a Church to appease the young lady's parents. Later on, they had the Masonic blessings of the Katipunan.

Oriang, as she was known, played a significant part in the Katipunan. She was the Keeper of Documents. Andres and Oriang had a son, Andres Jr. who died young in 1896.

5. Bonifacio as a friend - Andres considered the younger Emilio Jacinto, a beloved friend and adviser. Their bond could be traced to both their mothers. 

Jacinto's mother Josefa worked in the same tobacco factory as Catalina, Andres' mother. Josefa Dizon was also the midwife who assisted Catalina im giving birth to her daughter, Espiridiona. 

Andres invoked such loyalty in Jacinto that when he was killed in 1897, Jacinto refused to join forces with Aguinaldo. He also did not make any attempts to recognize Aguinaldo as the supreme leader of the Filipino forces. 

From 1949-1969, the Philippine 10-peso bill bore the images of both Bonifacio and Jacinto.

Bonifacio and Jacinto  on the 10-peso bill. (photo not mine)

6. Andres Bonifacio was a gun-slinger - According to noted historian Teodoro Agoncillo, who interviewed Bonifacio's contemporaries, Andres never fought with bolos or sabres. He used guns or revolvers instead. Bonifacio must have known about the popular saying, "Never bring a knife to a gunfight."

National Artist, Guillermo Tolentino, who sculpted the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan, depicted Bonifacio holding a revolver on his left hand. Guillermo was assisted by Anastacio  Caedo and Francesco Monti. 

Aside from Bonifacio, the GomBurZa martyred priests and Emilio Jacinto are also depicted on the 14-meter monument.

The Bonifacio monument was inaugurated in 1933.

Bonifacio holding a gun (photo from wikipedia)

7. Bonifacio was executed by Filipinos - In May 1897, Andres Bonifacio and hos younger brother Procopio were charged with sedition and treason by the Magdalo-controlled government via a military tribunal. A few days later they were found guilty.

His other brother, Ciriaco, was killed by soldiers loyal to Emilio Aguinaldo. 

Andres and Procopio were executed in Mount Maragondon, Cavite on May 10, 1897. The death penalty was recommended by the military tribunal. Emilio Aguinaldo signed the written order for the execution.

The remains of the Bonifacio brothers have never been found.


Ocampo, Ambeth R. Bones of Contention: The Bonifacio Lectures. Anvil Publishing, Inc. 2001.

Ocampo, Ambeth R. Talking History Conversations with Teodor A. Agoncillo. The University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. 2011.

Ventura, Sylvia Mendez. Supremo: The Story of Andres Bonifacio. Tahanan Books. 2001.

Ramos, John Ray and Michael Charleston Chua. Bayani Biographies: Andres Bonifacio. St. Matthews's Publishing Corporation. 2019. 

Writer's Note: Some portions of the article were edited and updated on November 26, 2020.