“On this site Andres Bonifacio and one thousand Katipuneros met in the morning of 23 August 1896 and decided to revolt against the Spanish colonial government in the Philippines. As an affirmation of their resolve, they tore up their cedulas which were symbols of oppression of the Filipinos. This was very first cry of the oppressed nation against Spain which was enforced with use of arms.”
This is what a marker tells us. It commemorates the no-turning-back moment in the Philippine history, when the faction of Filipinos, principally the Katipuneros, advocating the use of arms to end the 300+ years of Spanish occupation took a stand. Effectively a declaration of war, it was a declaration against those who call for a “peaceful” political solution, epitomized by the national hero Jose Rizal.
War or peaceful political solution? This dichotomy is usually illustrated in the contrasting views of Andres Bonifacio and Jose Rizal in dealing with Spain, a movement taken over by the entry of the United States of America in the picture. Andres Bonifacio took a stand, through the Sigaw ng Pugad Lawin in 1896. The Treaty of Paris was signed by Spain and the United States in 1898, with the former ceding control over the Philippines to the latter.
This tug-of-war between war and political negotiations spilled over into the cabinet of the first Filipino President, General Emilio Aguinaldo. General Antonio Luna, one of the fiercest Filipino generals of his time, did not believe that the United States will honor any proposal to respect Philippine sovereignty.
Speaking of disunity, it is amusing to note that there is a confusion as to the correct spelling — Pugadlawin or Pugad Lawin? We will use Pugad Lawin because it is the name used in the marker at the shrine.
The marker, written in Filipino, reads in full:
Ang Sigaw ng Pugad Lawin (1896)
Sa paligid ng pook na ito, si Andres Bonifacio at mga isang libong Katipunero ay nagpulong noong umaga ng ika-23 Agosto 1896, at ipinasyang maghimagsik laban sa pamahalaang Kastila sa Pilipinas. Pinagpunit-punit ang kanilang mga sedula na naging tanda ng pagkaalipin ng mga Pilipino. Ito ang kauna-unahang sigaw ng bayang apu laban sa bansang Espanya na pinatibayan sa pamamagitan ng paggamit ng sandata.
The marker is found along the Seminary Road, in barangay Bahay Toro of Quezon City. It stands silent behind the Pugad Lawin High School, just a stone’s throw from the Quezon City General Hospital. The marker marks the site of the Sigaw ng Pugad Lawin or Cry of Pugad Lawin.
The tree under which Tandang Sora rested is said to be nearby, unfortunately forgotten with the absence of any marker that would have anchored us to concrete manifestations of our history. We did not even know Pugad Lawin is found in this spot, and we are almost certain that most people do not know this location. We found this spot by accident, when we were invited to attend a wedding in a nearby church. The statues immediately grabbed our attention. On a lighter note, this illustrates the point that we often find something when we are not looking for it.
The more we looked around the Pugad Lawin shrine, the more we realized that we know so little of the Cry of Pugad Lawin. One statue in the shrine, with its distinctive hair style, looks familiar. Emilio Jacinto, we thought. We did not know Emilio Jacinto was present during that historic event. The statue of Emilio Jacinto, the brains of the Katipunan, stands at the left side of Andres Bonifacio.
Another statue in the shrine, standing at the right side of Andres Bonifacio, appears to be holding what looks like a doctor’s bag. A subsequent search reveals that a Filipino physician, Dr. Pio Valenzuela, was a member of the Katipunan and was present during the Cry of Pugad Lawin.
At the back, there is a statue of a carabao and a boy. We still cannot figure out what it represents, but, judging from the statue alone, it looks like the carabao/water buffalo was laughing when the revolutionaries started tearing their cedulas. Look at the photo below. Carabao: “Hahaha!” Boy: “Hoy, kalabaw, tumahimik ka! May itak ang mga ‘yan. Gusto mo maging ulam?”
We also did not know that there is a debate as to the real site of the Cry of Pugadlawin. There was a time it was called the Cry of Balintawak. There is another a debate as to the date when Andres Bonifacio and the rest of the Katipuneros, tore their cedulas. Some say the Katipuneros tore their cedulas more than once. Some say the Cry of Balitawak is a separate event. Perhaps the debates will not be settled anytime soon. But some facts remain undisputed. The Katipuneros, led by its Supremo Andres Bonifacio, took a stand, tearing their cedulas in 1896 as a gesture of defiance against the Spanish colonizers.