What are the aims of katipunan?

Updated: 9/16/2023
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Parts of this letter are hard to translate, and I would like to express my gratitude as always to my wife, Clarita Policarpio Richardson, for her help and estimable patience.

[2] Abbreviation of Kataastaasan Kagalang-galang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Most Elevated and Esteemed Society of the Sons of the People).

[3] Abbreviation of Kataastaasang Sangunian (Supreme Council).

[4] It is possible that this nomenclature deliberately echoes that of the American Civil War. Bonifacio wanted the Katipunan forces in the north to be under a single General-in-Chief - Emilio Jacinto - but to have distinct identities based on their geographical location. The two largest military encampments at this time were in the hills either side of the Marikina valley, one at Balara near the present-day campus of UP-Diliman and the other at a place variously called Mount Masuyod, Pasong Kawayan or Pantayanin in the vicinity of Antipolo. There was thus an "army of Balara" and an "army of Pantayanin", and Bonifacio also mentions here an "army of Ugong" - a barrio in the municipality ofPasig.

[5] Bonifacio dated this letter December 12, 1896, and its content, together with his reference here to a letter being despatched to him on December 4, strongly suggest that he had by then already been inCavite for at least a week. It is therefore evident that Santiago Alvarez was mistaken to state in his memoirs that Bonifacio arrived in Cavite on December 17, a chronology that Teodoro A. Agoncillo, Isagani R. Medina and other historians have more or less accepted. At least three other sources, however, put Bonifacio's arrival at least two weeks earlier. Emilio Aguinaldo's secretary, Carlos Ronquillo, places it as early as November 17; Aguinaldo himself recalls the date as being December 1; and another veteran, Col. Genaro de los Reyes, recollects that the Supremo departed from the encampment at Balara on his way Cavite in mid-November, which would make either the November 17 or December 1 dates feasible depending on whether the party went directly or stopped along the way at Pantayanin or other encampments. Santiago V. Alvarez, The Katipunan and the Revolution: the memoirs of a general, translated by Paula Carolina S. Malay (Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1992), pp.67; 170; Teodoro A. Agoncillo, The Revolt of the Masses: the story of Bonifacio and the Katipunan (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1956), p.203; Carlos Ronquillo, Ilang talata tungkol sa paghihimagsik nang 1896-1897, edited by Isagani R. Medina, Quezon City, 1996, pp.550; 738; 762; Emilio Aguinaldo, Mga Gunita ng Himagsikan (Manila: Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay, 1964), p.140; Genaro de los Reyes, quoted in Alvarez, The Katipunan and the Revolution, p.170.

[6] Hermogenes Bautista, known as General Menes, was born in Marikina in 1866 and as a young man had worked in that area as a farmer and cochero. He had then served for over a decade in the colonial military and police forces, first as an infantry conscript in Lanao and later with the Veterana in Manilaand the Guardia Civil in Bulacan. E. Arsenio Manuel, Dictionary of Philippine Biography, vol. I (Quezon City: Filipiniana Publications, 1955), pp.95-6.

[7] The "Pangulong hukuman" mentioned here by Bonifacio was Mariano Alvarez, president of the Magdiwang council of the Katipunan. This council was initially founded in Noveleta, but by this time had transferred its headquarters to the larger town of San Francisco de Malabon. It was here that Bonifacio made his base following his arrival in Cavite, and almost certainly it was here that he wrote this letter. Santiago V. Alvarez, the son of Mariano, was captain general of the Magdiwang army.

[8] A falconete was a small cannon, capable of firing shot weighing up to about a kilogram.

[9] Lucino de la Cruz, known as General Lucino or Ipo-Ipo, had been elected in October 1896 as second in command (to Luis Malinis) of the troops based at Balara. He travelled from Balara to Caviteat about the same time as Bonifacio, and may have headed the Supremo's escort party. Ronquillo describes him as Bonifacio's adjutant. Feliciano Jokson (sometimes Jocson, or Jhocson) was one the most energetic Katipunan emissaries and suppliers at this time, travelling back and forth betweenManila and the KKK's encampments, on occasion disguised as a woman. A pharmacist by profession, he carried "brass sheet for the making of cartridges…and at other times saltpetre for the manufacture of gunpowder which, in order to mislead the Spanish authorities, he placed in demijohns as if it were wine." He also taught the rebel forces how to fashion primitive types of blunderbuss and cannon -trabucos, lantakas and falconetes. The Spanish assault on Tangway - Cavite - that he reported might be imminent did not materialize until February 1897. Grl. Santiago here again refers to Santiago Alvarez. O.D. Corpuz, Saga and Triumph: the Filipino revolution against Spain (Manila: Philippine Centennial Commission, 1999), p.96; Ronquillo, Ilang talata, p.415; Miguel Samio Ignacio, Feliciano Jokson: datos biográficos(Manila: Renacimiento Filipino, 1912); Julio Nakpil, "Feliciano Jocson and his activities during the Revolution of 1896-1897", in Julio Nakpil and the Philippine Revolution, with the autobiography of Gregoria de Jesus (Manila: Heirs of Julio Nakpil, 1964), p.61.

[10] Bonifacio may well be referring here to two prominent citizens of San Mateo who are mentioned in the memoir of Col. Genaro de los Reyes. Known as Kapitan Matias and Kapitan Ismael, these men were said to be "sworn enemies" of the Katipunan who denounced KKK members and sympathisers to the Spanish authorities and caused many to be tortured and summarily executed. De los Reyes, quoted in Alvarez, The Katipunan and the Revolution, p.173.

[11] Dagoberto was the Masonic name of both Epifanio Cuisa and Lucas Ricafort, and the reference here could be to either. Cuisa had been in Taliba Lodge together with Bonifacio before the revolution, and Ricafort, a member of Dalisay Lodge, is known to have served as a captain during the Philippine-American war. Reynold S. Fajardo, The Brethren: Masons in the struggle for Philippine independence(Manila: Enrique L. Locsin and the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines, 1998), pp 142; 184; Manuel Artigas y Cuerva, Galeria de Filipinos ilustres (Manila: Imp. Casa Editora "Renacimiento", 1917-8), p.827.

[12] Bonifacio was a "bata" (literally, "child") of the friars, according to these hostile fictions, because he had been bribed by them to found the Katipunan and lead the poorly armed Filipinos to certain and disastrous defeat. Artemio Ricarte, Himagsikan nang manga Pilipino laban sa Kastila (Yokohama: "Karihan Café", 1927), p.70.

[13] In the latter months of 1896, Cavite witnessed an influx of large numbers of Filipinos from the neighbouring provinces, some escaping from Spanish offensives against Katipunan forces and others wanting to share the exhilarating sense of freedom and hope that prevailed in the liberated territory. Many of those arriving came without means of support, and several sources relate that the Caviteños in general did not welcome them. They called them "alsa balutan", which may be translated as "runaways" or "refugees", but literally means "baggage carriers". Bonifacio's letter indicates that he too wanted to curtail the flow, partly perhaps because he recognised the tensions and divisions it was creating in Cavite, but also because a continued exodus from Pasig, Guadalupe and other towns around Manila would undermine the Katipunan's efforts to establish some form of government in the area and would leave Katipunan fighters isolated and exposed.

[14] Palamara was the Katipunan alias of Juan de la Cruz, who had been elected in October 1896 as a General and second-in-command of troops based at Mount Tungko in San José del Monte. The nature of his unhealthy sentiments is not known. This particular Juan de la Cruz should not be confused with the Tagalog playwright of the same name, whose Katipunan alias was Matapang.

Jim Richardson

August 2006

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