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Andrés Bonifacio y de Castro was born to a middle-class family in Manila on the 30th November, 1863. His father was a government official and his mother, Catalina de Castro, was a supervisor in a cigarette factory. The eldest among five siblings, Andres Bonifacio spent his early years being educated in Cebu. His parents hired a private tutor to teach him arithmetic and Spanish. Unfortunately, he and his siblings were orphaned when Bonifacio was only 14 years old.

After the death of his parents, Bonifacio was forced to take on the role as guardian to his brothers and sisters. With few options available to him, he worked as a warehouse keeper and messenger.

Hungry for knowledge, Andrés Bonifacio became a voracious reader. He read many revolutionary books like Les Miserables, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, as well as the history of the French Revolution. By the mid-1880s, Andrés Bonifacio had become a fervent Filipino nationalist.

When José Rizal established the Liga Filipina in 1892, Bonifacio was one of its first members. The Spanish arrested Rizal on the 7th of July 1892 and banished him to Dapitan in Mindanao.

Bonifacio then decided that the Philippines would only achieve independence through revolution. On July 7, Filipino patriots Andrés Bonifacio, Teodoro Plata, Ladislao Diwa and others, founded the Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (more commonly known as the “Katipunan”), a secret society open to both peasants and the middle class. The Katipunan provided aid to the community by setting up local societies and education for the poor. By 1896, the Katipunan had over 30,000 members and functioned at the national, provincial, and municipal levels. Bonifacio, was the leader of the Katipunan most of its formative years.

In planning the revolution, Bonifacio contacted Rizal for his full-fledged support for the Katipunan in exchange for a promise to rescue Rizal from his detention. In May 1896, the leadership of the Katipunan met with the Captain of a visiting Japanese warship in an attempt to secure a source of arms for the revolution, but without success. The Katipunan’s existence was revealed to the Spanish authorities. Days after the Spanish authorities learned of the existence of the secret society, in August 1896, Bonifacio and his men tore up their cédulas during the Cry of Balintawak that started the Philippine Revolution of 1896.

After the execution of Rizal in 1896, Bonifacio proclaimed Filipino independence on August 23, 1896. As a result of the declaration, the Spanish moved against him and the Katipunan to flee to the mountains. It is then when he and the Katipunan laid claim to Pinagrealan Cave and its 1km long subterranean network – as the perfect hide-out, affording food, shelter and a defensible location should anyone come looking for them.

Bonifacio was tried and convicted by his enemies and executed on May 10, 1897. Today Bonifacio is regarded as a national hero.

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