From the time Philippine history was introduced as a subject, Katipunan’s Andres Bonifacio was portrayed as an uneducated, hot headed, and poor commoner who had enough of the Spanish abuse, reason why he went at arms with them (prematurely) in 1896. However, according to accounts of the Supremo’s closest relatives, friends, and former wife, he is not the person that our textbooks have been projecting the moment it was taught inside the classroom.
According to his closest friends, the Supremo had jobs as a sales man, a storekeeper, an agent (just to name a few) for foreign companies in Manila before the war broke in the late 1800s. With this information at hand, it only not meant that he had a very good means to provide for himself and his family but he is also good in Spanish, which is at that time, the international language in the Philippines.
It was also portrayed that Bonifacio was a no-read-no-write lad, but based on his wife’s account, Ka Oryang’s parents (most especially his father), is not in favor with his then “nobio/nobyo” because he was a Freemason, which was then had a very bad image, thanks to the religion that we had at that time. If you were to analyze the situation, back then (up until now), Freemasons was a secured organization that only accepts educated and middle to upper class members of the society (Rizal and Mabini was one of them). That being said, Bonifacio is far from the illiterate poor “bodegero” that our past historians have projected.
In addition, aside from being a Freemason, he was also a La Liga Filipina member, which means that he had access to the doors of the “illustrados” and had known popular persons in the society such as Jose Rizal and the Luna brothers.
Bonifacio, like Rizal, was a wide read person and in fact, some of the books that Rizal had or read was the same books that the Supremo had and unlike Aguinaldo, who had admitted publicly in an interview that he never read any of Rizal’s book (Noli and El Fili) because he had a small (if not none) command of the Spanish language, Bonifacio read and was inspired by El Fili who at that time was in full Spanish transcript.
Based on his relatives’ account, Bonifacio was not only fluent in Spanish but other language as well such as French in which he had read Victo Hugo’s Les Miserables and the French Revolution books, that ignited the fire in him to finally take up arms against oppression.
Clearly this accounts and close to facts evidences only showed that the Andres Bonifacio hero we knew from Delos Santos, Zaide, Agoncillo is a total 360 degree person from the real one. Based from the jobs he had as a salesman, a clerk, a messenger, a storekeeper for a foreign company showed that he was not a commoner but in fact a well bred gentlemen.
Another interesting fact by Supremo’s younger sister, Espiridonia Bonifacio, is that the account of their business (selling fans and canes) was thriving, because she remembered that the price of their canes at that time were bought at around 50 to 100 pesos (it wasn’t clear if by bulk of individual, nonetheless, it was a serious amount of money back then)
However, do not be confused of Bonifacio as a haciendero or an elite, Big NO! he belonged to a middle classed family who can eat at least 3 meals a day and sometimes can buy things they need or want. One fact that can and will attest that Bonifacio belonged to the B class of the society is that he nor his family had no hacienda or mansion unlike the Rizal estate in Calamba and the Aguinaldo shrine in Cavit, or the Luna Mansion in Ilocos.
In all fairness to the Philippine Government, there were efforts to locate for his house or ancestral home, but most of them burned down or ruined during the American-Spanish War. The surviving houses, where the Bonifacio’s (Andres and Ka Oryang), lived were marked by the Government’s historical commission to commemorate the Supremo.
In hindsight, since winners writes history and clearly Aguinaldo won his battle against Bonifacio, did he intentionally portrayed the Supremo as his own image that was tweaked a little bit as poor commoner to capture the hearts of the common masses?