Katipunan: The Philippine Revolution Begins
The Kataastaasan Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK) or Katipunan spearheaded the Philippine Revolution. Founded by Andres Bonifacio, the organization sought mass support for its aims to arouse nationalism and work for Philippine independence.
The Katipunan was an offshoot of another organization—Jose Rizal’s La Liga Filipina founded, with Andres Bonifacio among others, on July 3, 1892. The Liga, however, did not prosper. Rizal was exiled to Dapitan and without a leader; the Liga broke into two factions. At this point, Bonifacio formed the Katipunan. In a sense, the Katipunan was the radical offshoot of the Liga for it attracted those who favored armed revolt against Spain.
Soon after the Katipunan was founded, its first supreme council or Kataastaasang Sanggunian was formed. The council underwent several changes before the Revolution began in 1896. By the time war was declared, Bonifacio was president and Emilio Jacinto was secretary of war.
Anyone joining the Katipunan was subjected to an elaborate initiation rite. He had to answer the following questions: Ano ang kalagayan nitong Katagalugan noong unang panahon? (What was the country’s past condition?) Ano ang kalagayan sa ngayon? (What is the country’s present condition?) Ano ang magiging kalagayan sa darating na panahon? (What is the future in store for the country?) After answering, he underwent ordeals to test his loyalty. Finally, he signed his name with blood from his left arm as he swore in the name of God and country to defend the aims of the Katipunan.
Members of the organization were organized according to three degrees: katipon (associate), kawal (soldier), and bayani (patriot). Each degree had a specially designed hood worn during Katipunan meetings. Each degree also had a secret password: Anak ng bayan for the katipon, Gomburza for the kawal, and Rizal for the bayani. The first initiation rite occurred in July 1892, just after the Katipunan’s first meeting. From that time on, the small band of revolutionaries grew into the fighting army of 1896.
Despite its growing size, the Katipunan was first and foremost a secret society. For a while it flourished undetected by the Spanish authorities. However, it was only a matter of time before it was discovered.
On August 18, 1896, Teodoro Patiño revealed the existence of the organization to a parish priest, Mariano Gil. That same night, Gil went to the offices of the El Diario de Manila and found some lithographic stones with blank receipts of the Katipunan, its bylaws, and other documents. As a result, many citizens were arrested and tortured in order to flush out the members of the society.
Excitement over the witch-hunting drove the Katipunan leadership to convene on August 26. At a tumultuous meeting, they argued whether to start the Revolution. The conservatives in the meeting insisted that they were not adequately prepared. However, the radicals led by Bonifacio and Jacinto won out in the end. Hostilities were set to commence on August 29.
After the meeting, the Katipuneros held a rally where they swore to fight for the freedom of the Philippines. To show they had broken away from Spain, they tore their cedulas—symbols of their bondage. The war for Philippine independence had begun.
Source: Students’ Philippine Almanac, p. 302.