Friday, November 30, 2012

My heroes

In Naik, Cavite, one Andres Bonifacio, once the Supremo of the Katipunan, along with his brother Procopio, were found guilty of sedition. Sedition against what? Against Emilio Aguinaldo's revolutionary government, an offshoot of the Katipunan. That revolutionary government was legitimized in a questionable election which Bonifacio refused to recognize.  

At the Greenhouse Effect Gallery in Baguio City in the middle of 2002, one Santiago Bose, then the current chair of the board of the Baguio Arts Guild, and who was also then the only one from among the original founders who kept the flame burning for the guild, was being eased out of the organization. No, "eased out" would be too kind. He was being thrown out. In that hastily called meeting that afternoon, Bose thought he was going to be given a chance to justify his decision to replace the current president whom he believed hasn't been performing well. Fresh from a major surgery just days before, he sat in the middle of the room to read a prepared statement. In attendance were the above-mentioned president, old members who have previously all but totally given up on the guild but who were now suddenly "concerned" about its affairs and new faces who had no idea about the guild's history.

As Bose struggled to speak, his voice was immediately drowned out by the mob - in just a couple of minutes they managed to prevent him from speaking, abolish the current board of directors and call for the election of an interim board. "I quit," Bose simply said. He stood up from the chair and stepped aside.

The nominations for the new board weren't surprising at all - mostly the same people who earlier spoke against and prevented Bose from saying his piece. It was time to go, so I followed Bose out of the room. Remembering the bag I left inside, I went back in just in time to hear someone saying, "akala ko hindi bibigay e."

An arts festival was held later that year. In the morning of the last day of that festival, Bose was rushed to the hospital. As the organizers racked their brains that day to come up with a way to end the festival, a tiny detail that  their creative minds failed to include in their schedule of activities, Bose fought for his life in a hospital bed.

On May 10, 1897, the brothers Andres and Procopio, their hands tied and blindfolded, were led to a clearing in the mountains of Maragondon. One of the soldiers guarding them then unfolded a piece of paper which he was ordered not to read until they got to their destination. After reading the contents, he obeyed the orders written on it, and the brothers were executed and then buried in an unmarked  grave.

At around three in the afternoon, December 3, 2002, Bose quit for good, and was pronounced dead. And that year's Baguio Arts Festival came to an end, and, I believe, so did the Baguio Arts Guild.

More than a century ago, in 1897, he sat on a chair reserved for the accused. Or was should we say the condemned? He was surrounded by people whom, not so long ago, he inspired, motivated and led in the struggle to free our country from more than three centuries of slavery.

Just a decade ago, another man sat on a such a chair in the middle of a room in Baguio. Or should we say the condemned? He too, was surrounded by people whom, not so long ago, he inspired, motivated, nurtured and led in a struggle to free themselves from a lifetime of mental slavery.

November 30, 2012 is the 149th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, while December 3, 2012 is Santiago Bose's death's 10th. They're two of my life's heroes.  

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