Panitikan ng Rebolusyon(g 1896)
About the book
The centennary of the founding of the Katipunan was commemorated last year. The rituals and the various historical pieces written about the revolutionary organization served to remind us of the beginnings of our nationhood. Unfortunately, while Bonifacio and the other Katipuneros were honored, their ideas and the body of literature of the Katipunan were hardly projected. It was as if these revolutionaries had no ideas of their own and were merely implementors of the propaganda of the ilustrados.
It is to dissipate this impression and to put the writings of Bonifacio and Jacinto in proper historical context that critic and poet Virgilio Almario wrote his latest book entitled Panitikan ng Rebolusyon(g 1896). Almario's book is an important contribution to the revival of interest in and understanding of the philosophical and literary outputs of the leaders of the Katipunan. In analyzing the writings of Bonifacio and Jacinto which he calls the literature of the Katipunan, the author successfully rescues Bonifacio from another assassination by disputing the general impression that he was not a man of thought.
The book berates critics and academicians who, to a great extent, were responsible for denigrating Bonifacio and therefore also the Katipunan. Almario argues that since the literature of the Katipunan was written in Tagalog, it was not given the attention it deserves by critics who were the products of American miseducation. Moreover, according to the author, these critics were applying Western standards to a body of literature which was written in the native tongue and therefore considered as inferior to the language used by the ilustrado propagandists.
Decades of foreign imposed educational system and the hegemony of Western ideological values were responsible for the marginalization of the Revolution in our memories. Historical distortions and convenient myths buried the nationalist impulses that led to the birth of the Filipino nation. We have lost pride in the momentous effort that successfully ended one colonial rule and we have willingly accepted the myth that we were rescued from oppression by another foreign power. Succeeding generations of Filipinos have lost sight of the national goals of the fathers of the Revolution. That is why we appear to have lost our sense of national community.
Panitikan clearly establishes that the literature of the Katipunan was not a mere echo of the French Revolution via the writings of the ilustrado propagandists; neither was it mechanically based on the Pasyon as some academics contend. Almario demonstrates the originality and creativeness of the Katipunan literature which constituted a counter consciousness for the period. It could still be the core of a counter-consciousness for the present if the ideas of the Katipunan on foreign domination, equality and humanity were popularized.
The resistance to using the national language as the sole medium of instruction and the fact that the Katipunan literature is not an important component of our curriculum constitute an impediment to our understanding of our roots.
Almario concludes his study with an appeal for a revival of our interest in the Katipunan through the reading of its literature. He warns that by consigning the writings of the Katipuneros to the glass cases of the museum, we are consigning them to a dead past. The result would be the death of an important body of literature without our even having understood it. The result would be tantamount to killing Bonifacio again and with him the goal of real independence.
- Almario, Virgilio S. Panitikan ng Rebolusyon(g 1896): Isang Paglingon at Katipunan ng mga Akda nina Bonifacio at Jacinto. Quezon City: University of Philippines Press, 1997.