BEYOND THE FOUR WALLS: Supremo and his ‘message’ to the youth in pandemia

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MALAYBALAY CITY (30 November 2020) Andres Bonifacio, freedom fighter and one-time supremo of the Katipunan is a national hero who played an important role in the revolution and eventual freedom from one colonizer to another.

His heroism gave us the holiday today, Nov. 30, a date probably more popular and remembered as the fiesta of San Andres.

Knowing he died of unfavorable circumstances, it is understandable that we mark his birthday, not his death as we would for other heroes (Rizal, at least).

I checked on “the” national hero Doc Pepe at the City Plaza earlier today. At least they laid no wreath for Supremo in Rizal’s monument. Where should they, if ever? At least, this city has a Bonifacio Drive. It is not a full street, yes. It is not the road, at least, that leads to the slaughterhouse or the dumpsite. 

Doc Pepe stars in mandatory university subjects. So we know a lot about him aside from the two novels he wrote, which were required reading much earlier for Filipino youth, in high school.

The two heroes were different but were friends. The illustrado Rizal was for reforms via La Liga Filipina. The poor Bonifacio was for a revolution via the Katipunan. Even if they differed on social status and methods, they shared the same vision -- better Las Islas Filipinas. Bonifacio was a fan of Rizal. Maybe the feeling was mutual.  

What do we know about Supremo? One thing, which struck me most after a search using the keyword “Andres Bonifacio,” was a description about his education: “self-educated”.  

Historical accounts point out that he was unable to finish his formal schooling. The eldest child, he has to take care of his five siblings when they got orphaned. He used his craftsmanship in making paper fans and canes, which his siblings sold. He was eventually hired by a British firm as a warehouse clerk. Instead of formal schooling, Bonifacio read books to learn about a lot of things. His library was the warehouse.
This sounds like flexible learning, though a version a century and a half advanced.

“He read works written in Tagalog, Spanish, and even English..he read works about the French and American Revolutions, about the lives of men such as George Washington, as well as two novels made by a Filipino physician named Jose Rizal,” John Carlo Pagsolingan wrote in March 2020.

Bonifacio eventually co-founded the Katipunan and inspired many to go against Spain. His readings would have helped him understand the world he was coming into. Some good reads say he was an intelligent and knowledgeable person despite his failure to complete formal education.

I find this an important note on the national hero. His probable message to the youth of today facing the pandemic could be: "brace, face it." This is not saying students should follow his steps; stop schooling and be radical.  

I just found his self-education an inspiring aspect or solace for those who complained about the difficulties of flexible learning. Despite his shortcomings, Bonifacio used available resources to enable him to achieve his goals. His persistence and hard work provided him education, which he used to his advantage. Others would have easily complained and did nothing.
Many things have been said about the COVID-19 pandemia as a form of warfare. Perhaps, indeed it is. It is a revolution against many comfortable things of the old normal.

Some university students have to work at the same time study. There are those who battle weak internet connection. Others have limited resources and are facing other extreme difficulties.

Self-education or self-paced learning is possible. Bonifacio has done it in the late 1800s. Of course, educators have to do their part to facilitate the learning process. That’s a learning curve.    

It is not going to be easy. Not everyone has the mind of heroes. However, most young people probably find themselves in better situations now than Bonifacio did in his time. Now, there are no Spanish oppressors, perhaps just difficult professors? Maybe, it is not the situation. It is the response to it that matters.

If Bonifacio and the Katipuneros tore their cedula to signify defiance and courageously fought with their bolos; present day students can get rid of their comfort zones and pick their weapons: their adaptability to change and technology and their learning modules, and do what they just have to do. (BukidnonNews.Net)

The author, a former journalist, is a faculty member of Bukidnon State University and an advocate of community documentation and reporting. The thoughts here represent his personal views.  

In photo: A grade school pupil who tagged along with her vegetable vendor mother on Sunday, does her class homework at the side walk. Photo obtained with parental consent. BukidnonNews.Net  

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