Andres Bonifacio’s heroism and struggle remain relevant to this day, with the lingering crisis affecting the overwhelming majority of Filipinos. After 125 years since he, along with his brothers, was killed for what he fought for, Filipinos now still suffer from poverty and oppression and the country is still under the influence and control of a foreign power.
Contrary to what Bonifacio envisioned for poor and oppressed Filipinos during his time, Filipinos today continue to experience joblessness, rapidly rising prices of commodities and services, and insufficient social services and protection. Our economic policies are shaped by the dictates of foreign economic powers. Socio-political rights including the right to speak and access correct information are being curtailed or violated. Amid the pandemic, inequality even worsened, with oligarchs raking in bigger profits, while ordinary Filipinos continue to wallow in poverty. The working class from which Bonifacio hailed is among the basic classes bearing the brunt of the crisis.
Bonifacio and the Katipunan’s struggle were fueled by their articulation of the true conditions of the people and the country and the call of their times to fight. But today, truth is being withheld from the people by the powers that be. Fake news and disinformation are proliferated to revise history, erase the atrocities of Martial Law from the people’s collective memory, and conceal the actual situation of Philippine economy and society.
We celebrate Bonifacio’s life by emulating what he has done for the country. As teachers, it is our task to teach what heroes like Bonifacio have contributed for the country.
The country during Bonifacio’s time was under centuries of direct colonization of Spain, its resources plundered and the people oppressed. Today, the country remains under heavy economic and political influence and control by the United States and other foreign powers. Our resources are plundered both by local and foreign corporations, and the people’s rights are violated and their welfare neglected.
As educators, it is our task to help fight for our future by teaching students the need to contribute to the betterment of our society by way of their chosen profession, jobs and advocacies. Helping our students develop critical thinking means firmly asserting basic facts and truths against deliberate disinformation and social biases. Enabling our students to build nationalist attitudes means courageously seeking out a deeper understanding of social realities.
We must guide our students in navigating both traditional and digital pathways of knowledge and skills, to sift through various “truths” that have been muddled, revised or erased. We, educators have the power to inspire our students and teach them that we are a nation that can rise from poverty and oppression by asserting our rights and always taking the side of social justice.
There is an Andres Bonifacio in each of us, always dreaming of and seeking a genuinely humane and progressive society. May we continue to tirelessly move forward in bringing our students and communities towards achieving democracy, freedom, independence and development.