Metro Manila commuters pass the Andres Bonifacio monument in Monumento and chances many are unaware of the historical controversies surrounding the monument or the event generally referred to as the Cry of Balintawak.
Cast in bronze, National Artist Guillermo Tolentino conducted a painstaking research in creating his version of Andres Bonifacio and his leadership of the revolt against Spain. Other monuments portray Bonifacio on bare feet with a fiery, rebellious stance as his muscled arms menacingly hold out a bolo (long knife). That defiant stance alludes to the so-called plebeian hero’s violent methods as opposed to the pacifist and more accommodating politics of Jose Rizal.
But the conflicts on creative portrayal doesn’t end there as historians also differ on the exact location of the so-called Cry of Revolution which is also and often referred to as the ‘Cry of Pugad Lawin,” the “Cry of Balintawak,” or revolt in Pasong Tamo. In any case, the event refers to the seminal cry of revolt on August 23, 1896 which signalled the struggle for Philippine independence against the Spanish colonial government. Bonifacio and his comrades from the Katipunan society tore their Spanish cedulas or registration cards on the hills of Balintawak. Again, some historians say there are conflicting dates and places for the event.
Whatever the case is the Balintawak Monument shows that there are alternative histories to what is already known, generally accepted or even promoted by the powers that be depending on which best serves their goals. Or who holds the pen when writing the history books.
Long live the spirit behind the Balintawak Monument!