Friday, July 19, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: In the Blood: Tracing the Kapampangan Lineage of Andres Bonifacio

The book cover
In the Blood: Tracing the Kapampangan Lineage of Andres Bonifacio by Joel S. Regala is perhaps the first book that has attempted to trace the genealogy of Katipunan founder Andres Bonifacio. While Bonifacio is considered as one of the greatest Filipino heroes and many biographies have been written about him, his genealogy remains very much unexplored.

To be fair, it would seem that Bonifacio's genealogy has been designed by fate to be extremely hard to establish. Tondo, Bonifacio's birthplace, was heavily bombarded by the Americans during WWII, thus destroying many of the older edifices including the archives of the  Santo Niño de Tondo Church. Even the supposed root of the Bonifacio's of Tondo - Masantol, Pampanga and then much earlier to Macabebe, Pampanga - as hypothesized by Regala, also do not have church records earlier than the 1890s. Regala's 100-page book on the "lineage" of Andres Bonifacio is founded on his theory that because there wan an abnormally high number of residents in Masantol with the last name Bonifacio and there was one Bonifacio family in Masantol that has a long-time oral tradition of claiming relationship to Andres Bonifacio, Andres Bonifacio was most likely from Masantol or thereabouts. 

Mr. Regala is to be commended for his dogged pursuit of his theory of the possibility that the Bonifacios of Tondo were most likely not from Tondo but were from Pampanga. Again, the strongest "proofs" for this assumption are a) Masantol (in December 2008) had around 1,009 registered voters under the last name of Bonifacio as compared to the measly 102 Bonifacios found in Tondo, and b) the Narciso Bonifacio family of Masantol has long held the belief that they were related to the Supremo. Because the Narciso Bonifacio descendants , through several generations, were consistent in their claims of relatedness with Andres Bonifacio, Regala surmises that Andres or at least his father, Santiago, was from Masantol. 

The basic conclusion with which he arrives at is that due to the destruction of the records of Andres Bonifacio's birth place, Tondo, or possible birth place, Masantol, we cannot go beyond the names of Bonifacio's parents, who were Santiago Bonifacio and Catalina de Castro. But perhaps, the consistency of the claims of a Bonifacio family in Masantol is the key to unlocking the lineage of Andres Bonifacio.

The Available Facts on Andres Bonifacio's Lineage

In the Blood came out in 2014. The author's research on Bonifacio took four years but it is puzzling that he only had the names of Andres Bonifacio's parents. This is indeed unusual because the names of Andres Bonifacio's grandparents on both paternal and maternal sides have been known to historians for decades now.

The eminent American historian Austin Craig, who wrote a definitive biography of Rizal and did a very extensive study of Rizal's genealogy, was the first to write about the names of Santiago's and Catalina's parents in the Sunday Tribune Magazine on November 23, 1929. Citing the marriage records of Tondo, Craig cited the record as such:
That Santiago Bonifacio, the son of Vicente Bonifacio and Alejandra Rosales, married on the 24th of January 1863 Catalina de Castro, the daughter of Martin de Castro and Antonia Gregorio...in the presence of Don Severino Ampil and Doña Patricia Trinidad as witnesses and sponsors...
Of course, naturally, this record no longer existed after the Second World War. The same is true for Bonifacio's baptismal record, which was firth cited in Manuel Artigas y Cuerva's Andres Bonifacio y El ‘Katipunan’ in 1911, which states:
“On December 2, 1863, on my authority as Parish Priest, Padre Don Saturnino Buntan, presbyter cleric, baptized according to the rites of our Holy Mother Church, and applied the Holy Oils to, Andres Bonifacio, indio three days born, legitimate son of Santiago Bonifacio and Catalina de Castro, of the barangay of Don Patricio Infante, with Vicente Molina as sponsor at the font....Fr. Gregorio Prieto.”
Andres Bonifacio family tree shown in the book
The marriage record is also mentioned in Ambeth R. Ocampo's Bones of Contention: The Bonifacio Lectures in 2001. Both citations were also made in the 3-part article Andres Bonifacio: Biographical Notes by Jim Richardson, an independent scholar whose research focuses on Philippine nationalism and radicalism in the 19th and 20th centuries and whose publications include Roots of Dependency: Political and Economic Revolution in 19th Century Philippines (co-authored with Jonathan Fast); The Philippines (World Bibliographical Series); Komunista: The Genesis of the Philippine Communist Party, 1902-1935; and The Light of Liberty: Documents and Studies on the Katipunan, 1892-1897. 

So it is a little strange that Mr. Regala missed out on something that I was able to google in just within an hour. Aside from this missed information on the parents of Santiago Bonifacio, Regala's assumption of Andres Bonifacio's Masantol roots is further weakened by both these records. 


Narciso Bonifacio family tree shown in the book
It is a little strange that nothing is mentioned of the town origins of the Bonifacios in both the wedding of Vicente and Alejandra and the baptism of Andres. Only Catalina's town of origin - Zambales - is mentioned. In most cases, a person during the Spanish period was either from that particular town, original de este pueblo, or from another town, original de pueblo de (so and so). It is most probably safe to assume that since nothing is mentioned of the town of origin of the Bonifacios, it is possible that a) they are old timers of Tondo, or b) they came from somewhere else but a few generations ago.

What is clear about the book of Regala is the strong dependence he has on the descendants of Narciso Bonifacio as his source for most of the book. I do not discount the inter-generational insistence of the Narciso Bonifacio family that they are related to Andres. What I do wish to be made clear is that we cannot say for certain the validity of their claims. Pending DNA tests between the descendants of Narciso Bonifacio and those of the siblings of Andres Bonifacio (and this was mentioned in the book), we simply cannot say for sure how true this supposed connection is.

Of course, the fact that very few Bonifacios could be found in Tondo at the time of Andres Bonifacio's birth could bolster the claim of Mr. Regala that his roots were from Masantol. Obviously, more research is needed for a definitive conclusion to the roots of Andres Bonifacio.

In the end, this was an easy, short read. The techniques he used were exact and laudable but ultimately, it was was really more about the Narciso Bonifacio family and not so much of Andres Bonifacio. It was more of an attempt at tracing rather than actual tracing the lineage of Andres Bonifacio.
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In the Blood: Tracing the Kapampangan Lineage of Andres Bonifacio can be purchased through the Center for Kapampangan Studies - Holy Angel University at Angeles, Pampanga.

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