(SPOT.ph) The feud between Emilio Aguinaldo and Andres Bonifacio is the subject of many debates among historians. While brother in arms under the flag of the Katipunan, the two had always been in separate factions until the former rose to the presidency after the controversial Tejeros Convention. Historian Ambeth Ocampo even once quipped at the Ayala Museum, "Aguinaldo is the hero that we all love to hate." And at the upcoming Asian Cultural Council Art Auction 2019, the claims that it was Aguinaldo who ordered the execution of Bonifacio will finally be clarified once for all—or will they? Rare documents, including Aguinaldo's handwritten (March 22, 1948) and typewritten (May 11, 1948) statements, will be put under the gavel on February 23, 2 p.m. at Leon Gallery in Makati City.
In an interview with SPOT.ph, Lisa Guerrero-Nakpil, curator of Leon Gallery, tells of these rare pieces: "Aguinaldo offers two statements, one in his own handwriting stating he was persuaded by the top generals of the Consejo de Guerra (Council of War) not to interfere with the death sentence; the other, a typewritten account where he says he downgraded the death sentence to exile but his order did not make it to his officers in time. (He crossed this out and amended it to fit the handwritten account, incidentally.)"
"Ito ang matanto nina Heneral Mariano Noriel, Heneral Pio del Pilar, na mga kagawad ng Consejo de Guerra ay dalidaling tinawagan ang aking pansing at sinabing 'Kung ibig po ninyon mag patuloy ang kapantagan ng ating Pamahalaan sa Paghihimagsik, at kung ibig po ninyong mabuhay pa tayo, ang inyong bawiin ang iginawa na indulto sa kapatid na iyan.'
"Dahil dito’y aking binawi at iniatas ko kay General Noriel na ipatupad ang kahatulan ng Consejo de Guerra, na barilin ang mga kapatid, alang-alang sa kapakanan ng Bayan," stated Aguinaldo in the handwritten letter.
When asked if this would finally settle discussions about our history, Guerrero-Nakpil concludes: "If you believe that Aguinaldo ran the Revolutionary Government as a dictatorship, then you have your answer."
Incidentally, a related document that's up for auction is a five-page handwritten account by Major Lazaro Macapagal—an Aguinaldo "loyalist" and secretary of the of the Consejo de Guerra that tried and sentenced Bonifacio. Ultimately, he was assigned to carry out the Bonifacio brothers' death sentence.
In his eyewitness account addressed to Jose P. Santos three decades after that fateful day, "the only one in existence" according to Guerrero-Nakpil, Macagapal said that he was ordered by Gen. Noriel to bring Andres and his brother Procopio to the mountains outside Maragondon. He was also handed a letter that he could only open once they reached their destination: "Pagdating doon, bucsan itong pakete, basahin ng malakas sa harap nilang dalawa ng malaman nila at sundin niñong mahigpit kung ano ang sinasabi sa loob nian." The sentence was: "Barilin upang mamatay."
The statement continues to describe Bonifacio knelt and begged for his life: "ng ako’y makita nia ay nagpapaluhod-luhod sinasabing 'Kapatid, patawarin mo ako'" The Supremo ran towards the forest, and then was stabbed and killed.
Another important piece of information from Macapagal's statement is its vivid description of where Bonifacio was executed and buried—a fact that was never delivered to his widow, Gregoria de Jesus.
The Asian Cultural Council Art Auction 2019 is on February 23, 2 p.m., at Leon Gallery, G/F Eurovilla 1, Rufino corner Legazpi Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City. For more information, visit Leon Gallery's website.