PROCOPIO C. BONIFACIO
The third child of poor but hard-working couple, Catalina de Castro and Santiago Bonifacio was born in 1873. He became one of the stalwarts of the revolutionary organization called Kataastaasan Kagalanggalang Katipunan ng mga anak ng Bayan, or “K.K.K.A.N.B.,” founded by his eldest brother Andres. His other siblings were Ciriaco, also a Katipunero; Esperidiona, Troadio, and Maxima.
Procopio and his siblings were orphaned at a very young age and, thus, had to learn to fend for them by making canes and paper fans that Andres sold.
Procopio worked as a factor at the railway station in Tutuban, where his brother Ciriaco was employed as a train conductor. They acquired their jobs through Andres’ able intercession. Andres, by then, was employee of good standing at Fressel and Company, a German firm.
It is said that it was on a boat bound for Manila, around 1895 that he met Candido Iban and Francisco del Castillo, two sea divers from Capiz who had lived for a while in Australia and who, having won a big prize in a lottery, had decided to return to the country. That meeting proved crucial for the two, sponsored by Procopio and initiated into the Katipunan by Andres, would be instrumental in providing the organization with the money to buy its own printing press.
As a member of the Katipunan, headed Tanglaw, a branch of the Katipunan council of Dulumbayan. Within the Katipunan Supreme Council, he served as a "vocal" or member, along with Jose Turiano Santiago, Restituto Javier, Alejandro Santiago, and Pio Valenzuela.
In April 1896, Procopio joined his brother Andres, Dr. Pio Valenzuela, the Katipunan treasurer; Emilio Jacinto, author of the Katipunan Cartilla, and Candido Tirona, in touring and organizing Katipunan branches in the Cavite towns of Imus, Noveleta, and Kawit, where the council president was Emilio Aguinaldo.
Following the discovery of the Katipunan in August 1896, the authorities cracked down on suspected supporters and members. The Katipuneros lost no time in regrouping and devising contingent plans for the start of the uprising despite a lack of guns and ammunition. Andres immediately convened a general assembly on the 24th, before launching the revolution, dispatching his orders to all Katipunan branches.
That same day, together with Teodoro Plata, Agueldo del Rosario, Jacinto, and Andres himself, Procopio surreptitiously left Manila for Balintawak, a suburb of Manila, where the meeting was to be held. Eluding the dragnet of the Guardia Civil, the group reached their destination that same night. Two days later, on August 21, Andres, Procopio, and the others, now joined by some 500 rebels, left Balintawak and hiked to Kangkong. They arrived in the house of Apolonio Samson, where they temporarily rested. They journeyed anew the next day, this time towards Pugadlawin. They reached the house of Tandang Sora’s son, Juan A. Ramos, on August 23. There, the rebels, among them Procopio, resolved to launch the revolution on the 29th by crying out and tearing their cedulas.
Procopio joined Andres when he left for Cavite in December 1896 upon the invitation of the Magdiwang Council, to settle its dispute with the Magdalo, on the issue of who had the right to govern territories captured from the Spaniards. To resolve this, a general assembly was called in Tejeros on March 22,1897, which consequently led to the establishment of a revolutionary government and the election of officers.
From the start, the forum made it clear that the rule of majority would be respected. This agreement however was broken with impunity when Daniel Tirona, a Caviteño Katipunero, disputed the choice of Andres Bonifacio as Minister of the Interior, citing his lack of education and so-called ungodly beliefs. Enraged by the insult, the Supremo demanded an apology from Tirona, who refused. Amidst confusion and the threat of bloodshed, Bonifacio, unheeded by the assembly, declared the elections nullified.
Two days later, Andres, assisted by Procopio and a few followers, issued the “Acta de Tejeros,” a document renouncing the convention’s election results, and stating his defiance of the Tejeros government.
Meanwhile, General Aguinaldo had ordered their arrest. They were captured in April 1897 in the barrio of Limbon in Indang, Cavite after a bloody gun battle with Magdalo forces that had left their brother Ciriaco dead and Andres, shot and stabbed. Procopio himself was hit on the nose with the butt of a gun. They were taken first to Naik and then to Maragondon, where they were tried and sentenced to death for sedition, treason, and counter-revolution.
Although Aguinaldo commuted the sentence to mere exile, he was later persuaded by Generals Mariano Noriel and Pio del Pilar to withdraw his order of pardon, in order, they alleged, to protect the revolution from any future counter-moves.
On May 10,1897, Andres and Procopio were aroused from their prison sleep and marched towards Mount Nagpatong by Major Lazaro Makapagal. Little did they know that it was to be the last of their earthly days. When they reached the mountain, Major Makapagal, as ordered, read the contents of a sealed letter, and forthwith carried out its instructions. Procopio, still in his youth, was shot just a few minutes before his brother Andres.
Agoncillo, Teodoro A. The Revolt of the Masses. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1956.
Alvarez, Santiago V. The Katipunan and the Revolution. Translated into English by Paula Carolina O. Malay. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1992.
Delos Santos, Epifanio. The Revolutionists. Manila: National Historical Commission,
Manuel, E. Arsenio. Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume I. Quezon City: Filipiniana Publications, 1955.
Retana, Wenceslao E. Archivo del Bibliόfilo Filipino Volume III. Madrid: 1897.
Minutes of the Katipunan. Manila: National Historical Institute, 1973.