Bonifacio, the Katipunan and the Pinaglabanan Shrine

Published November 30, 2020, 6:56 AM

by Jhon Aldrin Casinas

  • The Philippine Revolution started at the site of the Pinaglabanan Shrine in San Juan City where Bonifacio led hundreds of Katipuneros on a mission to cut the water supply of Intramuros, where most of the Spanish officials lived.
  • Although they were defeated in that battle, it sounded the start of the revolution in other parts of the country.
  • The 5-hectare Pinaglabanan Shrine stands on top of the Spanish-era water reservoir. 
  • The shrine’s centerpiece is the Spirit of Pinaglabanan monument, created by renowned Filipino sculptor Eduardo Castrillo.
  • The Museo ng Katipunan, managed by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, is part of the shrine.
  • San Juan City reopened the shrine in November 2019 after months of rehabilitation and renovation, in an initiative to transform it as a major tourist destination.

A shrine in San Juan City marks the battle ground where the Philippine Revolution started, where Andres Bonifacio led hundreds of Katipuneros to take control of El Deposito a water reservoir that used to hold the water supply of Manila.

The ‘Spirit of Pinaglabanan’ monument is the centrepiece of the Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine in San Juan City. The monument, built by renowned Filipino sculptor Eduardo Castrillo, features three elongated figures made out of brass atop a semicircular base. (Photo courtesy of San Juan City LGU/ MANILA BULLETIN)

It is known as the Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine, a testament to the bravery and heroism of Andres Bonifacio whose 157th birth anniversary is being celebrated today, November 30.  Bonifacio, born on Nov. 30, 1863, was the founder of the Kataastaasang, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan or the  Katipunan that instigated the Philippine Revolution of 1896. (The Museo ng Katipunan is part of the shrine.)

On the eve of August 23, 1896, Bonifacio and the Katipuneros formally declared a revolution against Spain. They tore their residential certificates or “cedulas.” The move symbolized their defiance from the colonizers, and what became known as “The Cry of Pugadlawin.”

A week later, on August 30, 1896  Bonifacio and his troops armed with bamboo spears, bolos, and homemade guns launched an attack against Spanish forces garrisoned at El Deposito—a water reservoir in San Juan Del Monte. 

“Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine is very vital and important in the country’s history because of the unique story it offers,” Museo ng Katipunan curator Christian Bernard Melendez told the Manila Bulletin.

The primary goal of the attack on El Deposito was to cut off the water supply of the walled city of Intramuros, where majority of Spanish officials resided.

Aside from the water reservoir, Filipino freedom fighters also stormed El Polvorin, a gun powder depot of Spanish forces built in 1781 which can store up to a ton of gun powder, and seize the armaments kept there.

“The Battle of Pinaglabanan marked the start of the revolution. Since Andres Bonifacio and his fellow Katipuneros agreed to attack the two government installations in San Juan del Monte, it also signified the start of the revolution elsewhere in the Philippines,” said Melendez.

“Though Bonifacio and the Katipunan were defeated in the battle, it served as the catalyst and the signal to start the revolution,” he added.

In memory of the battle, the 5-hectare Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine was built on top of the Spanish-era water reservoir in 1973 as a testament to the heroism and bravery of the Katipuneros during the Battle of San Juan del Monte. 

The Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine in San Juan City marks the bravery and heroism of Katipuneros led by Andres Bonifacio during the Battle of San Juan del Monte on Aug. 30, 1896. (Photo courtesy of San Juan City LGU/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The shrine’s centerpiece is the Spirit of Pinaglabanan monument, created by renowned Filipino sculptor Eduardo Castrillo, who is also known for the People Power Monument.

The monument features three elongated figures made out of brass atop a semicircular base. Castrillo’s masterpiece is the main figure on San Juan’s official seal.

Given its historical significance, the San Juan City government is working on the transformation of the shrine into a major tourist destination for both local and foreign tourists. Mayor Francis Zamora led the reopening of the memorial shrine on Nov. 25, 2019 following months of rehabilitation.

“We renovated and rehabilitated the shrine because this is our only big open public space here in San Juan. Now that we have renovated it, eventually, we plan to really turn it into a tourist attraction,” Zamora said.

The P50-million makeover of the landmark included the replacement of flooring, landscaping, construction of a perimeter fence and installation of new sets lights and sprinklers “to breath in new life” into the shrine.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) led the renovation of the shrine, in cooperation with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the local government.

The NHCP also manages the two public museums located near the shrine’s grounds—the Museo ng Katipunan and the Museo El Deposito.

Bonifacio and the Museo ng Katipunan

Located within the grounds of the memorial shrine is the Museo ng Katipunan, built to showcase the story of Bonifacio and secret movement he founded.

The museum is a treasure trove of archival documents, amulets, cryptic messages, and bladed weapons used by Katipuneros, as well as various artworks from renowned Filipino artists that depicts scenes during the revolution.

Unveiled in 2013, the historical museum also features a holographic image of Bonifacio and an audio recording of his poem “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa.”

Historical bike tour 

To boost local tourism, the city government unveiled on November 25 its historical bike tours featuring the city’s notable landmarks and historic sites. The bike tours, which will be launched in 2021, will have a stop at the Pinaglabanan Shrine, Museo ng Katipunan, El Deposito Museum, El Deposito Underground Tunnel, and the Marcos House.

“If the Battle of Pinaglabanan did not occur it is possible that there would be no uprising. It was one big step that led to the Philippine independence,” Zamora said.

On November 30, a simple commemorative event will be held at the Bonifacio Monument at Barangay Onse, San Juan City. 

Melendez said the event will start with a flag raising ceremony and a wreath-laying ceremony attended by a limited number of people, in accordance with the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force.

The Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine may not be as popular as the Rizal Park in Manila. But given its significance to the Filipino people and to the rich history of the country, the landmark should also be given the same attention and importance.

Bonifacio Day

On February 16, 1921, the Philippine Government enacted Republic Act No. 2946 declaring November 30 of every year as legal holiday to commemorate Bonifacio’s birth anniversary.

The Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine in San Juan City marks the bravery and heroism of Katipuneros led by Andres Bonifacio during the Battle of San Juan del Monte on Aug. 30, 1896. (Photo courtesy of San Juan City LGU/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Unlike other heroes of the country, Bonifacio is remembered on his birthday, Nov. 30, 1863, rather than the date of his death, May 10, 1897. This was because Bonifacio died on the hands of fellow countrymen during the revolution. He was 33 years old.

For this year’s commemoration of Bonifacio’s 157th birth anniversary, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana will lead the simple flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies at the Andres Bonifacio National Monument in Caloocan City, according to the NHCP.

Simultaneous flag raising and wreath-laying rites will also be held in the following sites: Museo ng Paglilitis ni Andres Bonifacio (Maragondon, Cavite); Bonifacio Monument (Balintawak, Quezon City); Bonifacio Monument (Tutuban Center, Manila); Bonifacio Monument (Bonifacio Global City, Taguig); Andres Bonifacio Monument (beside Manila City Hall); and the Andres Bonifacio Monument (San Juan City). 

 
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