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Unearthed Bonifacio Letters Reveal Another Side Of The Great Plebeian

We all know the ‘text book’ Bonifacio with his rather distinct choice of clothing—red trousers, white camisa de chino and a matching red scarf around his neck. He was introduced to us as the great plebeian, a commoner and the indigenous hero of the revolution. But upon seeing the beautifully-penned letters and appointment documents personally written and drafted by Bonifacio, up for auction next weekend at Leon Gallery, he seemed to be way more than what our textbooks painted him to be.


“It sheds new light on the Bonifacio we were taught about in school. He worked at the British firm of Fleming. He was handling inventories, that’s perhaps the reason why he had beautiful handwriting despite not having finished his school”, says Toto Gonzales, the society and culture blogger, during the auction’s preview at Leon this week.

Bonifacio was in Cavite to mediate between the Magdalo and Magdiwang factions when he wrote the letters to Emilio Jacinto, then Secretary of the Katipunan. The letters were dated March 8, April 15 and April 24 of the year 1897—several weeks before Bonifacio’s untimely death. Bonifacio was wise enough to write in codes, especially that certain members of the Caviteno elite were mentioned in the letters, and with sensitive issues like the acquisition of ammunitions discussed.

   A 17th century Ivory Crucifix repatriated from Spain but made in the streets of Old Lawton


Maximo Viola once sat in this chair, dated 1909 by Isabelo Tampinco


“These two letters talk about the unfortunate events in the Tejeros Convention. He’s asking Jacinto on what should he do next. But by some twist of fate, these letters arrived late or the response was not sent”, offers Lizza Guerrero Nakpil, curator of the auction.


A 150-year old Ah-Tay creation, the Mariposa Sofa



The brittle, historical pages of rare Bonifacio Letters


This set of rare historical artifact from Epifanio Delos Santos’s collection is just some of the treasured pieces at the Leon Gallery and Asian Cultural Council Art Auction. Each letter is up for a starting bid of P500,000. Alongside the Bonifacio letters are other objects of interest, among them artistically-crafted Tampinco chairs made for Maximo Viola, Jose Rizal’s friend and benefactor; a 150-year old Mariposa chair, and a Tampinco-made bookshelf both from the ancestors of Sonny Tinio; and an ivory crucifix with a 31-inch cross believed to be the largest existing in the country today.

The auction will be held at the Leon Gallery on March 3, and is for the benefit of the Asian Cultural Council Philippines Foundation, Inc. 


For more information, visit leon­