We discriminate against our own heroes.
Take Andres Bonifacio, for example.
Every November 30 when the nation marks his death anniversary, there is not much of a celebration even in his home district of Tondo in Manila to honor the man who defied Spanish rule with, according to history books, a gun and a bolo.
Neither is there a grand wreath-laying each at the supposedly major monuments–one in Caloocan City and the other in Manila near Intramuros– to his heroism, which tribute should be led by the President of the Philippines or anyone else with political power.
Bonifacio’s monument in the country’s premier city–Manila–is a pathetic sight. It is apparently 24/7 home to indigents, sidewalk vendors, intoxicated vagrants and others whom our poor boy would have wanted to deliver from the wretched life they now deal with.
The site, dwarfed by the Greek-inspired and iconic building housing the Philippine Postal Corp. or PhilPost or simply, Post Office, seems to be also the home-cum-office for some government personnel, as indicated by shirts and pants flapping in the wind from a clothesline.
Worse, it could probably be the biggest bus/jeepney terminal in the Philippines but apparently without the government earning a centavo from it.
Somewhere in the transportation depot rises but barely the Bonifacio monument, or what passes for one because it is hardly, well, monumental. The monument can be easily lost in the tarpaulins, sign boards and other visual nuisances screening off the sort-of landmark.
The monument seems to be an afterthought, an irony because where it stands is named after him–Liwasang Bonifacio or Plaza Bonifacio–superseding Plaza Lawton or simply Lawton.
It is tiny, dwarfed by all the flotsam around it, only coming to life a bit when a fountain in front of it is switched on.
Unlike the Rizal monument at Luneta (now Rizal Park), Bonifacio’s is not watched over by honor guards of the state, not fenced off, not enclosed by manicured gardens.
At night, not even the so-called hero of the masses, if he were to come back to life, could save people passing through Liwasang Bonifacio–it is dark, it stinks, it’s no man’s land.
And the government is making a fuss about an eyesore of a 49-story condominium–the “national photobomber”–spoiling any picture taken of the Rizal monument from anywhere on the Roxas Boulevard side of Luneta.
Rizal died for the motherland, so did Bonifacio, and more horribly, according to historical accounts.
But looking at the dingy state of Bonifacio’s monument, one can easily forget that he was a nationalist, a revolutionary leader and the country’s first president.
Bonifacio is a true-blue Manileño, having been born in Tondo on Nov. 30, 1863. But even in his own hometown, this hero is remembered only on his birthday and forgotten the rest of the year.
WITH REINA TOLENTINO