Heritage

Look: Bonifacio's 10 Commandments Allegedly Written in His Own Blood, Josephine Bracken's Letter to Aguinaldo, and More

These important pieces in Philippine history will go on the auction block on September 8.
IMAGE PAU GUEVARRA
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“We can clone Andres Bonifacio and make him run for President!” a playful Lisa Guerrero Nakpil, curator of Leon Gallery, jokingly says of the Decalogue, formally titled “Katungkulang gagawin ng mga Z. L l . B, or Anak ng Bayan.” It is an exceedingly rare document penned by Bonifacio, believed to be written in his own blood.

Bonifacio’s Decalogue forms part of the collection of incredible pieces of Philippine history to be auctioned off on September 8, 2018, at the Magnificent September Auctions 2018 by the Leon Gallery.

For Nakpil, the Decalogue is certainly the most important piece written by Bonifacio. “It is the definitive Bonifacio role, and it would be nice if that’s how we remember him,” Nakpil tells Town&Country. “This is Bonifacio as a visionary: A fellow who inspired people to rise up and overthrow the Spanish. That’s how Bonifacio should be remembered, that’s why that’s important.”

NEVER PUBLISHED

Although it is the most important piece of writing of the Katipunan, Bonifacio’s Decalogue was never published. However, Nakpil explains that it represents “the earliest formulation of the ideals, goals, and vision for greatness of the first democratic struggle—a mass-based movement in all of Asia against a formidable European colonial regime, the Spanish empire.


“Its impact on the Philippine Revolution was so strong that the need for an expanded and more detailed code of conduct was keenly felt, resulting in a second work, Emilio Jacinto’s Kartilya ng Katipunan,” says Nakpil.

The document comes from the historical archives of Epifanio de los Santos. Bonifacio’s Decalogue will be auctioned off at a starting bid price of P1,200,000. 

OTHER NOTABLE HISTORICAL PIECES  

Among the most important items in the auction include a letter from Josephine Bracken to Aguinaldo, in which she signed it as “Josephine Rizal”; a rare medallion from the highest ranking officers of the Katipunan, and an exceedingly rare printed form used in the Katipunan’s recruitment process.

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Josephine Bracken's Letter to Emilio Aguinaldo


Josephine Bracken is arguably one of the most interesting figures among women linked to Jose Rizal.  In some accounts, it is said she married Rizal in a secret ceremony in Fort Santiago mere hours before his execution, which is part of the reason that makes her letter to Aguinaldo very interesting: she signed it as Josephine Rizal. According to Nakpil, Josephine wrote the letter in June 1897, six months after Rizal's death. She was introducing a certain American named J.T. Manniex to Aguinaldo. In the letter (originally written in Spanish but contains several misspellings and code-switching to English). Its translation provided by the Leon Gallery reads:

Don Emilio Aguinaldo

My dear sir and with my highest consideration.

An American, named JT Manniex, shall visit you to learn more about the insurrection. He hopes that you will treat him well because this gentleman has served the cause of the Filipinos very much. I am certain you will do this as you always treat everyone well. It is by your command to receive this man. Please do the favor of giving him Padre Piedra's statement so that he can send it to America… in some xxx also to buy weapons. 

I remain at your service

(Signed)

Josephine Rizal

The letter goes to auction for a starting bid price of P200,000.

Ceremonial Medal of the Supreme Council of the Katipunan

Among the Katipunan relics in the auction is the ceremonial medal of Jose Trinidad, who performed the duties of an assistant secretary in the Supreme Council.


When Bonifacio founded the Katipunan, their recruitment became so effective that whole towns and provinces had numerous Katipuneros, necessitating the need for organization.

The Katipunan was organized into three governing tiers: the Sangguniang Balangay, the Sangguniang Bayan, and the Kataastaasang Sanggunian or Supreme Council, which oversaw the two lower echelons. The Supreme Council was the highest decision-making body of the Katipunan, consisting of only ten members, with a president who was called Supremo.

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Drawing from its masonic influences, members of the Supreme Council would wear symbolic garments and articles during their secret meetings. One of those articles was the ceremonial medal made of brass featuring two crossed bolos and a letter K.

According to Nakpil, the double bolos are powerful symbols of the Katipunan.“The bolos portray not only the brave defiance of its members but also their readiness to pursue liberty to the death,” explains Nakpil.

There were only 10 members of the Supreme Council, with each member bearing a different medal, making the medal exceedingly rare and valuable. The medal goes to auction at a starting bid price of P100,000. 

Leon Gallery’s Magnificent September Auctions 2018 is on September 8, to be held at Leon Gallery, Ground Floor, Eurovilla 1, Rufino corner Legaspi Street, Legaspi Village, Makati. Preview runs from September 1 to 7. For more information, visit Leon Gallery’s website.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
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