‘Monumento’ major landmark in birth of a nation
This refers to the welcoming monument of Bonifacio, the 45-foot pylon and figures cast in bronze at the intersections of Samson Road, MacArthur Highway, Rizal Avenue and Epifanio de los Santos Avenue heretofore known as Highway 54. The stone monument has been given a facelift, in the run up to the weekend anniversary of Bonifacio’s milestone, with history observers pointing to the three steps leading to the monument as representing the three centuries of Spanish rule (333 years). In 21st century Metro Manila, the place has become the start of the line for the Light Railway Transit that begins at the Monumento Station on the north end of EDSA and leads all the way up to the Baclaran Station in Pasay City on the southside. With the North Luzon Expressway now a major highway for travelers from the north since the 1960s, not as many as decades back have been given the opportunity to wake up from their speeding buses to see the silhouette of the monument of Bonifacio, the Filipino nationalist and revolutionary. Bonifacio (Nov. 30, 1863-May 10, 1897) is often called “the great plebeian,” “father of the Philippine Revolution,” and “father of the Katipunan.” He was a founder and later “supreme leader” of the Katipunan movement which sought the independence of the Philippines from Spanish colonial rule and started the Philippine Revolution. Some historians consider him a de facto national hero of the Philippines, colonized by Spain for nearly 400 years while others describe him as the first President, although he is not officially recognized as such. Some critics find it ironic the monument of Bonifacio in Caloocan is better known than the one in Tondo, his birthplace—in front of Tutuban Center mall on C.M. Recto Avenue or the old Azcarraga in the waterfront district of Manila. Bonifacio is depicted in the usual—but false—bolo and trousers outfit, with historical critics suggesting Bonifacio was not stupid enough to wear red trousers and be an easy target of his Spanish enemies. Students of history have learned for decades the Caloocan City “Monumento”—now a major landmark of the city—was designed and completed in 1933 by the country’s National Artist for the Visual Arts (Sculpture) in 1973, Guillermo Estrella Tolentino. Historical critics say the three steps leading to the monument represents the three centuries of Spanish rule (333 years). The octagonal base with the eight rays of the sun from the Philippine flag symbolizes the eight key provinces (as written on the surrounding pavement) where Martial Law was first declared by the Spanish governor-general. It was also the place when the Katipunan held major uprisings there against the Spanish authorities—the very location of the monument actually depicting the place of the first such encounter by Bonifacio and the Katipunan with the Spanish colonial army on Aug. 30, 1896.