Today, the 101st anniversary of the celebration of Bonifacio Day, will be the last this country of 114 million will mark on this date the birth of the Supreme President of the secret revolutionary society the Katipunan.
Next year, by virtue of Proclamation 90, signed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on November 11, the birth of Andres Bonifacio as a legal holiday will be moved to November 27, pursuant to what officials described as “holiday economics.”
And whatever date in the following years depending on what Monday would be nearest to November 30, unless the Proclamation would be amended.
“There is a need to adjust these holidays (regular and special non-working days) pursuant to the principle of holiday economics wherein a longer weekend will help encourage domestic travel and increase tourism expenditures in the country,” the proclamation read.
The term “holiday economics” became a hackneyed phrase during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration when a 2017 law—Republic Act 9492—moved certain holidays to Mondays.
In observance of Bonifacio Day (which falls on a Thursday for 2023), the proclamation declared November 27—the nearest Monday to November 30—as a non-working holiday pursuant to RA 9492.
Even a holiday falling on a Wednesday may be moved to the Monday of the same week.
If it falls on a Sunday, the holiday may be observed on the Monday that follows.
For the other holidays that could be moved, the president is required under RA 9492 to issue a proclamation on the changes at least six months before they occur.
Tourism Secretary Maria Esperanza Christina Frasco, at 40 years old the youngest member of the Marcos Cabinet, immediately welcomed the prospect of longer holiday weekends as from next year.
Some looked at the longer weekends as an opportunity to go on what was described as “revenge travels” after they were grounded for more than two years by the sweeping COVID-19 pandemic which hit the country in mid-March of 2020, killing nearly 64,600 and infecting more than four million men and women, including the young and the elderly.
Hopes of reviving tourism through holiday economics are being buoyed by the easing of pandemic restrictions since the start of the year, particularly for foreign visitors.
As of Nov. 14, the Department of Tourism said visitor arrivals to the Philippines reached 2.025 million since the gradual easing of pandemic restrictions in late 2020.
Of this number, 1.5 million, or 73 percent, are foreigners while 538,078, or 27 percent, are overseas Filipinos while visitor arrivals between February and September this year generated an initially estimated P100.7 billion in tourism earnings, according to the DOT.
Historically, the celebration of November 30 as Bonifacio Day started when the Philippine Legislature, approving a bill filed by Senator Lope K. Santos, enacted Act 2946 on February 16, 1921 making the date of each year a legal holiday to mark the birth of Bonifacio in Tondo, Manila in 1863.
Unlike Rizal Day, held on the death anniversary of José Rizal, Bonifacio Day is celebrated on his birth date because of the controversial events on which Bonifacio was executed by his fellow revolutionaries during the Philippine Revolution.
Rizal Day, a regular holiday, is celebrated on December 30 to commemorate the life and works of Rizal, celebrated as a national hero who was executed in 1896 at Bagumbayan, now Luneta, in Manila.
As from 2013, the center of the Bonifacio Day celebration today—shortly after sunrise at 6.04 am—will be the premises of the 13.7-meter-tall Bonifacio Monument, sculpted by Guillermo Tolentino, in Caloocan, which recalls the Philippine Revolution headed by Bonifacio who had urged his men to rise against the colonial rule of Spain.
It was on November 30, 2013, the sesquicentennial of Bonifacio’s birth and the 80th anniversary of the monument’s unveiling, that the obelisk area became the center of celebration of Bonifacio Day.
The obelisk is made up of five parts representing five aspects of the society “Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Highest and Most Venerable Association of the Sons of the Nation).”
It is crowned by a figure with wings representing triumph. Below the vertical pylon 20 figures cast in bronze have been molded over an octagonal shaped plinth, plus one angel of peace at the top.
The octagon represents the eight provinces who fought against Spain and also represents eight rays of the Katipunan flag.
The plinth is raised in three steps, each step representing the three centuries of Spanish rule – 333 years from 1565 to 1898, known as the Spanish colonial period, during which the Philippine islands were ruled as the Captaincy General of the Philippines within the Spanish East Indies, initially under the Kingdom of the Viceroyalty of New Spain based in Mexico City until the independence of the Mexican empire from Spain in 1821.
These monument figures are a representation of the people of the Philippines, who, by historical accounts, faced inequality, agony and suppression under the colonial rule which eventually ended in an armed revolution in 1896.
The main central image of the monument holds a bolo or machete—itak or gulok in Tagalog; sundang in Bisaya; tabak in Bicol; and buneng or badang among Ilocanos – in the right hand and a gun in the other hand.
At the back of the central figure a flag of the Katipunan in an unfurled state is depicted.
Historical documents show Bonifacio’s call to take arms against the Spanish rule was given on August 23, 1896, now known as the “Cry of Pugad Lawin.”
The cornerstone was formally laid by Aurora Quezon, wife of Senate President and later President Manuel Quezon.