‘Explosive letters’ by Bonifacio to be auctioned off by Leon

“Explosive letters” written by Andres Bonifacio to Emilio Jacinto about the  controversial Tejeros convention that unseated the Katipunan founder in 1897 and led to his killing will be auctioned off during the annual Leon Gallery benefit auction for the Asian Cultural Center (ACC) Manila on March 3.

In a press conference Feb. 7 at Milkway Café in Makati, León Gallery director Jaime Ponce de León said that Lizza Guerrero Nakpil, a gallery consultant, had some “explosive” documents that would be included in the auction, an annual fundraising event for ACC Manila’s fellowship program for visual artists and scholars.

Nakpil, a descendant of Julio Nakpil, who married Bonifacio’s widow Gregoria de Jesus, showed facsimiles of three letters of the Katipunan Supremo to his “best friend” Emilio Jacinto dated  March 8, April 16 and April 24,1897.

The letters recount what happened in the tumultuous Tejeros convention in Cavite, which the art consultant called a “snap election” of General Emilio Aguinaldo, and how it affected him (Bonifacio).

Bonifacio founded the secret society Katipunan which later mounted the war of independence against Spain. Jacinto was an adviser.

During the convention, dominated by Caviteños, Aguinaldo was elected president and Bonifacio, insulted by delegate Daniel Tirona for his lack of education, declared the results invalid.

“When he wrote these letters,” Nakpil said, “Bonifacio did not know whether he would live or die.” We all know that he was arrested, tried for treason (his wound unattented), and hacked to death by Aguinaldo’s hitmen in the mountains of Maragondon.

Guerrero Nakpil said there are seven extant letters, but only three are available now. A fourth document formalized Jacinto’s appointment as a general of the revolution: “He was reminding his fellow revolutionaries that he was the prime instigator of the revolution. He was an organizational genius.”

The letters will be auctioned along with notable works of art by Filipino masters such as Fernando Amorsolo, Anita Magsaysay-Ho, and Jose Joya.

Ponce de Leon said the centerpiece of the auction is Jose Joya’s “Space Transfiguration” (1959), which won second prize in the 12th annual competition of the Art Association of the Philippines: “It is the most exhibited, most famous, and the most important work of the artist. No one can dispute this. It was to be have been entered in the Biennale but it couldn’t fit in the plane. Joya felt bad about this.”

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