“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 León Gallery benefit auction for the Asian Cultural Center (ACC) Manila on March 3.
In a press conference on Feb. 7 at Milkyway Café in Makati, León Gallery director Jaime Ponce de León said Lizza Guerrero Nakpil, a gallery consultant, had some “explosive” documents that would be included in the auction, an annual fund-raising 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 mounted the war of independence against Spain. Jacinto was his very young adviser.
During the convention, dominated by Caviteños, Aguinaldo was elected president and Bonifacio, insulted by delegate Daniel Tirona for his alleged 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 unattended), and hacked to death by Aguinaldo’s hitmen in the mountains of Maragondon.
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 bidded out along with notable antique furniture and objets d’art.
Among the more historic items to be auctioned off are the armchair and side chair of Maximo Viola made by the workshop of Isabelo Tampinco.
Viola (1857-1933) is well-known in history books for having loaned José Rizal the money for the printing of “Noli Me Tángere.” He became a physician and, toward his later years, became a furniture craftsman.
Tampinco (1850-1933) was the most famous sculptor and furniture maker of his time.
He garnered many awards and prizes in international exhibitions in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Madrid and Barcelona.
At the turn of the 20th century, when Art Nouveau became fashionable, Tampinco created a uniquely Filipino style by incorporating native flora and fauna designs in his calado or pierced transoms.
His sinuous openwork and whiplash outlines in wood carving abounded with the anahaw, areca palm, gabi or taro leaves and bamboo.
Also to be auctioned off are the Gabaldon bookshelves, from “the Isauro Gabaldon Collection of furniture, and the contents of an important home in Makati.”
Gabaldon was the Philippine resident commissioner in Washington from 1920 until 1928.
It is after Gabaldon that American-era public elementary schools are now named, since they were built through the bills he sponsored when he was a lawmaker.
Meanwhile, in the main program of the auction, works of art by Fernando Amorsolo, Anita Magsaysay-Ho and José Joya will be bidded out, said Ponce de León.
The León owner said the centerpiece is Joya’s “Space Transfiguration” (1959), which won second prize in the 12th annual competition of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP): “It is the most exhibited, most famous and the most important work of the artist. No one can dispute this. It was to be entered in the Biennale but it couldn’t fit in the plane. Joya felt bad about this.” —CONTRIBUTED