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Bonifacio’s Arbitrary Destiny as San Andres B. │

Bonifacio’s Arbitrary Destiny as San Andres B.

By Resha Destiny

“The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.”Felix Adler (German-American Educator, Social Reformer, Founder of the Ethical Culture Movement)

When one hears the name ‘Andres Bonifacio’, a plethora of images cavort in one’s mind. Under usual circumstances, the word ‘Katipunan’ is the one that sears. A lithe, somewhat muscular figure, armed with a ‘bolo’ and waving the fiery red flag bearing the initials ‘KKK’, and a face lined with hardships in life. A common tao (person) with “indio” features (dark skin, non-aquiline nose, low-set cheekbones)—this is what our parents and elementary textbooks etched into our psyches. It is known that history has its share of inaccuracies and there is more to this hero that lies undiscovered. Just a fact: his direct descendant Atty. Gary Bonifacio confirmed that “Andres Bonifacio was not really an Indio, he was more a Spanish mestizo” in the Aug. 18 article written by Wilson Lee Flores published in The Philippine Star.

San Andres B., a compelling new opera of Tanghalang Pilipino was made, courtesy of three stalwarts in theatre, music and literature— Floy Quintos, Chino Toledo, and Rio Alma, and painted quite a different picture of the Bonifacio. It traces the humble beginnings of the hero from “isang hamak na bodegero” (a mere low-paid worker) to his acceptance of the fate as the Supremo of the Philippine Revolution. This experimental work melded mind, memory, history, and the Filipinos leanings toward the sacra and the profana.

Standout performances were from the actors who played Gregoria, Jacinto, and 3 Marias respectively

The members of the main cast include actors Dondi Ong (Andres Bonifacio), Margarita Roco (Gregoria de Jesus), Antonio Rey Manuel Ferrer (Emilio Jacinto),  Marvin Gayramon (Jose Rizal/Procopio), Malvin Macasaet (Troadio), and Charley Magalit (Maxima). Other principal artistic team members are Kris-Belle Mamanguin (choreographer), Eric Cruz (set designer), and James Reyes (costume designer). This is the penultimate production of Tanghalang Pilipino’s 27th season offerings.

The music is soaring. All the actors sang and delivered their lines clearly and with confidence. The stage was threadbare and this minimalist setting with the orchestra at the side was perfect because the focus was on the singing and the flow of the story.  This was marketed as an opera, not as a musical, after all. San Andres B. reminded me of Carmen which is an opera comique (French term for an opera with spoken dialogues), because it utilized recitative phrases instead of being sung all throughout. Another interesting thing to note are the arias here that were sung by a group of people, not just as a solo common to traditional operas. An aria is an essential cell to an opera’s body, a standalone song which is accompanied by instruments. In French and Italian opera, it carries great emotion with it and is an avenue for a singer to showcase the breadth of his or her ability.

Margarita Roco’s solo after the death of her and Bonifacio’s child was very engaging and heartfelt without being overly done.

Antonio Ferrer has a very powerful stage presence and he can convey searing emotions with his eyes.

Regina De Vera is simply stellar with her eerie verses laced with an omen and spoken with a deep as well as resounding chest tone.

My favorite scenes are Tonto 1, Mga Luksang Pangitain 1 & 2, and the final scene, Oras Na.

One striking tableau for me was at the earlier part of Act 1 when Bonifacio met the 3 Marias for the first time and he dropped unconscious because of the burden of destiny they presented before him. The crowned shadow of one of the Marias heads was angled perfectly perpendicular to Bonifacio’s head as he laid unconscious. This was to foreshadow his eventual acceptance of his destiny as a hero-saint of the masses.

Two major themes of this opera San Andres B. can be summed up in a word and a phrase, as spoken and sung by the dual trios of the beggars and the Marias: “dahan-dahan” and “nililikha ng panahon ang mga bayani”.

The performance took me to the psyche of Bonifacio, the slow rumble of patriotism inside of him that’s just like an inconspicuous drone amidst all the noise and chaos of the Spanish rule.

Physically, just to reiterate, even though he was not portrayed as a mestizo here like in GMA’s telenovela Katipunan, a not-so-thin Bonifacio was not something I expected. This is a very apt metaphor to the state of our country today, where anybody can be a hero.

San Andres B. does not only evoke a sense of nostalgia but provokes thought on how a nation can shape a hero.

Image Source: Resha Destiny for


I'm a prokaryotic entity who loves the blue hue and chicken curry.

I believe in the law of attraction, that each of us can shape our own destiny.

I started writing when I was still in my mother's womb. I'm the twin of Joan Jett from another dimension.

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