Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Jose Rizal's Bomb Plot

The Plot

Long before suicide bombers and bomb couriers were adapted by international terrorist in their campaign of blood and vengeance, our national hero Jose Rizal thought of a plot in his novel that involves blowing a whole town to start a revolution. 

Victorian lamp

In "El Filibusterismo" (Chapters 34-35), Simoun brought along a lamp in the wedding reception of Juanito Pelaez and Paulita Gomez. It is his gift to the newly weds and it has an explosive liquid compound known as "Nitroglycerin" in it. The reception takes place at the former home of the late Captain Tiago, which was filled with other explosives planted by Simoun. According to Simoun, the lamp will stay lighted for only 20 minutes before it flickers; if someone attempts to turn the wick, it will explode and kill everyone inside the house-mostly the important members of civil society and the Church hierarchy.  The explosion will be the signal to start a revolt in Manila. 

Reading this chapters of the "El Filibusterismo" somehow  gives me the idea of relating it with the planed attack on Manila by the Katipuneros. They were waiting for that signal which Bonifacio failed to give. Was Bonifacio using this plot as a strategy?


SIMOUN'S LAMP-Actor Pancho Magalona playing the role of Simoun with the 
"lamp" in the movie adaptation of El Filibusterismo. 
(Photo courtesy of Video 48)   

Enter Bonifacio's Plan

The prime target of Andres Bonifacio's attack at San Juan, 29. August 1896 was the water reservoir. Part of the plan was to deny Manila (Intramuros) with fresh water supply making the stand of the would be defenders and the Spaniards inside the wall difficult. The strategy was , once the place was secured, "balloons would be release or fire a cannonade to signal the beginning of a coordinated uprising". It was already 4am (30th of August) when Bonifacio realized he has to make the signal, four hours late of the appointed time...too late. Meanwhile some Katipuneros (as far as Cavite) were waiting for the signal in the skies above Manila. It never came.

Postcard featuring of the water tube that runs from San Juan water reservoir towards Manila.

Both fiction and reality failed. Rizal ended the plot of the explosive lamp into a failure for Simoun.(Rizal
 wanted a bloodless change?)  Bonifacio's planed attacked on Manila was called off. Badly beaten by the reinforcement troops of the colonial government,  the Supremo and his men retreated to the hills of Balara. The Katipuneros of Cavite, (who waited and never got the signal), went back to their homes wondering whatever happened to the Supremo and the revolution.

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