The "Asamblea Magna" at Pasig. May 1896. (Gen. Santiago Alvarez-Memoir)
On May 3, 1896 a general meeting among Katipunan leaders called by Supremo Andres Bonifacio was held in Pasig. The venue was the house of local Katipunan leader, Valentin Cruz located near the Pasig church of the Immaculate Conception. The meeting would be known as the "Asamblea Magna". Perhaps one of the most revealing events in the history of the Katipunan.
The meeting was held to appraise what the Supremo called as "difficulties with which our Society is beset. " The movement had been exposed. Bonifacio wanted to act and start the uprising so as no to be forced against the wall. He asked the assembly; "What is your decision? Shall we rise in revolt now?” Aguinaldo then took the floor and cautioned the Supremo against acting hastily.Suggesting a thorough assessment to the situation and then saying: "I am against rising in arms now while we are not yet prepared to face the enemy.”
At this point Alvarez spoke and reminded the assembly of the dire situation they could be in once they start the uprising, likening it to those patriots exiled and persecuted after the event of 1872- Cavite Mutiny. Alvarez mentioned also Jose Rizal who at that time was exiled in Dapitan. It was at this point also that Aguinaldo spoke and asserted: “Mr. Chairman,” “I believe that what the brother who spoke before me had to say is correct and in consonance with the lofty ideals of the Katipunan. I therefore propose to defer any decision until after we have agreed on whether or not to seek the counsel of Dr. Jose Rizal in Dapitan.”
Bonifacio then called a recess. Saying: “we need a little rest and relaxation of the mind, so that we can respond more sensitively to the noble aspirations of the Katipunan.” After the recess a popular decision was then reached, that: The uprising pushed by the Supremo would be deferred until Dr. Rizal is consulted and that “Dr. Pio Valenzuela is hereby delegated to confer with Dr. Jose Rizal in Dapitan. He will be accompanied by a man who has lost his eyesight; Mr. Emilio Aguinaldo assures us that he can provide such a person who will pretend to seek the ministrations of Dr. Rizal."
The "Asamblea Magna" Pasig may have been the start of the crack between Bonifacio and Aguinaldo. It was also a reminder to Bonifacio that Rizal (despite exiled in Dapitan) still holds the primacy in the nationalist struggle. It could also be defined as "the potent sign of the Cavitismo", that Bonifacio is slowly being sidelined leading to the tragic events at Tejeros. Another striking fact in this memoirs was that Bonifacio was pictured here as somewhat "acting in haste" as contrary to that of Aguinaldo....and Aguinaldo was even suggesting consultation with Rizal. This part of the memoir about the "Asamblea Magna" somehow also questions the title "First President" being pushed to honor Bonifacio. What power and what character does this title holds that time?