Around 400 meters north of the Quezon City General Hospital (formerly the San Jose Seminary, 1936-1941), on Seminary Road of Quezon City, is the Pugad Lawin Shrine that celebrates the historical rite of declaring independence against Spanish colonial rule (1565-1898) over the Philippines. The Pugad Lawin Shrine is located north from Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA for short) Roosevelt/Muñoz intersection.
The Pugad Lawin Shrine commemorates the August 1896 declaration independence against Spain, by Andrés de Castro Bonifacio (1863-1897) and members of the revolutionary “Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan” (Supreme and Venerable Union of the Children of the Nation, Katipunan for short). Bonifacio, with Teodoro Plata (1866-1897) and Ladislao Nocon Diwa (1863-1930), founded the Katipunan in 1892 to prepare the armed struggle against the Spanish colonial government, but were discovered by August 13, 1896.
With the Guardia Civil searching for Katipunan members, Bonifacio martialed his forces to the district of Balíntawak, which as then a part of the Municipality of Caloocan. And there, they torn up their cédulas personales (identification tax certificates), signifying that they were no longer under the control of Spain.
This event was historically known as the “Cry of Balíntawak.” However, historians could not agree where and when the event actually occurred. Historians and witnesses claimed that it was held on either the 23rd, 24th, 25th or 26th of August; and there were conflicting statements whether it was held at Bahay Toro, Kangkong, or Pugad Lawin in Balíntawak. With these conflicting reports, there was a need to commemorate Bonifacio and the Katipunan, and in 1911 the sculpture “Homenaje del Pueblo Filipino a los Héroes del 1896” (Homage to the Heroes of 1896), by Ramon Lazaro Martinez (1869-1950), was erected on August 27. However in 1966, the statue was moved to the Wenceslao Vinzons Hall, at the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines, when the Balintawak Cloverleaf Interchange began construction and was completed in 1968.
The second sculpture dedicated to Bonifacio and the Katipunan declaration of independence was the 1933 Bonifacio Monument, by National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Estrella Tolentino (1890-1976). The “Monumento” was erected at the rotunda intersection of Samson and Rizal avenues with the MacArthur and EDSA highways, in Caloocan, to also symbolize the hotbed of Katipunan activity, in the municipality.
Presently, the area of Balíntawak, where the Cloverleaf Interchange is located, covers the barangays of Bahay Toro, Balingasa, Ungang Sigaw, and Apolonio Samson (formerly Kangkong) of Quezon City. Many of the these barangays existed as barrios during the Spanish and American (1898-1946) occupations of the Philippines, such as Balingasa was a shortening of the name “Balon na Gasang” (Well of Coral Stone) after a well located in the locale, while Bahay Toro was named after the many heads of cattle and carabao (Water Buffalo, Bubalus bubalis carabanesis) in the area, and Kangkong was named after the water spinach (Ipomoea aquatic) that grew abundantly in the vicinity. However, with the ever growing population in the Balíntawak district, the new barangays formed we named after the historical importance of the place, such as Ungang Sigaw (First Cry), which signified the “Cry of Balíntawak”; and Apolonio Samson was named after the Katipunan lieutenant Apolonio Samson (aka Tininteng Polonio, 1851-1902), who lived in those parts. To further emphasize the historical relevance of the area, a statue of Bonifacio entitled “Maypagasa” (Of Hope), by the National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon Abueva, was erected in a part at the center of the Balíntawak Cloverleaf Interchange in 1996, as part of the centennial celebrations of the Philippine Revolution.
However, the Maypagasa is not Abueva’s first monument to Andrés Bonifacio and the Katipunan. In 1983, Abueva unveiled the “Sigaw ng Pugad Lawin” (The Cry of the Hawk’s Nest) to commemorate the other account that the declaration of independence was held at barrio Pugad Lawin, on August 23, 1896, outside the home of Juan Ramos. Instead of a singular statue, the Pugad Lawin monument features a collection of 25 people tearing up their cédulas personales. Aside from Andrés Bonifacio, the other recognizable characters are the “Mother of the Philippine Revolution” Melchora Aquino de Ramos (1812-1919), the “Brains of the Revolution” Emilio Dizon Jacinto (1875-1899), and Dr. Pío Alejandro Valenzuela (1869-1956). Although there were more than 1,000 Katipuneros in attendance, other Katipunan members portrayed are the Katipunan co-founder Teodoro Plata, Secretary of Interior Aguedo del Rosario, Secretary of Justice Briccio B. Pantas (died 1930), Procopio de Castro Bonifacio (1873-1897), Apolonio Samson, Ramon Bernardo, Alejandro Santiago, and Juan A. Ramos.
Napoleón Isabelo “Billy” Veloso Abueva (1930-2018) studied at the U.P. School of Fine Arts, under National Artist, Guillermo Estrella Tolentino (1890-1976), who was then the director of the school. Although trained in the classical style of sculpting, Abueva broke from its mold and began experimenting on modernist styles and techniques. Soon he became known as and Godfather of Philippine Modern Sculpture. Aside from the many historical monuments that are found all over the Philippines, Abueva has also been commissioned to create sculptures around the world. In his youth, he was awarded the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) award; which would herald more awards and distinctions in his life. He was proclaimed National Artist for Sculpture in 1976, making him the youngest recipient of this distinction. And just like his mentor, Abueva also served as dean of the U.P. College of Fine Arts.
There are more monuments to Andrés Bonifacio and the Katipunan in the northern Quezon City, because these areas were hotbeds of Katipunan activity. Among these were the districts of Novaliches and Banlat. Sadly, most of these monuments are not easily accessible by the general public, and thus are not remembered. This leaves many of these monuments in poor state due to exposure to the elements, vandals, and thieves stealing parts of the statutes to sell as scrap metal.