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The Philippine Revolution
La Liga Filipina

Rizal's Liga

When upon his return to the Philippines in July, 1892, Rizal organized the La Liga Filipina, this constituted a forward step in the reformist ideas of the times in the sense that the new group sought to involve the people directly in the reform movement. Many elements of society who were anxious for change were attracted to the Liga, among them, Andres Bonifacio who became one of the founders of the organization.

As listed in the constitution Rizal prepared, the Liga's aims were:

  1. To unite the whole archipelago into one compact, vigorous, and homogenous body;
  2. Mutual protection in every want and necessity;
  3. Defense against all violence and injustice;
  4. Encouragement of instruction, agriculture, and commerce; and
  5. Study and application of reforms.

As Rizal envisioned it, the league was to be a sort of mutual aid and self-help society dispensing scholarship funds and legal aid, loaning capital and setting up cooperatives. These were innocent, even naive objectives that could hardly alleviate the social ills of those times, but the Spanish authorities were so alarmed that they arrested Rizal on July 6, 1892, a scant four days after the Liga was organized.

With Rizal deported to Dapitan, the Liga became inactive until, through the efforts of Domingo Franco and Andres Bonifacio, it was reorganized. Apolinario Mabini became the secretary of the Supreme Council. Upon his suggestion, the organization decided to declare its support for La Solidaridad and the reforms it advocated, raise funds for the paper, and defray the expenses of deputies advocating reforms for the country before the Spanish Cortes.

The Split

At first the Liga was quite active. Bonifacio in particular exerted great efforts to organize chapters in various districts of Manila. A few months later, however, the Supreme Council of the Liga dissolved the society. The reformist leaders found out that most of the popular councils which Bonifacio had organized were no longer willing to send funds to the Madrid propagandists because, like Bonifacio, they had become convinced that peaceful agitation for reforms was futile. Afraid that the more radical rank and file members might capture the organization and unwilling to involve themselves in an enterprise which would surely invite reprisals from the authorities, the leaders of the Liga opted for dissolution. The Liga membership split into two groups: the conservatives formed the Cuerpo de Compromisarios which pledged to continue supporting the La Solidaridad while the radicals led by Bonifacio devoted themselves to a new and secret society, the Katipunan, which Bonifacio had organized on the very day Rizal was deported to Dapitan.

The Philippines: A Past Revisited. Renato Constantino

La Liga Filipina

Almost simultaneously with the introduction of Masonry in the Philippines, a civic society called La Propaganda was established. Its members, composed mostly, of not exclusively, of the middle class, contributed money to defray the expenses of the Filipino reformers in Spain who were waging a campaign to obtain political concessions from the Mother Country. The funds collected were forwarded to the Hispano-Filipino Association. In time, however, the funds of the organization were malversed, and the society passed out of existence.

At this juncture, Rizal stepped into the picture and proposed the founding of another civic society. He had prepared a constitution for this society while at Hongkong and now he thought that the time has come for concrete action. On the night of July 3, 1892, at a house in Tondo, Rizal founded and inaugurated La Liga Filipina. Elected were Ambrosio Salvador, President; Agustin de la Rosa, Fiscal; Bonifacio Arevalo, Treasurer; and Deodato Arellano, Secretary.

* * *

The aims of the Liga were to be carried out through the creation of a governing body composed of the Supreme Council, the Provincial Council, and the Popular Council. The members were each to pay ten centavos as monthly dues. Each of the members was free to choose a symbolic name for himself. The funds of the society were to be used in the following manner:

  1. The member or his son who, while not having the means shall show application and great capacity, shall be sustained;
  2. The poor shall be supported in his right against any powerful person;
  3. The member who shall have suffered any loss shall be aided;
  4. Capital shall be loaned to the member who shall need it for an industry or agriculture;
  5. The introduction of machines and industries, new or necessary in the country, shall be favored; and
  6. Shops, stores, and establishment shall be opened where the members may be accommodated move economically than elsewhere.

Innocent as the society was, the Spanish authorities considered it dangerous and on the night of July 6, 1892, Rizal was secretly arrested. The following day, Governor-General Eulogio Despujol ordered Rizal's deportation to Dapitan. The Liga languished for a while, but some members continued to support it. The aims remained the same, but it was agreed that all should contribute toward the support of La Solidaridad in Spain. Domingo Franco was elected President; Deodato Arellano, Secretary-Treasurer; Isidro Francisco, Fiscal; Juan Zulueta and Timoteo Paez, members of the Supreme Council. Later on, Mabini became the Liga's Secretary.

History of the Filipino People. Teodoro A. Agoncillo

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