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Bonifacio's Youth

 
        Long ago, in the days when Tondo, Manila 
    was a town dotted with rice fields, a poor 
    couple was married in Tondo church.  The 
    groom was a short muscular Filipino named 
    Santiago Bonifacio. He was a boatman who 
    rowed people from Taguig, Rizal, to other 
    towns along the Pasig River.  The bride, 
    Catalina de Castro, was a mestiza born of a 
    Spanish father and a Filipino-Chinese mother 
    from Zambales. She worked as a maestra, or 
    supervisor, in a cigarette factory in Meisic 
    ("Maintsik"), which today is  Manilaís 
    Chinatown. 

         
              Rosario Street in Binondo 
                during Spanish Regime
 
        On November 30, 1863, Catalina gave birth to a baby boy in a small wood-and-nipa
    hut in Tutuban, a swamp-like part of Tondo. The name Tutuban means the place where
    they make tuba, an alcoholic drink made from coconuts. The proud parents named the boy
    Andres, after St. Andrew the Apostle, the patron saint of Manila.  Andres had three brothers
    and two sisters. Their names were Ciriaco, Procopio, Esperidiona, Troadio, and Maxima.

        Young Andres learned to read and write the alphabet in Tagalog and Spanish from a caton,
    or primer book, given to him by an aunt. Later he went to school in Meisic. His teacher was
    Guillermo Osmena, a schoolmaster from Cebu.

        Tondo had always been a poor manís town. People from all over the country who came
    looking for work in Manila made Tondo their first home. In 1877, when Andres was 14 years
    old, 10,620 Spaniards and their household helpers lived in the walled city of Intramuros. By
    comparison, 26,266 people lived in Tondo.

        Poor families like the Bonifacios had to work very hard just to make ends meet. But the
    1870s was a time of great hardship.  Outbreaks of cholera and rinderpest disease spread
    throughout the city. People fell ill and many work animals, such as carabaos and horses, died.
    Typhoons destroyed a lot of homes and farms. The price of food and other goods soared.

        The money Andresís mother earned in the cigarette factory was not enough to feed a family
    of six growing children. By this time Andresís father was working as a cargador at the busy
    docks of Binondo. He carried heavy loads of muscovado sugar and bundles of rattan. He
    had even served as a teniente mayor, or vice-mayor, of Tondo. But now he had caught
    a deadly disease called tuberculosis. He became too weak to keep his job. At home Santiago
    made walking canes and paper fans out of rattan. He also sewed other peopleís clothes, a
    trade he learned from his father. Then Andresís mother caught tuberculosis too.  She died in
    1881. Andresís father died a year later.