The University of Wisconsin Press

Southeast Asian Studies


Inventing a Hero
The Posthumous Re-Creation of Andres Bonifacio
Glenn Anthony May

Center for Southeast Asian Studies

Andres Bonifacio, the leader of the Philippine Revolution of 1896, has become one of the country’s great national heroes. He is celebrated in history textbooks read by millions of young Filipinos. His image, cast in bronze and cut into stone, stands on plazas across the archipelago. But what do we really know about him? As succeeding generations of historians have re-created his legend, has the real Bonifacio been lost to us forever?

In this carefully researched work, Glenn May sifts through the slender documentary legacy that Bonifacio left behind after his execution in 1897. Through a close reading of these texts, he uncovers a history of mythmaking in the service of nationalism. Our contemporary image of Bonifacio is the sum of unreliable personal testimony and dubious, possibly doctored, documents. If the real history of the Philippine Revolution is to be written, May concludes, historians will have to break through these heroic myths and admit to the limitations of the existing sources.

“Glenn May has subjected to painstaking scrutiny the primary sources that have been used to write the history of Bonifacio and the Philippine Revolution of 1896, as well as the principal secondary works dependent on them.  Though the results will dismay some, and I would question or nuance certain points, no historian who has used these sources— including myself—can fail to go back and check his work against May’s findings on the reliability of these primary documents.” —John N. Schumacher, S.J., Ateneo de Manila University

Glenn May is Professor of History at the University of Oregon.  He is the author of Battle for Batangas (1991), A Past Recovered (1987) and Social Engineering in the Philippines (1980).

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March 2004

216 pp.  6 x 9  
6 b/w photos, 1 map

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Paper $27.95 s
ISBN 978-1-881261-19-3

Cloth $40.00 s
ISBN 978-1-881261-18-6
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