The Katipunan was a Philippine revolutionary society founded by Filipino anti-Spanish people in Manila in 1892, which was aimed primarily to gain independence from Spain through revolution. The society was initiated by Filipino patriots Andrés Bonifacio, Teodoro Plata, Ladislao Diwa, and others on the night of July 7, when Filipino writer José Rizal was sentenced to banished to Dapitan. Initially, Katipunan was a secret organization until its discovery in 1896 that led to the outbreak of Philippine Revolution. The word "katipunan" (literally means association) came from the root word "tipon", an indigenous Tagalog word, meaning: "society" or "gather together".[3] Its official revolutionary name is Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng̃ mg̃á Anak ng̃ Bayan[1] (English: Supreme and Venerable Society of the Children of the Nation, Spanish: Suprema y venerable asociación de los hijos del pueblo). Katipunan is also known by its acronym, K.K.K.. Being a secret organization, its members are subjected to utmost secrecy and are expected to abide with the rules established by the society.[3] Aspirant applicants were given standard initiation rites to become members of the society. At first, Katipunan was only open for male Filipinos; not later then, women were accepted in the society. The Katipunan has its own publication, Ang Kalayaan (The Liberty) that had its first and last print on March 1896. Revolutionary ideals and works flourished within the society, and Philippine literature were expanded by its some prominent members. In planning the revolution, Bonifacio contacted Rizal for its full-pledged support for the Katipunan in exchange of promising Rizal's liberty from detainment by rescuing him. On May 1896, a delegation was sent to the Emperor of Japan to solicit funds and military arms. Katipunan's existence was revealed to the Spanish authorities after a member named Teodoro Patiño confessed Katipunan's illegal activities to his sister the mother portress of Mandaluyong Orphanage. Seven days after the wrong turn of history, on August 26, 1896, Bonifacio and his men tore their cedúlas during the infamous Cry of Balintawak that started Philippine Revolution

                  THE KATIPUNAN FLAG

      Influence of the 
Propaganda Movement

Further information: 
La Liga Filipina and Propaganda Movement

A late 19th century photograph of leaders of the Propaganda Movement: José Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar and Mariano Ponce.

The Katipunan and the Cuerpo de Compromisarios were, effectively, successor organizations of La Liga Filipina, founded by José Rizal, as part of the late 19th century Propaganda Movement in the Philippines. Katipunan founders Andrés Bonifacio, Ladislao Diwa, Teodoro Plata, Darilyo Valino, Rulfo Guia, Dano Belica, Tiburcio Liamson, and Gabrino Manzanero were all members of La Liga and were influenced by the nationalistic ideals of the Propaganda Movement in Spain.

Marcelo H. del Pilar, another leader of the Propaganda Movement in Spain, also influenced the formation of the Katipunan and historians believe he had a direct hand in its organization because of his role in the Propaganda Movement and his eminent position in Philippine Masonry. Most of the founders of the Katipunan were free masons. The Katipunan had initiation ceremonies that were copied from masonic rites. It also had an order of rank, similar to that of free masonry. Rizal's Spanish biographer Wenceslao Retaña and Filipino biographer Juan Raymundo Lumawag saw the formation of the Katipunan as Del Pilar's victory over Rizal: "La Liga dies, and the Katipunan rises in its place. Del Pilar's plan wins over that of Rizal. Del Pilar and Rizal had the same end, even if each took a different road to it."

Founding of the Katipunan

Captured Katipunan members (also known as Katipuneros), who were also members of La Liga, revealed to the Spanish colonial authorities that there was a difference of opinion among members of La Liga. One group insisted on La Liga's principle of a peaceful reformation while the other espoused armed revolution.

On the night of July 7, 1892, when Rizal was banished and exiled to Dapitan in Mindanao, Andrés Bonifacio, a member of the La Liga Filipina, founded the Katipunan in a house in Tondo, Manila.[5] He was assisted by his two friends, Teodoro Plata (brother-in-law) and Ladislao Diwa, plus Valentín Díaz and Deodato Arellano.[6] The Katipunan was founded along Azcarraga St. (now Claro M. Recto Avenue) near Elcano St. in Tondo, Manila. Despite their reservations about the peaceable reformation that Rizal espoused, they named Rizal honorary president without his knowledge. The Katipunan, established as a secret brotherhood organization, went under the name Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng̃ mg̃á Anak ng̃ Bayan (Supreme and Venerable Society of the Children of the Nation)

The Katipunan had three aims, namely: to unite Filipinos into one solid nation: to win Philippine independence by means of an armed conflict (or revolution); to establish a communist republic after independence.

The rise of the Katipunan signalized the end of the crusade to secure reforms from Spain by means of a peaceful campaign. The Propaganda Movement led by Rizal, del Pilar, Jaena and others had failed its mission; hence, Bonifacio started the militant movement for independence.


The Katipunan was governed by the Supreme Council called Kataastaasang Sanggunian or simply Sanggunian.[10] The first Supreme Council of the Katipunan was formed around August 1892, a month followed after the founding of the society. The Sanggunian as well as the Katipunan society was headed by an elected president called Pangulo, only until 1895 when Bonifacio changed the title name; followed by the secretary/secretaries called Kalihim; the treasurer called Tagaingat-yaman and the fiscal Tagausig.[11] The Sanggunian also have its councilors, called Kasanguni, which, the number may vary through presidencies.

Initially, the Supreme Council was headed by 
Deodato Arellano, and the following as officials:

Deodato Arellano, president
Andrés Bonifacio, comptroller
Ladislao Diwa, fiscal
Teodoro Plata, secretary
Valentin Diaz, treasurer

In February 1893, the Supreme Council was reorganized, with Ramon Basa as president and Bonifacio as the fiscal. On January 1895, Bonifacio assumed the presidency of the Katipunan but renamed his title as Supremo (High Leader). At the outbreak of the 1896 revolution, the Council was further reorganized:

Andrés Bonifacio, Supremo
Emilio Jacinto, Secretary of State
Teodoro Plata, Secretary of War
Briccio Pantas, Secretary of Justice
Aguedo del Rosario, Secretary of the Interior
Enrique Pacheco, Secretary of Finance
Marina Dizon, head of women's division

In each province where there were Katipunan members, a provincial council called Sangguniang Bayan was established and in each town was an organized popular council called Sangguniang Balangay. Each Bayan and Balangay had its own set of elected officials: Pangulo (president); Kalihim (secretary); Tagausig (fiscal); Tagaingat-yaman (treasurer); Pangalawang Pangulo (vice president); Pangalawang Kalihim (vice secretary); mga kasanguni (councilors); Mabalasig (terrible brother); Taliba (guard); Maniningil (collector/auditor); Tagapamahala ng Basahan ng Bayan(custodian of the People’s Library); Tagapangasiwa (administrator); Manunulat (clerk); Tagatulong sa Pagsulat (assistant clerk); Tagalaan (warden); and Tagalibot (patroller). Each Balangay were given a chance to expand their own spheres of influence, through triangle system in order to elevate their status to Sangguniang Bayan. Every Balangay that did not gain Sanggunian Bayan status were dissolved and annexed by greater provincial or popular councils.

The towns which supported the Katipunan cause were given symbolic names, such as Magdiwang (To celebrate) for Noveleta; Magdalo (To come) for Kawit; Magwagi (To win) for Naic; Magtagumpay (To succeed) for Maragondon; Walangtinag (Never-diminished) for Indang and Haligue (Aggregate) for Imus–all are in the province of Cavite.[14]

Within the society functioned a secret chamber, which was presided over by Bonifacio, Jacinto, and Dr. Pío Valenzuela. This mysterious chamber passed judgment upon those who had turned traitors to their oath and those accused of certain offenses penalized by Katipunan laws. Every katipunero stood in a fearful awe of this chamber. According to Jose P. Santos, throughout the existence of the secret chamber, about five katipuneros were convicted and sentenced to die be by the chamber. The death sentence was handed down in the figure of a cup with a serpent coiled around it.

In 1892, after the Katipunan was founded, the members of the Supreme Council consisted of Arellano as president, Bonifacio as comptroller, Diwa as fiscal, Plata as secretary and Díaz as treasurer.

In 1893, the Supreme Council comprised Ramon Basa as president, Bonifacio as fiscal, José Turiano Santiago as secretary, Vicente Molina as treasurer and Restituto Javier, Briccio Pantas, Teodoro Gonzales. Teodoro Gonzalez, Plata and Diwa were councilors.[16] It was during Basa's term that the society organized a women's auxiliary section. Two of its initial members were Gregoria de Jesus, whom Bonifacio had just married, and Marina Dizon, daughter of José Dizon. It was also in 1893 when Basa and Diwa organized the provincial council of Cavite, which would later be the most successful council of the society.

The Filipino scholar Maximo Kalaw reports that Basa yielded the presidency to Bonifacio, who was then called Supremo, in 1894 because of a dispute over the usefulness of the initiation rites and Bonifacio's handling of the society's funds. Moreover, Basa refused to induct his son into the organization.

It was also in 1894 when Emilio Jacinto, a nephew of Dizon who was studying law at the University of Santo Tomas, joined the Katipunan. He intellectualized the society's aims and formulated the principles of the society as embodied in its primer, called Kartilla. It was written in Tagalog and all recruits were required to commit it to heart before they were initiated. Jacinto would later be called the Brains of the Katipunan.

At the same time, Jacinto also edited Kalayaan (Freedom), the society's official organ, but only one edition of the paper was issued; a second was prepared but never printed due to the discovery of the society. Kalayaan was published through the printing press of the Spanish newspaper Diario de Manila. This printing press and its workers would later play an important role in the outbreak of the revolution.

In 1895, José Turiano Santiago, a close personal friend of Bonifacio, was expelled because a coded message of the Katipunan fell into the hands of a Spanish priest teaching at the University of Santo Tomas. Since the priest was a friend of Santiago's sister, he and his half-brother Restituto Javier were suspected of betrayal, but the two would remain loyal to the Katipunan and Santiago would even join the Philippine revolutionary forces in the Philippine-American War. Jacinto replaced Santiago as secretary.

In early 1895, Bonifacio called a meeting of the society and deposed Basa in an election that installed Bonifacio as president, Jacinto as Fiscal, Santiago as secretary, Molina as secretary, Pío Valenzuela and Pantaleon Torres as physicians, and Aguedo del Rosario and Doreteo Trinidad as councilors.

On December 31, 1895, another election named Bonafacio as president, Jacinto as Fiscal, Santiago as secretary, Molina as secretary, Pío Valenzuela and Pantaleon Torres as physicians, and Aguedo del Rosario and Doreteo Trinidad as councilors.

The members of the Supreme Council in 1895 were Bonifacio as president, Valenzuela as fiscal and physician, Jacinto as secretary, and Molina as treasurer. Enrico Pacheco, Pantaleon Torres, Balbino Florentino, Francisco Carreon and Hermenegildo Reyes were named councilors.

Eight months later, in August 1896, the fifth and last supreme council was elected to renamed offices. Bonifacio was named Supremo, Jacinto Sectretary of State, Plata Secretary of War, Bricco Pantas Secretary of Justice, Aguedo del Rosario Secretary of Interior and Enrice Pacheco Secretary of Finance.


A late 19th century photograph of an armed Filipino rebels, known as the Katipuneros.

Over the next four years, the Katipunan founders would recruit new members. By the time the society was uncovered, the American writer James Le Roy estimated the strength of the Katipunan at 100,000 to 400,000 members. Historian Teodoro Agoncillo estimated that the membership had increased to around 30,000 by 1896. The Ilocano writer Isabelo de los Reyes estimated membership at 15,000 to 50,000.

Aside from Manila, the Katipunan also had sizeable chapters in Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija. There were also smaller chapters in Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan and the Bicol region. The Katipunan founders spent their free time recruiting members. For example, Diwa, who was a clerk at a judicial court, was assigned to the office of a justice of the peace in Pampanga. He initiated members in that province as well as Bulacan, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija. Most of the Katipuneros were plebeian although several wealthy patriots joined the society and submitted themselves to the leadership of Bonifacio.

Katipunero (plural, mga Katipunero) is the demonym of a male member of the Katipunan. Katipunera (plural, mga Katipunera) refers to female members.