(*KKK = Tagalog name for the society: "Kataastaasan Kagalang-galang Katipunan nang mga Anak nang Bayan" (English: "Highest and Most Respectable Society of the Children of the nation ")
Isabelo Donato y Aquilar sheltered Bonifacio, Supremo of the Katipunan, and performed espionage work for him during those perilous days of the secret society at the risk of his life. For his invaluable services to the cause of the Philippine Revolution, Bonifacio gave him the bolo which he wielded on the battlefield as a historic memento.
Although of the landed gentry, Donato identified himself early in youth with the working class with whose sad plight he commiserated. Following his association with Bonifacio, which started when he set up his house and an apartment for rent on Soler near the Tutuban railroad station, a few meters away from Bonifacio's old house on Azcarraga (now Claro M. Recto), he became a rabid sympathizer of the Katipunan.
After Bonifacio suffered reverses in the hands of the Spaniards at Pinaglabanan and the Langka River, he sought the help of Donato. Early in September, 1896 the supremo, together with his brother, Procopio, and Emilio Jacinto, left their hideout in Balara to set up headquarters in Manila.
Before settling down in the city, the trio took refuge in Donato's house at 168 Soler while he looked for a safer retreat in San Nicolas. Bonifacio finally chose the house at 116 Lavezares. Besides providing them with food and supplies for more than two months, Donato conducted intelligence work in nearby Intramuros for the revolutionary movement.
His tremendous success in this delicate espionage mission, which greatly helped Bonifacio in preparing his second plan to capture Manila, endeared him most to the Katipunan leader who rewarded him generously.
With the significant role he played in the Katipunan, Donato lived in constant danger. The Spanish police blacklisted him and persistently went after him. As a precaution he left instruction to his wife to hang a red blanket on their front window should the authority look for him, so he could avoid them and give him ample time to flee to the nearby mountains.
After Bonifacio's departure early 1897 for San Francisco de Malabon in Cavite where he was eventually executed, Donato continued to suffer serious reverses. First, his father, who was a Freemason, was arrested, imprisoned at Fort Santiago, and mercilessly tortured. Then during the Philippine-American war his entire property in Aranque, Manila, consisting of a row of commercial and apartment houses was burned by the retreating Filipino forces to delay the advance of the more powerful American invaders.
The eldest of the three children of the couple Capitan Manuel Donato, a prosperous city businessman, and Gregoria Aquilar, a Dutch mestiza, he was born in Santa Cruz, Manila, on July 7, 1866. After taking up the land surveying course at the University of Santo Tomas, he left the comfort of his easy life as a promising businessman to heed the call of patriotic duty. He joined Freemasonry's Lodge Walana.
Left practically penniless after the two wars against Spain and America, Donato had to start all over again to support his growing family. He became a wine dealer, then an insurance underwriter of the Tambunting estate.
Through sheer determination, perseverance and industry, he was able to give his family the comfort and abundance of his pre-revolutionary life.
Donato married early and early became a widower with one child, Pilar. By his second wife, Hipolita San Juan of Manila, he had seven children, four of whom became professionals. He was 59 when he died in Manila on Sept. 6, 1925.
# many thanks and much obliged Doc. Jim Richardson for sharing and sending me this old newspaper article about my grandfather.
- ka tony
- ka tony