With the success of the Heneral Luna movie, almost everybody knows by now the unparalleled patriotism of the man known as the ‘fiery general’ of the Filipinos. As we all know, however, Antonio Luna was also just but a man prone to mistakes—and his greatest moment of weakness undoubtedly came when he betrayed the Katipunan.
No less than Jose Rizal himself suggested to Pio Valenzuela that Luna should be made the commander of the Katipunan’s forces due to his vast knowledge of military warfare. As with the majority of the ilustrados of his day, Luna refused to revolt and instead advocated reforms and equal treatment with Spain.
To make matters worse, Luna—who was working as a pharmacist in a municipal laboratory—also informed his superior about the plans of the Katipunan to revolt.
Angry at the lack of support by the wealthy Filipinos, the Katipunan implicated several prominent Filipinos—Luna included—with incriminating documents and leaked them to the Spaniards. When the Revolution broke out in 1896, Antonio Luna and his brother Juan were among those who were arrested.
Now at the mercy of the Spaniards who physically and mentally tortured him, Luna committed his gravest mistake of all by revealing the names of all who were members of the Katipunan. No less than Jose Alejandrino—who would later become one of his most loyal aides—summed up Luna’s betrayal perfectly:
“It appears in official documents that in this period Luna committed the greatest error of his life in denouncing the existence of the Katipunan and in revealing, during his imprisonment after the first outbreak of the rebellion, the names of some of his friends affiliated with the Society. Later, he explained however to me his aforesaid acts by saying that with the physical and moral tortures which he suffered during his imprisonment, and upon being assured by the Spaniards that he had been squealed upon by his own friends, denouncing him as an accomplice in the rebellion, his violent character made him lose his better judgment. And having fallen for the scheme woven by the Spaniards, he declared that those who had denounced him were more guilty than he.”
After their imprisonment in Fort Santiago, he was deported to Spain and incarcerated in Madrid but was later released in 1897 after his brother Juan—who was earlier set freed—interceded on his behalf.
Repentant for what he had done, Luna devoted himself whole-heartedly to the second phase of the Revolution—this time against the Americans. His desire for redemption was noted by Alejandrino:
“We were able to see each [other] again in Kabite toward the month of July, 1898. He was returning home after having served his sentence in the Model Prison of Madrid, and he brought with him in his baggage books on military strategy and tactics and treatises on field fortifications. Above all, he brought with him a desire to atone for his past mistakes.”
So while as great as it was, the movie should’ve definitely shown Luna’s betrayal because it would’ve made his devotion to the country even more awe-inspiring.
Related Article: 22 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Heneral Luna’
Constantino, R., & Constantino, L. (1975). A History of the Philippines (p. 222). NYU Press.
Nery, J. (2015). What we (still) don’t know about Antonio Luna. Inquirer.net. Retrieved 19 October 2015, from http://goo.gl/3HIHok
Quintos, P. (2015). Hero or traitor? Historian weighs in on Aguinaldo, Luna. ABS-CBNnews.com. Retrieved 19 October 2015, from http://goo.gl/hk4hgi