Asiong Salonga died, betrayed by the very man he considered as a friend. He was just about thirty years old when he lost his life. He ruled Tondo for about a year or more than a year and a half.
It was nearly fifty three years before, that another Tondo boy, Andres Bonifacio, died in the hands of traitors. Like Asiong, Andres ruled not just Tondo but the entire nation for a year and a half before he was sentenced to death by the treasonous Mestizos led by Aguinaldo.
Asiong and Andres were considered gangsters. Yet, in all truthfulness, their "gangsterism" pale in contrast to the true gangsterism that their enemies did in their lifetimes.
In my early years in Manila, I also experienced the life of a gangster. The community I grew up was one of the poorest in Metro Manila. I remember at the very young age of six or seven years old, my street mates and I saw ourselves being "gathered" by a middle aged man. We were shepherded into a dimly lit room and one by one, took our initiation. The man hit us with a wood plank in the arse. He mumbled something, and that was it. We became members of the "hood".
There was something special about this entire initiation thing that when I entered the University, I also became a member of fraternities. The physical part of initiation, was, to quote Jose Maria Sison, nothing. The psychological part is sometimes the reason why some people die during initiations. In my case, I endured all, and for what? For that chance to be part of "something noble."
As I age, I figured that that something noble is, nothing really. It is shallow. I only experience the brotherhood when I go to some far-flung area and see the symbol of my frat plastered in some wall. There I realize the power of being part of a global organisation. As one ages, the only thing left is you and your family.
Asiong Salonga, if he was alive today, would have been more than a king of Tondo---he lives in the memories of those who, in those times, suntukan is still noble and treachery is punishable by death. Nowadays, when you ask someone for a suntukan, he'll probably get his gun and shoot you. IN those times, and I experienced it, suntukan tayo means using your own fists to smash someone's head.
Asiong Salonga lives as an urban legend. Scant information remains about him, just like Andres Bonifacio, the other Tondo boy who lived and died for his motherland.
Compared the sheer volume of works about his contemporary Jose Rizal, and you'll feel that even in death, Andres Bonifacio got the raw end of the deal. We only know very little about Bonifacio compared with what we know about Rizal. We even know what Rizal's brief size is. How about the man who successfully created the perfect organisation that united both the poor and the rich Pinoys in his time?
The true gangsters live in those palatial homes protected by electronic fences and heavily armed security guards. The true gangsters work at the BUreau of Customs being paid just under 10,000 pesos yet live in sheer luxury and driving expensive luxury cars.
The true gangsters work for pot-bellied Malaysians who control not just television stations, but Meralco. How many lands they acquired, remain in the trillions of pesos.
The true gangsters pay in cold cash, government officials, for them to turn a blind eye on the pillage and sheer rape these gangsters do every single day to the hapless Pinoy consumer.
The true gangsters control our piers, our ports and our airports. They enslave our fellow Pinoys. They turn our innocent kababayans into sex slaves to work in sweatshops in China and Taiwan and some, in hot seedy brothels in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
The real heroes are those who fight for a fellow Pinoy. The real heroes, they are open to innocent and not so innocent speculations, their backgrounds muddled by the true gangsters.
When we read our history, we may never know the true heroes for their roles have been erased by the true gangsters in our society.