After Rizal’s arrest and exile, Andres Bonifacio, a self-educated man of humble origins, founded a secret society, the Katipunan, in Manila. This organization, modeled in part on Masonic lodges, was committed to winning independence from Spain. Rizal, Lopez Jaena, del Pilar, and other leaders of the Propaganda Movement had been Masons, and Masonry was regarded by the Catholic Church as heretical. The Katipunan, like the Masonic lodges, had secret passwords and ceremonies, and its members were organized into ranks or degrees, each having different colored hoods, special passwords, and secret formulas. New members went through a rigorous initiation, which concluded with the pacto de sangre, or blood compact.
The Katipunan spread gradually from the Tondo district of Manila, where Bonifacio had founded it, to the provinces, and by August 1896–on the eve of the revolt against Spain–it had some 30,000 members, both men and women. Most of them were members of the lower-and lower-middle-income strata, including peasants. The nationalist movement had effectively moved from the closed circle of prosperous ilustrados to a truly popular base of support.