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Home Sections History Compromising One’s Sovereignty: The Philippines in the Light of World Historiography
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Sections - History
Written by Ado Paglinawan   
Thursday, 19 August 2010 10:41

 

“Crisis of Sovereignty” Series (Part 21)

 

By Ado Paglinawan

 

Compromising One’s Sovereignty: The Philippines in the Light of World Historiography

 

T he freed slave, Friday, speaking to Robinson Crusoe, said his father told him about white men, “They take life, land and people. People, they make slaves.”

 

Writing to the botomo@yahoogroups.com, Dr. Jose V. Abueva, a renowned Filipino educator and constitutionalist, reflects on this veneer:

 

“Our people at all times remain sovereign in principle and law … We recall our lofty political principles and constitutional doctrines because in fact they are often nullified in practice.

 

“When too many citizens are poor, uninformed, vulnerable and insecure, they cannot be sovereign in relation to the minority who govern them and are so much richer, powerful and influential. We know that democracy is consolidated in societies with broad middle classes and thin layers of poverty.

 

“To favor their political interests, our national leaders design political institutions that concentrate power and authority in the national government …”

 

Dr. Abueva then proceeds to explain the need for more direct democracy and more empowered community self-rule.

 

This is “The Imperial Manila” (TIM) that he was referring to, the bane of the Bangsa Moro, the pet peeve of the Visayan people and the oppressor of every Filipino who is below the poverty line.

 

Traces of our colonial past still haunt us. It is time for a history-read back.

 

The Story of the Berber Arabs in Spain

 

In fairness to the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula by the Berber Arabs, led and completed by their general Tariq ibn-Ziyad and in whose honor Gibraltar was christened, they did not only bring with them war but their rich architecture, culture and craftsmanship but the economic access to the bludgeoning trade from the Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East. This was the secret of why when the Iberians finally got their act together as eventually Spain, they have become richer that most of their neighbors in Europe.

 

But the Spanish inquisition that began during the late 1400s targeted Jewish conversos and Protestants, also decreed the compulsory Christianization of its Islamic population bringing the political strife and wars southwards to Andalusia and the Muslims’ massive migration back to North Africa because in Islam, there is no compulsion to religion.

 

Those who stayed behind for whatever reason were converted to Catholicism from Islam and were called Moriscos.

 

In the second half of the century, late in the reign of Philip II, conditions however worsened between Old Christians and Moriscos.

 

The 1568–1570 Morisco Revolt in Granada was harshly suppressed, and the Inquisition intensified its attention to the Moriscos and a few more decades after, in 1609 King Philip III, upon the advice of his financial adviser the Duke of Lerma and Archbishop of Valencia Juan de Ribera, decreed the Expulsion of the Moriscos.

 

This was further fueled by the religious of Archbishop Ribera who came out with an edict requiring: “The Moriscos to depart, under the pain of death and confiscation, without trial or sentence … to take with them no money, bullion, jewels or bills of exchange … just what they could carry.”

 

Hundreds of thousands of Moriscos were expelled, some of them probably sincere Christians. So successful was the exercise, that in the space of months, Spain was emptied of its Moriscos.

 

This was how the Muslims of Old Spain, whose great influence and contribution you can see all over that country up to this day, were deprived of their sovereignty.

 

The movement closed the Iberian trade to the Islamic countries in North Africa and the Middle East dealing a severe blow to its economy and partly explains why the Spaniards needed to conquer new territories.

 

Finding Muslims in the New World

 

H alfway around the globe, so surprised was Ferdinand Magellan when they got to the islands they would name after their king, that they would be confronted by the people of the same faith they were ridding off in the homeland.

 

The aggression would intensify upon the return of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi nearly five decades thereafter when the Spaniards formally began their rule of the Philippines and started converting the natives and wasting the predominantly Muslim population and driving them southwards.

 

Editor’s Notes: The people of the pre-Hispanic province that is now called Sorsogon practiced a form of animism as their religion. The pre-Hispanic Sorsoganons called their deity the “Gugurang.” The expeditionary force sent by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi landed in what is now Magallanes, Sorsogon, and celebrated there the first Catholic mass in the Island of Luzon in 1569. They named the place in honor of Fernando de Magallanes (Ferdinand Magellan). They established also a shipyard in Magallanes town where some of the great galleons used in the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade were built. Later, they christened a settlement in the neighboring province of what is now Albay as “Ciudad de Legazpi.” Southern Albay and Sorsogon were called the Ibalon before the Spaniards arrived.

 

T hey would never be successful at quelling those they tagged as Moros (after the Moors of North Africa), even for more almost four centuries because the latter proved fierce and resilient as they retreated to southern mainland and islands of Mindanao, a section of the country they now claim as their own bangsa or nation.

 

Of course, from among the indios who aped Catholicism from their colonizers, will eventually rise a native nobility that will be fortunate to receive education beyond the caton or learning the Spanish alphabet, to converse with the privileged class of peninsulares and insulares (Spanish expatriates and their generations that are Philippine born), and luckier even to pursue travels and higher studies abroad.

 

Apolinario Mabini brained a revolution, Marcelo del Pilar and Graciano Lopez Jaena propagandized it, and Jose Rizal lit the fuse of the first Filipino nationalism. It is not my intention here however to enumerate how we were preconditioned by the Spaniards to kiss the asses of powerful foreigners and their almost four-century-long-generations of descendants, but this must have been why we have become subservient chickens who always defer to fair-skinned rich members of our society.

 

(There is a current fad back home to literally use glutathione, for the same formula that finally made Michael Jackson a “white man”.)

 

Yet there were white men and women that won our friendship and deservingly captured our imagination. The Thomasites, the American public school teachers carved our modern educational system. They shared with us their language and their learning and noble traditions foremost of which is our democracy, where sovereignty residing in the people and equality under the majesty of the law.

 

Not all American intentions of course were pure, they got our best crops when they commanded gold and precious spice in the world markets, and for the same reason cut our trees and extracted the mineral juices of our mountains.

 

And what some call a supreme insult, when we were in shambles after the Second World War, they gave us our independence. This was like making us walk when we had already broken or lost both legs.

 

The Lion of Luzon

 

D ouglas MacArthur, who was dubbed by historians as the “Lion of Luzon,” returned to the Philippines from Australia, after escaping the mess he left the country to the invading Japanese. After Japan surrendered, he instead rebuilt the country of our oppressors to serve as the second-strongest world economy up until last year.

 

But ask anyone anything bad about him especially the generation before the baby boomers and you would be ostracized. They will never accept that this sonavabitch hobnobbed with the oligarchs in our country and took on many of their bad imperial habits – like taking on a mistress from the showbiz world as he hosted socialites wining and dining them in his residence at the Manila Hotel.

 

They will never accept that this much celebrated American Caesar implemented Plan Orange, an obsolete strategy to guard the opening of Manila Bay concentrating more than 100,000 Filipinos and American to oppose the entry of the enemy’s navy – a tactic that the Spanish fleet used to prevent the Americans at the turn of the century to penetrate onto Manila.

 

Editor’s Notes: Please read a related series

 written by Jay Caedo of San Francisco, California:

 

The MacArthur Experience (Part I)

 

MacArthur’s Philippine Experience (Part II)

 

The Spanish flotilla lost that one of course, because the American navy was superior in armor and munitions. History would repeat itself, where the Americans won in 1898, they lost in 1941.

 

Forty-five thousand Japanese troops would be landed by General Masaharu Homma not through Manila Bay but on the open and defenseless beaches of Lingayen, Pangasinan, far north than Manila Bay and marched them down Highway 1 (now ironically named as MacArthur Highway), establishing a wedge between the Filipino and American positions at the west of it and the rich agricultural basket of Central Luzon east of it. The brilliant strategy was to deny them access to food and provisions, starve the defense forces and isolate them to the west.

 

Soonest this was put in place, Homma sent the Philippine defenders marooned in Bataan and Corregidor, the wrath of the Japanese air force bombing them day and night until MacArthur boarded a submarine to escape towards down under, leaving his emaciated-and-demoralized army behind.

 

The Lion of Luzon left his men to die. Many of them fell on the way to the concentration camps of Capas, Tarlac and Pangatian, Nueva Ecija, and there to die of dysentery or malaria.

 

The Death March

 

H istory would hold Homma accountable for the Death March, but what could you expect him to provide moving more than 100,000 POWs with a victorious army half its size and with transport logistics nowhere in sight?

 

Japanese atrocities would be blamed on Homma and later on General Tomoyuki Yamashita, and for that MacArthur denied them the rule of international law and ordered them lynched by an American kangaroo court martial here in the Philippines, a shabby justice compared to the Geneva Convention standards that what their overall commander, Premier Hedeki Tojo got.

 

Up to today, the legality of the trials of Homma and Yamashita is being questioned in the international courts of justice. Even history is reluctant to correct itself that it was a MacArthur tactic to cover up his incompetence in defending the Philippines.

 

Tojo was Prime Minister, Chief of Staff of the Army, and Minister of War from October 1941 until July 1944, who could almost be described as the dictator of Japan being the principal director of all Japanese war operations.

 

Be that as it may, we would never know which end of the stick could have given us a more meaningful sense of sovereignty. Both America and Japan, we now know had their own interests over and above those of the Filipino.

 

Japan has given us more aid to reparation and postwar assistance than the United States.

 

The New Indios Bravos

 

B ut instead of shaking the apathy in us, we had loved to pander to the benefit of foreigners not ours. Today, we see queues at American and Japanese embassies for visas for a better life.  This reality has initially gone haywire too. There are about ten million of our people abroad.

 

Every such foreign employer is adulated even if they add to the social problems of the Filipino. That is the bad news. Few labor importers allow dependents to move in with their families, and so we now have scary statistics of fatherless or motherless homes that has brought as much brokenness not just among contract workers overseas but more so in those they have left behind.

 

In this respect, however, we can say that Filipino Americans are more privileged however than their Japayuki counterparts. Family integration is a priority in US immigration.

 

The good news however is that wherever OFWs are, they now account for almost $18-billion dollars of foreign currency annually that contributes to our money reserves. Overseas Filipinos have also broken through the nipa curtain to learn that there are opportunities out there being denied their own relatives back home, thus making it clearer to them that they have been long been taken advantaged of in their own country by people of their own kind.

 

They have become the new indios bravos.

 

Definitely they now realize how other countries care and protect their own, citizens and resident aliens in contrast to visitors.

 

Those in Muslims countries also begin to take the law seriously as many of our countrymen abroad have already experienced incarceration or beheading for violation of the Sharia Law. In the United States and other first world countries, they are ticketed for traffic violations, they stop at designated intersections and they learn that bribing arresting officers can even get their into more serious fines and imprisonment.

 

Jose Rizal and His Fellow Indios Bravos in Europe

 

A broad, just like Rizal, the Del Pilars, the Lunas, Lopez-Jaena, Hidalgo, and De Tavera, they have come to know what a tight ship looks like, how hard work is rewarded and laziness is frowned upon, how sincere citizens value their rights, how stringent is the rule of law, and how nation-building is really everybody’s business.

 

In the final chapter of Dr. Jose Rizal's "El Filibusterismo," Padre Florentino ponders the fate of the dying Simon.

 

“The glory of saving a country is not for him who has contributed to its ruin … if our country has ever to be free, it will not be through vice and crime, it will not be so by corrupting its sons, deceiving some and bribing others, no! Redemption presupposes virtue, virtue sacrifice, and sacrifice love!”

 

There is no hope amid local oligarchs and foreign interests. They only feed their own greed and are experts in desensitizing the majority from their poverty.

 

The Soberano, therefore, if he were to finally see the birthing of a new nation in his lifetime, must be an informed student of history, of productive peoples and egalitarian values around the world.

He must stop compromising his own, and be the first to care, preserve and protect his patrimony. # # #



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