How Colonialism Shaped the Filipino Character (Last of 4 parts)
The last quarter of the 19th century was perhaps the most significant stage in the development of the Philippines as a nation. It was when nationalism started to flourish. It took centuries before the natives managed to put up a united front against their colonizers. Like the sun starting to rise from the east spreading its golden rays to signal the coming of a new day, the emerging solidarity among the natives became a portent of greater things to come (that never came.)
The most important ingredient for national development was finally manifesting among Filpinos at that time. The seeds of nationalism began to sprout. The influx of liberal ideas from Europe, the rise of the middle class, and the martyrdom of Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora (GomBurZa) were among the factors believed to have fan the flames of national unity.
It was a long and arduous journey towards national solidarity made difficult to achieve by a combination of factors – the island nation is geographically fragmented, the people speaking different dialects, and the Spaniards’ employment of “divide-and-conquer” tactics.
The Spaniards succeeded tremendously in employing the “divide-and-conquer” tactic against the colonized people so much so that they reigned supreme for more than 300 years. But when the Filipinos began to develop a cohesive spirit to fill their geographical gaps, when they dismantled the language barriers with their deafening cry for freedom, the days of the Hispanic colonizers became numbered. The colonial masters suffered humiliating defeats from the people they held by the neck for a long time and were forced to retreat to the walled city of Intramuros.
But the next chapter of the Philippine drama unfolded not the way the Filipinos had the script written but the way the directors from Hollywood penned it. And just when the Filipinos were ready to hit the last nail in the coffin of Spanish tyranny, the Americans said, “CUUUTTTT!”
With absolute certainty, the revolution the Filipinos started in 1896 would have finally ended Spanish rule. The natives had them figured out. All they needed was just to march together with their hands tied by the bond of patriotism. The Filipinos were ready to storm Intramuros, the last bastion of Spanish rule but they were stopped on their tracks by the Americans who they wrongly perceived to be an ally in their quest for freedom from Spain. The Filipinos naively thought that the Americans who were waging a war against Spain in Cuba, also a Spanish colony then, came as a friend, not a foe.
Cutting the story short, the Americans occupied the Philippines when the Spaniards left and the Filipinos were forced to wage war against a military far more powerful and more advance in weaponry than their former colonizers.
The natives lost the war and the sprouts coming out from the seeds of nationalism sown by the forebears of the Filipino race was not allowed to grow and bloom. It was forcibly uprooted and trampled upon by the Americans. The new colonial masters extinguished the flames of Filipino nationalism with laws like the Sedition Law (1901) which imposed a death penalty or a long prison term on anyone who advocated independence from the United States even by peaceful means and the Flag Law (1907) which prohibited the display of the Philippine flag in any place. 
Filipino nationalism was nipped in the bud. That period in the history of the Filipino people was referred to as the “Era of Suppressed Nationalism.” While the natives were still licking the wounds inflicted by their former Spanish masters, the Americans started whipping them.
And as everybody knows, the justification provided by the Filipinos’ new colonial masters was the natives were not ready for self-governance and it would have been very chaotic had they been left alone to fend for themselves.
They could have been right…or wrong. Nobody would know now? But what critical thinking Filipinos today know was that the Americans had no right to deprive the Filipinos at that time the opportunity to determine their own fate as people. The natives could have been left to face the consequences of their attempt to stand on their feet. They had no right to deprive the Filipinos of that opportunity to raise their arm in a victory against Spain. It would have been so meaningful had the colonizer surrendered to the colonized. That would have been a huge moral victory for a people enslaved and deprived of their basic rights and freedom for so long. That would have been a big boost to the morale of the Filipinos. But instead of a boost to their psyche, the actions of the Americans wounded the pride of the Filipino and impeded the development of a stronger national character.
The Americans should have taken a page from their history for them to understand how the Filipinos felt at that time. The main reason the American colonists fought for independence against Britain in the 1700s was they believed in the inalienable rights of the individual and them being taxed by the British Parliament without any representation is a violation of such rights . They believed that whatever a government does must have the consent of the governed. The Filipinos did not want another foreign power to govern them, they had enough of the Spaniards already. The Americans did not have the Filipinos’ consent to stay in the country and govern them.
But there was nothing the Flipinos could do, no country could come to their succor at that time. The Americans had France to support them in their drive for indepedence against Britain and perhaps the Fillipinos were hoping that America would be doing a France when they came, but it was wishful thinking.
The Filipinos were on their own and the world at the time was a big jungle where the colonial powers were the predators and the weaker nations the helpless prey.
The Filipinos then cannot even invoke any law to contest the legality of the American occupation of the Philippines. Imperialism has its own laws, and is backed by brute force. Becausu of its armed forces imperial law supersedes international law. “The legality of imperial activity is based largely on the imperial state’s judicial system and its own legal experts . But wasn’t it that America championed liberalism. They know that natural rights are not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable. 
But all those are water under the bridge. One thing that every Filipino needs to understand is the importance of revisiting the hallowed pages of their history in order to understand what have become of them and why they think and behave the way they do.
The Filipinos need to do some tinkering in their system. They have to remove the bad microchips their colonizers placed in their harddrive that cause them to malfunction. Find suitable replacements, then reboot.
Posted on October 26, 2015, in Colonialism, Filipino Values and Traits, Philippine History, Philippines and tagged Colonialism, Filipino Values and Traits, Philippine History, Philipppines. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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