Filipino nationalism

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Philippine nationalism is an upsurge of patriotic sentiments and nationalistic ideals in the Philippines of the late 1800s that came as a result of the Filipino Propaganda Movement from 1872 to 1892. It became the main ideology of the first Asian nationalist revolution, the Philippine Revolution of 1896.


Spain in the Philippines

Spain already ruled the Philippines for at least 300 years before Philippine nationalism was developed. Towards the 19th century, the bureaucratic centralized government established in Manila had caused widespread discontent in the entire archipelago, but there was yet no united front against the Spanish Regime. Many revolts were caused due to Spanish impositions, but most of these revolts were caused by either personal discontent or territorial defense. From Diego Silang's revolt in Luzon to Francisco Dagohoy's revolt in Visayas, no united and conscious effort was made against the colonial master. Patriotism was limited to regionalistic tendencies.

Development of native patriotism

The belated development of Philippine nationalism was caused by the natives' tendency to be regionalistic. The geography of the Philippines did not help. The Philippines is insular and the people were divided by waters. In fact, the term "Filipino" originally means Spaniards born in the Philippines and not the native inhabitants. But certain events eventually led to the development of native patriotism. Things that happened which transcended the cultural and geographical boundaries that had been barriers to the unification of the inhabitants of the archipelago.

The first break happened in the early 1830s when Spain, highly influenced by the revolutions in Europe and in Latin America, opened the Philippines to international trade. This led to the rise of a Middle Class from which came the ilustrado elites that soon became the main agitators against the Spanish Regime. The liberalism of Europe arrived through books and other literature. Jean Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract and John Locke's Second Treatise on Civil Government became the primary sources for the development of nationalistic ideals. Such ideals were mostly understood by the ilustrados--some became the future leaders of the Philippine Revolution.

In 1869, following a liberal victory in Spain, Carlos Ma. de la Torre was assigned as the Governor-General of the Philippines. He became loved by the people because of his liberal reforms in the government, which include the giving of privileges to military personnel exempting them from forced labor, taxes, and tributes. De la Torre (1869-1871) became the most-loved Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines. His liberal regime gave the natives a point of comparison between a liberal government and the conservative absolutist government (absolutism) of the past.

During de la Torre's regime, the native clergy, who were waging a struggle for the Filipinization of the Philippine Church became an ally of the Governor-General. Headed by Father Jose Burgos, the native clergy wanted to rid the Philippine church of Spanish friars. The Filipinization Controversy was deeply seeded on Spanish racial prejudice against the native priests. The Spanish friars, agitated by Burgos, wanted Burgos out of the picture; but they were not yet presented with an opportunity. The opportunity came when dela Torre was recalled back to Spain in 1871. He was replaced by the brutish, Gov. Gen. Rafael Izquierdo.

Izquierdo took back all the privileges and reforms that de la Torre instituted. As a response, the military personnel, headed by a certain Sergeant La Madrid, of the Cavite arsenal staged a mutiny by 1872. The Spanish friars had their chance. They convinced Izquierdo that it was Burgos, together with Fathers Mariano Gomez and Jacinto Zamora, who masterminded the mutiny. Months later, the three priests were executed. The execution of the Gomburza became a spark among the educated ilustrados. That same year, native patriotism was born and the ilustrados launched in Europe the Propaganda Movement.

Propaganda Movement and Philippine nationalism

The development of native patriotism that resulted from the execution of Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora also began the unconsicous formation of the ideological side of patriotism--nationalism. The Propaganda Movement (1872-1892) called for the assimilation of the Philippines as a province of Spain so that the same laws will be applied in the Philippines and that the inhabitants of the Philippines will experience the same civil liberties and rights as that of a Spanish citizen. Men like Marcelo H. del Pilar, Graciano Lopez Jaena, and Jose Rizal bombarded both the Spanish and Filipino public with nationalist literature. Rizal's novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo became the bibles of Philippine nationalism. This time, the term Pilipino was not only for Spaniards born in the Philippines but was generically applied to every inhabitants born in the Philippine Islands. The movement ended in a failure, but the literature that resulted from it became the source of what came to be Philippine nationalism.

Katipunan and the Revolution

As the movement was failing in Europe, Jose Rizal returned to the Philippines and created his La Liga Filipina in 1892. It also failed after his arrest a just few days after the creation of the group. The group split into two: the ilustrado elites formed their own Cuerpo de Compromisarios, while the lowly ilustrados formed the revolutionary Katipunan. The former disappeared into oblivion, while the latter started the Philippine Revolution (1896-1898) by 1896, culminating both the formation of patriotic sentiment and nationalistic ideals.

Moro nationalism

See also Islam in the Philippines and Moro people.

The Philippine nationalism that emerged after the Propaganda Movement and the Philippine Revolution was only limited to the people of Visayas to Luzon, and may be to some extent, northern portions of Mindanao. Generally, the islands of Sulu, Palawan, and Mindanao had a different story. These islands had been once dominated by two powerful Muslim Sultanates prior to the arrival of the Spaniards: the Sultanate of Sulu and the Sultanate of Maguindanao. Never did the Spaniards take sufficient control of these islands and the people came to clearly distinguish themselves from those from Visayas and Mindanao. For more than three centuries, the people in these islands waged war against the Spanish Empire. Their nationalism is different since it is deeply rooted in their religion--Islam.

Decadence of Philippine nationalism and the "Limited Filipino"

The United States of America replaced Spain in the Philippines after the Treaty of Paris of December 10, 1898. The period 1901 to 1910 became known as, what Teodoro Agoncillo called, the period of suppressed nationalism. The Filipinos were to be americanized through education. Nationalist essays and literature were suppressed. The raising of the Philippine flag was banned. Any utterances against the Americans and about Philippine nationalism was considered an act of sedition. The nationalism that emerged after this period is a nationalism trapped behind the rhetorics of party-politics. The Filipino that emerged were, in Renato Constantino's words, "Limited Filipinos". Filipinos by name, Spanish-American by heart. Cultural by form, yet a damaged culture by substance. This is what by some is called the decadence, by some the tragedy of Philippine nationalism.

Present struggle for revival and the "True Filipino"

Modern-day Philippine nationalism is highly conceptualized by revolutionary historians. Teodoro Agoncillo emphasized the role of the people in making their own history. Renato Constantino emphasized the revolutionary theoretical groundwork for the making of new "True Filipino". Someone who can transcend the cultural and geographical boundaries that had been the cause for disunity. Someone who can shed away his western soul and create the New Filipino identity. Other historians, like Rudy B. Rodil, work for the destruction of the boundaries between Moros and Filipinos--suggesting that a True Filipino does not live in the prejudices of religious belief.

One common theme among all is the recognition of the threat of American intervention and Globalization. As long as there will be no strong leader to help in the development of a new Philippine nationalism, then it can be considered dead, for now.

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