As The Bamboos Sway: What have you learned during the Filipino History Month?


So, October as Filipino History or Heritage Month is just over. Did we dwell again on traditional notions about our history as we learned them from our traditional schools?

It is traditional knowledge that after American troops subdued rebellious Filipinos in the early 1900s in their campaign to subjugate the Filipinos, American teachers called the Thomasites fanned throughout the Archipelago to teach the Filipinos not only English but also the victors’ view of Filipino history. Thus, the Americans became our benevolent benefactors and saviors and not conquering butchers who massacred thousands of inhabitants.

Did you know that in Springfield, Massachusetts, a model of the handgun .45 caliber is displayed as primarily made against Muslims in Mindanao? In one incident, American troops had cornered inhabitants deep in a crater and they shot to death the Muslims, including women and infants who could not fight back because they had no strong arms as the American troops?

Did you know that, like the Spaniards creating the guardia cibil, mercenaries from among the indios, the United States established the Philippine Constabulary on August 8, 1901, by authority of the Act No. 175 of the Philippine Commission. The constabulary was created to assist the American troops in combating the remaining Filipino revolutionaries. Captain Henry T. Allen was entrusted to the Philippine Constabulary’s creation and he was later dubbed as the Father of the Philippine Constabulary. The soldiers were trained at the Philippine Constabulary School which was established in February 17, 1905 at the Santa Lucia barracks within the walls of Intramuros. In 1908, the school was transferred to Baguio City and was seminal to the evolution of the current Philippine Military Academy. In short, the Philippine Constabulary and the future Armed Forces of the Philippines was originally designed, like the guardia civil, to suppress Filipino rebellion as it was then, as it is now.

Did you know that Jose Rizal is a Made in America national hero of the Philippines? Jose Rizal became our national hero when in 1901, Governor William Howard Taft suggested that the Philippine Commission adopt a national hero saying (as published in the Free Press of December 18, 1946): “’And now, gentlemen, you must have a national hero.’ In these fateful word, addressed by then Civil Governor W. H. Taft to the Filipino members of the civil commission Pardo de Tavera, Legarda and Luzuriaga, lay the genesis of Rizal Day…”. Theodore Friend in his book, Between Two Empires, says that Taft “with other American colonial officials and some conservative Filipinos, chose him (Rizal) as a model hero over other contestants – Aguinaldo too militant, Bonifacio too radical, Mabini unregenerate.” This decision to sponsor Rizal was implemented with the passage of the following Acts of the Philippine Commission: (1) Act No. 137 which organized the politico-military district of Morong and named it the province of Rizal “in honor of the most illustrious Filipino and the most illustrious Tagalog the islands had ever known, “ (2) Act No.243 which authorized a public subscription for the erection of a monument in honor or Rizal at the Luneta, and (3) Act No. 346 which set aside the anniversary of his death as a day of observance.

In short, the imperialists wanted the Filipinos to emulate an ilustrado who would just advocate reforms, one who is against an armed uprising. It is no wonder that Rizal is depicted in his shrine at Luneta as one who is just standing passive, holding a book, just looking scholarly; not fiery advocating resistance – which the imperialists wants every Filipino to just be.

Did you know that the Americans said they will only give freedom to the Filipinos when they already know how to govern themselves? In page 91 of the report of the Philippine Commission Report in 1901, the report reads (General Theory in Formation of the Government) The theory upon which the commission is proceeding is that the only possible method of instructing the Filipino people in the methods of free institutions and self-government is to make a government partly of Americans and partly of Filipinos, giving the Americans the ultimate control for some time to come. In our last report we pointed out that the great body of the people were ignorant, superstitious, and at present incapable of understanding any government …In this condition of affairs we have thought that we ought first to reduce the electorate to those could be considered intelligent, and so the qualification for voting fixed in the municipal code are that the voter shall either speak, read, and write English or Spanish, or that he shall have been formerly a municipal officer, or that he should pay a tax equal to $15 a year or own property of the value of $250…

The above would presuppose that only those with wealth and educated, meaning largely from the landed elite, could run, be elected, and trained in the ways of government patterned after the United States government. And since only those wealthy could vote, this would insure that the interest only of the landed elite will be represented in the government – not the interest of the workers or the peasants. And the landed elite were only too gracious to accommodate the American colonialists because the American imperialists granted them what they did not achieve from the Spaniards – that of reforms plus a promise of independence.

Thus, pensionados were trained in the United State to govern the Philippines and hold other responsible positions in Philippine society not to represent the lower class but their elite class. True then and true now.

Did you know that the tiny Maya was instituted as the national bird of the Philippines earlier in our school curricula? It was only recently that it was recognized that the monkey eating eagle should be the national bird. We can only surmise that the United States did not want the Philippines to up the US eagle because the Philippine eagle is far more humongous than the US bird.

There should be more than all the above that the victors of war would want us to believe. Maybe we should dig more and find out why the relationship of the Philippines with the United States is so lopsided, why we are so dependent on her, why are state of affairs – economically, socially, and politically are so dismal.

Maybe we should ask why Vietnam, from its sorry state, after winning the war against the United States is now so progressive. #


Leave a Reply