Hoy en la Historia de Filipinas: proclamación de la soberanía estadounidense sobre Filipinas

HOY EN LA HISTORIA DE FILIPINAS: 4 de enero de 1899 — El General Elwell S. Otis, el segundo Gobernador Militar estadounidense de Filipinas, proclama en nombre del Presidente William McKinley la soberanía de Estados Unidos sobre el archipiélago filipino.

Antes de esto, el 21 de diciembre de 1898, el Presidente McKinley ya emitió su infame Proclamación de Asimilación Benévola. Pero el General Otis demoró la publicación de su proclamación hasta el 4 de enero de 1899, y luego publicó una versión editada para no transmitir a los filipinos los significados de los términos “soberanía”, “protección”, y “derecho de cesación”, que estaban presentes en la versión íntegra.

El General Otis también envió una copia inalterada de la proclamación al General Marcus Miller en la Ciudad de Iloílo quien, sin saber que una versión alterada había sido enviada a Emilio Aguinaldo (entonces presidente del gobierno revolucionario filipino), le pasó una copia a un funcionario filipino allí. La versión inalterada finalmente llegó a Aguinaldo.

Office of the Military Governor
of the Philippine Islands
Manila, P.I.
4 January 1899

To the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands.

The instructions issued by his Excellency the President of the United States relative to the administration of the Philippine Islands have been transmitted to me on December twenty-eight of last year 1898 through the Secretary of War. Through these instructions I have been ordered to publicly announce, and I proclaimed to the inhabitants of these islands that in the war with Spain, the United States Army came here in order to destroy the power of that nation and to grant the benefits of peace and freedom to each individual Filipino; that we are here as friends of the Filipinos, to protect them in their homes, in their occupations and their individual religious freedom, that every person who materially assist or honorably cooperate with the United States government in order to effectively achieve those wholesome plans, will receive the recompense of her support and protection.

The President of the United States has admitted that the municipal laws of this country, as far as they respect the rights of the individual and the rights for property and the repression of guilt, will be considered still in vigor so long as they can be applied to a free people, and they must be administered by the ordinary courts of justice, presided by the representatives of the people and by those persons who are in complete accord with it in their desire for good government; that the functions and duties related to civil and municipal administration shall reside and shall be exercised by these functionaries who like to accept the assistance of the United States, elected, as far as it is workable, from among the inhabitants of the islands; that in the meantime that the management of public property and revenue and the use of public transport shall be carried out under direction of the military authorities until such time that it can be substituted by civilian administrators, all properties owned by individual persons or corporations shall be respected and duly protected, whenever property owned by individual person is to be used for military purposes, its value shall be paid in money; if monetary payment is not possible at the moment, corresponding receipts shall be issued and they shall be liquidated and satisfaction shall be made whenever there are available funds. The ports of the Philippines shall be open to commerce, of all foreign countries and the goods and merchandise, the entry of which is not prohibited by the military authorities for special reasons, shall be admitted by means of payment of dues and tariffs in vigor at the time of its importation. The President ends his instructions with the following words:

And lastly the Administration’s supreme and true aspiration must be to gain the trust, respect and affection of the inhabitants of the Philippines, and as much as possible, they should be given a complete guarantee of individual rights, and of freedom which is the patrimony of a free people. They should show in act, that the mission of the United States is one of beneficent assimilation which will see to it that arbitrary power is substituted by an indulgent government of justice and reason.

In complying with this sublime Mission and at the same time maintaining the temporal administration of matters, the strong arm of the authorities shall be prepared to repress disorder and to overcome all obstacles that may come across the way of a good and stable government over the inhabitants of the Philippine islands.

Judging from the text of the foregoing instructions of the President, I believe that the intention of the United States government is to provide general direction about certain matters, and to appoint the representatives that now form the directorship composed of Filipinos in order for them to occupy position of responsibility and confidence properly reserved for civilians, and it is my duty to appoint to those positions Filipinos who might deserve the approval of higher authorities in Washington. I likewise believe that it is the intention of the United States to recruit from among the Filipino military forces from the islands whenever possible and those who are in harmony with a free and well-constituted government, and it is my desire to inaugurate this kind of policy. Similarly, I am convinced that the United States government intends to try to establish a most liberal government over these islands, wherein the people itself will have all possible representation with regard to the maintenance of law and that it will be susceptible to development in the area of increasing the representation, to granting of greater powers to a government which is free and independent, similar to this which are being enjoyed by the ore favored provinces of the world.

It will be my constant effort, that of cooperating with the Filipino people, so that they might be able to look after the welfare of their country, and I beg your complete confidence and support.


Major General of the volunteers of
the United States Military Governor


Imagen: Full Circle.

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Ople on the Spanish language

Having been founded in 1922, the Premio Zóbel is considered as the country’s oldest literary award open to all Filipino writers in the Spanish language. Among those who had won the prestigious prize were poet Manuel Bernabé (1924), diplomat León Mª Guerrero III (1963), and renaissance man Guillermo Gómez Rivera (1975). But in the late 1960s to the early 1970s, it was put to a halt because the number of participants dwindled. In 1974, the Zóbel de Ayala clan changed the rules of the contest so that anyone in Filipinas who promoted the preservation of the Spanish language could become an awardee. Nineteen years later, in 1993, Senator Blas Ople, a non-Spanish speaker, became a consequence of that 1974 decision.

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“80 Años del Premio Zóbel”, a compendium of Premio Zóbel’s history, was published in 2000. The book’s author, Lourdes Castrillo Brillantes, was herself an awardee in 1998.

This is not to say that the choosing of the then neophyte senator was nothing short of a scandalous matter among Filipino writers in the Spanish language. He received the award “por sus relevantes méritos en pro de la cultura hispano-filipina” (for his relevant merits in favor of the Spanish language). One such merit was the following essay that he wrote in his column “Windows” which used to appear in Panorama magazine (a supplement of Manila Bulletin’s Sunday issue). The essay was published on 30 August 1992, a year before he was awarded a Premio Zóbel medal.

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Blas Ople (1927–2003).

Our Spanish past lingers in Iloílo with subtle charm
Blas Ople

Having sat down from the rigors of an obligatory speech on current issues, I thought I would sip my coffee in peace, mentally braced for an evening of pleasant boredom.

This was Iloílo City, and the Lions clubs from all over Panay and some from Negros Occidental had filled the vast hall of the Hotel del Río by the river, for the 42nd anniversary of the Iloílo City Host Lions Club. Then magically, the grace and charm of our Spanish past rose before our eyes.

Dancers in full Spanish costumes, platoon-size formations, materialized on the floor. They called on a vast repertory, not just one, two, or three, but many numbers, turning an otherwise banal dinner into a bewitching hour redolent of history. It was only in Iloílo, I thought, that simple housewives, many of them now grandmothers, could be formed into flamenco dancers of such charm, on demand (I was told later they rehearsed for a month for this show).

I gathered that Iloílo and nearby Bacólod are just about the last places where sizable remnants of an elderly Spanish-speaking generation may be found, though this, too, is slowly fading away. But the rhythms of Spain will probably long outlive the Castilian speech in these parts, judging from the authentic passion of those movements we watched that night.

Compared with these, the rigodón de honor danced by the elite in Tagálog cities and towns has to be judged a pale initiation.

Few Filipinos are of course shedding a tear on the waning of our Spanish past, except as this has been subsumed in native speech and customs. The memories of those early centuries still rankle.

This is the revenge of Rizal and del Pilar, whose works have molded, through generations, our impressions of the era of Spain in the Philippines. But when recently, all the countries of the Iberian world met in México, as though eager to repossess their common heritage from their Spanish past, I felt a certain pain to realize that the Philippines alone was not present, for the reason that we have disinvited ourselves.

I should reveal this now. In the Constitutional Commission of 1986, I fought until the end to have Spanish retained in the new Constitution as an official language, together with Filipino and English. I wanted at least an explicit recognition of Spanish as such a language until the wealth of historical material in our archives, most of this in Spanish, can be fully translated into English or Filipino.

But the real reason was that I wanted to preserve our last formal links with the Iberian world, which includes most of the countries in Latin Américas with a population of about 400 million. I remember Claro M. Recto’s sentimental journey to Spain, which was aborted by a heart attack in Rome. If we lost that final strand of solidarity with the Spanish-speaking world, we, too, would never get to Spain.

It was as though both sides had agreed on a policy of mutual forgetfulness.

The “radicals” in the Con-Com strongly advised me not to press the provision on Spanish, because this would have the effect of reopening other controversial issues in the draft charter. It could delay the framing of the Constitution beyond an acceptable deadline.

My worst fears have been realized. We have expelled ourselves from the Iberian community of nations. The rift is final, and will never be healed.

But I felt the charms of our Spanish past will linger longest in places like Iloílo, and during that enchanted evening, I was glad for the opportunity to savor them. We may have left the Iberian world of our free choice, but the hold of Spain will never really cease in the Filipino heart.

To those who are unfamiliar with the issue, it was former President Corazón Aquino’s Constitutional Commission of 1986 (the one mentioned by Senator Ople in his column) that decided the fate of the Spanish language in Filipinas. It should be remembered that Spanish had been our country’s official language beginning 24 June 1571. It may had been unceremoniously booted out from the 1973 Constitution by pro-Tagálog politicians during the 1971 Philippine Constitutional Convention under Ferdinand Marcos’s presidency, but the former strongman, realizing its worth, issued Presidential Decree No. 155 two months after the 1973 Constitution was ratified. Believe it or not, this forgotten Marcos decree recognized Spanish (alongside the English language) as one of Filipinas’s official languages. It thus absolves his 1973 Constitution of any culpability when one wishes to point an accusing finger at the “killer” of the Spanish language in our country.

All index fingers will of course lead to the present constitution, the progenitor of the Constitutional Commission of 1986. No wonder Ople was devastated: he was its member, he fought for the Spanish language’s preservation in the present constitution, yet he was blocked by those radicals from doing so (they were probably those whom Hispanistas and non-Tagálogs today derisively call as “Tagalistas“). That is why, out of disillusionment (or anger?), he wrote that painful statement that we Filipinos have expelled ourselves from the Spanish-speaking community of nations.

But that was 1992. It’s 2018 now, and attitudes toward the Spanish language and our country’s past under Spain for that matter have drastically changed. The enlightened Filipino youth of today will surely disagree with the late Senator’s statement that the rift done by the present constitution’s non-inclusion of Spanish was final, and that it will never be healed. Already, we have several groups in social media, particularly in Facebook, that advocate the return of the Spanish language to Filipino mainstream society such as the SPANISH language should be back in the PHILIPPINES!Oficialización del Español en Filipinas (this one has more than eleven thousand members!), and Defensores de la Lengua Española en Filipinas. Outside of Facebook are blogs that extol the virtues and blessings of our country’s Spanish past: we can cite With One’s PastHecho Ayer, and the Hispanic Indio just to name a few. Then there is Jemuel Pilápil who organized the Sociedad Hispano-Filipina together with other Hispanists to safeguard and promote the language, thus inspiring me to label him as the new Isagani (watch out for his group’s website to be launched very soon!). The presence of Instituto Cervantes de Manila with its monthly cultural events is a great boost in the efforts to “reintroduce” the Spanish language and culture to our country. Not too long ago, renowned Spanish-speaking Filipinos launched a documentary citing the importance of the Spanish language as part of our national identity and heritage. Even our country’s premiere historian today, Ambeth Ocampo, already revealed himself as far removed from the usual anti-Spain mold of historians by producing very impartial write-ups about our country’s Hispanic past. Says Ocampo in one of his writings:

The concept of Filipino began not with pre-Hispanic indios but with Spain. Individuals known as Filipinos cannot be traced beyond 1521 when Magellan sailed into the Philippine archipelago. Filipino was mainly a geographic term to begin with, and the notion of Filipinas, a place, a nation, cannot be pushed beyond the first Spanish settlement established by Miguel López de Legazpi in 1565.

I could go on and on, but the point is clear: the rift done by Tita Cory’s flawed constitution is not final. Ople’s fight for the Spanish language’s rightful place in the Filipino cosmos didn’t go for naught. We are healing!

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Mærsk Line took over where the galleon trade had left off

Three days ago (July 12), shipping giant Mærsk Line commemorated its 90th year in the business. On that date 90 years ago, its first vessel made a historic voyage that was to become the first of many. And our country, Filipinas, was part of its first ever route!

It all began when LEISE MÆRSK, the first diesel motor vessel to enter the Mærsk fleet, sailed from Baltimore, Maryland on 12 July 1928 and made stops for more cargo in New York, New York and Savannah, Georgia. It then passed through the Panamá Canal and made a port of call in San Pedro, Los Ángeles. LEISE MÆRSK arrived in Yokohama, Japan on 10 September and continued to Kobe and Moji before calling Manila and Iloílo in late September.


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LEISE MÆRSK was the first ship to be used on the USA-Asia route when the company started operations in 1928. It was sunk while sailing under the British flag in November 1940, at the onset of World War II.



Mærsk Line’s first route: from Baltimore, Maryland, USA to Iloílo City, Iloílo Province, Filipinas.

Today, Mærsk Line has become the largest container shipping company in the world, unequaled by none, and with many shipping brands under its helm, some of which do regular business in our country (MCC, Safmarine, etc.), thus providing thousands of jobs for Filipinos and even opening up international business opportunities for both exporters and importers.

In world history, the route and extent of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade (1565—1815) was considered by historians as the first “global village” in the sense that it reduced the world market into a mere village, i.e., any product can be sold almost anywhere. Today, Mærsk Line has taken over the reins of that fabled galleon trade, connecting virtually all seven continents of the world (yes, the polar regions included) with its varied trade routes.

Happy 90th anniversary to Mærsk Line, the crown jewel of A.P. Møller–Mærsk A/S!

#MaerskLineat90 #90thAnniversary