Why we should not celebrate Philippine Independence Day

Every year on this day we celebrate our independence from colonialists (particularly Spain). But are we really independent from a foreign power?

The answer is in the negative. The truth is, the Philippines has never been independent. Never was, never is.

As I have contended many times, the Philippines is a Spanish creation. For good or for worse, without the Spanish conquest of this oriental archipelago which we now claim to be our own, there would have been no Philippines to talk about. Thus, the Spanish conquest should not be considered as days of colonialism (in the Spanish context, colonialism is different from its English counterpart).

What happened on that fateful day of 12 June 1898 was borne out of a Tagálog rebellion led by Andrés Bonifacio and his band of Katipuneros. Emilio Aguinaldo, after suffering defeat from the hands of both Spanish and Filipino troops a year before (which culminated in the controversial Pacto de Biac-na-Bató), sought the help and support of his brother US Masons while in Hong Kong. He was, in effect, preparing for another showdown against the Philippine government (a clear violation of the pact which he had agreed to). It is implied, therefore, that during his stay in Hong Kong Aguinaldo had learned the rudiments of democracy and republicanism (something that an unschooled person could never learn overnight), and he planned to install these Masonic ideals once Christian monarchy falls in the Philippines. Several days after the US invasion of the Philippines (commonly known as the Battle of Manila Bay), Aguinaldo returned from exile, interestingly aboard a US dispatch-boat. And then a month later, on 12 June 1898, he unabashedly proclaimed the independence of the whole country despite the fact that the Spanish authorities have never given up the seat of power. This premature independence declaration was pushed through because Aguinaldo thought that he had the powerful backing of the US. This is evident enough in the declaration of independence itself:

…los Estados Unidos de la América del Norte, como manifestación de nuestro profundo agradecimiento hacia esta Gran Nación por la desinteresada protección que nos presta…

That makes the independence declaration a hollow one. It is as if we could not become independent of our own accord if not for the assistance of another country. And to make things worse, the Aguinaldo government was never recognized by both the Spanish and US authorities nor was it recognized by the international community of nations. His presidency was not even recognized by the whole country. Filipinos outside the Tagálog regions, although they were (or could be) aware of the political turmoil that has been happening in the capital since 1896, could not have known nor heard about the independence declaration in Cauit (Kawit). And would have they supported it?

Definitely not.

This is unknown to many Filipinos today: in the siege of Aguinaldo (which culminated in the aforementioned Pact of Biac na Bató), both Spanish and Filipino troops united to defeat the Tagalog rebellion. And that defeat was celebrated in Manila afterwards.

It is more correct that what we should commemorate every 12th of June is not Independence Day per se but the declaration of our independence, an independence that never was.

To his credit, Aguinaldo tried hard to legitimize that independence declaration by sending emissaries to the Treaty of Paris. But the Philippine delegation was not accepted there. And following the events of 12 June, Aguinaldo belatedly realized the inevitable: that the US did help him, but at a cost: our nation itself was to become their first milking cow. In short, he was double-crossed by those he thought were his allies.

After a brief but bloody tumult (World War II), the US finally granted us on 4 July 1946 what we thought was our full independence. But in exchange for that independence, we had to agree to the notorious Bell Trade Act of 1946; among other unfair clauses in that act, it forever pegged the Philippine peso to the US dollar. That date (which is also the date of the US’ independence from the British colonials) had been celebrated until 1962 when then President Diosdado Macapagal put back 12 June on the calendar of Philippine holidays. According to some nationalists, Macapagal believed that the Philippines was already independent from Spain since 12 June, and that the US simply did not respect our autonomy from the Spaniards. But in doing so it only paved the way for more hispanophobia, making Filipinos of today hate our Spanish past even more.

It is becoming common knowledge —especially in recent times— that the independence granted to us by the US (the real colonials) was nothing more but a hollow declaration written on cheap paper. In a stricter sense, we are no longer a colony of the US, but we are still under their mantle — through neocolonialism, the new evil. The Philippines has never been independent. Never was, never is. But will it ever be?

No hay ninguna descripción de la foto disponible.

No hay ninguna descripción de la foto disponible.

Originally posted in the now defunct FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES; later condensed and included in the textbook “Language in Literature” published by Vibal Publishing House, Inc.
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Feliz 150º cumple, Señor Presidente Aguinaldo…

¡Feliz cumpleaños, Señor Presidente Emilio Aguinaldo! Aunque usted rebeló contra nuestra Madre España, ha preservado la unidad del archipiélago, bajo el mismo nombre de Filipinas, con el español como el idioma oficial. Luchó contra los verdaderos invasores, los WASP usenses. Y lo que es más importante, usted ha expresado su arrepentimiento por la rebelión cuando asistió los ritos fúnebres del Rey Alfonso XIII en la Catedral de Manila… y ha rechazado la masonería al regresar a la Iglesia Católica durante sus últimos años. ¡Un saludo cordial!

 

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Hoy en la Historia de Filipinas: Aguinaldo responde a la “Asimilación Benévola” de McKinley

HOY EN LA HISTORIA DE FILIPINAS: 5 de enero de 1899 — Un día después de que el General Elwell Otis emitiera su versión editada de la “Asimilación Benévola” del Presidente William McKinley, Aguinaldo inmediatamente lanzó un vehemente manifiesto hacia ella. En dicho manifiesto que fue publicado en La Independencia, Aguinaldo protestó fuertemente “con todas las energías de mi alma” la declaración de los EE.UU., particularmente del Presidente McKinley, de que ocupará Filipinas. Hay que recordar que el General Otis emitió su versión editada de la declaración de McKinley en la que el general estadounidense mencionó que Aguinaldo lo llamó (Otis) el “Gobernador Militar de las Islas Filipinas”.

En resumen, el manifiesto del Presidente Aguinaldo alegó que Otis en particular y el gobierno estadounidense en general eran mentirosos y oportunistas.

Aguinaldo advirtió que su gobierno estaba preparado para luchar contra cualquier intento estadounidense de apoderarse del país por la fuerza. En retrospectiva, su contra-proclamación pudo haber sonado como una declaración de guerra al ejército estadounidense, pero Aguinaldo realmente no tenía intención de entrar en una guerra con un creciente imperio como los EE.UU. porque sabía que una guerra contra ellos sólo causaría un sufrimiento indecible para el pueblo filipino especialmente porque el ejército filipino no era lo suficientemente fuerte, habiendo luchado recientemente contra el gobierno español.

A MIS HERMANOS LOS FILIPINOS Y A TODOS LOS RESPETABLES CÓNSULES Y DEMÁS EXTRANJEROS

Una proclama del Sr. E. S. Otis, mayor General de voluntarios de los Estados Unidos, publicada ayer en los periódicos de Manila, me obliga a circular la presente, para hacer constar a todos los que leyeren y entendieren el presente documentos mi más solemne protesta contra doto el contenido de la referida proclama, pues a ello me obligan mi deber de conciencia para con Dios, mis compromisos políticos para con mi amado pueblo y mis relaciones particulares y oficiales con la Nación Norte Americana.

El General Otis se titula, en la referida proclama, Gobernador militar de las Islas Filipinas, y yo protesto de una y mil veces y con todas las energías de mi alma contra semejante autoridad.

Yo proclamo solemnemente no haber tenido ni en Singapur, ni en Hong Kong, ni aquí en Filipinas, compromiso alguno ni de palabra, ni por escrito para reconocer la soberanía de América en este amado suelo.

Por el contrario, yo digo que he vuelo a estas islas, transportado en buque de guerra americano, el día 19 de mayo del año próximo pasado, con el decidido y manifiesto propósito de hacer la guerra a los españoles, para reconquistar nuestra libertad e independencia, así lo consigné en mi proclama oficial de 24 del citado mes de mayo; así lo publiqué en un manifiesto dirigido al pueblo filipino, en 12 de junio último, cuando en mi pueblo natal de Kawit exhibí por primera vez nuestra sacrosanta bandera nacional, como emblema sagrado de aquella sublime aspiración; y, por último, así lo ha confirmado el propio general americano Sr. Merritt, antecesor del Sr. E. S. Otis, en el manifiesto que dirigió al pueblo filipino días antes de intimar al general español, Sr. Jaúdanes la rendición de la Plaza de Manila, en cuyo manifiesto se dijo clara y terminantemente que los ejércitos de mar y tierra de los Estados Unidos venían a darnos nuestra libertad, derrocando al mal gobierno español.

Para decirlo todo de una vez, nacionales y extranjeros son testigos de que los ejércitos de mar y tierra aquí existentes de los Estados Unidos han reconocido, siquiera de hecho, la beligerancia de los filipinos, no sólo respetando sino también tributando honores públicamente al pabellón filipino que, triunfante paseaba en nuestros mares ante la visita de todas las naciones extranjeras, aquí representadas por sus respectivos cónsules.

Como en la proclama del General Otis se alude a unas instrucciones redactadas por S. E. el presidente de los Estados Unidos, referentes a la administración  de asuntos en las Islas Filipinas, protesto solemnemente en nombre de Dios, raíz y fuente de toda justicia y de todo derecho, y que me ha concedido visiblemente el poder para dirigir a mis queridos hermanos en la difícil obra de nuestra regeneración, contra esta intrusión del Gobierno de los Estados Unidos en la soberanía de estas islas.

Protesto igualmente en nombre de todo el pueblo filipino contra la referida intrusión, porque al concederme su voto de confianza eligiéndome aunque indigno como Presidente de la Nación me ha impuesto el deber de sostener hasta la muerte su libertad é independencia.

Y por último protesto contra ese acto tan inesperado de la soberanía de América en estas islas, en nombre de todos los antecedentes que tengo en mi poder, referentes a mis relaciones con las autoridades americanas, los cuales acreditan por manera inequivoca que los Estados Unidos no me han sacado de Hong Kong para hacer aquí la guerra contra los españoles en beneficio suyo, sino en beneficio de nuestra libertad e independencia, para cuyo consecución me prometieran verbalmente dichas  autoridades su decidido apoyo y eficaz cooperación.

Y así lo habéis de entender todos, mis queridos hermanos, para que unidos todos por los vínculos que no pueden desligarse, como son la idea de nuestra libertad y la de nuestra absoluta independencia, que han sido nuestras nobles aspiraciones, coadyuveis a conseguir el fin apetecido, con la fuerza que da la convicción, ya muy arraigada, de no volver atrás en el camino de la gloria que hemos recorrido.

                                                      Malolos, 5 de enero de 1899.

                                                                                                      Emilio Aguinaldo

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.

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Imagen: Full Circle.

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.

E. S. OTIS

Major General of the volunteers of
the United States Military Governor

How Spanish is spoken in Filipinas

The following video shows how Spanish is spoken as an authentic Filipino language.

The recordings on this video (edited by Neptuno Azul) were made by Spanish scholars Antonio Quilis and Celia Casado-Fresnillo as they were interviewing native Filipino Spanish speakers. Their research resulted in the book “La Lengua Española en Filipinas” which was published ten years ago in Madrid, Spain.

The Spanish spoken in Filipinas is a variant of standard Spanish, or Spanish spoken in Spain, particularly in the capital which is Madrid. Unknown to many, there are several variants of Spanish (Colombian Spanish, Argentinian Spanish, Puerto Rican Spanish, etc.) as there are many variants of Tagálog (Batangueño Tagálog, Manileño Tagálog, etc.). Ours is very similar to the variant spoken in México because from there our country was ruled by Spain (México was then known as “Nueva España” or New Spain) from 1571 to 1821. During that period, there was much Spanish and Mexican emigration to Filipinas, hence the linguistic similarities.

As can be heard from the video, Filipino native speakers of Spanish do not speak the language as fast as other Spanish speakers from other countries. Perhaps the most obvious difference between Spanish Filipino and standard Spanish is that the voiceless dental fricative or /θ/ is not distinguished from the voiceless alveolar sibilant or /s/, a characteristic that we share with our Latin American counterparts (this lack of distinction between /s/ and /θ/ is called the seseo). There are other linguistic characteristics such as the yeísmo, the non-aspiration of the /s/, the shifting of the [ɾ] and [l] at the end of syllables, etc. These distinctions are best observed in a classroom setting (effectively provided by the Instituto Cervantes de Manila).

Another good example of Filipino Spanish can be heard right here, spoken by no less than our country’s first president, Emilio Aguinaldo.

While it is true that Spanish was not spoken as a first language by many Filipinos compared to other Spanish overseas subjects, it was spoken either as a secondary or tertiary language in our country. Add to the fact that schools during those days also taught French (back then the lingua franca of the international diplomacy), Latin, and even classical Greek and Hebrew. It is thus not surprising that Filipinos during those days were multilingual. A well-educated Tagálog spoke not just his cradle language but also Spanish and other languages taught to him in school. A Visayan wrote not just in Cebuano or Hiligaynón or Aclanon but also in Spanish. A Bicolano uttered his prayers in three languages: Bícol (Bícol Naga, Rinconada, etc.), Spanish, and Latin, perhaps even more. But it cannot be denied that the prevailing language back then was Spanish, the language that wove together both national unity and identity.