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Tag Archives: Spanish Occupation of the Philippines

Rizal Day thought

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It was not José Rizal who got shot in Bagumbayan 117 years ago…

…it was Mother Spain. :-(

Is this famous Rizal execution photo real, or is it just a still from a 1912 movie? Click here to find out.

How was Simbáng Gabí celebrated during the Spanish times?

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Have you ever wondered how the Misa de Gallo or Simbáng Gabí was celebrated during the Spanish times? Then come and visit the Holy Family Church in Roxas District, Cubáo, Quezon City from December 15 to 23 at 10:00 PM to witness this historic Filipino-Catholic ritual that is filled with so much “sense of the sacred“! And hey, don’t forget to bring your candles or lanterns (farol with light), OK? You’ll find out later on. ;-)

See you there!

The truth about the encomienda (FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES’ 3rd anniversary special)

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I didn’t know that my accidental discovery of La Laguna province’s foundation date was going to dance with controversy. Instead of receiving magnanimity from the powers that be, it was, sadly, received with vehement opposition.

First, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) contended that 28 July 1571 should not be recognized because on that date, La Laguna was founded not as a province but as an encomienda. I told them that it should not be made an issue. There is no question that La Laguna —now referred to simply as Laguna— did not begin as a province on that date, but the NHCP had overlooked what a foundation date really is. My argument is really simple: when La Laguna came into being. Not as a province per se, but as La Laguna itself.

Up to now, nobody knows exactly when La Laguna became a province. Ron Yu, the editor of the coffee table book that I’m writing about the province, theorized that it could have been 1581 when Bay was made the first capital of La Laguna (many in the provincial capitol, including yours truly, agree with him). But the problem is that there is no exact date. Nevertheless, whether we have an exact date or not, it will NEVER negate the fact that La Laguna already existed prior to 1581. Oddly, concerned individuals over at the NHCP either fail to understand this or they simply don’t want to accept it.

In the end, when they could no longer withstand the strength of the logic of what a foundation date really is, one of them found a loophole: that it would be unpatriotic if Lagunenses will choose La Laguna’s foundation as an encomienda simply because this system connoted slavery! Yes, this gentleman mentioned the word slavery. And he crumbled right before my very eyes.

But did the encomienda really connote slavery? Let us first study the background of the problem.

What is an encomienda?

In elementary and high school classes, Filipino students are generally taught that an encomienda was a piece of land given to a Spaniard for a certain period of time. Included on that land are the indios (natives) who were the original settlers. The receiver of the encomienda is called an encomendero. The encomendero had the right to exploit the natives for labor but without enslaving them.

Unfortunately, it is hardly taught that an encomienda was a quid pro quo affair. What is hardly taught these days is that it was the duty of the encomendero to:

1) protect the natives from tribal enemies
2) to educate them, i.e., to teach them the Spanish language, and
3) to indoctrinate them into the Christian faith.

To wit, an encomienda was a legal system employed by the Spanish crown during the colonization of the Americas to regulate Native American labor. And this system was later applied to the Philippines.

Hardly slavery.

In this scheme, the Spanish crown grants the encomendero a specified number of indios (for a limited time period) for whom they were to take responsibility by accomplishing the aforementioned duties. That is why it is called an encomienda in the first place: it is from the Spanish verb “encomendar” which means “to entrust”. In return, the encomendero could extract labor from their wards in the form of labor, gold (if available), or other products (mainly agricultural produce). There was, therefore, a mutual obligation from both encomendero and indio.

What should be firmly noted in this system is the existence of the aforementioned mutual obligation between the encomendero and his subjects. In the first place,there would be no encomienda at all without either of the two parties involved. At the onset, pre-Philippine societies were not yet organized into township communities, i.e., they were not yet set up in a way the Spaniards had wanted them to be. These communities were small and scattered. Many were forest dwellers. And those living in river and lakeshore communities were not as compact as well. Naturally, it took some time and effort for an encomendero to organize the indios in his encomienda in order for the mutual obligation to materialize. Thus, it is safe to say that the encomienda served as the prototype (or it laid the groundwork) for the reducción, at least in these islands.

Important note: this is not to say that the encomienda preceded the reducción. In the early years of Spanish rule, both encomienda and reducción have taken place at the same time. But in Laguna, this seemed to have been the case.

To wit: the distribution of land during the early years of Spanish rule had to start somewhere, and that was done through the encomienda system. The encomendero was also required to support the missionaries and to train the indios assigned to him how to grow various crops and raise farm animals. Through the encomienda system, the indios learned modern farming methods. Through the encomienda system, the carabao was imported from Vietnam to facilitate rice farming. All this stimulated modern agriculture.

This is not to say that the encomienda system was perfect. Did it become corrupt? Yes, but not to the extent which ultranationalist anti-Hispanics wanted it to appear in our minds. True, abuses and corruption did take place. But which regime on Earth at any point in history was considered heaven? And if we are to compare the encomienda system to our modern political landscape, the encomenderos of yore would have looked like saints compared to our politicians today.

For the sake of argument, let us say that the encomienda was filled with nothing but hardship and suffering for our indio ancestors. Should we still consider 28 July 1571 as La Laguna’s foundation date? Of course. In the case of La Laguna and 28 July 1571, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur should come to mind. “The thing speaks for itself.” It doesn’t matter anymore if the encomenderos were drunkards or rapists. What is written on paper (i.e., the chart where the foundation date of La Laguna appears) should still be recognized and respected and should not be mixed with opinionated bull.

It’s like this: suppose that a man was the product of rape, why should he be disallowed to celebrate his birthday?

Anyway, back to the encomienda. The creation of provinces did not happen overnight. It had to evolve. And it did evolve from the encomienda. And even if the encomienda system did not become corrupt, it would have been abolished, nay, replaced in the first place. The encomienda was the basis for the creation of provinces. If not for the encomienda, there would have been no provinces in the first place.

In closing, subscribing to the leyenda negra will never do us anything good at all. Hating everything that Spain did to us only harms all the more. Ultranationalism is the problem here. It leads us to blind hatred. Attacking our Spanish past is tantamount to shooting ourselves in the foot. For good or for worse, the encomienda is part of our history, and is already history. It helped create modern Filipino society.

But to these NHCP historians, the encomienda system was bad, bad, and bad. The Spanish colonization of the Philippines was bad, bad, and bad. It makes me wonder why one of them still uses the surname Encomienda. He should change it to, perhaps, Lapu-lapu or Gat Páñguil.

Or Datu Putî.

Aw, shucks. Good vibes, Pepe… it’s FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES‘ third birthday today! :D

Why we should not celebrate Philippine Independence Day

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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 Tagalog rebellion led by Andrés Bonifacio and his band of KatipunerosEmilio 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 Tagalog 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?

*******

First published exactly last year in Facebook (My Notes), originally entitled as “We Have Never Been Independent”, this time with minor edits. Like us on Facebook; click here! :D

The Corona Impeachment Trial: one positive historical note to consider

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A positive note to consider in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona is the investigation of the income tax returns of his family members. Because of this, Filipinos are now beginning to learn that there are SO MANY TAXES that they have to pay (aside from the withholding tax levied against them if they are employed). But during the Spanish times, which many Filipinos today loathe so much, there were only FIVE (5) forms of taxation whereas the Filipino under this US WASP neocolonial government has over TWENTY (20) or more taxes to pay. “The Reign of Greed” is happening today and not during the Spanish times. Charles Derbyshire is a complete hispanophobic cretin.

A quick stop in Tanauan (Tanauan, Batangas)

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Just one of many beautifully maintained Filipino houses (also known as the bahay na bató) found in Tanauan's población

Several months ago, Yeyette and I attended a birthday drinking session of a friend of hers in Tanauan, Batangas. And so I found it an opportunity to stroll around the oldest parts of the town, which is what I always do whenever I have the time to travel. It is because in the oldest parts of a Filipino town (the población, where the ubiquitous church, municipal hall, rustic town plaza, schoolhouse, and the old houses —the legendary bahay na bató— in the sector de mestizos are located) a Filipino can find and realize his identity as a nation, as a people.

Me, wifey, birthday boy Oliver (sporting a mohawk) and friends (09/26/2010).

Tanauan is one of those Batangueño towns/cities that are near Manila. It’s historical significance is mostly attributed to patriot Apolinario Mabini y Maranan and former President José Paciano Laurel y García, both of whom were natives of Tanauan.

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Former President José Paciano Laurel's ancestral house (with its unfriendly dog launching an attack).

Mabini monument.

Apolinario Mabini's monument located at the plaza fronting the city hall. Notice that in this monument, he is not paralyzed.

Wifey Yeyette posing outside the Mabini Shrine. We didn't make it on time (the shrine is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Also, this is the hometown of Telésforo Carrasco’s wife, Dorotea Nazareth. Carrasco was a Spaniard in Emilio Aguinaldo’s army who fought against the US WASP invaders. He was also in action during the catastrophic Battle of Tirad Pass (in his journal, he mentioned in detail how General Gregorio del Pilar was shot and killed — in a not-so-heroic manner).

In Philippine Literature, Tanauan was the hometown of one of Rizal’s characters in El Filibusterismo: Plácido Penitente. The name, in fact, is an oxymoronic technique that was utilized by the national hero. The name means “calm penitent” in Spanish, in a way depicting the turmoils of the said character’s status quo in the novel. The stereotype Batangueño, however, is not known to be calm. He is a raging warrior when provoked, as shown in many Tagalog films of old.

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Pine trees!

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Wifey with Tanaueño kids.

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City Hall.

City Hall.

Batangueño thrashers.

Batangueño thrashers!

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Governor Modesto Castillo Memorial Cultural Center. Still under construction when I took this photo last September. But already looking prim.

According to the Diccionario Geográfico-Estadístico-Histórico de las Islas Filipinas (1851), the old town of Tanauan was originally established in 1581 along the banks of Taal Lake (then known onomatopoetically as Bonbón due to the sound whenever Taal Volcano explodes) together with the old town of Salá. The town as well as the church was then under the patronage of San Juan Bautista.

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Iglesia de San Juan Evangelista. The façade is a combination of Romanesque and High Renaissance architectural styles.

The ecclesiastical supervision of the city was accepted by the Augustinians on 5 May 1584, and Padre Antonio Roxas became the first parish priest (see my photo of the church’s historical marker below). During the final years of the 17th century, the town’s first church was completed. It was made ​​of wood and stood along the banks of the lake. In the year 1732, the stone church was built. But due to the catastrophic explosion of Taal Volcano in 1754, the communities of both Tanauan and Salá were totally destroyed. The surviving Tanaueños moved to a place called Bañadero which later on became one of Tanauan’s barrios (barangáy). Salá, on the other hand, moved to its current site: Barrio Salá which is also in present-day Tanauan (like Bañadero, Salá became a mere barrio as well). After the explosion, the church was rebuilt by Padre José Díaz in 1881.

It is interesting to note here that the aforementioned Spanish soldier, Carrasco, had an unfriendly encounter with Fr. Díaz. It is because Carrasco eloped with Dorotea. And as a consequence of this illicit love affair (unlike today, elopement was highly scandalous during the Spanish times), Fr. Díaz didn’t have nice words to say about the matter. He even accused Carrasco of kidnapping! Since then, an irate Carrasco nicknamed him Muy Reverendo Cura del Demonio Padre José Díaz! :D

During World War II, the church was damaged again. It was rehabilitated by architect José Mª Zaragoza under the supervision of Monsignor Godofredo Mariño in 1948. The present features of the church (particularly the interior) was the result of a renovation made during the late 1960s that was spearheaded by Fr. Leonardo Villa. The façade remains as the only original part from the church’s Spanish-era architecture. Today, the church is now known as the Church of Saint John the Evangelist (San Juan Evangelista).

The old church's historical marker.

Mass was ongoing.

Mass was ongoing. It was a Sunday when we visited Tanauan.

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Instead of the usual retablo, the altar had stained glasses for a background. Cool.

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Heavily renovated interiors. Only the façade retained its original look.

The Diccionario Geográfico-Estadístico-Histórico de las Islas Filipinas describes the parish church as made up of stone but whose roof was composed of bamboo materials (this was when Tanauan was transferred from its original site after the volcanic eruption). The church had a regular priest and is under the patronage of St. John the Baptist/Evangelist. There was an elementary school for boys and one for girls. The cemetery was outside the village, well situated and ventilated (this we didn’t visit anymore). The townsfolk were able to communicate well with those from nearby Lipâ and Santo Tomás due to well-built roads (it should be noted that the Philippines back then was densely forested).

The land was elevated and had good plains where crops were planted. Cultivated lands produced wheat, rice, corn, cacao, coffee, indigo, pepper, cotton, abaca, and various fruits and vegetables. In mountainous areas were bred many kinds of hardwood from which were obtained materials for both furniture and construction purposes (as well as honey and wax!). Tanauan also had good pastures where cattle, horses, and pigs were bred. There was also even a sesame-oil-extraction industry. Others made beautiful fabrics created out of abaca and cotton. Still others produced indigo which gave out a permanent dye.

At the time of the said book’s publication (1851), the town had less than 14,000 people. According to the latest census, there are more or less 150,000 people in Tanauan today.

Today, little of what was written above can be seen in Tanauan. I’m not even sure if it still produces the same crops that it used to produce during the Spanish times. No longer a town, Tanauan now prides itself as a city. But in the Philippines, when one mentions the word city, what comes to mind are images of skyscrapers, fancy restaurants, intimidating highways, heavy traffic, and busy necktied and stockinged office people going to and from each glass- and concrete-covered, neon-lighted structure. Tanauan is far from it (yet), even if it has two Jollibee outlets already. And that is why to my mind, I refuse to consider it as a city as much in the same way that I refuse to consider other old Filipino towns-turned-cities as newly established urban centers (such as Calambâ). Of course, this is all but romanticism from someone who thinks he was born in the wrong century. :-(

Ciudad de Tanauan, Batangas

So even if it morphs into a new Ciudad de Macati or Ciudad de Quezon, Tanauan will still be the same old Hispanic town that I came to know from the books that I’ve read about its romantic past…

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More Tanauan photos below!

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DSC09512DSC09513DSC09514DSC09515DSC09516Iglesia de San Juan Evangelista (09/26/2010)

TANAUAN, BATANGAS, a set on Flickr.

Without the Galleon Trade, there would have been NO Bahay Kubo

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♫ Bahay kubo, kahit munti
Ang halaman doon ay sari-sari.
Singkamas at talong, sigarilyas at mani
Sitaw, bataw, patani.
Kundol, patola, upo’t kalabasa
At saka mayroon pang labanos, mustasa,
sibuyas, kamatis, bawang at luya
sa paligid-ligid ay puro linga. ♪

Did you know that the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade (1565-1815) virtually introduced all these vegetables into Philippine soil?! Therefore, without the Galleon Trade, there would have been no ♫ bahay cubo, cahit muntî… ♪. And worse, our Filipino diet today would have been found severely wanting.

The above stunner is just but one of the Galleon Trade’s countless blessings to our country! And because of these blessings, the Philippines was created, was given life, was given identity. The Philippines was given POWER. It was at the very center of the world’s first foray into globalization.

“How can anybody bad-mouth a medium that brought us such bounty?” (Nick Joaquín)

¡FELIZ DÍA DEL GALEÓN!

After almost 200 hundred years, a galleon ship docked on our shores once again! Behind us is the galleon ship Andalucía which arrived at Pier 13, Port of Manila (10/06/2010).

La Naval de Johannesburg

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The World Cup fever may have already subsided, but I just couldn’t ignore one glaring trivia related to last month’s Spain-Netherlands tussle.

Only a few people today know that last month’s 19th FIFA World Cup™ wasn’t the first time that Spain faced and defeated the hardy Dutch boys. In World History, the Netherlands used to be a part of the huge Spanish Empire under King Charles V. The subjugation continued up to the reign of the king’s son, King Philip II (yep, we got our country’s name from him). During the revolt against Spain, the Dutch also sent their naval force to battle the Spaniards in another Spanish colony: the Philippines.

There were five great battles which occurred right here on our turf, mostly in 1646:

16 March — Five Dutch fleet attacked Isla de Mariveles (near Isla de Corregidor). There were only two Spanish galleons at that time, but, through the intercession of the Holy Virgin Mary (thanks to the frightened crew’s recitation of the Holy Rosary, as written by chroniclers during the said event), they were able to ward off the Dutch invaders.
29 July — The Dutch returned with seven large vessels and almost a thousand men. The battle, fought in the waters between Romblón and Marinduque, was said to be one of the bloodiest naval battles during that time, lasting from seven in the evening up to four in the morning. Again, the Dutch lost the battle.
31 July — The escaping Dutch were pursued by both Spaniards and Filipinos, catching up with them in the waters of Mindoro. Much more damage were inflicted on the supposedly battle-ready Dutch.
15 September — In Manila, one more Dutch squadron remained. The Spanish galleons who figured in the preceding battles against the Dutch invaders had been reinforced a newly constructed galleon that was intended for México, but now prepared for war. The three galleons sailed from Cavite and saw their parley in Cabo de Calavite (Calavite Point). The Dutch were overwhelmed after a five-hour battle, forcing to escape the scene.
4 October — Coincidentally, the Dutch were defeated a final time during the month of the Holy Rosary. But the following year, the Dutch returned for a vengeance (particularly in the Spanish port of Cavite). They, however, faced the same humiliating defeat.

In all these naval victories, all the men –both Spaniards and Filipinos– fervently prayed for the intercession of the Virgin of the Most Holy Rosary. All these victorious naval battles against the Protestant Dutch were considered miraculous since most of the ships which defended the young nation were not intended for battle. They were galleons in the first place, ships intended for trade. That is why the once mighty city of Manila (Intramuros) used to celebrate an extravagant feast during October called the La Naval in thanksgiving for Mother Mary’s intercession. And up to now, the city of Ángeles in Pampanga still holds a feast in honor of its patroness, Nuestra Señora del Santíssimo Rosario de La Naval de Ángeles.

Some wise guys claim that these great battles should never be taught in the study of Philippine History because it was not part of Philippine History at all but of Spanish History in the Philippines. Really now. But they fail to recognize that these naval battles were indeed crucial to the study of Philippine History. The Philippines was still young, still fortifying itself into becoming the nation that we know today. Although we always say that there are no ifs in history, it is still interestingly scary to note that if the Dutch did defeat the gallant Spaniards and Filipinos, then the Philippines would have been a Protestant nation rather than Christian. Or worse, there would have been no Philippines (i.e., Luzón, Visayas, and Mindanáo) to speak of.

From naval battles to soccer, it seems that the Dutch are no match for the Spaniards. History does repeat itself sometimes, albeit in a different setting. =)

Philippine elections: a failure even from the very beginning

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The controversial convention at Barrio Tejeros. Many historians acknowledge that the first election in Philippine history was held here.

Significantly, our country’s first president, Emilio Aguinaldo, was not elected by the Filipino people. He was elected by his Katipunan comrades and fellow Freemasons in Tejeros, San Francisco de Malabón (now General Mariano Trías), Cavite, a controversial historical event which is now known as the Tejeros Convention. That first election was exercised not to choose a leader to lead a nation but to lead the rebellion against Spain because during that time, the revolucionarios were divided into two factions: the Mágdalo, led by Aguinaldo and his cousin Baldomero Aguinaldo, and; the Magdiwang, led by Mariano Álvarez.

To pacify and unite the warring factions, which already have their own respective local governments in most of Cavite and other neighboring provinces (those that they captured from the Spanish government), Álvarez invited Katipunan supremo Andrés Bonifacio to mediate in a convention that was supposed to discuss military matters against Spain. But in the end, an election was held to decide who should lead the rebellion once and for all. This happened on 22 March 1897.

The closed-door election among these high-ranking Katipuneros/Freemasons resulted in the presidency of Mágdalo’s Emilio Aguinaldo (who was absent during that time). The convention chose Magdiwang’s Mariano Trías as Aguinaldo’s Vice-President. Meanwhile, Bonifacio was chosen as the Director of the Interior.

Alas, a certain Daniel Tirona questioned the results of the election. He argued that a lawyer should rightfully hold the position of Director of the Interior, even going as far as suggesting another person for the post. Naturally, this insulted Bonifacio. If not for intervening hands, Bonifacio would have shot Tirona. The angry supremo subsequently nullified the result of the proceedings before walking out from it, declaring that he is still the undisputed leader of the Katipunan from which both factions originated. This of course didn’t sit well with the other officials. The rest, as they always say, is history (Bonifacio’s orchestrated trial and execution, the proclamation of a premature independence, the US invasion, etc.).

According to eminent historian Ambeth Ocampo, however, the Bonifacio-Tirona tussle was not enough reason for the Katipunan Supremo to walk out of the proceedings just like that. As per Ocampo’s investigation, one major reason for the walkout was electoral fraud.

Yep, then as now.

Aguinaldo’s cohorts were supposed to be the first “sons of democracy” in this country, but they proved not to be worthy. Understandably, though, the situation back then didn’t allow suffrage a clean chance. For one, the first election was not even national — it was strictly Masonic. Secondly, the first “politicians” –most of whom were Freemasons– were still being taught the rudiments of republicanism and the ideals of democracy — the scourge of a monarchical form of government which have secured the archipelago for hundreds of years. Thirdly, the Philippines was not only at war with Spain but was also wary of the US military presence (particularly the fleets which arrived in Manila Bay) brought about by the Spanish-American war. But still, the process was tainted with irregularities, a sickening legacy which we still carry on even in this age of automated elections — the new system, sadly, still has the stigma of distasteful imperfections (“birth pains” or no “birth pains”) because a number of Precinct Count Optical Scan machines bogged down; and just when things seemed to flow out smoothly, sh!t happens!.

However, during the American interlude, the right of suffrage as we know it today was born. Technically, the first election that took place was a municipal one; it happened in Baliuag, Bulacán on 6 May 1899 under the auspices of American military Governor General Arthur MacArthur of which not much is known. But the first national elections in which the whole country was involved were held on 30 July 1907. The Filipinos elected the members of the first Philippine Assembly, the legislative body during the first few years of the US’ illegal reign in the country. Eighty one delegates to the National Assembly were elected while non-Christian provinces and districts having their own special governments were represented by appointees of then Civil Governor James Francis Smith.

Curiously, the newly elected assembleymen were no different from Noynoy Aquino who, as of this writing, is leading in the canvassing of votes in the recently concluded 2010 Philippine National Elections: most were generally young (between 31 and 40 years of age), well-educated, and filthy rich. Around 20 had a stint in the Spanish colonial government, and more than 50 were officials of the ill-fated Malolos government.

Then as now, the elite ruled the legislature. Worse, one of the first bills that these pro-American pigs passed was an increase in their per diem salary! And some even attempted to pass a bill exempting their properties from taxation!

Their apologists may claim that they were still inexperienced when it comes to democratic governance, that a republican form of government is not for personal aggrandizement nor profit. But the abovementioned political immaturity metamorphosed into a much higher form of (subtle) notoriety today. Take this one for instance: don’t you find it insanely immoral to impose Value Added Tax on food, a very basic commodity? If you don’t, I guess I am but a talkative, cynic, and unprincipled ignoramus doltishly questioning as to why the poor are always hungry. And then we have the C-5 road extension and the NBN-ZTE scandals, political dynasties, lawmakers lashing out unparliamentary language against each other, and the like. And such @$$hole-like behavior provokes some of their colleagues to become mentally out of control.

This is the true historical picture of our Philippine electoral system. Conclusion: we have not learned much from our past mistakes. No wonder Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville quipped that “in a democracy, people get the government they deserve.”

You allowed yourselves to be fooled by emotions brought about by last year’s unprecedented events. You allowed yourselves to be fooled by ABS-CBN. You thus allowed yourselves to vote for a color that has been long dead and proven ineffective. You, therefore, deserve the consequences. You will get the government you deserve.

Democracy –the warmachine of the US WASPs, and a clever disguise for mob rule– is but a sham. And history proves it every time.

Señor EDSA

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Perhaps the most prominent highway in modern Philippine History is EDSA.

A portion of EDSA.

Formerly known as Highway 54, it was constructed during the American Occupation of the country. This 23.8-kilometer circumferential road runs through five cities (Pásay, Macati, Mandaluyong, Quezon, and Caloocan) and actually stands on what was then a very long coastline hundreds of years before the place was occupied by humans (that is why workers in construction sites along the area usually find seashells during a dig).

EDSA became famous throughout the world during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s not because of its length nor its notorious traffic. It is because this highway was the site of the bloodless 1986 coup which toppled strongman Ferdinand Marcos and his cohorts from Malacañang Palace.

It is sad to note that only a few Filipinos today know that this highway was named after the initials of an illustrious Filipino writer and historian who lived during the Spanish and American era. His name is Epifanio De los SAntos, and his birthday falls today.

No festivities along the highway named after him?

Anyway, below is a brief biographical sketch of this “gentleman from the old school” written by Renato J. Mendoza (from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Institute).

Epifanio de los Santos (1871-1928).

EPIFANIO DE LOS SANTOS
(1871-1928)

Historian and man of letters, Epifanio de los Santos was born in Malabón, Rizal (the lakeside province once known as Morong –Pepe–), on April 7, 1871, to Escolástico de los Santos and Antonina Cristóbal.

When he was seven years old, he studied under a certain Maestro José Flores. He finished his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Ateneo de Manila; and his Licentiate in Law from the University of Santo Tomás in 1898.

A brilliant student, Don Panyong’s versatility covered such different endeavors as painting, music, history, literature, law, politics, and others. In his diverse studies, he became acquainted with Germans, French, and Greek literatures, not to mention English and Spanish.

Aside from his achievements in literature, he occupied the following government positions: provincial secretary of Nueva Écija; governor, fiscal of Malolos for 10 years; director of the Philippine Library.

Don Panyong spent most of his time in extensive researches and historical studies which resulted in the formation of one of the most comprehensive Filipiniana collections of his time. He died in Manila on April 18, 1928, of cerebral attack.

Señor de los Santos was also regarded by his peers (notably Cecilio Apóstol, a famous Filipino poet in the Spanish language) as one of the best Spanish-language writers during his time. Some of his notable works are Algo de Prosa (1909), Literatura Tagala (1911), El Teatro Tagalo (1911), Nuestra Literatura (1913), El Proceso del Dr. Jose Rizal (1914), and Folklore Musical de Filipinas (1920). He also wrote the biographies of notable Filipinos in history such as José Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Rafaél del Pan, and Francisco Balagtás.

Speaking of Balagtás, de los Santos 1916 translation of the former’s 19th-century Tagalog epic Florante at Laura is now considered a classic in Philippine Literature.

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