”We gave the Philippines political freedom to enter the world family of nations, but did we give them internal political liberty? More important still, did we grant them economic freedom?” – Harold L. Ickes, longest tenured U.S. Secretary of the Interior (1933-1946)
"...the freedom America gave us in 1946 was freedom in a straitjacket." - Hernando J. Abaya, author of "Betrayal in the Philippines" (1946) & ""The Untold Philippine Story" (1967)
It is always with great sadness and anger when I think, read about and see our fellow native Filipinos --the native (Malay) Filipino majority actually-- who are hungry, landless and illiterate, literally existing and not living life.
And also always with sadness, sometimes coupled with anger at those who know and/or should know, realizing the historical ignorance of many among us natives who claim to be schooled/educated, exhibiting a curtain of ignorance of our true history. Therefore, a consequent failure to learn from the past, to repeat the mistakes of the past, to not see the forest from the trees.
In this particular case, ignorance of the preconditions to the granting of our supposed national independence, a loudly proclaimed grant from our former colonial master, the United States of America. Strictly speaking, a grant is free, non-repayable to the grantor. But in this instance, the supposed political independence granted was not really a grant.
As independence came with --still very few of us native Filipinos know and understand-- the imposed preconditions (see NOTES below) then and now, in terms of its real cost to our homeland and our fellow native countrymen... yesterday, today and tomorrow and in generations yet to come.
And no small thanks for this state-of-affairs --a devastating legacy-- courtesy of our much revered triumvirate of Commonwealth politicians: Manuel Quezon, Sergio Osmena and Manuel Roxas. Our misplaced reverence for such a bunch of duplicitous and opportunistic political leaders.
A triumvirate of native Filipino politicians who were, in retrospect, our poster-boys of traitorously adept manipulators of the common tao and greatly emulated by many of our past and present politicians (we are not seeing statesmen here) in our greatly and disgustingly decayed Filipino politics.
Below essay by Mrs. Leticia R. Constantino provides a basic narrative on the history of our independence, as "granted" by the United States of America.
[Philippine] Independence As A Political Football
- Leticia R. Constantino
"Immediate, absolute and complete independence!" - this was the slogan raised by Filipino leaders like Manuel Quezon and Sergio Osmena during the decades of "peace time" following the ruthless suppression of the main mass resistance to direct American colonial rule.
Those of us who do not have firsthand knowledge of that period would most likely be carried away by the brave words and take them at face value. We might even feel greatly indebted to the prominent Filipino politicians of those decades for raising high the banner of nationalism in accordance with the most cherished wishes of our people.
But let us reexamine that period more carefully and objectively and let us ask this question: Did our leaders then really mean what they so passionately advocated in their election campaigns and in the various "independence missions" to the United States? We will find the answer by studying the nature of colonial politics under American rule as well as the contradictory attitudes toward Philippine independence exhibited by various sectors of American society.
There were three major players in the game of winning Philippine independence:
- The Filipino people,
- the Filipino politicians and
- the United States.
The Filipino People
The Filipino people as a whole remains steadfast in their desire for independence. although the brutal suppression of their resistance, the effects of American education, the gradual grant of political autonomy by the colonial power and the latter's promise of independence finally led Filipinos to accept the idea that their freedom was to come as a grant from the United States, they wanted this freedom as early as possible.
Therefore, only those leaders who pledged to work for "immediate, absolute and complete independence" could expect popular support. The electoral defeat in 1906 of the Progresistas (former Federalistas) whose platform called for "eventual" independence was an unforgettable lesson for all future politicians.
Unfortunately for the people, their revolutionary experience and the Katipunan's emphasis on political freedom from Spanish oppression and friar despotism (valid for its time) did not equip them to understand the economic objectives of US colonialism. Their own leaders, for reasons which will become clear farther on, did little to enlighten them on this score.
Hence, their desire for independence was focused on political sovereignty. They remained largely unaware of their country's growing economic dependence on the U.S. which would undermine the political freedom they sought.
The United States
The second player was the United States. The American people had fought their own anti-colonial war against England. Sectors which retained this anti-colonial tradition were sincere anti-imperialists. Others had selfish reasons for objecting to the annexation of the Philippines.
Racists dreaded contamination from an "inferior people." Labor unions feared the entry of cheap Filipino labor; farmers did not want competition from Philippine agricultural crops. Some businessmen believed that the Philippines could become a market for US goods without becoming a colony. Together these sectors constituted a vocal opposition to annexation.
The advocates of colonization -- political and military leaders who wanted an empire, industrialists and businessmen who sought new markets for their products, new sources of raw materials, and new areas of investment --were more powerful. The Philippines was therefore annexed. However, American colonial policies toward the Philippines, including the various proposals to grant independence, represented a series of compromises between these two forces in American society.
The Filipino Politicians
Caught in the middle and vacillating between the two were the Filipino politicians. The following aspects of colonial politics shaped their general behavior as politicians and in particular as leaders of the various independence missions:
- Most politicians came from the landed elite or represented their interests. The strict property and language requirements for voters imposed by the Americans in the first elections ensured that practically only the elite could vote and be elected to office (see SM-3). By the time qualifications were liberalized, political leadership was safely in their hands.
- Since most politicians were partial to landowners (who controlled the votes of their tenants and were also important source of funds for electoral campaigns), they did not object to the US policy of free trade which stimulated such export crops such as sugar, copra and hemp. As we shall see later, the fact that independence could end the duty-free entry of these crops into the American market was a constant preoccupation of our national leasers.
- The American policy of gradual granting autonomy plus the fact that the governor-general retained the power of appointment forced Filipino leaders to cooperate with him since they were constantly asking for more prerogatives for themselves and government jobs for their political supporters on whom their own re-election depended.
- In view of all the foregoing, there was no real difference among the contending political parties and personalities of the period. They all had vested interests and career expectations to protect and cultivate within the political framework set up by the Americans. They all stood for independence, for as Manuel Roxas once admitted, Filipino leaders were forced to use "radical statements" for "immediate, complete and absolute independence" to "maintain hold of the people."While all probably wanted independence eventually, their primary concern was to secure absolute autonomy (which would mean more power for themselves) and higher quotas for Philippine agricultural exports to the US (which would mean more profits for landowners).Since all were birds of the same feather, they could easily switch from one party to another; parties could split and later coalesce. But whatever they did, politicians knew that the way to achieve their highest ambitions and remain at the top was to convince the people that they were working for independence.
At that time Quezon said that what he really wanted was an Act which would stabilize relations between the Philippines and the U.S. for 25 years. He admitted, though, that it would be hard to convince the Filipino people to approve of his idea.
Quezon opposed the bill declaring that under it "the Philippines would remain a conquered province of the U.S," that the provisions on the free entry of American goods would perpetuate our dependence, and that the retention of military, naval and other reservations was "inconsistent with true independence" and would "violate national dignity."
- Renato Constantino, A Past revisited, Quezon City, Tata Publishing Services, 1975.
- Teodoro A. Agoncillo and Milagros C. Guerrero, History of the Filipino People, Quezon City MALAYA Books, 1970.
- Joseph F. Hutchinson Jr. "Quezon's Role in Philippine Independence," in Compadre Colonialism, Studies on the Philippines Under american Rule, edited by Norman G. Owens, Michigan papers on South and Southeast Asia, November 3, 1971.
- Renato constantino, The making of A Filipino, Quezon City, MALAYA Books, 1969.
- Theodore Friend, Between Two Empires - the Ordeal of the Philippines 1929-1946, New Haven, Yale university Press, 1965
- Peter W. Stanley, The Philippines and the United States 1899-1921, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard university Press, 1974.
- Leticia R. Constantino, TAP Director, 1984
- President Roxas Railroaded the Approval of Bell Trade Act (Philippine Trade Act),1946 & Military Bases Agreements
- Bell Trade Act-1946 (Parity Rights)
- US Military Bases & Military Assistance Agreements (1947)
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Abaya had to flee our homeland in 1946 as he earned the ire of those in power during the Manuel Roxas regime when his first book -Betrayal- was published.
The below link will show a short list of my past posts (out of 540 posts so far) which I consider as basic topics about us native (indio)/ Malay Filipinos. This link/listing, which may later expand, will always be presented at the bottom of each future post. Just point-and-click at each listed item to open and read.
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The postings are oftentimes long and a few readers have claimed being "burnt out." My apologies. As the selected topics are not for entertainment but to stimulate deep thought (see MISSION Statement) and hopefully to rock the boat of complacency (re MISSION).
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- BAYAN KO by Freddie Aguilar
- ”Bayan Ko” by KUH LEDESMA
- ”Bayan Ko” by a Korean choir
- ”Sa Kuko ng Agila” by Freddie Aguilar
- ”Huwad na Kalayaan” by Freddie Aguilar >
and yet deprecate agitation
are men who want crops without
plowing up the ground;
they want rain without thunder and
They want the ocean without the
awful roar of its waters.
This struggle may be a moral one
or it may be a physical one
or it may be both moral and physical
but it must be a struggle.
Power concedes nothing without a
It never did, and never will." – Frederick Douglass, American Abolitionist, Lecturer, Author and Slave, 1817-1895