Friday, May 13, 2005

The Lord Says: "Keep the Philippines" - Conversations with God

The Lord Says: "Keep the Philippines" (plus a soldier's song)

In retrospect, we may note that the study of history, i.e. Philippine or world history, is conducted in the traditional way: remembering "who, when and where". It was boring to many of us: "of what use is the study of history?" We never deeply appreciated history because we were never taught about asking "what, how" or seeking the "why", the sources and uses of history; and most important, the function and purpose of the historian. Will Durant wrote in his voluminous "Story of Civilization": "Most history is guessing, and the rest is prejudice".

This may well be true much of the times until the beginning of the 20th century as when our homeland was invaded/intervened and occupied/colonized by America. As we know, victors write or rewrite the history of the vanquished and expectedly create myths as to the victors' purely benevolent and magnanimous intentions. Thus, for the serious history buff among us, there is a need to flesh out the facts from the myths; there is a need to look into various historical sources to arrive at the truth.

Though there were some Filipinos who have questioned our American-authored history, the real flowering of the nationalist inquiry into our homeland's history came about in the early 1960s, when the winds of post-WW2 nationalism, the emergence of new nations freed from colonialism/imperialism permeated the African and Asian regions. But thanks to the US-supported Marcos Dictatorship, the rebirth and growth of Filipino nationalism and national consciousness were stymied.

Today and tomorrow, most especially with the new and younger generations of Filipinos in the homeland, the greater lack of appreciation and knowledge of their nationalist history is a big boon to the foreigners and their local partners greatly profiting from such a status quo; but a sad and unfortunate situation that contributes to their ever-worsening and perennial socioeconomic and political predicament.

Hereunder is one myth among many that have been propagated in the official and unofficial school history books, then and now, in our homeland and America. Such myths are a reason why those among us and most Americans who unquestioningly believe this Americanized version of history are surprised by the continued resentment and "ungratefulness" of the formerly colonized.

When America started to dispose of its revolutionary ideals and decided to go on a self-proclaimed civilizationist errand, to enter and become the new bully in the block among the existing European imperialists, i.e England, Spain, France, etc., its leadership had to sell such moves and make the decision accepted by the American people, at the time still quite a complicated matter.In order to annex the Filipinos,

President William McKinley needed a moral ideal that could serve two purposes. First, the ideal was supposed to be a means for convincing the American Congress and people. Second, it was a rhetoric that masked the economic motive which, in reality, led America to invade the Philippines.

- Bert

The Phillipines makes a decent representative example of the US' first official exercise in colonial imperialism and formal empire [*], also referred to as "civilizational imperialism" - a project we're presently repeating.

"Lest this seem to be the bellicose pipedream of some dyspeptic desk soldier, let us remember that the military deal of our country has never been defensive warfare. Since the Revolution, only the United Kingdom has beaten our record for square miles of territory acquired by military conquest. Our exploits against the American Indian, against the Filipinos, the Mexicans, and against Spain are on a par with the campaigns of Genghis Khan, the Japanese in Manchuria and the African attack of Mussolini. No country has ever declared war on us before we first obliged them with that gesture. Our whole history shows we have never fought a defensive war. And at the rate our armed forces are being implemented at present, the odds are against our fighting one in the near future." - --Major General Smedley D. Butler, America's Armed Forces: 'In Time of Peace', 1935.
1898-1914: The Phillipines.

Conversations with God

President William McKinley’s explanation for going to War and colonizing the Philippines: ”I walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight; and I am not ashamed to tell you, gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed to Almighty God for light and guidance more than one night.

And one night late it came to me:

1) That we could not give them [the Philippines] back to Spain — that would be cowardly and dishonorable;

2) That we could not turn them over to France and Germany — our commercial rivals in the Orient — that would be bad business and discreditable;

3) that we could not leave them to themselves — they were unfit for self-government — and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain’s was; and

4) that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died.

And then I went to bed, and went to sleep, and slept soundly; and the next morning I sent for the … War Department map-maker, and I told him to put the Philippines on the map of the United States (pointing to a large wall map), and there they are, and there they will stay while I am President!”

(General James Rusling, "Interview with President William McKinley," The Christian Advocate, 22 January 1903, 17. Reprinted in Daniel Schirmer and Stephen Rosskamm Shalom, eds., The Philippines Reader)


A Song from the Philippine-American War (written in 1898)

Damn, damn, damn the Filipinos
Cross-eyed, Kakiak Ladrones,
And beneath the starry flag
Civilize ‘em with a Krag*
And we’ll all go back to our beloved homes.”

(* Krag is slang for the Krag-Jensen rifles, an extremely powerful weapon used by the US Army in the Philippines. - Bert)

“The HISTORY of an oppressed people is hidden in the lies and the agreed myth of its conquerors.” - Meridel Le Sueur, American writer, 1900-1996

"The HISTORY of the past interests us only in so far as it illuminates the HISTORY of the present." Ernest Dimnet, 1866-1954, French Clergyman

"The chief business of America is business" - President Calvin Coolidge, 1925

"The glory of the United States is business" - Wendell L. Willkie, 1936

“Nations whose NATIONALISM is destroyed are subject to ruin.” - Colonel Muhammar Qaddafi, 1942-, Libyan Political and Military Leader

"We shall be better and braver and less helpless if we think that we ought to enquire, than we should have been if we indulged in the idle fancy that there was no knowing and no use in seeking to know what we do not know..." - SOCRATES

"Upang maitindig natin ang bantayog ng ating lipunan, kailangang radikal nating baguhin hindi lamang ang ating mga institusyon kundi maging ang ating pag-iisip at pamumuhay. Kailangan ang rebolusyon, hindi lamang sa panlabas, kundi lalo na sa panloob!" --Apolinario Mabini La Revolucion Filipina (1898)

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