Monday, February 11, 2008


“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

" Fear history, for it respects no secrets" - Gregoria de Jesus  (widow of Andres Bonifacio)


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Then and now, an American seems to reside in the heart and mind of each Filipino of every generation since the United States conquest and its 48-year occupation of the Philippines. 

Hi All,

The American colonization, though much shorter than the 400+ years Spanish domination of our homeland, has more efficiently, more effectively, and more thoroughly impacted and reconstructed the native Filipino mindset for us natives to forget:

  • American duplicity in our native forefathers' revolution against Spain;
  • the subsequently violent and brutal American War against our forefathers, and in place to 
  • project the American arrival and occupation as pure benevolence of a  special friend and savior. 

All these so long-lastingly, thanks to the Americanized educational system imposed --after executing/hanging or putting to exile our nationalist heroes and banning any display or talk of Filipino nationalism/independence during the occupation-- throughout our homeland via the US Army, a compulsory and biased educational system facilitated through a "second in" by Thomasites, American civil administrators, Protestant missionaries and the later Peace Corps volunteers. 

We native Filipinos grew up and are still growing up knowing only about American innocence. Like many Americans themselves in their own homeland -thanks to excessive TV-viewing for one, etc.,-are ignorant of the totality of American history, more relevant to us specifically, its distorted narration of the Philippine-American War, usually glossed over under the Spanish-American War aka Splendid Little War, its mock Battle of Manila BayMonroe DoctrineManifest Destinycomplete Roosevelt Corollary, and the current, if not perpetual drive, for American hegemony in the 21st century.

It was only during the American Intervention/War in Vietnam did concerned Americans began searching for the roots of their current foreign policy. Those concerned people eager for information to explain how the United States became an interventionist global power have found important continuities between the past and the present. They found these connections only through critical pursuit and study of the annals of American history.

Seldom have American historians given much attention to anti-imperialism in the Philippines or to the scholarship of Filipinos. The Spanish-American War receives dramatic attention; but the bloody so-called Filipino Insurrection (labeled as such to subtly belittle the Filipino revolutionary struggle against Spain, for political independence at the time and then against American duplicity and intervention) which began against Spain in 1896 and lasted until mid-1902 against the United States is slighted.

 To be sure, the American War (1902 -if the guerrilla war Filipinos waged against the American occupational forces to 1913 is ignored). against our native revolutionaries was/is an ugly episode in the history of American foreign relations, and until recently American scholars have tended to play down the sordid side of United States history.

Consequently, the native Filipino has been effectively efficiently Americanized: conditioned to knowingly or unknowingly think and analyze economic and political issues in his own homeland (and abroad) from the American point of view. In the long-run, his alienated heart and mind brought to the Filipino and the homeland only ever-deepening poverty, and its consequent illiteracyhunger, and damaged culture. 

To change this way of thinking, the American drilled into and residing in the Filipino mind need to be removed; for the Filipino to be critically educatedso as to arouse the Filipinism in his heart and mind in matters of national interests (cultural, economic and political); for each native Filipino to ultimately demonstrate and most important, demand from his national leadership honest concern and action for the impoverished native majority(Christian, Muslim, and the forgotten ethnic minorities), to pursue the native common good.

The nationalistic outlook is most important and necessary when dealing with all foreigners, such as the American, Australian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese businessmen, their governments, and their transnational corporations (TNCs) as they work and exploit our people and homeland indirectly via the IMF and WB and the WTO in the Philippines, ADB, bilateral agreements, etc. among many others [all without the knowledge and understanding of the native majority and rationalized for us so-called educated (schooled) by our subtly quiet but traitorous native technocrats].

The primary task for us Filipinos, despite numerous impediments, is to study our history from a nationalist point-of-view, to raise our nationalist consciousnessthrough self-education or by formal/informal education, beginning with a recognition and appreciation of our colonial mentality and exerting a conscious effort to discard it. 

- Bert



In the year AD 73, a group of Jewish zealots in the cliff fortress of Masada were besieged by the Romans for months. Finally, they realized they could no longer hold out against the superior forces of the enemy. They faced a choice of being captured alive and forced into slavery or dying as free people.

They chose to die. And the account of their unique suicide pact has become one of the classic documents of history. The description of their deliberations and the manner in which they carried out their death pact was written by Flavius Josephus, the apostate Jew who was a recorder of the Roman conquest. Josephus used two women who had hidden rather than die as his sources for the story. If they had not remained alive, and if Josephus had not been with the Romans at the time, the incredible story of Masada would probably have gone untold.

Documentary material such as Josephus' account provides historians with some sense of the past and its connections to the present and future. But because some societies have no written language nor a tradition of maintaining a written history, the outsider's knowledge of them is limited. 

American history certainly does not suffer from a shortage of written documents. in fact, anyone undertaking the task of relating the past to the present may be overwhelmed by the amount of material available, some of it dating back to the first day a white man ever set foot on this continent.

In the usual presentation of American history through documents, a special kind of selectivity has prevailed: only those documents that have interpreted American history as a gradual unfolding of progress and democracy have been used. As a result, few Americans know that such ideas as "Black Power" and self-determination, which today are considered new, have historical antecedents. 

Today's ghetto and barrio politics were not born with "Black Power" or "La Raza", but date back to the formation of the first segregated --or self-segregated--communities in America. The ancestors of Malcolm X and Eldridge Cleaver are Nat Turner and Toussaint L'Ouverture, Reies Tijerina, in New Mexico, comes from a long line of Hispano-Indian leaders who organized resistance against the Anglos.

From the start, nonwhite people in this country have had to make decisions forced upon them by the white Europeans' insatiable need to increase their landholdings: should they, the natives, give up the earth on which they have lived and the civilizations associated with it, and accommodate .to the conquerors: should they resist, at the cost of physical annihilation; or should they try to remain as a separate community? The Word plus the Gun forced each nonwhite group to examine its collective sense of self-preservation and explore all the options open to it.

One such option --a racial state-- made familiar in the 1960s by the black separatists, is an integral part of the early American Indian history, although it is rarely discussed in that context. For example, the earliest published Indian Treaty signed by the newly formed United States was with the Delaware Indian tribe in September 1778. 

It gave an opportunity to the Delawares and "any other tribes who have been friends to the interests of the United States to join the present confederation, and to form a state, whereof the Delaware nation shall be the head and have a representative in Congress.. ." Not until early in the twentieth century, and the dissolution of the Cherokee nation did Indians formally give up the notion of exercising "Red Power" by forming a separate Indian state with its own representative in Congress.

As far back as 1812, Tecumseh, the Shawnee leader, and Pushmataha, the Choctaw orator debated fiercely at a Choctaw and Chickasaw council over the issue of how best to deal with the white man. "Are we not being stripped, day by day, of the little that remains of our ancient liberty?"

Tecumseh asked the council. "Do they not even now kick and strike us as they do their black faces? How long will it be before they tie us to a post and whip us and make us work for them in cornfields as they do them? Shall we wait for that moment or shall we die fighting before submitting to such ignominy?"

Pushmataha opposed Tecumseh's plea for armed resistance and implored the tribes to accept the white man's good intentions. he urged them " to submit their grievances, whatever they may be, to the congress of the United States according to the articles of the treaty existing between us and the American people..."

Such bitter debates among the Indians were paralleled by similar disputes among the Spanish-speaking people. Should we let the white man come in and take our land, they asked, or should we take up arms to fight for our land and our culture? But the records of those quarrels remain buried, untranslated, in the columns of old newspaper and in corridos, or folk ballads.

Only recently, have some young Chicanos,  the militant Mexican-Americans, rediscovered their folk heroes in reviving the tradition of La Raza. They have discovered that men like Juan Cortina, Gregorio Cortez, Joaquin Murieta, and Tiburcio Vasquez were not bandits, as they are described in most American history books if they are described at all. They were champions of La Raza, who fought with pistols against the white conquerors and killed any of their own who accepted the role of conquered people.

A stanza of a Texas corrido begins: "Long live our country, although suffering setback....the mother country is home, that loves son and daughter, for Mexico has fame, military discipline."

But no folk ballad tells the story of how some of the proud Polynesian people who lived in the Hawaiian Islands tried to resist the white political and cultural invasion of their shores.
"The Hawaiian people will be trodden underfoot by the foreigners," said the people of Lahaina on the island of Maui in 1845.

"The laws of those governments will not do for us. These are good laws for them, our laws are for us and are good laws for us which we have made for ourselves. We are not slaves to serve them. When they talk in their clever way we know what is right and what is wrong..." 

It did no good for the Hawaiians to know what was right and what was wrong. Their country was taken over by the haoles (whites), in the course of only a few decades. The haoles did it with guns and religion. And the native Hawaiians began the slow descent to what they are today-a pitiful small remnant of their race, occupying the lowest rungs on the social and economic ladder of the Islands.

Few haoles know that the Chinese in Hawaii, like the Japanese, argued among themselves about whether to accommodate the white man's brutal treatment or engage in active resistance to it. The resistance included helping Chinese workers to escape from the slave conditions under which they lived on the white-owned plantations. At one point, in the late 19th century, hundreds of Chinese gathered at a mass meeting in Honolulu to

"solemnly protest against the injustices, degradation and insult threatened to be imposed upon us and our race....while we ask for nothing more than equality with the resident of equally good behavior, we shall be satisfied with and shall support and respect nothing that accords to our race a lesser degree of consideration and justice of other nationalities enjoy."

The white community's response to this protest was made clear by a leading Island newspaper.
The Chinese, it said,
"assume an attitude plainly defiant and closely bordering on the dominant and dictatorial. From the weak and lowly field hand of the time of 1851 and the wage scale of $3 a month, they have, by an unparalleled and alarming evolution, reached the station of an assertive element in the policy of the nation."

Shortly after that arrogant statement was published, the Chinese Hawaiians organized a protective group and purchased rifles to defend themselves and their homes from the whites.
The Japanese immigrant community in Hawaii was torn apart by similar conflicts. Some Japanese, at the turn of the century, sought to resist the brutalities of white plantation owners by organizing for better conditions. These organizers were jailed for their efforts; they were also attacked from within the Japanese community by accommodationists who believed that "certain things" existed in the Japanese that caused them to be "disliked by American people." 

In the year before WW2, the argument within the Japanese community in Hawaii had its counterpart on the mainland. many Nisei, or second-generation Japanese-Americans, who lived there insisted that the only way to demonstrate their Americanism was to become more American than whites, others insisted on retaining ties with japan; a third group being treated as second-class citizens.

Pearl Harbor, however, decided the fate of the American-Japanese. All Japanese, citizens and aliens, no matter what their attitudes, were taken to relocation camps --"for the sake of internal quiet," said President Franklin Roosevelt. but the debates went on in the camps. They were now accompanied by violence. The "Blood Brothers," a group of Nisei determined to fight against the treatment they were getting, physically and verbally attacked those who were willing to accommodate to relocation.

The "Blood Brothers" called such Japanese inu (dogs). When the Nisei were asked to sign a loyalty oath in the U.S., nearly 50% of them refused to do so out of resentment at the treatment they had received. After the war, some 8,000 of them emigrated to Japan. Ten years later, one congressman admitted that he had been wrong in his attitude toward the Japanese-Americans. But, while making that concession, he retained the concept of color as a gauge of loyalty. "The Japanese-Americans," he said, "we're just as loyal as those whose skin was white." the direct relationship between skin color and loyalty to America, voiced so openly by that congressman, is an important element in the American character.

Some historians have begun to examine American racism as a product of capitalism and imperialism. The colonizers came to the new World believing that the colored people were inferior and used that ideology to justify the enslavement of the blacks, the killing of Indians and Mexicans, and the importation of Oriental labor for work considered unfit for whites. The identification of colored skin with evil, with the devil, with inferiority, infused the entire culture of the Anglo-Saxons during the first centuries of colonization.

In each case, the racism coincided with the economic need for slave labor and for land. At the same time, racist attitudes were institutionalized as laws, religion, and everyday practice. Each school child learned, along with the principles of republicanism and democracy, about the inferiority of colored people, ministers explained to their flocks that slavery was God's will.

Racist laws and racist behavior became an integral part of American culture, as much a part of it as democracy. Racist attitudes not only made whites feel superior by virtue of their skin color, but they also made all colored, colonized people feel inferior because of their skin color. Writings on American history are filled with racist axioms. It is sometimes conceded that the colored peoples have suffered injustices. But their attempts to resist, their politics and debates, were not considered important enough to merit inclusion.

Thus the history that has been and is being written, by its nature, is a racist history, which excludes minorities and women in its pages. And so written American history, along with American culture, law, religion, and philosophy, has skewed the attitudes of the American people.

To blacks, Indians, Mexicans, and Orientals, George Washington was not the father of the country, but a slaveholder and a racist --as was Jefferson. If the great heroes of the history books were judged by the character of their behavior to the colored peoples, Jackson would be called a bitter racist; Lincoln's belief that blacks were innately inferior would be decried, and Woodrow Wilson would be criticized for writing history that apologized for slavery and favored segregation. 

But these men remained heroes for most Americans, white and colored, because for more than three centuries, the values, the criteria for judging good and bad, superior and inferior, what is worthy of record and what is not, have not taken racism into account.

The history and struggles of the colored peoples, the losers, have rarely been recorded. Only now are they becoming subjects deemed worthy of investigation. The documents on the colored peoples' resistance, and their anguish, are an indictment not only of America's past but of all those writers who have excluded the colored peoples' struggle for freedom from their work. 

Too much of American history has been a celebration of the past that merits severe criticism. But the celebration of America was brought to an end for many people in the 1960s. The task of rewriting American history with a new perspective on racism as well as democracy and progress is just beginning.

Nonwhites have permanent alien status in the white society of America. The documents in this book demonstrate the nonwhites' belief that they are never completely trusted by most whites, and that they are always considered inferior no matter how superior they may be either within their own community or even in the larger world outside it.

Source: TO SERVE THE DEVIL, Volume 1: Natives and Slaves - A Documentary Analysis of America's Racial History and Why it has Been Kept Hidden, Paul Jacobs & Saul Landau with Eve Pell (1971)

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Anonymous said...

Dear Bert:

You are right. We need a nationalist history of the Philippines. Most of our history, especially in
textbooks, are written with a bias in favor of our
colonial masters, Spain and the US, because of the
continued neocolonial control of our country by these
colonial powers. Our textbooks for instance say
Magellan came to the Philippines on a journey of
exploration and search for gold and spices. But it is
clear from the contract between Magellan and the King
of Spain that Magellan came on a journey of conquest,
with Magellan appointed as governor of all the lands
he discovered, and sharing the loot with the Spanish
kingdom. Magellan therefore came on a mission of
land-grabbing and plunder. The US in the Treaty of
Paris bought out Spain for $20 million but legalized
Spain's plunder, exploitation and oppression of these
islands and their inhabitants for three and a half
centuries, while taking the place of Spain in the
continued plunder, oppression and subjection of our
people. Unless we write the true history of our
people we shall never be liberated from colonialism
and mental slavery. More power to you. MANUEL F.
ALMARIO, Movement for Truth in History (MOTH of

Bert M. Drona said...

Hello Manuel,

It's good to know that you appreciate the distortions in our history. As you may know, victors write the history of the vanquished; it would be great if more --if not most-- of our fellow Filipinos know the same.

That's why I keep on researching and writing much about our miseducation and hopefully contribute in my small way towards destroying our miseducation.

Thank you for your encouragement and regards.


Adam Keawe Manalo-Camp said...

Interesting blog. Except, there are actually alot of folk ballads in Hawaiian that do recount resisting colonialism such as "Kaulana Na Pua". Today there are many musicians and bands (including rap groups) that sing about unity and resist.
Also you may want to check out this video:
It talks about the relationship between the US, Hawai'i and Philippines at the turn of the 20th century.