Sunday, April 13, 2008

Barack Obama and History: Black Soldier Joins Our Nationalist Revolutionaries During Philippine-American War

WHAT WE FILIPINOS SHOULD KNOW: (Note: Bold and/or underlined words are HTML links. Click on them to see the linked postings/articles. Forwarding the postings to relatives and friends, especially in the homeland, is greatly appreciated. To write or read a comment, please go to the bottom of the post and click on "Comments.").

We so-called educated Filipinos in the USA tend to unconsciously think we are white and adopt a racist (i.e. superior, as Humpty Dumpty would say ---my definition of the term "racist") attitude and behavior towards Blacks. So today, we Filipinos exemplify such by sending each other anti-Barack Obama emails and video attachments.

We have become racist towards and thus unquestioningly prejudiced against all or most Blacks, thanks to our ignorance (of Black History) which is bolstered by our blind acceptance of Hollywood stereotyping; this latter due to our intellectual shallowness (despite our intelligence/competence in our professions). We display our ignorance by pointing out the statistics of crime committed by Blacks without seriously thinking deep down why they happen.

We do not appreciate the fact that Black activism for civil rights spinned-off our (Filipinos and other colored minorities) newly found opportunities in our adopted country. Apparently, we are not aware that during the Philippine-American War, a number of Black soldiers joined our Katipuneros against their fellow white Americans soldiers.

Also, is not our unquestioningly racist attitude and behavior towards Black being unChristian? Unless one believes like some people below the Mason-Dixon line who will even show you that the Bible (their version) says Blacks are not 100% human.

Please see, /obama/thesis.asp. on the Obamas.
The Snopes brief provides a good explanation of Michelle Obama's college thesis. Note too that it was written 22 years ago and as much younger, you and I know we people change, as we all do --only fools don't.

Unless one has a closed mind, an honest and serious study of Black History should make us appreciate/understand what it is to have been a Black American then.... and now. Of course, understanding is not the same as agreeing, as we supposedly educated Filipinos should know.

(Preceding now in GLOBAL NATION of the Phil. Inquirer, click: )


David Fagen was the most celebrated of the handful of African American soldiers who defected to the Filipino revolutionary army led by Emilio Aguinaldo during the Filipino American War of 1899-1902. Fagen was born in Tampa, Florida around 1875. Details of his life remain sketchy. His father was a merchant and a widower. For a time he worked as a laborer for Hull’s Phosphate Company. On June 4, 1898 at the age of 23, Fagen enlisted in the Twenty-fourth infantry, one of the four black regiments of that time that was coincidentally based in Tampa. Fagen would see combat a year later as he shipped off from San Francisco to Manila on June 1899.

By then, the Filipino American war had been raging for four months, as Filipino patriots sought to defend their newly established Republic which they had won in a revolution against Spain. Fagen was soon in combat against Filipino guerillas in Central Luzon. Reports indicate that he had constant arguments with his commanding officers and requested to be transferred at least three times which contributed to his growing resentment of the army.

On Nov. 17, 1899, Fagen defected to the Filipino army. Winning the trust of the Filipinos he took sanctuary in the guerilla-controlled areas around Mount Arayat in Pampanga province. Fagen served enthusiastically for the next two years in the Filipino cause. His bravery and audacity were much praised by his Filipino comrades. Fagen was promoted from first lieutenant to captain by his commanding officer, General Jose Alejandrino on Sept. 6, 1900.

Such was his popularity that Filipino soldiers often referred to him as “General Fagen.” His exploits earned him front page coverage in the New York Times which described him as a “cunning and highly skilled guerilla officer who harassed and evaded large conventional American units.”
Clashing at least eight times with American troops from Aug. 30, 1900 to Jan. 17, 1901, Fagen’s most famous action was the daring capture of a steam launch on the Pampanga River. Along with his men, he seized its cargo of guns and swiftly disappeared into the forests before the American cavalry could arrive. White officers were frustrated at their inability to capture Fagen whose exploits by now had begun to take on legendary proportions both among the Filipinos and in the U.S. press. Fagen’s success also triggered the fear of black defections (of which there were actually only twenty).

By 1901, American forces captured key Filipino leaders including Alejandrino and by March, Aguinaldo himself. Filipino leaders tried to secure amnesty for Fagen, but the Americans refused, insisting that he would be court-martialed and most likely executed. Hearing of this, Fagen, by now married to a Filipina, refused to surrender and sought refuge in the mountains of Nueva Ecija in Central Luzon. Branded a “bandit,” Fagen became the object of a relentless manhunt, with a $600 reward for his capture, “dead or alive.” Posters of him in Tagalog and Spanish appeared in every Nueva Ecija town, but he continued to elude capture.

On Dec. 5, 1901, Anastacio Bartolome, a Tagalog hunter, delivered to American authorities the severed head of a “negro” he claimed to be Fagen. While traveling with his hunting party, Bartolome reported that he had spied upon Fagen and his wife accompanied by a group of indigenous people called Aetas bathing in a river. Recognizing him from the wanted posters, the hunters attacked the group and allegedly killed and beheaded Fagen, then buried his body near the river. But this story has never been confirmed and there is no record of Bartolome receiving a reward.

Official army records of the incident refer to it as the “supposed killing of David Fagen,” and several months later, Philippine Constabulary reports still made references to occasional sightings of Fagen.
To this day, it remain unclear what exactly became of David Fagen. His life after the war continued to be as mysterious as his existence before it. But his actions, largely forgotten in the United States, continue to be remembered in the Philippines as that of an African American man who heroically cast his lot with the Filipino revolutionaries to resist the injustice of American imperial designs.

Michael C. Robinson and Frank N. Schubert, “David Fagen: an Afro-American Rebel in the Philippines, 1899-1901,” The Pacific-Historical Review, vol. 44, No. 1, (Feb. 1975), pp.68-83.

Rafael, Vicente L.
University of Washington



Here are websites that talk about the Buffalo Soldiers and a couple of books, most famous being the black soldier Donald Fagen:

"Smoked Yankees": And the Struggle for Empire : Letters from Negro Soldiers, 1898-1902 (The University of Arkansas Press Reprint Series, Vol. 4) (Paperback)
by Willard B. Gatewood (Editor)


Anonymous said...

You should consider your sources prior to including them in your blog. The idea that "some people below the Mason Dixon line .. says Blacks are not 100% human" is based on information spread by internet rumor which is the equivalent of email "spam", household garbage and other refuse. This information and its source should be tossed out like the garbage it is. Your inclusion of this statement is very offensive to those from the Southern USA and shows that you may have a possible attitude of racism toward them.

Granted, there has been and still remains racism in the US. Racism from white to blacks, blacks to whites, hispanics to blacks, and the list could continue. Citing and propagating the ill-informed sources of the statement above only compounds the problem. You become part of the problem and not part of the solution.

Anonymous said...

Americans treated Territorial Filipinos, or Filipinos born during the American territorial period (1899-1946), worse than the blacks.

Territorial Filipinos were rejected and abandoned under a provision in the Tydings-McDuffie Act that was worded, unbelievably, in the classic subjunctive mood--"as if ... were"--grammatically, a supposition, contrary to fact:

"Citizens of the Philippine Islands shall be considered as if they were aliens."

As a "supposition, contrary to fact," the law itself concedes that Territorial Filipinos were not, in reality, "aliens," but were merely to be "considered as if they were"; then, it is obvious that they were, in fact, "citizens" or, at the least, "nationals"--a legal status Congress conveniently coined to designate them with, but is not provided for in the Constitution at all. Even then, the contrafactual law was enacted to deny Territorial Filipinos the recognition of their U.S. nationality, or even to deprive them of their U.S. citizenship, they acquired at the moment of birth.

Under American law, therefore, having been disowned by the sovereign at their place of nativity, Territorial Filipinos were born stateless, without any country at birth!

So, how should a Territorial Filipino, applying to be "naturalized" as an American, truthfully reply to the question in immigration documents: "Country of Birth"? Without openly committing perjury, will the answer be--

01. "The Republic of the Philippines," an archipelago that was officially recognized, and came into existence, as a separate country only on July 04, 1946--after all Territorial Filipinos had already been born? Or

02. "The U.S. Territory of the Philippine Islands" or, if born after 1934, "The Commonwealth of the Philippine Islands," over which the United States exercised "all rights of possession, control, supervision, sovereignty and jurisdiction" in and over the territory and its people until July 04, 1946?

A person, of course, can only be born once. The circumstances of birth--place of birth, date of birth, parentage, and the sovereign at the place of nativity--are indelible, better still, “a Gift of the Creator.” No law or regulation can nullify circumstances nature has dictated and the Almighty has ordained to be so by His Own Will alone, unless the miracle of a person suddenly resurrecting to be born again occurs

Thus, "Birth and allegiance go together" (U.S. v. Rhodes), otherwise born stateless. Naturalization, in fact, is defined as the status a person can only acquire AFTER BIRTH.

Justice and a sense of fair play thus demand that the United States should have afforded Territorial Filipinos the opportunity, at the very least, to expressly renounce or preserve voluntarily the American nationality they individually acquired at birth upon its withdrawal of sovereignty--otherwise, having been officially and judicially disowned by the very sovereign at their place of nativity, what country can they now claim to having been born in and owed allegiance to at birth?

In the case of blacks, America was at least gracious enough to treat them under Dred Scott as “property” they owned; but, in the case of Filipinos, America treated them under the Tydings-McDuffie Act as “property” disowned.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you, but there are exceptions, of course. I intend to vote for him when he becomes the official candidate of the Democratic Party. It upsets me no end when I receive the abominable " Barack Hussein Obama " refrain from highly educated Filipinos. If it weren't for MLK, Jr., we'd still be sitting at the back of the bus or in " colored only " sections of restaurants. What a shame!

Keep writing!!!



Anonymous said...

Hi Bert,

Magandang unaga/hapon po. I read your article and
some of it may be right but don't judge that all
Filipinos think this about Blacks or about Barack
Obama. Many Filipinos feel that Barack Obama, myself
one of them, is not ready to be President.

Regardless of race, he has shown me a ton of immature
behavior, insensitive statements that have to be
recalled everyday and a serious lack of understanding
of internal and foreign affairs. Let him spend more
that 15 years as a senator, gain more experience and
then maybe, just maybe, he will be qualified.

Furthermore, you mentioned so I went to
snopes and this is what I found:

Any person, regardless of race, who does not want to
recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States
of America nor wants to be seen pledging allegiance is
not fit to be the Commander-In-Chief or President of
the United States of America.

As an educated Filipino and one that has enough brains
to do my own research and does not need the media to
tell me who to vote for, I know that Barack Hussein
Obama is not the candidate I look for in a President.

Maraming salamat!

Best regards,
Louis Eguaras
Valencia, CA

Anonymous said...

I have nothing against black since I am also a colored minority and immigrant however I do not conform to the affirmative action in education because
continues discrimination in the opposite, in what is known as reverse discrimination.
promotes the less-qualified over the more-qualified, rather than simply opening doors to the historically under-represented
continues the circle repressed groups needing to continue to be underprivileged for their benefit
hurts mainstream groups for injustices they did not cause or condone
I doubt if Obama can resolve US economic, political and social problems. He's short of experience and americans must not take the risk.

-nonoy ramos

Anonymous said...

You're welcome, Bert. You're the
5th enlightened expat to comment on the racism of Fil-Americans. Here's what I edited:

:) S

Bert M. Drona said...

1st Anonymous,

My statement about people below the ason-Dixon line is not internet rumor. I do not know what your age is. I lived down South for 6 years during the 1970s and I know what I am talking about (which is before internet.)

Go to your public library and borrow the documentary series on the history of Black American civil rights: "EYES ON THE PRIZE" and you'll see a sheriff with the bible rationalizing about the blacks less than 100% human.

You said Granted.... Racism in America exists then and now and institutionalized. Seriously and honestly study your US history.



Bert M. Drona said...


Well-researched! All true. Thanks to racism: the American occupiers want the PHilippines but not the Filipinos. See my blog posting on:



Bert M. Drona said...


Am glad you appreciate good we got from the Afro-Americans/Black Americans.

I do not expect an intelligent voter to go for Barack just because he is Black. His candidacy only serves to highlight the existence of general and institutionalized racism in Ameircan society which nobody wants to face; and instead keeps pushing "out of the table" or simply put money into the issue.


Bert M. Drona said...

Hi Louis,

Thanks for commenting.

I would similarly respond to you as I did to Hernan above. I fully understand your opinion.


Bert M. Drona said...


I fully understand the issues you raised which are also valid and true, i.e. they exist and to some degree counter-productive.

Sometimes doing good is self-defeating,i.e. can lead to dependency. Like "giving fish rather than teaching how to fish."



Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you, but there are exceptions, of course. I intend to vote for him when he becomes the official candidate of the Democratic Party. It upsets me no end when I receive the abominable " Barack Hussein Obama " refrain from highly educated Filipinos. If it weren't for MLK, Jr., we'd still be sitting at the back of the bus or in " colored only " sections of restaurants. What a shame!

Keep writing!!!



Anonymous said...

Dear Bert
I think if people send articles not so positive about Obama it should not be construed necessarily as being against all blacks. Maybe some people just do not like the man and his politicies on health care or the economy - and does not necessarily have to mean he is being stereotyped by association nor affiliation, nor by colouring. I think this black white thing has made people think that if you are not truly bequiled by Obama and say things against him that it is all about being against the entire black nation. And this is also influenced by media and from hollywood. And even the blacks are guilty of this.
- Tina.

Bert M. Drona said...


Thank you for responding.

Obama's candidacy serves only to highlight or put in center stage the race issue here in the USA; an issue that the American people do not want to face for several reasons, be it political correctness, politeness, guilt, controversial, etc. I am not campaigning for him.

I do not know your age and where you live and so I do not know what your experiences are..

I have been residing and working in the US for the last 30 years and have been in contact with otherwise good and decent Filipinos; however when it comes to race issues, more often than not, we Filipinos generally are what I wrote about.


Anonymous said...

thanks mr. drona for reminding us....indeed a lot of us so-called "educated" Filipinos tend to be very picky on darker, shorter, different looking / different dialect, intonation, dressed classmates/ peers and fellow Filipinos. at home and abroad,

I remember often having to go in-between sometimes with force to help brutalized classmates and others while in school, for appearance reasons and social status

Of course this phenomena exists in many other cultures around the world, and serves as a functional way of imposing group hegemony of values and prevailing mores, norms.

perhaps the acid test could be askingthe question.. " would you / or your child /yourself be willing to marry/ live/ work or live with a different looking individual / group ?

the history of slavery / colonialism, imposition political / ideological rule, all have skewed world-wide economic, social, cultural growth and development for a long , long time, needless to say pride and delusions of grandeur among many world super powers are very short sighted and lack true historical scrutiny as you rightly addressed in your comment.


Anonymous said...

I support Obama. A lot many Republicans I know not voting for McCain are voting for him. Our church in fact must have advised Romney to quit aspiring to be president to give way to Obama's presidency.

I have told my siblings to vote for him, but you are right. Filipinos are prejudiced against blacks because of what their white masters told them before. In fact, I had a teacher in Geography who brainwashed us to think that blacks were good only for singing and dancing and nothing more because they had small brains. I had since realized she was wrong. That was when I was in 5th Grade.

Look at how the Filipinos in fact hate their brown skin that a lot of them are now using those whitening soaps and bleaches to get white skin! Ads on Philippine TVs in fact make me sick when they talk of those skin whiteners. Nakakasuka!

Yuko in Tokyo

Bert M. Drona said...

Hi Yuko,

Yes it's really sad that we Filipinos are not Filipinos enough; we seem to aspire to be white in many aspects of living.

Just like most, of course, we grow up conditioned to be one and thus do so unconsciously until we become "enlightened" to become aware of what we really have become. It's only when we truly come to know ourselves through thinking/introspection that we can change, if we want to.

I wrote the post with Obama as topic because his candidacy highlights and puts at center stage this racism issue that would not die even before 1776 because many people, Americans and among us, do not want to face this issue.

And there are individuals who irrationally hate colored people especially Blacks, who can run amok and may even attempt to end Obama's life - it's possible and probable in American society; it happened in the past.