Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Still on Philippine history - looking back at the Philippine-American War and the elite in the Philippines

An important part of the movie on Antonio Luna is the depiction of the Philippine-American War that included atrocities made by the Americans as they invaded and subjugated the Philippines. This was no mere insurrection but a war for independence against foreign rule. The events leading to the war as well as events during and after the war are barely mentioned in many textbooks included those used in our schools. No, this is not a case of being revisionist like how China and Korea accuse Japan for atrocities during the latter's occupation of those countries in the last century. The events whether good or bad need to be part of what is being taught in our schools because that is part of our history and it is important from the perspective of setting the context for how our country and its systems came to be.

Inevitable would also be the depiction of what people did back then to cope with life under a new foreign ruler. How was it in the countrysides? How was it in the cities? Did our elite collaborate with the Americans? To what extent and for what? These are questions that will haunt many who are afraid to confront that past in part due to the pains of wounds that could be reopened and in part because of the complicity of our ancestors especially those who may be depicted as the villains in those times. Aguinaldo, Buencamino and Paterno, for example, are now seen in a different light after watching "Luna" but we also need to understand their circumstances rather than just immediately judge them for alleged actions including the attribution of the deaths of Bonifacio and Luna. 

In my case, I am also interested with the role of the elite and circumstances of what is considered the first Philippine Republic in what could have been the first attempt at Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the Philippines. Based on what I have read, it was a disaster and our elite basically held our government hostage to the opportunistic terms for funding the government. There are writings somewhere probably stating how these very same elite with prominent names quickly sided with the Americans as the latter offered better terms for them to flourish. Perhaps some of the favourable terms included lands that were seized from the friars that were turned over by the Americans and became part of certain haciendas and other expanses of land that seem to be owned by few families?


No comments: