Healing the Soul of the NationPublisher’s Speech
When I was growing up I was told in school that my country was colonized by Spain, for a period of over 330 years. We were then colonized by the U.S. for 46 years and occupied by Japan for 3 years. School also taught me that I should be grateful to Spain because the Spanish gave the Philippines European civilization and religion. Unfortunately most Filipinos still believe this. That is why the Philippines is still in the dark age. How did my people come to believe these lies? I do not see how any people could understand colonization in these terms. The Spaniards came to my country. They murdered our men, raped our women, stole our lands and enslaved those who survived. They damaged our cultures beyond repair. The Spaniards came to the Philippines, as they did in other countries, to rape, murder and plunder. And in school I was taught to be grateful because Spain had given me their religion and their so-called civilization. This is like asking the Jews to be grateful to Hitler.
Imagine a group of armed bandits storming into this room right now, raping you, slaughtering you, and stealing everything of value. When they are finished, they tell you, the surviving victims, “Here is our civilization and religion. Be grateful.”
I thought the Philippine education system had changed from the time I was a little girl. Recently I started to read the Philippine Constitution in a textbook by Hector S. De Leon, 2005 edition, that is given to today’s students at the Universities of the Philippines and Ateneo. On page 12 it says… and I quote:
“The demerits, however of the Spanish administration were more than offset by its merits.
(a) The Spanish rule, when viewed in the broader light of global colonization, was generally mild and humane. The Filipino people were not brutalized. Spaniards and Filipinos intermarried and mingled socially. Slavery and tribal wars were suppressed.
(b) It brought about the unification of the Filipino people. The diverse tribes were molded into one people, under one God, one King and one government, and out of their common grievances against Spain, blossomed the spirit of nationalism; and
(c) Spain uplifted the Filipinos from the depth of primitive culture and paganism and gave them the blessings of Christianity and European civilization.”
End of quote. “Spain uplifted the Filipinos from the depth of primitive culture and paganism.” How can Spain call the Filipinos primitive when they were the ones who came here to rape and murder? Who is primitive? My forefathers honored the moon, the stars, the earth, the mountains and the trees. What is wrong with that? Don’t you honor god when you honor nature?
If to become Christian means to slaughter my father, my mother, my brothers and my sisters, I would rather be pagan.
Spain did not give the blessing of Christianity to my forefathers! They were told to convert to Christianity or die! That is what Spain did to many countries all over the world.
I believe that our problem in the Philippines today is not lack of money nor too much greed and corruption. This is not the root of our problem. Rather it is first and foremost a lack of identity. An individual who cannot grow up with an identity can never be confident, and can never know success. The Philippines is full of individuals without identity, without confidence. The Philippines is suffering from an identity crisis. I believe this is what makes this country a poor nation.
Filipinos often complain about the problems of the Philippines comparing this nation to China, Japan, Singapore and the USA. We cannot make this comparison. There is no comparison. These nations have not been raped and plundered like the Philippines. None of these nations have suffered foreign domination for almost 400 years!
The Republic of the Philippines was inaugurated on July 4, 1946. We have only been an independent state for 60 years. We cannot expect this country to heal in such a short period of time.
Our soul has been damaged by continuous foreign control. But we can fix this. We can change the future. It is up to us. I believe our only chance for survival and progress is to raise a new generation of Filipinos aware of their rich culture and noble heritage. For the past ten years I have been publishing books to defend and promote Philippine art and culture. I believe that some day soon there will be a cultural revolution that will inspire the Philippine cultural renaissance. I believe there are many Filipinos like me who will make a difference, who will make this happen.
There is hope. As long as there are Filipinos like me, like my brother Freddie Aguilar, our national artist Napoleon Abueva, Alwin Sta. Rosa, Rafael Cusi and all the artists here tonight who love the Philippines and are willing to take a stand, there is hope.
I believe that the Filipino artists are the flame keepers of our rich culture and heritage. I believe that together the Filipino artists can heal the soul of this beautiful nation.
Mabuhay ang sining Pilipino!
Maraming salamat po!
Speech by M****** A******
Y** and Y*** Book Launch
Saturday, 15 September, 2007
Now, I don’t really want to get confrontational about things and I always dread making an attempt to put people in their place. Hence I will put my reaction as delicately as I can.
Really, Miz A******, what the f**k?
Don’t get me wrong here. But if you are going to start mouthing off about “healing” the soul of this nation, you should start by not giving such ignorant, incendiary and latently racist speeches. It’s precisely self righteous, falsely nationalistic "Filipinos like me", with such a covertly vindictive attitude about our colonial past which becomes the counterproductive force in the creation of a cohesive national identity. I'm terribly sorry but your writings came across as a speech filled with hate.
And if you really wish to give up “European civility” for the sake of your romanticized yet undefined glorious pre-Hispanic past, allow me to recommend first ditching your surname, which is obviously a Hispanic one. After that, you can start advocating the eradication of all concepts of time (i.e, Lunes, Martes, Miyerkoles. We all say alas sinko ng hapon. We don’t say alas lima ng hapon now do we?) and begin finding new names for fork, spoon, telephone, horse, and practically every other object in existence in the country. Finally, you can cap it all off by tearing down every 400 year old heritage church and finding a brand new name for our nation. Perhaps being named after King Philip II of Spain might be a little too “evil” and repressive for you.
And you are a publisher! Frankly, I find it alarming to realize that you need to read more as well. One only needs to pick up writings by Dr. Fernando Zialcita Phd
or even the Noli Me Tangere to realize that Spain’s control of the Philippines was completely superceded by the control of the Catholic Church and friars and representatives from MEXICO. Jose Rizal’s antagonist was Padre Damaso, NOT the governor general remember? Please be careful when using incendiary, racist ramblings in the name of self realization and the creation of a “national identity”. The last time I remember when that tactic was used was under the Third Reich. Even President Marcos and his writings about the creation of a "New Society" and cohesive culture for the Philippines did not espouse such hateful words. And do you truly think that Rajah Sulayman’s stringent caste system of “datu and alipin” was any more enlightened than the theocracy and Spanish government misrule that replaced it? Were you there?
Not that I am dismissing/diminishing our country’s colonial pain and injustice. I can’t blame you for being upset. But try to base your judgements on Spanish colonial rule by more than just one book. I acknowledge that the writings which you refer can be construed as misleading and simplistic but then again, so is your argument. And you aren’t even backing up your comments with facts. I really feel that the logic/argument you present is taken from some old-school /divide and conquer method of seeking an enemy and dredging up past wrongdoings to justify any inadequacies happening today. Your argument reeks of victimization as the other reeks of denial. And both arguments, sadly, created by Filipinos.
Miz A...., we must remember that we are all immigrants here. Even the Aeta came over from someplace else. So please get off your high horse, remove that chocolate chip from your shoulder and start embracing the multifaceted identity that we have – INCLUDING THE SPANISH PART of it because all this misinformed navel gazing will only get you - and the rest of us - nowhere.
Oye chica, KINDLY MOVE ON!
Phew. I'm glad I got that out. Anybody else out there have anything to say about this?
UPDATE: This is a response from a member of faculty from the Philippine History Department of the Ateneo De Manila.
I suggest: 1) I suggest Miss A****** read the book: Authentic Though Not Exotic from University of Hawaii Press. 2) Asking the lady to do comparative historical reading. She mentions China and Japan. She obviously doesn't know about how the Chinese and the Japanese NOBILITY treated their own people DOWN THROUGH THE CENTURIES!!! This is a recurring problem among Filipinos. They don't really know the history of their Asian neighbors, even those never colonized by foreigners. So they tend to idealize them. Down to the 19th century, the penalty for a commoner not bowing to a samurai was death. The poor were so desitute that they sold their children into slavery. (Hence Japanese migration overseas late 19th-early 20th centuries). 3) Reading on Phil. prehistory and ontribal Filipinos. Nor do Filipinos know the indigenous cultures of their own country. They idealize the indigenous non-hispanic past and do not pay attention to the violence and bloodshed: village against village -- even on the same river. Competition to get slaves (more precious than land) or to get a head, or to capture women. Read the ethnographies of R. Barton on the Ifugao (early 20th cent.) or R. Rosaldo on the Ilongots (mid 20th century) or Scott's description of 16th cent. barangay society and you appreciate better what the missionaries achieved -- for all their obvious stupidities.
Sigh. Miz A******, I hope this has been an educational experience for you... Peace Out.