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Nationalism in the19th Century Colonial Philippines
In elementary and high school history, I have learned that the Philippines was under the Spanish rule for about 300 years, 333 to be exact. Three centuries, three decades and three years were needed for our country to separate from Spain and, ultimately, fall again to other hands.
From the start of their control of the archipelago, we can say that the Spaniards were not fully accepted by the early Filipinos; received, yes, but not accepted. There were those such as Lapu-Lapu who fought to preserve their freedom. They showed their dislike by fighting the Spaniards in different mutinies triggered by various events, different causes. However, the earlier revolts were unorganized, that is to say regional, and were rendered useless against the colonist.
Although there was the will to repel the invaders, it was not collective and the mutinies were due to different motives, sometimes entirely personal or even religious. Filipino nationalism in the earlier times, in fact even today, is probably best quoted by Rizal as “every man for himself.”
Spark of Nationalism
At the initial stage of colonization, the Spaniards used religion to tame the “indios” and create a monastic colony, which was advantageous to them. It proved successful for they were able to bring up the submissiveness and acceptance of the Filipinos to the political and social order they have established in the archipelago. However, they have abused their powers over the helpless natives.
According to Nebres and Zulueta (2005), the “arbitrary and unjust economic and administrative policies (of the Spanish colonizers) resulted in and provided an intense motive among the inhabitants to resist and rebel against the ruling conqueror.” The Spaniards themselves, through their suppression of the natives, allowed the ember of Filipino nationalism to embody a flame – small, yet steadily growing.
Nonetheless, Philippine nationalism was fully established only in the late 19th century. Through a series of interconnected events, Filipinos became aware of their right as a people and began to fight for justice. They fought for liberty for “there can be no justice without freedom.”
Setting aside the oppression of the people, we can say that it all began when Suez Canal opened the international trade to the Philippines, along with different avenues for the natives.
Suez Canal and the Ilustrados
The international trade gave birth to the middle class; “emerged from the economic boom derived from expanded agriculture and commerce.” From the new breed of Filipinos sprang brave and idealistic young men, the ilustrados or bravo indios, whichever they prefer to be called. They were sent to better educational institutions in Manila and in Europe, exposed to the Western culture and the romantic age – taking with them the liberalism of the West. “They were the driving force determined to institute reforms and change the status quo.”
Along the trade came the ideas from western nations; liberal concepts from greatest philosophers of the time. These views enabled the middle class to meet on common agenda for propaganda purposes. International awareness was also the consequence of the trade. The revolutions on the different parts of the world inspired the middle class to struggle for equal rights, then ultimately, freedom and independence.
Secularization Issue, Cavite Mutiny, and the GOMBURZA
The battle between Filipino priests and the friars for the control of different parishes also caught the attention of the people. Many parishes under Filipino priests were handed over to the friars. The regular clergy were given priority over the native seculars in the assignment of parishes, especially the rich estates. “In the eyes of the Filipinos, this was a deliberate ploy to dishearten and thwart the development of the native clergy.”
With the arrival of General Izquierdo, laws requiring the Engineering and Artillery Corps to pay the taxes where they were previously
Life of the Early Filipinos
The Coming of the Spanish Colonizers
Early Phase of Contemporary Philippine History
Struggle for Freedom
Second Phase of Contemporary Philippine History