Will the Philippines Continue as a Spanish colony?by Jose Rizal
English Translation of Filipinas Dentro De Cien Años by Jose Rizal
Will the Philippines Continue as a Spanish colony?
If this were asked 300 years ago, when, at the death of Legazpi, the Filipino Malays began little by little to become disillusioned, and finding the yoke heavy they tried in vain to shake it off, no doubt the answer would have been easy.
For an enthusiastic spirit of the freedoms of his homeland, for one of those indomitable Kagayans who nurtured the spirit of the Magalats, for the descendants of the heroic Gat Pulintang and Gat Salakab of the province of Batangas, independence was certain, it was just a matter of understanding each other and tempting a determined effort. But for him who, disillusioned by dire experiences, saw confusion and disorder everywhere, apathy and brutality in the lower classes, discouragement and disunity in the higher classes, there was only one answer, and that was: stretch out his hands to the chains. , lower the neck to submit it to the yoke and accept the future with the resignation of a sick person who sees the leaves fall and senses a long winter, among whose snows he glimpses the edges of his grave.
So bewilderment was the reason for pessimism; Three centuries passed, the neck got used to the yoke, and each new generation, procreated between the chains, adapted better and better to the new state of things.
Is the Philippines in the same circumstances as 300 years ago?
- For the Spanish liberals, the moral state of the people continues to be the same. The Filipino Indians have not advanced.
- For the friars and their henchmen, the town has been redeemed from its savagery. It has progressed
- For many Filipinos, morals, spirit and customs have declined, as do all the good qualities of a people that falls into slavery, that is, they have regressed.
What about the political situation?
Let us rule out the adherence that the Filipinos have to Spain.
Let us suppose for a moment with the Spanish writers that between the 2 races there are only reasons for hatred and mistrust.
Let us admit the premises vaunted by many that three centuries of domination have failed to germinate a seed of affection or gratitude in the sensitive heart of the Indian, and let us see whether or not the Spanish cause has gained ground in the Archipelago.
Previously, a handful of soldiers, three or five hundred at the most, held the Spanish flag before the Indians, many of whom were dedicated to trade and were scattered, not only in the Archipelago, but also in neighboring nations, engaged in long wars against the Muslims of the South, against the English and Dutch, and unceasingly disturbed by the Japanese, Chinese and some other province or tribe in the interior.
Then the communications with Mexico and Spain were slow, rare and difficult; frequent and violent disturbances between the powers that governed the Archipelago; the Caja is almost always exhausted, depending on the life of the colonizers on a fragile ship, carrier of the commerce of China; then the seas of those regions were infested with pirates, all enemies of the Spanish name, being the navy with which he defended himself, an improvised navy, manned most of the time by fledgling adventurers, if not by foreigners and enemies, as happened with the army of Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas, frustrated and stopped by the rebellion of the Chinese bogadores who assassinated him, destroying all his plans and attempts. And yet, despite such sad circumstances, the Spanish flag has been sustained for more than three centuries, and its power, although it has been reduced, nonetheless continues to govern the destinies of the group from the Philippines.
Instead, the current situation looks like rose gold and, shall we say, a beautiful morning compared to the stormy and eventful night of the past.
The material forces available to Spanish domination have tripled; the marina has been relatively improved; there is more organization in both civil and military matters; communications with the Metropolis are faster and more secure; it no longer has enemies abroad; his possession is assured, and the dominated country apparently has less spirit, less aspirations to independence, a name that is almost incomprehensible to him; Everything, then, augurs at first sight another three centuries, at least, of peaceful domination and tranquil lordship. However, above these material considerations, others of a moral character, much more transcendental and powerful, hover invisible.
The peoples of the East in general and the Malays in particular are peoples of sensibility where the delicacy of feelings predominates.
Even today, despite the contact with Western nations that have ideals different from his own, we see the Filipino Malay sacrifice everything, freedom, comfort, well-being, name for the sake of an aspiration, or a vanity, whether religious, scientific or of any other character, but at the least word that hurts his self-esteem he forgets all his sacrifices, the work he did and keeps in his memory and never forgets the offense he thought he had received.
Thus, Filipinos have remained faithful for 300 years. They surrendered their freedom and independence, already hallucinated by the hope of the promised Heaven, already flattered by the friendship offered them by a noble and great people like the Spanish, and also forced by the superiority of the weapons that they did not know and that for the timid spirits had a mysterious character, or because taking advantage of their internal enmities, the foreign invader presented himself as a third party in discord to later dominate one and the other and submit them to his power.
Once within the Spanish domination, he remained firm thanks to the adherence of the peoples, to their enmities among themselves, and to the fact that the sensitive self-esteem of the Indian had not been hurt until then.
Then the people saw their nationals in the higher ranks of the army, their field masters fighting alongside the heroes of Spain, sharing their laurels, never sparing them honors, honors or considerations; then the fidelity and adherence to Spain, the love for the country made the Indian, Encomendero and even General, as in the English invasion; then the denigrating and ridiculous names with which they later wanted to dishonor the most laborious and punishable positions of the indigenous chiefs had not yet been invented; then it had not yet become fashionable to insult and insult in block letters, in newspapers, in books with superior permission or with the license of the ecclesiastical authority, the people who paid, fought and shed their blood for the name of Spain, nor were they he considered it neither hidalguía nor gracejo to offend an entire race, who is prohibited from replying or defending himself;
if there were religious hypochondriacs, who in the idleness of their cloisters had dared to write against him, like the Augustinian Gaspar de San Agustín and the Jesuit Velarde, their offensive Parthians never came to light, much less gave them mitres or They elevated them to high dignities.
The Indios of that time were not the same as we are today.
300 years of brutality and obscurantism, something had to influence us; the most beautiful divine work in the hands of certain workers can finally become a caricature. The religious of that time, wishing to establish his rule in the town, approached him and with him formed a cause against the oppressive encomenderos. Naturally, the people who saw them with greater education and a certain prestige, placed their trust in them, followed their advice and listened to them even in the most bitter days.
If they wrote, they wrote advocating for the rights of the Indians and made the cry of their miseries reach the distant steps of the Throne. And not a few religious among laymen and military undertook dangerous trips, as deputies of the country, which together with the strict residences that were then formed before the eyes of the Archipelago to all the rulers, from the Captain General to the last, consoled not a little and they soothed wounded spirits, satisfying, if only in form, all the dissatisfied. All this has disappeared. Mocking laughter penetrates like deadly poison into the heart of the Indian who pays and suffers, and they are all the more offensive the more entrenched they are: the old enmities between different provinces have been erased by the same wound, the general affront inflicted on an entire race.
The people no longer have confidence in those who once were their protectors, today their exploiters and executioners. The masks have fallen. He has seen that that love and that piety of the past resembled the affection of a wet nurse, who, unable to live elsewhere, always desired eternal childhood, the eternal weakness of the child, in order to earn her salary and feed herself at her own expense; she has seen that she not only does not nurture him to make him grow, but poisons him to stunt her growth, and that at her slightest protest she turns to fury!
The old simulacrum of justice, the holy residence has disappeared; chaos begins in consciousness; the affection that is shown for a Governor General, like La Torre, becomes a crime in the government of his successor, and is enough for the citizen to lose his freedom and his home; if what a boss commands is obeyed, as in the recent question of the entry of corpses into churches, it is enough for the obedient subject to be harassed and persecuted by all possible means; duties, taxes and contributions increase, without thereby increasing rights, privileges and liberties or ensuring the few existing ones; a regime of continuous terror and anxiety agitates the spirits, a regime worse than an era of disturbances, since the fears that the imagination creates are usually superior to those of reality; the country is poor; the pecuniary crisis that he is going through is great, and everyone points their fingers at the people who cause evil, and yet no one dares to lay their hands on them!
The Penal Code has come out like a drop of balm to so much bitterness.
But what use are all the Codes of the world, if for confidential reports, for futile reasons, for anonymous traitors, any honest neighbor is banished, without cause, without any trial? What use is that Penal Code, what use is life if you don’t have security at home, faith in justice, and trust in peace of mind? Of what use is all this scaffolding of names, all this mass of articles, if the cowardly accusation of a traitor is to sway the fearful ears of the supreme autocrat more than all the cries of justice? If this state of affairs continues, what will become of the Philippines in a century?
The accumulators are being charged little by little, and if the prudence of the Government does not give escape to the complaints that are concentrated, the spark may one day jump. This is not the occasion to talk about the success that such an unfortunate conflict could have: it depends on luck, weapons and a million circumstances that man cannot foresee; but even if all the advantages were on the side of the Government, and therefore the chances of victory, it would be a victory for Pyrrhus, and a Government should not want it. If those who direct the destinies of the Philippines are obstinate, and instead of giving reforms they want to make the state of the country go backwards, extreme its rigors and repression against the classes that suffer and think, they are going to get them to venture and put into play the miseries of a restless life, full of hardships and bitterness for the hope of achieving something uncertain. What would be lost in the fight?
Almost nothing: the life of the numerous discontented classes offers no great incentive to prefer it to a glorious death. A suicide may well be tempted; but what about afterwards? Wouldn’t there remain a stream of blood between the victors and the vanquished, and couldn’t the latter, in time and with experience, equal in strength, since they are superior in number, to their dominators? Who says no? All the small insurrections that have occurred in the Philippines were the work of a few fanatics or military malcontents who, in order to achieve their ends, had to deceive and deceive or use the subordination of their inferiors. So they all fell.
No insurrection had a popular character or was founded on the need of an entire race, nor did it fight for the privileges of humanity or justice; thus they did not leave indelible memories in the town, on the contrary, seeing that he had been deceived, drying his wounds, he applauded the fall of those who disturbed his peace! But what if the movement is born from the same people and recognizes its miseries because of it?
Thus, if the prudence and wise reforms of our ministers do not find capable and determined interpreters among the rulers of Overseas, and faithful followers in whom the frequent political crises call to carry out such a delicate position; if the complaints and needs of the Filipino people have to be answered with the eternal no place, suggested by the classes that find their life in the backwardness of their subjects; if fair claims are to be disregarded in order to interpret them as subversive tendencies, denying the country its representation in the Courts and the authorized voice to cry out against all kinds of abuses, which escape the entanglement of the laws; If, in short, the system is to continue with the fruitful result of alienating the will of the Indigenous people, spurring their apathetic spirit through insults and ingratitude, we can assure you that within a few years, the current state of things will have completely modified; but inevitably. Today there is a factor that did not exist before; The spirit of the nation has been awakened, and the same misfortune and the same degradation have united all the inhabitants of the Islands.
There is a large educated class inside and outside the Archipelago, a class created and increased more and more by the clumsiness of certain rulers, forcing the inhabitants to expatriate, to educate themselves abroad, and it maintains itself and fights thanks to the excitations and to the scouting system undertaken. This class, whose number is increasing progressively, is in constant communication with the rest of the Islands, and if today it forms nothing more than the brain of the country, in a few years it will form its entire nervous system and manifest its existence in all its acts.
However; To block the path to the progress of a people, politics has several means: the brutalization of the masses through a caste addicted to the Government, aristocratic as in the Dutch colonies, or theocratic as in the Philippines; the impoverishment of the country; the gradual destruction of its inhabitants, and the fomenting of enmities between some races and others. The dumbing down of the Filipino Malays has been shown to be impossible.
Despite the black plague of friars, in whose hands is the teaching of youth, who miserably waste years and years in the classrooms, leaving there tired, weary and disgusted with books; despite the censorship, which wants to close every step to progress; despite all the pulpits, confessionals, books, novenas that instill hatred of all knowledge, not only scientific, but even that of the Castilian language; In spite of all this system assembled, perfected and practiced with tenacity by those who want to keep the Islands in holy ignorance, there are writers, free thinkers, historiographers, philosophers, chemists, doctors, artists, lawyers, etc. The enlightenment spreads, and the persecution it suffers enlivens it. Nope; The divine flame of thought is inextinguishable in the Filipino people, and in one way or another it must shine and make itself known. It is not possible to brutalize the inhabitants of the Philippines! Will poverty stop their development? Perhaps, but it is a very dangerous measure.
Experience shows us everywhere, and especially in the Philippines, that the wealthier classes have always been the most friendly to quiet and order, because they are the ones who live relatively better and could lose in civil unrest. Wealth brings with it refinement, the spirit of conservation; while poverty inspires adventurous ideas, the desire to change things, little attachment to life, etc.
Machiavelli himself finds this means of subjugating a people dangerous, since he observes that the loss of well-being arouses more tenacious enemies than the loss of life. In addition, when there is wealth and abundance there are fewer discontents, there are fewer complaints, and the Government, richer, also finds itself with more means to support itself.
On the other hand, in a poor country what happens at home where there is no flour; and besides, of what use would a haggard and poor colony be to the Metropolis? Nor is it possible to gradually destroy the inhabitants. The Filipino races, like all the Malays, do not succumb to foreigners, like the Australian races, the Polynesian races and the Indian races of the New Continent. Despite the numerous wars that the Filipinos have had to sustain, despite the epidemics that periodically visit them, their number has tripled, like the Malays of Java and the Moluccas. The Filipino accepts civilization and lives and maintains contact with all peoples and in the atmosphere of all climates.
Aguardiente, that poison which extinguishes the natives of the Pacific islands, has no power in the Philippines; on the contrary, it seems that the Filipinos have become more sober, to compare their present state with that which the ancient historians paint for us. The small wars with the inhabitants of the South consume only the soldiers, people who, due to their fidelity to the Spanish flag, far from being a danger, are precisely one of its strongest supports. There remains the fomenting of the enmities of the provinces among themselves.
This was possible before, when communications between some islands and others were difficult and rare, when there were no steamboats or telegraphs, when regiments were formed according to the different provinces, some were flattered by granting them privileges and honors, and others were supported. against the strongest. But now that the privileges have disappeared, that due to a spirit of mistrust the regiments have been merged, that the inhabitants are astonished from one island to another, naturally the communications and the exchange of impressions increase, and seeing all threatened by the same danger. and wounded in the same feelings, they shake hands and unite. It is true that the union is not yet completely complete, but the measures of good government, the deportations, the harassment suffered by the residents of their towns, the mobility of officials, the scarcity of educational centers, which makes the youth of all the islands meet and learn to know each other.
The trips to Europe also contribute not a little to strengthen these relations, since abroad the inhabitants of the most distant provinces seal their patriotic feeling, from the sailors to the richest merchants, and to the spectacle of modern liberties and the memory of the misfortunes of the home, embrace and call each other brothers. In short, then, the advancement and moral progress of the Philippines is inevitable, it is fatal. The Islands cannot continue in the state they are in, without obtaining more freedoms from the Metropolis.
To new men, new social status. To want them to continue in their diapers is to expose oneself to the fact that the pretended child will turn against his nurse and flee, tearing the old rags that surround him. The Philippines, then, will either continue to be under Spanish rule, but with more rights and more liberties, or they will declare themselves independent, after bleeding and bloodiing the Mother Country. As no one should desire or expect this unfortunate rupture, which would be bad for everyone and only the last argument in the most desperate moment, we are going to examine through what forms of peaceful evolution the Islands could continue to submit to the flag of Spain, without that the rights, interests or dignity of one and the other were in the least harmed.