Part 4b

European Colonial Policy Icon

February 10, 2022

English Translation of Filipinas Dentro De Cien Años by Jose Rizal

No sensible nation neglects the immense, virgin, unexploited and little-defended continental territories in order to gain a handful of poor and hardened islands.

England already has enough colonies in the East and is not going to risk losing her balance. She is not going to sacrifice her empire in India for the poor Philippine Archipelago.

If she entertained this intention, she would not have returned Manila in 1763; she would have kept any point in the Philippines to leave from there, expanding little by little.

Besides, why does the merchant John Bull need to kill himself for the Philippines when she is no longer the mistress of the Orient, when Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, etc., are there?

Probably, England will look favorably on the independence of the Philippines because this will open her ports and give more franchises to her trade.

The British believe that their colonies:

  • are already too many
  • harmful
  • greatly weaken the mother country.

This is also why Germany will not want to venture, and because an imbalance of her forces and a war in distant countries endanger her existence on the continent. Thus we see that her attitude, both in the Pacific and in Africa, is limited to easily conquering territories that do not belong to anyone.

Germany shuns all external complications. France has more to do and sees more future in Tonkin and China, in addition to the fact that the French spirit does not shine because of its colonizing desire; France loves glory, but the glory and laurels that grow on the battlefields of Europe: the echo of the battlefields of the Far East does not satisfy her thirst for renown very much, because it arrives very muffled.

She also finds herself with other obligations, both in the interior and on the Continent. Holland is sensible and will be content to keep the Moluccas and Java; Ella sumata offers him more future than the Philippines, whose seas and coasts are a bad omen for the Dutch expeditions.

The Netherlands is very cautious in Sumatra and Borneo, for fear of losing everything.

China will consider herself quite happy if she manages to remain united and does not dismember, or is divided among the European powers that colonize the Asian Continent. The same thing happens to Japan. She has Russia to the North, which covets and spies on her; to the South England, which is entered even in the official language.

It is also under such European diplomatic pressure that it will not be able to think abroad until it is free of it, and it will not easily consent to it. It is true that she is overpopulated, but Korea is more attractive to her than the Philippines, and it is also easier to take. Perhaps the great American Republic, whose interests lie in the Pacific and which has no share in the spoils of Africa, will one day think of overseas possessions.

It is not impossible, because the example is contagious, greed and ambition are vices of the strong, and Harrison expressed something in this sense when the question of Samoa; but neither the Panama Canal is open, nor do the territories of the States have a plethora of inhabitants, and if he openly attempted it, the European powers would not allow him free passage, knowing very well that the appetite was whetted with the first bites.

North America would be too troublesome a rival, if she once practices the trade. It is also against their traditions. Very probably the Philippines will defend with unspeakable ardor the liberty purchased at the cost of so much blood and sacrifice.

With the new men that sprout from their bosom and with the memory of their past, they will perhaps dedicate themselves to openly entering the broad road of progress, and all will work together to strengthen their country, both inside and outside, with the same enthusiasm with which a young man goes back to tilling his parents’ field, so long devastated and abandoned thanks to the negligence of those who alienated him.

Then he will return to dig up gold from the mines to remedy misery, iron to arm himself, copper, lead, coal, etc.; Perhaps the country will resurrect the maritime and mercantile life to which the islanders are called by Nature, their aptitudes and their instincts, and free again, like the bird that leaves the cage, like the flower that returns to the open air, it will return to recover the old good qualities that little by little he is losing, and he will once again be a lover of peace, jovial, cheerful, smiling, hospitable and audacious. This and other things may happen within a hundred years or so.

But the most logical augury, the prophecy based on best odds can fail for insignificant and remote causes. An octopus that clung to Marco Antonio’s ship changed the face of the world; a cross on Calvary and a just man nailed to it, changed the morality of half of humanity, and yet, before Christ, how many just have not perished wickedly and how many crosses were not planted on that hill! The death of the Just sanctified his work and made his doctrine incontrovertible.

A ravine in the Battle of Waterloo buried all the glories of two luminous decades, the entire Napoleonic world, and freed Europe. On what fortuitous accidents will the destinies of the Philippines depend?

However, it is not good to trust in the eventual; there is an imperceptible and sometimes incomprehensible logic in the works of history. It is good that both peoples and governments adjust to it.

And for this reason we repeat and will always repeat, as long as there is time, that

It is better to anticipate the desires of a people, than to yield.

The former captures sympathy and love. The latter captures contempt and anger.

Since it is necessary to give 6 million Filipinos their rights in order for them to be in fact Spanish, let the Government give them to them freely and spontaneously, without injurious reservations, without irritating suspicions.

We will not tire of repeating it as long as we have a glimmer of hope: we prefer this unpleasant task to having one day to say to the Mother Country:

Spain, we have used our youth to serve your interests in the interests of our country; we have turned to you, we have spent all the light of our intelligence, all the ardor and enthusiasm of our hearts to work for the good of what was yours, to elicit from you a look of love, a liberal policy that assures us the peace of our country and your dominion over addicted but unfortunate islands!

Spain, you have remained deaf, and, wrapped in your pride, you have continued your disastrous path and have accused us of being traitors, only because we love our country, because we tell you the truth, and we hate all kinds of injustices.

What do you want us to say to our miserable country, when they ask us about the success of our efforts? Shall we tell her that, since we have lost everything for her, youth, future, illusions, tranquility, family; since in her service we have exhausted all the resources of hope, all the disappointments of longing, may she also receive the rest that does not serve us, the blood in our veins and the vitality that remains in our arms? Spain!

Will we one day tell the Philippines that you have no ears for her ills, and that if she wishes to save herself, she must redeem herself?