Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Last 29 December, Carmen Pedrosa wrote in her column in the Philippine Star:
I have to see the film “El Presidente” to know if it does justice to Emilio Aguinaldo, a neglected hero. He offers many lessons to our present leaders. His role in the making of our nation has not been given its rightful place. Among the few who have kept hammering on the issue is Muslim scholar Datu Jamal Ashley Yahya Abbas.
Abbas agrees that revisiting the story of Emilio Aguinaldo is central to the history of the Philippines.
Correcting that mistake may be the key to understanding the complex relations we have with the United States of America today. The elections in 1935 in which Aguinaldo was defeated was probably the first foreign intervention on how we should be led.
“Rehabilitating Aguinaldo is a tall order. Quezon and the Americans had totally destroyed him in the minds of the masses,” Abbas said.
To French journalists on the scene the hero of the Philippine wars of independence against the Americans was General Emilio Aguinaldo. Abbas, who knows French, wrote on those reports.
“Yet Aguinaldo, who became a cause celebre in Europe during his time for daring to fight the American power, had such a bad press in his own country. He died in old age almost in disgrace . . . Rizal wrote only two novels and Bonifacio’s Manila revolt lasted for only about a week or so.
It was Aguinaldo’s army who subdued the Spaniards while the Americans looked on. It was Aguinaldo who proclaimed the Philippine Republic, whose centennial was celebrated with pomp and ceremony. And it was Aguinaldo who led the fight against two-thirds of one of the world’s strongest army at that time,” Abbas wrote. He puts the blame on the Filipino elite (the ilustrados) for reconstructing Philippine history.
The French journalist Gaston Rouvier described Aguinaldo as “even to his enemies, (he is) the greatest man of the Malay race.”
Rouvier wrote: “On May 19, hardly disembarked, Aguinaldo rekindled the embers of revolt across the Luzon provinces, thanks to his untiring work and a kind of magnetic influence which he exercised on his followers. He roused a rebel leader in every district. For the capture of all Spanish garrisons and outposts, he devised a campaign plan. He was Bonaparte, if his admirers were to be believed.”
I went to see the film, and this is what I think of it:
First off, I must say, it is a very good movie in the sense that it is inspiring. This is a much better film than Sakay (1993), a film by Raymond Red, a Cannes Film Festival award winner. Macario Sakay took over the presidency of the Tagalog Republic after Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans.
The almost 3-hour film was a paean to Aguinaldo, which is indeed quite rare in Philippine arts and letters. The Americans and the first and second generations of Philippine leaders of the post-Aguinaldo Republic made sure that Aguinaldo would have a disreputable image.
The portrayal of Andres Bonifacio was quite good. He was shown in a very good light. In the film, during the Tejeros convention, Bonifacio declared that he wanted a Republican form of government. Although, in real life, Aguinaldo described Bonifacio as a monarchist and Bonifacio allowed others to call him Hari ng Bayan. Bonifacio was fittingly portrayed as a tragic hero.
However, I do not like the demonization of Gen. Antonio Luna. Gen. Antonio Luna was the greatest Filipino general during the Philippine-American war. He was the only general who had formal studies in military science. As I wrote before, there is no use in debunking one’s heroes.
MUSIC, COSTUMES AND MAKE-UP
The films owes a lot to the musical score. The scoring insures an emotional response from the audience. It is the musical scoring, more than anything else, that gave the film a “bigger than life” aspect.
As with most, if not all period films in the country, the costumes are usually inaccurate and ill-fitting. Most of the characters wore over-sized shirts and coats.
The make-up is quite horrible. “Inang Bayan” (Mother Country) appears as an ancient lady. But she looked like a young lady with whitened hair and caked mud spread all over her face and neck.
Even the male characters have funny make-up. I don’t know if Ronnie Lazaro and Christopher De Leon were made-up to look younger or older. They should have been made up to look younger but it seems like they look even older.
YOUTH VS AGE
The Philippine Revolution was led and participated by YOUNG PEOPLE. Aguinaldo was 28 years old when he was elected President of the Republic. Antonio Luna was 32 when he was assassinated. But in the film, practically everyone was old.
Felipe Buencamino, Sr. was around 50 years old at that time but he is portrayed in the film by a septuagenarian (Joonee Gamboa). Incidentally, the film insinuates that Buencamino engineered the death of Luna. I wonder what made the writer/director think that. Did he get that from the relatives of Aguinaldo? Or does he simply dislike Buencamino? It is funny that in the film, Buencamino accused Luna of siding with the Spaniards at the start of the revolution when in reality, it was Buencamino who sided with the Spaniards at the start of the revolution.
I do not understand the logic in getting old actors to portray young heroes. Aren’t there younger actors who have box-office power? There is a world of difference between young people agitating and fighting for their rights and for Freedom and older/mature people fighting for the same. The impact on the younger Filipinos of today would be so different.
JUSTICE TO AGUINALDO?
Does it give justice to Aguinaldo? It does. But giving justice to Aguinaldo should not mean giving injustice to others like Antonio Luna.
Artistically or creatively, there is still so much room for improvement. The scene with a 94-year-old Aguinaldo waiving the Philippine flag in his balcony with a few people outside watching him and his aging wife shouting “Mabuhay si Miyong” or some such thing looks quite pathetic. It would have been better if the scene was of President Macapagal declaring June 12 as the country’s Independence day with the ailing Aguinaldo in attendance – 64 years after Aguinaldo proclaimed Independence in Kawit, Cavite. Better if there is actual film footage of the event.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
by Jamal Ashley Abbas
Much of the “official” Philippine history is a construct of the indigenous elites of Luzon who came into political and economic leadership during the American Occupation.
The biggest casualties (in terms of what I call “historical character assassination”) in the American period were General Emilio Aguinaldo and his fellow Katipuneros.
There was a great fuss about the Centennial celebrations in 1998. It was supposed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of Independence by Emilio Aguinaldo and his Katipunan. Yet Aguinaldo, who became a cause celebre in Europe during his time for daring to fight the American power, had such a bad press in his own country. He died in old age almost in disgrace. Yet Rizal wrote only two novels and Bonifacio’s Manila revolt lasted for only about a week or so. It was Aguinaldo’s army who subdued the Spaniards while the Americans looked on. It was Aguinaldo who proclaimed the Philippine Republic, whose centennial was celebrated with pomp and ceremony. And it was Aguinaldo who led the fight against two-thirds of one of the world’s strongest army at that time.
Perhaps Voltaire, in his call for accurate history, was correct when he stated that history has become “a pack of tricks we play on the dead.” The Shakespeare line, “the evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred in their bones”, could very well be applied to Emilio Aguinaldo and many of his co-Katipuneros.
The “Aguinaldo symptom” is just one of the many symptoms of the Filipinos’ historical malady. This historical “dis-ease” must be diagnosed, articulated and cured. Otherwise the Filipino can never know its true Self, its historical heritage. It (the Filipino identity) can never be at ease with itself.
The Filipino elite (the ilustrados) re-constructed Philippine history, with the aid of the Americans, during and after the American colonization. The Americans and their new wards (Quezon et al.) needed to demonize Aguinaldo and the Katipunan. Although the Americans declared the Philippine-American war as “officially” finished in 1902, some Katipuneros continued the fight led by such men as Mariano Sakay and Miguel Malvar. Gen. Artemio Ricarte chose exile in Japan over an ignominious surrender to America.
In 1899, the French journalist Gaston Rouvier described Aguinaldo as “even to his enemies, (he is) the greatest man of the Malay race.” Recounting the Filipino victory over Spain during the so-called Spanish-American war, Rouvier wrote:
As soon as the naval victory of Dewey in Cavite was achieved… (Aguinaldo) left for the Philippines…The MacCulloch transported them. On May 19, hardly disembarked, Aguinaldo rekindled the embers of revolt across the Luzon provinces, thanks to his untiring work and a kind of magnetic influence which he exercised on his followers. He roused a rebel leader in every district. For the capture of all Spanish garrisons and outposts, he devised a campaign plan. He was Bonaparte, if his admirers were to be believed. Bonaparte, indeed, by the strange fascination that he elicited from his people. He obtained extraordinary results. In two days, his messengers covered 150 kilometres. In 36 hours, his soldiers travelled 70 to 80 kilometres. Thus, he was able to take the Spanish garrisons by surprise; he was able to take hold of arms and treasures. From May 1898 to January 1899, he led the struggle against Spain without let-up. He captured 15,000 Spanish soldiers and forced 2,000 to 3,000 others to leave Camarines, Tayabas, Batangas and Laguna for Mindoro, Panay and Cebu. – At present he still detains 6,000 Spanish soldier-prisoners in the northern provinces.
Aguinaldo as the greatest of the Malay race? A veritable Bonaparte? This would come as a surprise to many Filipinos living today who had been brought up to think of Aguinaldo as an elitist leader who sold out the masses, who killed the father of the Revolution, Andres Bonifacio, and the greatest Filipino general, Antonio Luna. Somebody, preferably a historian, should explain the discrepancy.
It seems strange that American and Filipino historians give scant attention to European eyewitness accounts of the Philippine-American war. Perhaps it was due to the fact that European journalists had been writing that only Filipinos could defeat Filipinos in that war. It is another blow to the Filipino identity.
In an interview with French journalist Henri Turot in 1899, Florentino Torres, a Filipino lawyer articulated the ideas of the ilustrados:
“There is in Aguinaldo a most serious cause for concern. You must know that the insurrectionary movement is not only nationalist; it is above all socialist and revolutionary. The people did not want the Spanish exploiters anymore; they do not like the Americans any better, who have fooled them and dream of enslaving them. I’ll say more; they no longer want any masters of any kind. So much so that they being victorious over the Americans, they would take advantage of this victory to the limit: we would then have a kind of socialist republic… A number of young men who studied in Europe brought back the socialist doctrine with them. Do we have to cite Luna, who frequented the socialist clubs in Spain for a long time; Sandiko, who was a propagandist in America; Paterno, a poet, a fanatic?… And what is more frightening still is that those who surround Aguinaldo want to imitate the great French revolution and are inspired by its spirit. The day after the proclamation of the Philippine Republic, the newspaper in support of the president published the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. You may be sure that they want to follow the examples of 1789 and 1793 right to the end… Since we prefer to live under American domination rather than be ruined and stripped by a socialist republic, since we have the instinct of self-preservation which is not really surprising, we wish for no more than an honorable modus vivendi from the representatives of the United States.”
The above quotation gives the underlying cause of the Aguinaldo symptom. The dominant elite — theilustrado, abandoned the revolutionary cause and stabbed Aguinaldo in the back, as it were. And so Aguinaldo and his fellow revolutionaries had to be discredited.
Accounts by French journalists about the War in the Philippines clearly emphasized that the US wanted to conquer the Philippines from the very start. But, as Serafin Quiason, chair and Executive Director of the National Historical Institute, wrote in his preface to the volume The War In The Philippines: As Reported by Two French Journalists in 1899,
“ its story disappeared from the Filipino consciousness for two generations, thanks to the history books authored first by American teachers and then by Filipinos steeped in the colonial atmosphere of the educational system.”
It would indeed be difficult to have an identity if one is fed with historical notions constructed and re-constructed by others with vested interests – the Spanish, the Americans, the elites, etc. British historian Robin Collingwood says, “Humans have no nature, only history.” What does that make of the Filipino?…
1 Turot, Henri, The War in the Philippines from The War in the Philippines: As Reported By Two French Journalists in 1899, translated by E. Aguilar Cruz, National Historical Institute, Manila:1994, pp. 53-5
SOURCE: Independence Day?
Friday, July 20, 2012
The Project Gutenberg EBook of True Version of the Philippine Revolution
by Don Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy
TRUE VERSION OF THE PHILIPPINE REVOLUTION
DON EMILIO AGUINALDO Y FAMY
PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINE REPUBLIC.
Tarlak (Philippine Islands), 23rd September, 1899
TO ALL CIVILIZED NATIONS AND ESPECIALLY TO THE GREAT NORTH AMERICAN REPUBLIC.
I dedicate to you this modest work with a view to informing you
respecting the international events which have occurred during the past three years and are still going on in the Philippines, in order that you may be fully acquainted with the facts and be thereby placed in a position to pronounce judgment upon the issue and be satisfied and assured of the Justice which forms the basis and is in fact the foundation of our Cause. I place the simple truth respectfully before and dedicate it to you as an act of homage and as testimony of my admiration for and recognition of the wide knowledge, the brilliant achievements and the great power of other nations, whom I salute, in the name the Philippine nation, with every effusion of my soul.
The Revolution of 1896
Spain maintained control of the Philippine Islands for more than three centuries and a half, during which period the tyranny, misconduct and abuses of the Friars and the Civil and Military Administration exhausted the patience of the natives and caused them to make a desperate effort to shake off the unbearable galling yoke on the 26th and 31st August, 1896, then commencing the revolution in the provinces of Manila and Cavite.
On these memorable days the people of Balintawak, Santa Mesa, Kalookan,Kawit, Noveleta and San Francisco de Malabon rose against the Spaniards and proclaimed the Independence of the Philippines, and in the course of the next five days these uprisings were followed by the inhabitants of the other towns in Cavite province joining in the revolt against the Spanish Government although there was no previous arrangement looking to a general revolt. The latter were undoubtedly moved to action by the noble example of the former.
With regard to the rising in the province of Cavite it should be stated that although a call to arms bearing the signatures of Don Augustin Rieta, Don Candido Firona and myself, who were Lieutenants of the Revolutionary Forces, was circulated there was no certainty about the orders being obeyed, or even received by the people, for it happened that one copy of the orders fell into the hands of a Spaniard named Don Fernando Parga, Military Governor of the province, who at that time was exercising the functions of Civil Governor, who promptly reported its contents to the Captain-General of the Philippines,Don Ramon Blanco y Erenas. The latter at once issued orders for the Spanish troops to attack the revolutionary forces.
It would appear beyond doubt that One whom eye of man hath not
seen in his wisdom and mercy ordained that the emancipation of the oppressed people of the Philippines should be undertaken at this time,for otherwise it is inexplicable how men armed only with sticks and _gulok_  wholly unorganized and undisciplined, could defeat the Spanish Regulars in severe engagements at Bakoor, Imus and Noveleta and, in addition to making many of them prisoners, captured a large quantity of arms and ammunition. It was owing to this astonishing success of the revolutionary troops that General Blanco quickly concluded to endeavour, to maintain Spanish control by the adoption of a conciliatory policy under the pretext that thereby he could quell the rebellion, his first act being a declaration to the effect that it was not the purpose of his Government to oppress the people and he had no desire "to slaughter the Filipinos.".
The Government of Madrid disapproved of General Blanco's new policy and speedily appointed Lieutenant-General Don Camilo Polavieja to supersede him, and despatched forthwith a large Number of Regulars to the Philippines.
General Polavieja advanced against the revolutionary forces with
16,000 men armed with Mausers, and one field battery. He had scarcely reconquered half of Cavite province when he resigned, owing to bad health. That was in April, 1897.
Polavieja was succeeded by the veteran General Don Fernando Primo de Rivera, who had seen much active service. As soon as Rivera had taken over command of the Forces he personally led his army in the assault upon and pursuit of the revolutionary forces, and so firmly, as well as humanely, was the campaign conducted that he soon reconquered the whole of Cavite province and drove the insurgents into the mountains.
Then I established my headquarters in the wild and unexplored mountain fastness of Biak-na-bató, where I formed the Republican Government of the Philippines at the end of May, 1897.