Philippines from 1900-1915
Emilio Aguinaldo

ea1As I asked my family and relatives, “Who is Emilio Aguinaldo?” one answer was consistent and it declared him a “Filipino hero.” Emilio Aguinaldo is best known as the Filipino leader who fought against Spain and later the United States for the independence of the Philippines.

ea2Emilio Aguinaldo was born on March 23, 1869 near Cavite, Luzon, Philippines and died February 6, 1964 in Manila. He was born of Chinese and Tagalog descent. He became mayor of Cavite Viejo and also became leader of the Katipunan. The Katipunan was a Philippine revolutionary society aiming to gain independence from Spain.

In December 1897, he was exiled under the Pact of Biacna-Bato. From this agreement with Spain, the Philippines was promised a financial reward and liberal reforms. He returned on May 19, 1898. On June 12, 1898, Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence from Spain.ea4

He was inaugurated as the first president of the Philippines on January 23, 1899. The U.S. did not acknowledge this decision. Aguinaldo declared war on the U.S. in February, which was the beginning of the Philippine-American War. This war lasted for 3 years until Aguinaldo was captured in his secret headquarters in 1901. He took an oath of allegiance to the United States and retired living off the pension granted by the U.S. government.

ea3Later in 1935, he tried running again for President but lost. He then began to collaborate with the Japanese after they invaded in 1941. He was arrested for a few months until released by presidential amnesty. In 1950, President Quirino appointed him as member of the Council of State in order to defend his honor. He spent the later years of his life promoting nationalism and democracy. He also tried to improve U.S. and Philippine relations.

Emilio Aguinaldo was a strongly influential figure in gaining independence for the Philippines. Through his strength and determination, the Filipino people were finally able to break away from colonization and establish their own name.

Political Cartoons
propaganda - chiefly derogatory information, esp. of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view

Propaganda in the US was very popular, especially during times of war. And the Philippine-American War was no exception, even though they have decided to erase it from their memory.  The main purpose of propaganda is to show the public the American government’s point of view and to justify their actions.

This first picture is showing the different countries involved in the big war of the time.  Uncle Sam (the United States) is caught up in a tree labeled “Imperialism” while he tries to maintain a donkey (the Philippines).  In the distance, you can see a man (Spain) leaving the scene.  The cartoon is showing how the Americans took control of the Philippines after winning the Spanish American War.

This next picture shows the washing of a Filipino.  The Filipino is portrayed as a baby in order to show the Philippines’s primitive nature.  The white man (America) is washing the Philippines of their “dirt” and their “unfamiliar ways/traditions” in order to re-educate them.  In the background, we see Puerto Ricans just leaving the water and happily clad in American clothes.  This shows that the Filipino will eventually do the same and be happy to be colonized by America.

The Minneapolis Tribune prints this cartoon which at the bottom states “The Senate Philippine Bill offers great inducements to the bad Filipino.”  The picture shows the “savage” Filipino as bad and at the bottom of the pit.  He is surrounded by reptiles and other animals that are labeled hunger, disease, the water torture, and all kinds of trouble. While the “civilized” Filipino is labeled good on the other side of the wall next to a flag that reads peace, lands for the people, public improvements, public education, prosperity.  Everything with the “bad Filipino” are negative connotations of words, while the “good Filipino” who followed the Americans is labeled with positive connotation words.

The Minneapolis Tribune prints another cartoon with the caption, “The eyes of the world are upon him.”  President McKinley is shown holding a Filipino child by the neck.  The world is watching on him, depicted by a man with a globe head.  McKinley must make the decision to give the Philippines back to Spain down the cliff or keep it.  According to the cartoon, there is no option for independence for the Philippines.

The Philadelphia Press prints a cartoon with the caption “Ten thousand miles from tip to tip.”  The American eagle is shown hovering overhead.  Starting on the left hand side with the Philippines and reaching all the way to the right to Puerto Rico.  The cartoon is showing Americas dominance over so many lands and its superiority.

This last cartoon shows the incident with General Jacob Smith in where he ordered every Filipino over the age of 10 to be killed.  General Jacob Smith was court-martialed and found guilty.  However, in the cartoon the caption reads “Criminals because they were born ten years before we took the Philippines.”  This quote puts the Filipinos at fault for General Smith’s wrong doings.

These aren’t even 5% of all the political cartoons released used to degrade the Philippines.  The US was very persistent in making sure that all Americans took their side and understood their point of view.  Giving the Filipinos no chance to be understood or accepted.  Because of all the political cartoon, once the Filipino migration was in full swing, the immigrants were faced with racism.  Everyone assumed everything about them.  They were left with the worst jobs and got paid horribly.  They were separated from their white superior in public places.  And they never received the credit that was due.

These political cartoons not only affected the Filipinos of the time and the Filipinos who migrated to America shortly after the Philippine-American War, they continue to affect Filipinos of today.  Although there is no more racial separation or racial slurs, there is still the underestimation of Filipinos.  With Filipinos popping up in the media such as American Idol, America’s Best Dance Crew, or in popular music groups like The Black Eyed Peas, people assume that Filipinos are invading Hollywood.  However, Filipinos have always been around showcasing their talents, they have just been underestimated.  It is only recently that they have been getting the recognition they deserve.

Posted by Francine

Education as a Colonial Tool
"Education is power- the power to forge realities, the power to propel cultures, the power to interrupt life."                                                                                             -Isabel Pefianco Martin

Both photos each show an American woman teaching a group of Filipino children at an American-run school.

In the first decade of American colonialism over the Philippines, the United States government immediately sought to instill an educational system that would prepare the nation for eventual independence. Enforced by the Taft Commission, President McKinley advocated for a free public school system that would help train and enforce Filipinos of the duties of an ideal colonial. In 1901, under the Department of Public Instruction headed by the United States, the Philippine Commission developed a centralized public school system. This authorized 600 teachers from America, known as the Thomasites, to teach in the newly colonized nation. As a result, colonizers created schools that closely resembled the American public school system arguing that self-rule would be possible only through their guidance and support. In reality, however, controlling the educational system was their way of not only maintaining authority, but also as a way to pacify all aspects of nationalism. Rather than encouraging the advancement of Philippines’ literature and language, colonists imposed Western practices, ideals and values. Consequently, the history of the Philippines was taught under American colonial perspective.

This type of education played a profound affect on the future of the Filipino people. For one, an American education meant that instruction was in English. At the start of American colonialism, English became the official language of the Philippines. Students were not only taught in English, but they were required to read, write and speak the foreign language as well. This has several negative implications since it meant forcefully erasing their native tongue. Instead of educating and informing the people, Americans’ methods of teaching was meant to train Filipinos so that they manifest into the ideal colonial. They were brainwashed into believing certain sets of information and values, which may not necessarily have been applicable to the Filipino people. Moreover, teaching practices did not comprise of the “student-teacher” model but rather paralleled the “student-soldier.” Rather than assisting, nurturing and helping a student flourish mentally, they enforced strict rules and policies. Thus, education was treated as an instrument of colonial policy instead of a tool to free the people from illiteracy and ignorance.

Overall, the education of a Filipino was another way for American colonists to subjugate a people and gain power. With the support of the United States government and its military leaders, American interests were at the center of the school system. As a result of colonialism, the educational system in the Philippines still mirrors that of America’s system. For example, English continues to be a widely spoken language in the Philippines. Moreover, schools do not stress Americans’ discriminatory and prejudice acts and still view them as “liberators” and “allies” despite their imperialistic policies. Ultimately, by gaining control over education, they were able to reshape history and alter the memory of the Filipino people.

Posted by: Arianne Magat

Separation of Church and State

Extending the 1902 Philippine Organic Act towards religion, it disestablished the Catholic Church as the State religion. Something had to be done to alleviate the concerns of the Filipino people about the anti-friar sentiment. The friars’ lands were forced to be sold by the Catholic Church or taken away by the Philippine civil government. The friars were also being replaced by Filipino and other non-Spaniard priests and bishops. Some friars left voluntarily

Our Lady of Manaoag, a classic version of Spanish influence on native icons. -

Most of the friars’ estates were bought by the United States government, which also encompassed half of Manila. Eventually, the land was sold to the indigenous people of the Philippines; majority of them owning the land rather than renting.

The purpose of this disestablishment was to separate church and state, which is seen in the American government as a means of moral tolerance or the refusal of Americans to discriminate based on moral beliefs. This was a way to justify American society’s open-mindedness to different cultures. It is also supporting the cloudy American Dream of creating equal opportunity no matter what your class or social status may be.

The Philippine Bill of July 1, 1902: Section 5. “That no law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and that the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed.”

The effect on the Philippines and its people includes a decrease of a once influential position of the Catholic Church, which also extends influence from the Spanish government. The position was reduced socially by reducing the number of friars directly tied to the Spanish government and economically by acquiring the church’s lands and redistributing it to the Filipino people. Mainly, it was done to rid of Spanish influence along with easing the anti-Spanish sentiment.

However, even though this separation of church and state was implemented, this did not mean totally destruction and removal of Catholicism for the Philippines. The Catholic Church remained in the background of Philippine public engagements but still heavily influenced politics. Also, the state stepped in when questioning the validity of a parish’s ownership by returning possessions seized by an independent church. The Catholic Church’s charitable organizations were also returned to them.

The People Power Revolution in 1986 -

The vague notion of separating church and state put the Filipino people and its government in a place of a power vacuum where the Catholic Church possessed the ability to be a source of moral influence and support. Catholicism is currently the predominant religion of the Philippines and still has influence politically and socially. For example, in 1986, the People Power Revolution was called upon by the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Manila. In 2005, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared 3 days of mourning for the death of Pope John Paul II. Even with equality among religions, Catholicism holds a stronghold in Filipino society and silences the needs and requests of other religions. So in actuality, faith and beliefs are not equal due to majority representation, not based on justice.

Blue – Roman Catholicism/ Christian denomination; Green - Islam -

Posted by: Sachi Okata

Drama and Sedition
“Until it has been officially proclaimed that a state of war or insurrection against the authority or sovereignty of the United States no longer exists in the Philippine Islands it shall be unlawful for any person to advocate orally, or by writing or printing or like methods, the independence of the Philippine Islands or their separation from the United States, whether by peaceable or forcible means, or to print, publish, or circulate any handbill, newspaper, or other publication advocating such independence or separation.”
-       Law Against Treason, Sedition, Etc. Act No. 292 Section 10

Political cartoon of seditionThe Filipinos were at war with the Spanish and the Americans.  Not long after the Americans won in the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American started.  The Philippines only wanted their independence.  Writers began to produce scripts that talked about war and their anti-Spanish/anti-American feelings.  There were hidden messages everywhere.  From character names, to costumes, to love themes, to staging of the scenes and mannerisms of characters.  Playwrights wrote about freedom and independence, oppression from America.

The Sedition Act, passed on November 4, 1901, made any form of advocacy of Philippine independence a crime.   The playwrights of the time clearly violated this and were sentenced for it.

Tanikalang GuintoJuly 7, 1902 – Tanikalang Guinto is first performed.  The play talks about love and oppression.  Ligaya (light, spirit of independence) is forbidden to see her love Kaulayaw (sweetheart, Filipino hero) by her uncle Maimbot (greedy; the American government).  Maimbot then gives Ligaya a golden chain which symbolizes his control over her.

May 8, 1903 – Hindi Aco Patay (I Am Not Dead) is presented at a local theater.  The play talks about the love between Karangalan (honor) and Tangulan (defender, patriot) and their opposition to Macamcam (the American government).  Tangulan and Macamcam battle it out and Tangulan dies.  However, he screams out “I am not dead!”  The scenery then changes to a rising sun on the Katipunan flag, symbolizing freedom.  A fight breaks out in the theatre audience between the white men and the brown men.

May 10, 1903 – Tanikalang Guinto is found seditious and the author is sentenced to two years in prison and is fined $2000.

Aurelio Tolention, author of Kahapon, Ngayon, at BukasMay 14, 1903 – Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow), by Aurelio Tolentino, talks about Filipino oppressors from yesterday (the Chinese), today (the Spanish), and tomorrow (the Americans).  Inangbaya (the Philippines) and her son Tagailog (the Filipinos) conquer all of them.  The scene then proceeds with the taking down of the American flag and stepping on it, causing another riot between the white and brown men.

July 5, 1903 – Hindi Aco Patay’s author who was in hiding is found, arrested, and sentenced to two years in prison. Several actors from the play are arrested as well.

May 8, 1904 – Author of Tanikalang Guinto is out on bail and writes another play, Isang Punlo ng Kaaway (An Enemy Bullet).  He is then arrested a second time.

March 6, 1906 – Tolentino is sentenced to two years in prison and a $2000 fine.

This chronology is only of three plays, but there were several others.  Some of which only the author, actors, and production company were arrested.  And some where the whole audience is arrested as well.

In 1907 when the first Philppine Assembly was formed, the seditious plays ended.  The plays changed from talking about war to talking about elections.  The seditious plays definitely started a trend.  Playwrights always talked of political issues at the present time.

Although these political theatre productions about war that started in 1902 were only started to help Filipinos unite and bash on their oppressors, it soon became part of their culture.  Political theatre was popular and continued on for many years.  They still talked about love and families, poverty, oppression, and revolution, but just talked about different political issues of the time.  Symbols and hidden meanings were still used as well.

The plays of the early 1900s were later on revived during the late 1900s.

Posted by Francine


A group of Thomasites -

Due to the Education Act No. 34, the Thomasites were created. Thomasites were a group of American teachers sent by the United States government in August 1901. An interesting short fact is that Thomasites get their name from the ship USS Thomas that brought them to the Philippines.

The Thomasites help expand the public school system previously established by the Spanish by introducing the English as the medium of instruction. They also were directed to train Filipino teachers as an incentive to make the Philippines self-sustainable. The Thomasites were paid $125/ month, which is more than they could get paid in the United States. There was a high influx of Thomasites due to various motivations of job security, high pay, philanthropic fulfillment, and the desire to travel outside of the United States.

Even though the Thomasites had acquired a specific duty, there were U.S. Army soldiers who began training Filipino teachers and taught them English to institute the groundwork for the Philippine public school system. The first public school opened before the Thomasites arrived on Corregidor Island.

When the Thomasites arrived, they were quarantined for a few days and then moved on to their assigned provinces. They taught subjects in areas of language, mathematics, domestic work, specific trade work, freehand drawing, and athletics. Obviously it is shown that there was no other creative opportunity other than freehand drawing. This inhibited the indigenous people from learning how to express their feelings or reactions from being oppressed. Also, the teaching of freehand drawing was seen as practical for future jobs. There were three areas of language which included English, grammar, and reading. Much emphasis was placed on language in order to best prepare Filipinos to assimilate into American society or in other words to follow American instruction within American society. It was very damaging in the sense of national consciousness because the Filipinos don’t have their own language. They’re learning another country’s language while destroying the many variations of their country’s languages. This is an imperative indication of what the future of Filipino identity will become. It will be so enmeshed with American society due to the foundation of an American education.

Learn from the Thomasites or the American soldiers will kill you -

Domestic work included housekeeping, sewing, crocheting, and cooking. These classes were obviously constructed to attract the female Filipino population, which is distinguished later in the mid-1900s when a large population of female Filipinos studies to become nurses because it included “women’s work.”

The Thomasites left behind elementary schools and learning institutions that helped transform the Philippines into the third largest English-speaking nation in the world.

Philippine Normal University -

Filipinos easily assimilated into American society than other Asian groups. This prompted more “prestigious” positions of acquirement for the Filipinos, but it favored the socio-economic position of the United States. The United States exploited the labor influx of Filipinos and caused a brain drain in the Philippines. The United States primary incentive was economic based, which affected the Philippines by inhibiting the growth of a self-sustained society due to the migration to the U.S. of the skilled workers.

Posted by: Sachi Okata

1902 Philippine Organic Act

Henry A. Cooper (1850-1931)

Henry A. Cooper (1850-1931) -

This act was established on July 2, 1902. It is also known as the Philippine Bill of 1902 or the Cooper Act for it was named after Henry A. Cooper, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He assisted in the designing of this act. This was the first fundamental law created and enacted by the United States Congress in order to establish a bicameral legislature 2 years after being established. It was also “supposedly” established after peace was achieved, but that’s a very ambiguous request. Hence, the unofficial continuation of the war by groups collectively known as the Irreconcilables. The lower house established as the Philippine Assembly was elected by popular vote. The upper house, the Philippine Commission shared legislative powers with the lower house; however, they alone passed law relating to the Moros and other non-Christian peoples. In other words, the United States’ government wanted to maintain some type of political American influence and control in the Philippines. Specifically, they wanted to a means of managing the Moro population where most of the insurgent resistance were taking place. Also, this allowed a justification for America to blame someone or have a reason to continue their stay in the Philippines.

This act enabled the creation of two Filipino resident commissioners seen fit to represent the Philippines in United States Congress. However, they were forbidden to have voting rights. The act also extended America’s Bill of Rights for the Filipinos.

This bill later was revised, but it imperatively served as the foundation for the creation of an autonomous government in preparation for independence, granted by the United States.

Surrender of Filipino insurgents

A group of Filipino insurgents are photographed just as they lay down prior to surrender. -

This act was a partly a reaction to the Philippine American War. Not only did it declare the war over, politically, but it also gave the U.S. some form of authority to prevent a similar event or have more control over it if it did ever happen again. When President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed full and complete pardon and amnesty to all people in the Philippines who participated in the war, it was as if he did this to keep the Philippines as a surrogate space.

The act was like an official and political stepping stone to majority American control and influence which impacted the indigenous Filipinos by bringing American culture and language into the Filipino picture. The opening up of this opportunity led to the “mimicking” effect of American culture and created a Filipino culture highly influenced by American glamour in the theater and its actors. This led to migration of the Filipino people as a labor force and the remittances sent home to sustain families left behind. This supported the concept of the American Dream of working hard and becoming successful. You Reap What You Sow.

Coca Cola Ad -


Dogeaters -

posted by: Sachi Okata

The Philippine-American War

Emilio AguinaldoEmilio Aguinaldo, considered the first president of the Philippines, led the Filipinos in their fight for independence.  The war began in 1899 and ended in 1902.

In July of 1900, General Arthur MacArthur Jr. replaces General Otis as military governor, and William Howard Taft becomes civil governor of the Philippines.

The battles that occurred in the 1900s, Siege of Catubig, Battle of Macahambus, Battle of Pulang Lupa, and the Battle of Mabitac, all show the underestimated power of the Filipinos.  In these battles, the Filipinos come out successful and surprise the Americans with their tactics.  In the future, this leads to the disappearance of the Philippine-American War in American history books.

In March of 1901, the Americans are successful in capturing Aguinaldo.  He surrenders and pledges his allegiance to America and commands his followers to do the same; however, the resistance from the group stays strong.

group of Filipino soldiers

Filipino soldiers

Later that year in September, the Balangiga Massacre occurs.  The people of Samar, a province in the Philippines, ambush and kill over 50 Americans.  Due to this, America retaliates.  General Jacob Hurd Smith, of America, led this revolt and ordered the killing of every Filipino man over the age of 10.  Smith was eventually court-martialed and found guilty for this act.

Up to this point, the Philippines seems to be winning in the war.  And complete victory and independence doesn’t look too far.  In 1902, a couple Filipino generals and their men surrender, and President Theodore Roosevelt declares the end of the war.

US soldiers on the way to Manila

But, this isn’t the end.  Up to 1913, the fighting continues between America and the Philippines, until America promises the Philippines independence.

Before the Philippine-American War, the Philippines supported America in the Spanish-American War.  The Filipinos wanted independence from their Spanish oppressors.  After the victory of America in the Spanish-American War, the Filipinos immediately claimed their independence and sovereignty.  However, that declaration went unrecognized by Spain and America.  Because Spain lost, they gave the land to America in the 1898 Treaty of Paris.

Filipino women talking to American soldiers

Filipino women talking to American soldiers

This war affected the Filipinos in so many ways.  With America in the Philippines, they decided to instill American values and teachings.  They started with the re-education of the Filipinos.  Filipinos taught classes under supervision of America.  Also, with American influences in the Philippines came the World’s Fair, and the eventual migration of Filipino men to the US, for work and in search of a better life.

posted by Francine