Philippines from 1900-1915
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

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