Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Philippines a Century Hence

(Ang Pilipinas sa loob ng Sandaang Taon)

“The Philippines a Century Hence” is an essay written by Philippine national hero Jose Rizal to forecast the future of the country within a hundred years.  Rizal felt that it was time to remind Spain that the circumstances that ushered in the French Revolution could have a telling effect for her in the Philippines.

This essay, published in La Solidaridad starts by analyzing the various causes of the miseries suffered by the Filipino people:
  1. Spain’s implementation of her military policies – because of such laws, the Philippine population decreased dramatically.  Poverty became more rampant than ever, and farmlands were left to wither.  The family as a unit of society was neglected, and overall, every aspect of the life of the Filipino was retarded.
  2. Deterioration and disappearance of Filipino indigenous culture – when Spain came with the sword and the cross, it began the gradual destruction of the native Philippine culture.  Because of this, the Filipinos started losing confidence in their past and their heritage, became doubtful of their present lifestyle, and eventually lost hope in the future and the preservation of their race.
  3. Passivity and submissiveness to the Spanish colonizers – one of the most powerful forces that influenced a culture of silence among the natives were the Spanish friars.  Because of the use of force, the Filipinos learned to submit themselves to the will of the foreigners.

The question then arises as to what had awakened the hearts and opened the minds of the Filipino people with regards to their plight.  Eventually, the natives realized that such oppression in their society by foreign colonizers must no longer be tolerated. 

One question Rizal raises in this essay is whether or not Spain can indeed prevent the progress of the Philippines:
  1. Keeping the people uneducated and ignorant had failed.  National consciousness had still awakened, and great Filipino minds still emerged from the rubble.
  2. Keeping the people impoverished also came to no avail.  On the contrary, living a life of eternal destitution had allowed the Filipinos to act on the desire for a change in their way of life.  They began to explore other horizons through which they could move towards progress.
  3. Exterminating the people as an alternative to hindering progress did not work either.  The Filipino race was able to survive amidst wars and famine, and became even more numerous after such catastrophes.  To wipe out the nation altogether would require the sacrifice of thousands of Spanish soldiers, and this is something Spain would not allow.
Spain, therefore, had no means to stop the progress of the country.  What she needs to do is to change her colonial policies so that they are in keeping with the needs of the Philippine society and to the rising nationalism of the people.

What Rizal had envisioned in his essay came true.  In 1898, the Americans wrestled with Spain to win the Philippines, and eventually took over the country.  Theirs was a reign of democracy and liberty.  Five decades after Rizal’s death, the Philippines gained her long-awaited independence.  This was in fulfillment of what he had written in his essay: “History does not record in its annals any lasting domination by one people over another, of different races, of diverse usages and customs, of opposite and divergent ideas. One of the two had to yield and succumb.”

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