(“LA INDOLENCIA DE LOS FILIPINOS” IN ENGLISH.)
Mr. Charles Derbyshire, who put Rizal’s great novel Noli me tangere and its sequel El Filibusterismo into English (as The Social Cancer and The Reign of Greed), besides many minor writings of the “Greatest Man of the Brown Race”, has rendered a similar service for La Indolencia de los Filipinos in the following pages, and with that same fidelity and sympathetic comprehension of the author’s meaning which has made possible an understanding of the real Rizal by English readers. Notes by Dr. James A. Robertson (Librarian of the Philippine Library and co-editor of the 55-volume series of historical reprints well called The Philippine Islands 1493-1898, so comprehensive are they) show the breadth of Rizal’s historical scholarship, and that the only error mentioned is due to using a faulty reprint where the original was not available indicates the conscientiousness of the pioneer worker.
An appropriate setting has been attempted by page decorations whose scenes are taken from Philippine textbooks of the World Book Company and whose borders were made in the Drawing Department of the Philippine School of Arts and Trades.
The frontispiece shows a hurried pencil sketch of himself which Rizal made in Berlin in the Spring of 1887 that Prof. Blumentritt, whom then he knew only through correspondence, might recognize him at the Leitmeritz railway station when he should arrive for a proposed visit. The photograph from which the engraving was reproduced came one year ago with the Christmas greetings of the Austrian professor whose recent death the Philippine Islands, who knew him as their friend and Rizal’s, is mourning.
The picture perhaps deserves a couple of comments. As a child Rizal had been trained to rapid work, an expertness kept up by practice, and the copying of his own countenance from a convenient near-by mirror was but a moment’s task. Yet the incident suggests that he did not keep photographs of himself about, and that he had the Cromwellian desire to see himself as he really was, for the Filipino features are more prominent than in any photograph of his extant.
The essay itself originally appeared in the Filipino forthrightly review, La Solidaridad, of Madrid, in five installments, running from July 15 to September 15, 1890. It was a continuation of Rizal’s campaign of education in which he sought by blunt truths to awaken his countrymen to their own faults at the same time that he was arousing the Spaniards to the defects in Spain’s colonial system that caused and continued such shortcomings.
To-day there seems a place in Manila for just suets, missionary work as The Indolence of the Filipino aimed at. It may help on the present improving understanding between Continental Americans and their countrymen of these “Far Off Eden Isles”, for the writer submits as his mature opinion, based on ten years’ acquaintance among Filipinos through studies which enlisted their interest, that the political problem would have been greatly simplified had it been understood in Dewey’s day that among intelligent Americans the much-talked-of lack of “capacity” referred to the mass of the people’s want of political experience and not to any alleged racial inferiority. To wounded pride has the discontent been due rather than to withholding of political privileges.
Spanish Philippine history has curiously repeated itself during the fifteen years of America’s administration of this archipelago.
Just as some colonial Spaniards seemed to the Filipinos less creditable representatives of the metropolis than the average of those who remained in the Peninsula, so not all who now pass for Americans in the Philippines are believed here to measure up to the highest homestandard.
Sitters in swivel-chairs underneath electric fans hold hopeless the future of the land where men do not desire to be drudges just as did their predecessors who in wide armed lazy seats, beneath punkahs, talked of Filipino indolence.
Ingratitude, to-day as then, is the regular rejoinder to the progressing people’s protest against paternalism, and altruistic regard for their real welfare is still represented as the reason why special legislation should be provided when Filipinos prefer the same laws as govern the sovereign people.
Though those who claim to champion the Philippines’ cause apparently are unaware of it, these Islands have a population strangely alike in its make up to the people of America; their history is full of American associations; Americans developed their leading resources, and American ideas have inspired their political aspirations. It betrays blindness somewhere that ever since 1898 Filipinos have been trying to get loose from America in order to set up here an American form of government,
There seems now a, prospect that insular legislation may make available to the individual the guarantees of personal liberty upon which America at home prides itself, that municipal self-government and provincial autonomy may become realities in the Philippines, and possibly even that both Filipinos and Americans may realize before it is too late how our elastic territorial government could be made to exact from them much less of their independence than the sacrifice of sovereignty necessary in Neutralization or internationalization.
Unwillingness to work when there is nothing in it for them is common to Filipinos and Americans, for Thomas Jefferson admitted that extravagance and indolence were the chief faults of his countrymen. Labor-saving machinery has made the fruits of Americans’ labors in their land of abundance afford a luxury in living not elsewhere existing. But the Filipino, in his rich and not over-populated home, shutting out, as we do, oriental cheap labor, may employ American machinery and attain the same standard. The possibilities for the prosperity of the population put the Philippines in the New World, just as their discovery and their history group them with the Western Hemisphere.
University of the Philippines,
Manila, December 20th, 1913.
DOCTOR Sancianco, in his Progreso de Filipinas, (1), has taken up this question, agitated, as he calls it, and, relying upon facts and reports furnished by the very same Spanish authorities that rule the Philippines, has demonstrated that such indolence does not exist, and that all said about it does not deserve reply or even passing notice.
Nevertheless, as discussion of it has been continued, not only by government employees who make it responsible for their own shortcomings, not only by the friars who regard it as necessary in order that they may continue to represent, themselves as indispensable, but also by serious and disinterested persons; and as evidence of greater or less weight may be adduced in opposition to that which Dr. Sancianco cites, it seems expedient, to us to study this question thoroughly, without superciliousness or sensitiveness, without prejudice, without pessimism. And as we can only serve our country by telling the truth, however bit, tee it be, just as a flat and skilful negation cannot refute a real and positive fact, in spite of the brilliance of the arguments; as a mere affirmation is not sufficient to create something impossible, let us calmly examine the facts, using on our part all the impartiality of which a man is capable who is convinced that there is no redemption except upon solid bases of virtue.
The word indolence has been greatly misused in the sense of little love for work and lack of energy, while ridicule has concealed the misuse. This much-discussed question has met with the same fate as certain panaceas and specifies of the quacks who by ascribing to them impossible virtues have discredited them. In the Middle Ages, and even in some Catholic countries now, the devil is blamed for everything that superstitious folk cannot understand or the perversity of mankind is loath to confess. In the Philippines one’s own and another’s faults, the shortcomings of one, the misdeeds of another, are attributed to indolence. And just as in the Middle Ages he who sought the explanation of phenomena outside of infernal influences was persecuted, so in the Philippines worse happens to him who seeks the origin of the trouble outside of accepted beliefs.
The consequence of this misuse is that there are some who are interested in stating it as a dogma and others in combating it as a ridiculous superstition, if not a punishable delusion. Yet it is not to be inferred from the misuse of a thing that it does not exist.
We think that there must be something behind all this outcry, for it is incredible that so many should err, among whom we have said there are a lot of serious and disinterested persons. Some act in bad faith, through levity, through want of sound judgment, through limitation in reasoning power, ignorance of the past, or other cause. Some repeat what they have heard, without, examination or reflection; others speak through pessimism or are impelled by that human characteristic which paints as perfect everything that belongs to oneself and defective whatever belongs to another. But it cannot be denied that there are some who worship truth, or if not truth itself at least the semblance thereof, which is truth in the mind of the crowd.
Examining well, then, all the scenes and all the men that we have known from Childhood, and the life of our country, we believe that indolence does exist there. The Filipinos, who can measure up with the most active peoples in the world, will doubtless not repudiate this admission, for it is true that there one works and struggles against the climate, against nature and against men. But we must not take the exception for the general rule, and should rather seek the good of our country by stating what we believe to be true. We must confess that indolence does actually and positively exist there; only that, instead of holding it to be the cause of the backwardness and the trouble, we regard it as the effect of the trouble and the backwardness, by fostering the development of a lamentable predisposition.
Those who have as yet treated of indolence, with the exception of Dr. Sancianco, have been content to deny or affirm it. We know of no one who has studied its causes. Nevertheless, those who admit its existence and exaggerate it more or less have not therefore failed to advise remedies taken from here and there, from Java, from India, from other English or Dutch colonies, like the quack who saw a fever cured with a dozen sardines and afterwards always prescribed these fish at every rise in temperature that he discovered in his patients.
We shall proceed otherwise. Before proposing a remedy we shall examine the causes, and even though strictly speaking a predisposition is not a cause, let us, however, study at its true value this predisposition due to nature.
The predisposition exists? Why shouldn’t it?
A hot, climate requires of the individual quiet and rest, just as cold incites to labor and action. For this reason the Spaniard is more indolent than the Frenchman; the Frenchman more so than the German. The Europeans themselves who reproach the residents of the colonies so much (and I am not now speaking of the Spaniards but of the Germans and English themselves), how do they live in tropical countries? Surrounded by a numerous train of servants, never going afoot but riding in a carriage, needing servants not only to take off their shoes for them but even to fan them! And yet they live and eat better, they work for themselves to get rich, with the hope of a future, free and respected, while the poor colonist, the indolent colonist, is badly nourished, has no hope, toils for others, and works under force and compulsion! Perhaps the reply to this will be that white men are not made to stand the severity of the climate. A mistake! A man can live in any climate, if he will only adapt himself to its requirements and conditions. What kills the European in hot countries is the abuse of liquors, the attempt to live according to the nature of his own country under another sky and another sun. We inhabitants of hot countries live well in northern Europe whenever we take the precautions the people there do. Europeans can also stand the torrid zone, if only they would get rid of their prejudices. (2) The fact is that in tropical countries violent work is not a good thing as it is in cold countries, there it is death, destruction, annihilation. Nature knows this and like a just mother has therefore made the earth more fertile, more productive, as a compensation. An hour’s work under that burning sun, in the midst of pernicious influences springing from nature in activity, is equal to a day’s work in a temperate climate; it is, then, just that the earth yield a hundred fold! Moreover, do we not see the active European, who has gained strength during the winter, who feels the fresh blood of spring boil in his veins, do we not see him abandon his labors during the few days of his variable summer, close his office–where the work is not violent and amounts for many to talking and gesticulating in the shade and beside a lunch-stand,–flee to watering places, sit in the cafés or stroll about? What wonder then that the inhabitant of tropical countries, worm out and with his blood thinned by the continuous and excessive heat, is reduced to inaction? Who is the indolent one in the Manila offices? Is it the poor clerk who comes in at eight in the morning and leaves at, one in the afternoon with only his parasol, who copies and writes and works for himself and for his chief, or is it the chief, who comes in a carriage at ten o’clock, leaves before twelve, reads his newspaper while smoking and with is feet cocked up on a chair or a table, or gossiping about all his friends? Which is indolent, the native coadjutor, poorly paid and badly treated, who has to visit all the indigent sick living in the country, or the friar curate who gets fabulously rich, goes about in a carriage, eats and drinks well, and does not put himself to any trouble without collecting excessive fees? 
Without speaking further of the Europeans, in what violent labor does the Chinaman engage in tropical countries, the industrious Chinaman, who flees from his own country driven by hunger and want, and whose whole ambition is to amass a small fortune? With the exception of some porters, an occupation that the natives also follow, he nearly always engages in trade, in commerce; so rarely does he take up agriculture that we do not know of a single case. The Chinaman who in other colonies cultivates the soil does so only for a certain number of years and then retires. 
We find, then, the tendency to indolence very natural, and have to admit and bless it, for we cannot alter natural laws, and without it the race would have disappeared. Man is not a brute, he is not a, machine; his object is not merely to produce, in spite of the pretensions of some Christian whites who would make of the colored Christian a kind of motive power somewhat more intelligent and less costly than steam. Man’s object is not to satisfy tile passions of another man, his object is to seek happiness for himself and his kind by traveling along the road of progress and perfection.
The evil is not that indolence exists more or less latently but that it is fostered and magnified. Among men, as well as among nations, there exist not only aptitudes but also tendencies toward good and evil. To foster the good ones and aid them, as well as correct the evil and repress them, would be the duty of society and governments, if less noble thoughts did not occupy their attention. The evil is that the indolence in the Philippines is a magnified indolence, an indolence of the snowball type, if we may be permitted the expression, an evil that increases in direct proportion to the square of the periods of time, an effect of misgovernment and of backwardness, as we said, and not a cause thereof. Others will hold the contrary opinion, especially those who have a hand in the misgovernment, but we do not care; we have made an assertion and are going to prove it.
When in consequence of a long chronic illness the condition of the patient is examined, the question may arise whether the weakening of the fibers and the debility of the organs are the cause of the malady’s continuing or the effect of the bad treatment that prolongs its action. The attending physician attributes the entire failure of his skill to the poor constitution of the patient, to the climate, to the surroundings, and so on. On the other hand, the patient attributes the aggravation of the evil to the system of treatment followed. Only the common crowd, the inquisitive populace, shakes its head and cannot reach a decision.
Something like this happens in the case of the Philippines. Instead of physician, read government, that is, friars, employees, etc. Instead of patient, Philippines; instead of malady, indolence.
And, just as happens in similar cases then the patient gets worse, everybody loses his head, each one dodges the responsibility to place it upon somebody else, and instead of seeking the causes in order to combat the evil in them, devotes himself at best to attacking the symptoms: here a blood-letting, a tax; there a plaster, forced labor; further on a sedative, a trifling reform. Every new arrival proposes a new remedy: one, seasons of prayer, the relics of a saint, the viaticum, the friars; another, a shower-bath; still another, with pretensions to modern ideas, a transfusion of blood. “It’s nothing, only the patient has eight million indolent red corpuscles: some few white corpuscles in the form of an agricultural colony will get us out of the trouble.”
So, on all sides there are groans, gnawing of lips, clenching of fists, many hollow words, great ignorance, a deal of talk, a lot of fear. The patient is near his finish!
Yes, transfusion of blood, transfusion of blood! New life, new vitality! Yes, the new white corpuscles that you are going to inject into its veins, the new white corpuscles that were a cancer in another organism will withstand all the depravity of the system, will withstand the blood-lettings that it suffers every day, will have more stamina than all the eight million red corpuscles, will cure all the disorders, all the degeneration, all the trouble in the principal organs. Be thankful if they do not become coagulations and produce gangrene, be thankful if they do not reproduce the cancer!
While the patient breathes, we must not lose hope, and however late we be, a judicious examination is never superfluous; at least the cause of death may be known. We are not trying to put all the blame on the physician, and still less on the patient, for we have already spoken of a predisposition due to the climate, a reasonable and natural predisposition, in the absence of which the race would disappear, sacrificed to excessive labor in a tropical country.
Indolence in the Philippines is a chronic malady, but not a hereditary one. The Filipinos have not always been what they are, witnesses whereto are all the historians of the first years after the discovery of the Islands.
Before the arrival of the Europeans, the Malayan Filipinos carried on an active trade, not only among themselves but also with all the neighboring countries. A Chinese manuscript of the 13th century, translated by Dr. Hirth (Globus, Sept. 1889), which we will take up at another time, speaks of China’s relations with the islands, relations purely commercial, in which mention is made of the activity and honesty of the traders of Luzon, who took the Chinese products and distributed them throughout all the islands, traveling for nine months, and then returned to pay religiously even for the merchandise that the Chinamen did not remember to have given them. The products which they in exchange exported from the islands were crude wax, cotton, pearls, tortoise-shell, betel-nuts, dry-goods, etc. 
The first thing noticed by Pigafetta, who came with Magellan in 1521, on arriving at the first island of the Philippines, Samar, was the courtesy and kindness of the inhabitants and their commerce. “To honor our captain,” he says, “they conducted him to their boats where they had their merchandise, which consisted of cloves, cinnamon, pepper, nutmegs, mace, gold and other things; and they made us understand by gestures that such articles were to be found in the islands to which we were going.” 
Further on he speaks of the vessels and utensils of solid gold that he found in Butuan, where the people worked mines. He describes the silk dresses, the daggers with long gold hilts and scabbards of carved wood, the gold, sets of teeth, etc. Among cereals and fruits he mentions rice, millet, oranges, lemons, panicum, etc.
That the islands maintained relations with neighboring countries and even with distant ones is proven by the ships from Siam, laden with gold and slaves, that Magellan found in Cebu. These ships paid certain duties to the King of the island. In the same year, 1521, the survivors of Magellan’s expedition met the son of the Rajah of Luzon, who, as captain-general of the Sultan of Borneo and admiral of his fleet, had conquered for him the great city of Lave (Sarawak?). Might this captain, who was greatly feared by all his foes, have been the Rajah Matanda whom the Spaniards afterwards encountered in Tondo in 1570?
In 1539 the warriors of Luzon took part in the formidable contests of Sumatra, and under the orders of Angi Siry Timor, Rajah of Batta, conquered and overthrew the terrible Alzadin, Sultan of Atchin, renowned in the historical annals of the Far East. (Marsden, Hist. of Sumatra, Chap. XX.) (7)
At that time, that sea where float the islands like a set of emeralds on a paten of bright glass, that sea was everywhere traversed by junks, paraus, barangays, vintas, vessels swift as shuttles, so large that they could maintain a hundred rowers on a side (Morga;) that sea bore everywhere commerce, industry, agriculture, by the force of the oars moved to the sound of warlike songs (8) of the genealogies and achievements of the Philippine divinities. (Colin, Chap. XV.) (9)
Wealth abounded in the islands. Pigafetta tells us of the abundance of foodstuffs in Paragua and of its inhabitants, who nearly all tilled their own fields. At this island the survivors of Magellan’s expedition were well received and provisioned. A little later, these same survivors captured a vessel, plundered and sacked it, add took prisoner in it the chief of the Island of Paragua (!) with his son and brother. (10)
In this same vessel they captured bronze lombards, and this is the first mention of artillery of the Filipinos, for these lombards were useful to the chief of Paragua against the savages of the interior.
They let him ransom himself within seven days, demanding 400 measures (cavanes?) of rice, 20 pigs, 20 goats, and 450 chickens. This is the first act of piracy recorded in Philippine history. The chief of Paragua paid everything, and moreover voluntarily added coconuts, bananas, and sugar-cane jars filled with palm-wine. When Caesar was taken prisoner by the corsairs and required to pay twenty five talents ransom, he replied; “I’ll give you fifty, but later I’ll have you all crucified!” The chief of Paragua was more generous: he forgot. His conduct, while it may reveal weakness, also demonstrates that the islands were abundantly provisioned. This chief was named Tuan Mahamud; his brother, Guantil, and his son, Tuan Mahamed. (Martin Mendez, Purser of the ship Victoria: Archivos de Indias.)
A very extraordinary thing, and one that shows the facility with which the natives learned Spanish, is that fifty years before the arrival of the Spaniards in Luzon, in that very year 1521 when they first came to the islands, there were already natives of Luzon who understood Castilian. In the treaties of peace that the survivors of Magellan’s expedition made with the chief of Paragua, when the servant-interpreter died they communicated with one another through a Moro who had been captured in the island of the King of Luzon and who understood some Spanish. (Martin Mendez, op, cit ) Where did this extemporaneous interpreter learn Castilian? In the Moluccas? In Malacca, with the Portuguese? Spaniards did not reach Luzon until 1571.
Legazpi’s expedition met in Butuan various traders of Luzon with their boats laden with iron, wax cloths, porcelain, etc. (Gaspar de San Agustin,) plenty of provisions, activity, trade, movement in all the southern islands. (11)
They arrived at the Island of Cebu, “abounding in provisions, with mines and washings of gold, and peopled with natives,” as Morga says; “very populous, and at a port frequented by many ships that came from the islands and kingdoms near India,” as Colin says; and even though they were peacefully received discord soon arose. The city was taken by force and burned. The fire destroyed the food supplies and naturally famine broke out in that town of a hundred thousand people, (12) as the historians say, and among the members of the expedition, but the neighboring islands quickly relieved the need, thanks to the abundance they enjoyed.
All the histories of those first years, in short, abound in long accounts about the industry and agriculture of the natives: mines, gold-washings, looms, farms, barter, naval construction, raising of poultry and stock, weaving of silk and cotton, distilleries, manufactures of arms, pearl fisheries, the civet industry, the horn and hide industry, etc., are things encountered at every step, and, considering the time and the conditions in the islands, prove that there was life, there was activity, there was movement.
And if this, which is deduction, does not convince any minds imbued with unfair prejudices, perhaps of some avail may be the testimony of the oft-quoted Dr. Morga, who was Lieutenant-Governor of Manila for seven years and after rendering great service in the Archipelago was appointed criminal judge of the Audiencia of Mexico and Counsellor of the Inquisition. His testimony, we say, is highly credible, not only because all his contemporaries have spoken of him in terms that border on veneration but also because his work, from which we take these citations, is written with great circumspection and care, as well with reference to the authorities in the Philippines as to the errors they committed. “The natives,” says Morga, in chapter VII, speaking of the occupations of the Chinese, “are very far from exercising those trades and have even forgotten much about farming, raising poultry, stock and cotton, and weaving cloth AS THEY USED TO DO IN THEIR PAGANISM AND FOR A LONG TIME AFTER THE COUNTRY WAS CONQUERED.” (13)
The whole of chapter VIII of his work deals with this moribund activity, this much-forgotten industry, and yet in spite of that, how long is his eighth chapter!
And not only Morga, not only Chirino, Colin, Argensola, Gaspar de San Agustin and others agree in this matter, but modern travelers, after two hundred and fifty years, examining the decadence and misery, assert the same thing. Dr. Hans Meyer, when he saw the unsubdued tribes cultivating beautiful fields and working energetically, asked if they would not become indolent when they in turn should accept Christianity and a paternal government.
Accordingly, the Filipinos, in spite of the climate, in spite of their few needs (they were less then than now), were not the indolent creatures of our time, and, as we shall see later on, their ethics and their mode of life were not what is now complacently attributed to them.
How then, and in what way, was that active and enterprising infidel native of ancient times converted into the lazy and indolent Christian, as our contemporary writer’s say?
We have already spoken of the more or less latent predisposition which exists in the Philippines toward indolence, and which must exist everywhere, in the whole world, in all men, because we all hate work more or less, as it may be more or less hard, more or less unproductive. The dolce far niente of the Italian, the rascarse la barriga of the Spaniard, the supreme aspiration of the bourgeois to live on his income in peace and tranquility, attest this.
What causes operated to awake this terrible predisposition from its lethargy? How is it that the Filipino people, so fond of its customs as to border on routine, has given up its ancient habits of work, of trade, of navigation, etc., even to the extent of completely forgetting its past?
A fatal combination of circumstances, some independent of the will in spite of men’s efforts, others the offspring of stupidity and ignorance, others the inevitable corollaries of false principles, and still others the result of more or less base passions has induced the decline of labor, an evil which instead of being remedied by prudence, mature reflection and recognition of the mistakes made, through deplorable policy, through regret, table blindness and obstinacy, has gone from bad to worse until it has reached the condition in which we now see it. (14).
First came the wars, the internal disorders which the new change of affairs naturally brought with it. It was necessary to subject the people either by cajolery or force; there were fights, there was slaughter; those who had submitted peacefully seemed to repent of it; insurrections were suspected, and some occurred; naturally there were executions, and many capable laborers perished. Add to this condition of disorder the invasion of Limahong, add the continual wars into which the inhabitants of the Philippines were plunged to maintain the honor of Spain, to extend the sway of her flag in Borneo, in the Moluccas and in Indo-China; to repel the Dutch foe: costly wars, fruitless expeditions, in which each time thousands and thousands of native archers and rowers were recorded to have embarked, but whether they returned to their homes was never stated. Like the tribute that once upon a time Greece sent to the Minotaur of Crete, the Philippine youth embarked for the expedition, saying good-by to their country forever: on their horizon were the stormy sea, the interminable wars, the rash expeditions. Wherefore, Gaspar de San Agustin says: “Although anciently there were in this town of Dumangas many people, in the course of time they have very greatly diminished because the natives are the best sailors and most skillful rowers on the whole coast, and so the governors in the port of Iloilo take most of the people from this town for the ships that they send abroad …………. When the Spaniards reached this island (Panay) it is said that there were on it more than fifty thousand families; but these diminished greatly; ……….. and at present they may amount to some fourteen thousand tributaries.” From fifty thousand families to fourteen thousand tributaries in little over half a century!
We would never get through, had we to quote all the evidence of the authors regarding the frightful diminution of the inhabitants of the Philippines in the first years after the discovery. In the time of their first bishop, that is, ten years after Legazpi, Philip II said that they had been reduced to less than two thirds.
Add to these fatal expeditions that wasted all the moral and material energies of the country, the frightful inroads of the terrible pirates from the south, instigated and encouraged by the government, first in order to get complaint and afterwards disarm the islands subjected to it, inroads that reached the very shores of Manila, even Malate itself, and during which were seen to set out for captivity and slavery, in the baleful glow of burning villages, strings of wretches who had been unable to defend themselves, leaving behind them the ashes of their homes and the corpses of their parents and children. Morga, who recounts the first piratical invasion, says: “The boldness of these people of Mindanao did great damage to the Visayan Islands, as much by what they did in them as by the fear and fright which the native acquired, because the latter were in the power of the Spaniards, who held them subject and tributary and unarmed, in such manner that they did not protect them from their enemies or leave them means with which to defend themselves, AS THEY DID WHEN THERE WERE NO SPANIARDS IN THE COUNTRY.” These piratical attacks continually reduced the number of the inhabitants of the Philippines, since the independent Malays were especially notorious for their atrocities and murders, sometimes because they believed that to preserve their independence it was necessary to weaken the Spaniard by reducing the number of his subjects, sometimes because a greater hatred and a deeper resentment inspired them against the Christian Filipinos who, being of the their own race, served the stranger in order to deprive them of their precious liberty. These expeditions lasted about three centuries, being repeated five and ten times a year, and each expedition cost the islands over eight hundred prisoners.
“With the invasions of the pirates from Sulu and Mindanao,” says Padre Gaspar de San Agustin, [the island of Bantayan, near Cebu] “has been greatly reduced, because they easily captured the people there, since the latter had no place to fortify themselves and were far from help from Cebu. The hostile Sulu did great damage in this island in 1608, leaving it almost depopulated.” (Page 380).
These rough attacks, coming from without, produced a counter effect, in the interior, which, carrying out medical comparisons, was like a purge or diet in an individual who has just lost a great deal of blood. In order to make headway against so many calamities, to secure their sovereignty and take the offensive in these disastrous contests, to isolate the warlike Sulus from their neighbors in the south, to care for the needs of the empire of the Indies (for one of the reasons why the Philippines were kept, as contemporary documents prove, was their strategic position between New Spain and the Indies), to wrest from the Dutch their growing colonies of the Moluccas and get rid of some troublesome neighbors, to maintain, in short, the trade of China with New Spain. it was necessary to construct new and large ships which, as we have seen, costly as they were to the country for their equipment and the rowers they required, were not less so because of the manner in which they were constructed. (16) Fernando de los Rios Coronel, who fought in these wars and later turned priest, speaking of these King’s ships, said: “As they were so large, the timber needed was scarcely to be found in the forests (of the Philippines!), and thus it was necessary to seek it with great difficulty in the most remote of them, where, once found, in order to haul and convey it to the shipyard the towns of the surrounding country had to be depopulated of natives, who get it out with immense labor, damage, and cost to them. The natives furnished the masts for a galleon, according to the assertion of the Franciscans, and I heard the governor of the province where they were cut, which is Lacuna de Bay, say that to haul them seven leagues over very broken mountains 6,000 natives were engaged three months, without furnishing them food, which the wretched native had to seek for himself!”
And Gaspar de San Agustin says: “In those times (1690), Bacolor has not the people that it had in the past, because of the uprising in that province when Don Sabiniano Manrique de Lava was Governor of these islands and because of the continual labor of cutting timber for his Majesty’s shipyards, WHICH HINDERS THEM FROM CULTIVATING THE VERY FERTILE PLAIN THEY HAVE.” (17)
If this is not sufficient to explain the depopulation of the islands and the abandonment of industry, agriculture and commerce, then add “the natives who wore executed, those who loft their wives and children and fled in disgust to the mountains, those who were sold into slavery to pay the taxes levied upon them,” as Fernando de los Rios Coronel says; add to all this what Philip II said in reprimanding Bishos Salazar about “natives sold by some encomendoros to others, those flogged to death, the women who are crushed to death by their heavy burdens, those who sleep in the fields and there bear and nurse their children and die bitten by poisonous vermin, the many who are executed and left to die of hunger and those who eat poisonous herbs ………… and the mothers who kill their children in bearing them,” and you will understand how in less than thirty years the population of the Philippines was reduced one-third. We are not saying this: it was said by Gaspar de San Agustin, the preeminently anti-Filipino Augustinian, and he confirms it throughout the rest of his work by speaking every moment of the state of neglect in which lay the farms and fields once so flourishing and so well cultivated, the towns thinned that had formerly been inhabited by many leading families!
How is it strange, then, that discouragement may have been infused into the spirit of the inhabitants of the Philippines, when in the midst of so many calamities they did not know whether they would see sprout the seed they were planting, whether their field was going to be their grave or their crop would go to feed their executioner? What is there strange in it, when we see the pious but impotent friars of that time trying to free their poor parishioners from the tyranny of the encomenderos by advising them to stop work in the mines, to abandon their commerce, to break up their looms, pointing out to them heaven for their whole hope, preparing them for death as their only consolation? (18)
Man works for an object. Remove the object and you reduce him to inaction. The most active man in the world will fold his arms from the instant he understands that it is madness to bestir himself, that this work will be the cause of his trouble, that for him it will be the cause of vexations at home and of the pirate’s greed abroad. It seems that these thoughts have never entered the minds of those who cry out against the indolence of the Filipinos.
Even were the Filipino not a man like the rest; even were we to suppose that zeal in him for work was as essential as the movement of a wheel caught in the gearing of others in motion; even were we to deny him foresight and the judgment that the past and the present form, there would still be left us another reason to explain the attack of the evil. The abandonment of the fields by their cultivators, whom the wars and piratical attacks dragged from their homes was sufficient to reduce to nothing the hard labor of so many generations. In the Philippines abandon for a year the land most beautifully tended and you will see how you will have to begin all over again: the rain will wipe out the furrows, the floods will drown the seeds, plants and bushes will grow up everywhere, and on seeing so much useless labor the hand will drop the hoe, the laborer will desert his plow. Isn’t there left the fine life of the pirate?
Thus is understood that sad discouragement which we find in the friar writers of the 17th century, speaking of once very fertile plains submerged, of provinces and towns depopulated, of products that have disappeared from trade, of leading families exterminated. These pages resemble a sad and monotonous scene in the night after a lively day. Of Cagayan Padre San Agustin speaks with mournful brevity: “A great deal of cotton, of which they made good cloth that the Chinese and Japanese every year bought and carried away.” In the historian’s time, the industry and the trade had come to an end!
It seems that these are causes more thorn sufficient to breed indolence even in the midst of beehive. Thus is explained why, after thirty-two years of the system, the circumspect and prudent Morga said that the natives “have forgotten much about farming, raising poultry, stock and cotton, and weaving cloth, as they used to do in their paganism and FOR A LONG TIME AFTER THE COUNTRY HAD BEEN CONQUERED!”
Still they struggled a long time against indolence, yes: but their enemies were so numerous that at last they gave up!
We recognize the causes that, awoke the predisposition and provoked the evil: now let us see what foster and sustain it. In this connection, government and governed have to bow our heads and say: we deserve our fate.
We have already truly said that when a house becomes disturbed and disordered, we should not accuse the youngest, child or the servants, but the head of it, especially if his authority is unlimited, he who does not act freely is not responsible for his actions; and the Filipino people, not being master of its liberty, is not responsible for either its misfortunes or its woes. We says this, it is true, but, as will be seen later on, we also have a large part, in the continuation of such a disorder.
The following, among other causes, contributed to foster the evil and aggravate it: the constantly lessening encouragement that labor has met with in the Philippines. Fearing to have the Filipinos deal frequently with other individuals of their own race, who were free and independent, as the Borneans, the Siamese, the Cambodians, and the Japanese, people who in their customs and feeling’s differ greatly from the Chinese, the Government acted toward these others with great mistrust and great severity, as Morga testifies in the last pages of his work, until they finally ceased to come to the country. In fact, it seems that once an uprising’ planned by the Borneans was suspected: we say suspected, for there was not even an attempt, although there were many executions. (19) And, as these nations were the very ones that, consumed Philippine products, when all communication with them had been cut off, consumption of these products also ceased. The only two countries with which the Philippines continued to have relations were China and Mexico, or New Spain, and from this trade only China and a few private individuals in Manila got any benefit. It, fact, the Celestial Empire sent, her junks laden with merchandise, that merchandise which shut down the factories of Seville and ruined the Spanish industry, and returned laden in exchange with the silver that was every year sent from Mexico. Nothing from the Philippines at that time went to China, not even gold, for in those years the Chinese traders would accept no payment but silver coin. (20) To Mexico went little more: some cloth and dry goods which the encomendoros took by force or bought from the natives at, a paltry price, wax, amber, gold, civet, etc, but nothing more, and not even in great quantity, as is stated by Admiral Don Jerónimo de Bañuelos y Carrillo, when he begged the King that “the inhabitants of the Manilas be permitted (!) to load as many ships as they could with native products, such as wax, gold, perfumes, ivory, cotton cloths, which they would have to buy from the natives of the country …………… Thus the friendship of those peoples would be gained, they would furnish New Spain with their merchandise and the money that is brought to Manila, would not leave this place,” (21)
The coastwise trade, so active in other times, had to die out, thanks to the piratical attacks of the Malays of the south; and trade in the interior of the islands almost entirely disappeared, owing to restrictions, passports and other administrative requirements.
Of no little importance were the hindrances and obstacles that from the beginning were thrown in the farmers’s way by the rulers, who were influenced by childish fear and saw everywhere signs of conspiracies and uprisings. The natives were not allowed to go to their labors, that is, their farms, without permission of the governor, or of his agents and officers, and even of the priests as Morga says. Those who know the administrative slackness and confusion in a country where the officials work scarcely two hours a day; those who know the cost of going to and returning from the capital to obtain a permit; those who are aware of the petty retaliations of the little tyrants will well understand how with this crude arrangement it is possible to have the most absurd agriculture. True it is that for some time this absurdity, which would be ludicrous had it not been so serious, has disappeared; but even if the words have gone out of use other facts and other provisions have replaced them. The Moro pirate has disappeared but there remains the outlaw who infests the fields and waylays the farmer to hold him for ransom. Now then, the government, which has a constant fear of the people, denies to the farmers even the use of a shotgun, or if it does allow it does so very grudgingly and withdraws it at pleasure; whence it results with the laborer, who, thanks to his means of defense, plants his crops and invests his meager fortune in the furrows that he has so laboriously opened, that when his crop matures, it occurs to the government, which is impotent to suppress brigandage, to deprive him of his weapon; and then, without defense and without security he is reduced to inaction and abandons his field, his work, and takes to gambling as the best means of securing a livelihood. The green cloth is under the protection of the government, it is safer! A mournful counselor is fear, for it not only causes weakness but also in casting aside the weapons strengthens the very persecutor!
The sordid return the native gets from his work has the effect of discouraging him. We know from history that the encomenderos, after reducing many to slavery and forcing them to work for their benefit, made others give up their merchandise for a trifle or nothing at all, or cheated them with false measures.
Speaking of Ipion, in Panay, Padre Gaspar de San Agustin says: “It was in ancient times very rich in gold, …………… but provoked by the annoyances they suffered from some governors they have ceased to get it out, preferring to live in poverty than to suffer such hardships.” (Page 378). Further on, speaking of other towns, he says: “Goaded by the ill treatment of the encomenderos who in administering justice have treated the natives as their slaves and not as their children, and have only looked after their own interests at the expense of the wretched fortunes and lives of their charges ……………” (Page 422) Further on: “In Leyte, where they tried to kill an encomendero of the town of Dagami on account of the great hardships he made them suffer by exacting tribute of wax from them with a steelyard which he had made twice as long as the others”
This state of affairs lasted a long time and still lasts, in spite of the fact, that the breed of encomenderos has become extinct. A term passes away but the evil and the passions engendered do not pass away so long as reforms are devoted solely to changing the names.
The wars with the Dutch, the inroads and piratical attacks of the people of Sulu and Mindanao disappeared; the people have been transformed; new towns have grown up while others have become impoverished; but the frauds subsist as much as or worse than they did in those early years. We will not cite our own experiences, for aside from the fact that, we do not know which to select, critical persons may reproach us with partiality; neither will we cite those of other Filipinos who write in the newspapers; but we shall confine ourselves to translating the words of a modern French traveler who was in the Philippines for a long time:
“The good curate,” he says with reference to the rosy picture a friar had given him of the Philippines, “had not told me about the governor, the foremost official of the district, who was too much taken up with the ideal of getting rich to have time to tyrannize over his docile subjects; the governor, charged with ruling the country and collecting the various taxes in the government’s name, devoted himself almost wholly to trade; in his hands the high and noble functions he performs are nothing more than instruments of gain. He monopolizes all the business and instead of developing on his part the love of work, instead of stimulating the too natural indolence of the natives, he with abuse of his powers thinks only of destroying all competition that may trouble him or attempt to participate in his profits. It matters little to him that the country is impoverished, without cultivation, without commerce, without, industry, just so the governor is quickly enriched!”
Yet the traveler has been unfair in picking out the governor especially: Why only the governor?
We do not cite passages from other authors, because we have not their works at hand and do not wish to quote from memory.
The great difficulty that every enterprise encountered with the administration contributed not a little to kill off all commercial and industrial movement. All the Filipinos, as well as all those who have tried to engage in business in the Philippines, know how many documents, what comings, how many stamped papers, how much patience is needed to secure from the government a permit for an enterprise. One must count upon the good will of this one, on the influence of that one, on a good bribe to another in order that the application be not pigeonholed, a present to the one further on so that he may pass it on to his chief; one must pray to God to give him good humor and time to see and examine it; to another, talent to recognize its expediency; to one further on sufficient stupidity not to scent behind the enterprise an insurrectionary purpose; and that they may not all spend the time taking baths, hunting or playing cards with the reverend friars in their convents or country houses. And above all, great patience, great knowledge of how to get along, plenty of money, a great deal of politics, many salutations, great influence, plenty of presents and complete resignation! How is it strange that, the Philippines remain poor in spite of their very fertile soil, when history tells us that the countries now the most flourishing date their development from the day of their liberty and civil rights? The most commercial and most industrious countries have been the freest countries: France, England and the United States prove this. Hongkong, which is not worth the most insignificant of the Philippines, has more commercial movement than all the islands together, because it is free and is well governed.
The trade with China, which was the whole occupation of the colonizers of the Philippines, was not only prejudicial to Spain but also to the life of her colonies; in fact, when the officials and private persons at Manila found an easy method of getting rich they neglected everything. They paid no attention either to cultivating the soil or to fostering industry; and wherefore? China furnished the trade, and they had only to take advantage of it and pick up the gold that dropped out on its way from Mexico toward the interior of China, the gulf whence it never returned.
The pernicious example of the dominators in surrounding themselves with servants and despising manual or corporal labor as a thing unbecoming the nobility and chivalrous pride of the heroes of so many centuries; those lordly airs, which the natives have translated into tila ka castila, and the desire of the dominated to be the equal of the dominators, if not essentially, at least in their manners: all this had naturally to produce aversion to activity and fear or hatred of work.
Moreover, ‘Why work?’ asked many natives. The curate says that the rich man will not go to heaven The rich man on earth is liable to all kinds of trouble, to be appointed a cabeza de barangay, to be deported if an uprising occurs, to be forced banker of the military chief of the town, who to reward him for favors received seizes his laborers and his stock, in order to force him to beg for mercy, and thus easily pays up. Why be rich? So that all the officers of justice may have a lynx eye on your actions, so that at the least slip enemies may be raised up against you, you may be indicted, a whole complicated and labyrinthine story may be concocted against you, for which you can only get away, not by the thread of Ariadne but by Danae’s shower of gold, and still give thanks that you are not kept in reserve for some needy occasion? The native, whom they pretend to regard as an imbecile, is not so much so that he does not understand that it is ridiculous to work himself to death to become worse off. A proverb of his says that the pig is cooked in its own lard, and as among his bad qualities he has the good one of applying to himself all the criticisms and censures he prefers to live miserable and indolent, rather than play the part of the wretched beast of burden.
Add to this the introduction of gambling. We do not mean to san that before the coming of the Spaniards the natives did not gamble: the passion for grumbling is innate in adventuresome and excitable races, and such is the Malay. Pigafetta tells us of cock-fights and of bets in the Island of Paragua. Cock-fighting must also have existed in Luzon and in all the islands, for in the terminology of the game are two Tagalog words: sabong, and tari (cockpit and gaff). But there is not the least doubt that the fostering of this game is due to the government, as well as the perfecting of it. Although Pigafetta tells us of it, he mentions it only in Paragua, and not in Cebu nor in any other island of the south, where he stayed long time. Morga does not speak of it, in spite of his having spent seven years in Manila, and yet he does describe the kinds of fowl, the jungle hens and cocks. Neither does Morga, speak of gambling, when he talks about vices and other defects, more or less concealed, more or less insignificant. Moreover, excepting the two Tagalog words sabong and tari, the others are of Spanish origin, as soltada (setting the cocks to fight, then the fight itself), presto, (apuesta, bet), logro (winnings), pago (payment), sentenciador (referee), case (to cover the bets), etc. We say the same about gambling: the word sugal (jugar, to gamble), like kumpisal (confesar, to confess to a priest), indicates that gambling was unknown in the Philippines before the Spaniards. The word laró (Tagalog, to play) is not the equivalent of the word sunni. The word balasa (baraja, playing-card) proves that the introduction of playing-cards was not due to the Chinese, who have a kind of playing-cards also, because in that case they would have taken the Chinese name. Is not this enough? The word tayá (taltar, to bet), paris-paris (Spanish pares, pairs of cards), politana (napolitana, a winning sequence of cards), sapore (to stack the cards), kapote (to slam), monte, and so on, all prove the foreign origin of this terrible plant, which only produces vice, and which has found in the character of the native a fit soil, cultivated by circumstances.
Along with gambling, which breeds dislike for steady and difficult toil by its promise of sudden wealth and its appeal to the emotions, with the lotteries, with the prodigality and hospitality of the Filipinos, went also, to swell this train of misfortunes, the religious functions, the great number of fiestas, the long masses for the women to spend their mornings and the novenaries to spend their afternoons, and the night, for the processions and rosaries. Remember that lack of capital and absence of means paralyze all movement, and you will see how the native has perforce to be indolent for if any money might remain to him from the trials, imposts and exactions, he would have to give it to the curate for bulls, scapularies, candles, novenaries, etc. And if this does not suffice to form an indolent character, if the climate and nature are not enough in themselves to daze him and deprive him of all energy, recall then that the doctrines of his religion teach him to irrigate his fields in the dry season, not by means of canals but with masses and prayers; to preserve his stock during an epizootic with holy water, exorcisms and benedictions that cost five dollars an animal; to drive away the locusts by a procession with the image of St. Augustine, etc. It is well, undoubtedly, to trust greatly in God; but it is better to do what one can and not trouble the Creator every moment, even when these appeals redound to the benefit of His ministers. We have noticed that the countries which believe most in miracles are the laziest, just, as spoiled children are the most ill-mannered. Whether they believe in miracles to palliate their laziness or they are lazy because they believe in miracles, we cannot say; but the fact is the Filipinos were much less lazy before the word miracle was introduced into their language.
The facility with which individual liberty is curtailed, that continual alarm of all from the knowledge that they are liable to secret report, a governmental ukase, and to the accusation of rebel or suspect, an accusation which, to be effective, does not need proof or the production of the accuser. With that lack of confidence in the future, that uncertainty of reaping the reward of labor, as in a city stricken with the plague, everybody yields to fate, shuts himself in his house or goes about amusing himself in the attempt to spend the few days that remain to him in the least disagreeable way possible.
The apathy of the government itself toward everything in commerce and agriculture contributes not a little to foster indolence. There is no encouragement, at all for the manufacturer or for the farmer; the government furnishes no aid either when poor crop comes, when the locusts (23) sweep over the fields, or when a cyclone destroys in its passage the wealth of the soil; nor does it take any trouble to seek a market for the products of its colonies. Why should it do so when these same products are burdened with taxes and imposts and have not free entry into the ports, of the mother country, nor is their consumption there encouraged? While we see all the walls of London covered with advertisements of the products of its colonies, while the English make heroic efforts to substitute Ceylon for Chinese tea, beginning with the sacrifice of their taste and their stomach, in Spain, with the exception of tobacco, nothing from the Philippines is known: neither its sugar, coffee, hemp, fine cloths, nor its Ilocano blankets. The name of Manila is known only from those cloths of China or Indo-China which at one time reached Spain by way of Manila, heavy silk shawls, fantastically but coarsely embroidered, which no one has thought of imitating in Manila, since they are so easily made; but the government has other cares, and the Filipinos do not know that such objects are more highly esteemed in the Peninsula than their delicate piña, embroideries and their very fine jusi fabrics. Thus disappeared our trade in indigo, thanks to the trickery of the Chinese, which the government could not guard against, occupied as it was with other thoughts; thus die now the other industries; the fine manufactures of the Visayas are gradually disappearing from trade and even from use; the people, continually getting poorer, cannot afford the costly cloths and have to be content with calico or the imitations of the Germans, who produce imitations even of the work of our silversmiths.
The fact that the best plantations, the best tracts of land in some provinces, those that from their easy access are more profitable than others, are in the hands of the religious corporations, whose desideratum is ignorance and a condition of semi-starvation for the native, so that they may continue to govern him and make themselves necessary to his wretched existence, is one of the reasons why many towns do not progress in spite of the efforts of their inhabitants. We will be met with the objections, as an argument on the other side, that the towns which belong to the friars are comparatively richer than those which do not belong to them. They surely are! Just as their brethren in Europe, in founding their convents, knew how to select the best valleys, the best uplands for the cultivation of the vine or the production of beer, so also the Philippine monks (25) have known how to select the best towns, the beautiful plains, the well-watered fields, to make of them rich plantations. For some time the friars have deceived many by making them believe that if these plantations were prospering, it was because they were under their care, and the indolence of the native was thus emphasized; but they forget that in same provinces where they have not been able for some reason to get possession of the best tracts of land, their plantations, like Baurand and Liang, are inferior to Taal, Balayan and Lipa, regions cultivated entirely by the natives without any monkish interference whatsoever.
Add to this lack of material inducement the absentee of moral stimulus, and you will see how he who is not indolent in that country must needs be a madman or at least a fool. What future awaits him who distinguishes himself, him who studies, who rises above the crowd? At the cost of study and sacrifice a young man becomes a great chemist, and after a long course of training, wherein neither the government nor anybody has given him the least help, he concludes his long stay in the University. A competitive examination is held to fill a certain position. The young man wins this through knowledge and perseverance, and after he has won it, it is abolished, because ……… we do not care to give the reason, but when a municipal laboratory is closed in order to abolish the position of director, who got his place by competitive examination, while other officers, such as the press censor, are preserved, it is because the belief exists that the light of progress may injure the people more than all the adulterated foods (26). In the same way, another young man won a prize in a literary competition, and as long as his origin was unknown his work was discussed, the newspapers praised it and it was regarded as a masterpiece, but the sealed envelopes were opened, the winner proved to be a native, while among the losers there were Peninsulars; then all the newspapers hastened to extol the losers! Not one word from the government, nor from anybody, to encourage the native who with so much affection was cultivating the language and letters of the mother country! (27)
Finally, passing over many other more or less insignificant reasons, the enumeration of which would be interminable, let us close this dreary list with the principal and most terrible of all: the education of the native.
From his birth until he sinks into his grave, the training of the native is brutalizing, depressive and antihuman (the word ‘inhuman’ is not sufficiently explanatory: whether or not the Academy admit it, let it go). There is no doubt that the government, some priests like the Jesuits and some Dominicans like Padre Benavides, have done a great deal by founding colleges, schools of primary instruction, and the like. But this is not enough; their effect is neutralized. They amount to five or ten years (years of a hundred and fifty days at most) during which the youth comes in contact with books selected by those very priests who boldly proclaim that it is an evil for the natives to know Castilian, that the native should not be separated from his carabao, that he should not have any further aspirations, and so on; five to ten years during which the majority of the students have grasped nothing more than that no one understands what the books say, not even the professors themselves perhaps; and these five to ten years have to offset the daily preachment of the whole life, that preachment which lowers the dignity of man, which by degrees brutally deprives him of the sentiment of self-esteem, that eternal, stubborn, constant labor to bow the native’s neck, to make him accept the yoke, to place him on a level with the beast–a labor aided by some persons, with or without the ability to write, which if it does not produce in some individuals the desired effect, in others it has the opposite effect, like the breaking of a cord that is stretched too tightly. Thus, while they attempt to make of the native a kind of animal, vet in exchange they demand of him divine actions. And we say divine actions, because he must be a god who does not become indolent in that climate, surrounded by the circumstances mentioned. Deprive a man, then, of his dignity, and you not only deprive him of his moral strength but you also make him useless even for those who wish to make use of him. Every creature has its stimulus, its mainspring: man’s is his self-esteem. Take it away from him and he is a corpse, and he who seeks activity in a corpse will encounter only worms.
Thus is explained how the natives of the present time are no longer the same as those of the time of the discovery, neither morally nor physically.
The ancient writers, like Chirino, Morga and Colin, take pleasure in describing them as well-featured, with good aptitudes for any thing they take up, keen and susceptible and of resolute will, very clean and neat in their persons and clothing, and of good mien and bearing. (Morga). Others delight in minute accounts of their intelligence and pleasant manners, of their aptitude for music, the drama, dancing and singing; of the facility with which they learned, not only Spanish but also Latin, which they acquired almost by themselves (Colin); others, of their exquisite politeness in their dealings and in their social life; others, like the first Augustinians, whose accounts Gaspar de San Augustin copies, found them more gallant and better mannered than the inhabitants of the Moluccas. “All live off their husbandry,” adds Morga, “their farms, fisheries and enterprises, for they travel from island to island by sea and from province to province by land.”
In exchange, the writers of the present time, without being better than those of former times, neither as men nor as historians, without being more gallant than Hernan Cortez and Salcedo, nor more prudent than Legazpi, nor more manly than Morga, nor more studious than Colin and Gaspar de San Agustin, our contemporary writers, we say, find that the native is a creature something more than a monkey but much less than a man, an anthropoid, dull-witted, stupid, timid, dirty, cringing, grinning, ill-clothed, indolent, lazy, brainless, immoral, etc., etc.
To what is this retrogression due? Is it the delectable civilization, the religion of salvation of the friars, called of Jesus Christ by a euphemism, that has produced this miracle, that has atrophied his brain, paralyzed his heart and made of the man this sort of vicious animal that the writers depict?
Alas! The whole misfortune of the present Filipinos consists in that they have become only half-way brutes. The Filipino is convinced that to get happiness it is necessary for him to lay aside his dignity as a rational creature, to attend mass, to believe what is told him, to pay what is demanded of him, to pay and forever to pay; to work, suffer and be silent, without aspiring to anything, without aspiring to know or even to understand Spanish, without separating himself from his carabao, as the priests shamelessly say, without protesting against any injustice, against any arbitrary action, against an assault, against an insult; that is, not to have heart, brain or spirit: a creature with arms and a purse full of gold ………… there’s the ideal native! Unfortunately, or because the brutalization is not yet complete and because the nature of man is inherent in his being in spite of his condition, the native protests; he still has aspirations, he thinks and strives to rise, and there’s the trouble!
In the preceding chapter we set forth the causes that proceed from the government in fostering and maintaining the evil we are discussing. Now it falls to us to analyze those that emanate from the people. Peoples and governments are correlated and complementary: a fatuous government would be an anomaly among righteous people, just as a corrupt people cannot exist under just rulers and wise laws. Like people, like government, we will say in paraphrase of a popular adage.
We can reduce all these causes to two classes: to defects of training and lack of national sentiment.
Of the influence of climate we spoke at the beginning, so we will not treat of the effects arising from it.
The very limited training in the home, the tyrannical and sterile education of the rare centers of learning, that blind subordination of the youth to one of greater age, influence the mind so that a man may not aspire to excel those who preceded him but must merely be content to go along with or march behind them. Stagnation forcibly results from this, and as he who devotes himself merely to copying divests himself of other qualities suited to his own nature, he naturally becomes sterile; hence decadence. Indolence is a corollary derived from the lack of stimulus and of vitality.
That modesty infused into the convictions of every one, or, to speak more clearly, that insinuated inferiority, a sort of daily and constant depreciation of the mind so that, it may not be raised to the regions of light, deadens the energies, paralyzes all tendency toward advancement, and at the least struggle a man gives up without fighting. If by one of those rare accidents, some wild spirit, that is, some active one, excels, instead of his example stimulating, it only causes others to persist in their inaction. ‘There’s one who will work for us: let’s sleep on!’ say his relatives and friends. True it is that the spirit of rivalry is sometimes awakened, only that then it awakens with bad humor in the guise of envy, and instead of being a lever for helping, it is an obstacle that produces discouragement.
Nurtured by the example of anchorites of a contemplative and lazy life, the natives spend theirs in giving their gold to the Church in the hope of miracles and other wonderful things. Their will is hypnotized: from childhood they learn to act mechanically, without knowledge of the object, thanks to the exercises imposed upon them from the tenderest years of praying for whole hours in an unknown tongue, of venerating things that they do not understand, of accepting beliefs that are not explained to them to having absurdities imposed upon them, while the protests of reason are repressed. Is it any wonder that with this vicious dressage of intelligence and will the native, of old logical and consistent–as the analysis of his past and of his language demonstrates–should now be a mass of dismal contradictions? That continual struggle between reason and duty, between his organism and his new ideals, that civil war which disturbs the peace of his conscience all his life, has the result, of paralyzing all his energies, and aided by the severity of the climate, makes of that eternal vacillation, of the doubts in his brain, the origin of his indolent disposition.
“You can’t know more than this or that old man!” “Don’t aspire to be greater than the curate!” “You belong to an inferior race!” “You haven’t any energy!” This is what they tell the child, and as they repeat it so often, it has perforce to become engraved on his mind and thence mould and pervade all his actions. The child or youth who tries to be anything else is blamed with vanity and presumption; the curate ridicules him with cruel sarcasm, his relatives look upon him with fear, strangers regard him with great compassion. No forward movement! Get back in the ranks and keep in line!
With his spirit thus moulded the native falls into the most pernicious of all routines: routine not planned, but imposed and forced. Note that the native himself is not, naturally inclined to routine, but his mind is disposed to accept all truths, just as his house is open to all strangers. The good and the beautiful attract him, seduce and captivate him, although, like the Japanese, he often exchanges the good for the evil, if it appears to him garnished and gilded. What he lacks is in the first place liberty to allow expansion to his adventuresome spirit, and good examples, beautiful prospects for the future. It is necessary that his spirit, although it may be dismayed and cowed by the elements and the fearful manifestation of their mighty forces, store up energy, seek high purposes, in order to struggle against obstacles in the midst of unfavorable natural conditions. In order that he may progress it is necessary that a revolutionary spirit, so to speak, should boil in his veins, since progress necessarily requires change; it implies the overthrow of the past, there deified, by the present; the victory of new ideas over the ancient and accepted ones. It will not be sufficient to speak to his fancy, to talk nicely to him, nor that the light illuminate him like the ignis fatuus that leads travelers astray at night; all the flattering promises of the fairest hopes will not suffice, so long as his spirit is not free, his intelligence not respected.
The reasons that originate in the lack of national sentiment are still more lamentable and more transcendental.
Convinced by the insinuation of his inferiority, his spirit harassed by his education, if that brutalization of which we spoke above can be called education, in that exchange of usages and sentiments among different nations, the Filipino, to whom remain only his susceptibility and his poetical imagination, allows himself to be guided by his fancy and his self-love. It is sufficient that the foreigner praise to him the imported merchandise and run down the native product for him to hasten to make the change, without reflecting that everything has its weak side and the most sensible custom is ridiculous in the eyes of those who do not follow it. They have dazzled him with tinsel, with strings, of colored glass beads, with noisy rattles, shining mirrors and other trinkets, and he has given in return his gold, his conscience, and even his liberty. He changed his religion for the external practices of another cult; the convictions and usages derived from his climate and needs, for other usages and other convictions that developed under another sky and another inspiration. His spirit, well-disposed toward everything that looks good to him, was then transformed, at the pleasure of the nation that forced upon him its God and its laws, and as the trader with whom he dealt did not bring a cargo of useful implements of iron, hoes to till the fields, but stamped papers, crucifixes, bulls and prayer-books; as he did not have for ideal and prototype the tanned and vigorous laborer, but the aristocratic lord, carried in a luxurious litter, the result was that the imitative people became bookish, devout, prayerful; it acquired ideas of luxury and ostentation, without thereby improving the means of its subsistence to a corresponding degree.
The lack of national sentiment brings another evil, moreover, which is the absence of all opposition to measures prejudicial to the people and the absence of any initiative in whatever may redound to its good. A man in the Philippines is only an individual, he is not a member of a nation. He is forbidden and denied the right of association, and is therefore weak and sluggish. The Philippines are an organism whose cells seem to have no arterial system to irrigate it or nervous system to communicate its impressions; these cells must, nevertheless, yield their product, get it where they can: if they perish, let them perish. In the view of some this is expedient so that a colony may be a colony; perhaps they are right, but not to the effect that a colony may flourish.
The result of this is that if a prejudicial measure is ordered, no one protests; all goes well apparently until later the evils are felt. Another blood-letting, and as the organism has neither nerves nor voice the physician proceeds in the belief that the treatment is not injuring it. It needs a reform, but as it must not speak, it keeps silent and remains with the need. The patient wants to eat, it wants to breathe the fresh air, but as such desires may offend the susceptibility of the physician who thinks that he has already provided everything necessary, it suffers and pines away from fear of receiving scolding, of getting another plaster and a new blood-letting, and so on indefinitely.
In addition to this, love of peace and the horror many have of accepting the few administrative positions which fall to the Filipinos on account of the trouble and annoyance these cause them places at the head of the people the most stupid and incapable men, those who submit to everything, those who can endure all the caprices and exactions of the curate and of the officials. With this inefficiency in the lower spheres of power and ignorance and indifference in the upper, with the frequent changes and the eternal apprenticeships, with great fear and many administrative obstacles, with a voiceless people that has neither initiative nor cohesion, with employees who nearly all strive to amass a fortune and return home, with inhabit, ants who live in great hardship from the instant they begin to breathe, create prosperity, agriculture and industry, found enterprises and companies, things that still hardly prosper in free and well-organized communities.
Yes, all attempt is useless that does not spring from a profound study of the evil that afflicts us. To combat this indolence, some have proposed increasing the native’s needs and raising the taxes. What has happened? Criminals have multiplied, penury has been aggravated. Why? Because the native already has enough needs with his functions of the Church, with his fiestas, with the public offices forced on him, the donations and bribes that he has to make so that he may drag out his wretched existence. The cord is already too taut.
We have heard many complaints, and every day we read in the papers about the efforts the government is making to rescue the country from its condition of indolence. Weighing its plans, its illusions and its difficulties, we are reminded of the gardener who tried to raise a tree planted in a small flower-pot. The gardener spent his days tending and watering the handful of earth, he trimmed the plant frequently, he pulled at it to lengthen it and hasten its growth, he grafted on it cedars and oaks, until one day the little tree died, leaving the man convinced that it belonged to a degenerate species, attributing the failure of his experiment to everything except the lack of soil and his own ineffable folly.
Without education and liberty, that soil and that sun of mankind, no reform is possible, no measure can give the result desired. This does not mean that we should ask first for the native the instruction of a sage and all imaginable liberties, in order then to put a hoe in his hand or place him in a workshop; such a pretension would be an absurdity and vain folly. What we wish is that obstacles be not put in his way, that the many his climate and the situation of the islands afford be not augmented, that instruction be not begrudged him for fear that when he becomes intelligent he may separate from the colonizing nation or ask for the rights of which he makes himself worthy. Since some day or other he will become enlightened, whether the government wishes it or not, let his enlightenment be as a gift received and not as conquered plunder. We desire that the policy be at once frank and consistent, that is, highly civilizing, without sordid reservations, without distrust, without fear or jealousy, wishing the good for the sake of the good, civilization for the sake of civilization, without ulterior thoughts of gratitude, or else boldly exploiting, tyrannical and selfish without hypocrisy or deception, with a whole system well-planned and studied out for dominating by compelling obedience, for commanding to get rich, for getting rich to be happy. If the former, the government may act with the security that some day or other it will reap the harvest and will find a people its own in heart and interest; there is nothing like a favor for securing the friendship or enmity of man, according to whether it be conferred with good will or hurled into his face and bestowed upon him in spite of himself. If the logical and regulated system of exploitation be chosen, stifling with the jingle of gold and the sheen of opulence the sentiments of independence in the colonies, paying with its wealth for its lack of liberty, as the English do in India, who moreover leave the government to native rulers, then build roads, lay out highways, foster the freedom of trade; let the government heed material interests more than the interests of four orders of friars; let it send out intelligent employees to foster industry; just judges, all well paid, so that they be not venal pilferers, and lay aside all religious pretext. This policy has the advantage in that while it may not lull the instincts of liberty wholly to sleep, yet the day when the mother country loses her colonies she will at least have the gold amassed and not the regret of having reared ungrateful children.
1. Sancianco y Goson, Gregorio: El progreso de Filipinas. Estudios económicos, administrativos y políticos. Parte económica. Madrid, Imp. de la Vda. de J M. Perez, 1881 Pp XIV-260.
An eminent student of Philippine life and history, James A. LeRoy in his “The Philippines, 1860-1898–Some comment and bibliographical notes” published in volume 52 of Blair and Robertson, Philippine Islands 1493-1898, praises this book (p. 141) as “especially valuable on administrative matters just prior to the revision of the fiscal regime in connection with the abolition of the government tobacco monopoly”, and for its “data on land, commerce, and industry”
2. Before 1590, one of the Spanish officers in the Philippines, commenting on the climate of the Islands, declared, with considerable acumen, that Europeans could stand life and work here if they observed continence in regard to the use of alcoholic beverages.
3. See Morga’s “Report of conditions in the Philippines (June 8, 1598)” in Blair and Robertson vol. 10. pp. 75-80, in which various abuses of the friars are set forth. This should be compared with the following pages of the same relation (pp. 89-90) on secular affairs, from which it will be recognized that the condition was not so much the resultant of one class as of Spanish national character. Cf. also, Anda y Salazar B. and R, vol. 50, pp. 137-190; and Le Gentil, Voyage (Paris, 1779-81), vol. 1, pp. 183-191. It would be hardly fair not to call to mind that the Filipinos are debtors to the friars in many ways, and the Filipinos themselves should be the last to forget this. For a good exposition from the friar point of view, see Zamora, Las Corporaciones-Religiosas en Filipinas: Valladolid, 1901.
See also Mallat, Les Philippines (Paris, 1846), vol. 1, pp. 374-389.
4. The history of the Philippines is full of references to Chinese who came here for the reasons assigned by Rizal. The antiquarian will be interested in consulting a small work entitled Notes on the Malay Archipelago and Malacca, compiled from Chinese sources, by W. P. Groeneveldt.
5 See B. and R., vol 34, pp. 183-191 for a description of the early Chinese trade in the Philippines, also translated by Hirth from Chinese sources, but evidently not the same as referred to by Rizal,
6. This citation is translated directly from the original Italian Ms. Rizal’s account is seen to be slightly different and arises from the fact that he made use of Amoretti’s printed version of the Ms., which is wrong in many particulars. Amoretti attempted to change the original Ms. into modern Italian, with disastrous result. It is to be regretted that Walls y Merino followed the same garbled text, in his Primer viaje alrededor del Mundo (Madrid, 1899).
Dr. Antonio de Morga’s book is perhaps the most famous of all the early books treating of the Philippines. Its full title is as follows: “Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas: Dirigido á Don Cristoval Gomez de Sandoval y Rojas, Duque de Cea, Mexico, En casa de Geronymo Balli, 1609.” The original edition is very rare, and is worth almost its weight in gold. The manuscript circulated for some years before the date of publication.
The second Spanish edition of the work was published by Rizal himself, who was always a sincere admirer of the book. It bears the following title-page: “Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas por el Doctor Antonio de Morga. Obra publicada en Mejico el año de 1609 nuevamente sacada á luz y anotada por José Rizal y precedida de un prólogo del Prof. Fernando Blumentritt. Paris, Libreria de Garnier Hermanos, 1890.” Shortly before Rizal began work on his edition, a Spanish scholar, Justo Zaragoza, began the publication of a new edition of Morga. The book was reprinted, but the notes, prologue, and life of Morga which Zargoza had intended to insert, were never completed because of that editor’s death. Only two copies of this edition, so far as known, were ever bound, one of which belongs to the Ayer collection in Chicago, and the other by the Tabacalera purchase to the Philippine Library, in Manila. Still one other Spanish edition has appeared, namely: “Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas por el Dr. Antonio de Morga. Nueva edición enriquecida con los escritos inéditos del mismo autor ilustrada con numerosas notas que amplian el texto y prologada extensamente por W. E. Retana, Madrid, Libreria General de Victoriano Suarez, Editor, 1909.” Retana adds a life of Morga and numerous documents written by him. An English edition was published as follows: “The Philippine Islands, Moluccas, Siam, Cambodia, Japan, and China. at the close of the sixteenth century. By Antonio de Morga. Translated from the Spanish, with notes and a preface, and a letter from Luis Vaez de Torres, describing his voyage through the Torres Straits, by the Hen. Henry E. J. Stanley, London, Printed for the Hakluyt Society, 1868”. However, Stanley’s translation is poor, and parts of passages are not translated at all. [It was this edition then in preparation by the Hakluyt Society, which Sir John Bowring, a director of the society, mentioned on his visit to Rizal’s uncle in Biñan, so that to make the book available to Spaniards and Filipinos became an ambition from childhood with Rizal.-C.] A second English translation appears in B. and R. vols. 15 and 16. A separate copy of this translation was also published in a very limited edition, with the title: “History of the Philippine Islands from their discovery by Magellan in 1521 to the beginning of the XVII century; with descriptions of Japan, China and adjacent countries, by Dr. Antonio de Morga, alcalde of criminal causes, in the Royal Audiencia of Nueva España, and counsel for the Holy Office of the inquisition. Completely translated into English, edited and annotated by E. H. Blair and J. A. Robertson. Cleveland, Ohio, The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1907.” See B. and R. vols. 9-12 for other documents by Morga, and vol. 53 (or Robertson’s Bibliography of the Philippine Islands, Cleveland, 1908), for bibliographical details regarding Morga and titles to documents. Perhaps the most famous of all his writings outside of his book is his relation mentioned ante, note 3.
7. Published at London in 1783. See p. 346.
8. See B. and R., vol. 4, pp. 221, 222, for an old boatsong.
9. Colin’s Labor evangelica, published in Madrid, 1663; a new edition, in three volumes, and greatly enriched by notes and was published by Pablo Pastells, S. J. (Barcelona, 1900-1902).
10. See B. and R., vol. 33, pp. 233-235. The original says the ransom included 150 chickens; hence 450, an error due again to Amoretti.
11, Conquistas do las Islas Fillpinas (Madrid, 1698). There is no doubt of the frequency of inter-island trade among the peoples of the Philippines at an early period. Trade was stimulated by the very fact that the Malay peoples, except those who have been driven into the mountainous interiors, are by their very nature a seafaring people. The fact of an inter-island traffic is indicative of a culture above that possessed by a people in the barbarian stage of culture. Of course, there was considerable Chinese trade as well throughout the islands.
12. This estimate is somewhat high. A writer in speaking of the population of Manila, the metropolis of the Philippines then as now, about 1570 says that its population scarcely reached 80,000, instead of the 200,000 reported.
13 Licentiate Pedro de Rojas, of the Manila Audiencia, in a letter to Felipe II, June 30, 1586–Vol.6, pp. 265-274 says (p. 270): “If there were no trade with China, the citizens of these islands, would be richer; for the natives if they had not so many tostons, would pay their tributes in the articles which they produce, and which are current, that is, cloths, lampotes, cotton, and gold.–all of which have great value in Nueva España. These they cease to produce because of the abundance of silver; and what is worse and entails more loss upon your Majesty, is that they do not, as formerly, work the mines and take out gold”. The old records contains numerous references to the decline of the native industries of the Philippines after the arrival of the Spaniards and the increase of Chinese trade.
14. See ante, note 13.
15. The decrease of population among native people in the Philippines after the arrival of the Spaniards compares in no degree with what occurred in America. A most distressing picture of conditions in the Philippines is given by Bishop Domingo de Salazar in his relation written about 1583 (see B. & R., vol 5, pp. 210-255. See especially p. 212.) It is well to balance Salazar’s account with those of others
(A “tributary” was generally reckoned as five persons, one “tribute” being required for each adult male. Hence “tributaries” and “families” may here be taken to mean about the same number,–D.)
16. The forced labor required by the Spaniards in shipbuilding formed one of the legitimate causes of complaint among the people almost from the beginning.
17. See ante, note 15, also note 16.
18. The early friars, although many of them fell into some of the very faults which they condemned, inveighed boldly against the cruelty of the Spaniards. Doubtless their attitude did encourage their converts to withdraw from industry to a certain degree.
19. See B. & R, vol. 4, pp. 148-303.
20 See B & R., vol. 6, for early accounts of Chinese trade and Spanish measures affecting it The hostility between Spaniards and Portuguese enters largely into the question. The effects of the deplorably bad economics of Spain in its trade relations are still felt in the Peninsula.
21. See ante, note 20.
22. See ante, note 20. The arrival and departure of the annual galleon were times of activity, but otherwise Manila was a dull town, with little industry. The Chinese usurped all the petty trade.
23 It is to the credit, of the Sociedad Económica de Amigos del Pais de Filipinas, founded by the energetic governor Basco y Vargas in 1781, that it extended its many-sided interests to the destruction of the devastating hordes of locusts that visit the Philippines so frequently.
24 The Spanish policy remained to the end one of exclusion, and the privileges granted were almost all because of coercion, and the penetrating force of modern ideas.
25. A loose use of the word “monk”, which is properly used of a cloistered ecclesiastic who does not leave his convent. “Friar” would be a more exact term. The Benedictines are monks; the Augustinians, Dominicans, Franciscans, and Recollects, are friars.
26. This was the Filipino chemist Anacleto del Rosario, whom Rizal rightly praises.
27. This refers doubtless to Rizal himself, who competed in an open contest for Spaniards and Indians, of the Liceo Artistico-Literario de Manila, and of whom such an occurrence is related. He was awarded first prose prize for a production entitled “El Consejo de los Dioses”, which see in the “Revista del Liceo Artistico-Literario de Manila, No. 4, 1880, pd. 45. This production, which bears neither signature nor sign of authorship, is dated April 13, 1880.