Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mere Change of Face

For over four decades since the arrival of the Americans in 1898, the cream of the Filipino leadership, descendants of the Maharlikas of the pre-Spanish days, had been taking a tutorial course from their new masters. These officials, who now spoke English, were spoon-fed on the ways to interpret and implement American maxims in subjects as wide-ranging as administrative structure, legal system, national economy and lifestyle. When they took over the mantle of power of the new state, after this thorough grounding, they merely became the "alter egos" of their American colonial masters. The system of government and the institutions were the continuation of the old order with all the components of worldliness, hedonism and materialism. They mimicked blindly their masters' ideas, values, outlooks and tastes and very soon, their whole personality revolved around the cult of the "stateside" or the attitude that everything American was not only good but the best. And even after the physical exit of their masters, the alter egos continued in subservience and worship. No Filipino leader then and now had successfully dissociated himself from this entrapment. Politicians, perhaps with very few exceptions, enhanced their political clout by seeking the blessings of their former bosses in Washington. This submission can easily be seen during the inauguration of the Independence Day in 1946. Pres. Manuel Roxas, the first President of the Republic, had dutifully declared:
We have already subscribed irretrievably to the principles of the American Declaration and the American Constitution. Those principles are now embodied in the basic law of the land. We are committed to the cause and international programme of the United States of America.
It is not unusual for states which had achieved their freedom to dissociate themselves from the policies and values of their colonial masters. The case of the Filipinos was different. Nationalism did not become part of the national policies as long as Mother America was on the other side. Filipinos and Americans had parity rights in the exploitation of the natural resources. The Filipinos also agreed to grant lands in the public domain, rent-free, to the United States as military bases. Free trade was also agreed upon, a scheme that insured the perpetuation of the agricultural-type of economy for the Philippines.
The overriding belief during the struggle for the grant of independence was that the Filipinos could govern the Moros properly. This was the message conveyed, at least ostensibly, for placing early Christian settlers right in the middle of Moro areas, so that the two groups could live harmoniously and productively. The belief later became a neurotic assumption that the Moro Problem had ceased to exist and therefore, the grant of independence, more than ever, was not only necessary but very timely. Unfortunately, there was no corresponding effort to ensure that the assumption would become a reality through the formulation of proper state policies or programs. Thus equipped with this distorted presumption, the Filipinos proceeded to rule and trade on the basis of tact and luck with the Moros of Mindanao and Sulu. What followed next cannot be overstressed here, but the following pages will attempt to put it plainly.

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