MEDIA: Ethnic NewsWatch
Article: Filipino History Remembered in October
Copyright The Filipino Express Oct 15-Oct 21, 2007
IN 1898 the United States of America paid the Spanish government $20 million for control of Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. In 1899, a violent three-year war ensued between American and Filipino forces that resulted in almost 8,000 American casualties and an estimated 1.3 million Filipino casualties. It was a war in a far away country that the majority of the American public did not know much about Sound familiar?
To Filipino-Americans, October is National Filipino History Month, and sometimes a brief look into the past can prove to be very relevant to current events.
According to the Filipino American National Historical Society, which established National Filipino History Month in 1988, Filipino people have lived in North America since 1763, when the Spanish held the Louisiana territory as a colony. Yet it was the Philippine-American War that brought about much greater contact and integration between the two cultures, according to the FANHS.
The circumstances of that little spoken-of conflict and the current conflict in Iraq have very interesting parallels.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported in 2003 that President George W. Bush said to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Abu Mazen, "God told me to strike at alQaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam Hussein, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East" This comment was later widely published in American newspapers and was a topic of national news at the time.
According to Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States and currently a professor at Boston University, President William McKinley, who served from 1897 to 1901, also made a similar religious comment to a delegation of visiting ministers on the eve of the Philippine-American War.
"That there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and Christianize them."
According to the official website of the U.S. Department of State, "The United States did not 'create' Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda. The United States supported the Afghans fighting for their country's freedom - as did other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, Egypt, and the UK - but the United States did not support the 'Afghan Arabs,' the Arabs and other Muslims who came to fight in Afghanistan for broader goals."
However, the New America Foundation has been one of many organizations to report otherwise. "Osama bin Laden was cultivated, funded, and armed by the CIA to help further America's foreign policy objectives at that time. In 1979, bin Laden and several hundred of his loyal workmen in the Saudi construction industry moved to Afghanistan to fight Soviet 'infidel invaders.'" While this accusation has been widespread in the years since 9/11, the debate is ongoing.
The Philippine-American War began in an identical manner. Emilio Aguinaldo, an exiled Filipino who had led rebellions against the Spanish, was sent back to the Philippines in 1897 with American arms and funds to continue his rebellions, according to Zinn. As soon as the Philippines were sold to the United States in 1898, Aguinaldo used his American arms to wage a guerilla war against the U.S. Army stationed in the newly acquired colony.
These few facts about the conflicts, more than 100 years apart, draw striking similarities. In a time of remembrance, as October is National Filipino History Month, it is important to regard the facts of the past and realize how they can be replayed in current times.
Filipino casualties on the first day of Philippine-American War, February 5, 1899. The original caption was, "Insurgent dead just as they fell in the trench near Santa Ana, February 5th. The trench was circular, and the picture shows but a small portion." The war lasted until 1913 and resulted in the colonization of the Philippine Islands by the United States.
I chose this article because it summarizes how the Filipinos are part of America’s history, and that their treatment back when America was only recently discovered that they were treated with brutality. America bought the Philippines from Spain and then tried to “Americanize” them by coming into their country. They did this by changing their school curriculum to teach history from American’s point of view, and even attempted to force religion upon everyone. "That there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and Christianize them." The Filipinos were furious and decided to revolt, in which many casualties had occurred due to the Filipino-American war. The article relates this even to recent events such as the war in Iraq, with only slightly different circumstances. This relates to the course material because it shows that America is still having conflicts with other countries, and because of such wars, there are slight discriminatory factors that are pointed towards people of Iraqi and Iranian descent, with the assumption that they are automatically presumed as being terrorists and/or need to keep a close eye on.
This article connects to Takaki Chapter 10 “Pacific Crossings: Seeking the Land of Money Trees” in the sense that it deals with those of Asian descent coming over to America in search of equal treatment, but ended up treated like minorities. Takaki describes how on the mainland and even Hawaii, when the Asian children had to attend school, they had to learn America’s history, and learn not to be independent in choosing their own future, but they were being trained to work in the fields and other businesses under Caucasian rule. Again, the Asians were discriminated against for not being capable of having the same rights as those who are of Caucasian descent. Because of this started a war back in the Philippines and some upsets in the other Asian countries, as this article describes, and compares to the current war in Iraq as being quite similar. According to an Iraqi newspaper, President George Bush stated that "God told me to strike at alQaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam Hussein, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East". So apparently it was the “right” thing to do to engage in this war because a higher being said to attack alQaeda. In a few of the readings we read in class, the Caucasians of America strongly believed that their religion was the only correct one, and others, such as the Indians when the settlers first arrived, who did not follow their religion were considered beasts that needed to be “struck down” because they differed from the settlers norm.
I believe that America still has its faults with trying to embrace diversity and attempting to not be racist and discriminatory. Sure the situation has improved massively as compared to many, many years ago, but the problems still do exist, and need to be dealt with. This article compares the war between the Philippines and America to the current war between Iraq and America, and states that both of the wars started out with the countries fighting for their freedom from America, and because America does not want to let them go, they let a war develop. These wars were pretty much over a hundred years apart, and as the article says, they draw striking similarities.