colonial society, a theory that explains thenature and conditions of colonial society.Finally, there is Rizal’s discourse on themeaning and requirements for emancipation.In Rizal’s thought, the corrupt Spanishcolonial government and its officials oppressand exploit the Filipinos, while blamingthe backwardness of the Filipinos on theiralleged laziness. But Rizal’s project was toshow that in fact the Filipinos were a rela-tively advanced society in pre-colonial times,and that their backwardness was a product of colonialism. Colonial policy was exploitativedespite the claims or intentions of the colonialgovernment and the Catholic Church. In fact,Rizal was extremely critical of the ‘boastedministers of God [the friars] and
(!) [who] have not sowed nor do theysow Christian moral, they have not taughtreligion, but rituals and superstitions’ (Rizal,1963b: 38). This position required Rizal tocritique colonial knowledge of the Filipinos.He went into history to address the colonialallegation regarding the supposed indolenceof the Filipinos. This led to his understandingof the conditions for emancipation and thepossibilities of revolution.
The Critique of Colonial History
During Rizal’s time, there was little critiqueof the state of knowledge about the Philippinesamong Spanish colonial and Filipino schol-ars. Rizal, being well-acquainted withOrientalist scholarship in Europe, was awareof what would today be referred to asOrientalist constructions. This can be seenfrom his annotation and re-publication of Antonio de Morga’s
Sucesos de las IslasFilipinas
(Historical Events of the PhilippineIslands) which first appeared in 1609. Morga,a Spaniard, served eight years in the Philippinesas Lieutenant Governor General and CaptainGeneral and was also a justice of the SupremeCourt of Manila (
Audiencia Real de Manila
)(de Morga, 1991: xxxv).Rizal re-published this work with his ownannotation in order to correct what he saw asthe false reports and slanderous statementsto be found in most Spanish works on thePhilippines, as well as to bring to light thepre-colonial past that was wiped out from thememory of Filipinos by colonization (Rizal,1962: vii). This includes the destruc-tion of pre-Spanish records such as artefactsthat would have thrown light on the nature of pre-colonial society (Zaide, 1993: 5). Rizalfound Morga’s work an apt choice, as it was,according to Ocampo, the only civil historyof the Philippines written during the Spanishcolonial period, other works being mainlyecclesiastical histories (Ocampo, 1998: 192).The problem with ecclesiastical histories,apart from falsifications and slander, was thatthey ‘abound in stories of devils, miracles,apparitions, etc., these forming the bulk of the voluminous histories of the Philippines’(de Morga, 1962: 291, n. 4). For Rizal,therefore, existing histories of the Philippineswere false and biased as well as unscien-tific and irrational. What Rizal’s annotationsaccomplished were the following:
1. They provide examples of Filipino advances inagriculture and industry in pre-colonial times.2. They provide the colonized’s point of view of various issues.3. They point out the cruelties perpetrated by thecolonizers.4. They furnish instances of hypocrisy of the coloniz-ers, particularly the Catholic Church.5. They expose the irrationalities of the Church’sdiscourse on colonial topics.
While space does not permit us to discuss allof these points, an example would suffice toillustrate Rizal’s position with regard to thereinterpretation of Filipino history: on thepoint of view of the colonized, in a sectionwhere de Morga discusses piracy perpetratedby the Moros of Mindanao, Rizal notes that:
This was the first piracy of the inhabitants of theSouth recorded in the history of the Philippines.We say ‘inhabitants of the South’: for beforethem there had been others, the first ones beingthose committed by the Magellan expedition,capturing vessels of friendly islands and evenof unknown ones, demanding from them largeransoms.
RELIGION AND REFORM