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Smithsonian Symposium

Smithsonian Symposium

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Published by Abraham Ignacio

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Published by: Abraham Ignacio on May 27, 2011
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05/27/2011

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2008 San Lorenzo Public Library presentation, San Lorenzo, CA 1
[PP, Forbidden book], [PP, Photo of authors/designer]
Good afternoon toeveryone. My name is Abe Ignacio, one of the four co-authors of “The ForbiddenBook: The Philippine American War in Political Cartoons.”
[PP,Anti-Marcos demo]
All of us come from a history of political activism–opposing the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines, and joining in the strugglesfor civil and immigrant rights. Our authoring “The Forbidden Book” is anextension our activism. It was our hope that this work would add to the growingbody of written work helping break with the Philippines colonial past and to reveala hidden part of American and Philippine history.[
PP, Exhibit card]
The book has its origins in an exhibit entitled, “Colored: Blackn’ White, Filipinos in American Popular Media, 1898-1907.” The exhibit wasintended:
1)
[
PP,Pusod exhibit]
to allow these 100-year old images to speak for themselves;2)to share a Filipino interpretative response to these images;
3)
[PP, Forbidden book toon]
to help generate a mutual understanding of the history of the power relations between whites and non-whites in theUS, and between the Philippines and the United States;4)to contribute to healing the psychic pain from the legacy of colonialconquest not just of Filipinos, but all colonized peoples.
[PP, Information wanted]
Through the exhibition of these images we hoped todemonstrate that both the pain and racial attitudes are by-products of a grandfiction that was popularized by print media at the turn of the 19
th
century. Fromthe expansionist point of view, the fiction was necessary to rationalize a war before the American public, and justify conquest of the Philippines.To the victor goes the privilege of writing history, the glorification of its conquestsand the silencing of the conquered. Forgetting was officially sanctioned so that awar that was at least 50 times more costly in human lives than the Spanish-American war, could be relegated in American textbooks as only an “insurgency.”It is time to give those who have been long silenced a voice in writing history.What was the Philippine-American War?
[PP, Filipino troops]
Filipinos began their Revolution of Independence fromSpain in 1896. Two years later, the revolution got a boost when Deweydestroyed the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay on May 1, 1898 at the start of theSpanish-American War.While US forces watched in Manila Bay, Filipino soldiers quickly defeateddemoralized Spanish troops and in a matter of weeks, much of the country was
 
2008 San Lorenzo Public Library presentation, San Lorenzo, CA 2liberated from Spain and under Filipino control.
[PP, Proclamation]
GeneralEmilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence on June 12, 1898 and theprocess of nation-building began. By September, a constitutional conventiondrafted a Philippine Constitution creating a congress, executive, and judicialbranches of government. By January 1899, the Constitution was ratified, thepresident was elected, schools nationwide were reopened, and ambassadorswere sent to various countries including the United States to seek recognition for the new republic—the first in Southeast Asia. The Philippine Republic wasofficially inaugurated on January 23, 1899.
[PP, Bull pup]
However, unbeknownst to most Filipinos, the Spanish, who hadlost control of the Philippines to the Filipinos, had signed a treaty in December 1898 handing over the Philippines to the United States in exchange for 20 milliondollars.
[PP, Guess I’ll keep’em]
Many months earlier, some Americans alreadydesired to take over the Philippines, as this cartoon in June 1898 shows.
[PP, Steppingstone]
As early as May 1898, pro-war leaders, such as Senator Albert Beveridge, argued that the Philippines would create a new market for American goods: “With our protective tariff wall around the Philippine Islands, itsten million inhabitants, as they advance in civilization, would have to buy our goods.” But more importantly, the Philippines was a stepping stone to the evenlarger China market.
[PP, Imperial robes]
On the other hand, opponents of annexation, such asSenator George Frisbee Hoar argued that taking possession of the Philippinesrepresented a shift from being a republic to an empire.Many historians believe the treaty of annexation was destined for defeat in theUS Senate. But it was not to be, for we now know that the US military had asecret pre-arranged plan to provoke a war.
[PP, Grayson]
Soldiers were postedat a contested bridge and as soon as Filipinos crossed the bridge, Private WillieGrayson and his men fired, provoking the desired Filipino retaliation and allowingthe US military to launch a massive attack. All this took place two days beforethe scheduled vote in the US Senate. False messages were sent that Filipinoshad begun an unprovoked attack against America. The news deceived theSenate enough to change votes, so that the treaty to annex the Philippinespassed by one vote. The war was started based on a lie.
[PP, Bayonet rush]
The war fever that started with the Spanish American War carried over to the Philippine-American War, which began on February 4, 1899,less than two weeks after the Philippine Republic was inaugurated. Filipinosresisted this attack on their new-found independence.
[PP, Our flag]
The UnitedStates was forced to deploy 127,000 US troops during the first few years of thewar, during which 4,200 Americans were killed.
[PP, White man’s burden]
In order to justify an increasingly bloody war,
 
2008 San Lorenzo Public Library presentation, San Lorenzo, CA 3McKinley conveniently portrayed Filipinos as uncivilized savages needing to beeducated, civilized, and christianized. Senator Beveridge explained it thus: “[TheFilipinos] are a barbarous race....
[PP, Not encouraging]
They are not capableof self-government. How could they be?…. They are Orientals…. TheDeclaration [of Independence] applies only to people capable of self-government.” To bolster this sentiment,
[PP, School begins]
The degrading andracist stereotypes of Native Americans,
[PP, You’re next]
blacks, and Chineseas buffoons, ignorant, child-like, or less than human was re-applied to Filipinos.
[PP, Topsy]
Artists portrayed Filipinos as pickanninies or diminutive blacksavages, as in this
Judge
cartoon.What most people did not know was that Filipinos had already declared their independence and had began the process of building the first democraticrepublic in Southeast Asia. Moreover, Filipinos had an educational system older than that of the United States, The University of Santo Tomas, a European-styleuniversity predates the oldest American university Harvard.
[PP, Speaking]
Rampant racism fueled the brutality that characterized thePhilippine-American War.
[PP, Kill everyone over 10]
This is reflected in a letter by a soldier who wrote: “Orders were received … to burn the town and kill everynative in site; which was done to a finish. About 1,000 men, women, andchildren were killed. [
PP, First black bored]
I am probably growing hard-hearted, for I am in my glory when I can sight my gun on some dark skin and pullthe trigger.”
[PP, Harvest]
Depending on which historian you read, the estimates of Filipinoskilled during the war range from a quarter of a million, to 616,000 to over amillion.
[PP, Civilization begins]
The Philippine-American War took place during ahistorical period when racial violence in the US was both at its height and wasofficially sanctioned.
[PP, For one negro]
Although slavery had ended, thehopes for racial justice and equality under post-civil war reconstruction weredashed as African Americans were increasingly disenfranchised.
[PP, Buffalosoldiers]
Six segregated regiments of African-American soldiers were sent tofight in the Philippine-American War. Over 6000 African American soldiers sawservice in the Philippines. While some felt that by demonstrating their loyalty theycould improve the lot of African Americans back home; others grew increasingcritical of the war. Sgt. John Galloway of the 24th Colored Infantry wrote: " Thefuture of the Filipino, I fear, is that of the Negro in the south."During the war, Filipinos were not the only ones depicted derisively.
[PP, Idol of the aunties]
Opponents to the war here in the U.S were likewise derided.Leading the opposition to war was the U.S. Anti-Imperialist League. Reflectingthe sexist and racist attitudes of the time, the anti-imperialists were depicted asold foolish women enamored of the Filipino leader Aguinaldo.
[PP, Rev. Jasper]

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