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ROOTS OF OUR COLONIAL MENTALITY

from "Issues without Tears", 1984 Leticia Constantino


We often hear Filipinos complain that as a nation we are afflicted with a colonial
mentality. By this they usually mean that we are excessively subservient to foreigners and
unduly impressed by foreign goods. But an even more harmful aspect of colonial mentality and
one that is less recognized is our failure to pinpoint our real national interests apart and distinct
from those of our foreign colonizers.
Despite 35 years of independence, this trait has not been eradicated. Colonial mentality
has deep roots in our history: first, in the level of social and economic development we attained
before colonization; second, in the nature of Spanish colonization; third, in the impact of
American rule; fourth, in the way we obtained our independence and fifth, in the neo-colonial
policies of the United States up to the present time.
Unlike India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia, we did not confront our Spanish conquerors as
a people with a highly developed culture and social structure. Our forebears lived in small,
scattered communities based on kinship ties and relied mainly on primitive agriculture which
provided barely enough for their needs.
We were not a nation since these communities were separate, autonomous barangays.
Trade among barangays and with the people from neighboring countries was occasional and by
barter. Religion was likewise primitive with no organized body of beliefs or priestly hierarchy.
All these made physical conquest and cultural domination quite easy for the Spanish colonizers.
Unlike the Cambodians with their Angkor Vat and the Indonesians with their Borobudur,
we had no monuments which could remind our people of an ancient glory. When nations with

advanced social structures and a firmly established culture are colonized, their past
achievements constitute the source of their separate identity which enable the conquered to
confront their colonizers with dignity and sometimes even a feeling of superiority. They do not
easily lose their sense of racial worth. Unfortunately for us, we were colonized before our own
society could develop sufficiently.
Having but few cultural defenses against our conquerors, we soon accepted their
superiority and began to acquire what we now call a colonial mentality. Other Western powers
initially instituted a system of indirect rule in their Asian colonies by exploiting the people
through their chiefs, leaving native social and cultural institutions largely intact.In the
Philippines however, our two colonizers consolidated their rule by working on the native
consciousness, thus effecting great changes in Filipino values and customs.
The Spaniards forcibly resettled the scattered barangays into larger communities where
the people could more easily be Christianized and where every aspect of their lives, their
customs and ideas could be scrutinized and shaped in the desired colonial mode. In most
communities, the Spanish friars represented both the power of the cross and the power of the
sword.
As pillars of the colonial establishment, most priests sought to develop in their flock the
virtues of obedience, humility and resignation. Spanish superiority was maintained and the
"indio" was kept in his inferior position by denying him education (there was no system of
national education until 1863).The people were trained to follow and were discouraged from
thinking for themselves.

A thirst for knowledge was considered a dangerous and subversive trait which often brought
actual misfortune or the treat of hell. The "indio" acquired the habit of allowing his economic
and social superiors to do the thinking for him, and this attitude persists among us today,
seriously undermining any movement for greater democracy. Under the Spaniards, inferiority
complex evolved into a national trait of Filipinos.
Ironically enough, by satisfying the Filipinos' desire for education and self-government, the
American colonizers developed a new, and is some ways, a more pernicious form of colonial
mentality.
For while the Spanish arrogance and bred anger and rebellion, American education
transformed the United States in the eyes of the Filipinos from an aggressor who had robbed
them of their independence to a generous benefactor.
The school system began Americanizing the Filipino consciousness by misrepresenting US
expansionism and US economic policies as American altruism toward the Filipinos; by denying
young Filipinos of any knowledge of Filipino resistance to American occupation and the
atrocities committed the American military; by filling young minds with stories that glorify the
American way of life, American heroes and American institutions.

Americanization was greatly facilitated by the imposition of English as the sole medium of
instruction. This made possible the use of American texbooks. Education taught the Filipino
youth to regard American culture as superior to their own and American society as the best
model for Philippine society. Of course, our americanization has been profitable to the

Americans because it kept on producing new generations of avid consumers of American goods.
All these were ingredients of a new type of colonial mentality.
Our so-called tutelage in self-government at the end of which we received our independence
from our "generous teacher and guardian" is partly responsible for our persistent failure to
recognize that our real national interests are distinct from and, more often than not, contrary
to those of the United States.
American colonial policy gave the Filipinos their first experience in self-government in the
legislative field. Since executive power remained in the hands of the American governorgeneral and real, overall power resided in Washington, Filipino leaders learned the art of
adapting to American economic requirements while catering to their Filipino constituents'
desire for independence.
Periodic elections focused public attention on "politics", a superficial democratic exercise
during which most politicians pledged to secure "immediate, absolute, complete
independence" without explaining that the economic dependence of the Philippines on the US
market would make such independence an empty one.
The Philippine elite, landowners who grew rich on agricultural exports to the US, largely
controlled Philippine politics, so most politicians in fact supported this economic dependence.
Politicians therefore concentrated on the issue of political independence and the people
received little enlightenment on economic issues except from radical labor and peasant groups
in the 1930s.
The Filipino dream of independence remained limited to political sovereignty.The fact that we
obtained independence as a "grant' and not as a result of a victorious, anti-colonial revolution

has obscured the real contradictions between our interests and those of the US [we had no
such blinders toward either Spain or Japan; we recognized the conflict of interests between
them and us.] But all the foregoing are part of the past. The Philippine republic is now 35 years
old.

Source: http://www.thefilipinomind.com/2006/08/colonial-mentality-of-filipinos-its.html

Reaction:

We are Filipinos in the present who seems to be foreigners of our own land. Every now
and then, the culture of those that colonized our land seems to be residing in our hearts and
minds. We are consequently Americans at heart. We love to do what the colonizers would also
love. We would set the standards in our country with an American point of view.

In Mrs. Constantinos article, I realized how we, Filipinos, are living as Americans. We
do what they do; we love to have the same things they have in their land, and we try to imitate
their culture. Moreover, we are speaking their language and have set it to be one of the
languages we are commonly using.
Its sad to think that we are saying that we are free, when we are actually not from this kind of
mentality we are currently having. Just like what Philip Latak had become upon leaving his
home in Ifugao to work for his American friend. He may be speaking the language of their land,
but he had become another man for his brother Sadek in the story The God Stealer as written
by F. Sionil Jose.
The Americans also have the way to get things done without them shedding anything.
They let us have our own way of doing things but they are the ones who are also benefiting.
They established schools for the masses but are teaching us Filipinos how to be exactly just like
them. Just like Sam Christie in the story The God Stealer he wanted to get the god of Ip-pigs
or Philip Lataks grandfather no matter what happens. He let Philip Latak get the god for him.

Philip stole the god stealer from his grandfather, Sam insisted to return the god but Philips
mind and heart are saying not to because he thinks its his way to thank his friend.
At present we are still suffering from what our colonizers did to us. We still possess the
culture they taught us. We consider them friends when they are actually not. If this continues,
we would be like Philip Latak, full of regrets upon losing his loved one while his friend rejoiced
upon having what he wanted. Philip Lataks American friend became his enemy upon realizing
what his friend had done to him. Sam Christie represented the colonizers who used our
national wealth for their own benefit through the people they do not care about.

Copyright Certification
I fully understand the UST policy on copyright and plagiarism and certify that this essay/paper is
original and has never been published nor submitted to any person or institution. Furthermore,
the ideas borrowed here have been properly cited/ acknowledged.

Name of student: Gisela Czarlene Q. Rey


Year, section and course: 2nd year HR1-BSBA Human Resource Devt Management
Signature:________________
Title of essay/ paper: In Relation To The Story Of The God Stealer
Date Submitted: _______________