The Philippine Revolution

by Apolinario Mabini
1969

        Contents

Copyright 1969
By Leon Ma.Guerrero

 

Permission to post this text on the Austrian-Philippine Website is provisionally granted by the estate of Leon Ma. Guerrero. It is intended for academic use. Commercial exploitation of this is explicitly prohibited. Copyright Estate of Leon Ma. Guerrero. All rights reserved.

 

Scanning and proofreeding of the text by Robert L. Yoder

CHAPTER V

Reforms Sought by La Solidaridad

Faced with this state of affairs, all those Filipinos concerned with the future of their country could not remain indifferent. They foresaw that easier and faster contact with civilized nations would before long awaken in. the hearts of the Filipinos their inborn love of the freedoms enjoyed by those others, and that such aspirations, if they were not assuaged by suitable and opportune reforms, would irremediably sweep the people away into insurrection, as had been shown in Europe and America. The abuses being committed in the Philippines found no echo in Spain, nor did the complaints of the Filipinos, because the latter had no representatives in -the parliament, and because the friars and the officials of the insular government both had reason to conceal abuses and complaints and to lead the Spanish nation to believe that the natives were content with the existing regime and would rebel if it were changed. On the other hand any political demonstrations in the islands were suppressed and rigorously punished so that neither the statesmen nor the other sectors of the Spanish nation had any idea of the real and true needs and desires of the Filipinos. Since a periodical published in the peninsula as the spokesman of their aspirations might perhaps supply the deficiency, certain Manila residents took it upon themselves to solicit subscriptions and contributions to meet the necessar y expenses, and the fortnightly La Solidaridad was published, first with Don Graciano Lopez Jaena as editor, and shortly afterward, Don Marcelo H. del Pilar.

This periodical, after giving a more detailed account of the political condition and sufferings of the Filipinos, made it clear, among other things, that the Filipinos, far from being satisfied with their fate, longed and hoped for from the Spanish government those changes and reforms which would gradually allow them the progressive enjoyment of the benefits of civilization; that the few Filipinos then living in Spain were compelled to give public expression to the desires of their countrymen because statements of this nature were punished in the islands with tortures, forcible changes of residence, and exile; that these desires, derived as they were from needs arising in the natural course of things, far from being diminished by repression, would instead grow until they became irresistible, just as air acquires greater power to expand the more it is confined; that the Spanish government should not let these suppressed desires explode into an insurrection since it should forestall the Filipinos from seeking the cure for their ills in separation; and that the love and gratitude of the Filipinos toward Spain were the only support capable in the course of time of maintaining Spanish rule in the Philippines inasmuch as only they would not fail in its times of grave danger and distress.

Going on from there to the reforms or improvements which might assuage the people's anxieties, the periodical asked, among other things, that the insular government cease to be military in nature and become civil; that the powers of the governor general be limited and fixed by law; that the individual liberties sheltered under the Spanish constitution be given to the Filipinos; that the friars be expelled or that at least the parishes be entrusted to the secular clergy; that, except for the posts of governor general and heads of department, which should always be reserved for Spaniards, public offices in the insular government be filled by competitive examinations, such examinations to be held in Spain for half of the vacancies and in the Philippines for the other half; that tenure of such offices be secure; that the constabulary should be reformed or suppressed, etc.

As was to be expected, the friars published another periodical to oppose these claims; their main argument was the incapacity of the native due to his ignorance and inborn laziness. They alleged that the sought for reforms, incompatible with his primitive state, would spoil the native, accustomed as he was to work under threat of the whip -- the reforms would, so to speak, be too strong a food for his unsophisticated stomach; that, if their petitions were granted, the Filipinos would ask for more, turning more and more demanding and vexatious, and never satisfied; that really the masses in the country were happy with their lot and paid no heed to La Solidaridad which was edited by a handful of subversives. They were told in reply that the native was ignorant because he was badly instructed, principally because the friars, who were the inspectors of the government primary schools and the private secondary schools, did not want him to be instructed; that notwithstanding official statistics in the Philippines the proportion of persons who could read and write to the total population, was, if not equal to, greater than, in the peninsula; that the indolence of the native was largely due to the lack of cheap and easy transport facilities for his products; that reform were sought precisely so that the native might rise from the primitive state in which he was being kept and so that the government, better informed of his needs, might meet them accordingly; that the number of representatives of the Filipinos in parliament might be fixed in proportion to those who could read and write; and lastly that to clarify and dispel all manner of doubts it would be convenient, by way of experiment, to implant some reforms and permit the Filipinos freely and peacefully to express what they felt.

Since these arguments were unanswerable, the organ of the friars had the impudence to declare more than once, with heavy emphasis, that the freedoms enjoyed in the peninsula had been won with blood, not ink. Such provocation was, of course, childish but, for that very reason, rash in the extreme. While all this was taking place the Spanish government remained silent, but its actions showed in a way that left no room for doubt that it was on the side of the friars, abandoning the people who bore all the burdens of the state. Once in a while an outstanding liberal, weary of waiting for his party's turn in power, would raise the kite of vague promises which, once he had in his hands the cabinet portfolio he coveted, he tried to forget.

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