OPINION: Postscript to Bud Dajo and Balangiga

Buddy Gomez

Posted at Oct 28 2016 01:51 AM

There can be no doubt about it. Rodrigo Roa Duterte is proud to be a citizen of the Republic of the Philippines. But whether he likes it or not, he owes being ‘Filipino’ to the United States of America! Viewed from the currency of Duterte’s near maniacal anti-American rhetoric, what irony! Funny!    

Let me start with a reasonably logical stretch. Let us even label it a historical quirk.

The ‘territorial reality’ of our 7500-island archipelagic Republic of the Philippines is an unalterable consequence of American colonial rule. We were a conquered colonial territory! We are what we are today because America deemed it so, albeit with highly spirited impetus from victorious rabid nationalists. Rather wisely. Do not most of us agree?  

You see, until we became a Commonwealth in 1935, with a constitution all our very own, there were serious considerations and actual proposals being entertained in Washington DC on how the Philippine Islands, were to be administered and ruled. America did not go for a “divide and rule” alternative. Of serious contention was the concept of a separate “Moro Nation.”

Had it not been for that American colonial policy (let us update the phrase to ‘foreign policy’) decision, Davao would have remained part of an “unorganized territory of the United States of America” comprising “the Islands of Mindanao and Sulu, and the Island of Palawan,” a solution sought to be “permanent and lasting.” 

Duterte’s Davao would have remained part of an American colony, perhaps much, much longer than Luzon and the Visayas. Would you believe it? PDuts an American national!

In 1924, a petition to this effect was sent to the US Congress: “A Declaration of Rights and Purposes,” forcefully putting forward “the necessity … if bloodshed and disorder are to be avoided in Mindanao-Sulu.” The document was conveyed to Manila (Gov. Gen. Leonard Wood) by a delegation of Moro Leaders.

In upper case for emphasis, the petition contained phrases such as “…WE ARE LOYAL UNTO DEATH TO THE UNITED STATES.”…..”WE PLEDGED OURSELVES….TO DIE RATHER THAN SUBMIT TO THE DOMINATION BY CHRISTIAN FILIPINOS FROM THE NORTH,” “IN THE EVENT THAT THE US GRANTS INDEPENDENCE TO THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS WITHOUT PROVISION FOR OUR RETENTION UNDER THE AMERICAN FLAG, IT IS OUR FIRM INTENTION TO DECLARE OURSELVES AN INDEPENDENT CONSITUTIONAL SULATANATE TO BE KNOWN TO THE WORLD AS THE MORO NATION.”

This sincere expression of our Muslim brethren is an amazingly edifying turn of sentiments, towards amity and loyalty that spans less than a generation. Perhaps a testament to the success of American ‘benevolent assimilation’ and the ‘policy of attraction.’ 

Earlier, there were indeed bloody encounters between the occupying forces of Americans subduing and pacifying newly conquered territories. One such bloody massacre involved 600 to 700 innocent Muslim lives mostly women and children. This happened in Jolo in March 1906. This painful memory is known as the Bud Dajo Massacre.

POLITICAL RHETORIC

The use of painful history for political rhetoric. 

Recently, in late August, during his ASEAN debut in Laos, President Duterte initiated his now famous serial harangues and tirades against America, by summoning the painful memory of a historical event that occurred over a hundred years ago. He used the pain of Bud Dajo as a tool for his personal polemics, to accentuate “historical hurts that would never go away,” so he imagined aloud. The supposed extemporaneous portion of his ASEAN speech was aided by a blown up black and white photograph of the dead he brandished for effect. The picture was an example of American atrocities and heartlessness against his people, so Duterte perorated!

Back in Manila, his critics were quick to note. It is a matter of common knowledge they said, that on the other hand, the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, a publicly avowed idol of our President Duterte, and the pre-Commonwealth Philippine Constabulary (Christian Filipinos, for the greatest part) have slaughtered much more than a thousand fold of our Muslim brothers and sisters than a dozen Bud Dajos, had there been more, under American auspices during the colonial war of conquest and pacification. 

It is unfortunate that President Duterte so openly vilifies a long-standing and steadfast friend, partner and mentor, epitomizing the object of his personal scorn with a mendaciously selected memory while obscuring his personal affinity to, and admiration for, a dictator who had personally more Filipino blood on his hands than any other human being. 

President Duterte is continuously unmasking himself as a cocky, cock-eyed, bully suffering from opinionated ignorance. Such mindset, should it remain uncorrected, is the potential provenance of bad judgment. 

BALANGIGA AND CATUBIG

It is almost inevitable that the advance of human civilization is often commenced by way of predatory colonization. The cycle has always been attended by interloping, armed skirmishes, combat, conquest and resistance. Let us throw in trade and commerce, somewhere in between. Resistance is more often than not expressed in violence. 

In the fin de siecle and early 20th century history of the Philippines, American blood was likewise spilled in the further colonization of our country. America’s vindictive retaliation and punitive reaction were even bloodier. 

Samar, my Samar island, comes prominently to mind. An American general bellowed: “I want Samar reduced to a howling wilderness!” Remember Balangiga? And the unreturned Bells? But that is of some other retelling. The return of the Balangiga church bells taken by America as war booty in 1901 remains in suspense. These are on display in an Air Base in Wyoming, USA.

Before the more celebrated Balangiga, there was Catubig. For the uninitiated, information is best sourced through Google. Massacre and Siege. Both were slaughters. Bloody at the outset, even bloodier in the aftermath. But let us spare ourselves the gore.

When peace descends, the potential for rehabilitation, recompense, friendship and even romance emerges. “Everaftering” could bring about love, happiness, enterprise and progenies, you know!

I do not know of any other Philippine province beyond Samar where the most number of “Gringos” stayed after the conquest to settle and to ‘multiply.’ Para mejorar la raza. To improve the race! My recollection is imperfect and I apologize for those unremembered and omitted. The names include: Rumohr, Smith (two them,unrelated) Lawser, Burns, Newman, Merrit, Muttack, Hill, Hatton, Moore, Lovely, McGuire.

There are good and beautiful folks from all over Samar who are now all over the United States, mostly in the West Coast, as well as in the East. In the North and in the South and in between.

Conquest has consequences. Beautiful and smart Fil-Am children. And n ugly, ill-mannered, foul-mouthed, pock-mark faced American-hating opinionated ignoramus!

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