By Dencio Acop
The Philippines was discovered by Spain in 1521. But it was not until the fall of Manila in 1571 that the brown natives and their real estate properties became a Castilian colony. Filipinos therefore, among all Asians, became the first Christians in the Asia-Pacific region. This was the positive development contributed by European invaders to Philippine shores. Not to denigrate clerical abuses during the European colonial occupation of the islands, Christianity was an advantage in the sense that it brought the moral foundations of life to otherwise ignorant and pagan natives who thought life was just all about physical survival among rival tribes. Then another foreign power came and tried to take the islands from their rightful owners at the brink of Spain’s defeat. So, finally, after 328 years of slavery under Spain, Filipinos found the courage to end the Spanish reign of greed and superiority in their midst. Only to find themselves once more, fighting another conqueror, the Americans. To their credit, the ragtag Filipino revolutionaries actually lasted two to three years fighting very superior adversaries in the professional Spanish and American armies. But to their discredit, their back to back defeats to foreign invaders (the highest test of patriotism) revealed a fatal flaw in the core arsenal of the Filipino nation, and any nation for that matter that wished to be called one. The revolutionary leaders could not defeat their EGOs, the one essential element needed to attain unity against any adversary, foreign or domestic.
The Philippines was America’s first colony beginning in 1902 until the country gained its independence in 1946. While the United States occupied the Philippines during that period, it must also be credited for its positive contribution of gifting the country with Democracy and all that came along with it. Many may not be aware but the fact is that institutions and progressive concepts like education, family, faith, governance, human rights especially freedoms, and overall quality of life, among like others, came from both Christianity and Democracy. Both of these foundational concepts toward effective self-determination and governance are the best of foreign gifts bestowed upon the Philippines and Filipinos through their fateful history. They are advantages transferred by the civilized world to Filipinos when other countries now more progressive than the Philippines did not have the slightest clue of what they were at the time. Thus, it was no surprise when Filipinos lamented how their country was once upon a time more progressive than many of the Asian countries which now have long overtaken the Philippines in terms of economic and political progress. If there are thousands of catholic churches across the archipelago, 84 million catholics or 85% of the population, such is the Castilian legacy and the reason why Filipinos have any sense of moral values at all surviving to this day. If Filipinos have enjoyed the benefits of quality education away from ignorance and stupidity and of balanced governance and justice, such form part of the American legacy and the reason why Filipinos at all today still possess any sense of justice and fair play. Were it not the Americans who prepared the Philippines for self-governance by making it a Commonwealth between 1935 and 1946? It was under this legacy that General Vicente Lim, the first Filipino West Point graduate (1914), was tasked by General Douglas MacArthur (USMA Class of 1903) to form and organize the Philippine Army. Then World War II overtook the Philippines and Filipinos once again found themselves slaves of their own country by foreign invaders who were probably the cruelest of them all. Side by side, Americans and Filipinos fought against the Japanese invaders until they surrendered in Bataan. But the resistance did not end there as informal guerrillas continued to fight until liberation. The thing that really hurt then, and continues to hurt now, was not so much the loss to the Japanese Imperial Army. There was no shame in losing even one’s life to invading superior forces. Such was the honorable destiny of patriots. But there is every shame in the DISUNITY that led to TREACHERY by Filipino against brother Filipino. By Filipinos turning in brother and sister Filipinos to the enemy just to serve their selfish interests while sacrificing their country’s larger interest. Time and time again, Filipinos have failed the test of serving the common good and instead chose to serve merely themselves and their myopic family interests. Though Filipinos were historically gifted with faith and democratic values, they did not learn a damn thing and wasted the opportunity by choosing to seek the dark path of EGO and SELF-INTEREST.
Americans, Brits, Australians, and many others respectful and grateful of their martial dead regularly honor their soldiers with memorials and ceremonies worthy of the sacrifices paid by those buried in those sacred grounds. Why? Because those who paid the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their nations simply deserve the gratitude from the multitudes of souls they enabled to flourish by their blood. Who are these souls? They are the souls of the people and of the nation being preserved so they will continue to thrive for a thousand more generations or until the world is no more. It is all about HONOR and UNITY. And the COMMON GOOD. The honor paid by those willing to make it for the united common good of a people including those who do not even deserve it. It is the BLOOD of PATRIOTS that makes a nation. The rest is what a grateful nation is supposed to do if indeed it is one. And still is.