Pananaliksik at Pagkukuro sa
Pangalang 'Pilipino'
...................(Research and Opinions on being Called Filipino)

Ang sumusunod ay isang mahabang sanaysay mula sa malawak at malalim na pag-aral ng makabayang iskolar na si Nathan Gilbert Quimpo, na nakabase ngayon sa Australia, tungkol sa "Pilipino" bilang katawagan natin sa ating sarili. Makabuluhan ang pag-aaral at makabubuting mabasa ng ating mga kababayan. Ito ay nasa English at hindi kami nagsasalin ng mga ipinapasok sa Talakayan/Forum na ito. 
Following is a lengthy essay from the comprehensive and in-depth study of Australia-based nationalist scholar Nathan Gilbert Quimpo regarding the name "Filipino" with which we call ourselves.  This is in English and we do not translate articles that go into this forum.

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Colonial Name, Colonial Mentality and Ethnocentrism

 By Nathan Gilbert Quimpo

ILIPINO NATIONALISM is a contradiction in terms.

Nationalism, as defined by Anthony D. Smith, is an ideological movement for attaining and maintaining autonomy, unity and identity on behalf of a population deemed by at least some of its members to constitute an actual or potential “nation”.[1] Among the peoples of Asia and Africa, the nationalism that emerged and developed in the late nineteenth century and in most of the twentieth was a specifically anticolonial form of nationalism, as the experience of colonial rule helped to create a “national consciousness” and a desire for “independence” or “national liberation”. To make themselves a free nation, a people had to break the shackles of colonialism. “Nationalism,” declared Claro M. Recto, possibly the Philippines’ foremost nationalist statesman, “is the natural antagonist of colonialism.”[2]

Filipino comes from the word Filipinas, of which Philippines is the English translation. Felipinas was the name given by the Spanish explorer Ruy de Villalobos to Tendaya (Leyte or Samar) in 1543 in honor of the Spanish crown prince, Philip (Felipe in Spanish),[3] who later became King Philip II (r. 1556-98). Villalobos later applied Felipinas to all the islands of the (Philippine) archipelago. After Miguel Lopez de Legazpi began the colonization of the islands in 1565, Felipinas became Filipinas. The natives literally became subjects of Felipe.

From their very origins then, Philippines and Filipino are colonial names, and as such, are contradictory to the term nationalism. Simply on the basis of the colonial roots of Philippines, it can already be argued that the country’s name should be changed. Indeed, many former colonies have discarded their colonial appellatives and adopted titles that are of more indigenous or un-colonial derivation: Burkina Faso, Namibia, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Vanuatu and Zimbabwe. 

Name Change: Old Hat?

But then, it can be countered, the idea of a name change is old hat. Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos attempted to foist upon the Filipino people the name Maharlika. In pre-colonial Philippines, maharlika denoted a warrior-noble who belonged to the lower aristocracy and who rendered military service to his lord.[4] But Maharlika also happened to be the nom de guerre that Marcos, vaunted to be the most bemedalled Filipino soldier, used as an anti-Japanese guerrilla soldier in World War II. It was also the name of the guerrilla unit that Marcos claimed to have formed and led in World War II and to have grown into a 9,200-strong force in 1945.[5] Marcos’ sycophants tried to appeal to the Filipinos’ sense of nationalism, arguing that Philippines merely reflected the victories of  the country’s invaders. They cast aspersions on the competence and character of Philip II, pointing out that he reigned badly and precipitated Spain’s decline as a world power, and that he succumbed to venereal disease, a scourge of royalty and nobility then. To drum up support for Maharlika, the Marcos regime concocted and peddled the “Maharlika culture”, which was purportedly based on pre-colonial native traditions and values. The search for national identity and culture became the search for the  maharlika qualities” of the Filipino.[6]

Those who took up the cudgels for Philippines likewise sought to evoke nationalist sentiments, but did so perhaps more ardently and convincingly. The name Philippines, according to Remigio Agpalo, was enshrined in the country’s poetry, essays, speeches, letters, state documents as well as in patriotic music, and was “a symbol of a saga of nation-building, a struggle for freedom, a history written in the blood and sweat of Rizal, Bonifacio, and many other national heroes and in the sweat and tears of ordinary citizens”. To replace Philippines with Maharlika, argued Agpalo, is “to cut ourselves from the historical, emotional and ideological roots of our national identity, leaving us without vital sources of purpose, meaning, and life” and “to break faith with our fathers and grandfathers who fell in the night”.[7] Upholders of Philippines subjected Maharlika to ridicule, claiming, for instance, that the term, which was of Sanskrit origin, actually meant “big phallus”.[8]

The main reason why Maharlika did not pass, however, was that people saw it as Marcos’ ego trip. Some Filipinos recalled with bemusement how Marcos, in pre-martial law days, had attempted to have a film about his war exploits entitled “Maharlika” produced, with Hollywood starlet Dovie Beams playing the part of Marcos’ “leading lady”. (The film was never finished. A scandal broke out when Marcos’ amorous affair with Ms. Beams was exposed.) It wasn’t funny anymore when Marcos decreed Maharlika for exclusive government use and when he had a highway, a government-owned radio-TV company and even the reception area of the presidential residence, among others, all rechristened Maharlika. Some saw something more ulterior and sinister. Reuben R. Canoy warned: “[S]hould the country and its leader be known by one name and the people conditioned to the idea that the President/Prime Minister not only represents but is the state, there may come a time when to assail Marcos would be construed as an attack against the state itself and, therefore, within the purview of treason or any of the crimes against the public order or the stability and security of the nation.”[9] (Underscoring Canoy’s.) Even among Marcos’ own supporters, there were only a few outspoken advocates for Maharlika. By the last few years of Marcos’ rule, Maharlika was a lost cause. To cap it all, in 1985, the Maharlika guerrilla unit as well as Marcos’ much-ballyhooed war exploits were exposed as hoaxes or at best exaggerations.[10]

Since the Maharlika episode, there have been several attempts to have the country’s name changed. Among the alternative names submitted to the Constitutional Commission of 1986 and to the Philippine Congress were Rizal, the name of the country’s national hero; Bayani, a Tagalog term which means “hero”; and Luzviminda, short for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, the three main island groups of the Philippine archipelago. Almost each time, the main argument presented for the name change was that Philippines is of colonial origin. The new proposals have all been shot down, and Philippines has prevailed.

In the opinion of columnist Ricardo Malay, it is only a small but vocal group that “ritually calls for the changing of the country’s name after something that is more ethnologically acceptable”. While lauding the patriotic intentions behind the initiative to rename the country Rizal, Malay nonetheless maintained that such a move would not make any difference. “We can’t wish away our colonial past by eradicating the name of King Philip who, despite his venal reign and venereal disease, was the sovereign at the time of the conquista,” he wrote. “There is no real stigma to the name Philippines any more than there is to America, named after the Italian Amerigo Vespucci.”[11]

Is the name Philippines indeed the veritable symbol of a saga of nation-building, a struggle for freedom, a history written in the blood, sweat and tears of the country’s heroes and people? Is it a true emblem of the nation and of national identity? Is there indeed no real stigma to such a name of colonial extract? Or have historians and other social scientists failed to look hard enough or worse, chosen to gloss over the blot?

In over a century since Rizal conceived of the country as an independent Philippines, millions have proudly identified themselves as Filipinos and hundreds of thousands have gone in battle or even died in the name of the Philippines. Nonetheless, Philippines and Filipino are both tarnished terms. There is more to their being colonial than historians and other social scientists have perceived or cared to admit. They in fact represent what Frantz Fanon referred to as the internalization or “epidermalization” of inferiority among peoples subjected to colonization or prolonged oppression. Moreover, in different stages of the country’s history – and not just during the Spanish period – Philippines and Filipino have been associated with racial, class, ethnic/national and religious discrimination. 

Far more than just “a vocal and small group” have actually been opposed to Philippines and Filipino. For some time already, a significant section of Muslim “Filipinos” have been raising objections to these terms, precisely on the grounds that these are of colonial origin, insulting to their creed and reflective of the ethnocentric bias of the Christian majority and the ethnocratic tendencies of the Philippine state. In fact, the objectors have gone even further, rejecting Filipinism, the ideology that “Filipino nationalism” has spawned. Many other Muslims and members of other minority ethnic groups have taken an ambivalent attitude. The Muslim objectors have not bothered to campaign for a change in the country’s name because they have been busy doing something else – like fighting a war of secession.

While the name Philippines cannot by any means be considered as the matrix of the so-called “colonial mentality” that persists among many Filipinos, changing it may provide added impetus to the process of the country’s cultural decolonization. And while the roots of the armed conflict in southern Philippines are much more complex than terminological issues, the process of replacing the country’s name with a new national symbol may help in righting historical distortions about Muslims and other ethnic groups, reconstructing a truly multi-ethnic and multicultural national identity and resolving the long-standing armed ethnic conflict in the South.  

I. Colonial Name

By European standards, Philip II was not as bad a monarch as he has been portrayed to be by some advocates of the renaming of the Philippines. It is true that under his rule, the Spanish empire did suffer certain great failures – the revolt of the Netherlands, the defeat of the Great Armada and, during his latter years, the economic impoverishment of Spain. But these failures were offset by such achievements, among others, as the acquisition of Portugal and its vast colonial empire, the destruction of the hitherto invincible sea power of Turkey at Lepanto, and the growth of literature, art and science.[12] Philip II bequeathed to his son Philip III the same legacy of war and bankruptcy that he had gotten from his father Charles V.[13] Although Spain’s decline did begin in the latter part of Philip II’s rule, it was nevertheless under his rule that, as Norman Davies put it, Spain stood at the pinnacle of its political and cultural power.[14]   The claim that Philip II died of venereal disease appears to be without much basis. Like his forebears, Philip II suffered from the gout. As he grew older, attacks of the gout recurred with increasing frequency and were compounded by other ailments. A modern-day diagnosis of Philip’s condition suggests that in his last years, he suffered from both arteriosclerosis and nephritis.[15]   

For Filipinos (outside of the Muslims in southern Philippines, whose case will be discussed later), the stigma of the name Philippines has nothing to do with the person of Philip II. In fact, in Spain, Philip II, who was also called Philip the Wise, has generally been regarded as a great king and his reign as the culminating glory of Spanish history.[16] Spaniards could very well argue that he is much more deserving than Amerigo Vespucci of a tract of land being named after him. What Philippines has that America does not have, however, is the colonial stigma. The Philippines, christened after a Spanish monarch, was colonized by Spain; America, named after an Italian navigator-geographer, was colonized by Spain, Portugal, England, France and the Netherlands, but not by Italy nor the small kingdoms, principalities and republics that preceded it. 

In the analysis of T.J.S. George, the Philippines’ obviously colonial name has emphasized the Filipino’s hispanization, which “by definition has meant a degree of de-Asianization, a certain debasement of native nationalism.” Each time a Filipino refers to himself as such, he is unconsciously proclaiming his former allegiance to Philip II and his descendants. George continued:

Ex-colonies the world over have marked their liberation by casting off the names given to them by colonialists. Only in rare instances was this done out of emotional parochialism: in most cases the colonial names were so patently colonial that they just had to go. The Philippines was an extreme example, being one of the few colonies named after an individual colonial monarch. This made the name, in the post-colonial era, both derogatory and anachronistic.[17] (Underscoring supplied.)


From filipino to Filipino

The colonial coloring of Philippines has been deepened by Filipino. When the Spaniards arrived in the sixteenth century, they named the land Philippines but they did not call the natives Filipinos. Originally, the term filipino (spelled with a small f) was reserved only for Spaniards born in the Philippines. The natives were called indios (Indians), the very same term that Columbus used for the indigenous population of the New World. 

The Spanish colonialists pursued a blatantly racialist policy in their colonies. Their treatment of the indios, whom they regarded as belonging to the “primitive” and “inferior races” and as fit to be to be enslaved or subjugated, is already well known to present-day Filipinos. What is less known is that the Spaniards were so obsessed with the question of race that they were unrelenting in their efforts to track down one’s lineage, and that apart from differentiating among Spaniards, indios, negros (blacks) and mestizos, they even made all sorts of distinctions within these categories. The Spaniards attached such a great deal of importance to one’s being “of unblemished birth” that a single drop of indio blood was deemed enough to leave an indelible stain on a person. The blemish associated with indio blood stained even those of pure Spanish descent unfortunate enough to have been born among the indios. [18] A distinction was made between españoles-peninsulares or simply peninsulares (full-blooded Spaniards born in the Iberian peninsula) and the criollos or creoles (full-blooded Spaniards born in the colonies). In the same way that the Spaniards originally used the term españoles-americanos or simply americanos to refer to criollos in America, the term españoles-filipinos or filipinos was applied to criollos in the Philippines. Being island-born, the filipinos were also called insulares, as distinguished from the peninsulares.

In Spain, the terms criollo, americano, filipino and insulares soon came to have a pejorative ring to them not only because they were associated with the primitive indios but also because the colonies were considered the dumping ground for the misfits and dregs of Spanish society. No less than Miguel de Cervantes referred to Las Indias (America) as the refuge for Spain’s desperados, rebels, murderers, gamblers, prostitutes and the like. Much farther from Spain and offering no prospects for easy profit, the Philippines was worse off. Only a small number of Spaniards cared to settle in the Philippines and they were, in Philip III’s assessment, of “poor quality”. Las pobres Filipinas had to content itself with the cast-offs of Mexico.[19] 

Like the peninsulares, the filipinos did not feel at home in the Philippines, as they shared the same dream of striking it rich in the colony and making it back to Spain, the land of their fathers. The peninsular and insular Spaniards stayed in their walled preserves and made no effort to mingle with the indios, as this was viewed as descending to an inferior level. The indios themselves – or at least the indio masses – did not make any distinction between peninsulares and filipinos/insulares. As far as the natives were concerned, both were white, both were Spaniards.[20] The racial caste system that the Spaniards perpetuated in the Philippines fostered what Manuel D. Duldulao referred to as “a hierarchy of inferiority”: the mestizos bowed to the criollos, the criollos to the peninsulares, while the indios knelt before everyone.[21]

The criollos in Spain’s colonies (americanos as well as filipinos) did not enjoy the same political, clerical and economic opportunities as their Iberian brothers. Often thwarted in their ambitions by the policies of the peninsulares, the criollos grew increasingly resentful. Thus, in Latin America, the criollos developed the early conceptions of nation-ness and led the revolutionary wars that eventually transformed Spain’s colonies into independent nation-states.[22] In the Philippines, however, it was the native elite – the ilustrados – and not the criollos who came up with the first conceptions of nation-ness. The criollo community in the Philippines was too small to play a significant role. Unlike in the Spanish colonies in Latin America, where the Spaniards and Spanish mestizos had become a sizable part of the population and, in some areas, even constituted the majority, their counterparts in the Philippines never amounted to more than one per cent of the population.[23]

Constantino explained how the term filipino evolved to include all inhabitants of the archipelago:

From a term with narrow racial and elitist connotation (only for Spaniards born in the Philippines), Filipino [i.e., filipino] began to include Chinese mestizos and urbanized natives whose economic ascendancy in the 18th and 19th centuries gave them the opportunity to acquire education and Hispanic culture. This made them socially acceptable to the creoles especially since progress had given both groups a common economic base to protect. Later, through their propaganda work, the ilustrados, offspring of this rising local elite, wrested the term Filipino from the creoles and infused it with national meaning to finally include the entire people. Thus the term Filipino which had begun as a concept with narrow racial application and later developed to delineate an elite group characterized by wealth, education and Spanish culture finally embraced the entire nation and became a means of national identification.[24]

After 1900 (i.e., after the success of the anti Spanish revolutionary movement of 1896-98), filipino quickly acquired a primarily political meaning, referring to all the “sons and daughters of the country” … and it went upper case.[25]

Filipino historians in general have portrayed the change from indio to Filipino as an event for glorification, often even as the turning point in the development of indios’ nationalist consciousness, i.e., their realization of being a nation and not just being Tagalogs, Visayans, Ilocanos, etc. Constantino’s account does acknowledge that the appropriation of filipino had not been all that commendable. Filipino had been discriminatory in terms of race and class. At first, filipino had distinguished the white, Philippines-born Spaniards from the brown indios. Later, filipino had marked the non-peninsular elite in colonial Philippines – insulares, Spanish and Chinese mestizos and ilustrados – from the indio masses. Nonetheless, there still appears to be a significant element missing. Was it indeed simply a matter of  the ilustrados wresting the term filipino from the criollos? For over three centuries, filipinos (i.e., Spaniards born in the Philippines), together with Spaniards born in Spain, were the oppressors of the natives of the Philippines. Nearly up to the very end of Spanish colonial rule, the filipinos (insulares) saw themselves as superior to the mestizos and ilustrados, and behaved accordingly. Even in the community of filipino exiles (i.e., insulares, mestizos and ilustrados) in Spain, the distinction mattered and the ilustrados eventually felt compelled to set up their own organization, La Solidaridad, rivalling Miguel Morayta’s insulares-dominated Asociacion Hispano-Filipino. In spite of the fact that filipino was the name of the indios’ oppressor in more ways than one (i.e, Philip II and the insulares), why did the native elite still choose to first appropriate it for themselves and then later apply it to the entire population of the archipelago?

There is a deeper racial element here that is unaccounted for. Such an element was absent when the criollos of Latin America continued to use americano in referring to themselves. Latin America’s criollos were indeed the original white-skinned americanos. In contrast, the brown-skinned ilustrados of Las Islas Filipinas took on the name of the white-skinned criollos: filipino. 

The Epidermalization of Inferiority

In the course of studying the writings and personal evolution of the revolutionary black psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, psychologist Hussein Abdilahi Bulhan developed a theory of identity development in situations of oppression, particularly colonialism and racism. Under conditions of prolonged oppression, wrote Bulhan, there are three major modes of psychological defense and identity development among the oppressed: compromise, flight and fight. He further discussed these three modes as stages, tendencies or patterns, to wit:

The first stage, based on the defensive mechanism of identification with the aggressor, involves increased assimilation into the dominant culture while simultaneously rejecting one’s own culture. I call this the stage of capitulation. The second stage, exemplified by the literature of negritude, is characterized by a reactive repudiation of the dominant culture and by an equally defensive romanticism of the indigenous culture. I call this the stage of revitalization. The third phase is a stage of synthesis and unambiguous commitment toward radical change. I call this the stage of radicalization.


… It should be emphasized that one can talk of these not only as stages, but also as tendencies or patterns … But whether considered as stages, tendencies, or patterns, it is important to note that none of them exists in a “pure state” nor is any one in a way exclusive of the others. All three coexist in each individual and among each generation of the oppressed, with one or another being dominant at a given moment, era, or situation …


Frequently it happens that ordinary persons remain in one or another phase that is prevalent in their time and social milieu. Thus, for instance, some individuals and even their generation may remain fixated in the stage of capitulation. Others may go beyond this and enter the stage of revitalization with all its charged affect, vehement denouncement of the present, and marked romanticism of the past. Still others may attain the stage of radicalization on their own or find themselves in a revolutionary era with potent influences they cannot resist.[26]  (Underscoring Bulhan’s.)

             According to Bulhan, Fanon traversed all three phases in his development, as did the likes of Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral and Malcolm X. In his 20s, Fanon, a native of Martinique, a French colony in the West Indies, was still in his capitulation stage, personally identifying with the oppressor: “I am a Frenchman. I am interested in French culture, French civilization, the French people … What have I to do with a black empire?”[27] He moved on to the revitalization stage when he embraced negritude, rejecting assimilation into the French culture and at the same time asserting his African heritage. As a student in France, Fanon experienced a daily encounter with racism, got drawn into political debates and became radicalized. While working as a psychiatrist in Algeria in the 1950s, Fanon secretly joined the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN), the Algerian guerrilla movement that successfully waged a liberation war against French colonialism.[28]  

             Reflecting on his own and other blacks’ experiences, Fanon stated that every colonized people are a people “in whose soul an inferiority complex has been created by the death and burial of its local cultural originality.” Coming face to face with the culture of the mother country, the colonized “is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to his adoption of the mother country’s cultural standards” and “becomes whiter as he renounces his blackness, his jungle.” The inferiority complex of the black man is “the outcome of a double process:

primarily, economic;

subsequently, the internalization – or, better, the epidermalization – of this inferiority.”[29]

Capitulation: Filipinas and Filipino

The capitulation pattern in the Philippine colonial experience is excellently caricatured by Rizal in his novel Noli Me Tangere through the character of the heavily curled and made-up Doña Victorina, who put on airs after marrying a lame, toothless and hapless Spaniard and who spoke bad Spanish, wore ill-fitting European costumes, used rice powder, but was “more Spanish than Agustina of Zaragoza.”[30]

Through the Propaganda Movement which they spearheaded in the 1880s and early 1890s, the ilustrados campaigned for an end to the abuses of Spanish colonial officials in the Philippines and for the institution of reforms. But the ilustrados, to which Rizal himself belonged, nonetheless largely remained in the capitulation stage or pattern. Their goal was assimilation of Las Islas Filipinas into Madre España, i.e., making the Philippines a province of Spain, and to achieve this, they asked for Philippine representation in the Spanish Cortes, equality before the law, civil rights, cultural hispanization, etc.

The adoption of the terms Filipinas and filipino by the ilustrados was consistent with the capitulation pattern. It was identification with the oppressor, the colonizer, the white man. The ilustrados, like the insulares, were already very much hispanized: they lived like Spaniards, dressed like Spaniards, ate like Spaniards, talked and wrote like Spaniards.[31] But then they wanted more: they wanted to be treated as Spaniards and to be identified as Spaniards, even if only as Filipino-Spaniards. The ilustrados were insisting, to paraphrase Fanon, that they were Spaniards (albeit Filipino-Spaniards), and that they were interested in Spanish culture and civilization, more than in the brown race. The adoption particularly of filipino was indicative of the internalization and epidermalization of the ilustrados’ and the indios’ inferiority.

The first documented use of filipino to refer to indios appears to be in Rizal’s A la juventud filipina (To the Filipino Youth), in which Rizal exhorted the indio youth to be the hope of the motherland. According to Rizal himself, he and his classmates in Ateneo thought of themselves as filipinos, even though they were not insulares. In other words, as Ambeth Ocampo aptly put it, Rizal and company saw themselves as “little brown Spaniards.”[32] When Rizal and others in the Propaganda Movement later argued that filipino should mean all people born in the islands, it was astonishing, remarked T.J.S. George, that the profound colonial implications of the term escaped them.[33]

For championing the cause of filipino, Rizal has been hailed as “the first Filipino” in the prize-winning biography by Leon Ma. Guerrero. Fr. Jose Arcilla, S.J., has contended, however, that the honor should belong to Fr. Jose Burgos, whose ideals and work had strongly influenced Rizal.[34] But is it really an honor for an indio like Rizal[35] to be called “the first Filipino”? The first filipinos were Spaniards; those who came after them were copycats. (Incidentally, Burgos was more or less an “original” filipino – his father was a Spaniard and his mother was a Spanish mestiza.)

Apparently applying Anderson’s concept of the nation as an “imagined community”, Ocampo praised Rizal for “almost singlehandedly [having] ‘imagined’ or ‘constructed’ the Filipino, and the Filipino nation, when there was none to start with”.[36] Unfortunately, this does not gibe with Anderson’s own account. Anderson noted with some irony, in fact, how the original “imagining” of the Philippines as well as of the Filipino was not done by indigenes of the Philippines themselves:

[T]he Philippines … by the end of Spanish rule had been imagined for already 350 years as – qua terre nourrice – Las Filipinas. But Filipino? Simply the scornful metropolitan name for the tiny stratum of local creoles: in Las Filipinas, yes, but alongside far more numerous peninsulares, mestizos, chinos and indios. Not the general name for the whole people of the patria, until the revolutionaries of the 1890s, who eventually included members of all the above categories, selfwilled themselves into a common Filipino-ness.[37]

Revitalization: Indios Bravos

In the Philippine colonial experience, the revitalization pattern, as a mode of psychological defense and identity development, was not as pronounced as the capitulation pattern. Nonetheless it did manifest itself. For instance, Rizal, while in Europe in 1886-91, clearly manifested through his writings a reactive repudiation of the Spanish colonizers’ culture and an equally defensive romanticism of the indigenous culture. Through his novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, Rizal exposed the cruelty and decadence of the Spanish colonial system in the Philippines. Through his edition of Antonio de Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (History of the Philippine Islands), on the other hand, Rizal sought to awaken among his compatriots a consciousness of their past. In his copious annotations to Morga’s piece, Rizal showed the advanced level achieved by pre-colonial Filipino society and portrayed the destructive effects of colonization on that society, contrasting each point Morga raised regarding the achievements of pre-Hispanic Filipinos with its subsequent decline.[38] Rizal pursued the same theme in some of his essays during the period. In “Filipinas dentro de cien años” (The Philippines a Century Hence), Rizal lamented the westernization and degradation of the indios and the loss of their ancient traditions, writings, laws, songs and poems as a result of Spanish colonization. In “Sobre la indolencia del Filipino” (On the Indolence of Filipinos), Rizal defensively explained why indios were “indolent”, a racist slur that Spanish colonial authorities often uttered.[39] According to him, the indios had been industrious before the coming of the Spaniards. Evidence of this was that mining, agriculture and commerce had flourished. During the Spanish colonial period, however, all these were destroyed by Spanish oppression and by the Dutch and Moro wars.

Rizal was by no means the first indio to explore the Philippines’ pre-Hispanic past. Isabelo de los Reyes, the founder of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church), wrote newspaper articles on this, which were later compiled into a book. De los Reyes’ writings, however, cannot be regarded as indicative of the revitalization pattern, since he made “little overt attempt to glorify the Filipino colonial past”,[40] to paint it as some sort of a golden age, as Rizal did. Neither are Pedro Paterno’s works denotative of revitalization. In his books on the Philippines’ pre-colonial past, Paterno did extol pre-Hispanic civilization but he still accepted Spanish culture as the norm and he still held on to the ilustrados’ assimilationist goal. Although he rejected the racial superiority of the colonizers, his frame of reference remained “fundamentally colonial, in which the metropolis provided the standard to measure the cultural achievement of the colonized.”[41]

The revitalization pattern was shown not just in Rizal’s writings. While still in Europe, Rizal suggested to his compatriots that instead of resenting the derogatory term indio, they ought to take pride in their race. Thus, he organized Indios Bravos to inspire greater self-dedication among indios in Europe and to stimulate the education of those at home.[42] Rizal’s “proud-to-be-indio” phase roughly corresponds to Fanon’s “proud-to-be-Negro” phase, the period of the latter’s indulging in the romantic nationalism of Martinique negritude.

Radicalization: Katagalugan

The Revolution of 1896 denoted, of course, the radicalization pattern. When the Katipuneros under the leadership of the “Great Plebeian”, Andres Bonifacio, rose up in revolt, their goal was nothing less than an end to Spanish colonial rule and the establishment of an independent republic. To signify the complete break with Spanish colonialism, the Katipuneros tore up their cedulas, used Tagalog instead of Spanish as their medium of communication, adopted a national flag and even commissioned Julio Nakpil to compose a national anthem, the Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan.

In this regard, there is one other important indicator of the radicalization pattern which appears to have been only recently unearthed and authenticated: The fact that Bonifacio discarded the colonial name Filipinas. On the basis of newly-accessed Katipunan documents, historians Milagros C. Guerrero, Emmanuel N. Encarnacion and Ramon N. Villegas have revealed that Bonifacio and the Katipunan actually gave the country the name Katagalugan in lieu of Filipinas and defined tagalog as the term for all natives of the archipelago. The Katipunan’s Cartilla expressly stated: “The word tagalog means all those born in this archipelago; therefore, though visayan, ilocano, pampango, etc., they are all tagalogs.”[43]

The Philippine Revolution of 1896, therefore, is a misnomer. When the revolution was launched, it was fought in the name of Katagalugan, not Filipinas. Thus, it actually was – or at least began as – the Katagalugan Revolution. It became the Philippine Revolution only in 1897 when Emilio Aguinaldo, the former gobernadorcillo (mayor) of Kawit, ousted Bonifacio from the helm of the revolutionary movement and had him executed. Aguinaldo, who had continued all along to use Filipinas, dropped Katagalugan. He proclaimed a dictatorial government on 24 May 1898, then the independence of the Philippines on 12 June 1898 (but “under the protection of the Mighty and Humane North American Nation”). He became president of the Philippine Republic when it was inaugurated on 23 January 1899. Aguinaldo’s attachment to the colonial name is reflective of the capitulationist streak in the vacillating, not-thoroughly-revolutionary character of this former member of the privileged local elite, the principalia. It should be noted that Aguinaldo capitulated first to the Spaniards when he acceded to self-exile to Hongkong in 1897 (before coming back to the Philippines and installing himself as dictator) and then to the Americans when he swore allegiance to the United States shortly after being captured in 1901. In the light of Katagalugan, Anderson was not entirely right when he wrote that the revolutionaries of the 1890s “selfwilled themselves into a common Filipino-ness”.

Even after the unearthing of the Katagalugan documents, most Filipino historians still consider Filipinas as constituting the peak of the development of nationalism in the country. Onofre D. Corpuz, for instance, declares: “Bonifacio’s and Jacinto’s concept of Katagalugan as the nation was analogous to the ilustrados’ Madre España. Both concept were intermediate concepts that would ultimately culminate in Filipinas as the nation.”[44] On the other hand, Ocampo faults Katagalugan for being “obviously so ethnocentric that it will not sit well with Filipinos of today” and thinks that “Aguinaldo had a bigger concept of the nation because his Filipinas included the Muslims South and the Cordilleras unconquered by Spain”.[45] Corpuz and Ocampo have missed the point or at least the more important point. Bonifacio’s adoption of Katagalugan was a big step forward in the development of anticolonial nationalism and in the process of cultural decolonization. Conversely, Aguinaldo’s restoration of Filipinas was a big step backward. Even by standards in Bonifacio’s time, Katagalugan must have sounded too ethnocentric (i.e., Tagalog-centric), but there is no denying that it was a distinctive effort at decolonizing the country’s name.

Did Rizal complete the progression from capitulation to revitalization and finally to radicalization as Fanon did? In the assessment of most nationalist historians, Rizal and the ilustrados in general remained reformists till the end and never made the radical break. Schumacher, however, contests this view, asserting that at least some ilustrados – Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Jose Alejandrino and Antonio Luna – became separatists long before 1896, and that Rizal, as a radical separatist, sought to arouse a united national sentiment of resistance in preparation for eventual revolution.[46] Whether or not Rizal did turn radical, Schumacher correctly points out the lineage from the propagandists to the revolutionaries, how the propagandists’ historiography supplied the legitimization for the actual protagonists of the revolution. In fact, Bonifacio’s very first manifesto to the public in the Katipunan newpaper Kalayaan read like a summary of Rizal’s historiography.[47]

“Filipino nationalism” is an odd mix, a nationalism with more than just a colonial vestige, a nationalism in which the sense of inferiority of the colonized has been internalized and epidermalized. It is the juxtaposition of the radicalism of the Katipunan revolutionaries with the capitulationism as well as revitalism of the ilustrados or at least most of them. Filipino is the conflation of the capitulation pattern’s Filipino, the revitalization pattern’s indio or Indios Bravos and the radicalization pattern’s Tagalog. (Historians have not been very helpful in their historical accounts, often freely substituting indio and later also Tagalog with Filipino, and Katagalugan with Philippines.) It is perhaps partly because of this terminological muddle that present-day Filipinos now face what Ruby R. Paredes called “the irony of Philippine history”, i.e., that the ilustrados who defined the Filipino identity have been branded “un-Filipino”, censured for their putative collaboration, and “omitted” from the nationalist legend.[48] 

II. Ethnocentrism

As Constantino put it, the term Filipino (or filipino), which the ilustrados had wrested from the insulares, eventually embraced the entire nation and became a means of national identification. But have Philippines and Filipino truly been embraced by the entire nation?

Apparently, not by one section of the country’s population – the Muslim “Filipinos”, or at least a significant part of them.

The Muslim “Filipinos”, who are mostly in southern Philippines, do not feel much attachment to Philippines and Filipino since, in the first place, they did not take part at all in the adoption or appropriation of these names. At the time of the initial stirrings of “Filipino nationalism”, the Muslims had remained largely unsubjugated by the Spaniards. Thus, they did not take part in the 1896 Revolution, the 1898 declaration of Philippine independence nor in the 1899 inauguration of the Philippine Republic. Aguinaldo, in fact, implicitly recognized that the Muslims had their own independent state when he proposed to the Malolos Congress in January 1899 that his government be empowered to negotiate with the Muslims for the purpose of forging a federation.

More than just feeling indifferent, in fact, many Muslims abhor the names Philippines and Filipino. Unlike most of today’s Christianized Filipinos, who do not seem to be bothered – or bothered anymore – by the genealogy of Philippines and Filipino, many Muslims feel very strongly about these two terms’ colonial stigma. Alunan C. Glang asserts that Filipino can only be applied to those who bowed in submission to Philip II and the might of Spain,  that since the Muslim were never the subjects of Spain, they do not fall under the category of Filipino.[49] According to T.J.S. George, Philippines was always anathema to the Muslims, a distasteful foreign term, since generations of them had spilled blood precisely to avoid becoming subjects of Philip II.[50]

Philip II: The Anti-Moro Zealot

The indios had certainly fought against Philip II too, but in the Muslims’ case, there is an added dimension. Philip II was not just a colonial ruler like any other. A Catholic zealot, Philip II tried to suppress not just the upcoming Protestants but also the Muslims, the ancient foe of the Spaniards. It will be recalled that Berbers and Arabs from north Africa, loosely called moros (Moors) by the Spaniards, invaded the Iberian peninsula in 1711 and subdued most of it. The small Christian kingdoms fought back the Muslim invaders in a long series of wars that lasted for almost nine centuries known as the reconquista. At the time of Philip II’s ascension to the throne, the wealthy and prosperous province of Granada was still largely populated by the descendants of the Moors, the Moriscos, who had been forced to become Christians but who remained Moors in religion, dress, language and customs. When Philip II stringently forbade the Moriscos from persisting with their Moorish ways, they rose up in arms. Philip crushed the rebellion, expelled the Moriscos from the province or from Spain itself, and then repopulated Granada with “true” Christians.[51]

Spain’s centuries-old war against the Muslims was brought over from the Mediterranean to the Pacific. Philip II was even harsher to the Muslims in southern Philippines, whom the Spaniards called moros, after the Iberians’ old conquerors. In a letter of instructions, Philip II expressly gave Legazpi and his men permission to turn moros who carried on commerce and preached Islam into slaves and to seize their property.[52] Philip II thus set the stage for the Moro Wars – a long series of wars waged by the Spanish colonizers to subjugate the Mindanao Muslims which spanned over three centuries of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines. Spanish military expeditions attacked and destroyed Muslim communities, killing or enslaving the inhabitants. In turn, the Muslims raided Spanish coastal settlements and sold off the captured indios as slaves. Through the years, the Spaniards depicted the moros as outlaws, bandits, pirates and slave traders. As pointed out by Charles O. Frake, the title of one 19th century Spanish history of southern Philippines translates as “The Pirate Wars of the Philippines against the Mindanaos and Joloanos”, and another, in two volumes, proclaims itself as “The History of Malayo-Mohammedan Piracy in Mindanao, Jolo and Borneo”.[53]

In the Moro Wars, the Spaniards compelled the indios, who had been colonized and converted to Christianity, to fight with them against the moros. The Spanish colonial government and church authorities indoctrinated the Christianized natives with the belief that the Muslims were inveterate enemies of their new religion. Moro-moro plays, in which the  Spaniards were always the heroes and the Muslims the villains, became part of the regular cultural fare in the towns and served as tools of propaganda by promoting a negative image of Muslims.[54] From the Muslims’ perspective, meantime, the indios had earned for themselves, for capitulating to the Spaniards and subsequently accepting Christianity, a status lower than the lowest servile class in Muslim society.[55]

In the light of Philip II’s stellar role in the Spanish colonizers’ anti-moro campaigns, not a few Muslim “Filipinos” abominate Philippines and Filipino. “Why do we name ourselves after the king who ordered our enslavement?” expostulates Alunan C. Glang. “It is only the Indios, who are graduated from vassalage, and had become Filipinos, who are proud to use the appellation Filipinos. We Muslims are not!”[56] Zainudin Malang is even more derisive: “Why do Muslims resent being called Filipinos? Well, for the same reason that Filipinos would probably refuse to rename the country after the infamous World War II Japanese General Yamashita. Or, to be more illustrative, for the same reason that Jews in Israel in all likelihood would refuse to call themselves Hitlerites instead of Israelis.”[57]

‘Filipinizing’ the Moros

On the basis of the genealogy of Philippines and Filipino alone, the Muslim “Filipinos” have more than enough reason to object to these appellations. But there is still one other significant reason, perhaps an even graver one. To many Muslims, Philippines and Filipino reflect the efforts not just of the Spanish and American colonialists, but also of the indios, i.e. the Christianized majority, to force the Muslims to abandon their “savage” ways and to adopt the ways of Christian, Western “civilization”. To many Muslims, Philippines and Filipino encapsulate the attempts of the Christian majority, continuing up to the present time, to turn the Muslims into the majority’s image and likeness – Christianized, Westernized and, in the eyes of these Muslims, very colonial-minded. In this writer’s view, the appellations are the very reflection of the ethnocentric bias of the Christian majority and of the ethnocratic tendencies of the Philippine state.

Unlike the Spanish colonialists, the American imperialists succeeded in vanquishing and colonizing the Muslims. Nonetheless, like the Spaniards, the Americans failed to Christianize and Westernize them.

The American imperialists were as racist as the Spanish colonialists. In the early years of American occupation, Filipinos (indios), together with other new additions to the American fold – Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Hawaiians and Guamanians – were conflated with Negroes and Indians (native “Americans”) as “savages” in need of American’s civilizing influence.[58] The Literary Digest casually referred to them “Uncle Sam’s New-Caught Anthropoids”.[59] Dean Worcester, reputed to be the acknowledged authority on the Philippines, vividly described the indios as wild and backward, as “half-naked savages”. American soldiers called Filipinos “niggers” and “goo-goos”. The American media etched Filipinos as “little brown fellows”, who as inhabitants of the torrid zone, exhibited such familiar traits as dull-wittedness, enervation and sloth. Filipinos fought constantly among themselves, they were illiterate, they were pagans, headhunters, cannibals. Those who resisted the American invaders were labeled bandits. In its coverage of the Philippines, the American media often referred to Rudyard Kipling’s characterization of the natives of the Philippines as “half-devil and half-child” and his exhortation to “take up the White Man’s Burden” to bring the half-devils into the civilized world.[60] Aguinaldo, as leader of the Philippine resistance to American imperialism, was portrayed in a cartoon in Harper’s Weekly as a black dancing girl, with a stupefied Uncle Sam as a white old lady.[61] After the capture of Aguinaldo and with the waning of the Filipino-American War, however, the favored Filipino image in the American media “shifted from bandit to bambino”, as coverage was geared more toward showing the cultural and educational deficit from which Americans claimed to be extricating their new wards.[62]

When armed hostilities broke out between the American invaders and the Muslims in Mindanao, the latter became the Americans’ new savage Other. Renowned for their skill and determination at hand-to-hand fighting, the Moros were portrayed, often with the curved, razor-sharp Muslim kris in hand, as wild-eyed juramentados – suicidal religious fanatics. Apart from being “savage”, they were described as “fearsome”, “terrible”, and often, “fierce and fanatical”. The Boston Journal remarked that it would be a “service to humanity and progress” to control the “fanatical and warlike Mohammedan Malay.”[63] The .45-caliber pistol was invented to stop “fanatical charges of lawless Moro tribesmen”. A 1963 U.S. Army poster, entitled “Knocking Out the Moros: The U.S. Army in Action”, depicted a 1913 battle in Jolo, in which U.S. soldiers under the command of General Pershing annihilated a defending Tausug force of men, women and children. The poster described the defenders, who were falling under the firepower of the .45s, as “outlaws of great physical endurance and savage fighting ability”.[64]

After a series of very bloody wars of occupation in which several hundreds of thousands of Christian Filipinos and Moros were killed under the banner of “benevolent assimilation”, the Americans “pacified” the natives, although, from time to time, armed resistance flared up in several local areas, especially in the South. Between the Christian Filipinos and the Moros, the American administrators found it easier to deal with the former, who were already influenced to some extent by Western ideas, thanks to the Spaniards. The Christians started to cooperate with the Americans and thus were given choice positions in the government. In anticipation of the granting of Philippine independence, Filipino political leaders pressed for the rapid Filipinization of the colonial administration. The rising Manuel L. Quezon, who later became the first president of the Philippine Commonwealth government in 1935, dramatically declared that he would prefer “a government run like hell by Filipinos than a government run like heaven by Americans.”[65] Meanwhile, the Muslims, save for a few, showed little enthusiasm in participating in the colonial system. Thus, as Majul described it, the Americans’ plan to prepare the Muslims for independence was “altered and tailored to the Christian Filipinos.”[66] The prospects of the Muslims eventually being granted a state of their own began to diminish, as the governance of the Muslim provinces was passed on to the Christians and not to the Muslims themselves.

As one of the governing principles of American colonial policy, Filipinization was narrowly defined as the gradual substitution of American with Filipino personnel in the government – part of the preparation of the Filipinos for self-rule and independence.[67] But to the Filipinos (indios), especially the ilustrados, Filipinization was actually much more than that. It was the continuation of the process of forging a new national identity for the emergent “Filipino nation”, a process that had been disrupted by the coming of the Americans. Filipinization could not be anything else than the perpetuation of “Filipino nationalism”, and the means for spreading Filipinism, the ideology of “Filipino nationalism”. The ilustrados, who had been the very first to capitulate to the Americans and had thus garnered choice posts in the colonial government, had simply retained the appellations which they had earlier adopted: Philippines and Filipino.

Being among the inhabitants of the “Philippine” archipelago, the Muslims were considered as encompassed by the Filipinization process. But the Muslims did not have the same view of the process as the Christian Filipinos. To them, Filipinization meant being put under the governance of “people from the northern part of the country, who were totally ignorant of the indigenous customs and traditions and who for generations had harboured an incorrigible bias against the Bangsamoro people.” It meant being policed by a Philippine Constabulary, which, though under American guidance, was composed wholly of Christian Filipinos.[68] The Muslims preferred to be under the Americans than under the Filipinos – at least prior to gaining their own independence – as they regarded a government run by Filipinos as indeed “hell”. To the Muslims, Filipinization also denoted the opening or takeover of large tracts of land in Mindanao, including Muslim ancestral lands, to Christian settlers from Luzon and the Visayas, with government assistance. Most of all, Filipinization signified a process of “assimilation and acculturization [in which] the Moros – like the Filipinos – would be subtly induced to embrace Western habits and values so that they would soon lose their own national and cultural identity and obliterate their past.”[69]

The Dominant Ethnie Model

In an essay on majorities and minorities in Southeast Asia, Anderson stated that Christianity was deployed to create a “supra-ethnic majority” in the Philippines, where the Moros remained “useful bogeymen” to the end of Spanish rule.[70] By the same logic, the Muslims, who belong to thirteen ethnolinguistic groups, can be considered as a supra-ethnic minority. Under Smith’s concept of ethnie, on the other hand, Christians and Muslims, as well as Filipinos and Moros, can be regarded as ethnies or ethnic communities. An ethnie or ethnic community, according to Smith, is “a named human population with a [belief or] myth of common ancestry, shared memories and cultural elements; a link with a historic territory or homeland; and a measure of solidarity.”[71] Ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines – such as the Christian Tagalogs, Cebuanos and Ilocanos, as well as the Muslim Maguindanaos, Maranaos and Tausugs – can be considered as smaller ethnic communities or they could fall under what Smith termed as ethnic categories, which are characterized by outsiders, e.g., scholars, missionaries and travelers, as a distinct cultural (usually, linguistic) group, but possess little or no sense of their common ethnicity.[72]

According to Smith, the “territorial nations” that emerged from the former colonies in Africa and Asia were created in two ways: the “dominant ethnie” model, in which the culture of the new state's core ethnic community became the main pillar of the new national political identity and community; and one in which there was no acknowledged dominant ethnie and the new state endeavored to forge a supra-ethnic “political culture” for the new political community. In Smith’s analysis, the nation-states of the second model, in particular, experienced great difficulty in welding disparate ethnies and ethnic categories into new nations and in forging new national identities. Paradoxically, it was where the new state was built up around a dominant ethnie that the best chance of creating a “territorial nation” and political community arose. Nonetheless, Smith acknowledged that many dominant-ethnie states did encounter fierce opposition from ethnic minorities within the state. This, he said, revealed “the failure to ‘invent’ a new political culture and mythology, one that can encompass or transcend the ethnic identities of both dominant and minority ethnie.”[73]  

As Smith himself noted, the Philippines followed the dominant ethnie route.[74] In the main, the culture, identity and social values of the new nation-state were shaped by the dominant Christian ethnie – the Christian ethnolinguistic groups which comprised the majority of the population and had managed to achieve considerable integration in the course of struggling against Spanish and American rule. The Philippines certainly cannot qualify as a dominant-ethnie success story, if one considers that it has been wracked by an armed ethnic conflict that has lasted for over 30 years, claimed 120,000 lives[75] and turned hundreds of thousand into refugees. 

Unlike in many of the other postcolonial states, the process of forging a new national culture and identity in the Philippines began way before the attainment of independence from colonial rule. Filipinization, as among others the assimilation and acculturization of the Muslims and other minorities to the Christian Filipinos’ Western values, marked the start of the process. Vis-à-vis the relationship between the dominant Christian ethnie and the non-Christianized peoples, Filipinization initially tended to highlight the “savage”-“civilized” differentiation. The Christian Filipinos had by then imbibed Western ideas and standards of “civilization”, and now ethnocentrically looked at the non-Christians through the Western prism.

In the early years of American rule, the Moros had been placed in a political grouping with other “savages” under the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes. “[P]opular books on the Philippines,” noted Vaughan, “listed the exotic cultural markers distinguishing Moros from other Filipinos as part of an ethnographic laundry list that typically began with the nomadic Negritos and climbed a rough pecking order to the ‘civilized’ Christian lowland metropolitans.”[76] Worse, Worcester considered the term Filipino as “properly applicable to the Christian peoples only” and such usage was repeated by him and other writers, including Worcester’s assistant James Le Roy and Superintendent of Education Fred Atkinson.[77]

When Filipinization was pursued, the “savage”-“civilized” question still continued to be all-important:  to be considered Filipinized, one had to be sufficiently “civilized”, i.e., in the Western sense. Thus, far from serving as a symbol of national unity and identity, the term Filipino excluded, and discriminated against, the country’s non-Christian peoples. As pointed out by Alejandro R. Roces, pre-World War II dictionaries defined Filipino as “a native of the Philippine Islands belonging to a Christianized Malayan tribe as distinguished from the pagan or wild tribes and the Mohammedan Moros.”[78]

As late as 1943, no less than Carlos P. Romulo, General MacArthur’s aide-de-camp, who later became the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the president of the University of the Philippines, in his book, Mother America, racistly denigrated the Igorots as “our wild tribes” and “primitive black people” and disowned them with this appalling remark: “[T]he Igorot is not Filipino and we are not related, and it hurts our feelings to see him pictured in American newspapers under such captions as ‘Typical Filipino Tribesman.’”[79] (Romulo could very well have taken the cue from Worcester and from Francis Burton Harrison, the American governor of the Philippines, who, when visiting the Igorots, “had carried with him a cake of carbolic soap and had washed himself whenever possible after shaking hands with an Igorot”.[80]) Roces rightly castigated Romulo’s attitude as the “Gunga Din Syndrome.”[81]

Even where the Muslims were no longer regarded as savage or uncivilized, the ethnocentrism of the Christian majority still manifested itself in that the dominant ethnie shaped a national “Filipino” identity and culture that was too alien and alienating to the Muslims. According to Tan, the Muslims found Filipinism and the very idea that they were Filipinos hard to accept, as they equated Filipinism with Christianization. The difficulties with Filipinism as a unifying concept of Christian Filipinos and Muslims persisted even by the time the 1935 Constitution was promulgated, as the ambiguities of ethno-religious origin and expression remained unresolved. Beyond the contexts of geography and law, Christian Filipinos and Muslims held little in common. “The only meaning that could be given to ‘Filipino,’” wrote Tan, “was one who was a citizen of the Philippines, and to ‘Filipinism’ that which pertained to the Filipino.”[82]

During the period of the Philippine Commonwealth, the Muslims still refused to enter the mainstream of Philippine society. They felt offended by the national laws enacted by the Commonwealth government, which upheld standards drawn from Christian ethics and Western social history and which were thus alien to the Muslims, whose cultural heritage was drawn largely from ancient Malay societies. They also resented the new educational system, which emphasized Western “progressive” ideas and Western values and which taught that the Muslims were pirates and slave traders. “Muslim religious leaders,” stated Majul, “came to believe that the new government’s legal and educational system constituted an intentional scheme to extinguish Islam in the Philippines.”[83]  

The Failure of Assimilation

When the Philippines gained independence in 1946, most Muslims could not share a sense of national identity with the Christian Filipinos. Apart from perceiving the new republic’s laws and public school system as being too Christianized and Westernized, the Muslims deeply resented the steady influx of Christian settlers to Mindanao and the displacement of Muslims from their ancestral lands. Muslim leaders blamed all the ills on the “Christian government” in Manila.[84]

Instead of righting the wrongs of the colonial era, the postcolonial government aggravated the problem between the Christian and Muslim communities. Early on, the government came up with a rather one-sided view of the nature of the problem, characterizing it as the “Moro problem”. This clearly reflected the ethnocentric bias of the Christian majority. (Understandably, some Muslims fumed about the “Christian problem.”) A special committee of the Philippine House of Representatives, properly headed by a “Muslim Filipino”, defined the Moro problem as “nothing but the problem of integrating into the Philippine body politic the Muslim population of the country, and the problem of inculcating into their minds that they are Filipinos and that this Government is their own and that they are part of it.”[85]

As its response to the “Moro problem” and the “problem” with other “cultural minorities”, the Philippine adopted integration as its basic policy: all the minorities would be completely and permanently integrated into the mainstream of Philippine national life – culturally, politically, economically and every other way. To implement this integration policy, the government established the Commission on National Integration in 1957. In the analysis of Peter Gordon Gowing, the government’s integration program vis-à-vis the Moros revolved around the philosophy that if the Moros were provided with more roads, schools, health facilities and factories, instructed in modern farming methods, given more scholarships for higher education and given more jobs in government, then they would be “integrated”, i.e., resemble the Christian Filipinos. This was in reality a philosophy of assimilation, reflecting a basic contempt for the religious, cultural and historical factors upon which the Muslims anchored their psychological and social identity. Gowing explained the Moros’ grave misgivings:

[M]any Moros think they see a connection between integration and the coming of migrants from the northern provinces into Moroland. The two are but different sides of the same coin whose name is assimilation. Integration takes away the Moro religious and cultural identity; migration and resettlement programs take away their land – thus, Moros and Moroland become assimilated into the Philippine nation.[86]

The Muslims did get some roads, schools, scholarships, government jobs, etc., but they remained as un-integrated as ever. Meanwhile, their area had shrunk to just about a fifth of Mindanao, concentrated in a handful of provinces which counted among the country’s poorest and most neglected. By the 1960s, many Muslims felt that only two choices were left to them: integration or secession. Muslim nationalism soon came into full flower with the establishment of the Moro National Liberation Front and the launching of the armed struggle for independence from “Philippine colonial rule.” Just as the ilustrados had appropriated for the indios the pejorative Spanish-given name Filipino, the MNLF adopted the Spanish epithet moro for the Muslim people. But while the ilustrados had taken on Filipino in colonial fawning, the MNLF wrested moro in a show of defiance – to the Muslims’ enemies, moro had evoked not only contempt, but often also awe, dread or even fear. To emphasize the complete break with “Philippine colonialism”, the MNLF asserted the nationhood of the Moro people – Bangsamoro (Moro Nation) – and announced their goal to establish a nation-state of their own –  the Bangsamoro Republik.

In retrospect, the Philippine government’s integration policy was actually only part of a larger scheme. In its efforts to attain rapid development, the government had followed the so-called “modernization paradigm”, which was the dominant development paradigm in the immediate postwar decades and which was basically patterned after the Western model of development. Many postcolonial nation-states of Africa and Asia adopted or were strongly influenced by the modernization model as they strove to catch up with the more advanced capitalist countries. Guided by this paradigm, the new states undertook “nation-building” through “cultural assimilation” and “social mobilization”. Cultural assimilation meant the absorption of smaller, subordinate ethnic communities or nationalities into the larger, dominant “nation”. The emergent states were mostly oblivious to the dangers of deadly and protracted inter-ethnic violence, as allegiances towards one’s ethnic community or group were thought to be mere relics of traditionalism that would fade away or be swept away in the course of modernization and development. In a good number of postcolonial states of Africa and Asia, these allegiances, instead of fading or being swept away, gave rise to full-scale wars.

Too often, observed Smith, the construction of nations has been equated with state-making. According to him, state-making involves the establishment of an administrative apparatus with skilled personnel; a code of law and system of courts; a taxation system and fiscal policy; a unified transport and communications system; effective military institutions; systems for welfare benefit, labor protection, insurance, health and education, etc. Nation-building, on the other hand, includes the following processes:

· the growth, cultivation and transmission of common memories, myths and symbols of the community;

· the growth, selection and transmission of historical traditions and rituals of community;

· the designation, cultivation and transmission of ‘authentic’ elements of shared culture (language, customs, religion, etc.) of the ‘people’;

· the inculcation of ‘authentic’ values, knowledge and attitudes in the designated population through standardized methods and institutions;

· the demarcation, cultivation and transmission of symbols and myths of a historic territory, or homeland;

· the selection and husbanding of skills and resources within the demarcated territory; and

· the definition of common rights and duties for all the members of the  designated community.

State-building, though it may foster a strong nationalism, noted Smith, is not to be confused with the forging of a national cultural and political identity among culturally heterogeneous populations. “The establishment of incorporating state institutions,” he wrote, “is no guarantee of a population’s cultural identification with the state, or of acceptance of the ‘national myth’ of the dominant ethnie; indeed, the invention of a broader, national mythology by the elites to bolster the state’s legitimacy may leave significant segments of the population untouched or alienated.”[87]   

Ethnocratic Tendencies

Due precisely to the ethnocentricism of the Philippines’ dominant ethnie, the Philippine state has come to exhibit ethnocratic tendencies. An ethnocratic state, according to David Brown, is one which “acts as the agency of the dominant ethnic community in terms of its ideologies, its policies and its resource distribution.” According to Brown, this involves three propositions:

· Recruitment to the state elite positions, in the civil service, armed forces and government, is disproportionately and overwhelmingly from the majority ethnic group. Where recruitment of those from other ethnic origins does occur, it is conditional upon their assimilation into the dominant ethnic culture.


· The cultural attributes and values of the dominant ethnic segment are employed as the core elements for the elaboration of the national ideology, so that the state’s depiction of the nation’s history, the state’s stance on language, religion and moral values, and the state’s choice of national symbols all derive primarily from the culture of the ethnic majority. Thus, the national identity which is employed to define the multi-ethnic society is neither ethnically neutral nor multi-ethnic, but rather it is mono-ethnic.


· The state’s institutions – its constitution, its laws and its political structures – serve to maintain and reinforce the monopolization of power by the ethnic segment. Thus the channels which the state provides for participation are such as to either restrict all avenues for politics or to secure the disproportionate representation of the ethnic segment.

Brown clarified, however, that ethnocracy constitutes a tendency shown to varying degrees in a large number of states, and not a descriptive category to which any actual state completely conforms.[88]

The Philippine state is perhaps far from being as ethnocratic as that of Myanmar (Burma)[89], but there are still a lot of disturbing signs. To disprove that the Philippine state has ethnocratic tendencies, government representatives would probably point to the regional autonomy granted to the Muslim and Cordillera peoples, now enshrined in the country’s 1987 constitution. But it must be borne in mind that such “autonomy” was granted only after armed Muslim and Cordilleran movements had waged bitter wars against the government. And just how satisfactory this “autonomy” is remains questionable. In the case of the Muslims, the MNLF has already signed three peace agreements with three different administrations (Marcos, Aquino and Ramos), each providing for Muslim autonomy. Less than three years after the latest – the 1996 peace pact – was signed, Eric Gutierrez lamented that a mangled version of autonomy was shaping up and that bureaucratic gridlock, legal disputes, political challenges and diminishing popular support were eroding the territory, authority, funding and political infrastructure of the new autonomous region even before it could be set up.[90] It would seem that Muslim autonomy is not really being implemented, just renegotiated. The 1996 pact also provided for “intensive peace and development efforts” to be carried out in the provinces covered by autonomy, but the Muslim areas remain as backward as ever. And although all three government-MNLF accords promised Muslims greater representation and participation in the central government, there has hardly been any marked progress. For long periods, there were no Muslims in the Cabinet, in the Supreme Court and among the top generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. And for some time now, there has been no Muslim in the Senate, the upper house of the Philippine Congress. What can perhaps be considered as the only concrete achievements of the 1996 agreement are the end of the armed hostilities between the government and the MNLF[91] and the integration of a significant number of MNLF fighters and sympathizers into the Philippine armed forces and police.

Where the ethnocratic tendencies of the Philippine state lie strongest, however, is in the cultural sphere, or in what Smith has described as the “nation-building” process. Take the depiction of the Philippines’ “national history”, for instance. Hardly anything has actually been done to redress the virtual exclusion of the Muslims from, and the distortions about them in, this “national history”. Criticizing Philippine scholarship for being “obdurately silent” on the Moros, Aijaz Ahmad wrote in 1982: “From The Philippines: Past and Present, by Dean C. Worcester, the seminal work in American historiography of the Philippines, to History of the Philippines, by Renato Constantino, the most eminent of the contemporary Filipino nationalist historians, serious scholarship of the past seven decades nowhere offers even a dozen consecutive pages on the history, culture, politics and society of the Moros. They are left almost entirely to missionaries and obscurantists.”[92] In 1971, when armed clashes were starting to intensify in Mindanao, a group of Muslim leaders and scholars bewailed not just the perennial discrimination against Muslims in many levels of the national life but also “the misrepresentation or distortion of their true image as a historic people.”[93] Since then, a number of historians have produced excellent scholarly works on the Muslims, but their contents have not been incorporated in textbooks on Philippine history being used in elementary and high school. Few Filipino school children have read or heard about such Muslim heroes as Sultan Qudarat, Alimudin I and Amai Pakpak. Since the Philippines gained independence, Filipinism, with all its omissions and distortions of the Muslims, has been the “official nationalism”.[94]  

In the 1960s and 1970s, Agoncillo, Constantino and other nationalist historians strove to correct the biases and blast the myths implanted by colonial (especially American) scholarship and to write “a truly Filipino history, the history of the Filipino people.”[95] It now appears that the country’s “national history” needs to be revised or rewritten to rid it not just of strong survivals of colonial historiography, but also of ethnocentric biases, which in fact bear some extent of colonial influence.

On account of their religion and language, many Muslims have felt excluded from being full Filipino citizens. Although the Philippines, as a secular state, adheres to the principle of the separation of church and state, government functions and activities are still often marked by Christian customs and rituals. Christian Filipinos often proudly proclaim that the Philippines is the only Christian (or Catholic) country in Asia, and the government has done nothing to counter such insensitive ethnocentric thinking. As Majul has rightly asserted, “the premise that the Catholic religion is one of, if not the basic element for identification in the Filipino national community … [is] unacceptable on legal and historical grounds.”[96]  Filipino, the Tagalog-based national language, still has not been enriched much by the country’s non-Tagalog vernaculars and has hardly incorporated any words from the languages and dialects of the Muslim ethnic groups. The 1996 peace agreement does provide for the integration of Islamic values in the educational curriculum and the propagation of Arabic as an auxiliary medium of instruction, but these can only be truly implemented if and when the new autonomous region has been put in place.

By commemorating 12 June 1998 as the centennial of “the birth of the nation”, the Philippine government transformed the Revolution of 1896-98 – in Gregory Bankoff’s words, “quintessentially a Christian affair”[97] – into a nationalist origin myth, a myth to which the Muslims cannot identify. Having been absent from “the birth of the nation”, the Muslims, despite their valiant struggles against Spanish and American colonialism, have not been reflected in country’s national flag and national anthem. The Philippine flag has a sun with eight rays, the rays symbolizing the first eight provinces that revolted against Spain in 1896. When the proposal to add a ninth ray to represent the Muslims was presented sometime ago, Christian Filipinos roundly rejected it. This, noted Macario Tiu, stands in contrast to what the United States did – as the number of states in the union grew from the original thirteen to the present fifty, the Americans just kept adding stars on their flag.[98]

Even as the Muslim struggle against colonialism is unreflected on the flag, the “gratitude” of Filipinos to the imperialist power which later tricked them and became their colonial master is flamboyantly displayed. No less than the Philippine Declaration of Independence explains the symbolism of the colors of the flag: “… the colors Blue, Red and White commemorating the flag of the United States of North America, as a manifestation of our profound gratitude towards this Great nation for its disinterested protection which it lent us and is continuing to lend us.”[99]

The ethnocentric bias of Christian Filipinos and the ethnocratic tendencies of the Philippine state are perhaps best captured in the country’s foremost symbol: its name. Philippines and Filipino not only reflect what the Muslims have not wanted to be: Christian, Westernized, even colonial-minded. The terms are an insult to their creed and their very being. The MNLF could very well have been alluding in part to the appellations Philippines and Filipino when it contended: “[T]he Filipino government has the birthmarks of its Spanish and American predecessors. Its most distinct mark is its colonial character.”[100] That Muslims have long objected to Philippines and Filipino and that Christians and the Philippine government have paid no heed to their objections are further indication of the Christian Filipinos’ ethnocentrism and the state’s ethnocratic tendencies. 

It is no wonder that, as Kenneth E. Bauzon has pointed out, Muslims view the present government as a foreign government (gobirno a sarwang tao), a government of the Bangsa Pilipino (Filipino nation) of which the Bangsa Moro are not a part.[101] No wonder too that among many Muslims, the old MNLF slogan “Moros – not Filipinos!” still resounds and draws new adherents. Among Muslims who still say they are Filipinos, one can never be sure if the Filipino-ness is just on paper. The Sultan of Maguindanao and his associates, in fact, say they are Filipinos only by document – they have no choice but to put down Filipino as their nationality when filling out legal papers, e.g., in applying for jobs.[102] 

III. Colonial Mentality

Many of the Philippines’ nationalist writers and scholars have bewailed the persistence or resurgence of the colonial mentality, “colonial consciousness” or “neocolonial identity” among today’s Filipinos.[103] According to Constantino, colonial mentality, as commonly understood, “encompasses our subservient attitudes towards the colonial ruler as well as our predisposition towards aping Western ways”.[104] Colonial mentality corresponds to what Fanon referred to as the internalization or “epidermalization” of inferiority among peoples subjected to colonization.

In Constantino’s view, the Philippines is a nation alienated from itself, with no real goals except to emulate alien standards and values imported from the North. Philippine society is an artificial one, as Filipinos pretend to be what they are not. In aping the worst consumerist aspects of the North, they have developed an obsessive desire to acquire consumer goods, especially foreign ones. Unlike their Asian neighbors, Filipinos have a weak sense of nationhood and feel little national pride. The young prefer to be citizens of one of the more powerful nations rather than Filipinos, and look forward to foreign placements for work. The sense of national community has been eroded; the crass materialism imbibed from the North has produced a massive rat race where everyone thinks only of self. With the globalization of culture, Filipinos get inundated through the transnational media with images full of artificiality, inanity, sexism, violence and racism. The culture being institutionalized is alien in language, direction and content. The educational system continues to miseducate Filipinos by glorifying the boons of continuing foreign domination at the expense of indigenous culture. [105] School children learn very little of their country’s history, especially of the heroic resistance of their ancestors to American occupation. “The legions of little brown Americans in our midst,” bemoaned Constantino, “attest to such a tragic flaw.”[106]

Poring over children’s textbooks and “letters to the editor” in Philippine dailies, Niels Mulder was struck by the great frequency and quantity of the Filipinos’ negative evaluations of themselves and of their country, with such references as “this God-forsaken country”, “our society has really gone to the dogs”, and “our culture of violence”. Mulder related this penchant for self-flagellation and Philippines-bashing among contemporary educated Filipinos to “the colonialism-imposed syndrome that makes many Filipinos see themselves in the comparative perspective of the eternal underdog who feel they have to explain themselves, to apologize vis-à-vis outsiders”. He traced how this self-flagellation came about. Thanks to the uncritical depicting in textbooks of the American era, Filipinos of the postcolonial period were effectively indoctrinated with the exemplariness of American civilization, and they started to measure themselves by its idealized standards. Perceiving themselves as culturally part of Western civilization, Filipinos proudly proclaimed themselves to be the world’s third largest English-speaking country, the only Christian nation in Asia, the showcase of democracy, the bridge between East and West. Convinced that their Westernized ways were superior and boasting one of the most robust economies in Asia, Filipinos felt a certain smugness towards their fellow Asians. Through the years, however, the Philippines’ growth lagged behind its neighbors. The myth of superiority completely unraveled during the Marcos dictatorship, a period of great unrest and crisis. As the country's economy floundered, tens of thousands of Filipinos were forced or opted to work abroad. The ouster of Marcos through the “people power revolution” of 1986 resulted in the widespread visibility of I-am-a-proud-Filipino stickers. But such pride lasted for only a brief period, as political and economic conditions failed to improve significantly and the Philippines became “the sick man of Asia”. The self-flagellation, which had started in the Marcos period, became common practice.[107]

Although “colonial mentality” is an overused term, noted Elmer A. Ordoñez, there are still many indications to this “affliction”. He cited the pre-eminence in the mass media of American and Western pop culture in song, dance and lifestyles; the preference for “stateside” products to local goods; the continuing dominance of English over Filipino as medium of instruction; and the low visibility of Filipino authors compared to Western writers.[108] 

A most telling sign of the Filipinos’ “epidermalization” of inferiority has to do with the epidermis itself. According to Randy S. David, one of the more enduring legacies of Spanish colonialism, which has been reinforced by American television, is a lingering colonial concept of beauty pervasive especially among the younger generation, one that is based on the “mestizo standard of beauty”: fair skin, large eyes and tall noses.[109] Modern-day Filipinas, still as heavily made-up as Doña Victorina, have put one over her: they use skin whiteners or resort to face-lifts. Like their predecessors, today’s brown Spaniards and brown Americans look down on those who are dark-skinned.

Disagreeing with the “conventional wisdom” that Filipinos suffer from “colonial consciousness”, “a weak sense of national identity” and a “damaged culture”, Eva-Lotta E. Hedman and John T. Sidel contend that the Philippines has experienced “a cultural renaissance and a resurgence of nationalist consciousness and sentiment” in the past two decades. The nationalism is not “official nationalism”, but a popular one, resulting in fact from the creative energies of Filipinos working outside – or even against – the Philippine state. According to Hedman and Sidel, the experience of anti-Marcos struggle in the 1980s, enjoyment of Philippine movies, television and pop music, and everyday struggles of overseas Filipino workers engendered new modes of representing Filipinos and imagining a Philippine nation. Instead of referring to and revering mythologized Origins and Great Man History, the new popular nationalism is characterized by “ironic, self-deprecatory humour”, “mirthful irreverence” and “playful diasporic intimacy” and is more inclusively gendered. Hedman and Sidel cite highly varied examples of this popular nationalism, among them: a wacky comic strip providing its readers by metonymy an “imagined community” of fellow-Filipinos; newspaper columns of a historian (Ocampo) who brings Philippine historical figures to life with vignettes; two prizewinning novels written by a woman writer, both of which feature a female central character involved in a nationalist project; the proliferation of an article “testing” one’s Filipino-ness on the basis of a list of everyday Filipino practices; the growing patronage for “ethnic” jewelry and fabrics as well as for a folk music group using “ethnic” instruments; a rock group and a film making sly mockery of the mimicry of foreign songs and films; the emergence of strong solidarities among overseas Filipinos; and the outpouring of nationalist outrage over the execution of a Filipina maid in Singapore and the imprisonment of another in Abu Dhabi.[110]

Is there a persistence of colonial consciousness or is there a resurgence of nationalism?

Constantino, Mulder and Ordoñez, on the one hand, and Hedman and Sidel, on the other, apparently take positions that are polar opposites. Constantino and Hedman/Sidel even differ in the interpretation of a few particular phenomena. While Constantino castigates the giant shopping malls sprouting all over the country’s major urban centers as de-nationalizing influences promoting consumerist tendencies fed by foreign brand name advertising, Hedman/Sidel welcome them as reflecting and reproducing “an image of limited equality that resonates with the promise of democratic citizenship in the contemporary Philippines”. And while Constantino tends to fault Filipino overseas contract workers for looking toward other countries to ensure their future, becoming almost exclusively economistic in their outlook and having little concern about what is happening to their country, Hedman/Sidel praise them for promoting what Anderson has described as “long-distance nationalism”. [111]

But there are areas of reconcilability or at least complementarity. Mulder qualified that the middle classes are the ones indulging in Philippines-bashing and self-flagellation and that the population at large is not part of all this, except from being exposed to school and media negativism. Hedman/Sidel, on the other hand, see a resurgence of popular nationalism. Thus, it may very well be that while the middle classes remain ensconced in the colonial state of mind, the masses are already reveling in their mirthfully irreverent nationalism. 

At one stage, Constantino expressed a disinclination to the term colonial mentality for it connoted “a resigned acceptance of it as the natural and inescapable condition of the average Filipino mind” and “disregard[ed] the necessity of looking inward to examine what forces within ourselves reinforce and deepen this intellectual bondage”. He advised studying the dynamics of intellectual colonization in all its aspects to find out how the colonial attitude became a generalized condition, as well as to discover and develop the means of overcoming it. “The examination of our colonial consciousness and our eventual liberation from its control,” he averred, “must be attended by the evolution and dissemination of a counter-consciousness.”[112]

Outside of the few particular variances earlier mentioned as to what manifests a colonial attitude and what does not, the popular nationalism that Hedman/Sidel have discerned could very well fit into Constantino’s category of “counter-consciousness”. Viewed through the “consciousness versus counter-consciousness” framework, the main difference between Constantino’s and Hedman/Sidel’s positions would be that while the former beheld colonial consciousness as still very much dominant in the Filipino psyche, the latter perceive the nationalist counter-consciousness as already having risen to predominance.

Hedman/Sidel present a refreshingly new – and for nationalists, hopeful – perspective on the development of nationalism in the Philippines. However, whether the nationalist counter-consciousness has indeed gained dominance over the colonial mind or still is an upcoming force that promises to be the wave the future remains debatable. Whichever the case may be, there is no denying that the manifestations of the colonial mind are still very much around and that the process of cultural decolonization still needs to be vigorously pursued.

IV. Changing the Name Philippines

Several times over the past decade or so, many Filipinos, especially “Filipino nationalists”, have raised a great hue and cry over the derogatory use by Westerners – or what were viewed to be such – of the word Filipino. Filipinos strongly protested when the words Filipino, Filipina and Filipineza were defined in several Western dictionaries as “a domestic helper” or “a maid”. Filipinos were again in uproar when a packet of cookies produced in Spain and marketed in Europe carried the brand name Filipinos. Defining Filipino as a domestic helper is indeed an ugly, racist slur. On the other hand, the use of Filipinos as a name for cookies which are not made by Filipinos themselves may be as innocuous as Canton and Dutch in pancit Canton and Alaska milk, which are not products of the Cantonese and the Alaskans themselves. The common Filipino expression lutong Macao and the use of Double Dutch as the name for an ice cream being sold in Filipino supermarkets are perhaps much more politically incorrect.

But come to think of it, Filipino has for a long time – or even always – had either a pejorative or a discriminatory connotation to it. For over 300 years, the peninsular Spaniards used it to refer pejoratively to the insular Spaniards. When the mestizos and ilustrados adopted the name, they first made it an exclusive preserve for the insulares and for themselves, and excluded the lower-class indios. During the American colonial period, Filipino tended to be used only for “civilized” Christians and to discriminate against non-Christian “savages”. From the very beginning, Philippines and Filipino have always had a colonial ring to them, but most Filipinos have chosen to just gloss over this. The Muslims in southern Philippines have always been conscious of, and protested against, the colonial-ness of Philippines and Filipino, but the dominant ethnie has ignored them and are dragging them into its colonial-mindedness.

(It seems apt to make a few asides here. First, since the Spaniards invented the term filipino and were the first filipinos, why shouldn’t they put it on their cookies? Second, what an irony that an appellation like filipino (or Filipino) that was once reserved for the elite in the Philippines during the Spanish period is now taken to mean a domestic helper! And third, again what an irony that the Filipinos in Europe today suffer from what the original moros – i.e., the Moors – experienced there centuries ago: In sixteenth-century Spain and Portugal, and in Naples and Venice, the Moors were stereotyped as servants.[113])

It is time to discard the name Philippines and together with it the appellation Filipino. They are utterly colonial names, manifesting the internalization and epidermalization of inferiority of the Filipinos. According to George, prolonged usage of Philippines and Filipino have no doubt dulled the Filipinos’ awareness of their incongruity and colonial character.[114] But the colonial stigma remains. Far from diminishing or erasing the colonial stigma, prolonged usage of Philippines and Filipino has in fact heightened and accentuated it: the longer the usage, the deeper has been the internalization of inferiority – to the point that one takes these terms for granted and does not think about them anymore. The colonial names have to go all the more if Filipinos take to heart what Recto himself once declared: “[T]he independence of countries such as ours cannot be complete until the last traces of colonialism have been eradicated”.[115]

Apart from being colonial, Philippines and Filipino have for long periods been associated with racial, class, ethnic/national and religious discrimination. As symbols of the ethnocentric prejudices of the country’s dominant ethnie and the ethnocratic tendencies of the Philippine state, Philippines and Filipino have not served as true emblems of the nation – or the constellation of nations or ethnic groups that are supposed to comprise the present Philippines – and of national identity. Rather, they have been a factor for continuing dissension and disunity. Christian Filipinos cannot afford to keep ignoring the objections of the Muslims to Philippines and Filipino, because, as Alastair Davidson has pointed out, nations simply cannot be made as they were in the past 200 years: it is no longer acceptable for a formally democratic country to forge national unity by mercilessly erasing cultural differences and making people “forget” their own, different pre-national histories.[116]

If given a good start, a new move to change the country’s name – on the basis of the arguments cited – could easily spark off a national debate, one that would draw people of all classes and ethnic origins into lively, heated and even impassioned discussion. Certainly a much livelier and more heated disputation than that over a packet of cookies. In the course of the discussion and debate, the country would be transformed into one big public forum or classroom on such questions as nationalism, colonial mentality, ethnicity and ethnocentrism. The process of changing the name Philippines should help give further impetus to the much broader process of cultural decolonization and to the development of a more thoroughly anti-colonial and much more inclusive and popular nationalism. And it should help in rectifying historical injustices done to Muslims and other non-Christian communities, in rebuilding a truly multi-ethnic and multicultural national identity and in resolving the protracted armed conflict in Mindanao. In other words, the process would be a consciousness-raising and counter-consciousness-making exercise, vis-à-vis not just colonial but also ethnocentric thinking.

The new person that could emerge from the counter-consciousness-making would be one who has learned from, and come to terms with, his colonial past and not one who tries to gloss over it or gets bogged down ruing over it. In place of the subservience, the fawning and the self-bashing, there would be more of the assertiveness, the pride and perhaps the ironic, self-deprecatory humour. Apart from being decolonized, the new person would be more sensitive to other ethnic communities and groups, and more cognizant, tolerant and appreciative of ethnic and cultural diversity.

Even if Philippines has been the name the islands for nearly half a millennium, replacing it may not be as difficult as it may first seem. For one, the Philippine Constitution does specifically provide a mechanism for changing the country’s name. Article XVI, Section 2 states:

The Congress may, by law, adopt a new name for the country, a national anthem, or a national seal, which shall be truly reflective and symbolic of the ideals, history, and traditions of the people. Such law shall take effect only upon its ratification by the people in a national referendum.[117]

In finding a new name, there should be a lot of choices far better than names or terms that connote an ego-tripping dictator, a fictitious guerrilla unit or a big phallus. Jose B. Abletez has come up with the very worthy suggestions on how to pick a new name, based on his study of various countries’ names, to wit:

· To honor heroes, real or mythical, e.g., Bolivia (in honor of South American liberator Simon Bolivar)

·To convey love for freedom and independence, e.g., Thailand (“land of the free”)

· To denote cultural or racial origins or national pride, e.g., Iran.

· To preserve the names of old nations or territories that have been merged, e.g.,  Tanzania (the merger of Tanganyika and Zanzibar)

· In memory of old places like villages, e.g., Canada (derived from Kanatta, the name of an ancient Indian village)

· To do away with old colonial stigma or insult to national pride, e.g., Zimbabwe formerly Rhodesia, which was named after British colonizer Cecil Rhodes)

· To indicate popularity of local forestry resources or mineral products, e.g., Ghana (“gold”) and Brazil (a special hardwood product).[118]

In the light of the multi-ethnic character of the Philippines, the case of Burkina Faso, whose citizens are called Burkinabé, may be particularly instructive. Burkina Faso has many ethnic communities, the biggest of which are the Mossi, the Peul and the Bobo. Burkina comes from a Mossi word meaning “justice” or “uprightness”. Faso is the Bobo term for “land”. And the in Burkinabé comes from the Peul word for “people”. Burkina Faso thus translates as “land of the upright people”.[119]

To foster greater unity among Christians, Muslims and non-Christian ethnic communities, Tiu has advocated for “reimagining” the Philippines as a national community[120], while Arnold Azurin has proposed “reinventing the Filipino”[121]. Perhaps the first step in reimagining the Philippines is to change Philippines into an un-colonial and much more inclusively representative name. And perhaps the first step in reinventing the Filipino is to change Filipino.

Constantino once declared that “the only true Filipino is the decolonized Filipino.”[122] But producing a decolonized Filipino is perhaps an impossible task. Even more than “Filipino nationalism”, “decolonized Filipino” is a contradiction in terms.  

[1] Anthony D. Smith, National Identity, London: Penguin, 1991, p. 73; and Smith, Nations and Nationalism in a Global Era, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995, pp. 149-50.

[2] Renato Constantino (ed.), Recto Reader, Manila: Recto Memorial Foundation, 1965, p. 6. Despite the apparent incongruity of Filipino and nationalism, Recto, like other “Filipino nationalists”, nonetheless espoused “Filipino nationalism”.

[3] Eufronio M. Alip, Political and Cultural History of the Philippines, Manila: Alip & Sons Inc., 1954, p. 127.

[4] William Henry Scott, Cracks in the Parchment and Other Essays in Philippine History, Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 1982, pp. 105-6, 118.

[5] Hartzell Spence, Marcos of the Philippines, copyright Ferdinand E. Marcos, 1979, p. 184. (The book was earlier published as For Every Tear a Victory: The Story of Ferdinand E. Marcos, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964.)

[6] Teresita G. Maceda, “Creative Intervention: Towards a People’s Alternative Culture (1986)”, cited in Jose V. Abueva (ed.), Filipino Nationalism: Various Meanings, Constant and Changing Goals, Continuing Relevance, Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1999, p. 682.

[7] Remigio Agpalo, “Filipinos: Dolor de Mis Dolores, A Position Paper on Parliamentary Bill No. 195”, Philippine Political Science Journal, No. 12 (December 1980), pp. 5-6.

[8] Reuben R. Canoy, The Counterfeit Revolution: Martial Law in the Philippines, Manila: Philippine Editions Publishing, 1980, p. 233.

[9] Canoy, pp. 233-234.

[10] See Charles C. McDougald, The Marcos File, San Francisco: San Francisco Publishers, 1987.

[11] Ricardo Malay, “What’s in a Country’s Name?”, Manila Chronicle, 10 May 1996, p. 4; cited in Abueva, The Making of the Filipino Nation and Republic: From Barangays, Tribes, Sultanates, and Colony, Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1998, pp. 651-652.

[12] R. Trevor Davies, The Golden Century of Spain 1501-1621, London: MacMillan and Co., 1937, pp. 225-6.

[13] Peter Pierson, Philip II of Spain, London: Thames and Hudson, 1975, p. 194.

[14] Norman Davies, Europe: A History, London: Pimlico, 1997, p. 531.

[15] Pierson, p. 38. Pierson cites Maria Teresa Oliveros de Castro and Eliseo Subiza Martín, Felipe II, estudio medico-historico, Madrid: 1956; and C.D. O’Malley, Don Carlos of Spain, a Medical Portrait, Berkeley and Los Angeles: 1969.

[16] R.T. Davies, p. 225.

[17] T.J.S. George, Revolt in Mindanao: The Rise of Islam in Philippine Politics, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1980, pp. 269-270.

[18] Domingo Abella, From Indio to Filipino and Some Historical Works, Manila: Milagros Romualdez-Abella, 1978, pp. 4-5.

[19] Abella, pp. 5-6, 12-13.

[20] Abella, pp. 21-22.

[21] Manuel. D. Duldulao, The Filipinos: Portrait of a People, Philippines: Oro Books Inc., 1987, p. 29.

[22] Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, London: Verso, 1983, pp. 51-52.

[23] Abella, p. 12.

[24] Renato Constantino, Neocolonial Identity and Counter-Consciousness, White Plains, New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1978, pp. 51-52.

[25] Anderson, The Spectre of Comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia and the World, London and New York: 1998, pp. 246-247.

[26] Hussein Abdilahi Bulhan, Frantz Fanon and the Psychology of Oppression, New York: Plenum Press, 1985, pp. 193-195.

[27] Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1967, p. 203.

[28] Bulhan, pp. 15-35.

[29] Fanon, pp. 18, 11.

[30] Jose Rizal, Noli Me Tangere, translated by M. Soledad Lacson-Locsin, Makati: Bookmark, Inc., 1996, pp. 14-15, 373-385.

[31] Jose S. Arcilla, S.J., “What Brought on the Philippine Revolution of 1896 (1992)”, in Abueva (1998), p. 97.

[32] Ambeth R. Ocampo, “From ‘Indio’ to Filipino”, Looking Back (column), Philippine Daily Inquirer, 9 June 1996, p. 9; cited in Abueva (1998),  p. 648.

[33] George, p. 269.  

[34] Arcilla, “Fr. Jose A. Burgos: The First Filipino, [1837-1872] (1992)”, in Abueva (1998), p. 462.

[35] Rizal was actually of mixed racial origin. His father, Francisco Mercado, was a Chinese mestizo; his mother, Teodora Alonso, a Chinese mestiza.

[36] Ocampo (1996), p. 9; cited in Abueva (1998), p. 648.

[37] Anderson (1998), p. 65.

[38] John N. Schumacher, S.J., The Making of a Nation: Essays in Nineteenth-Century Filipino Nationalism, Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1991, p. 110.

[39] While not denying that Filipinos were indolent, Rizal did state that the colonialists were even more indolent.

[40] Schumacher (1991), p. 106.

[41] Schumacher (1991), pp. 107-8.

[42] Schumacher, The Propaganda Movement: 1880-1895, Manila: Solidaridad Publishing, 1973, pp. 213-214.

[43] Milagros C. Guerrero, Emmanuel N. Encarnacion and Ramon N. Villegas, “Andres Bonifacio and the 1896 Revolution”, Sulyap Kultura, 2nd Quarter, Manila: National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 1996, pp. 3-12; cited in Abueva (1998), pp. 87-96.

[44] Onofre D. Corpuz, The Roots of the Filipino Nation (Volume II), Quezon City: AKLAHI Foundation, Inc., 1989, p. 220.

[45] Ambeth R. Ocampo, The Centennial Countdown, Pasig; Anvil Publishing, Inc., 1998, p. 16.

[46] Schumacher, “Re-reading Philippine History: Constantino’s A Past Revisited”, Philippine Studies 23 (Fourth Quarter, 1975), p. 473.

[47] Schumacher (1991), p. 114.

[48] Ruby R. Paredes, “Introduction: The Paradox of Philippine Colonial Democracy”, in Paredes (ed.), Philippine Colonial Democracy, New Haven: Yale University Southeast Asia Studies, 1988, p. 5.

[49] Alunan C. Glang, Muslim Secession or Integration?, Manila: R.P. Garcia, 1969, p. 21.

[50] T.J.S. George, p. 270.

[51] R. Trevor Davies, pp. 164-171.

[52] Emma Blair and James Robertson (eds.), The Philippine Islands 1493-1898, Vol. VI, Cleveland: The A. H. Clark Company, 1903-1909, pp. 57-58.

[53] Charles O. Frake, “Abu Sayyaf: Displays of Violence and the Proliferation of Contested Identities among Philippine Muslims”, American Anthropologist, Vol. 100, No. 1 (March 1998), pp. 48-49.

[54] Majul, p. 18.

[55] Kenneth E. Bauzon, Liberalism and the Quest for Islamic Identity in the Philippines, Durham, North Carolina: The Acorn Press, 1991, p. 78.

[56] Alunan C. Glang, “The Centennial That Was Never”, Moro Kurier, Vol. XII, Nos. 1 & 2, p. 26.

[57] Zainudin Malang, in a message posted to the e-mail news-group on 11 January 2001.

[58] Christopher Alan Vaughan, “Obfuscating a New Other, Defining a New Self: Popular Discourses on the Colonization of the Philippines” (PhD dissertation), University of California, Berkeley, 1997, p. 158.

[59] Jan Nederveen Pieterse, White on Black: Images of Africa and Blacks in Western Popular Culture, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992, p. 217.

[60] Vaughan, pp. 92-147.

[61] Pieterse, p. 216.

[62] Vaughan, pp. 141-147.

[63] Ibid., pp. 148-173.

[64] Frake, p. 49.

[65] Corpuz, pp. 566-567.

[66] Majul, p. 22

[67] Teodoro A. Agoncillo and Milagros C. Guerrero, History of the Filipino People, Quezon City: R. P. Garcia Publishing Co., 1970, p. 303.

[68] Abdurassad Asani, “Moros – not Filipinos”, Diliman Review, Vol. 29, No. 2, March-April 1981, pp. 32-33.

[69] Ibid., p, 33.

[70] Anderson (1998), p. 321.

[71] See Michael E. Brown, ed., Ethnic Conflict and International Security, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993, pp. 4-5; and Smith, “The Ethnic Sources of Nationalism”, in M. E. Brown, pp. 28-29.

[72] Smith (1993), p. 30.

[73] Smith (1991), pp. 110-116.

[74] Smith (1991), p. 114.

[75] Macapado A. Muslim and Rufa Cagoco-Guiam, “Mindanao: Land of Promise”, Accord, Issue 6/1999, p. 16.

[76] Vaughan, p. 150.

[77] Benito M. Vergara, Jr., Displaying Filipinos: Photography and Colonialism in Early 20th Century Philippines, Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1995, p. 51.

[78] Alejandro R. Roces, Fiesta, Philippines: Vera-Reyes, Inc., 1980, p. 27.

[79] Carlos P. Romulo, Mother America, Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1943, p. 59.

[80] Pieterse, p. 196.

[81] Roces, p. 25.

[82] Samuel K. Tan, “Islam and Christianity in the Philippines”, Mindanao Studies Reports, No. 3, Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1995, pp. 6-7.

[83] Majul, p. 25.

[84] Ibid., pp. 29-32.

[85] Peter Gordon Gowing, Muslim Filipinos – Heritage and Horizon, Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 1979, p. 208.

[86] Ibid., p. 210.

[87] Smith (1995), pp. 38, 89-90.

[88] David Brown, The State and Ethnic Politics in Southeast Asia, London & New York: Routledge, 1994, pp. 36-37.

[89] On Myanmar as an ethnocratic state, see David Brown, pp. 33-65.

[90] Eric Gutierrez, "The Politics of Transition", Accord, Issue 6/1999, p. 70.

[91] This has to be qualified. Two Moro rebel groups, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf are still at war with the government.

[92] Aijaz Ahmad, "Who is the Moro?", Southeast Asia Chronicle, Berkeley: Southeast Asia

Resource Center, Issue No. 82, February 1982, p. 2.

[93] Muslim Leaders in the Philippines, “Muslim Leaders’ Consensus of Unity”, Manila Times, 21 July    1971.

[94] Anderson describes official nationalism as follows: “This is the form of nationalism which surfaces as an emanation and armature of the state. It manifests itself, not merely in official ceremonies of commemoration, but in a systematic program, directed primarily, if not exclusively, through the state’s school system, to create and disseminate an official national history, an official nationalist pantheon of heroes, and an official nationalist culture, through the ranks of its younger, incipient citizens – naturally, in the state’s own interests. These interests are first and foremost in instilling faith in, reverence for, and obedience to its very self.” (Anderson 1998, p. 253.)

[95] Constantino, Renato The Philippines: A Past Revisited, Quezon City: Renato Constantino, 1975, pp. 3-5.

[96] Peter Gowing (ed.), Understanding Islam and Muslims in the Philippines, Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 1988, p. 122.

[97] Gregory Bankoff, "History at the Service of the Nation-State", Public Policy, Vol. II, No. 4, October-December 1998, p. 29.

[98] Macario D. Tiu, “Diversity and the National Community” [Lecture delivered at the 25th National Conference of the Pambansang Samahan sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino (National Association of Philippine Psychology), Davao City, 24 November 2000)].

[99] Ocampo (1998), p. 2.

[100] Moro National Liberation Front Manifesto (mimeographed), addressed to the Sixth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 12-15, 1975, p. 8.

[101] Bauzon, p. 149.

[102] Wahab Ibrahim Guialal, “Perceptions of Democracy and Citizenship in Muslim Mindanao”, in Maria Serena Diokno (ed.), Democracy & Citizenship in Filipino Political Culture, Quezon City: Third World Studies Center, 1997, p. 164.

[103] See, for instance, Constantino (1978); and Joan Orendain (ed.), The Invisible Enemy – Globalization & Maldevelopment, Quezon City: Foundation for Nationalist Studies, 1997, p. 5, 107.

[104] Constantino (1978), p. 277.

[105] Orendain, pp. 4, 107-108, 134-135, 139; Constantino, “Sanitizing History”, Manila Bulletin, 20 September 1995, p. 11; and “Collective Amnesia”, 29 December 1996, p. 11; cited in Abueva (1998), pp. 220-221, 246-247. In his later writings, Constantino referred to the advanced capitalist countries as “the North” instead of as “the West”.

[106] Constantino, Fetters on Tomorrow, Quezon City: Karrel, Inc., 1996, pp. 103, 111-112.

[107] Niels Mulder, “Filipino Images of the Nation”, Philippine Studies, Vol. 45, First Quarter, 1997, pp. 50-74.

[108] Elmer A. Ordoñez, “The Alternative Hegemony in Culture”, The Other View, Manila: Kalikasan Press, 1989, pp. 91-92; cited in Abueva (1999), p. 573.

[109] Randy S. David, Public Lives: Essays on Selfhood and Social Solidarity, Pasig: Anvil Publishing, Inc., 1998, pp.62-63.

[110] Eva-Lotta E. Hedman and John T. Sidel, Philippine Politics and Society in the Twentieth Century: Colonial Legacies, Post-colonial Trajectories, London and New York: Routledge, 2000, pp. 140-165.

[111] Orendain, pp. 107-108, 134; Constantino, “Sanitizing History”, Manila Bulletin, 20 September 1995, p. 11, cited in Abueva (1998), pp. 220-221; Hedman and Sidel, pp. 135, 160.

[112] Constantino (1978), pp. 277-278.

[113] Pieterse, pp. 124-125.

[114] George, p. 269.

[115] Constantino (1965), p. 6.

[116] Alastair Davidson, From Subject to Citizen: Australian Citizenship in the Twentieth Century,   Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 18-19; cited in Kathleen Weekley, “Nation and Identity at the Centennial of Philippine Independence”, Asian Studies Review, Vol. 23, No. 3, September 1999, pp. 343-4.

[117] The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines (booklet), Philippines: National Book Store, 1987, p. 56.

[118] Jose P. Abletez, “Why Not a New Name for this Ex-Colony”, Philippine Graphic, 17 June 1996, p. 40; cited in Abueva (1998), pp. 658-660.

[119] Wim Ettema and Gerrie Gielen, Burkina Faso, Amsterdam: Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen and Novib, 1992, p. 14.

[120] See Tiu, “Diversity and the National Community”.

[121] See Arnold M. Azurin, Reinventing the Filipino Sense of Being and Becoming: Critical Analyses of the Orthodox Views in Anthropology, History, Folklore and Letters, Quezon City: CSSP Publications, 1993.

[122] Letizia R. Constantino and Lourdes B. Constantino (eds.), A Constantino Sampler, Quezon City: Karrel, 1989, p. 79; Orendain, p. 146.




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