Stories from the Margins (The Other Narrative of the Philippine-Spanish Revolution)

A great book about accounts from Spanish newspapers, civil officers and other known personalities during the pivotal events of the Philippine revolution. It presents the emotions, reports and thoughts of the Spanish and Spanish-Filipinos – materials that has been largely excluded from the writing of contemporary Filipino history books.

The writer provided some excellent examples of Spanish accounts which today are but tiny footnotes, if not totally forgotten. The challenge always is to accommodate and reconcile from these sources, often viewed as less important because they are of Spanish origin, the stock of invaluable data that came straight from that time and place. The bias towards Spanish sources and text has resulted to a contemporary history literature that’s focus more on nationalist interpretation of events rather than combining all the necessary components that could give us a better understanding of our past.

The book neither praise nor blame errors and biases made by the Spaniards who were at that time naturally attempting to salvage (Filipinas) what they believe rightly belongs to their mother land, instead, the book tries to connect what the Spaniards wrote and relate it to the developing events that ultimately led to the revolution. Such written accounts deserves our attention as well as our appreciation – not because of any other reason but for the plain fact that they, the Kastila, were major players in the events in that chain of historical happenings.

In his summary the writer said of the Kastila’s over confidence (downplaying the rumors of a looming “revolution”):

The Spanish claim was not without proofs: first, many provinces remained loyal to Spain while those who joined the revolution only reached the state of coup d etat; second, many Filipinos were still loyal to the friars which I fact was avowed by the propagandist and revolutionary leaders; and third, the revolution was only a recurring symptom similar to the numerous pocket revolts of the past whose causes included personal, economic and religious – but were never political. The “revolution’ was a temporary vent, like geysers springing, from the bowels of the earth, for the Filipinos to express their suppressed resentments, legitimate or otherwise. It would have died down as soon as the grievances were properly addressed.

But as history would have it, we failed to heed the call of Rizal, the pull of material and personal success was too strong. This led us to the tragedy many of us to this day do not know – our sad experience with the Yankee imperium – we became the prized possession of a more voracious invader who neither had the decency nor the humanity to sincerely assist the people they fooled into believing that they came as liberators, big brothers and not occupiers – ever since then we were subjected to a condition of perpetual and economic slavery.

Props to Prof. Cornelio Bascara!

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