Monday, May 01, 2006

happy asian heritage month!

picture of manila bay from

so, i thought i should challenge myself this month to learn something everyday about my own asian/pacific islander heritage (filipino, you know this, i know...). kind of a refresher course for me in my own mamazilla "cliff notes" version.

so, let's see... on may 1st, the battle of manila bay took place in 1898 during the spanish-american war. it was the first major engagement of the spanish-american war (in the philippines). it was the war that the americans won which resulted in the us gaining control of former colonies of spain (like... the philippines).

in june of that same year, the philippines declared their independence (yay!) only to be occupied (*cough* sucker punched *cough*) by the us in august (boo!). by december, the us had purchased the philippines and other territories for the sum of 20 million dollars (y'know, some overprocessed, botoxed yahoo in hollywood probably makes this much in a year, maybe even in one overprocessed & botoxed film...) at the treaty of paris with plans to make the philippines into a us colony.

in february of the following year, a filipino soldier was shot by an american soldier which is considered by some to be the start of the philippine-american war. mark twain famously opposed the war and was quoted as saying:

"There is the case of the Philippines. I have tried hard, and yet I cannot for the life of me comprehend how we got into that mess. Perhaps we could not have avoided it -- perhaps it was inevitable that we should come to be fighting the natives of those islands -- but I cannot understand it, and have never been able to get at the bottom of the origin of our antagonism to the natives. I thought we should act as their protector -- not try to get them under our heel. We were to relieve them from Spanish tyranny to enable them to set up a government of their own, and we were to stand by and see that it got a fair trial. It was not to be a government according to our ideas, but a government that represented the feeling of the majority of the Filipinos, a government according to Filipino ideas. That would have been a worthy mission for the United States. But now -- why, we have got into a mess, a quagmire from which each fresh step renders the difficulty of extrication immensely greater. I'm sure I wish I could see what we were getting out of it, and all it means to us as a nation."

kinda scary, how familiar those sentiments are in light of the current political upheavals we're (we, as in, americans) involved in.

i'll never forget the first time i read that quote in high school. it was the first time i felt "relevant" in my history class. i looked around to see if anyone else was as moved as i was. the country of MY ancestors was mentioned in a classroom in a high school in the middle of john hughes' lushly green, sprawling, humid, suburban america.

but, the mostly caucasian populus continued to take notes in quiet concentration. it was just another answer to an essay question on an upcoming quiz. for me, it's was 1987 and i was a proud albeit teenaged and gawky pinay.

anyway, this ends today's lesson for me... i have to go shopping for some stuff for my sisters. my moms is leaving for a vacation to the philippines in a week! wee-ha!!


Anonymous said...

Twain's comments/questions, although generally insightful, ignores the central concern: would the Phillipines have been better off if the US had just walked away after beating the Spaniards, without any kind of intervention, leaving the country to try to organize itself on its own after 300 years of corrupt Spanish colonialism and bereft of any corps of native adminstrative talent? Would the Phillippines have ended up as a democracy, however imperfect, or would the country ended up like so many other Latin America countries-controlled by a military junta or an oligarchy? Maybe US intervention was on the whole better for the Phillippines than the alternative advocated by Twain. In any event, happy Asian heritage Month.

mamazilla said...

y'know, if i didn't know any better, i'd suspect that you, anonymous poster, were really popzilla in disguise.... hmmm...

you pose a good question. too bad we'll never know. personally, i wish the us had given the filipinos a chance to figure it all out., babe, what do you want for dinner?


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