The unfinished revolution of 1898
FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - March 10, 2018 - 12:00am

I was surprised that it was a non-Filipino who went deeper for a correct perspective on the celebration of EDSA. Thank you. He said the unfinished revolution was not about Edsa in 1986 but the unfinished revolution from 1898. So it was not surprising that less and less Filipinos celebrate.

American military underlings after Admiral Dewey won the Battle of Manila Bay claim they were not authorized to make a commitment of independence to the Filipino revolutionaries headed by Emilio Aguinaldo. The question is why their governments negotiating for the American purchase of the Philippines and signed peace and settlement through the Treaty of Paris? And why were Filipinos not invited to join the signing of the treaty after they had cooperated with the Americans that won the war for them?

In other words, this is an unbelievable reason for American perfidy and the events that followed demonstrates the Filipinos would not risk life and limb for a promise that was not fulfilled. It could not be because of subordinates’ ignorance but because of policy. It was the start of American imperialism when the Philippines fell into their hands. Filipino revolutionaries were gypped and fought for their promised independence from 1898 which they never got.

Sources said that the Americans agreed to help remove Marcos when Filipinos reached the end of their tethers. The long fight for independence officially lasted from 1898 to 1946. The imperial victory was transformed into a milder, subtler form characterized by the Laurel-Langley agreement giving equal rights to Americans and Filipinos in the development of its business and resources. 

The new imperialism would be subtler but just as real. Americans would dominate our nation building through an oligarchy. 

Americans would help to make Edsa 1986 possible on the proviso that Filipinos could claim it was their victory and victory alone. Policy by deception.

Happily that is no longer possible with the arrival of Digong Duterte who would say it as bluntly as he can that the Philippines would conduct its own foreign policy. He would repeat again and again we would be independent and be friends with all in the interest of the country.

This independence that the new president was talking about was preceded by the showing of a film on General Antonio Luna who would continue to fight for Philippine political independence against the oligarchy who sided with the colonialists as the way to survive.

A year before Duterte was elected as President of the Philippines, a movie on the story of Gen. Antonio Luna broke box office record in theaters all over the Philippines. For the first time we had a movie produced by, ironically, two mestizos (half breed, E.V. Rocha and Fernando Ortigas) about Philippine history that drew such crowds. I saw the movie myself. It was an inspiring film on the life of Antonio Luna who was described by the American General James F. Bell himself “he was the only general the Filipino army had.” 

From exile and imprisonment he became an activist. The fight against the oligarchy now being waged by Duterte is the fulfillment not only of what he promised in his campaign but a part of his persona.   

“As the Spanish/American War came to a close, and the defeated Spanish prepared to withdraw from the Philippines, Filipino revolutionary troops surrounded the capital city of Manila. The newly arrived officer Antonio Luna urged the other commanders to send troops into the city to ensure a joint occupation when the Americans arrived, but Emilio Aguinaldo refused, believing US naval officers stationed in Manila Bay would hand over power to the Filipinos in due course. This was a strategic blunder. We could have been independent without relying on America’s word. Luna developed and implemented a plan to contain the Americans long enough to construct a guerrilla base in the mountains. The plan consisted of a network of bamboo trenches, complete with spiked man-traps and pits full of poisonous snakes, that spanned the jungle from village to village. Filipino troops could fire on the Americans from this Luna Defense Line, and then melt away into the jungle without exposing themselves to American fire. 

This is from a column I wrote in 2016. “There was enough time for Filipinos to implement the Luna plan while the Americans were waiting for reinforcement. Unfortunately the internecine struggle between Luna and Aguinaldo with the elite Filipino oligarchs behind him destroyed the Luna plan by killing him. In time this memory of a turning point of what might have been was forgotten. But not so.

It remained deep in the subconscious of Filipinos. It would remain there until a propitious time. It is my opinion that the propitious time came with the emergence of Duterte, a man who was willing to confront our problems of nation-building the most vicious being America’s dictum of divide and rule. Was it coincidence or destiny that this film on Heneral Luna would be made at a time Filipino patriotism is being challenged, hesitated and a for a while it seemed he would turn it down. “

But he accepted the challenge and began the long trek for our independence that we had won in 1898, not in the peaceful revolution of EDSA in 1986. One day, a historian will connect the dots and the puzzle will be obvious to those who want to see.

BATTLE OF MANILA BAY EMILIO AGUINALDO
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