The Kawit declaration

TOMORROW June 12 we would be celebrating the 113th anniversary of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s  declaration of Philippine independence from the Spanish crown.

A lot would be said about the declaration of independence and the events leading to it during the festivities all over the country but I bet none would be said about the following:

The Spaniards called our islands Las Islas Filipinas in honor of their sovereign Philip II a few
years after they came to our shores in 1521 but they did not extend that christening to us,  the island residents. Instead they called us Indios or sometimes Indios Chonggos, depending on their mood.

Obviously they never thought our race worthy to be named after their king but they gave us individual Spanish names as an exercise of dominion over us. Our acceptance of Spanish names signified our submission to them, a stigma that we carry until now.

In Mexico, a country in the southern tip of North America that came under Spanish dominion from 1521 to 1810, to be called an Indio generally meant “at the bottom of the economic and social ladder, and native people.”

Indios are said to generally have darker skin than people with European and mixed ancestry.

So for many Americans  who were subjugated by the Spanish crown, to be called “indio” is to be told that they are dirty, uneducated, poor, dark-skinned… in short, undesirable.

I see no reason why it would be different in our country since we have the same European colonizer.

Only Spaniards born in the islands (Insulares) called themselves Filipinos, which in itself is another derogatory term since it is an admission of not being born in the mother country, the Iberian peninsula, lest it be forgotten that the islands even if under Spanish dominion was never considered part of Spain (Our being sold to the U.S. in 1899 proved this).

Those born in the Spanish peninsula called themselves Peninsulares in relation to their inferior  kins, the Insulares.

Throughout their existence the Insulares and Peninsulares are at odds with one another, the former trying to assert their Spanish identity, while the latter thinking lowly of the former.
Since they considered themselves Spaniards, the Insulares only sought social equality with the Peninsulares but never independence from the mother country. What they want is a representation in the Cortes, the Spanish parliament, and not a separate country. Whatever conflict these two classes of Spaniards were concerning their race, the indios were never part of it.

The father of the Tagalog revolution Andres Bonifacio, an admirer of Rizal and founder of the
Katipunan, a secret society seeking independence for the islands, knew the nature of the conflict between the Insulares and Peninsulares and thus appropriately called all islanders, from Luzon to Mindanao, Tagalog.

Bonifacio asked the Tagalogs to rise up against Spain and called the new country that will arise from the revolution Katagalugan.

Our Muslim brothers from the south never considered themselves as Filipinos because they never recognized Spanish dominion over them.

However, in 1899 by calling the islanders Fili-pinos and his republic Republica Filipina, Aguinaldo showed that he could be content in just being equal with the Spaniards, never mind the freedom that Bonifacio and his katipuneros already died for. (To be continued)


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