Filipinos and Americans: A Love-Hate Relationship-A A +A
Tea For Two
Thursday, October 10, 2013
IN BETWEEN all information written in countless books about Philippine history, there are a few very interesting ones that tell the in-between episodes and personal accounts of Americans and Filipinos. In a very detailed and personal way, Virginia Benitez Licuanan comes up with a third and last edition of a series she had earlier written on the country’s colonial rule, and the relationship that existed between us and the Americans, which I surmise, continue to exist then fade intermittently, even now. Her book, entitled Filipinos and Americans: a Love-Hate Relationship, talks about personal facts, and invaluable information on past interactions and feelings between our forefathers and the early Americans who came to our country.
Licuanan narrates how Governor Gen Francis Burton Harrison (of our Harrison Rd.) disliked the attitude of “Manila Americans” towards the Filipinos. Many of these Manila Americans were formerly army men who fought the Filipino insurgents or "insurrectos." They later became businessmen who disliked the idea of social equality with Filipinos. They were to lose a lot when independence came and therefore barred the possibility of Philippine Independence to a hilt. Harrison became the target of the most unfair criticism because of his "Philippines for Filipinos" policy. In one of his memoirs, Harrison wrote, "…An active lobby was maintained in the Manila Hotel which seized on each traveler upon his arrival and filled him full of race prejudice and gloom—Around the American supper table the matter went much further; every possible story, real or fabricated, which stirred hatred or heaped ridicule upon the Filipino people were told there with gusto…”
Another nice American , Gov. Gen. Taft was already under attack from American military men for his benevolent “ Little brown brother ” attitude towards the Filipinos. On the other hand, the Filipinos ungratefully considered this as an epithet that became the forerunner of the present day monicker “tuta ng Amerikano.” This applied to all toadies, boot lickers and hangers-on, said Licuanan. Filipinos also coined the word "Canuto" to refer to the Americans.
Senator Harry Hawes, author of the first Philippine Independence Bill, went to Manila to study more about the Filipinos’ side of Philippine independence. He was met by Manila Americans with all sorts of stories saying that the Filipinos do NOT want independence. On his way to Baguio to rest at the Baguio Country Club, his car got separated from the rest of the convoy and could not find his way. A well-dressed and English-speaking Filipino Igorot got out of his own car and helped Sen. Hawes find his way.
While they talked, the senator asked this man how his people felt about Philippine Independence, and the answer was "They were all for it." He felt sad that when he entered the Club, the Filipino native and his companions were not invited. In fact, no Filipino was admitted entrance to the premises of this now comfortable cosmopolitan place in Baguio. Before he left the country, Sen. Hawes knew better from the English speaking Igorot who helped him find his way to our Baguio country Club, the Manila Americans’ aristocratic hub during those days. Seeing the disparity and unequal treatment of the real owners of these islands, Sen. Hawes was one of those who pushed for our country's independence.
It seems that the English-speaking Igorot who knew of Sen. Hawes’ arrival and therefore wanted to speak to him of the people’s sentiments, was Mr. Bado Dangwa! Many of the cordilleran forefathers are men of wisdom and integrity who would fight for their country. I salute you!
And on the lighter side, Sen. Hawes learned two expressions during his short stay in the country. These are "Mabuhay!" and "yellow." The last word was puzzling to news reporters until he asked for a refreshing drink and said to the waiter, "…and be sure to put a lot of yellow."
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 11, 2013.