IN THE second half of the 19th century, the Catholic Church was able to produce secular priests from the mixed social classes ... creoles, mestizos and natives (with indio ancestors). They were removed from parishes they had held for years to make way for new Spanish friars.
The shared feelings of persecution deepened. The cry for reforms was echoing from the heart to reason, “Filipinas para los Filipinos!” To silence the growing clamor for Filipinization, the Spanish authorities unleashed a “Reign of Terror”. Thousands were arrested and tortured. In our history books, scores of prominent liberals were exiled.
Three priests were sentenced to death for “conspiring” to overthrow Spanish rule in the Philippines. Two were “indios”, Mariano Gomez and Jacinto Zamora; and the other was a young and brilliant Spanish mestizo, Jose Burgos, parish priest of the Cathedral of Manila.
It was a dangerous mistake committed by the Spaniards. The execution of the three priests created thunder and lightning. On the morning of February 17,1872 ... creoles, mestizos and indios from “pueblos” and the country sides flowed like flood water at the Luneta (before known as Bagumbayan Field) to glorify the heroic deeds of the martyred priests. The three racial groups became one in spirit and in action.
Social Studies teachers and students should know this. In 1908, the Spanish-American War broke out in Manila (in Cuba also). A US Navy squadron sank the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. The Spaniards appealed for the support of the natives in fighting against the Americans. The Spaniards used the term “Filipinos” not “indios” anymore. Too late. The Filipinos (some only) sided with the Americans; but they repented for that.
So, by the stroke of fate and history, we are known as Filipinos. You may or you may not like it. If we go back to the root word, we are the subjects of King Philip II of Spain ... and we are the sons of Mother Spain and the Fatherland, Filipinas. That is history and the term “Filipino” could have been an incidence in history.
Do not be judged by your conscience alone. Our being Filipinos have historic and intrinsic value. After all, history is a marker for the deeds of great men. Just like you and me, any man has only one lifetime but history can always remember you and me ... and the other Filipinos, too.
“Maharlika?” Can we be comfortable by saying that we are “Maharlikans” from the Federal Republic of the Maharlika. President Digong may come to love you for that not with a “slip of the tongue” or a “play of his mind”. My fellow Maharlikans, let us retrace our ancestry before we were colonized by the sword and the cross of the Spaniards and before we were taught by the Americans to eat apple and use toothbrush. (To be continued)