The Rains of July
Before the climate change, July in the Philippines has been the beginning of the wet or rainy season. It used to be the time to plant the seeds and prepare for the coming of the big storm. Was it coincidence or is it deeply in our people’s mindset that “planting of seeds” of historic events do happen in July? The seeds may not necessarily bear the fruits that our people have been longing for.
With the passing away of our dear friend and activist-singer Susan Fernandez on Thursday afternoon, July 2, 2009, after battling ovarian cancer for more than a year, I want to review certain dates in July in our history of nationhood in the hope of understanding the tenet “all endings are potential beginning and that all beginnings carry the potential seeds of ending.”
July 1,1902 – the civil government in the Philippines was established through the Philippine Bill of 1902, known as Copper Act, which was considered the first organic law for the Philippines enacted by the United States Congress. It was named after its sponsor, U.S. Representative Henry A. Cooper of Wisconsin, and entitled “An Act Temporarily to Provide for the Administration of the Affairs of Civil Government in the Philippine Islands, and for other Purposes.”
Among its key provisions were: a bill of rights for the Filipinos; the appointment of two Filipino resident commissioners to represent the Philippines in the United States Congress but without voting rights; the establishment of a Philippine Assembly to be elected by the Filipinos two years after the publication of a census and only after peace had been completely restored in the country.
Reflections: One hundred years or so later, the politicians in the civil government in the Philippines still act and behave “temporarily to provide for the administration of the affairs of civil government.” Why is con-ass or cha-cha (i.e. charter change) still being proposed by those people in power when a permanent and stable civil government has not been realized in the Philippines?
July 3, 1892 – La Liga Filipina was founded by Jose Rizal in Tondo, Manila. It was considered by many historians as the last resort of the propaganda and the reform movement of the Illustrados. True to his words, Rizal went back in the Philippines because he sincerely believes that “To serve our country more, there is nothing like staying in it. It is there that we have to educate our people; it is there that we have to work. It is all right for young men to come here (Europe) to study but those who have already finished their studies ought to return and live there (Philippines).”
Reflections: Why does the Philippine government continue to promote the concept of “Modern Heroes” or “Bagong Bayani” for Filipinos who left to live and work in other countries? Shouldn’t we promote the real bayani who stays or returns to stay and make difference in the Philippines?
July 4, 1902 – On this day, the US Pres. Theodore Roosevelt officially declared the ending of the war in the Philippines. This war which was for many years been referred to only as “insurrection” had continued for many years and expanded in the Southern Philippines and Moroland. This war has been renamed only in the late 1990s in the Library of Congress as Philippine-American War.
Reflections: Former President George W. Bush declared the war in Iraq as “mission accomplished” on May 1, 2003, and yet the war, which he also called insurgency, has continued on to this date. Has the US never learned the lessons from the Philippine and Vietnam wars?
July 7, 1892 — On this day, the Katipunan, a secret society and underground revolutionary movement was founded by Andres Bonifacio with Valentin Diaz, Teodoro Plata, Ladslao Diwa and Deodato Arellano. Katipunan short for Kataas-taasan, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan nang manga Anak ng Bayan was formed to launch an armed revolution to end the more than 300 years of Spanish colonialism.
Reflections: Do we still think or expect the New People’s Army (NPA), the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and the National Democratic Front (NDF) to successfully complete the so called “unfinished revolution” that was started by Andres Bonifacio? Or has the struggle shifted to the assertion of the “Inang bayan” (of the majority “common tao”) versus the “nacion” of acculturated elites?
July 30, 1934— On this day, a Constitutional Convention to determine the future of the Philippines was convened. The convention promulgated what is now called the 1935 Constitution which became the country’s fundamental law that guided the Commonwealth of the Philippines (1935-1946) and later used by the post-war Republics of the Philippines, from 1946-1972. According to Wikipedia, “It was written with an eye to meeting the approval of the United States Government as well, so as to ensure that the U.S. would live up to its promise to grant the Philippines independence and not have a premise to hold onto its ‘possession’ on the grounds that it was too politically immature and hence unready for full, real independence.”
Reflections: The con-ass proponents, all pro-Arroyo politicians in the present congress, want to abolish the Senate and form a parliament, a unicameral body. Didn’t they know that the original 1935 Constitution provided for a Congress with only a House of Representatives, and then it was amended in 1940 to include both a Senate and House of Representatives?
If July is the season of rainfall, what would the following months be? What is looming in the Philippine politics; the beginning of an end of an era or regime? Is the never-ending crisis of the “nacion” state rooted in its beginning- the execution of Bonifacio and forsaken of Inang Bayan by the coup of Aguinaldo and fellow acculturated Filipino elites — which was fundamentally a tutelary colonialism of co-opted elites and institutionalized by the United States?