THE WAY WE WERE

At the start, the Philippines was like a Garden of Eden with its rich resources enabling the Indigenous People to flourish in life. Biblical scholars refer to the Philippines as Ophir, the “Land of Gold”. We can see how they still manage to this day, despite being forced to the hills. Equitably distributing whatever they have, there is no need to loot the stores as the lowlanders did after super typhoon Yolanda. Goodness, Aetas can even make fire by rubbing bamboo, and the Agtas take care of their home, the Sierra Madre Mountains.

In Mindanao, the Moslems held sway before and even after the Spaniards and the Americans left. In fact, Sultan Kiram of Sulu related to Sandra Aguinaldo of GMA NEWS TV that his ancestor was prominently buried in China, where he died during a mission. Their family likewise used to receive monthly checks from Malaysia for the rent of North Borneo, now Sabah. The Shari’a Law governs them.

Magellan, of course was rebuffed by Datu Lapu-lapu of Cebu, perhaps in retaliation for calling our land “Ladrones (Thieves)” Island. The barangay was our system of government then. We had a monetary system, as well as golden ornaments to prove our ancient economy and culture.

 

26 YOU BE THE JUDGE! The Way We Were 27

Spain colonized us, giving us Christianity. The upper class was schooled in Spanish, resulting in the patriotic novels of Jose Rizal, Noli Me Tangere and El Flibusterismo. In them, Rizal exposed the abuses of both the friars and the civilian leaders who divided and conquered us. Faced with the survival of the fittest, the colonized Filipinos developed the original “family first” enterprise. They became willing collaborators, even to the prejudice of their fellow Indios, especially when it came to issues like landholdings and taxation, among others. They also took on the Spanish way of life, as typified by the characters of Dona Victorina and company in Rizal’s works. They were the earliest specimen of the crab mentality or one-upmanship in an effort to get out of the basket, or conversely, pulling down those who want to do so. Fellow Indios were their worst enemies, competitors more than compatriots.

No doubt we are grateful for Christian religion and our Spanish heritage, even though, the vast majority of Catholics has been pared down by converts to Born-Again Christianity. Nonetheless, the upper class still converse in Spanish especially when they want to keep it confidential. A greater number, mainly in Zamboanga speak in some fragmented Spanish called Chavacano, thus: “Done esta sandok?” “Nakasuksok en palayok.”

Then, we were sold to the Americans after the Battle of Manila, where the latter was the prize. This time we were taught the American system of government, education and language. Sadly, they omitted passing on to us their Jury System of justice. Even so, we adopted the principles of democracy, the English language and other aspects of the American culture which are hailed as “class,” and the Filipino culture or local as low qual or “bakya/masa/baduy.”

Naturally, we are grateful for our inherited form of “democracy” even if sometimes it becomes democrazy in practice! Moreover, we appreciate our system of education and the opening of our horizons to great strides in the arts and sciences.

OPENING OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Education became a very important issue for the United States colonial government, since it allowed it to spread their cultural values, particularly the English language, to the Filipino people. By 1901, public education was institutionalized in the Philippines, with English serving the medium of instruction.

 

OPENING OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Education became a very important issue for the United States colonial government, since it allowed it to spread their cultural values, particularly the English language, to the Filipino people. By 1901, public education was institutionalized in the Philippines, with English serving the medium of instruction.

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