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Roots of Dependency: Political and Economic Revolution in 19th Century Philippines

By Jonathan Fast and Jim Richardson

Submited by: Mary Margaret F. Guzman 2013-14788

Kas 1 TTH 1-2:30 Professor Jely Galang

I. Physical Description II. Authors


Jonathan Fast is an American author and associate professor of research at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work at the Yeshiva University. He is a social worker and author of several scholarly articles on bullying and violence as well as numerous other fiction and nonfiction books. Jim Richardson is a historian, writer and scholar best known for his extensive studies on the Katipunan and Philippine nationalism in the 19th and 20th century. One of his most noted work is the tracking down and discovery of Gertrude Beckett, one of Rizals lovers.

III. Arguments
The book Roots of Dependency: Political and Economic Revolution in the 19th Century Philippines gives us a different perspective of the Spanish Revolution here in the Philippines. As the title would suggest, authors Jonathan Fast and Jim Richardson looks at the economic factors that lead to the revolution as well as their effects on the political government that was established. The book also argues that the current economic and political turmoil our country is facing has its roots way back to the 19th century. The book reveals to us the economic and political problems that plague the 19th century and reflects that these problems continue to exist in our country today.

The first part of the book is basically an outline of the economic standing of the Philippines from before the Spanish up until the start of the revolution. One of the first points that the book pointed out was the inaccuracy of the claims that gold was the major drive of the Spanish in staying the Philippines. While it may be true that gold is one of the initial drives for Spain, it is certainly not the reason they stayed. For the first 200 years of the Spanish rule, the Philippines was financial deficit and relied on a annual subsidy from Mexico to sustain the colonial government. According to Fast and Richardson, the propagation of Catholicism was the main reason for the Spanish rule as seen by this quote of King Philipp II in a appeal to let go of the Philippines as a colony: I am an instrument of Devine Providence, I shall hold the islands of Luzon even though by doing so I exhaust my treasury. During the 16th century, the Philippines was engaged in active trade with China, whose goods entered Manila and was then shipped to Mexico. But Seville Merchants opposed of it because they see it as a threat to their trade with Mexico. They claimed that Luzon was used merely as a port for Chinese goods to be shipped to Mexico and that this trade will lead Spain to bankruptcy. They pressured Madrid to put an end to this Acapulco-Manila trade going as far as to ask the King to abandon the Philippines as a colony. This lead to severe trade restrictions imposed by the King which lead to the Philippines financial deficit. The book also points out that Spain never became rich because of the Philippines. It was the Americans and the British that benefited most from the Philippines despite us being a Spanish colony. Spain, as a whole, was unable to capitalize the resources the Philippines has to offer and our goods was used mostly by the US and UK.

The book proves this by listing the leading markets for Philippine products: Country Value of Exports (000s US $) % Total Export Trade 1) United States 2, 655 39.5 2) United Kingdom 1, 801 20.7 3) China 833 12.3 4) Australia 667 9.9 5) Spain 523 7.8 As we can see in this table, despite being the colonizers of the Philippines, Spain was only 5th largest consumer of Philippine products with only a measly 7.8% compared to 39.5% of the US and 20.7% of the UK. Further more, the Spanish was never an economic power in the Philippines. Despite us being a Spanish colony, it was the British that lead the economy of the Philippines during the 18th and 19th century. It was the British who capitalized the resources of the islands, establishing many great merchant houses and factories. The book also emphasizes on the role the sugar market played in the Philippine economy during the 19th century. During the 19th century, sugar was our major export product, commanding US$ 2,255,000 or 33% of the total export value in the country. The book also points out that the 19th century was the time in which sugar became one of the most profitable crops in the world then quickly crashed. The book argues that it was sugar who created the roots of the reform movement then eventually the Spanish revolution by creating the illustrados, which will be discussed further later in the political aspect of the book. Basically sugar was the first chance of the Filipinos to get wealthy. Though foreigners and friars still controlled most of the islands lands, Filipinos were the middle men that, along with the foreigners, profited most from the sugar trade.

But in the late 19th century the sugar market began to crash due to the increase in production of sugar and its alternatives in other countries around the world, which lead to much economic unrest in the dawn of the revolution. That along with many crippling economic policies the Spanish imposed to the Philippines. One major problem that the Spanish colonial government had, which is one of the major reasons for the reform movement, was chronic corruption. Business and commerce was unable to flourish in the Philippines because of the constant land grabbing and gross inefficiency in filling business permits. The second half of the book deals with the political aspect of the revolution. Though politics of the 19th century has been the focus of countless other books, Richardson and Fast discusses it with the context of the economy. The first point, in this part of the book, that Fast and Richardson makes is that the reform movement was a creation of the illustrados which in turn was a creation of the sugar boom in the early part of the 19th century. Another interesting point the book makes it that Bonifacio is not what we know him to be. The most common image of Bonifacio is that of the great plebian accompanying a photo of him wearing a kamisa de Chino with a red bandana tied around his neck carrying a bolo. Richardson and Fast argues to the contrary. Though there is no definitive proof of his social standing , Richardson and Fast provides the book with circumstantial evidence to prove that Andres was at least middle class and not the lowest of the poor.

III. Political A. Illustrados: Rise of the Filipino Middle class B. The bourgeois in the revolution was merely there for personal gains C. Poor- disposable tool for the rich to use for personal gains

IV. Critique The book takes a very interesting approach in discussing the 19th century Philippines. The book focuses mainly on the economic factors that lead to the revolution, something I have never seen before in any book or article. Economy and economic factors, though quite important, is rarely discussed in the discussion of history. Most of the book is presentation of facts about the economic standing of the Philippines just before the revolution broke out and its interpretation or implications to the politics and politicians that headed the revolution. I agree mostly with the book, though it has flaws because of the single minded approach.

-----------------------Sept 18-19-------------------V. Conclusion VI. References http://www.ceremonialviolence.com/

http://yu.edu/faculty/fast ------------------Sept 20-21---------------

FINAL REVISIONS: SEPT 22