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Jos Rizal and the Propaganda Movement

Philippines Table of Contents


Between 1872 and 1892, a national consciousness was growing among the Filipino migrs who had
settled in Europe. In the freer atmosphere of Europe, these migrs--liberals exiled in 1872 and students
attending European universities--formed the Propaganda Movement. Organized for literary and cultural
purposes more than for political ends, the Propagandists, who included upper-class Filipinos from all the
lowland Christian areas, strove to "awaken the sleeping intellect of the Spaniard to the needs of our
country" and to create a closer, more equal association of the islands and the motherland. Among their
specific goals were representation of the Philippines in the Cortes, or Spanish parliament; secularization of
the clergy; legalization of Spanish and Filipino equality; creation of a public school system independent of
the friars; abolition of the polo (labor service) and vandala (forced sale of local products to the
government); guarantee of basic freedoms of speech and association; and equal opportunity for Filipinos
and Spanish to enter government service.
The most outstanding Propagandist was Jos Rizal, a physician, scholar, scientist, and writer. Born in 1861
into a prosperous Chinese mestizo family in Laguna Province, he displayed great intelligence at an early
age. After several years of medical study at the University of Santo Toms, he went to Spain in 1882 to
finish his studies at the University of Madrid. During the decade that followed, Rizal's career spanned two
worlds: Among small communities of Filipino students in Madrid and other European cities, he became a
leader and eloquent spokesman, and in the wider world of European science and scholarship--particularly
in Germany--he formed close relationships with prominent natural and social scientists. The new discipline
of anthropology was of special interest to him; he was committed to refuting the friars' stereotypes of
Filipino racial inferiority with scientific arguments. His greatest impact on the development of a Filipino
national consciousness, however, was his publication of two novels--Noli Me Tangere (Touch me not) in
1886 and El Filibusterismo (The reign of greed) in 1891. Rizal drew on his personal experiences and
depicted the conditions of Spanish rule in the islands, particularly the abuses of the friars. Although the
friars had Rizal's books banned, they were smuggled into the Philippines and rapidly gained a wide
readership.
Other important Propagandists included Graciano Lopez Jaena, a noted orator and pamphleteer who had
left the islands for Spain in 1880 after the publication of his satirical short novel, Fray Botod (Brother
Fatso), an unflattering portrait of a provincial friar. In 1889 he established a biweekly newspaper in
Barcelona, La Solidaridad (Solidarity), which became the principal organ of the Propaganda Movement,
having audiences both in Spain and in the islands. Its contributors included Rizal; Dr. Ferdinand
Blumentritt, an Austrian geographer and ethnologist whom Rizal had met in Germany; and Marcelo del
Pilar, a reformminded lawyer. Del Pilar was active in the antifriar movement in the islands until obliged to
flee to Spain in 1888, where he became editor of La Solidaridad and assumed leadership of the Filipino
community in Spain.
In 1887 Rizal returned briefly to the islands, but because of the furor surrounding the appearance of Noli
Me Tangere the previous year, he was advised by the governor to leave. He returned to Europe by way of
Japan and North America to complete his second novel and an edition of Antonio de Morga's seventeenthcentury work, Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (History of the Philippine Islands). The latter project stemmed
from an ethnological interest in the cultural connections between the peoples of the pre-Spanish
Philippines and those of the larger Malay region (including modern Malaysia and Indonesia) and the closely
related political objective of encouraging national pride. De Morga provided positive information about the
islands' early inhabitants, and reliable accounts of pre-Christian religion and social customs.
After a stay in Europe and Hong Kong, Rizal returned to the Philippines in June 1892, partly because the
Dominicans had evicted his father and sisters from the land they leased from the friars' estate at Calamba,
in Laguna Province. He also was convinced that the struggle for reform could no longer be conducted
effectively from overseas. In July he established the Liga Filipina (Philippine League), designed to be a truly
national, nonviolent organization. It was dissolved, however, following his arrest and exile to the remote
town of Dapitan in northwestern Mindanao.
The Propaganda Movement languished after Rizal's arrest and the collapse of the Liga Filipina. La
Solidaridad went out of business in November 1895, and in 1896 both del Pilar and Lopez Jaena died in
Barcelona, worn down by poverty and disappointment. An attempt was made to reestablish the Liga

Filipina, but the national movement had become split between ilustrado advocates of reform and peaceful
evolution (the compromisarios, or compromisers) and a plebeian constituency that wanted revolution and
national independence. Because the Spanish refused to allow genuine reform, the initiative quickly passed
from the former group to the latter.

Philippines on Dec. 8, 1941, came at a time when the U.S. military buildup had hardly begun.
Their advance was rapid; before Christmas, Manila was declared an open city, while Quezon
and Osmea were evacuated to MacArthurs headquarters on Corregidor Island. Despite a desire,
at one point, to return to Manila in order to surrender, Quezon was persuaded to leave the
Philippines in March 1942 on a U.S. submarine; he was never to return. Osmea also went.
Filipino and American forces, under Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright, surrendered in May. An
Executive Commission made up of more than 30 members of the old Filipino political elite had
been cooperating with Japanese military authorities in Manila since January.
The Executive Commission lasted until September 1943, when it was superseded by an
independent Philippine Republic. The president, chosen by the Japanese, was Jos Laurel,
former associate justice of the commonwealth Supreme Court and the only Filipino to hold an
honorary degree from Tokyo Imperial University. More than half of the commonwealth Senate and
more than one-third of the House served at one time in the Japanese-sponsored regime. Yet
collaboration with Japan was neither as willing nor as widespread as elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
Even before the fall of Bataan Peninsula to the Japanese in April 1942, guerrilla units were
forming throughout the Philippines. Most were led by middle-class officers and were
enthusiastically pro-United States; in central Luzon, however, a major force was the Hukbalahap,
which, under communist leadership, capitalized on earlier agrarian unrest. Though in a number
of instances collaborators secretly assisted guerrillas, many guerrillas in the hills were bitter
against those who appeared to benefit from the occupation. The differences between the two
groups became an important factor in early postwar politics.
MacArthur, Douglas: Pacific Campaign [Credit: ]Soon after the U.S. landings on Leyte in October
1944, commanded by MacArthur, civil government was returned to the commonwealth, at least
in name. Sergio Osmea, who had become president in exile on the death of Quezon in August,
had few resources to deal with the problems at hand, however. Osmeas role was complicated
by the fact that MacArthur chose to lionize Manuel A. Roxas, a leading collaborator who had also
been in contact with U.S. military intelligence. As president of the Senate, Roxas became, in
effect, MacArthurs candidate for president. Roxas was nominated in January 1946 in a separate
convention of the liberal wing of the Nacionalista Party, as it was first called. Thus was born the
Philippines second major political party, the Liberals.
Osmea, though he had the advantages of incumbency, was old and tired and did not fully use
the political tools he possessed. In April Roxas was elected by a narrow margin. The following
month he was inaugurated as the last chief executive of the commonwealth, and on July 4, 1946,
when the Republic of the Philippines was proclaimed, he became its first president.
The early republic
Roxas, as expected, extended amnesty to all major collaborators with Japan. In the campaign for
the election of 1949 there was an attempt to raise the collaboration issue against Jos Laurel, the
Nacionalista presidential candidate, but it was not effective. In the fluidity of Philippine politics,
guerrillas and collaborators were by that time to be found on both sides of all political fences.
World War II: Allied forces recaptured Manila, Philippines [Credit: U.S. Navy]The Philippines had
gained independence in the ashes of victory. Intense fighting, especially around Manila in the

last days of the Japanese retreat (FebruaryMarch 1945), had nearly destroyed the capital. The
economy generally was in disarray. Rehabilitation aid was obviously needed, and President Roxas
was willing to accept some onerous conditions placed implicitly and explicitly by the U.S.
Congress. The Bell Act in the United States extended free trade with the Philippines for 8 years,
to be followed by 20 years of gradually increasing tariffs. The United States demanded and
received a 99-year lease on a number of Philippine military and naval bases in which U.S.
authorities had virtual territorial rights. And finally, as a specific requirement for release of U.S.
war-damage payments, the Philippines had to amend its constitution to give U.S. citizens equal
rights with Filipinos in the exploitation of natural resourcesthe so-called Parity Amendment.

The changing character of PhilippineU.S. relations was a major theme in Philippine history for
the first several decades after the war. The trend was toward weakening of the link, achieved
partly by diversifying Philippine external ties and partly by more articulate anti-American feeling.
Economic nationalism, though first directed against the local Chinese communitys dominance of
retail trade, by the 1950s was focused on the special status of American business firms.
At independence the military ties with the United States were as strong as the economic ones.
Filipino troops fought against communist forces in Korea, and noncombatant engineers
augmented U.S. forces in the Vietnam War. Crucial to U.S. military action in Vietnam were bases
in the Philippines. The Military Bases Agreement was the greatest single cause of friction in
relations between the United States and the Philippines. Beginning in 1965, however, a series of
agreements between the two countries reduced the size and number of the U.S. bases and
shortened base leases. In 1979 formal jurisdiction over the base areas passed to the Philippine
government; and the constitution of 1987 formalized the process by which the bases agreement
could be extended beyond the expiration in 1991 of base leases. Extension of the agreement
was ultimately rejected by the Philippine Senate, however, and U.S. forces were pulled from the
Philippine bases in 1992.
The nature and effectiveness of Filipino political institutions since independence has been a
special concern of the former colonial power that helped establish them. For Filipinos, those
institutions have determined the ability or inability to maintain domestic social order. Clumsy
repression of dissent and the fraudulent election of the countrys second president, Elpidio
Quirino, in 1949 set the stage for an intensification of the communist-led Hukbalahap (Huk)
Rebellion, which had begun in 1946. The rebellion also reflected a growing sense of social
injustice among tenant farmers, especially in central Luzon. Suppression of the rebellion five
years later, however, was attributable to American military aid as well as to the opening of the
political process to greater mass participation, particularly during the campaign of Ramon
Magsaysay, a uniquely charismatic figure in Filipino politics who was elected president in 1953.
Magsaysays attempts at social and economic reform failed largely because of the conservative
outlook of the legislature and the bureaucracy. When Magsaysay died in a plane crash in 1957,
leadership of the country fell to his vice president, Carlos P. Garcia. During Garcias presidential
term and that of his reform-minded successor, Diosdado Macapagal (196165), unrest was
usually channeled through the electoral process and peaceful protest.
The Marcos and early post-Marcos era
In November 1965, Ferdinand E. Marcos was elected to the presidency. His administration faced
grave economic problems that were exacerbated by corruption, tax evasion, and smuggling.
In 1969 Marcos became the first elected president of the Philippines to win reelection. His
campaign platform included the renegotiation of major treaties with the United States and trade
with communist countries. These promises reflected a change in the self-concept of the country
during the 1960s. The idea of the Philippines as an Asian outpost of Christianity was increasingly

supplanted by a desire to develop an Asian cultural identity. Artists, musicians, and writers began
to look to pre-Spanish themes for inspiration. More important was the trend toward seeking
cultural identity through the national language, Pilipino. English, however, remained the
language of business, of most government documents, and of the greater part of higher
education. Demands that the government meet the social and economic needs of its citizenry
continued.
A short-lived sign that the Filipino political system was again attempting to respond
constructively to those needs was the choosing in 1970 of a widely representative Constitutional
Convention in one of the most honest and peaceful elections in Philippine history. Large student
demonstrations urged the convention to undertake a fundamental restructuring of political
power.
Marcos, who was approaching the end of his constitutionally delimited eight years in office, had
narrower goals: he pressed for the adoption of a parliamentary style of government, which would
allow him to remain in power. He feared that the new constitution would not come into force
before he lost the advantages of incumbency. At the same time, foreign investors, predominantly
American, felt increased pressure from economic nationalists in the legislature.

MARTIAL LAW
In September 1972 Marcos declared martial law, claiming that it was the last defense against the
rising disorder caused by increasingly violent student demonstrations, the alleged threats of
communist insurgency by the new Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and the Muslim
separatist movement of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). One of his first actions was to
arrest opposition politicians in Congress and the Constitutional Convention. Initial public reaction
to martial law was mostly favourable except in Muslim areas of the south, where a separatist
rebellion, led by the MNLF, broke out in 1973. Despite halfhearted attempts to negotiate a ceasefire, the rebellion continued to claim thousands of military and civilian casualties. Communist
insurgency expanded with the creation of the National Democratic Front (NDF), an organization
embracing the CPP and other communist groups.
Under martial law the regime was able to reduce violent urban crime, collect unregistered
firearms, and suppress communist insurgency in some areas. At the same time, a series of
important new concessions were given to foreign investors, including a prohibition on strikes by
organized labour, and a land-reform program was launched. In January 1973 Marcos proclaimed
the ratification of a new constitution based on the parliamentary system, with himself as both
president and prime minister. He did not, however, convene the interim legislature that was
called for in that document.
Philippines: Marcos regime [Credit: Stock footage courtesy The WPA Film Library]General
disillusionment with martial law and with the consolidation of political and economic control by
Marcos, his family, and close associates grew during the 1970s. Despite growth in the countrys
gross national product, workers real income dropped, few farmers benefited from land reform,
and the sugar industry was in confusion. The precipitous drop in sugar prices in the early 1980s
coupled with lower prices and less demand for coconuts and coconut productstraditionally the
most important export commodityadded to the countrys economic woes; the government was
forced to borrow large sums from the international banking community. Also troubling to the
regime, reports of widespread corruption began to surface with increasing frequency.
Elections for an interim National Assembly were finally held in 1978. The oppositionof which
the primary group was led by the jailed former senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr.produced such a
bold and popular campaign that the official results, which gave Marcoss opposition virtually no
seats, were widely believed to have been illegally altered. In 1980 Aquino was allowed to go into

exile in the United States, and the following year, after announcing the suspension of martial law,
Marcos won a virtually uncontested election for a new six-year term.
THE DOWNFALL OF MARCOS AND RETURN OF DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT
The assassination of Benigno Aquino as he returned to Manila in August 1983 was generally
thought to have been the work of the military; it became the focal point of a renewed and more
heavily supported opposition to Marcoss rule. By late 1985 Marcos, under mounting pressure
both inside and outside the Philippines, called a snap presidential election for February 1986.
Corazon C. Aquino, Benignos widow, became the candidate of a coalition of opposition parties.
Marcos was declared the official winner, but strong public outcry over the election results
precipitated a revolt that by the end of the month had driven Marcos from power. Aquino then
assumed the presidency.
Aquinos great personal popularity and widespread international support were instrumental in
establishing the new government. Shortly after taking office, she abolished the constitution of
1973 and began ruling by decree. A new constitution was drafted and was ratified in February
1987 in a general referendum; legislative elections in May 1987 and the convening of a new
bicameral congress in July marked the return of the form of government that had been present
before the imposition of martial law in 1972.
Euphoria over the ouster of Marcos proved to be short-lived, however. The new government had
inherited an enormous external debt, a severely depleted economy, and a growing threat from
Moro and communist insurgents. The Aquino administration also had to weather considerable
internal dissension, repeated coup attempts, and such natural disasters as a major earthquake
and the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo. The resumption of active partisan politics, moreover,
was the beginning of the end of the coalition that had brought Aquino to power. Pro-Aquino
candidates had won a sweeping victory in the 1987 legislative elections, but there was less
support for her among those elected to provincial and local offices in early 1988. By the early
1990s the criticisms against her administrationi.e., charges of weak leadership, corruption, and
human rights abuseshad begun to stick.
Gregorio C. Borlaza
The Philippines since c. 1990
The presidential election of May 1992, in which Aquino was not a candidate, was a seven-way
race in which the winner, Fidel Ramos, received less than 24 percent of the overall vote. Ramos
was a former army chief of staff and defense minister under Aquino; he was unpopular in some
quarters because he had headed the agency charged with enforcing martial law under Marcos
before turning against Marcos to give crucial support to Aquino in 1986. Some observers had
wryly noted during the election that the winner might come to envy the losers, and indeed
Ramos inherited the onus of having to deal with insurgencies from the right and the left, a severe
energy crisis that produced daily electricity outages, an infrastructure in decay, a large foreign
debt, and the troubles of a population half of whom lived in deep poverty.
The Ramos administration remedied the energy crisis and proceeded to create a hospitable
environment for economic recovery. Peace was successfully negotiated with the military rebels
and the MNLF; it proved to be more elusive with the NDF. A more open economy was created
through a series of macroeconomic reforms. Consequently, by the time of the Asian financial
crisis that swept the region in 1997, the Philippine economy was stable enough to escape serious
damage. A proactive foreign and security policy prevented the deterioration of relations with
China, one of several countries with which the Philippines disputed a claim to certain islands and
islets in the South China Sea. Ramoss foreign policy also earned positive diplomatic gains for the
country abroad.

The election of Joseph Ejercito Estradaformer movie star, mayor of a small town in Metro
Manila, senator, and vice president under Ramosto the presidency in May 1998 brought a
reversal of many of the economic, political, and diplomatic accomplishments of the Ramos
administration. Although Estrada generally maintained economic growth and political stability in
the first year of his administration, he subsequently came under fire largely because of his failure
to fulfill promises to reduce poverty and to open the economy further to private enterprise.
Estrada was impeached in November 2000, charged with bribery, graft and corruption, betrayal
of the public trust, and culpable violation of the constitution. The refusal of Estradas senatorial
allies to open an envelope that allegedly held evidence against him during the impeachment trial
triggered a popular revolt; the uprisings ultimately led to Estradas ouster, subsequent arrest,
detention, and trial before the Sandiganbayan, the countrys corruption court.
Arroyo, Gloria Macapagal [Credit: Lance Cpl. Ethan Hoaldridge/U.S. Marine Corps]In January 2001
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Estradas former vice president, was sworn in as the countrys 14th
president. A daughter of former president Diosdado Macapagal with a doctorate in economics,
Arroyo was faced with the challenges of leading a democracy that had remained dominated by
the elite, stimulating the economy to grow faster than the countrys population, providing jobs
for an abundance of the countrys large group of college graduates each year, and relieving
poverty. Despite some reduction of poverty, as well as the curbing of corruption in certain
arenas, Arroyo struggled with political instability and widespread crime, including the
increasingly common kidnappings for ransom. She herself became implicated in corruption,
which stirred disillusioned soldiers to attempt a coup in 2003. The coup failed, and Arroyo was
reelected to the presidency in 2004. Later allegations of election fixing and an increasingly
repressive approach to government, however, sparked a call for impeachment and another coup
plot in 2006; once again the coup failed. Arroyo subsequently declared a state of emergency
and banned all public demonstrations. Although the declaration was quickly lifted, the gesture
was broadly perceived as emblematic of authoritarian rule. In September 2007 Estrada, who had
been under house arrest outside of Manila since 2001, was convicted on additional graft charges
and given a life sentence; however, Arroyo soon pardoned him of all charges.
Throughout the turmoil in the executive branch, political and economic issues have continued to
animate the Philippines in other realms. In the Muslim south, increasingly militant and
widespread unrest has been a growing concern. In the north, a concerted movement has been
under way to reformulate the countrys constitution. In the international arena, remittances from
overseas Filipinos (which have become an important component of the economy) increasingly
have been jeopardized as neighbouring countries have rewritten their laws regarding foreign
employment and have threatened to deport undocumented workers.

Carolina G. Hernandez
Gregorio C. Borlaza
In 2009, underscoring the delicacy of the situation in the south, members of a powerful ruling
clan in Mindanao were implicated in a November incident in which a political opponent of the
clan and his entourage were massacred. Until then the Arroyo government had been allied with
the clan as a means of counteracting Moro separatists. However, in early December Arroyo broke
with the clan and declared martial law in a portion of Mindanaothe first time it had been
imposed since the Marcos eraprecipitating considerable domestic debate. The decree was lifted
several days later, after the government declared it had thwarted a potential rebellion in
Mindanao.
The 2010 presidential and parliamentary elections featured a number of candidates with familiar
names. Benigno S. (Noynoy) Aquino III, son of Benigno and Corazon, defeated a field of

presidential hopefuls led by Joseph Estrada. In addition, Arroyo, Imelda Marcos, and boxing star
Manny Pacquiao each won seats in the House of Representatives.
In early November 2013, large portions of the central Philippines were devastated by Super
Typhoon Haiyan, a massive tropical cyclone that cut a broad swath some 500 miles (800 km)
long across several islands before exiting into the South China Sea. Thousands of people were
killed, and hundreds of thousands were made homeless. It was the most severe of several
natural calamities to hit the country that year, including typhoons in August and October and a
magnitude-7.1 earthquake, also in October.