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STEM 12A

GROUP 1 Leader: Ramos, June


POLITICS

SPOLIARIUM by Juan Luna


The embers of Philippine history are as colorful as the Filipinos regard for Philippine
visual arts. These types of artworks depict the inner political and socio-cultural views; as well as
the sentiments of a Filipino master painter, like Juan Luna. His Spoliarium was all about the
bloodied bodies of gladiators, who were drawn as slaves; and dragged away from the wide and
powerful arena as they attempted to fight their Roman oppressors, with their own precious and
God given lives. In addition, these slaves on this world-renowned painting of Juan Luna were
physically stripped of their clothing in order to gratify the lewd and devilish contempt of those
Roman oppressors. Thus, this had excellently embodied the essence of the political, moral and
social lives of the Filipino, based on the critical analysis of Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero of
the Philippines; and a contemporary of Luna. According to the author of Noli Me Tangere, the
masterpiece of Juan Luna centered on the severe ordeal of the Filipino nation, in which its
encompassing human nature, had never been regained.
The National Commission on Culture and the Arts had said on their article and critical
analysis about The Spoliarium, Juan Luna never claimed that this masterpiece of his was not
just a glorious achievement. Instead, it was more of a patriotic duty. In support of this very
wittingly thought of statement, he became an active member of the band of Filipino intellectuals
in Europe, which was generously and solely dedicated to the undying principles of Filipino
nationalism, during the early months of the 1880s and 1890s. Among the brainchild of this
organization were Rizal, del Pilar and Graciano Lopez Jaena. On the contrary, even if he had
sweetly and painstakingly labored in the Salons of Europe, it was ultimately for the reason of
proving that the Filipinos or indios were capable of being intellectually competitive, as other
foreigners could also be. In addition, his contemporary nationalists had grown out to be more
than what are expected of them. Above all, his Spoliarium was his own magnificent view of
nationalism. In a more explicit interpretation, the Spoliarium was Juan Luna himself; and his
colorful ways of putting into a canvass the real essence of nationalism with burning blazes of
pride and self- respect.

HISTORY

Magellans Cross
Ferdinand Magellan was the first European to come to the Philippines in 1521. Also
known as Fernao Magalhaes or Fernando Magallanes, he was a Portuguese navigator working
for the King of Spain in search of the spice islands (now part of Indonesia, known as Maluku or
Moluccas islands). When he and his crews landed on Cebu island, a native chief, Rajah
Humabon, met and befriended him. Rajah Humabon, his wife and hundreds of his native
warriors agreed to accept Christianity and were consequently baptized.
Magellan planted a cross to signify this important event about the propagation of the
Roman Catholic faith in what is now Cebu, in central Philippines. The original cross is reputedly
encased in another wooden cross for protection, as people started chipping it away in the belief
that it had miraculous healing powers. This prompted the government officials to encase it in
tindalo wood and secured it inside a small chapel called "kiosk." Some say, however, that the
original cross was actually destroyed. The Magellan cross displayed here is said to be a replica of
such cross. It is housed in a small chapel located in front of the present city hall of Cebu, along
Magallanes Street (named in honor of Magellan).
Sadly, Magellan met his death under the hands of another Visayan chief, Lapu-Lapu,
when he went to the nearby island of Mactan. Mactan is also part of todays Metropolitan Cebu.
There, both the statues of Magellan and Lapu-Lapu proudly stand to commemorate the tragic
meeting of east and west in this part of the world.
It took another 45 years (1565) before Cebu was visited again by another European.
Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, under orders from King Philip of Spain, came and made Cebu the first
capital of the Spanish colony known as Las Islas Filipinas.

SOCIETY

Painting by Botong Francisco Babaylan , ang manggagamot.


During pre-colonial times, women shared equal footing with men in society. They were
allowed to divorce, own and inherit property, and even lead their respective barangays or
territories.
In matters of family, the women were for all intents and purposes the working heads,
possessing the power of the purse and the sole right to name their children. They could dictate
the terms of their marriage and even retain their maiden names if they chose to do so.
During this time, people also traced their heritage to both their father and mother. In fact,
it could be said that pre-colonial Philippines was largely matriarchal, with the opinions of
women holding great weight in matters of politics and religion (they also headed the rituals as
the babaylans).
As a show of respect, men were even required to walk behind their wives. This largely
progressive society that elevated women to such a high pedestal took a serious blow when the
Spanish came. Eager to impose their patriarchal system, the Spanish relegated women to the
homes, demonized the babaylans as satanic, and ingrained into our forefathers heads that
women should be like Maria Clarademure, self-effacing, and powerless.
Society was more tolerant back then. While it could be said that our modern society is
one of the most tolerant in the world, we owe our open-mindedness not to the Americans and
certainly not to the Spanish, but to the pre-colonial Filipinos.
Aside from allowing divorce, women back then also had a say in how many children they
wanted. Sexuality was not as suppressed, and no premium was given to virginity before
marriage. Although polygamy was practiced, men were expected to do so only if they could
support and love each of his wives equally. Homosexuals were also largely tolerated, seeing as
how some of the babaylans were actually men in drag.
Surprisingly, with the amount of sexual freedom, no prostitution existed during the pre-
colonial days. In fact, some literature suggests that the American periodwhich heavily
emphasized capitalism and profiteeringintroduced prostitution into the country on a massive
scale.
Also, several professions was already evident, before, in our society. Aside from being
farmers, hunters, weapon-makers, and seafarers, the pre-colonial Filipinos also dabbledand
excelledin several other professions as well.
To name a few, many became involved in such professions as mining, textiles, and
smithing. Owing to the excellent craftsmanship of the Filipinos, locally-produced items such as
pots, jewelry, and clothing were highly-sought in other countries. In fact, it is reported that
products of Filipino origin might have even reached as far away as ancient Egypt. Clearly, our
ancestors were very skilled artisans.
ECONOMY

Painting by Fernando Amorsolo Lapu-lapu.


Advance civilization was also present, back then, in our society. Relatively, contrary to
foreign accounts, our ancestors were not just some backwards, jungle-living savages. In reality,
pre-colonial Philippines already possessed a very advanced civilization way before the coming of
the Spanish.
Our ancestors possessed a complex working society and a culture replete with works of
arts and literature. When the colonizers came, everything contradictory to their own system had
to go. Sculptures, texts, religious ceremonies, and virtually anything else deemed obscene, evil or
a threat to their rule were eliminated.
Smoother foreign relations was also evident in our economy before. Weve all been
taught that before the Spanish galleon trade, the pre-colonial Filipinos had already established
trading and diplomatic relations with countries as far away as the Middle East.
Instead of cash, our ancestors exchanged precious minerals, manufactured goods, etc.
with Arabs, Indians, Chinese, and several other nationalities. During this time period, many
foreigners permanently settled here after marvelling at the beauty of the country and its people.
Out of the foreigners, it was the Chinese who were amazed at the pre-colonial Filipinos
the most, especially when it came to their extraordinary honesty. Chinese traders often wrote
about the Filipinos sincerity and said they were one of their most trusted clientele since they did
not steal their goods and always paid their debts.
In fact, some Chineseout of confidencewere known to simply leave their items on
the beaches to be picked up by the Filipinos and traded inland. When they returned, the Filipinos
would give them back their bartered items without anything missing.
In terms of food, our forefathers did not suffer from any lack thereof. Blessed with such a
resource-rich country, they had enough for themselves and their families.
Forests, rivers, and seas yielded plentiful supplies of meat, fish, and other foodstuffs.
Later on, their diet became more varied especially when they learned to till the land using
farming techniques that were quite advanced for their time. The Banaue Rice Terraces is one
such proof of our ancestors ingenuity.
Whats more, they already had an advanced concept of agrarian equity. Men and women
equally worked in the fields, and anyone could till public lands free of charge. Also, since they
had little-to-no concept of exploitation for profit, our ancestors generally took care of the
environment well.
Such was the abundance of foodstuffs that Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the most-successful
Spanish colonizer of the islands, was said to have reported the abundance of rice, fowls, and
wine, as well as great numbers of buffaloes, deer, wild boar and goats when he first arrived in
Luzon.