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Leah Mae G. Nolasco TTH (9:00 - 10:30 A.

BSA - 1 Readings of the Philippine History

“Sucesos De las Islas Filipinas”

(Contextual Analysis)

The value of Antonio de Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas has long been
recognised. A first hand account of the early Spanish colonial venture into Asia, it
was published in Mexico in 1609 and has since been re-edited on a number of
occasions.Morga’s work is based on personal experiences, or on documentation
from eye-witnesses of the events described. Moreover, as he tells us himself,
survivors from Legazpi’s expedition were still alive while he was preparing his
book in Manila, and these too he could consult.

The Sucesos is the work of an honest observer, himself a major actor in the
dramaof his time, a versatile bureaucrat, who knew the workings of the
administration from the inside. It is also the first history of the Spanish Philippines
to be written by a layman, as opposed to the religious chroniclers. Filipinos have
found it a useful account of the state of their native culture upon the coming of the
conquistadors; Spaniards have regarded it as a work to admire or condemn,
according to their views and the context of their times.

Morga’s purpose for writing Sucesos was so he could chronicle “the deeds
achieved by our Spaniards the discovery, conquest, and conversion of the
Filipinas Islands, as well as various fortunes that they have from time to timein the
great kingdoms and among the pagan peoples surrounding the islands.” taking
issue with the scopes of these claims,Rizal argued that the conversion and
conquest were not as widespread as portrayed because the missionaries were
only successful in conquering a portion of the population of the certain Islands.
Rizal was an earnest seeker of truth and this marked him as a historian. He
had a burning desire to know exactly the conditions of the Philippines when the
Spaniards came ashore to the islands. His theory was that the country was
economically self - sufficient and properous. Entertained the idea that it had a
lively and vigorous community. He believed the conquest of the Spaniards
contributed in part to the decline of the Philippine’s rich tradition and culture. He
then decided to undertake the annotation of Antonio de Morga’s Sucesos de las
Islas Flipinas. His personal friendship with Ferdinand Blumentritt provided the
inspiration for doing a new edition of Morga’s Sucesos.

Through Ferdinand Blumentrit, Rizal met the most eminent European

ethnologist of those days. They must have been quite impressed by the
intellectual curiosity of this young Asian that they invited him to be a member of
their prestigious society of ethnologists. Rizal was so enthused, he made plans
for an international conference about the Philippines, but unfortunately his
audacious idea not pull through. Had he lived longer, I am sure he would have
spent many years studying the past. After all, his third novel, Makamisa, was
about the period of transition about which we know so little. He would have gone
to the highlands to meet the Ifugaos and Tinggians and live among our ancestors.