Ed’s note: Mauro Gia Samonte was in his late-twenties when he enlisted into the national democratic movement began by Jose Maria Sison, eventually becoming full-fledged card-bearing member of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The sudden declaration of martial law on September 22, 1972 sowed chaos with the CPP causing him to be separated from his party unit. He continued on as a self-styled labor organizer but at some point, ending in violent disagreement with Sison’s strategy of protracted peoples war.
Forced to surface from the underground, he turned to screenwriting, winning the 1977 best screenplay award in the Metro Manila Film Festival, and eventually becoming a movie director himself.
Edsa One ended his revolutionary involvement. Ironically, it created a doldrum in his writing career. This is why he did not hesitate to accept an offer by Manila Times to write a regular column, a few years back.
Today he still advocates for a revolution, this time with an ideology relevant to our history as a nation, one he describes as “a non-war, immediately practicable, self-help methods productive of envisioned people’s well-being.”
(First of a Series of Four)
The Philippines is at a crossroad. Are we to persevere in constitutional processes in addressing the country’s woes or are we to chart a new course as demanded by objective conditions of the Filipino nation?
The current proceedings at the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) in recounting votes in the 2016 vice presidential contest, more than validate the claim of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. that he really won those elections, actually expose cheating as an inherent characteristic of the Philippine electoral system.
What does this mean? – That elections as a mode for putting in place the majority will can never be true for a people who have not quite genuinely risen over their selfish biases, have stayed rooted in the confines of their parochial prejudices and therefore completely neglect the cardinal concern of upholding the interest of the nation as a whole.
We need only to look back to the Tejeros Convention of 1897 when through the sheer exercise of elections General Emilio Aguinaldo was able to wrest control of the Philippine revolution, snatching it away from Katipunan founder Andres Bonifacio who rightly could claim genuine leadership of the rebellion against Spain.
In the end, let alone Aguinaldo’s order to murder Bonifacio and his brother Procopio, the Tejeros Convention early on depicted elections as a futile means of safeguarding the will of the majority where there has been no genuine attainment of the wholeness of the people as a nation.
1.0 History of Chaotic Beginnings
In the struggle for Philippine independence in the 1930s, the OSROX Mission first worked for the passage by the American Congress of the Philippine independence bill, the Hare-Hawes Cutting Law. But Senate President Manuel L. Quezon contradicted it for no other reason than that getting credit for it were his political enemies Sergio Osmeña, Sr. and Manuel Roxas.
Quezon organized another independence mission in 1933 and worked for the passage of another Philippine independence bill by the US Congress, the Tydings-McDuffie Act. In the opinion of political analysts, there was no qualitative difference between Tydings-McDuffie and Hare-Hawes save for the credit involved in its passage.
As provided for by the Tydings-McDuffie Act, the Constitutional Convention of 1934 was held, resulting in the promulgation of the 1935 Philippine Constitution which was the basis of the independent Philippine Republic.
It was simply too bad for Quezon that when the first elections under that constitution was held, he had died of tuberculosis during his exile to the United States in the Second World War and Manuel Roxas won President, beating his superior in the OSROX Mission, Commonwealth Vice President Sergio Osmeña, Sr.
The history of the Filipino people is one big sorry journey back to time. From self-sufficient, non-political disparate communities of animal hunters and food gatherers, the native Philippine inhabitants were intermingled with migrant people from culturally-advance Asian communities bringing with them for planting across the archipelago the strictures of political systems endemic in their places of origin.
Each barangay stood on its own, in many times battling against one another for the spoils of nature and the fruits of a nascent feudal economy. What resulted was a heterogeneous mixture of social organizations, lifestyle, culture, customs and traditions which nary amounted to even a semblance of a unified polity.
For this reason, it became easy for the Spanish conquistadors to subjugate the islands, but for the Muslim-dominated sections of Mindanao and the hinterlands of Northern Luzon.
While many historians view the Spanish conquests as aggressions against the Filipino nation, the fact was that no such nation existed at the beginning of those conquests – neither did it exist for the next 300 years thereafter. In certain landmark periods of that era, it was the very disparateness of existence of communities over the archipelago that mainly contributed to the success of the Spanish colonization of the Philippines.
The 80-year-old Dagohoy revolt in Bohol from 1744 to 1828 was ultimately suppressed mainly thru forces consisting of Cebuanons; the Sumuroy uprising in Samar in 1649 was fought by the Spaniards with much help by natives of Panay and ended with the delivery by his own men to the Spanish authorities the head of their leader Agustin Sumuroy; and the Diego Silang rebellion in Ilocos in 1762 was terribly vanquished – ending in the executions of Diego Silang and his wife Gabriela – with the Spaniards using Macabebe forces from Pampanga.
Historians fail to realize that by depicting these disparate revolts as risings by the Filipino nation against Spain, they actually deny that the struggle of the Propaganda Movement in the late 1880s was one for the establishment of the yet non-existent Filipino nation.
In fact, no Filipino nation existed before. The term “Filipino” applied not to the entire inhabitants of the Philippine archipelago but only to that elite few, the illustrado class, whence came Dr. Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Graciano Lopez Jaena, Ponce de Leon and their ilk in the Propaganda Movement and in the local stirrings for assimilation into the Spanish political system. The masses of the Philippines were not called “Filipinos” but, quite derisively, “indios”.
Yes, the Spaniards invaded the Philippine islands, but it was through that aggression that the disparate communities across the archipelago came under one roof. The encomiendas established by the conquistadors for easy administration of the islands eventually became the present provinces of the Philippines.
Only then did the Filipino nation come into being in the physical, topographical sense. It would take the last half century of Spanish rule – one marked by excessive oppression and exploitation of the natives under the ensuing hacienda system – for the sense of Filipino nationhood to get concretized among the people the country over.
Dr. Jose Rizal’s expose of this state in the haciendas comprised his Noli Me Tangere, written at the time of the Propaganda Movement. Failing in his main objective of seeking Filipino representation in the Spanish Cortes, Rizal finally turned to agitating for revolution, as expounded in his subsequent book, El Filibusterismo.
Returning to the Philippines, he founded the La Liga Filipina on July 7, 1892. The Liga was composed of two levels, the Cuerpo de los Compremesarios on top, headed by a rich businessman, Don Francisco Roxas Chua, tasked with raising funds and logistics for the revolution; and the Katipunan below for organizing the manpower for the revolt. The leader of the Katipunan was Andres Bonifacio.
For founding the La Liga Filipina, Rizal was banished to Dapitan. He languished there for four years, in the meantime amassing wealth in the amount of one million pesos.
Upon the discovery of the Katipunan by the Spanish authorities in the middle of 1896, Bonifacio sent Dr. Pio Valenzuela to Dapitan to ask Rizal to turn over to the Katipunan the shipment of arms from Japan, consigned to Roxas-Chua.
Rizal however demanded that Antonio Luna, not Bonifacio, lead the revolution.
At this Bonifacio fumed: “Putanginang Rizal. Sino ang me sabi sa kanya na kailangan ang armas para magrebolusyon.” Thus came about that pathos of the Katipuneros embarking into the battlefields armed only with bolos and bamboo lances – because Rizal refused to give them the arms that were already available.
In the chaos, Antonio Luna joined the exodus of rich Filipinos into the sanctuary of the walled city of Intramuros, all proclaiming loyalty to Spain; while Rizal was on board a ship bound for Cuba, having volunteered to serve as medic for the Spanish army fighting Cuban insurgents.
From as far back as the Katipunan revolt, we glean the sad lesson that armed revolutions are there to serve only the vested interests of leaders. Emilio Aguinaldo had Bonifacio assassinated together with brother Procupio in a power grab in the revolution — only to sell out to the Spaniards in the Pact of Biak-na-Bato in 1897.
According to the treaty, the Katipuneros would surrender their arms in exchange for $800,000.00 (Mexican), which Aguinaldo and other revolutionary leaders brought with them, albeit in installments, when they went on exile in Hongkong. (ia/sovereignph.com)
(To be continued)