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San Juan Gossip Mills Outlet

A veritable fanatic of the Internet. His avocation is teaching while his main vocation is practicing the much maligned law profession. Currently teaching Constitutional Law at the FEU Institute of Law and a guest lecturer at the De La Salle University teaching "Freedom and Regulation in Cyberspace" in the Graduate Program of the Department of Communication. He is married to his beautiful Ateneo law school classmate and is blessed with a daughter and a son.

Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Ala Eh!

While wandering through the National Book store at the Shangrila Mall, I browsed through the Filipiniana section (more like one bookstand) chancing upon a 1991 book on the Philippine-American War entitled “Battle For Batangas” by Professor Glenn Anthony May.

Published by Yale University Press in 1991 and reprinted with permission by New Day Publishers, the book is a detailed narrative on the last general, Miguel Malvar, the controversy on the Filipino military hierarchy, the hubris of American generals, and how Batangas, the last province to capitulate proved to be a nuisance to American might.

The Batangueño protagonists are all too familiar to students of contemporary history. One reads the surnames of the Laurels, Diocnos, Arguelleses, Luzes, Agoncillos, Catigbacs etc. From a provincial upheaval, these names have transcended Batanga politics and over time, prominently figured nationally at one point or another. And then you wonder whether the saying “all politics is local” is true.

It was written from an American perspective but with a sympathetic appraisal of the Batangueños, specifically, General Malvar’s heroic and spirited efforts to sustain the rebellion or the “insurrection” to the Americans. Added to it are nostalgic reminiscences of the “insurrectos” describing their poor marksmanship, and how their guerilla or rather, mosquito warfare meagerly affected the steeled veterans of the American Civil War. In one account, the Batanguenos were told to keep on fighting, no matter how inferior their forces were, in the hopelessly misguided belief that the Americans will tire of fighting and just leave the islands for good.

Actually, they did. More than 80 years later!

At the same time, and what is most daring in Prof. May’s study is that he posited the conclusion that the Philippine American War was the initiative of the “haves” or the “elites” of Philippine society, boldly debunking the historical analysis posited by Teodoro Agoncillo and Renato Constantino that the Philippine American War was a continuation of the revolt of the masses. His thesis is not without historical support, citing and quoting from historical letters and documents. Finishing the book, it was an afternoon read spent worthwhile.

With such a proud history, whatever happened to Batangas today? Its band of nationalists are long gone and instead, you have a Batangueno former cabinet secretary accused of receiving a 2 million dollar bribe, a governor accused of being a jueteng lord and Rectos who are not Claro. The only saving grace is the Star for all Seasons, Ms. Vilma Santos, who is mayor of Lipa City and she is not even a native of the province. Ala eh! How roll the fortunes of history.

Still, I wonder if any of our contemporary historians rose to challenge Prof. May's findings.


Blogger categorically imperative said...

i wonder how much we have to un-learn from agoncillo...

5:12 PM  
Anonymous John said...

Dawin, it took me eight days, but I finally got around to answering your latest trenchant question. I posted the answer as a separate entry, though, under the heading of, well, Trenchant Questions. Thanks for pushing me to think harder.

5:29 PM  

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