The Filipinos have not always been what they are, witnesses whereto are all the historians of the first years after the discovery of the Islands. All the histories of [the countrys] first years¦abound in long accounts about the industry and agriculture of the natives; mines, gold-washings, looms, farms, barter, naval construction, raising of poultry and stock, weaving of silk and cotton, distilleries, etc. , are things encountered at every step, and considering the time and the conditions in the islands, prove that there was life, there was activity, there was movement.
The Filipinos in spite of the climate, in spite of their few needs (they were less then than now), were not the indolent creatures of our time¦their ethics and their mode of life were not what is not complacently attributed to them. How is it strange, then, that discouragement may have been infused into the spirit of the inhabitants of the Philippines, when in the midst of so many calamities they did not know whether they would see sprout the seed they were planting, whether their field was going to be their grave or their crop would go to feed their executioner?
He who does not act freely is not responsible for his actions; and the Filipino people, not being master of its liberty, is not responsible for either its misfortunes or its woes. We say this, it is true, but, as well as seen later on, we also have a large part in the continuation of such a disorder. Of no little importance were the hindrance and obstacles that from the beginning were thrown in the farmers way by the rules, who were influenced by childish fear and saw everywhere signs of conspiracies and uprisings.
The natives were not allowed to go to their labors, that is, their farms, without permission of the governor, or of his agents and officers, and even of the priests as Morga says¦ A modern French traveler who was in the Philippines for a long time says, ¦the governor, the foremost official of the district¦monopolizes all the business and instead of developing on his part the love of work, instead of stimulating the too natural indolence of the natives, he with abuse of his powers thinks only of destroying all competition that may trouble him or attempts to participate in his profits.
It matters little to him that the country is impoverished, without cultivation, without commerce, without industry, just so the governor is quickly enriched. All the Filipinos¦know how many documents, what comings, how many stamped papers, how much patience is needed to secure from the government a permit for an enterprise.
One must count upon the good will of this one, on the influence of that one, on a good bribe to another in order that the application be not pigeon-holed¦And above all, great patience, great knowledge of how to get along, plenty of money, a great deal of politics, many salutations, great influence, plenty of presents and complete resignation! The trade with China¦was not only prejudicial to Spain but also the life of her colonies; in fact, when the officials and private persons in Manila found an easy method of getting rich they neglected everything.
They paid no attention either to cultivating the soil or to fostering industry¦The pernicious example of the dominators in surrounding themselves with servants and despising manual or corporal labor as a thing unbecoming the nobility and chivalrous pride of the heroes of so many centuries; those lordly airs, which the natives have translated into tila ka castila, and the desire of the dominated to be the equal of the dominators, if not essentially, at east in their manners; all this had naturally to produce aversion to activity and fear or hatred of work. Why work? asked the natives. The curate says that the rich man will not go to heaven. The rich man on earth is liable to all kinds of trouble, to be appointed a cabeza de barangay¦to be forced banker of the military chief of the town, who to reward him for favors received seizes his laborers and his stock in order to force him to beg money and thus easily pays up.
Why be rich? ¦The native, whom they pretend to regard as an imbecile, is not so much so that he does not understand that it is ridiculous to work himself to death to become worse off. A proverb of his says the pig is cooked in its own lard, and as among his bad qualities he has the good one of applying to himself all the criticisms and censures he refers to live miserable and indolent rather than play the part of the wretched beast of burden.
Along with gambling, which breeds dislike for steady and difficult toil by its promise of sudden wealth and its appeal to the emotions, with the lotteries, with the prodigality and hospitality of the Filipinos, went also, to swell the train of misfortunes, the religious functions the great number of fiestas, the long masses for the women to spend their mornings and the novenaries to spend their afternoons, and the nights for the processions and rosaries.
Remember, that lack of capital and absence of means paralyze all movement, and you will see how the native was perforce (unavoidably) to be indolent for if any money might remain to him from the trials, imposts and exactions, he would have to give it to the curate for bulls, scapularies, candles, novenaries, etc.
And if this does not suffice to form an indolent character¦ recall then that the doctrine of his religion teach him to irrigate his fields in the dry season, not by means of canals but with masses and prayers; to preserve his stock during an epidemic with holy water, exorcisms and benedictions that cost five dollars an animal, to drive away the locusts by a procession with the image of St. Augustine, etc¦We have noticed that the countries which believe most in miracles are the laziest, just as spoiled children are the most ill-mannered.
Whether they believe in miracles to palliate their laziness or they are lazy because they believe in miracles, we cannot say; but the fact is the Filipinos were much less lazy before the word miracle was introduced into their language. With the lack of confidence in the future, that uncertainty of reaping the reward of labor, as in a city stricken with plague, everybody yields to fate, shuts himself in his house or goes about amusing himself in an attempt to spend the few days that remain to him in the least disagreeable way possible.
The apathy of the government itself toward everything in commerce and agriculture contributes not a little to foster indolence. There is no encouragement at all for the manufacturer or for the farmer, the government furnishes no aid either when a poor crop comers, when the locusts sweep over the fields, or when cyclone destroys in its passage the wealth of the soil¦Why should it do so when these same products are burdened with taxes and imposts and have no free entry into the ports of the mother country, nor is their consumption there encouraged?
And the principal and most terrible [reason] of all: the education of the native. From his birth until he sinks into his grave, the training of the native is brutalizing, depressive and anti-human¦There is no doubt that the government, some priests like the Jesuits and some Dominicans like Padre Benavides, have done a great deal by founding colleges, schools of primary instruction, and the like. But this is not enough; their efforts are neutralized.
They amount to five or ten years¦during which the youth comes in contact with books selected by those very priests who boldly proclaim that it is evil for the natives to know Castilian, that the native should not be separated from his carabao, that he should not value any further aspirations, and so on ¦Thus while they attempt to make of the native a kind of animal, yet in exchange they demand of him divine actions¦Deprive a man, then, of his dignity, and you not only deprive him of his moral strength but you also make useless for those who wish to make use of him.
Every creature has its stimulus, its mainspring; mans is his self-esteem. Take it away from him and he is a corpse, and he who seeks activity in a corpse will encounter only worms. Thus is explained how the natives of the present time are no longer the same as those of the time of the discovery, neither morally nor physically. The ancient writers, like Chirino, Morga, and Colin, take pleasure in describing them a well-featured, with good aptitudes for anything they take up, keen and susceptible and of resolute will, very clean and neat in their persons and clothing, and of good mien and bearing (Morga)¦
In exchange, the writers of the present time, without being more gallant than Herman Cortez and Salcedo, nor more prudent than Legazpi, nor more manly than Morga, nor more prudent than Colin and Gaspar de San Agustin, our contemporary writers we say find that the native is a creature something more than a monkey but much less than a man, an anthropoid, dull-witted, stupid, timid, dirty, cringing, ill-clothed, indolent, lazy brainless, immoral, etc. tc. To what is this retrogression due? Is it the delectable civilization, the religion of salvation of the friars, called of Jesus Christ by euphemism, that has produced this miracle that has atrophied his brain, paralyzed his heart and made of the man this sort of vicious animal that the writers depict? Alas! The whole misfortune of the present Filipinos consists in that they have become only half-way brutes.
The Filipino is convinced that to get happiness it is necessary for him to lay aside his dignity as a rational creature, to attend mass, to believe what is told him, to pay what is demanded of him, to pay and forever to pay; to work, suffer, and be silent, without aspiring anything, without aspiring to know or even to understand Spanish, without separating himself from his carabao, as the priests shamelessly say, without protesting against any injustice, against any arbitrary action, against an assault, against an insult; that is, not to have heart, brain, or spirit; a creature with arms and a purse of gold. . theres the ideal native! unfortunately, or because the brutalization is not yet complete and because the nature of man is inherent in his being in spite of his condition, the native protests; he still has aspirations, he thinks and strives to rise, and theres the trouble! Peoples and governments are correlated and complementary: a stupid government would be an anomaly among righteous people, just as a corrupt people cannot exist under just rulers and wise laws. Like people, like government, we will say in paraphrase of a popular adage.
The very limited training in the home, the tyrannical and sterile education of the rare centers of learning that blind subordination of the youth to one of greater age, influence the mind so that a man may not aspire to excel those who preceded him but must merely be content to go along with a march behind them. Stagnation forcibly results from this, and as he who devotes himself merely to copying divests himself of other qualities suited to his own nature, he naturally becomes sterile; hence decadence. Indolence is a corollary derived from the lack of stimulus and of vitality.
That modesty infused into the convictions of everyone, or, to speak more clearly, that insinuated inferiority, a sort of daily and constant depreciation of the mind so that it may not be raised to the regions of life, deadens the energies, paralyzes all tendencies toward advancement, and of the least struggle a man gives up without fighting. If by one of those rare incidents, some wild spirit, that is some active one, excels, instead of his example stimulating, it only causes others to persist in their inaction. Theres one who will work for us; lets sleep on! say his relatives and friends. True it is that the spirit of rivalry is sometimes awakened, only that then it awakens with bad humor in the guise of envy, and instead of being a lever for helping, it is an obstacle that produces discouragement. Nurtured by the example of anchorites (monks) of a contemplative and lazy life, the natives spend theirs in giving their gold to the Church in the hope of miracles and other wonderful things.
Their will is hypnotized: from childhood they learned to act mechanically, without knowledge of the object, thanks to the exercise imposed upon them from the most tender years of praying for whole hours in an unknown tongue, of venerating things that they do not understand, of accepting beliefs that are not explained to them, to having absurdities imposed upon them, while the protests of reason are repressed. Is it any wonder that with this vicious dressage of intelligence and will the native, should now be a mass of dismal contradictions?
That continual struggle between reason and duty, between his organism and his new ideals, that civil war which disturbs the peace of his conscience all his life, has the result of paralyzing all his energies, and aided by the severity of the climate, makes that eternal vacillation, of the doubts in his brain, the origin of his indolent disposition. You cant know more than this or that old man! Dont aspire to be greater than the curate! You belong to an inferior race! You havent any energy! This is what they tell the child and they repeat it so often, it has perforce to become engraved in the mind and thence mould and pervade all his action. The child or youth who tries to be anything else is blamed with vanity and presumption; the curate ridicules him with cruel sarcasm, his relatives look upon him with fear, strangers regard him with great compassion. No forward movement ” Get back in the ranks and keep in line!
With his spirit thus molded the native falls into the most pernicious (wicked; malicious; harmful) of all routines: routine not planned but imposed and forced¦What he lacks is in the first place liberty to allow expansion to his adventuresome spirit, and good examples, beautiful prospects for the future. It is necessary that his spirit, store up energy, seek high purposes, in order to struggle against obstacles in the midst of unfavorable natural conditions.
In order that he may progress it is necessary that a revolutionary spirit, so to speak, should boil in his veins, since progress necessarily requires the present; the victory of new ideas over the ancient and accepted one¦all the flattering promises of the fairest hopes will not suffice, so long as his spirit is not free, his intelligence is not respected.
Convinced by the insinuation of his inferiority, his spirit harassed by his education, if that brutalization of which we spoke above can be called education, in that exchange of usages and sentiments among different nations, the Filipino, to whom remain only his susceptibility and his oetical imagination, allows himself to be guided by his fancy and his self-love¦ They have dazzled him with tinsel, with strings of colored glass beads, with noisy rattles, shining mirrors and other trinkets, and he has given in return his gold, his conscience, and even his liberty. He changed his religion for the external practices of another cult; the convictions and usages derived from his climate and needs, for other convictions that developed under another sky and another inspiration.
His spirit, well-disposed toward everything that looks good to him, was then transformed, at the pleasure of the nation that forced upon him its God and its law, and as the trader with whom he dealt did not bring a cargo of useful implements of iron, hoes to till the fields, but stamped papers, crucifixes, bulls and prayer-books, as he did not have for ideal and prototype the tanned and vigorous laborer, but the aristocratic Lord carried in a luxurious litter, the result was that the imitative people became bookish, devout, prayerful; it acquired ideas of luxury and ostentation, without thereby improving the means of its substance to a corresponding degree.