At the turn of the 20th century, international world fairs were the rage in the
At the 1904 St. Louis World Fair, there were magnificent palaces dedicated to Commerce, Electricity, Manufactures and other scientific breakthroughs of that era. However, it was the savagery exhibited at the “Philippine Reservation” , those contrived villages of “uncivilized “Igorrotes and Moros, with trees houses and animal sacrifices, that have lingered in the collective memory of North Americans. Of course, to give a “balanced” picture of life in the P.I, there was a handful of ilustrados “on display”. Visayans dressed as Gibson girls and bands of Philippine Scouts and Constabulary, in crisp uniforms, parading and entertaining millions of visitors with lively tunes and American songs. But such urbane refinements have long been forgotten.
I was appalled to learn that one of those ilustrados “on display” was famous botanist, Leon Maria Guerrero, my great grandfather, After the St. Louis World Fair, he was interviewed by Alfred O. Newell, Chief of the US Department of Exploitation ( a huge P.R. office) who included the encounter in his book, THE PHILIPPINE EXPOSITION, WORLD’S FAIR,
As the Philippine-American War was still raging during the 1904 St. Louis World Fair, notwithstanding Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo’s capture in 1901, Alfred Newell asked Guerrero what he thought of Aguinaldo to which he replied. “All Fliipinos have respect and sympathy for one who has been their leader.” Then Newell asked that crucial question: ”Do you think the Filipinos are capable of self-government?” And Guerrero emphatically declared: “If the government of the
No wonder the memory of the
In the meantime, the Philippine Assembly convened in 1907 ( some of the ilustrados “on display” at
When Manuel L. Quezon was Philippine Resident Commissioner in the USA, he was invited to “Philippine Day” at the San Francisco Exposition where he lamented: “I have traveled to every part of the US and I have been saddened to learn how many misapprehensions exist here as to the real conditions in the Philippine Islands due… to the exhibition of the native Igorrote village at the St. Louis Exposition ten years ago.’ Yet, as late as 1931, the US War Department wanted to set up yet another “