Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Baler Surrender

Six years ago, a law was passed, with Php 15 million funding, for the celebration of Filipino-Spanish Friendship Day.on 30 June. If memory serves, it was Senator Edgardo Angara who authored the bill and shepherded it through the labyrinth of the legislative and executive branches until it became a law. There is no need to explain why the good senator spearheaded what one might call a 2oth century “Pacto de Sangre” , blood compact and in fact, Senator Angara was also involved in the publication of an edifying coffee table book titled PACTO de SANGRE.

Despite the law and Pres. Angara’s enthusiasm , Fil-Hispano Friendship Day celebrations have had lukewarm response from the general public, yet another proof that the “historia negra” lives on , mindlessly or not, in many official and non-official speeches during various commemorations of events related to the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish colonial rule. It can be argued that on the Spanish side, the primordial reason for celebrating friendship with former enemies is to obliterate, once and for all, the historia negra from our collective memory, or at least correct persistent misconceptions by highlighting the positive side of colonial rule, instead of dwelling on the negative.

A couple of years ago, the Institute Cervantes, a veritable institution in this country, showed the film “Los Ultimos de Filipinas” ( last to leave ) at a high-end Makati theater. Fortunately, its then newly-appointed director, Jose Rodriguez, explained that the film was produced during the early years of Franco’s dictatorship when the Spanish people, especially the military sector, were somewhat demoralized, so, by showing on celluloid the heroic resistance of those Spanish soldiers holed-up and besieged in a small church in Baler, the Spanish people might bolster their sagging self-image.

Had Mr. Rodriguez not given his elucidating prologue, the Filipino audience might have found that 50’s vintage movie quite ludicrous and may have missed the point. But, there are two sides to this point, rather, two points of view regarding the significance of what happened in Baler to the “ultimos de Filipinas”.

The friendship celebration during the past six years, including the one that was held last 21 June ( why they could not wait until the 30th is beyond me) have always emphasized the resilience and loyalty of the “los ultimos”, the Spanish stragglers in Baler and the kindness of Filipino soldiers and townspeople for feeding them in secret instead of massacring them. Well and good, but the point to remember is that in Baler, Spain surrendered to the First Philippine Republic and not to the United States of America as they did in Intramuros, Manila and that Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo abided by the existing international conventions of war by giving humane treatment to prisoners of war. In Baler, the First Philippine Republic and Spain were on equal footing.

1 comment:

josé miguel said...

To me, what we, including that of the spaniards, are doing with one another in relation to our past cirmumstances should be given a significant consideration with our responses to present national developmental situation.

In the case of the spaniards, they have been at present, treating us, as people belonging to a sovereign nation equal to their nation. I have heard many times how they, not just individualy but as a people, as a nation and as a state, have been treating us filipinos with certain generosity in donations during a calamity and fondness during social encounters. I feel as if they have been a long estranged mother trying to make up to us, an already grown child for the cruel treatment we received from them and our violent separation from them which was concluded in 1898.

This is also a reference to another major dimension of our present developmental situation. This is the invasion of the americans in 1899 which was never concluded up to now. Their invasion just penetrated deeper into our national defense system, political system, educational system, culture and ethical value system. The american invasion of 1899 which we resisted because it destroyed our development, developed into an american invasion which we are craving for even if it is destroying our development.