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The Philippine Revolution of 1896. Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times,
Florentino Rodao & Felice Noelle Rodriguez (eds.)

Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2001, 310 p.
Proserpina Domingo Tapales
p. 139-141
Référence(s) :

Florentino Rodao & Felice Noelle Rodriguez (eds.), The Philippine Revolution of 1896. Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times, Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2001, 310 p.

Texte intégral

1Most often, historical research deals with major events, big-name statesmen, or heroes of wars and revolutions. Some, however, dwells on smaller aspects of life. In the latter genre, the historian is able to look deeper into situations, people, and locales, and enables the reader to relate specific events to the larger societal picture. This book does just that: It looks into sections of Philippine society affected by the 1896 revolution, describing lives beyond Bonifacio and Aguinaldo, examining inward through the masa (mass), and offering portraits of small pockets of society, whose lives were drastically changed by the revolution, even though they did not assume leadership roles in it.

2The book features selected papers presented during the Fourth Conference of the Spanish Association for Pacific Studies (AEEP), held in Valladolid, Spain, in 1997. It approximately covers the drastic transition from Spanish colonization to short-lived Philippine independence to American takeover of the islands; times, certainly, that affected each person living then in the Philippines. The essays look at the ways in which various sections of society – women, ethnic groups, the Spanish soldiers, the clergy, the Filipino military, the civilians, and the local elite - saw their lives change.

3Barbara Watson Andaya, in her chapter on women, explains how gender associations during the revolution can be thought of in terms of partnership, which “reconceive the female role as one which complemented that of the males,” thus making the Philippine revolution “appear far more ‘modern’ than resistance movements of the same period in other Southeast Asian countries.” This idea is amplified in another chapter on gender, by Mina Roces, contending that “power was exercised unofficially and unobtrusively behind the scenes as [women] fulfilled their various roles from soldiers and couriers, to nurses and auxiliaries”.

4Leonard Y. Andaya discusses the difficulty of forging one Filipino nation “because of the barriers of ethno-linguistic identity that had been advanced by the religious orders.” Yet, at the end of what he calls “the long revolution”, the revolutionary leaders, in the process of indigenization, “were able to create a national context in which the inhabitants… could then believe in themselves as Filipinos.”

5By studying records of baptisms and burials in the province of Cavite, Glenn Anthony May was able to trace civilian flight from areas of extreme fighting to safer areas during the revolution. Interestingly, this allows him to conjecture that “the presence of refugees and the attendant food shortages also played a role in the conflict between Bonifacio and Aguinaldo” (p. 135). The civilian refugees also affected the war, as their presence “contributed to the fissures that already developed in the ranks of the revolutionary leadership.”

6The revolution, as expected, affected in no small measure the lives of soldiers, Filipino or Spanish. As letters written by a Spanish soldier, collected and interpreted by Fernando Palanco Aguado, attest, ambitions were put on hold, if not killed, by war. But the fate of the Spanish clergy has not been so dramatically documented as in a chapter by F. Cayetano Sánchez Fuertes on the Franciscans in the revolution, describing the physical suffering and humiliation inflicted to the clergy by the Filipino victors of the revolution.

7Essays on the military and on local government corruption provide continuing mirror reflections on present-day Philippine society. Alfred McCoy traces today’s military traditions and practices to colonial times, Spanish and American, noting that the ideals taught in the military “were so clearly foreign, they lacked roots or resonance within the country’s political culture.” The same pertains to political culture. Xavier Huetz de Lemps shows that, as early as 1772, “the Council of the Indies [had] denounced the culture of corruption among the citizens and inhabitants of the Philippines.” The methods of local corruption still continue, in more elaborate guises, probably because, as their colonial precursors, they are hardly reported or resolved. In a chapter on legal proceedings against corrupt governors, Luis Ángel Sánchez Gómez makes clear that the pattern of low-level practitioners being severely punished while the bigger fish go free has historical antecedents. During the Spanish times, decisions were affected by some factors as “the prestige of the (Spanish) race and authority.” Today, it could be kinship or fellowship among the elite.

8The chapter by Yoshiko Nagano documents the strong trade links between the Philippines and Hongkong and Singapore, or “intra-Asian trade,” where the trading partners were used for reexport or reimport of goods between the Philippines and the United States and Britain. In another chapter, Karl-Heinz Wionzek relates events behind diplomatic façades, which disguised “frictions among the German and American forces in Manila Bay” in 1898.

9Ending the volume, Bernardita Reyes Churchill’s essay presents major themes on the Philippine revolution as drawn by historians, aptly concluding that, while some critics write that the Philippine revolution is a much-studied topic, there remain areas to be analyzed. Quoting from another historian, it challenges scholars “[...] to write plural, disparate, and heterogeneous histories of the revolution in which heroes matter, yet do not, in which class divisions are evident, yet fluid, divergent, yet internally articulated, in which every social group makes an important contribution, though not everywhere and all the time” (pp. 292-293).

10This collection of essays certainly contributes to that quest for a better understanding of the 1896 revolution. A colorful patchwork picture, it offers, seen as a whole, a more complete saga of the times of the revolution, stressing that revolutions are not just fought in the battlefield but, rather, by every person whose live is affected by them.

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Référence papier

Proserpina Domingo Tapales, « The Philippine Revolution of 1896. Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times,
Florentino Rodao & Felice Noelle Rodriguez (eds.) », Moussons, 5 | 2002, 139-141.

Référence électronique

Proserpina Domingo Tapales, « The Philippine Revolution of 1896. Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times,
Florentino Rodao & Felice Noelle Rodriguez (eds.) », Moussons [En ligne], 5 | 2002, mis en ligne le 08 juillet 2014, consulté le 23 janvier 2018. URL :

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Les contenus de la revue Moussons sont mis à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d’Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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