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The Birth of the Filipino Nationalism

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The Birth of the Filipino Nationalism

Nationalism is the true spirit of revolution. This is what the Philippines lack that made the Spanish government successful in penetrating the archipelago and imposing its authority over the natives. This could have also been the main reason for the delayed revolution in the country against the foreign invaders.

Even before the arrival of the Spaniards, manifestations of a great civilization could already be identified in the archipelago. There were political units defined by territorial jurisdiction over tribes. The leaders of the tribes were called Datus or Rajahs, and they were the ones that impose rules and decide on the settlement of disputes among the tribesmen. These tribes or political units are called Barangays. Each barangay is separate from the others and practices autonomy over their own territory. Thus it could be pictured that when the Spaniards came to conquer the archipelago, there were no united efforts from the people in the islands to drive out the enemies as they were accustomed to regionalistic approach in protecting their communities. The scattered attempts made no significant effect on the sophisticated armoury of the Spanish forces. Some tribes, such as that of Datu Lapu-lapu, succeeded, but their small victories proved to be insufficient to permanently banish the Spaniards away from the shores of their native land.

        The idea of nationalism only came to the Philippines with the rise of the middle class, particularly the Illustrados. Natives who were able to obtain education outside the country were exposed to the rational and liberal way of thinking that was raging during that Age of Enlightenment. These educated Filipinos, such as Marcelo del Pilar, Graciano Jaena and Jose Rizal, instilled their idealism on their literary pieces that soon reached the common people back home in the Philippines. They studied and imitated the experiences of other nations that were able to successfully liberate themselves from their colonizers. Though the propaganda movement of the illustrados promotes assimilation rather than separation from the Spanish government, it is no doubt a fact that the movement ignited the spirit of nationalism in the hearts of the Filipino people. It is that sense of unity and strong desire for freedom that eventually lead to the formation of the Philippine Revolution on 1896.



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