The Need to Re-examine the historical books about the People whom Spanish Colonizers called “Filipinos”

The Need to Re-examine the Historical Books

About the People whom Spanish Colonizers called “Filipinos”

By Apolinario Villalobos

It is surprising to know that well-known writers were vocal about the supposedly Malaysian ancestry of the Filipinos, a reference which yet, was imposed by the Spanish colonizers. These early writers obviously based their claim on the “Ten Bornean Datus” and the “Code of Kalantiaw”, the veracity of which, have been questioned, since researchers today consider them as “legends”. Pre-Spanish history books made mention about the natives of the islands of Southeast Asian islands, and with whom the early traders such as Indians, Arabs and Chinese had a prosperous commercial intercourse, and in the process intermarried with them. It could be possible that because of trading ventures, those from the Malay Peninsula who have ventured into the Philippine archipelago could have also intermarried with the natives just like the three mentioned groups of traders, but who were never referred to as the ancestors of Filipinos in general . It is unfair then to make a sweeping reference to the Malaysians as the common ancestors of the Filipinos.

The following are some disturbing quotes:

From the poem,”I am a Filipino Boy”, by Amado M. Yuzon, in his book, “The Citizen’s Poems” (1960), the first two line state:

“I am a Filipino boy,

Runs in my veins, Malayan blood;”

From the poem, “Filipinas”, of the same author, from the same book, the second paragraph states:

“I see its face upon your face,

My friend, my sister, my brother;

Your browny skin is its Malayan race,

The Blessed Damosel(?) its mother.

From the book, “Philippine Civics” (1932), used in elementary schools during the American Regime, and authored by Conrado Benitez, p. 16 of Chapter I, the last paragraph states:

“At this point you should recall your Philippine History. How did the first Malay settlers of the Philippines reach these islands? Did they not come in boats called barangays? Yes, these boats or barangays, were loaded with families of Malay immigrants which were related to one another and which constituted a gens(?), or clan, that was under a headman, or chief, or dato. (He must be referring to the legendary “Ten Bornean Datus”).

On page  220, Benitez, emphasized the “Malays” by stating:

“The activities of these early Malays were characterized by cooperation……” (referring to the early Filipinos).

Another emphasis which the same author made was on the title itself of Chapter XIV:

“CHAPTER XIV – How Spain Built Upon our Old Malay Government”

Still, on page 270, Benitez, stated, under a sub-chapter, Bill Of Rights: “Under our old Malayan government, the people had few personal rights.”

Practically, the book of Benitez is replete with reference to the Malaysian ancestry of Filipinos, quoting them all would need several blog pages.  At the time of the book’s publication, he was the Director of Business Administration of the University of the Philippines. His family established the Philippine Women’s University (PWU), located along Taft Avenue. While he was still alive, clamors to re-write history books of the Philippines were loud in view of the questionable ancestry of the Filipinos, based on the controversial “Ten Bornean Datus” and “Code of Kalantiaw”, but he did nothing to republish his own book with necessary rectifications. Researchers who may encounter a copy of the book then, but who has no knowledge on the questionable issue of the Filipino ancestry, will definitely, gobble up the information that Benitez presented.

While the issue on Filipino ancestry has not been settled yet, the Philippine government has added confusion by allowing “authorities” in converting the textbooks into workbooks on other subjects, leaving many students ignorant of what really happened in the past, such as the effort of many national heroes who practically shed blood to gain freedom for the country.

On the issue of Mindanao autonomy, there is no need to cite questionable historic references to give it weight, as we, the people of the Philippines are proud anyway, or our unique Filipino race. There is diversity in religion and culture, just like in any other country, but what cannot be questioned is the harmony that unites us all. And, just like in any other country, the world over, the meddling of politics creates animosities in our country, resulting to the suffering of the Filipinos as a people.