History does not record in its annals any lasting domination exercised by one people over another, of different races, of diverse usages and customs, of opposite and divergent ideals.
One of the two had to yield and succumb. Either the foreigner was driven out, as happened in the case of Carthaginians, the Moors and the French in Spain, or else these autochthons had to give way and perish, as was the case with the inhabitants of the New World.
One of the longest dominations was that of the Moors in Spain, which lasted seven centuries. But, even though the conquerors lived in the country conquered, even though the Peninsula was broken up into small states, which gradually emerged like little islands in the midst of the great Saracen inundation and in spite of the chivalrous spirit, the gallantry and the religious toleration of the caliphs, they were finally driven out after bloody and stubborn conflicts, which formed the Spanish nation and created the Spain of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The existence of a foreign body within another endowed with strength and activity is contrary to all natural and ethical laws. Science teaches us that it is either assimilated, destroys the organism, is eliminated or becomes encysted.
Encystment of a conquering people is possible, for it signifies complete isolation, absolute inertia, and debility in the conquering element. Encystment thus means the tomb of the foreign invader.
Now applying these considerations to the Philippines, we must conclude, as a deduction from all we have said, that if their population be not assimilated to the Spanish nation, if the dominators do not enter into the spirit of their inhabitants, if equitable laws and free and liberal reforms do not make each forget that they belong to different races, or if both peoples be not amalgamated to constitute one mass, socially and politically, homogeneous, that is, not harassed by opposing tendencies and antagonistic ideas and interests some day the Philippines will fatally and infallibly declare themselves independent. To this law of destiny can be opposed neither Spanish patriotism, nor the love of all Filipinos for Spain, not the doubtful future of dismemberment and intestine strife in the Islands themselves. Necessity is the most powerful divinity the world knows, and necessity is the resultant of physical forces set in operation by ethical forces.
We have said and statistics prove that it is impossible to exterminate the Filipino people. And even were it possible what interest would Spain have in the destruction of the inhabitants of a country she can not populate or cultivate, whose climate is to a certain extent disastrous to her? What good would the Philippines be without the Filipinos? Quite otherwise, under her colonial system and the transitory character of the Spanish who go to the colonies, a colony is so much the more useful and productive to her as it possesses inhabitants and wealth. Moreover, in order to destroy the six million Malays, even supposing them to be in their infancy and that they have never learned to fight and defend themselves, Spain would have to sacrifice at least a fourth of her population. This we commend to the notice of the partisans of colonial exploitation.
But nothing of this kind can happen. The menace is that when the education and liberty necessary to human existence are denied by Spain to the Filipinos, then they will seek enlightenment abroad, behind the mother country’s back or they will secure by hook or by crook some advantages in their country with the result that the opposition of purblind and paretic politicians will not only be futile but even prejudicial because it will convert motives for love and gratitude into resentment and hatred.
Hatred and resentment on one side, mistrust and anger on the other, will finally result in a violent terrible collision, especially when there exist elements interested in having disturbances, so that they may get something in the excitement, demonstrates their mighty power, foster lamentations and recriminations, or employ violent measures. It is to be expected that the government will triumph and be generally (as is the custom) severe in punishment, either to teach a stern lesson in order to vaunt its strength or even to revenge upon the vanquished the spells of excitement and terror that the danger caused it. An unavoidable concomitant of those catastrophes is the accumulation of acts of injustice committed against the innocent and peaceful inhabitants. Private reprisals, denunciation, despicable accusations, resentments, covetousness, the opportune moment for calumny, the haste and hurried procedure of the court martials, the pretext of the integrity of the fatherland and the safety of the state, which cloaks and justifies everything, even for scrupulous minds, which unfortunately are still rare and above all the panic-stricken timidity, the cowardice that battens upon the conquered -- all these things augment the severe measures and the number of the victims. The result is that a chasm of blood is then opened between the two peoples that the wounded and the afflicted, instead of becoming fewer, are increased, for to the families and friends of the guilty, who always think the punishment excessive and the judge unjust, must be added the families and friends of the innocent, who see no advantage in living and working submissively and peacefully. Note, too, that if severe measures are dangerous in a nation made up of homogeneous population, the peril is increased a hundred-fold when the government is formed a race different from the governed. In the former an injustice may still be ascribed to one man alone, to a governor actuated by personal malice, and with the death of the tyrant the victim is reconciled to the government of his nation. But in a county dominated by a foreign race, even the most just act of severity is construed as injustice and oppression, because it is ordered by a foreigner, who is unsympathetic or is an enemy of the country, and the offense hurts not only the victim but his entire race, because it is not usually regarded as personal and so the resentment naturally spreads to the whole governing race and does not die out with the offender.
Hence the great prudence and fine tact that should be exercised by colonizing countries, and the fact that government regards the colonies in general and our colonial office in particular, as training schools, contributes notably to the fulfillment of the great law that the colonies sooner or later declare themselves independent.
Such is the descent down which the peoples are precipitated. In proportion as they are bathed in blood and drenched in tears and gall, the colony, if it has any vitality, learns how to struggle and perfect itself in fighting while the mother country whose colonial life depends upon peace and the submission of the subjects, is constantly weakened and even though she makes heroic efforts, as her number is less and she has only a fictitious existence, she finally perishes. She is like the rich voluptuary accustomed to be waited upon by a crowd of servants toiling and planting for him and who on the day his slaves refuse him obedience, as he does not live by his own efforts, must die.
Reprisals, wrongs and suspicions on one part and on the other the sentiment of patriotism and liberty, which is aroused in these incessant conflicts, insurrections and uprisings, operate to generalize the movement and one of the two peoples must succumb. The struggle will be brief, for it will amount to a slavery much more cruel than death for the people and to a dishonorable loss of prestige for the dominator. One of the peoples must succumb.
Spain, from the number of her inhabitants, from the condition of her army and navy, from the distance she is situated from the Islands, from her scanty knowledge of them, and from struggling against a people whose love and goodwill she has alienated, will necessarily have to give way, if she does not wish to risk not only her other possessions and her future in Africa, but also her very independence in Europe. All this is at the cost of bloodshed, and crime, after mortal conflicts, murders, conflagrations, military executions, famine and misery.
The Spaniard is gallant and patriotic, and sacrifices everything in favorable moments, for his country’s good. He has the intrepidity of his bull. The Filipino loves his country no less and although he is quieter, more peaceful and with difficulty stirred up, when he is once aroused he does not hesitate and for him the struggle means death to one or the other combatant. He has all the meekness and all the tenacity and ferocity of his carabao. Climate affects bipeds in the same way that it does quadrupeds.
The terrible lessons and the hard teachings that these conflicts will have afforded the Filipinos will operate to improve and strengthen their ethical nature. The Spain of the fifteenth century was not the Spain of the eighth. With their bitter experience, instead of intestine conflicts of some islands against others, as is generally feared, they will extend mutual support, like shipwrecked persons when they reach an island after a fearful night of storm. Nor may it be said that we shall partake of the fate of the small American republics. They achieved their independence easily and their inhabitants are animated by a different spirit from what the Filipinos are. Besides the danger of falling again into other hands, English or German, for example, will force the Filipinos to be sensible and prudent. Absence of any great preponderance of one race over the others will free their imagination from all mad ambitions of domination, and as they tendency of countries that have been tyrannized over, when they once shake off the yoke, is to adopt the freest government, like a boy leaving school, like the beat of the pendulum or by a law of reaction, the Islands will probably declare themselves a federal republic.
If the Philippines secure their independence after heroic and stubborn conflicts, they can rest assured that neither England or Germany, nor France, and still less Holland will dare to take up what Spain has been unable to hold. Within a few years Africa will completely absorb the attention of the Europeans, and there is no sensible nation which, in order to secure a group of poor and hostile islands, will neglect the immense territory offered by the Dark Continent, untouched, undeveloped and almost undefended. England has enough colonies in the Orient and is not going to sacrifice her Indian Empire for the poor Philippine Islands -- if she had entertained such an intention she would not have restored Manila in 1763, but would have kept some point in the Philippines whence she might gradually expand. Moreover, what need has John Bull the trader to exhaust himself over the Philippines, when he is already lord of the Orient, when he has Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai? It is probable the England will look favorably upon the independence of the Philippines, for it will open their ports to her and afford greater freedom to her commerce. Furthermore, there exist in the United Kingdom tendencies and opinions to the effect that she already has too many colonies, that they are harmful, that they greatly weaken the sovereign country.
For the same reasons Germany will not care to run any risk, and because a scattering of her forces and a war in distant countries will endanger her existence on the continent. Thus we see her attitude, as much in the Pacific as in Africa, is confined to conquering easy territory that belongs to nobody. Germany avoids any foreign complications.
France has enough to do and see more of a future in Tongking and China, besides the fact that the French spirit does not shine in zeal for colonization. France loves glory, but the glory and laurels that grow on the battlefields of Europe. The echo from battlefields in the Fear East hardly satisfies her craving for renown, for it reaches her quite faintly. She has also other obligations, both internally and on the continent.
Holland is sensible and will be content to keep the Moluccas and Java. Sumatra offers her a greater future than the Philippines whose seas and coasts have a sinister omen for Dutch expeditions. Holland proceeds with great caution in Sumatra and Borneo, from fear of losing everything.
China will consider herself fortunate if she succeeds in keeping herself intact and is not dismembered or partitioned among the European powers that they are colonizing the continent of Asia.
The same is true with Japan. On the north side she has Russia, who envies and watches her, on the south England, with whom she is in accord even to her official language. She is, moreover, under such diplomatic pressure from Europe that she can not think of outside affairs until she is freed from it, which will not be an easy matter. True it is that she has an excess of population, but Korea attracts her more than the Philippines and is also easier to seize.
Perhaps the great American Republic, whose interests lie in the Pacific and who has no hand in the spoliation of Africa, may dream some day of foreign possession. This is not impossible, for the example is contagious, covetousness and ambition are among the strongest vices, and Harrison manifested something of this sort in the Samoan question. But the Panama Canal is not opened nor the territory of the States congested with inhabitants, and in case she should openly attempt it the European powers would not allow her to proceed, for they know very well that the appetite is sharpened by the first bites. North America would be quite a troublesome rival, if she should once get into the business. Furthermore, this is contrary to her traditions.
Very likely the Philippines will defend with inexpressible valor the liberty secured at the price of so much blood and sacrifice. With the new men that will spring from their soil and with the recollection of their past, they will perhaps strife to enter freely upon the wide road of progress, and all will labor together to strengthen their fatherland, both internally and externally, with the same enthusiasm, with which a youth falls again to tilling the land of his ancestors who long wasted and abandoned through the neglect of those who have withheld it from him. Then the mines will be made to give up their gold for relieving distress, iron for weapons, copper, lead, and coal. Perhaps the country will revive the maritime and mercantile life for which the islanders are fitted by their nature, ability and instincts, and once more free, like the bird that leaves its cage, like the flower that unfolds to the air, will recover the pristine virtues that are gradually dying out and will again become addicted to peace -- cheerful, happy, joyous, hospitable and daring.
These and many other things may come to pass within something like a hundred years, but the most logical prognostication, the prophecy based on the best probabilities, may err through remote and insignificant causes: An octopus that seized Mark Anthony’s ship altered the face of the world; a cross on Calvary and a just man nailed thereon changed the ethics of half the human race, and yet before Christ, how many just men wrongly perished and how many crosses were raised on that hill! The death of the just sanctified his work and made his teaching unanswerable. A sunken road at the battle of Waterloo buried all the glories of two brilliant decades, the whole napoleonic world, and freed Europe. Upon what chance accidents will the destiny of the Philippines depend?
Nevertheless, it is not well to trust to accident, for there is sometimes an imperceptible and incomprehensible logic in the workings of history. Fortunately, peoples as well as governments are subjects to it.
Therefore, we repeat and we will ever repeat, while there is time, and that is better to keep pace with the desire of a people than to give way before them; the former begets sympathy and love, the latter contempt and anger. Since it is necessary to grant six million Filipinos their rights, so that they may be in fact Spaniards, let the government grant these rights freely and spontaneously, without damaging reservations, without irritating mistrust. We shall never tire of repeating this while a ray of hope is left us, for we prefer this unpleasant task to the need of some day saying to the mother country: “Spain, we have sent our youth in serving thy interests in the interests of our country; we have looked to thee, we have expended the whole light of our intellects, all the fervor and enthusiasm of our hearts in working for the good of what was tine, to draw from them a glance of love, a liberal policy and that would assure us the peace of our native land and thy sway over loyal but unfortunate islands! Spain, thou hast remained deaf, and wrapped up in thy pride, hast pursued thy fatal course and accused us of being traitors, merely because we love our country because we tell thee the truth and hate all kinds of injustice. What dost thou wish us to tell our wretched country when it asks about the result of our efforts? Must we say to it that, since for it we have lost everything -- youth, future, hope, peace, and family; since in its service we have exhausted all the resources of hope, all the disillusions of desire, it also takes the residue which we can not use, the blood from our veins and the strength left in our arms? Spain, must we some day tell Filipinas that thou hast no ear for her woes and that if she wishes to be saved, she must redeem herself?”