Philippine History Part II – State. Section 2 – Enter America

A luna

General Antonio Luna

The Philippine-American War started in 1898 due to provocations in Manila. It started as a conventional war, with Antonio Luna as its most successful military leader, one whom American generals called “the ablest and most aggressive leader of the Filipino Republic” and “the only general the Filipino army had”. Had, because he did not get along well with President Aguinaldo and was assassinated in 1899. He was the younger brother of famous painter Juan Luna. A close friend of Rizal, Juan Luna had killed his mestiza wife, Paz Pardo de Tavera in Paris but had been acquitted in a 19th-century version of the O.J. Simpson trial. Antonio Luna was as hot-tempered as his brother, nearly getting into a duel with Rizal and challenging a Spanish journalist to a duel about an article.

The war soon turned into a retreat, which in the end was heroically guarded by Gregorio del Pilar, who fought so well that an American officer returned to bury him with full honors and engrave “An Officer and a Gentleman” on his tombstone. Del Pilar was the nephew of famous Filipino Chief Propagandist Marcelo H. del Pilar who wrote under the pen name “Plaridel”. Thus the revolution ate its own children, like so many revolutions in history. Aguinaldo was captured and the Philippine-American war officially ended in 1902, even if the last military leader to surrender was Bikolano Simeon Ola in 1903. General Macario Sakay, a barber who had sworn to not cut his hair until freedom was achieved, declared his own Republic in 1902 and was defeated in 1906.

The Philippine Organic Act that was passed in 1902 was mainly implemented in 1907, when the Philippine Assembly Elections took place. The notion of Filipino citizenship seems to already have existed, because it was questioned for one candidate. The Nacionalista Party, which was for quick independence, won the majority under Sergio Osmeña. The minority Progresista Party which was for gradual independence was led by Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, brother of the murdered Paz Pardo de Tavera, wounded by Juan Luna when he came to help.


Governor Taft on a carabao

American teachers built upon and improved the old Spanish public school system. The University of the Philippines was established in 1908. Older universities like the University of Santo Tomas and Ateneo were of course already there, having been established by religious orders, even if American Jesuits from the Maryland-New York province came to Ateneo in the 1920s. The Philippine Insular Government under the Bureau of Insular Affairs took care of administration. The civil service and the judiciary were reorganized, even if many Spanish laws remain till today.

Manuel Quezon

The Moro rebellion raged from 1901-1913. During this time, the United States managed to achieve full control over the Muslim areas of the Philippines, which the Spanish barely had controlled. In 1916, the the Philippine Autonomy Act was passed and the Philippine Senate took over as the upper house, a function originally held by the US-controlled Philippine Commission.

Manuel Quezon, who had been a resident commissioner of the Philippines from 1909-1916, was President of the Philippine Senate from 1916-1935. He was instrumental in negotiating the Tydings-McDuffie Act which was passed in 1934, giving the Philippines independence within a ten-year period, but also limiting Philippine immigration which in the 1930s became a political issue in the US. There were anti-Filipino riots in California, and laws prohibiting marriage to white women.

There was of course massive Philippine migration to Hawaii. Filipino-Americans became a major group with the United States. Yet the Philippine state was reaching another level of organization. In 1920, the Muslim areas were turned over to the Department of the Interior. The entire Philippines was finally under state control.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 20 May 2015
Part of the Philippine History Series.

33 thoughts on “Philippine History Part II – State. Section 2 – Enter America


    Rizal in the US Navy, Filipinos in WWI
    Ambeth R. Ocampo
    5 years ago

    World War I seems so distant a time and place for Filipinos because actual hostilities did not reach our sunny shores unlike in World War II. The Philippines got involved in World War I because, at the time, she was still a US colony. When I read the US Governor General’s Report for 1918, I was surprised that discussion of Philippine independence from the United States was put on hold for the duration of the war, and that the Philippines and its people expressed their loyalty to America in concrete ways, like subscription to Liberty bonds and volunteering to serve, rather than being drafted, in the US military. And in 1917, the Philippine legislature raised funds to build a ship and submarine for the US Navy. The submarine did not materialize but the ship did. It was donated to the US Navy and was christened Rizal.
    Although Rizal was an expression of Philippine loyalty to America during World War I, the 1,060-ton Wickes class destroyer entered service only after the war. Built in San Francisco, California, Rizal was launched in 1918 and commissioned in 1919. She joined the Pacific Fleet under Commander Edmund S. Root, and Filipinos made up the majority of her crew. She was later modified and put into use as a mine-layer, and visited Cavite and Olongapo a number of times.
    Rizal was decommissioned in 1931, dismantled and sold for scrap metal in 1932. Photos of the vessel and technical specifications are available online.

    Apart from Rizal in the US Navy, there were Filipinos who fought in the so-called “Great War.” These Filipino veterans joined the US group called Veterans of Foreign Wars, where they formed Post 1063 (named in honor of Pvt. Tomas Claudio, the first Filipino casualty in World War I). According to data in the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, Claudio was born in Morong, Rizal, on May 7, 1892, to Gregorio Claudio, a violinist, and Pelagia Mateo, a seamstress. He was described as stubborn but with a cheerful disposition. Claudio did not complete high school but landed a job as a guard in the Bureau of Prisons. He was dismissed in 1911 for “dereliction of duty,” his main offense being sleeping on the job.
    Like many young Filipinos at the time, Claudio sought fame and fortune in the sugar plantations of Hawaii. He left the Philippines in 1911 and after staying a while in Hawaii, he moved to work in the salmon canneries in Alaska. Two Filipino painters had the same work experience—Macario Vitalis worked in Hawaii and Victorio Edades worked in Alaska.
    Claudio eventually made his way to Nevada, where he worked as a postal clerk after completing a course in commerce at Clark Healds Business School in 1916. Following the eruption of World War I in 1917, Claudio applied to the US Army where he was rejected not once but twice. He persevered and was eventually enlisted in the 41st Division. He was trained and sent to France, which would be the final destination after his long travels from home. Claudio saw action in the Battle of Cantigny, the first US offensive against the Germans in World War I, where he was wounded on May 28, 1918. He died from his wounds a month later, on June 29.
    Another version of the story states that he was killed by enemy fire in Chateau Thierry on June 29, 1918. The dates are the same but the details need rechecking because the Battle of Chateau Thierry, if Claudio fought there, occurred on July 18, 1918. Nevertheless, it is an accepted fact that Private Tomas Mateo Claudio was the first Filipino to fall on foreign soil during the Great War.
    Claudio fought under Gen. John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing (1860-1948), whose combat experience before World War I included: the Apache and Sioux Wars in the United States, the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba, and the so-called Moro Wars in Mindanao.
    Pershing described the Battle of Cantigny thus:

    “On April 25th the First Division relieved two French divisions on the front near Montdidier and on May 28th captured the important observation stations on the heights of Cantigny with splendid dash.
    “French artillery, aviation, tanks, and flame throwers aided in the attack, but most of this French assistance was withdrawn before the completion of the operation in order to meet the enemy’s new offensive launched May 27th toward Chateau-Thierry.
    “The enemy reaction against our troops at Cantigny was extremely violent, and apparently he was determined at all costs to counteract the most excellent effect the American success had produced.
    “For three days his guns of all calibres were concentrated on our new position and counter-attack succeeded counter-attack. The desperate efforts of the Germans gave the fighting at Cantigny a seeming tactical importance entirely out of proportion to the numbers involved.”
    Claudio is buried in the Manila North Cemetery. “T. Claudio” is now a name of an obscure Metro Manila street. In Morong now stands a Tomas Claudio Memorial College. Claudio should remind us of the other Filipino soldiers who fought and died in the battlefields of Europe. He should inspire historians to tease out more Philippine links to the Great War.
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    The Philippines during World War I | Inquirer Opinion

    5 years ago
    Sometimes I wish I were born 50 years earlier, if only to have the opportunity to meet and interview people who went through the Philippine Revolution against Spain and the Filipino-American War.

    Perhaps it would have been better if my area of specialization was not the Spanish period but World War II or the martial law years, noting that up to this day there are still many people who can tell me their stories from those periods and thus help us rethink history as we know it.

    World War II is mentioned in our history books, but the boring fact-filled text needs to be supplemented by eyewitness accounts of veterans who could make the stench of death and the sound of gunfire in battlefields real to us. Some textbooks still ignore the stories of the comfort women or the graphic accounts of rape, murder and pillage committed by the cornered Japanese soldiers in Manila. These stories still make your stomach turn. I can only hope young historians are collecting oral history of these periods before the voices of and memories from those major events of the past fade away.

    World War II remains current in our memory because of official commemorations in Bataan, Corregidor, Leyte and other historic sites. With the earlier wars, we only have history.

    I have long wondered why the Spanish-American War did not leap out of my textbooks, when the first shot in that war, on May 1, 1898, did not happen anywhere close to Washington or Madrid but right here in the Philippines where George Dewey blasted the Spanish fleet out of Manila Bay. Many people are not told that after it lost the war, Spain sold the Philippines to the United States for $20 million, which at the time translated into Uncle Sam buying all the Filipinos at roughly 50 cents per head, with the archipelago thrown in as a bonus.

    Reading the annual reports of the governors-general of the Philippine Islands to the US secretary of war beginning with the one for 1917, I realized that the Philippines was dragged into World War I because it was then a US colony. Yet expressions of Filipino loyalty included: subscribing to Liberty Loans, raising funds to construct a destroyer and submarine for the US Navy, and volunteering to serve in the US Army and Red Cross. When the US Congress enacted a law for the federalization of the Philippine militia, the US War Department required 15,000 volunteers. The Philippines produced 25,000.

    “Alien enemy residents” in the Philippines were put under surveillance, and 22 German merchant vessels in Philippine harbors were confiscated following reports that their crews had damaged and made the ships useless in February 1917. Stating that these ships were a typhoon hazard, the governor ordered the Philippine Constabulary to place an armed force on each vessel. He also ordered the arrest of their crews who were subsequently brought to a Baguio internment camp. After their repair, the 22 captured vessels were turned over to the US Shipping Board, which allowed the Philippines to keep seven small vessels for interisland trade and for transport of sugar and other goods to China and Japan. On their return to the country, these ships carried coal, ordered by the government and the Manila Railroad Co., from the Kailan Mining Co. in Chingwangtao.

    In November 1917, the German sailors together with “alien enemies guilty of propaganda in behalf of the German cause and utterances against the Government of the US; also several Germans out of employment whose presence here was thought to be a source of possible inconvenience to the community” were shipped to a US internment camp. While the war was felt in the islands, the Philippines was far from its battlefields. Yet Philippine Independence was put on hold:

    “Politically, it is generally conceded that the world conflict renders discussion of the immediate independence of the islands inopportune, and there is general consensus of opinion that the Philippine question, so long the topic of almost exclusive interest at all public gatherings, should not be taken up actively again until the termination of the war, when it is hoped that the US will present the claims of the Philippines to an independent existence to the congress of nations.”

    The following year, in the 1918 report, Francis Burton Harrison wrote:

    “With notable self-restraint, the people (Filipinos) during the war ceased all expression of their desire for independence, until after the signing of the armistice, when the national sentiment of the Filipinos again took form with the appointment by the legislature of a commission of leading citizens of the islands to present to the US Congress their request for independence. The undersigned concurs in the belief of the Filipino people that they have now established the stable government demanded by Congress as a prerequisite for their independence, and has so reported to Congress together with an expression of his hope that early independence will be conceded.”

    The main concern related to the World War I was rising prices, which prompted a demonstration in front of the Ayuntamiento in August 1918, but as Interior Secretary Rafael Palma reported, “Such a manifestation carried on in the most peaceful and orderly manner had no parallel in any other war-afflicted country.”

    How come I was never taught that the first Filipino casualty of WWI was Tomas Claudio, who died in a battlefield in France in 1918?

    We often leave the debate over what goes in or what is left out of our textbooks to historians, but we must look into what history our youth are learning today.

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  3. Diary of Apolinario Mabini

    30th of August 1902

    I have been notified by the Captain about a letter from the Governor, saying that the latter had no authority to send us to Manila, without having taken our oath. He says he must transmit my wishes to the Commander General of the Philippine Division through the next ship and most likely, the response will be received here by the end of December. If the reply is favorable, we could embark in January. Be patient, this could be “a blessing in disguise” as the saying goes. It is worth knowing that a proclamation of the President of the United States, endorsed by the branch Secretary, cannot be interpreted nor implemented to the letter.


    Diary of Aurora A. Quezon June 19-June 23, 1928

    Went to Holywood arriving 10:15 June/19/28. Left Holy wood the next morning 9:20 6/20/1928 arriving Long Beach 10:10 A.M.

    Left Long Beach 4:45 P.M. June 20/1928 arriving again Aztec Hotel 6:25 p.m.

    June 23rd 1928 Nonong’s birthday the party was celebrated in Bebeco’s house. My husban left for Huston and I was sick so both of us were absent. His second birthday.

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