Seven Filipino Generations

Hon Florentino Penaranda 1908Around seven generations have passed since the idea of the Philippine nation got started. During the times the Spanish East Indies were ruled from Mexico which was until the early 19th century, there was no real idea of the Philippines except as an archipelago, and even then the first to be called Filipinos were Spaniards born on the islands. From this time onwards I see these generations:

  • 1834-1860: opening of Manila to international trade in 1834, the Claveria decree on surnames in 1849, 15 foreign firms in Manila by 1859 (link);
  • 1860-1892: First Propaganda Movement for Filipino priests, mandatory public schooling from 1863 onwards, opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, Gomburza execution in 1872, Second Propaganda Movement of ilustrados abroad, La Liga Filipina and the foundation of the Katipunan in 1892 (link);
  • 1892-1916: First municipal elections in 1895 (link), the Revolution, Biak-na-Bato, the Malolos Republic, but also other republics declared in the Visayas (link), the Philippine-American war, Philippine Organic Act of 1902, Moro rebellion from 1901-1913, 1907 elections for the Philippine Assembly, Ricartistas (link), the Jones Law in 1916 and the Philippine Senate established;
  • 1916-1945: Moro territories are turned over to the Interior Department in 1920, major functions of the Insular Government are turned over to Filipinos – BIR in 1918, the Philippine Commonwealth is established in 1935 with its own Constitution, the Japanese invade and are thrown out. This central article (link) contains links to other detailed articles.
  • 1945-1972: the Commonwealth just manages to extract itself from postwar destruction, the Republic starts and seems to be in constant crisis (link), but it is economically ahead in Asia second only to Japan.
  • 1972-1998: Martial Law is declared in 1972 (link), People Power happens in 1986, the Presidency of Cory Aquino is marked by crises and coups, that of Ramos promises new stability (link).
  • 1998-present: probably one of the most difficult periods of Philippine history where it is hard to describe what happened without being accused of factionalism… 18 full years until now.

If each Filipino was to think of what stories he or she knows of the past within his family, I doubt that the stories would go very far. The lack of a national narrative, of a story of the Philippines truly felt and visualized by Filipinos, might also be lack of stories passed along generations. Not just the different and often exclusive accounts each family and each group have among themselves.

Nothing ever learned?

Could this be one reason for several phenomena that I have noticed in Philippine history? They are the following in my point of view:

  1. Patterns repeating themselves. One example: often economically progressive, yet always sliding back. Early 19th century, late 19th century, 1960s, mid-1990s even, present times?
  2. Heroization and demonization. The demonization of the Church, not only Padre Damasos, led to the First Propaganda Movement being forgotten. Rizal vs. Bonifacio among historians.
  3. Persistence of nonsense. The long overdue reform of the Penal Code of 1884, which inspite of revisions is antiquated, has been in Congress since 2014. No anti-dynasty law since 1987.

One cannot really blame people though. Rapid changes have lead I think to lack of words to describe things. Even the slang of every Filipino generation adapts fluidly to a fast-changing reality.

Is there hope?

The present discussions between those who are anti-Marcos, anti-Cory or even anti-both are a good thing in one way. They have reopened the telling of what happened in the last 30 years, maybe even up to 50 years. The movie Heneral Luna and many other recent historical films brought times that are not even old by European standards back to life, more than any dry accounts.

The Philippines Free Press (link) gives amazing insights into the Philippines over about a hundred years.  The McArthur articles by Bill from Oz show the General from an Australian perspective. Seeing multiple perspectives is important for opening minds that are often blocked by doctrinaire readings of who is the hero and who is the villain. Filipiknow (link) has a lot of historical trivia. Pictures of ordinary people in early 20th century Manila show a very simple life relative to now. There also has been much progress. The accurate big picture of seven generations remains elusive.

The Iroquois Constitution (link) says leaders must consider the next seven “spans” or generations. Understanding the seven previous ones even just a little might be a start. Picturing each “span”.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 4. March 2016


23 thoughts on “Seven Filipino Generations


    THE fizzling out of a pro-Duterte rally in his hometown may be blamed to a distraction on Facebook.

    Since the past week, what was filling up the Facebook walls of Davawenyos was this page Titos and Titas of Davao (Angkols and Aunties) that kept everyone glued and guessing about Davao’s past.

    The questions may be trivial, but it has stirred participation from every generation of Davawenyos.

    Imagine trying to answer what was the first department store in the city to have an escalator? Who was the first mayor of the city? What were the first buses traveling from Davao to Tagum or to Digos? Where can you find the yummiest pansit or cake before the malls came? What were the first taxicabs? What were the cinemas that brightened the city nights way back in the 70s to 90s?

    These are indeed trivial, but it was amazing that questions and photos of old Davao kept flooding for three days, almost every hour or up to every 30 minutes there was something new posted by one of the 38,000 members of this page. Everyone wanted to share, to guess and to have fun…

    Interestingly, a day before that close down, there was a message spread from the DDS people that this page was instigated by the “dilawan” to distract people from attending the RevGov rally.

    There were some reactions on the group that said this: Can’t we have fun instead of politics? It’s sad that we are now back to seeing fake news, bashing and negative things on Facebook.

    And that was a moment for me and for many. That Davao is beyond one man and his loud rants. That you can know Davao City through the memories, histories, the people and the people long before the influx of the oligarchs’ malls, hotels and subdivisions that made life kind of hectic and steep…

    • You called it on this blog-episode, PiE!! I suggest also that the solidarity/subsidiarity dynamic be the focusing lens to the internal person (solidarity) as we confront ‘fascistic’ behavior such as EJK; this in preparation for the yet-to-come resolution of de jure/de facto tension of political compromise.

  2. Slightly OT some interesting articles for perusal from Bagong Kasaysayan’s e-journal for perusal, to show the present stage of discussion they are in today: ANG MGA MINORYA NG INDONESIA AT MALAYSIA: PAGPUPUNYAGI PARA SA PAGKAKAPANTAY- PANTAY SA LIPUNAN (certainly good input for the Bangsamoro, Lumad etc. discussions) ANG KAISAHAN AT UGNAYAN NG LUMANG PAMAYANAN NG PILIPINAS AT NG RAPA NUI AT POLYNESYANG PRANSES (interesting I think to have a look at related Austronesian social structures) LAKBAY-ARAL SA POLYNESYANG PRANSES AT RAPA NUI: TUNGO SA PAGPAPAYABONG NG ARALING KABANWAHAN AT ARALING IBAYONG TIMOG SILANGANG ASYA (in the same vein by the apparent new leader of Bagong Kasaysayan) PREHISTORIKO, PREHISPANIKO, SINAUNANG BAYAN (by Xiao Chua reviewing something by Ambeth Ocampo – interesting also because Xiao Chua is a bit like Ambeth Ocampo in terms of popularizing but way less on “historical tsismis”) – KASAKUPAN, PAG-UUGNAYAN, AT PAG-IILIHAN: ISANG PAGGUNITA AT PAGSASAKASAYSAYAN SA KATIPUNAN AT HIMAGSIKANG PILIPINO SA CAPIZ, 1896-1898 (from a 2014 issue which is heavy on Bonifacio, but at least Capiz is mentioned)

    One can see an evolution in thinking away from the standard revolutionary history stuff to a wider perspective. The stuff Xiao Chua has on youtube about the Republic’s development is voluminous and also highly important – we know nearly everything about the revolution now but too little about American period and beyond – the times that led to the Marcos period which is now being strongly focused on which IS good. The additional perspective of comparing cultures with a similar background (Malay states and Pacific cultures) is a welcome departure from the too strongly Filipino-only perspective – they do add that the analysis of other cultures is for the sake of learning lessons for one’s own which I think is correct. There is also an article about Rizal’s Wilhelm Tell translation and Rizal in mentioned in Navarro’s lakbay-aral.

    • From Navarro’s article: Bukod sa pag-aaral sa mga kaugnay na kabihasnan at/o ibang kabihasnan bilang lehitimong erya ng pagsisiyasat, masasabing saklaw rin ng Araling Kabanwahan ang pag-aaral sa diplomasya, migrasyon, at ugnayang panlabas ng Pilipinas (Navarro 2012). migration history is getting started.

      Might be interesting for Manong Sonny and especially Manong Edgar who was born in Hawaii: Kabilang sa mga lathalain sa Araling Ibayong Timog Silangang Asya sa diwa ng Araling Kabanwahan ang artikulo ni Rowena Quinto – Bailon (1996) tungkol sa ugnayang Ilokos-Hawaii na naglagom sa kasaysayan ng pagkuha ng mga manggagawang migrante para sa Hawaii at kasaysayan ng migrasyong Pilipino sa Hawaii at nagbigay-pokus sa yugto ng migrasyong Ilokano na tinawag na pares-pares. Gamit ang pares-pares bilang kategoryang nakuha mula sa paggamit ng kasaysayang pasalita, nagawang mapalitaw ni Quinto-Bailon ang isang penomeno sa migrasyong Ilokano na hindi kadalasang matatagpuan sa mga lathalain. Tinukoy ng pares-pares ang isang panahon noong dekada ‘20 kung kailan nagtungo sa Hawaii ang mga Ilokanong manggagawang migrante ng magkapares — inaasahang dadalhin ng isang lalakeng manggagawa ang isang babaeng inaasahan ding magtatrabaho sa mga plantasyon sa Hawaii.

      Samantala, ang aking artikulong “Ugnayang Pilipinas-Marianas sa Kasaysayan: Ilang Tala Tungkol sa mga Pilipinong Eksilo sa Guam” (Navarro 1999), bukod sa pagpakilala sa kahayagan ng Araling Kabanwahan sa larangan ng kasaysayan — ang Kasaysayang Kabanwahan, ay nagsalaysay rin sa kasaysayan ng mga Pilipinong eksilo sa Guam, Marianas na kumalaban sa mga Español at Amerikano sa konteksto ng kaugnayan ng Pilipinas sa Ibayong Timog Silangang Asya — kasaysayan ng ugnayang Pilipinas – Marianas. Binigyang-puwang din sa artikulong ito si Apolinario M. Mabini, itinuring na pinakaprominenteng eksilong Pilipino. What is also interesting is that Guams Chamorro language has a lot of Tagalog and Spanish words from what I heard – there was probably more interchange between the different parts of the Spanish East Indies than is acknowledged by Filipino nationalists, just like there was a lot of exchange with Mexico.

  3. – Jim Paredes embodies the soul of middle-class resistance against Marcos after the Aquino murder more than any other. Just like there was General (and later Senator) Alejandrino (Luna’s bearded friend) who wrote the original version of Bayan Ko, there is Jim Paredes who embodies a personal continuity between different generations. Here in this blog there is of course Manong Sonny. 🙂

    • Right back at you, Irineo. 🙂 And of course the youngest, Karl. There is a synchronicity and continuity at the kinds of links and thoughts we pick and reflect on. This works for me, imagine 2 expats and a young one on the ground. I wish we could hear from others like or unlike, all with the same ‘amor patriae’ (love of country).

    • While Edgar Lores and you are living testimonials of the Old Republic – incidentally both Ilokano, I am a witness of the Marcos era and Karl of the post-1986 period. There is a growing group of silent readers of this blog, and a larger group of those who view what I share on the Facebook page that once started as a promo for this blog but now has an independent life of its own, even more than Joe’s Twitter Feed. My experience is many Filipinos who think are silent for long, but they may yet open up.

      The “vibe” I get seeing the “likes” of many millenials on my FB feed and their comments is that the AlDub generation is still trying to make sense of the country they were born into in the last 30 years. The bolder ones among them may start coming in and asking questions at some point or even give us their view of present times.

    • That there are millennials following our history-based discourse and conversations gladdens me and makes time spent in researching the topics truly worthwhile. We can now identify many dots to connect without fear of undue subjectivity or information “noise” The seven generation trajectory is good enough for me. Forward yo!

  4. – an exceptionally strong posting by RHiro, worth discussing:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…T. Jefferson

    From the Copernican Revolution, the Protestant Reformation, Enlightenment Age….

    How far along is the culture of liberal democracy understood among Pinoy’s who by and large are still marked by the realities of food insecurity?

    Marcos was not a genius. But he a an excellent understanding of the political spectrum. Big Business, the Church/Military complex, Peasants. He set himself up as the Datu among other lesser Datu’s.

    He and his gang suspended the Bill of Rights with no opposition. The middle and civil society was still in its embryo stage. The idealistic youth then were his nemesis and a lot of them joined the insurgency. I am curious if anyone who posts here were part of the early struggles. In the interest of full disclosure, I had left the country in 1970 due the ongoing economic slowdown that occurred.

    Unfortunately he did not change the basis structures and system of the economy. This was to prove to be the catalyst that eventually would bring him down. The colonial system of extraction economics still prevailed.

    Even during his watch his government was dependent on the U.S. for financial support. Support him they did.

    The oil price rise in 1973 initiated a short term commodity boom that benefited our landlord class
    but this was short lived. The formal export of labor started then.

    The Iran oil crisis and the serious financial crisis in the U.S. in the late 70’s and early 80’s further slowed the economy here even before the killing of Aquino.

    Unfortunately the whole economic policy program of Marcos was based on debt. Foreign debt..

    Their IMF-WB instituted their dreaded Structural Adjustment Program in the sixties and this was intended to make the country debt dependent until economic policies and programs are no longer
    decided by the Philippines.

    Naturally having the absolute power of a Datu, Marcos and cronies treated State power as their own personal fiefdoms.

    Even till today the culture of liberal democracy still has not been learned by many. The prerequisites- robust middle class, civil society tied to the rule of law still do not exist.

    The establishment of the U.S.under numerous struggles…The divisions between the authoritarian bent federalists and the democratic republicans. The democrats insisted on the Bill of Rights naturally. This became the more important part of their basic law.

    It is interesting to note that today in the U.S. authoritarian strains are being heard once again. At the root of it all is economic distress.

    Knowledge is one thing. But the chewing and digestion of that knowledge to become clear understanding takes time.

    I would not worry too much about who gets elected… They are all the same as far as maintaining the status quo.

    The Philippines has always had a CA deficit. Since 2003 this has turned positive. By 2010 the country ceased to be a debtor nation. No Yaya Dub, Pinoy and Roxas are not miracle workers. They belong to the class of Trust Fund Babies. Their class is primarily responsible for creating the likes of Binay, Grace and Duterte.

    “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Frederick Douglass

    “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Frederick Douglass

    The revived middle class of Will is pro-Roxas, while the new middle class that I think is not yet fully “civic” in attitude and therefore falls either for Poe or Duterte could be products of the economic progress since 2010 when the Philippines ceased to be a debtor nation according to RHiro. There are of course members of the new middle class that are pro-Robredo: she is similar to Poe in that she connects on the emotional level, something which the still insecure but hopeful crowd may need.

    Of course Roxas is less of a “Trust Fund Baby”, if ever, than President Aquino: his New York work background plus his years in government make him MORE qualified than Aquino was at the outset. What I do like is RHiros metaphor of knowledge that needs to be chewed to attain understanding. Let us have a look at this and start chewing.

    • – excerpts:

      The country has been surviving primarily on external funding sources to develop it’s economy…In 2003 due to the continuous rise of OFW fund flows the trade deficit was covered and thus we had a trade surplus. Global interest rates also started their downward trend and the phenomena of the global savings glut started. China then started in 2003 with only $300 billion in reserves which in ten years ballooned to almost $4 trillion…

      Please note also that like the present government GMA had absolutely nothing to do with it. There was no debt payment draw down…In point of fact total debt always went up. Once again most observers are confused as to why debt ration go down in spite of increasing debts.

      GDP is measured always in current or nominal terms as a metric…Hence it is always the denominator…Debt is the numerator. So if GDP grows nominally by 10% and debt grows between 1-2 % of GDP, the compounding effect will eventually bring down the debt to GDP ratio.
      Debt / Nominal GDP. GDP doubles every 7-8 years. While debt doubles every 36 years. Government budgets and projections are based on this metric….

      Government is still hard pressed on collecting taxes as even with the Daang Matuwid tax revenue is still meager at 14 % of GDP. So government institutions remain severely dysfunctional as observers forget that institutions require resources to function as they are also human enterprises. You cannot simply require under paid & overworked individuals to rely on the better side of their angels…

      The failure of this government in spite of benign financial conditions is the utter failure to improve the institutions of governance. Investments in human capital and infra could have been funded by borrowings. Government borrowing rates at 5.5% per anum for 25 years is better that having private proponents do infra projects at 12-15% rates of return. Government could have instructed the BSP to pay off the foreign debt and continue to buy dollars by making it illegal for BPO’s to keep their proceeds off shore. Government also could fund the SC for them to establish special courts and police to enforce customs and tariff laws. These are not expenditures per se but are investments that have a long term payout that will generate robust inclusive growth. Bank secrecy laws for the BIR and BOC exclusively should be repealed…. – interesting counter:

      Granting that the PNOY government has licked the massive corruption in the DPWH (the process delayed the programmed infra project) but given that we belong to a global financial market, any economic turbulence in the region affects us, Greece sneezed, China’s stocks went awry, and the world watched helplessly. We thought we have enough shield in place, still our peso has depreciated, if only mildly.. What if a major crisis happens (like the Asian crisis) and an equally major stock crash happens, and the shield didn’t hold, we’re caught in the economic spiral (dunno if the term is accurate) and the peso depreciated much severely than what we are currently experiencing, there goes the attractive foreign borrowing. We will bequeath once more the onerous foreign debt to our great great grandchildren and their grand children. Won’t having private proponents do infra projects at 12-15% (or a negotiated reduced one) rates of return be a better alternative, since the ROR will still be in the country benefiting the government in terms of taxes?

  5. One historian who excellently gives a view into the lives of past generations is Xiao Chua. (Napoleon Abueva) (Cagayan de Oro City) (Macario Sakay) (Martial Law) (Magsaysay’s last days) (QC history – the Araneta Coliseum is shown this may indeed mesh with your stories of the old Murphy era, Manong Sonny) (Jaime Ongpin as a patriot… the Chinoy contribution to the nation I guess has been a bit ignored before)

    Ambeth Ocampo also is known for his anecdotal way of telling history… but is controversial for some. The old “bookish” way of telling history is a European legacy, the use of visual media closes the gap between the “barangay mentality” (c) chempo which is personal, visual, emotional to academic thinking – abstract and logical.

    • I am quite curious about the Murphy area of Cubao as my grandfather also lived there for a while… now I know Camp Aguinaldo used to be Camp Murphy, so probably the Murphy area of Cubao was simply the neighborhood close to the camp not the inside of the camp itself…

    • Irineo, my family came to settle in the Murphy area in 1949. This was a logical choice since my was assigned as a young officer at Camp Murphy and my mom was a schoolteacher got good employment at the Roosevelt chain of high schools around the Cubao and Marikina areas.

      You’re right, Camp Murphy, extra muros, was easily settled by military and civilian families attached to the Camp Murphy. The area was defined by the lines of Aurora Blvd, Highway 54, Santolan/Libis and 20th Avenue. The other parts of Cubao (like Camp Crame) were contiguous to areas of Immaculate Conception parish (New York Street), Felix Manalo church, the old Quezon City Hall and Projects 2 & 3.

      Balara and Loyola were ‘excursion’ destinations for the rest of the madlang people from Manila. 🙂

    • History with Lourd (de Veyra) Binenta nga ba ni Aguinaldo ang Rebolusyon sa halagang 800k Mexican pesos? December 18,2013. Mga Sakdalista: Makabayan na naging makapili Beatles Part 1 (in the Philippines) Beatles Part 2 (in the Philippines) Beatles Part 3 (in the Philippines)

  6. Maybe wel love to talk of other people even seven generations ago.
    But some family stories do happen.
    My mother side has a big family surnamed Misa,I do not knoe if they are Chinese of origin,Misa sounds Chinese it also sounds like The tagalog of Mass.
    I have A Cauwengergh grand mother from my mother side,of Belgian origin.
    The Garcias were said to come from Armenia,I do bot know,all I have are fragments of historical stories of our family.
    The Aman pulo narrative of mine was almost dismissed as bs by a commenter as bullshit,because I do not have enough knowledge of the past ownership,only a one sentence narrative of “dati sa atin yan”.from my mother.

    • The old stories I mean are more like the stuff about EDSA and other places before we shared in the comments to this article: – meaning how the generations before experienced life in the Philippines.

      Or this by a Bikolana writer: – I grew up in a barrio deep in the heart of Camarines Sur, in the Partido area, where the Bikol was old and deep and rich with double meanings and multi-layered metaphors. I never read in Bikol, but the spoken Bikol that wafted around me when I was in a crowd was fascinating. It was brisk, loud, and had an intonation distinct to residents of the area. The best speakers of Bikol were the older common folk. To punctuate the sentences or stress certain words, they would raise their voices, already rendered gravelly by decades of smoking, several notches higher upon the last syllable of the word, and would sometimes clack broken, tobacco-colored teeth after a sibilant to express either indignation or awe. My own elders, however, spoke a different kind of Bikol. Their voices were louder but somehow their tones were softer, their consonants blended smoothly into the vowels – b’s would sometimes sound like m’s and sh’s would sound like th’s — a habit borne out of a Spanish ancestry. Their vocabulary was also a bit different, and our houses would reverberate with words like periodico, calzeten, descalzo, empieza, este, saludar, bien, porque, otra vez, cuidado, dormido, comedo, sentences like vamos a comer, de donde a vienes, que hora es, vaya con dios, quiero mas, and interjections like dios mio, madre mia, jesus maria y jose (not susmaryosep). This kind of Bikol was uttered in rich and robust tones that sounded so smooth to the ears, and they were spoken by tall, large-boned people with sandy-colored hair and pale, freckled skin, the women in brocade dresses and the men in their daily wear — impeccably-pressed khaki outfits and leather shoes with matching belts and a hat, like in this photograph of my great-grandfather, Sebastian Moll. Its sound and effect was quite the opposite of the rougher Bikol of the smaller, darker, barefoot and unperfumed farmers, which is a Bikol seemingly rife with hard and abrupt consonants. Yet both kinds of spoken Bikol held a magic for me that had grown to the level of myth.

    • Nephew, your Belgian origins sounds logical because Manila, Cebu, Nueva Caceres (Bikol), and Vigan were relatively well-known already by the later years of the Galleon trade. Keep in mind the ports of call and maritime routes available to China, Europe and the Americas.

  7. Irineo, great springboard to nationalist discussions of our history!! Great timeline, too! I wish the three of us could get together, one place, one time and do round robins on precisely of things Philippine that you mention above! 🙂

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