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AN ANALYSIS OF AMERICAN NEO-COLONIAL ELEMENTS PRESENT IN SECONDARY-LEVEL PHILIPPINE HISTORY TEXTBOOKS

Presented by

Gabriel John P. Gagno BS Computer Science University of the Philippines Los Baos

In partial fulfillment of The requirements in English 2

March 26, 2012

An educated people can be easily governed. -Frederick II, the Great Education is one of the best features of human civilization. A humans natural thirst for knowledge and their lingering consciousness of things around them are great contributing factors to the development of education into one of the most complicated and most progressive institutions that humanity has ever established. With education, one could do many things and exercise many powers. At the mainstream of this institution is formal education, which is composed of classrooms, curricula, lectures, and textbooks. Mostif not allcountries base their educational systems on this model. This mode of education persists today in most countries in the world. However, not all countries have established this system by themselves, especially in the Third World, where most educational systems were established by their colonizers. The Philippines is one such example. By its origins, it could be concluded that formal education itself has always been colonial in nature. The Spanish established the first such system in the Philippines, but no public education was present until the 1800s, when schools were opened to everyone by decree and alongside it, there rose the class of Filipinos called ilustrados. These people would later lead the country even during the American occupation. On the contrary, the Americans transplanted their own education system to the Philippines. They opened old schools as soon as the war was over. The apex of this system was the enactment of Act 1870 in 1908, providing for the establishment of the University of the Philippines. The Americans wanted to educate the Filipino, so they say.

However, there was a catch: when an act in 1916 was implemented, all departments were transferred to Filipino hands except the Department of Public Instruction. Why? It is because the educational system in the Philippines, aside from being colonial in nature, has always been imperialistic in objective. Carnoy (1974) stated that there is a theory of dependency that exists within colonized countries, where education is one such part of the theory. Development is only limited on the few, not the most. He stated that the society must remain poor so that the colonizer remains on top of the society (p. 61). The economy will remain underdeveloped. Schoolings purpose is not fully met, since the graduate cannot work in the impoverished society that cannot supply work for everyone (p. 57). Then, finally, the imperialist objective is realized by moulding all societal institutions into one that will fulfil the objectives of the colonizer, (p.62). The schools are part of the colonial structure, and it keeps the society from defining itself (p.72). Even until today, this structure remains to be the same. In effect, colonial mentality remains, and that Harvard is viewed as more superior than UP, and many schools today train students for international standards. Today, this colonial system of education continues, not only through the formal school system but also the media used within it. These media are still colonial in nature. Albert Memmi, a Tunisian scholar, is quoted by Carnoy (1974) in p.65: The machinery, the books reflect the specific needs experienced by the metropolitan society present on the local scene. History books were also changed, but still in accordance to colonial policies (p. 70). It is therefore said here that our history books are still colonial in nature. As this paper

probes through history books, one will find great colonial influence on the discussion of history in these books. The question now is the way these elements manifest imperialist traces. In around the second chapters of most books is presented the Spanish colonization of the country. Spain, however, was not presented in a good way; Truth is exposed with no limitations, both positive and negative effects. For one, cultural effects of the Spanish occupation were shown truthfully, but negatively: The women were given less privileges and rights. (Antonio, Dallo, Imperial, Samson, Soriano, Kayamanan, Rex Publishing House, Quezon City) Biases concerning economy were also shown. Most textbooks analysed contained negative remarks concerning the Spanish administration, branding it as dishonest and engaging in graft and corruption. (Antonio, Dallo, Imperial, Samson, Soriano, Turning Points, Rex Publishing House, Quezon City). Even the economic policies of the Spanish were not spared from criticism. The galleon trade only provided neglect to our agricultural systems (Antonio, Dallo, Imperial, Samson, Soriano, Turning Points, Rex Publishing House, Quezon City). One truth was shown to be concerning the role of the Church. It is shown to be a tool by the Spanish to colonize the Filipinos (stated in works by Zaide, 2011, and Viloria, 2003). This is especially true for the historical term bajo de las campanas, where everything under the sound of the church bell was Spanish. This is proven true by Carnoy (1974) and stated directly by Wesson (1967). Education was also presented negatively. Books presented that there were only schools for the rich families (Zaide, 2011) or even none at all.

However, the latter is not true. Andrade (2008) mentioned of a law (1863) that provided for at least two schools, one for boys and another for girls, for each town in the Philippines. This was realized by the Philippine Commission that there was more than one school per municipality when the Spanish left and the Americans came. Why, then, is the Spanish presented negatively, either through expressing negative truth or distorting history? The Americans were keen at establishing their dominance over the Philippines. It is because they are responsible to educating the Filipinos, or so they say. Memmi, quoted by Carnoy (1974), argues that the colonizer asserts his place at the top, and will do everything to defend it, including the distortion of history, making laws, and even extinguishing memories. It is shown here that the Americans were the reason why books are written this way today. Since they took from Spain the country, they had to do everything to extinguish them from the Filipino memory either by creating new history or exposing the bad sides of history. Meanwhile, they will try to present themselves as the saviour of the Filipino people from Spain. They try to present America as benevolent, humane, and magnanimous (Vidyarthi, 1988). The Filipinos are also made to believe that they are inferior (Memmi, 1968, Thornton, 1965), and that the foreign peoples [Americans] manage the backward people in economics, management, and education (Nadel, 1964). Therefore, the Americans have worked the education system to become pro-American. The rest of the paper will simply attest to this truth. This is practically evident in textbooks today, where the Americans are lauded in contrast with the Spanish. For one, many history books are still written in English. This is a disease that is widely spread in the Philippines. It causes degradation of culture (Carnoy, 1974, non-verbatim). Carnoy (1974) quotes Memmi again:

the two worlds symbolized and conveyed by the two tongues are in conflict; they are those of the colonizer and the colonized. Another observation is that the American policies in the country were lauded by these history textbooks. The Americans have replaced the Spanish in the minds of the Filipino by the method stated by Carnoy (1974). America was shown to have taken care of her colony and that she did not abuse or exploit her colonial possession (Abeleda, 2001). Democracy was also shown to have been given by the Americans (Antonio, et. al, 2007). These elements would have been acceptable in the textbooks during the American period, but why are they still there in these history books even until the present? Carnoy (1974) explains that there is such a pyramidal structure that exists in the colonies, in which schooling determines where a colonized person should go. Mohammadi (1997) said that American education has provided a foundation for the growth of the postcolonial elite. There is educated native elite, who will comply with the old institutions of their former masters. An elite group of leaders has been created by the American educational system to be on top, and the small functionalities of education and the pyramidal structure stated by Carnoy (1974) are responsible for this. History is written either by imperialists themselves or by those who admire their achievement [capitalization mine] (Thornton, 1965). In the Philippines, these people are called the ilustrados, who were in existence since the time of the Spanish. Cohen (1973) also speaks of internal colonialism, in which the former colonists transfer power to the local ruling classes so thay the country will still be controlled, economically if not politically. This is what Jean-Paul Sartre (2001) calls the colonial system: those who live under

the colonial mechanism. Therefore, the ilustrado is related to the American in the sense that they practically created it. For one, The Americans were imperialists, and they desired to maintain control of the country even after they let go of the country. Carnoy (1974) states that liberating the country by a mere turnover to the national bourgeoisie [ilustrado] does not create a new society, but only maintains the old systems and institutions as established by the colonizers. This bourgeoisie, educated under the old system, would simply maintain the systems of their colonizers including that of education. This shows two key points: why the ilustrado bias is evident in the countrys historical textbooks, and why pro-American elements remain in todays textbooks. First, like how the Americans created history, the ilustrado also did and they had their own interpretation of history. History is written by those who ally themselves with the victor (Thornton, 1965). The school system should have changed, but since the ilustrado was educated under the American system, it is logical to say that they have learned a history that has been modified by the colonizer [the Americans]. This is supported by Carnoy (1974) in saying that this postcolonial history and culture has been written under the context of the national bourgeoisie (p. 69), or simply the ilustrado in the countrys case. He also stated that the same national bourgeoisie adopts the culture of the colonizer (p.65) and that this national bourgeoisie replaces the middle class of the mother country (p.64). Therefore, due to the replacement of the colonizers by the current middle class in an attempt to fully replace the colonizers, the ilustrado will write about their own kind the very same way the Americans did on extinguishing the Spanish from the Filipino memory. Although it would be worth noting that while information written concerning the ilustrado is true, the ilustrado has still created a new portrait of themselves (by writing about

the victories of their class) and maintained colonial systems (by writing history favourable to their former masters). This explains why ilustrado features in history books are emphasized, and that their victories are highly emphasized or lauded. Second, new concepts of imperialism, especially neo-colonialism, are evident in the history textbooks today. They show that the first post-independence president, Manuel A. Roxas, has policies that show economic dependence on the United States. The books show that economic imperialism has happened in the Philippines. Nadel (1965) says that the sudden breakdown of Western tutelage, i.e. formal liberation, caused them to be ill-prepared, so that they will still remain dependent. The end might in theory have come by the gradual transfer of power to the educated native elite, certainly without conflicts, resissance, and pressure (Nadel, 1965).The sudden withdrawal doesnt mean that colonial imperialism has ended; it is leaving the task to the educational elite (Nadel,1965). Therefore, since the government was unripe for independence, it will depend on the former masters. This would support the claim that economic imperialism, as part of neocolonialism, is acknowledged by the countrys history textbooks. Carnoy (1974) states that the middle class, due to the countrys unpreparedness (supported by Nadel), would attach itself to the mother nation for help. It is due to this that the country is becoming economically dependent to the mother country, i.e. the United States. During their stay in the Philippines, they have developed it in such a way that the Filipinos see their way, but never cross into it. The direct control is lost, and the main form of this control is economic penetrationconnections of trade and investment (Cohen, 1973).

It could also be pointed out that the ilustrado is without resistance to their former colonial masters that neo-colonial elements have pushed through the textbooks. It was they who, having fashioned the present, have the clearest right to command the future (Thornton, 1965). This was realized by the Americans through the existence of the ilustrado. Given the situation that neo-colonialism is evident in our historical textbooks, then why is it still persisting there? Should it not be removed, since it is in the advantage of the imperialist? That shouldve been good, but it remains there because images of capitalism and neo-colonialism were transformed into something that most people accept today: Globalization. It could be seen in the textbooks in the form of free market and free trade and technology and information exchanges. History books and other related social science textbooks, particularly those of economics, have lauded free-trade agreements and the system itself. Even capitalism was lauded. For one, a book mentions that Ang pagkakaroon ng kalamangan ay may malaking naiaambag sa pag-unlad ng ekonomiya (Antonio, et. al, 2005). Neo-colonialism is masked in such a way that it will be positively accepted by the people. A book mentions Ang malayang kalakalan ay isang paraan ng pakikipagpalitan na walang mga hadlang ito ay kailangang matamo ng bansa kung nais na matamo ang kaunlaran (Antonio et. al, 2005). This shows that even free trade has been lauded in our textbooks today. Seamless information and technology exchange, or free trade, is globalization defined. However, globalization is merely a mask for neo-colonialism. Through seamless technology transfers, the people are made to believe that this is beneficial to the economy. However, modernity is paradoxically linking the world with inequality

(Mohammadi, 1997). This is realized through transnational corporations and information exchanges. Transnational corporations, being the leading force of globalization, only transfer technologies without scientific knowledge on these technologies, thus technology transfer often reflects a deep loss of confidence over ones own culture (Mohammadi, 1997). Seamless exchange of information is also a part of globalization. However, Vidyarthi (1988) declares that even this information exchange is part of the imperialist scheme, for these materials are international and bring many thoughts from the US, or simply convey proAmerican ideas. We are being flooded with magazines that convey ideas from the United States (Vidyarthi, 1988). In effect, people from developing countries go to the west to study, and being influenced by ideas there, seek to find comforts in their lives and even plan to go to the United States again. In short, there is an alienation of the youth from the national identity and their being lured to the West (Vidyarthi, 1988). The globalization is not simply benefiting every country; it is a mere rise of American power and its expansion worldwide via the media (Mohammadi, 1997). Going back to the question, how do secondary-level history textbooks in the Philippines portray such traces of imperialism? These history books have contained different information concerning the countrys colonizers, specifically Spain and the United States. However, Spain is presented negatively. Many truths are presented, and these truths are actually real and not just fabricated. Yet these truths include everythingincluding the negative ones. There was even a distortion of truth, particularly that of education system under the Spanish.

On the contrary, there was a praising of Americans in the history books. It is evident that the negative truths concerning Americans were less than those of the Spanish. There were more positive truths, including the use of positive adjectives, and the education system is lauded. This still persists today, along with some ilustrado oriented content in the books. Economic dependence was also evident in these books, particularly the postwar dependence to the United States. Globalization is also evident, particularly on the part of free trade. By looking at the observations presented in this paper, together with research in this paper, it is evident that there are indeed imperialist traces left in the history textbooks. Looking more closely, it is not biased in anyway way except to the American direction the countrys history textbooks are American-inclined or oriented, if not fully pro-American. This is further verified by the fact that neo-colonialist intentions of the United States were masked in the countrys textbooks as part of globalization, a more acceptable version of neo-colonialism. It could be concluded, therefore, that the countrys secondary history textbooks manifest pro-American ideas or notions, and that they still serve the purpose of conditioning the minds of its readers about the magnanimity of the United States (Vidyarthi, 1988). In removing these imperialist traces in the current textbooks, the author suggests that history textbooks must be written in Filipino, so that the effects of duality mentioned by Carnoy (1974) will not happen, and that a degradation of culture will be prevented. Carnoy (1974) also noted Memmis call for a struggle from domination, as opposed from a mere liberation which causes no struggle from domination.

One way to attain this is that the Filipinos must write in a Filipino perspective. Since objectivity in history is impossible to attain, our writers must at least write for the Filipino, so as to make a Filipino mind out of the Filipino. Frederick the Great is right: If all the Filipinos are educated the Filipino way, then they can be easily governed by Filipinos themselves, not by the imperialists. References Carnoy, M. (1974). Education as Cultural Imperialism. New York: Longman. Cohen, B. J. (1973). The Question of Imperialism: The Political Economy of Dominance and Dependence. New York: Basic Books, Inc. Mohammadi, A. S. (1997). The Many Cultural Faces of Imperialism. In P. Golding, & P. Harris, Beyond Cultural Imperialism : Globalization, Communication, and the New International Order (pp. 49-68). London: Sage. Nadel, G. H., & Curtis, P. (1964). Imperialism and Colonialism. New York: MacMillan. Navarro, A. M., & Salazar, Z. A. (2007, September 24). PANTAYONG PANANAW: Isang Paliwanag. Retrieved from Bagong Kasaysayan: http://bagongkasaysayan.multiply.com/journal/item/10?&show_interstitial=1&u=%2Fjou rnal%2Fitem Sartre, J. P. (2001). Colonialism and Neocolonialism. London: Routledge. Thornton, A. P. (1965). Doctrines of Imperialism. New York: Wiley. Vidyarthi, G. (1988). Cultural Neocolonialism. Ahmedabad: Allied Publishers. Wesson, R. G. (1967). The Imperial Order. Berkeley: University of California Press.