Ad Fontes– Primary Sources in Philippine History

November 9, 2013

A long time ago, I decided that this little-read blog would be better used as a repository for my collection of digitized primary sources in Philippine history. Over the years, I’ve accumulated various published primary sources, digitized them as pdfs, and stored them in my laptop. I currently have over 300 such sources, although I can’t post all of them online due to copyright reasons.

From what I know, this collection is one of the largest in private hands and I have always felt an urge to share it. Philippine history is little  studied, and this is in part because of the difficulty of acquiring or accessing the primary. I figure that putting all of my stuff up online is my small way of helping the historiography.

Many of these books or sources are actually easily available online, generally through Google books or What I will do is to simply put them all in one place, remove the extra pages, and hopefully shrink them in size a little. I will also add books that I scanned myself.

One thing to remember is that I will not indiscriminately add sources if I figure the holding institution online won’t appreciate it. In that case, I will provide a link.

So, how will this work?

First, I will put a chart of all the books I will place online, here, on this administrative post. This list is not definitive and I will add or subtract to it as circumstances see fit. Second, I will  slowly place the books in a Dropbox account, whose access will be made public. Third, I will post short reviews of some of these sources, with a link to the Dropbox download address. This is when I will upload my books. I have several gigabytes of sources, so I assume I will not be able to put all of them online at any given point. Some will likely have to be removed to make room for others. If somebody wants a specific source, a comment below on this post or in the original post reviewing the source will be enough to alert me to put it back up online.

I stress again that the chart below is not comprehensive. For instance, I have not listed the Boxer Codex, because that will be linked to from an outside site. Neither did I list my very extensive collection of plates from the Philippine Insurgent Records– I hope to post some of those, but for now space limitations do not permit.

Tentative List Phil Primary Sources

“Law is the Clothes Men Wear” — The Panukala sa Pagkakana ng Republika Nang Pilipinas

February 7, 2014

Pages from PanukalaSaPagkakanaNangRepublikaNangPilipinas

American naval control of the seas around the Philippine archipelago enabled the Revolutionaries under Aguinaldo to liberate the Philippines and establish the first indigenous government that controlled large portions (but not all) of the country. This was a pivotal moment in Philippine history, but one that does not quite receive the same attention as the 1896 Revolution or the subsequent Malolos Constitution. I’ve had the opportunity to examine a lot of the Aguinaldo Government’s documents and have traced the outlines of this political institution’s history.

One of the most interesting documents of Aguinaldo Government was Apolinario Mabini’s Panukala sa Pagkakana nang Republika nang Pilipinas, or “The Guidelines for the Organization of the Republic of the Philippines.” (as an aside, I have some doubts about my translation and am open to corrections) I first encountered this document in the Selected Documents of the Philippine Insurgent Records, where there are two copies of it. The American archivists had labelled it first, as a “Constitutional Project” and second, quite simply as “Constitution of the Philippines.” I was initially puzzled since I had imagined that the Malolos Constitution was the first Philippine constitution. Further examination showed that this was, as the American archivist noted, a proposed constitution, one that was never implemented. However, it was written and published in 1898, and therefore predates the Malolos Constitution.

This document has been fairly widely available for decades and is in fact currently available online in Google books. Despite this availability, the Panukala has been very little used in Philippine historiography. I’ve seen it referred to only occasionally and most that do seem to focus on the first part– the shortest part of the whole document, Mabini’s Decalogue or his “Ten Commandments.” The rest of the Panukala– the vast bulk of it– is largely ignored. I don’t know why this is, perhaps it is because it is a dry, dull constitution. Perhaps it is also because it was never implemented, and most Filipino historians focus on the Malolos Constitution, the one that was actually ratified and which is often touted as the first republican constitution in Asia.

I find this focus on the Malolos Constitution a little unwarranted, because a closer examination of the politics of the period shows that, in the end, it wasn’t all that important. For starters, it merely repeats a lot of what the Panukala already mentioned. And more importantly, I have sincere doubts that much of the Malolos Constitution was ever implemented either. The practical organization of the Philippine government, based as it was largely on what Michael Cullinane calls local “municipal elites” in the small towns and villages of the rural hinterlands had already been organized by decrees in 1898, and these structures stayed in place through most of the Philippine-American War. The Malolos Constitution represented the triumph of the ilustrado of the highest economic and social ranks– the ranks of Cullinane’s “urban ilustrado” and also generally the same people who had been the Propagandists. This is a tiny group who did not have the practical, local power and networks that the Aguinaldo Government needed, because it was these rural elites who could gather taxes, recruit manpower and enforce the law for Aguinaldo. To exaggerate only slightly, the Malolos Constitution was a fluff document, a high-flown piece written by elites, intending to empower elites, but largely irrelevant to the practical exercise of power or the conduct of military affairs. How unimportant was the Malolos Constitution? When practically all of its backers abandoned the Philippine cause a few months into the Philippine-American War, business went on largely as before.

So why read the Panukala? On the surface, it doesn’t seem to be any more important than the Malolos Constitution since it was also a largely symbolic constitutional document that was never fully implemented.

A few reasons:

First, Aguinaldo endorsed the Panukala which might make it the more relevant document. He has an introductory note in the first few pages expressing approval of it. I have already seen, through my research, that Aguinaldo was hardly a powerless puppet of Mabini. Indeed, the power imbalance between the two men was likely the other way around. So unlike the Malolos Constitution, the Panukala may have been closer to what Aguinaldo wanted for the country. And indeed, much of what is in the Panukala did make it into the various decrees that organized the Philippine government that Mabini helped pen. So while the Panukala was not fully implemented, it was partially enacted. This makes it much more important in determining how the Filipinos envisioned authority and governance than the Malolos Constitution.

Second, it provides an interesting insight into the political mind of Mabini. This topic has already been examined by Resil Mojares but he, oddly enough, did not make much use of the Panukala. He does discuss it, because of the Mabini Cartas, but he does not mention it by name nor deal with it at great length.

The Panukala shows that Mabini was far more radically democratic and egalitarian than any other political figure in his time. Mabini favored local elections and direct representation, for instance, and he wanted a very wide cross-section of Philippine society to be eligible to vote. He even made provisions for illiteracy– something no other Filipino thinker had bothered with. Mabini also favored a strong executive, something which is already well-known, since Mabini has been said to be the engineer of the dictatorial government. However, reading the Panukala makes it clear that he favored a dictatorial government because he felt that it was a guarantee against elitism– only a strong central ruler could squash “big men.” On the other hand, the Panukala also places great power in the hands of a congress, men who were directly elected by their locales. In contrast, he completely downgraded the “senate” composed of businessmen, professors, lawyers, and doctors– in short, the ilustrado. They were to have nothing more than a purely advisory position to the president.

I suspect that Mabini was too radical. The government– local and central– that Aguinaldo set up was hardly as egalitarian as the Panukala. Aguinaldo favored rural elites, but these men were not liberal-minded and the “elections” were often highly circumscribed. Often, Aguinaldo would also appoint officials, or invest much power in the military. Unlike Mabini, Aguinaldo seems to have been far more concerned with the appearance of Western-style representative government rather than the substance of an actual representative democracy. This was because he was concerned with appearing Westernized, following his strategy for dealing with foreigners.

Mabini was certainly too egalitarian for the ilustrado of the Malolos Constitution. They were largely responsible for his ouster and the substance of the Panukala shows much more clearly why: he wanted to reduce their power.

Unfortunately for Mabini, his position meant that he had no real friends or allies, and Aguinaldo was quick to dump him during the politicking surrounding the ratification of the Malolos Constitution (Agoncillo’s eponymous “crisis of the Republic”).

The Panukala is interesting for other reasons. In parts, it is a word-for-word translation of the Spanish Constitution of Cadiz, although not as blatantly so as the Malolos Constitution. This shows something of the political influences on the Filipinos. The Panukala also describes the territorial extent claimed by the Philippine Republic and it may interest Filipinos to know that the Aguinaldo Government claimed nominal jurisdiction over the Marianas and islands in Oceania.

Ultimately, the Panukala says much about the politics of the early Philippine Republic. It is indicative of the bickering between the elites of the Philippines. It is shows that Mabini deserves far more historical credit than he has received. He was the first Filipino to care about the mass of common people in a meaningful way: he wanted to enfranchise them and give them a real say in how the country was run. He also wanted to reduce the power of elites. I find this makes him even more of a populist and more of a man of the masses than Andres Bonifacio, a person who has been played up as some sort of proleterian hero, but whose actual background was far from “proletarian” and whose actions were not always populist. Mabini is often labelled the “sublime paralytic”– a completely pointless honorific since it doesn’t particularly say anything about him or his accomplishments. Does it suggest he was very good at being paralyzed? I figure he deserves a better title: Mabini was the “first Philippine liberal.”

Panukala sa Pagkakana ng Republika ng Pilipinas

“Where One Mouth Shouts Liberty” — The Papers of the Katipunan

December 30, 2013

“I don’t pretend to be a man of the people. But I do try to be a man for the people.”

That quote was from the movie “Gladiator” said by the composite character Senator Gracchus. It’s a very appropriate quote for this particular primary source collection. This collection is also not a book or a pdf as usual, but a link to an outside site: Dr. Jim Richardson’s site Katipunan: Documents and Studies.

As the title of the site implies, this is a collection of documents from the revolutionary organization, the Kataas-taasan Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng Anak ng Bayan, (“The Most High and Honorable Society of the Children of the Country”). This organization precipitated the 1896 Philippine Revolution against Spain and has been at the center of much historiographical attention and controversy since the publication of Teodoro Agoncillo’s book Revolt of the Masses in 1956.

History is all about one’s interpretation–it is not a field with “absolute truth” and never trust somebody who claims to be telling you “absolute historical truth.” And in this process of interpretation, the circumstances of the historian’s present (social, political, economic conditions, the historian’s agenda, etc…) are as important in determining the resulting political idea as to what actually happened in the past. In that vein, the Katipunan and its members, like leader Andres Bonifacio, have been used, interpreted and co-opted by historians, journalists, various political groups and governments for one reason or the other.  None of this is bad– it is “correct” in every respect and constant re-interpretation is what keeps the study of history relevant and vibrant. It is also hardly unique to Philippine historiography, as a quick stroll through the “history” section of a popular bookstore here in America will show how figures like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are subject to all manner of historical interpretation by writers of every stripe.

Contending interpretations inevitably lead to controversy, however, and the study of Philippine history has (ahem) been subject to this sort of controversy in spades. The Katipunan is integral to Philippine history and many writers, historians or whatnot have used the Katipunan in their effort to help shape the Philippine identity or influence public debate. Again, debate and contention (if civil) are healthy and an important part of historiography. In fact, having everybody bow uncritically to one interpretation, or one person’s ideas is the worst thing that can happen to any academic discipline as subjective and open to interpretation as the study of history.

So, all well and good, but one problem with the debates surrounding the Katipunan is that they have been based on surprisingly slim evidence. In brief, all this talk about what the Katipunan wanted, who they were, or what they did has been based on surprisingly slender evidence, some of which has even been fraudulent, or close to it. For instance, most people only use the Katipunan’s Kartilya and the newspaper Kalayaan. Both are important to be sure, but the Kalayaan, for instance was only issued once and really, they are just two documents. Then there are the “Minutes of the Katipunan,” which are a completely fraudulent source and should never really be used. It would be like using The Code of Kalantiaw. Or there is Isabelo de los Reyes’s The Religion of the Katipunan, which has been so distorted by author bias as to be practically worthless as a source on the Katipunan (although it does have value when studying de los Reyes).

Enter Jim Richardson who has brought to light (but did not discover, as I previously claimed) a cache of Katipunan documents in the Spanish military archives. Finally, we can read about the Katipunan and learn about them– from their own words. Jim Richardson, for instance, has identified Bonifacio’s handwriting so finally– what with all the debates of the authorship of the Dapat Mabatid ng mga Tagalog– we can read his own words and thoughts. I don’t think it is exaggerating to say this is the single most important find in Philippine history in recent decades. Richardson’s cache of documents is basically the 1896 equivalent of the Philippine Insurgent Records.

And does it ever reveal things. Take for instance its foundational document– probably more important in determining the original goals and message of the Katipunan than the Kartilya– the Casaysayan; Pinagcasunduan; Manga daquilang cautosan. Note its first four points:

1.o  Ang cataasan at ualang auang pag singil ng buis namin, maguing sa aming catauan, maguing sa mga are o cayamanan namin.

2. o  Ang pag caltas sa caunting quiquitain namin cung cami ay gumamit nang anomang industria; yaon ay isang paraang cami ay mang jina at juag maca bangon.

3. o  Ang mataas na pag singil sa Aduana tungcol sa ano mang calacal na mag daan sa caniya.

4. o  Ang di ilajoc itong aming Capuloan sa mga pinagcasundoan ng Ynang E…… ibang Cajarian gaya ng America sa pag jajatid  at pag tangap ng isa at isa ng canicanilang manga calacal.  Pagpapabayang yaon ay quinusa upanding cami ay manatili sa caralitaan.

1.  The pitiless imposition of high taxes upon us, even on our bodies, even upon our produce or wealth.

2.  The expropriation of our meager profit if we practice any industry, so that we are kept weak and prevented from bettering ourselves.

3.  The imposition of a high tariff on any goods that pass through the Customs.

4.  The refusal to permit our Archipelago to enter into treaties with Mother Sp…. and other powers like America in relation to the export and import of any and every item of commerce.  As a consequence, initiative is stifled and we remain in poverty.

These are remarkably mercantile, professional concerns. Taxes on wages, tariffs on imports, the refusal of outside trade, of profits… These sound like the complaints of people who are wage earners and small business owners. And yet the Katipunan has long been described as a “plebeian organization” (the words are by Isabelo de los Reyes, who had a very specific political agenda, but was not a Katipunero himself).

I remark upon this document in my dissertation and will therefore simply quote myself:

“The other complaints in this manifesto further reflect the remarkably business-oriented tone of the four points above: the Katipuneros lamented the unfair competition in trade from the Chinese, they complained that high-paying salaried positions in government were barred to native Filipinos, and they protested the lack of economic development or progress in the Philippines.

The other issues that the Katipunan raised highlight the influence of the Propagandists: complaints regarding a lack of representation in the Spanish government, a lack of freedom of the press, of unequal priviliges between natives and Spanish and reflect a general discontent with second class status. Either way, the Katipuneros’ discontent tended to revolve around the fact that they were unable to benfit from the existing system more fully.”

One can therefore argue that the Katipuneros were not “plebeian” or “proletarian.” Take, for instance, Bonifacio himself: he was a warehouse clerk and Agoncillo has turned him into a kind of poor revolutionary. The problem was that he was literate in an age when most people were not, worked in what amounted to a white collar job where he used his intellectual powers–he was a clerk, after all– and his livelihood was not dependent on manual labor. He was also closely affiliated by marriage to the locally powerful Alvarez clan of Cavite (the great rivals of Aguinaldo), something which could not have happened if he had been a poor nobody. I will quote myself further:

“The other leading Katipuneros were similarly situated. One Katipunero, Restituto Javier, had studied at private schools before working at a customs house and then for the German construction supply company that also employed Bonifacio.[1] Two other leading Katipuneros, Teodoro Plata and Roman Basa, were also office workers and therefore literate and employed in white collar professions. There were also Katipunero leaders with post-tertiary educations: Emilio Jacinto, a law student, Ladislaw Diwa, a lawyer and Pio Valenzuela, a doctor.[2] Then there was the famous Melchora Aquino or “Tandang Sora,” who was wealthy enough to have large stores of rice and a herd of carabaos.[3] Another Katipunero, Valentin Cruz, had a large house that had a reception hall.[4] Finally, there was at least one Katipunero who was gobernadorcillo of a precinct of Manila.[5] To characterize the Katipunan as a “plebeian society,” which one contemporary did, is therefore not strictly accurate—these were people of some education and some means, and they were often employed in white collar jobs.[6]“

The problems regarding the social station of the Katipunan is related to definitions of “elite” or “middle class” of course, but Jim Richardson’s find adds all sorts of new wrinkles to the debate. My interpretation is likely not going to be unchallenged if people ever bothered to read it (doubtful proposition) and Jim Richardson’s documents will likely by no means end all debates but will start new ones. The point, however, is that we have the Filipino voice at last. We have the writings of Bonifacio himself– verified– and have Katipuneros’s documents.
Jim Richardson wrote a book that compiled all of the documents in his site, and added a few more not in his site. In the words of John Nery, it is “The Most Important Book of Our Time.” I intend to buy it when I next stop by the Philippines and I encourage everybody who is interested in Philippine history to do the same.
The Light of Liberty, COVER [11.4] (1000x698)

[2] Glenn A. May, A Past Recovered, (Philippines: New Day Publishers, 1987), 12-13.

[3] Soledad Borromeo-Buehler, The Cry of Balintawak: A Contrived Controversy, (Quezon City, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1998), 37.

[4] Mariano Alvarez, Recalling the Revolution: Memoirs of a Filipino General, Paula Carolina S. Malay, trans., (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992), 25.

[5] Borromeo-Buehler, The Cry of Balintawak, 31.

[6] Isabello de los Reyes, quoted in Corpuz, Roots of the Filipino Nation, 2: 212; Also Fast and Richardson, Roots of Dependency, 67-70. See also Richardson’s analysis, retrieved on 5 July 2012. The Kasaysayan series describes the Katipunero leadership as “lower to middle-middle class.” Kasayayan 5:151.


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