A Research Study Proposal
RUEL F. PEPA, Ph.D.
ZETETICS Research Center for Asia
Observing the parallelisms between contemporary Spain and the Philippines to determine the implications of qualitative similarities and differences that describe the former colonizer and colony, respectively, and to find an ethnographic basis for a new and different standpoint toward the fuller emancipation of Filipinos today.
The Spanish colonization of the Philippines in its visible sense remains more pronounced in the presence of Catholicism, people’s names, and indeed the nation’s name. Other fragments associated with the long colonial period are rarely or adequately identified. On the other extreme any contemporary Filipino mannerism that runs counter to the expectations of an independence which is over a millennia and the oldest in Asia is often suspected to be alien to the authentic Filipino soul and something of a Spanish contamination of a Filipino. Therefore, part of the decolonization project has to do with revisiting the contemporary Spain and examine some cultural parallelisms in areas of education, and religious life. In this way one can accurately learn to appreciate what keeps the two civilizations part and apart. The result is bound to help correct the Filipino resistance to self correction that is too often blamed on Spanish colonization but also to try to understand appreciatively the uniqueness of the contemporary Filipino genius.
The researcher intends to use ethnographic approach involving participant observation techniques for a whole year round to ensure that all seasons are fully and accurately observed and carefully documented.
The effort is seen as an enterprise to offer a critical analysis and appreciative inquiry to the collectivity through a prism of a contemporary Spanish reality in the aforementioned spheres. If Spain has changed its ways, why should we hold on to them? If we have succeeded to recreate some old Spanish ways and they are working well for us, why apologize? If there is a need to deconstruct the entire edifice of shared heritage, why fear? Whatever that is, almost 400 years of Spanish presence on the Philippine soil can’t be totally ignored (even if Spanish language has not taken root the it has done in Latin America) for its footprints even on the Filipino soul but neither should that become a clag in the national transformation and complete self emancipation.
Background of the Study
The liberation of the Philippines from Spanish rule in 1898 merely exchanged the conquistador’s yoke for an American one. Even granting that the Americans were more benevolent than the Spaniards, the supplanting of one colonial master for another turned what was supposed to be a liberating victory for the native Filipinos into stolen glory for the Americans, and a source of shame for the awakened nationalist spirit of the country. For the different parts of the Philippine archipelago, this national debacle of, by all appearances, the ‘overthrowing’ of the oppressive Spanish rule — only to subsequently fall under American imperialism — only confirms how ineffectively the rebel leaders had handled the Philippine revolution. The Filipino leaders not only incessantly quarreled among themselves, but also let the Americans get the upper hand in the climax and denouement of the 1898 final battle for Manila. The Spaniards surrendered to the Americans, and the Filipinos were left out in the cold, wondering what had happened, and unaware or unable to do anything about the American designs on the country.
Today, the succession of over 300 years of Spanish colonization, nearly half a century of American commonwealth experience, and the brutal years of the Second World War in the hands of the Japanese, only seem to be a drawn-out nightmare of long ago, a dream that has lost its meaning. That the Philippines today — despite its head-start in nationalistic ambitions in the whole of Asia, it has yet to achieve national development on several fronts.
The present research study is seen as an enterprise to offer a liberal analysis of and an open-minded inquiry into the complexities of lingering Spanish colonial influences in the contemporary Filipino habitus and hence make an evaluation of which in comparison and contrast with what is presently obtaining in contemporary Spanish cultural realities. If Spain has changed its ways, why should we hold on to them? If we have succeeded to recreate some old Spanish ways and they are working well for us, why apologize? If there is a need to deconstruct the entire edifice of shared heritage, why fear? Whatever that is, almost 400 years of Spanish presence on the Philippine soil can’t be totally ignored (even if the Spanish language did not take root here the way it has done in Latin America), for its footprints are found even in the Filipino soul, but neither should that become a drag in the national transformation and complete self-emancipation.
Statement of the Problem
In this study Spain is used as the lens to understand the present day Philippines. The project aims to address and ultimately clarify the following queries:
- In what cultural ways do the present day Spain and the Philippines resemble or differ in the educational and religious aspects of life?
- In what aspects does the Philippines reflect a colonial mindset and why?
- What interconnection can be established between Philippines social progress and decolonization?
- How may the findings help facilitate the completion of authentic Filipino decolonization efforts or fast track current national development from this stand point?
Significance of the Study
It is often argued that before an independent nation could fully develop, it must decolonize itself so as not to constantly work in a psychological shadow of its colonial past. Others argue with evidence of nations like Singapore and Brazil and achieve nation development. The Philippine case is not a straightforward one. Hence, this study has a potential to raise the question of whether there is sufficient evidence to assume that Filipino decolonization has any bearing on the current development landscape of the Philippines seen through Spanish lens. Based on current literature little seems to have been explored along this line. It is always assumed without research that the “Filipino has a colonial mind that needs emancipation” as a prerequisite to national development. However, the project does not rule out the possibility of the validity of such assumptions but it leaves that to the evidence to emerge from this research endeavor itself.
The research inquiry into contemporary Spain—both appreciative and critical—aims to qualitatively capture and describe the relevant aspects of Spanish society, culture and history that have relative importance to the colonial experience of the Philippines, and how contemporary Spain has moved on from such experience while the Philippine situation up to this time has fared no better or even worse. The colonial heritage of Filipinos and its residual effects on the Filipino psyche is worth taking another look, which may offer a new viewpoint or direction in the continuing discourse on the Filipino national consciousness and identity — or lack thereof.
National consciousness and identity are at the heart of the question of the capability of the Filipino nation for development and progress. But instead of re-evaluating the records or the pre-existing as well as extant conditions in contemporary Philippines, the researcher takes the opportunity to examine contemporary Spain, so as to be able to ascertain whether or not “decolonization” is a viable or valid pursuit, and if so, whether or not contemporary Spain offers the Philippines and Filipinos certain ways of dealing with its colonial past and heritage in a similar manner that Spain has been able to progress from its colonial relationship with the Philippines, in particular.
Last but not the least—in fact, it could even be considered as one of the most important factors if not the most in appraising the significance of this study—is the sincere desire on the part of the researcher to enhance in various possible ways Filipino-Spanish friendship in keeping with the spirit and substance of Republic Act 9187 which is “AN ACT DECLARING JUNE 30 OF THE YEAR AS PHILIPPINE SPANISH FRIENDSHIP DAY, APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.” (Appendix A)
Scope and Limitation of the Study
The Spanish colonization of the Philippines in its visible sense remains more pronounced in the presence of Roman Catholicism, people’s names, and indeed the nation’s name. Other fragments associated with the long colonial period are rarely or adequately identified. On the other extreme, any contemporary Filipino mannerism that runs counter to the expectations of independence is often suspected to be alien to the authentic Filipino soul and something of a Spanish contamination. Therefore, part of the decolonization project has to do with revisiting contemporary Spain to examine some cultural parallelisms particularly in the areas of education, and religious life. In this way one can learn to appreciate what keeps the two cultures both part of, and apart from, each other. The result is bound to help rectify the Filipino resistance to self-correction that is too often blamed on Spanish colonization, but also to try to understand appreciatively the uniqueness of the contemporary Filipino genius.
It is likewise considered and recommended to deepen the parallelism aspect of the present study by comparing and contrasting the contemporary Philippine culture with that of another former Spanish colony particularly in Central or South America. In this connection, the research proponent is strongly drawn to focus on Cuba on two accounts: 1) There is a striking historical affinity between the Philippines and Cuba in terms of the impact of colonization and of the revolutionary spirit that engulfed the peoples of these two countries (cf. Benedict Anderson’s Under Three Flags); and 2) There should not be serious problems traveling from Spain to Cuba besides the fact that the research proponent is an active member of the Philippines-Cuba Friendship Association (AMISTAD).
Duration of the Study
The study, in toto, shall be for a period of ten (10) months: The first five (5) months will constitute the macro part and the second, the micro. The present proposal discussion represents the macro. The second (the micro) part of the study—which may be construed as its sequel—will however focus on the post-colonial issue of nationalism and spirituality among Filipino migrant workers. (Note: A new set of logistical requirements will later be formulated for the micro study.) After the ten-month period, the researcher shall have returned to the Philippines and continued with the analysis and completion of the study within two or three months.
Research Methods to be Used
The researcher intends to use ethnographic approach involving participant observation techniques during the ten-month study period to ensure that all seasons are fully and accurately observed and carefully documented. In the process, a cultural analysis focusing on the epistemological legacies*** colonialism will be reflexively utilized.
Ethnography has specifically been used in cultural anthropology as an art and science or describing a group or culture from inside using trained eyes. It describes a detailed picture of the inside from the perspective of the natives of a given culture or context so that the insider’s or emic perspective of reality is elicited to allow the outsider to understand it properly.
Among all qualitative approaches, ethnography has this unique characteristic and emphasizes several techniques for data gathering and processing that may be marginally utilized in other methods. Ethnography relies heavily on (1) fieldwork, (2) participant observation, (3) holistic perspective, (4) contextualization, (5) emic and etic perspective, and (6) nonjudgmental orientation as data gathering techniques in addition to interviews.
Fieldwork is considered central characteristic feature to ethnography and the main justification for it requiring more time than other form of research. It requires researchers more time on site with people in their natural environment so as to place into context the data they collect. The quality of data is often judged against the amount of time devoted to fieldwork to establish validity and credibility. Fieldwork uses many phases that may be broadly categorized into three phases as (1) pre-entry and entry; (2) entry and actual; and (3) exit. Once introduced to the community, the researcher begins to learn the basics about the community such as language, name of people, politics, economics and culture.
A. Aspect: CHRISTIAN RELIGION
- Data gathering techniques: Participant Observation/Interview
- Duration allotment: 2 months
- Contact persons and institutions:
a. The local parish churches and priests in both Spanish cities and villages
b. The local parish churches and priests of the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain [which, like the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP) is also a member of the World Anglican Communion]
Focus: Identify certain “ancient” and modern religious notions, observances and practices of modern (even postmodern) Roman Catholic Spaniards. This concern leads to a significant reflection on certain religious notions, observances and practices of the typical Roman Catholic Filipino in the present era.
B. Aspect: RELIGION AND ITS EFFECTS ON THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
- Data gathering techniques: Interview/Observation/Literatures and other documents.
- Duration allotment: 1 month
- Contact Persons and Institutions:
a. The different heads of Social Sciences Departments of Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
b. The Spanish Education Ministry.
Focus: How does education in modern (even postmodern) Spain realistically (hence, relevantly) connects with the actual states of socio-politico-economic affairs of the country in terms of national development? This is a very important concern if compared and contrasted with Philippine education whose colonial imprints have caused it to be abstracted from the landscape of Philippine realities.
C. Aspect: RELIGION AND EDUCATION AND THEIR EFFECTS ON THE SOCIAL SYSTEM
- Data gathering Techniques: Interview/Observation/Literatures and other documents.
- Duration allotment: 1 month
- Contact persons and institution:
a. Filipino Migrant Workers in Spain
b. Migrante International office in Spain (thru: Mr Gary Martinez, Secretary-General, Migrante International)
c. The Philippine Embassy in Spain
Focus: Some prominent socio-cultural values of the colonial era that still linger in the typical Spaniard’s habitus compared and contrasted with those of modern (even postmodern) western European character. This concern significantly provides a concrete grounding to systematically reflect on how Spanish colonizers influenced the formation of certain Filipino socio-cultural values that have been strongly occupying the typical Filipino’s cultural apparatus.
D. Aspect: RELIGION AND EDUCATION AND THEIR EFFECTS ON FAMILY LIFE
- Data gathering technique: Participant observation
- Duration allotment: 1 month
- Contact persons/institutions:
a. Well-off (middle-class) families in the city and in the countryside
b. “Poor” families in the city and in the countryside
Focus: Identify certain “ancient” and modern beliefs and practices found in the present-day Spanish family life. This concern significantly connects with a parallel reflection on certain beliefs and practices we have in the present-day Filipino family life which are deemed to have had some deep-set colonial Spanish imprints.
Review of Literature
Previous studies done on the issue of decolonization in general and Filipino decolonization in particular must be consulted and perused to establish the relevance of the present research project. These are:
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing, Inc., 2003.
Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press, 2004.
Rafael, Vicente L. Contracting Colonialism: Translation and Christian Conversion in Tagalog under Early Spanish Rule. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1988.
Said, Edward. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage Books, 1993,1994.
Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York.Vintage Books, 1979.
In addition to the above selections, the research proponent will likewise peruse the available writings of Hayden White, Nicholas Dirks, Anthony Giddens, Ernest Gellner, Partha Chatterjee and Wimal Dissanayake which are all deemed to be of material importance to the research study at hand.
* “Contemporary Spain” refers to the present-day Spain where the research proponent will conduct his study. The description does not necessarily consider the contemporary Spain projected in tourism advertisements and commercials promoting only the “exciting and beautiful” aspects of the country. “Contemporary Spain” in cultural terms is therefore the Spain whose multi-faceted pictures are expected to appear after the conduct of the present research study project.
** Generally, in decolonization, a particular country undergoes the tedious process of getting independent from a more dominant country that has taken the role of a colonialist over the former within a certain period of historic time. “Decolonization is necessary to counteract the work of colonialism, ‘In decolonization, there is therefore the need of a complete calling in question of the colonial situation’ (Fanon, 1999: 158). . . . When I talk about decolonization, I think about my ancestors, my culture that was untouched by the colonizers, the spirituality that is rooted from my ancestors, the indigenous ways of knowing and dismantling my psyche and my mind that has been trained to work like a colonizer. Through decolonization we could elucidate the impact of colonialism and imperialism in our lives.” (Introduction, “Is Decolonization Necessary to the Lives of Filipino People?” by Rose Ann Torres, OISE/University of Toronto, Contributed to BULATLAT, Vol. VII, No. 26, August 5-11,2007)
*** “Epistemological legacies” are “culturally inherited” influences that constitute a people’s perspective and criteria to define acceptable instances of what is deemed to be true which conditions the “knowable” and the “known” in specific terms unquestioned by the powers that be.
© Ruel F. Pepa, May 2012
Republic of the Philippines
Congress of the Philippines
Second Regular Session
Begun and held in Metro Manila, on Monday, the twenty-second day of July, two thousand two.
Republic Act No. 9187
AN ACT DECLARING JUNE 30 OF THE YEAR AS PHILIPPINE SPANISH FRIENDSHIP DAY, APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled.
Section 1. Declaration of Policy – it is the policy of the State to strengthen the relationship between the Philippines and countries with which it has shared history, values and traditions.
June 30 is a day when President Emilio Aguinaldo commended the besieged Spanish soldiers in the Church of Baler for their loyalty and gallantry. To mark this momentus occasion, there is a need to declare said day a national holiday to remember the act of benevolence which has paved the way in bridging better relations between Philippines and Spain.
Section 2. Philippine-Spanish Day – The Thirtieth of June of each year is hereby declared as Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day to commemorate the cultural and historical ties, friendship and cooperation between the Philippines and Spain. It is hereby declared as a national special working holiday and a special non-working holiday in Aurora Province.
Section 3. Implementation – The National Historical Institute (NHI) shall be responsible for the implementation of this Act. For this purpose, it shall formulate and issue the implementing ruled and regulations necessary for the proper implementation of this Act.
Section 4. Inter-Agency Committee – An Inter-agency Committee (Committee) tasked to organize activities in commemoration of Fil-Hispano Day is hereby created, composed of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs as Chairman, the Executive Director of the National Historical Institute and the Mayor of Baler, Aurora as Co- Vice Chairmen, and an Undersecretary of the Department of Education, Undersecretary of the Department of Tourism and one (1) representative each from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the University of the Philippines History Department, as members. The Philippine Ambassador to Spain and the Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines shall also be ex officio members of the committee.
Section 5. Appropriations – An annual budget for the celebration of the Fil-Hispano Day in the amount of Fifteen million pesos (Php 15, 000,000.00) shall be included in the General Appropriations Act of the year following its enactment into law, thirty percent (30%) of which shall be devoted exclusively for research and development. Thereafter, the expenses for its continued implementation shall be included in the subsequent General Appropriations Act.
Section 6. Separably Clause – If any section or provision of this Act is held unconstitutional or invalid, the other sections or provisions not affected thereby shall remain valid and effective.
Section 7. Repealing Clause – All laws, presidential decrees, executive orders, rules and regulations, or any part thereof, which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.
Section 8. Effectivity – This law shall take effect within fifteen (15) days from publication in the Official Gazette or two (2) newspaper of general circulation.