Like most places in the world, there is a dark side to the Philippines. It’s a place of appalling poverty and injustice, a blighted land where too many politicians, businessmen, religious leaders and ordinary citizens allow greed and self-interest to triumph over rule of law, justice and the common good.
The fact that the country is scattered across thousands of islands has stunted social, economic and political development. So has the legacy of colonialism — more than three centuries of Spanish domination, followed by 47 years of American rule. The Philippines became a nominally independent nation only in 1946, so its institutions remain weak and fragile, and its sense of national identity is still embryonic.
author: Honor in the Dust
The following is an excerpt from The New York Times book review by Candice Millard on Gregg Jones’ Honor In the Dust:
Jones, who was once a correspondent in Manila and whose first book, “Red Revolution,” took readers inside the New People’s Army, has a thorough understanding of the Philippines. But it is on the United States that “Honor in the Dust” casts the brightest, and at times harshest, light. After America first entered the Philippines in 1898, during the course of the Spanish-American War, President William McKinley insisted that it was the Filipinos’ “liberty and not our power, their welfare and not our gain, we are seeking to enhance.” The American people, however, flush with victory, had started to dream of expansion, even empire, and pressure mounted on McKinley not just to free Spanish colonies but also to lay claim to them. By 1900, an election year, McKinley had begun to give in, arguing that “territory sometimes comes to us when we go to war in a holy cause.” Addressing a campaign crowd in Nebraska, he asked, “Shall we deny to ourselves what the rest of the world so freely and justly accords to us?” The answer, as he knew it would be, was an instantaneous and uproarious “No!”
There was within the United States a strong and vocal anti-imperialist movement, which included former President Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie and Mark Twain, but it struggled to tamp down the country’s growing expansionist zeal, and to compete with the energy, tenacity and bulldog ambition of one man in particular: Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt, who in just six years rose meteorically from New York City police commissioner to president, nurtured a deep and unshakable contempt for what he called the “unintelligent, cowardly chatter for ‘peace at any price.’ ” Not only had the “clamor of the peace faction” left him unmoved, Roosevelt wrote, it had served to strengthen his conviction that “this country needs a war.”
A New History of the Philippine-American War
By CANDICE MILLARD
The New York Times
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