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A Filipino Independence Leader Denounces U.S. Intervention

Sixto Lopez (1863-1947) was a prominent and influential leader of the Filipino independence movement who worked closely with the American Anti-Imperialist League. In this article published in Gunton's Magazine (a pro-capitalist, pro-labor journal), Lopez denounces the U.S. presence in the Phillipines. He was secretary of the mission led by Felipe Agoncillo that was sent to the United States by the Philippine Republic in 1898 to negotiate U.S. recognition of Philippine independence. When war broke out, they left the country to avoid arrest by agents of the U.S. Secret Service. In October 1900, he returned to the United States as the guest of Fiske Warren, a Boston-based officer of the New England Anti-Imperialist League. While in the United States, Lopez published numerous letters and essays and gave speeches in major cities with the help of local League branches. He became the Anti-Imperialist League's most direct and important contact with the Filipino independence movement and presented a Filipino position opposed to the U.S. conquest of the Philippines to the American public during the first difficult years of the war.

It is wrong, and in the judgment of most wise men it is impossible, to settle a question by mere force. To annihilate or terrorize those who oppose one's policy and then declare that the question at issue is settled is as cruel and foolish as it would be to pierce every human heart of love and then declare that love is a myth. Furthermore, it is unwise to attempt to settle a question by assuming that the facts are what we should like them to be. We ought to face the facts as they are, for our likes and dislikes bear no relation to truth and cannot alter a fact. It has been said that a question is never settled until it is settled right -- a truism which most persons will admit and which applies with peculiar force to the Philippines. . .

We have a proverb in our country which says: "It is better to be the head of the rat than the tail of the lion." This corresponds with the irreverent and somewhat extreme aphorism from Milton: "Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven." Both express the same idea, and show that the lofty ideal is shared by men of different complexions and climate. The Filipinos, like the Americans, prefer to be men, even in poverty, rather than subjects in luxury. They prefer self-respect, even at the cost of great suffering, rather than be serfs under a millennial government provided by a master. A self-imposed burden, however heavy, may be borne with cheerfulness; it does not crush the soul. But when one is compelled to bear even a feather weight, the free spirit implanted by God in man begins to rebel. This was true of the American patriots of 1776. The tax on tea did not seriously touch any one's pocket, but it touched every one's pride. Surely the manly American must have temporarily forgotten all this when he speaks of "giving" the Filipinos "prosperity under American rule!" No manly man can possibly desire to rob another human being of his manliness. The person who would do so ceases to be a man in the true sense of the word. The Americans, above all men in the world, ought to admire a people who will stand up for independence. Yet there are those who give expression to the thoughtless, soulless opinion that the Filipinos ought to be satisfied with the loss of self-respect in exchange for prosperity and bodily comfort. It is said that the Filipinos do not understand the Americans. That is probably true. But how little do the Americans understand the Filipinos!

… There is not a man in the forty-five states of this great union who could or would suffer a foreign flag to wave in authority over his country. Under such foreign rule he might have the same personal liberty, the same institutions, the most perfected form of government; but that which he would prize most of all would be gone. There is certainly not a man, or woman either, from the Golden Gate to Cape Cod, retaining the self-respect of his fellows, who would not be prepared to suffer and to die if necessary in order to maintain the independence of his country. Pure sentiment? But it is a fact with which the most benevolently inclined conqueror would have to reckon.

In this respect the Filipinos do not differ from the Americans. They have at least a right to the same sentiment, and they are just as ready to refuse to submit to the loss of that which, to them, is dearer than anything America can provide. They hold that the man who tries to force upon his neighbor that which he himself would utterly spurn degrades himself more than his victim; and as long as the attempt is made to practice such a process upon the Filipinos they will remain unconvinced of America's good intentions. There may be a few who, under pressure, will outwardly submit to that which they inwardly despise; but when America benevolently declares, "I am going to cut your right arm off, but be assured I shall bind the wound with suitable lint and bandages," an overwhelming majority of the Filipinos will doubt not only the wisdom of the operation but the sincerity of the operator, especially when they see that America still possesses both of her own arms!

Source | Sixto Lopez, "Do the Filipinos Desire American Rule?," Gunton's Magazine, June 1902.
Creator | Sixto Lopez
Item Type | Newspaper/Magazine
Cite This document | Sixto Lopez, “A Filipino Independence Leader Denounces U.S. Intervention,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 20, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/879.

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