Colonialism and Neo-Colonialism

Approximately, five hundred years have passed in the Philippine archipelago. A lot of things happened within this period of time. Having been under the governing powers of foreign countries, the transition of norms, cultures, and traditions was widely spread. Centuries of Hispanic and American colonization have passed, and due to continuous struggles of the Philippines, it is now on its own; or not? Western colonization in the Philippines started from the arrival of the Spaniards on 1521. Then, the domination of the Americans on 1898 followed.

Both colonizers came in the Philippines for natural resources, labor power, and the trade and market of our country. They both used an affable approach to the Filipino indigenous people and then took over the governance of the country as they spread influence after getting trust from the native people. It all started from the purpose of colonizers to discover new lands for the expansion of their colonies. Colonialism is a consequent on voyage to discovery which brings into being the lands that were just discovered (Ashcroft et al. 28).

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Portugal and Spain went out on an expedition to discover the rest of the world with their ultimate goals: “Gospel, Gold, and Glory”. The accidental discovery of the Philippines by Ferdinand Magellan established the start of Philippine colonialism (Agoncillo 69-71). Their ultimate goals were achieved. Spaniards brought Christianity in the Philippines that is accepted by most of the Filipino community. Through their domination amongst the natural resources of the country, they obtained much of an addition to their wealth. As they had completely colonized the Philippines, they got hold of glory.

Colonialism is a significant term that is used to define a specific form of cultural exploitation (Ashcroft et al. 40) which happen to be the situation of the Philippines during the Hispanic period. Aside from the self-management of the Spaniards of the country’s natural resources, several colonial policies were introduced to the Philippines that gave much advantage to the colonizers while it deprived the rights of the Filipinos. Spaniards collected too much tax to the point that only those who had a high position can afford it.

Polo y Servicio Personal, a policy that obliged 16 to 60 years old Filipino or Chinese male mestizos to give service to community projects for forty days. The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade that limited the trade of the country only to Spain benefitted only a very small coterie of privileged Spaniards – the Spanish governor, merchants with consular duties and rights, and the Spanish residents in Manila. These colonial policies were introduced for a good purpose by the Spaniards but resulted to a economic, political, and cultural exploitation (Agoncillo 80-85).

Despite the negative aspects of the Spanish colonialism in the Philippines, still, it cannot be denied that as the Spaniards colonize the country, Philippine improvement also started. A more systematic form of government was set up. Encomienda, a grant from the Spanish crown to a meritorious Spaniard to exercise control over a specific place, was introduced. Filipinos were united to Christianity. Infrastructures, telecommunications, and public utilities were developed (Agoncillo 80-85).

Therefore, it can be said that colonialism is an inevitable act that is always linked to improvement. Just like what Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin said in their book Post colonial studies : the key concepts Second Edition: An other (the colonized) existed as a primary means of defining the colonizer and of creating a sense of unity beneath such differences as class and wealth and between the increasingly polarized life of the industrialized cities that developed the wealth and that of the traditional countryside to which its beneficiaries retreated or retired.

The colonialist system permitted a notional idea of improvement for the colonized, via such metaphors as parent/child, tree/branch, etc. , which in theory allowed that at some future time the inferior colonials might be raised to the status of the colonizer. But in practice this future was always endlessly deferred (42-43). As the Hispanic colonialism continued, the nationalism of the Filipino citizens depreciated. Their religion, norms, tradition, and ways of life changed to adapt with the new world introduced by the colonizers.

As it was stated in Post colonial studies: the key concepts Second Edition: A sense of place may be embedded in cultural history, in legend and language, without becoming a concept of contention and struggle until the profound discursive interference of colonialism. Such intervention may disrupt a sense of place in several ways: by imposing a feeling of displacement in those who have moved to the colonies; by physically alienating large populations of colonized peoples through forced migration, slavery or indenture; by disturbing the representation of place in the olony by imposing the colonial language. Indeed in all colonial experience, colonialism brings with it a sense of dislocation between the environment and the imported language now used to describe it, a gap between the ‘experienced’ place and the descriptions the language provides (Ashcroft et al. 161). After almost 400 years of Hispanic Occupation, the Philippines was given to the care of the white, the Americans.

President McKinley issued his so-called “Benevolent Assimilation”, a policy that indicated the intention of the United states to stay in the Philippines by exercising the right of sovereignty over the Filipinos. It was used to cover the real purpose of Americans in coming in the country (Agoncillo 214). Independence from the Hispanic occupation was obtained by the Philippines but the American colonialism started. This shows neo-colonialism. Neo-colonialism or “new colonialism” (Ashcroft 146) is colonialism in the post-independence period.

It is achieved automatically after independence. Just like what the Americans did to the Philippines. To keep hold of their discovered lands, Americans pretended that they gave freedom to the country but still, they continued on interfering with the country’s business for they said that they felt responsible for taking care of it. When the United States annexed the Philippine Islands, it was understood that the Filipinos would be granted their own government as soon as possible.

At all events, during the 1920’s Filipino efforts to win greater control over their country met with rebuffs, especially from President Coolidge, who informed a Filipino delegation that the very sending of such a delegation against the wishes of the American Governor proved them to be unfit for independence! Due to the efforts of Manuel L. Quezon for the independence of the Philippines, the islands thus became a commonwealth, with their own President, Quezon, and a constitution written by themselves.

Defense and foreign relations remained the responsibility of the United States, which also retained the right to exercise some supervision over finances ( Easton 148-150). The obvious taking over of the Americans in the Philippines despite the declaration of independence proves their real purpose in coming in the country. Neo-colonialism was also present at this situation. George H. Nadel defined it in his book “Imperialism and” as a “successor-word of colonialism which denotes indirect domination, usually economic or cultural, of countries formerly colonies but now politically ndependent. (3) The American colonization is the best example for this term. Unconsciously, the Philippines was still taken over by the Americans after the Philippine-American War. Americans manipulated the trade, education, industry, and economy of the Philippines, and it is fine for the Filipinos for as long as they have their self-defined independence. After centuries from the first colonization in the Philippines, our country is now struggling on its own, as the Filipinos believe.

With the dependence of the country to the foreign countries for the basic needs like rice, oil, and budget, it is not right to say that we have actually been liberated. We might be free in the sense that we now have our own president and set of other officers to lead the country. Yet it cannot be denied that we depend much to the United States. A statement in www. state. gov under the “US-Philippine Relations” said that recently this 2011, …the U. S. Government–working closely with the Philippine Government, civil society, the private sector, and other donors–provided $192. million in grant funds to foster inclusive economic growth and alleviate poverty; strengthen democratic institutions and governance; and counter transnational terrorism and insurgency in Mindanao. ” This proves that even decades after the proclamation of independence, the Philippines is still too dependent to the United States. It cannot be denied that this money is a great help to the country, so because of this, the Philippines is again in debt to US. This reflects the past when we are still under the protectorate of United States. Again, this is neo-colonialism.

Colonialism could be considered as a natural global process. It follows nature’s law of domination—survival of the fittest. Sartre’s book Colonialism and Neo-colonialism defined colonialism in a way similar to the food chain. …neither a series of chance occurrences nor the statistical result of thousands of individual undertakings. It is a system which was put in place around the middle of the nineteenth century, began to bear fruit in about 1880, started to decline after the First World War, and is today turning against the colonizing nation. (31) The big fish eats the small fish. It is basically meant for survival.

Being a cycle, what’s on top doesn’t stay there for long. They eventually fall and decompose. That’s how nature turns against the colonizer. Colonialism is an inevitable phenomenon that is when interfered, will result to an imbalance of the natural processes. The producer symbolizes the country being colonized and the colonizer being the consumer. Without colonialism, globalization would not have started and world development would not have occurred. If the Philippines was not colonized in the first place, the country would not have its various improvements that was brought by the colonizers.

Print Sources:

Agoncillo, Teodoro A. The History of the Filipino People. Quezon City, Philippines. Garotech Publishing. 1990. Print. Easton, Stewart C. The Rise and Fall of Western Colonialism. United States of America. Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., Publisher. 1964. Print. Nadel, George H. Imperialism and Colonialism. United States of America. The Macmillan Company, New York Coiller-Macmillan Canda, Ltd., Toronto, Ontario. 1964. Print Sartre, Jean-Paul. Colonialism and Neo-colonialism. Paris, France. Editions GALLIMARD, Paris 1964 translation. 1964.

Print. Electronic Sources:

Ashcroft, Bill et al. Post colonial studies : the key concepts Second Edition. USA and Canada. Routledge. 2007. E-book.

Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. “Background Note: Philippines”. U.S. Department of State Diplomacy in Action. 13 January 2012. Web. 27 February 2012.

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