Manila was once a dazzling pearl of the Spanish empire before Filipinos wrested freedom and independence from their erstwhile Spanish oppressors.
It was a model colony under Spanish authority, so much so that in the 1700s, the Philippines' reputation spread over the ocean to Texas, the lone star state that was originally known as New Philippines.
Texas was part of the far southern states that were part of the Spanish empire in a country named New Spain in the decades before the United States of America earned independence from the British Empire.
Spain had already mastered the technique of colonizing countries by the 1700s, as proven by the fact that they previously dominated about a third of the globe. Established colonies, such as the Philippines, provided them with the necessary experience and knowledge to colonize distant regions.
As a result, "Nuevas Filipinas" and "Nuevo Reino de Filipinas" (the New Kingdom of the Philippines) became the unofficial names for Texas, a salute to the model colony Spain hoped Texas would resemble.
The Franciscans' aim in both colonies was essentially the same: to evangelize the indigenous peoples of these areas. Texas was half the size it is now.
Antonio Margil de Jesus, a well-known Spanish missionary, was the first to refer to Texas as "New Philippines" in a letter to the viceroy of New Spain in 1716. Should he succeed in transforming the Texas region into "another new Philippines," he anticipated his evangelizing work would earn him the favor of King Philip V of Spain.
A Franciscan diplomatic letter to the viceroy expressed similar sentiments, expressing "high hopes" that "this province shall be the new Philippines."
"Nuevas Filipinas" first appeared in official papers in a 1718 document addressed to Martin de Alarcon, the governor of Spanish Texas at the time. "Governor and Lieutenant Captain-General of the Provinces of Coahuila, the New Kingdom of the Philippines, Province of Texas," Alarcon's title was included in the letter.
The governor established his capital in what is now modern-day San Antonio, which was known in the 18th century as "Nuevas Filipinas" for about forty years.
But, as Filipinos are well aware, the Spanish dominion did not survive, and New Spain fell soon after, ushering in a new era of instability in Texas. The friars may have named it New Philippines in the hopes of establishing a model colony, but the name could have foreshadowed future upheavals and instability.
Texas, like the Philippines, was fraught with conflict in the nineteenth century, with the state changing hands every decade or so. South America was nearly a half-century ahead of the Philippines, and the United Mexican States, which comprised Coahuila and Texas, was formed as a result of the revolutionary fight against Spain.
Texas became an independent state and finally joined the United States of America in 1845 after the new republic barely lasted a few years.
The lone star state lost its "New Philippines" name and reputation after decades of instability following its independence from New Spain, and became known simply as Texas, a phrase derived from the Caddo Native American word for "friend," and Texas' ties to the Asian islands faded into the background of history.
The American Era and the Philippines' Independence
At the same time as the Philippines fought for independence, Cuba, a Spanish province, attempted to break free from Spanish domination. Cuba, on the other hand, enjoyed the support of the United States. When the USS Maine, an American battleship, sank in Havana port, the United States and Spain were on the verge of war.
On April 25, 1898, the United States declared war on Spain, and Commodore George Dewey, commander of the United States Asiatic Squadron, was dispatched to the Philippines to battle the Spanish fleet.
On the morning of May 1, 1898, Dewey launched an attack from his ship, the USS Olympia, on the Spanish navy. The combat lasted only a few hours and ended with the Spanish fleet being destroyed in Manila Bay. The American navy was only slightly damaged.
The Treaty of Paris, signed on December 10, 1898, officially concluded the Spanish-American War. The US government, on the other hand, was solely concerned with Cuba's independence, not the Philippines'.
Cuba obtained independence as a result of the Treaty, while Spain sold the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico to the United States for $20 million. Given its history of colonial upheaval, American thinking on the moral premise of owning colonial colonies was uneasy and split.
The Philippines had been gained practically by accident, and the US had no idea what to do with them. President McKinley appointed the First Philippine Commission (Schurman Commission) to submit recommendations on January 20, 1899.
The Treaty of Paris, as well as following US activities, did not go over well with the Filipinos, who were not even consulted. On February 4, 1899, the Philippine War of Independence began and lasted two years.
To conquer the Philippines, the US need 126,000 soldiers. 4,234 Americans and 16,000 Filipinos died as a result of the war. The United States government founded the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935 with the goal of granting Filipino independence within ten years.
However, ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese force invaded the Philippines on December 8, 1941. On December 12, 1941, US forces under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur withdrew to Java.
"I shall return," MacArthur assured.
General MacArthur maintained his word and landed on the island of Leyte in October 1944 with a strong invasion force. Over the next four months, US forces crushed the Japanese army with the support of Filipino guerrillas.
Following the war, the United States restored the Commonwealth's pre-war administration. The Philippines had evolved from a Commonwealth to an independent republic by 1946.
Source : Esquire Magazine, CSUB.edu