On J. Gatbonton’s factions and nationbuilding article


["In the beginning was Faction: Nation-building still is a work in progress” by Juan T. Gatbonton, Jan 18, 2014 Manila Times] True. Our country’s situation of factional rivalry of datus in preHispanic times has not changed. A suggestion in Ambeth Ocampo’s column in the Inquirer yesterday could be a practical starting point in changing our intellectual, academic, political and economic decision-makers’ way of looking at our situation. His column was about the much reviled American Governor General Leonard Wood.

It turns out that President Manuel Quezon (who preferred a Philippines like hell run by Filipinos than a Philippines like heaven run by Americans) was leading our country to today’s perpetual control by his fellow datus when he tirelessly attacked Wood. Wood was instituting US-style/Western-style rules and governance. But Quezon et al were for immediate independence before elite control and factionalism could disappear and true democracy could develop here.

This is also what, before Quezon and Wood, Jose Rizal saw as the danger in gaining independence from Spain before the Philippines got all that it could learn and got all the material benefits it could get from the colonial master.

Now Historian Ambeth Ocampo urges us to review our racially biased and nationalistic assessment of Wood. I presume, he also urges us to be more scholarly and scientific— less nationalistically skewed— in appreciating the lessons from our colonial past.

E. G. Festin
Fil-Am in California


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