Lessons in History
Lessons in History
The Decline of Spanish Rule, and Revolutionary Strategy
This chapter begins by exploring a widely recognized narrative of pre-Hispanic glory and subsequent decline under Spanish rule, drawing especially on Rizal’s notes to Morga’s account. It highlights how this narrative (1) draws on key Orientalist tropes of civilizational differentiation, namely law and technology; and (2) critiques contemporary Spanish administration and rule. Propagandists’ accounts of Philippine history also employed a different strategy, one less recognized in the historiography of the ilustrados. The chapter shows that their accounts also emphasized exceptional examples of noble Spanish actions in the islands, highlighting by way of contrast the present era of injustice and hypocrisy. By painting the era of Spanish sovereignty in the Philippines itself as one of early glory and achievement that had since fallen into a state of decay and decadence, these histories duplicate the contours of Orientalist accounts of the ancient glory, but subsequent fall and decay, of Oriental societies. The final section of the chapter looks at how history was written as a cautionary tale about the contingency and fragility of Spanish sovereignty in the Philippines and focuses on de los Reyes’ account of the remarkable rebellion led by Diego Silang, who nearly succeeded in overthrowing Spanish rule.
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