This is my response to Pepe’s blog But Jon Royeca still has to CATEGORICALLY define what a Filipino is, which is his repudiation of my earlier blog, My Response to Pepe’s “Clarifying a misconception on the DEFINITION OF ‘Filipino’”.
Your Name Is Your Identity
Pepe wailed that I have yet to make a clear-cut definition of the term Filipino. Says he with a palpably suppressed vehemence:
“But Royeca, for FAILING to CATEGORICALLY define what a Filipino is, simply opted to beat around the bush. Nevertheless, I should not be too hard on him even if he belittled my use of poetry as a source material. After all, he has already boxed himself to the shock of encountering Fr. Chirino’s definition of Filipino. So I’ll just let him enjoy this refractory period of his.
“Remember, boys and girls: declaring a historical evidence to the public to point out something is not enough. It always has to be interpreted with a good amount of critical thinking. And to end this, Royeca (and his partner Nonoy Regalado) should understand that IDENTITY has to stand on what you call YOURSELF and not what others CALL YOU.”
I wonder where Pepe picked up this rule: “IDENTITY has to stand on what you call YOURSELF and not what others CALL YOU.”
Pepe must know that when it comes to identity, this is the universal rule and practice: Once a baby is born, his parents give him a name, and that name becomes his identity, even if he still does not know that it is his name and it is the name that he is supposed to call himself. This rule and practice has been with humanity since the emergence of civilization. While the rule Pepe wants to inject into our veins is a recent philosophy.
Let us make Pepe himself an example for this universal rule and practice. When Pepe was born, his parents gave him the name Pepe. Since then, that has already become his name, his identity, and what he is supposed to call himself. But being an infant then, Pepe was not yet aware that it was already his name, his identity, and what he was supposed to call himself.
Just because Pepe was not yet aware then that Pepe was his name, his identity, and what he was supposed to call himself, then Pepe was not yet his name, identity, and what he was supposed to call himself?
When will Pepe finally become his name, his identity, and what he is supposed to call himself? Only when he becomes aware that it is his name, his identity, and what he is supposed to call himself?
The Term Filipino
I have already made my concrete stand on what a Filipino is and who the first Filipinos were on this blog, The Term Filipino: A Question of Identity. Let me repeat what I said on this blog about the term Filipino:
“The manner of using the term Filipino to refer to the natives of the Philippines is similar to the manner of giving a new-born baby his name.
“When a baby is born, his parents give him a name; for example, Mark. Although the baby is not yet conscious that his name is Mark and that he is thus called, that name is already his identity. It would be senseless to assert that because the baby is not yet aware of his name, his name is not yet his identity and that his name will only become his identity once he becomes aware that it is indeed his name.
“Only the brainless will say: ‘This baby is named Mark, but his name is not yet his identity because being a baby, he is not yet aware of his name.’”
An Established Fact
Pepe charged that I was merely making an opinion when I said that “poems belong to the ambit of creative literature; they can be purely fictional.”
I was not endorsing an opinion there. I was restating an established fact. Poems are really fictional creations. Even if they are written in a straightforward language, they are still not definitive material for historical research, unless the subjects of the research are the poems themselves.
Poetry: Unreliable Source
We, students of history, learn that poems are not primary sources; hence, they cannot be reliable material for historical research. The historian may cite them to indicate what people believed in during a particular period of history. For example:
“Ancient Filipinos believed that the first man and the first woman came out of reeds, and this belief is recorded in their epic poetry.”
The historian may write stuff like that, but no historian in his right mind would dare make an embarrassing blunder like this:
“The very first Filipino man and the very first Filipino woman were undeniably created out of reeds, because the epic poetry of ancient Filipinos said so.”
As to the poem of Luiz Rodriguez Varela, a historian may quote it and elucidate something like this:
“An insular from Tondo, Manila, Luis Rodriguez Varela, wrote a poem in 1812 which flagrantly declared that the first Filipinos were the peninsulares.”
But again, no historian whose sanity has not yet fallen towards his bottom will claim a supposition like this:
“It is indisputably clear that the first Filipinos were the peninsulares because Luis Rodriguez Varela, an insular from Tondo, Manila, wrote a poem in 1812 which said it so.”
Varela vs. Chirino et al.
For Pepe, the poem of Luis Rodriguez Varela is more authoritative than the accounts of Spanish missionaries like Fr. Pedro Chirino, Fr. Francisco Colin, Fr. Ignacio Francisco Alcina, and Fr. Juan Francisco de San Antonio.
Pepe must also be reminded that during Spanish rule of the Philippines, the Church and State were united to act as the government of the Philippine Islands. The act of one had the knowledge and consent of the other.
The accounts of Spanish missionaries were official because those missionaries were working under the Spanish colonial government of the Philippine Islands. Thus, those accounts are authoritative.
Varela must not have read those accounts. Hence, he wrote a poem which innocently or stupidly stated that the first Filipinos were the peninsulares. And now we have a Pepe who holds firm—with a die-hard passion—to that innocent or stupid mistake of Varela. Says Pepe:
“These were Miguel López de Legazpi and those peninsular Spaniards, both military and friar, who were with him, who opted to stay here and die here. In effect, they ceased to become Spaniards. They became Felipenos or those who saw King Felipe II as their sovereign (in the same vein that the vassals of Carlos XI of Sweden were called Carolinos, the vassals of King Fernando VII Fernandinos, and so on and so forth).”
Can Pepe show any document proving that Legazpi and the other first peninsulares in the Philippines called themselves Felipenos? If there is such a document, then that is a primary source, our discussion will be put to an end, and Pepe wins the argument. But if Pepe can only cling on to a pedestrian poem, then we are in danger of being fed with another defective theory in Philippine history.
Jose and José
Let me point out that the name Jose is not spelled incorrectly. Rizal usually used José, but there were instances when he also used Jose. Pepe should consult books which contain facsimiles of Rizal’s handwritten letters, manuscripts, and other writings, like the following:
Diarios y Memorias por Jose Rizal
Cartas Entre Rizal y los Miembros de Familia
Cartas Entre Rizal y el Professor Fernando Blumentritt
Escritos Politicos e Historicos por Jose Rizal
Facsímiles de los Escritos de Jose Rizal
We live in a country whose Constitution guarantees freedom of expression for the citizens. With this rock-solid civil right, everyone is entitled to his own thoughts and opinion.
As one person who prefers a genteel discourse and abhors mobocracy, I always respect other people’s beliefs and preferences. And so, to make Pepe gravitate towards my findings on what the term Filipino is and who the first Filipinos were, I will not lift a slab of concrete, present it before him, smash it on his head with all my might, and tell him, “Hey, this is what really happened!”
Let individual opinions—including shoddy opinions—stand.