Los Indios, Filipinos, Independence and Filipiniana

It is Independence day today; it has been One hundred and eight years since Emilio Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain and unfurled and waved the Filipino flag on the balcony of his house in Kawit, Cavite. Today, there will be the usual celebrations and demonstrations using the theme of Filipino independence. But what is it that makes one Filipino. Before the Spaniards left the only Filipinos in the Philippines were those Spaniards and creoles born in the Philippines. Most of us were indios, mestizos, and quadrecillos.


Indios, the term for native and Indians, a title, a distinction, a class that was borne by our ancestors since Legaspi established Intramuros. In the end the Ilustrados, like Rizal, used the term to described themselves in Spain - Los Indios Bravos was born. One of the more positive spins done by the Ilustrados - those intellectually and philosophically emancipated from the arm-lock thinking of the Spanish Colonial administration. A number of Ilustrados came from the new and recently moneyed class of Indios and Mestizos. The fusion of the resident Spaniards, indios, and mestizos came to fruitation during the change of colonial guards from the Spaniards to the Americans. Every native-born, whether manor born or kubo-born, was now Filipino. For good or for worse.

So here we are now a mix of Spanish, Chinese, and Malay blood flowing through our vein. A quick visual survey of faces during a family reunion will reveal a mix of faces some predominantly Malay, some with traces of Han blood, and some with strong marks of Iberian or even American blood.

So what do it mean being Filipino. It may mean having a Spanish surname, selected from a list surnames drawn by Governor Gen Claveria for the purpose of easy identification and taxation of the populace. Also, a Filipino or Filipina will most likely have a Spanish first name with a baptismal name or a an American first name. Although, today a lot of the children’s named are more creative and tend to stray away from the naming practice before. It may also mean a long affinity with American pop culture, dating back to the time of Tyrone Power and further. A preference for mix cuisine, an ecletic taste bud that can enjoy Chinese, Spanish, and native dishes. But we are just barely scratching the surface of what it is to be a Filipino.


Filipiniana refers to print and non-print materials about the Philippines or where the main action is taking place in the Philippines. It is one way to learn about the Philippines. Each school and public library in the Philippines should have a Filipiniana connection. An most do have extensive collections. But I would guess the biggest collection of Filipiniana material would be in the Library Congress of the United States or in the Bibliotheca National de Espana or one of the libraries of of the Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits and other religious orders that establish offices here in the Philippines.

Some Filipiniana items. Some are part of the collections. Some should be in the collection. And some I would like to see added to the collection. An Indonesian Library has one of the biggest collections of Eddie Peregrina songs. It is a short list, something I composed on the moment. The materials are in Tagalog or English - the language I am familiar with. How I wish I was polyglot!I am bibliophile, a cinephile, and an occasional audiophile and here are some Filipiniana items I remember or think one should sample.

Books, Short Stories, and others:
Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterisimo
Jose Rizal’s essays: Philippines A Century Hence
Nick Joaquin’s A Question of Heroes
Bienvenido Santos’ Praying Man
Gilda Cordero-Fernando’s A Wilderness of Sweets
Kang Kong 1898
Celso Carunungan’s Satanas Sa Lupa
Bienvenido Santos’ Scent of Apples
NVM Gonzales’ The Bread of Salt
Ceres SC Alabado’s Kangkong 1896
Nonoy Marcelo’s Tisoy
Nonoy Marcelo’s Ikabod
Urbana Y Feliza
Blair, Emma Helen; & Robertson, James Alexander’s THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS
Percy Hill’s Romance and Adventure in Old Manila


Eddie Romero’s Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon
Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos
Walang Sugat
Working Girls
Minsan May Isang Gamo-Gamo
Omeng Satanasia
Ang Pagdadalaga ni Mximo Oliveros
Mark Meily’s Crying Ladies


Bayang Magiliw
Bayan Ko
Nonoy Gallardo’s Saranggola ni Pepe
Fancis M’s Mga Kababayan Ko
Herbert Bartolome’s Tayoy mga Pinoy
Yoyoy Villame’s Magellan
Base Militar
Apo Hiking Society’s Pumapatak Na Naman Ang Ulan

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