When the Spaniards came in 1521 and colonized what is now the Philippines, they did not only name the new found land after their King—Philip II, but they also converted the natives to Christianity.
The Spaniards used a two-sided ploy in their expedition campaign: spread Christianity and reap economic benefits, or the other way around. When the natives failed to kneel before the cross willingly, the sword will compel them—“behind the cross is a sword” was an effective tool to “conversion”.
However, it was more of a forced religious transformation from Paganism and Muslim belief practiced before the Spaniards came to the odd Western religion based on foreign tongue, a dead language at that—Latin Catholicism.
Genuine conversion came later, though “ora pro novis” was still incomprehensible as its was unintelligible to many. In the end, the religious metamorphosis was beneficial to both the vanquisher and the vanquished. On one hand, the Spaniards conquered a considerable part of the archipelago and enriched themselves beyond imagination, and on the other, the Philippines became the only Christian nation in Asia—if that is a consolation at all.
The Spaniards brought with them statues and statuettes made of brass and bronze, sculptures with gold trimmings and medieval paintings with imposing images of the Holy Family, Saints and Angels. All these images in the likeness and in depiction of a Caucasian race just like them complete with blond straight hair and long pointed noses.
For more than 3 centuries under the Spanish rule, the natives worshiped and idolized these images. They were called Indios by the Spanish conquistadores—the lowest class of people in a highly stratified class society. They remained loyal servants and altar boys to the Spanish Friars and were compelled to believe that disobedience to the Church in any way and form was a sure path to hell (a gay monsignor still adopts this dictum). The Spaniards never treated them as equal, nor the Indios felt equal to them because they (the Indios) do not share the physical feature of the images they venerate in the altar, which clearly mirrored their Spanish masters.
Then the Americans came in 1901. They brought with them 540 teachers on board USS Thomas to “Americanize” the citizenry. The teachers that followed were thus called the “Thomasites”, taken from the name of the same boat that transported the first batch of teachers. Most if not all of them though belong to the Protestant congregation. The images of God and Angels they carried with them were identical to those of the Spaniards. Devotion by the Filipinos remained steadfast to Christianity as both the Church and the Protestants preserved the all-Caucasian looking Saints and Angels that were displayed in every Church and Chapel all over the land.
When the Japanese came, they did not intrude or obstruct in any religious activities of Filipinos. Japanese belong to Shinto and Buddhism, which are ethnic religion based on Confucian concepts of piety and ancestor veneration and whose purpose is not conversion of others to their belief or to recruit believers, but only to find inner peace in oneself. The Japanese never idolized the white Americans or any Caucasian images. They even bombed them. Many perished in Pearl Harbor at the start of the war.
The Filipinos with their profound adoration of these Church images, and with the early influence of American movies, subconsciously implanted in their minds an indelible perception of inferiority carried through generations past. These utterly influenced the Filipino way of life too—that anything stateside is superior and a cut above all.
The physical attributes of a Caucasian God, Saints and Angels sadly continue as well to influence the Filipinos’ thoughts and insights on how they define beauty and elegance. Their characterization of it is built around always with a touch of Caucasian ingredients—someone with a pointed nose and white skin, just like the statues and images that religious fanatics parade during “Semana Santa” year after year since the reign of the Spanish friars.
Foreign sounding names; Wurtzbach, Gray, Lehmann, among others, dominate the winners of Miss Philippines and many beauty contests. They are half-breed Filipinas. Even Movie stars; Anne Curtis, Donita Rose, Bea Alonzo, Derek Ramsey, Ronald Remy, Fernando Poe, Jr. to name just a few whose facial and physical features are acquired from their Caucasian fathers more than that of their Malay race mothers are all Top-List actresses and actors, way above in billing than their native-looking counterparts. They have “angelic faces”, Filipinos say—symbolic anew of the ancient religious likeness of the Caucasian angels deeply ingrained and preserved in their minds.
As a result of this drawn-out indoctrination, the Filipinos indifferently acquired this subservient nature especially to Caucasians. Moreover, this can also be traced to the protracted years of being brutally vanquished by both the Spanish and Japanese occupying forces, in between them, the white Americans who treated the locals unjustly and called them their “brown brothers” while exploiting the nation’s natural resources.
The Church’s perpetual threat of a terrifying hell for the unbelievers and sinners steadily reinforced this dearth of self-confidence of Filipinos whenever they are face-to-face with “the angelic” personage—they come to be speechless most of the time.
The Filipinos are dismal sucker of human frailty in a less direct way—the result of their senseless self-deprecating personality impressed by these religious traditions and western subjugation.
Today, the Filipinos have awakened. In a fit of pique, they seek to deny and defy these antecedent past influences by choosing a contrasting path never been taken before—they found a unique petrified commoner-leader most charismatic to majority to lead them, but who inveigles them so easily too with a promise of redemption. Dismally, in the process, they are made to vow obediently and blindly to a newfound master—the invading Chinese.
Their eyes wide shut.