Did Spanish colonial rule doom the Philippines? Think again…


The following text taken from the bestselling book Sapiens is Yuval Noah Harari’s brilliant take on what set apart the European conqueror at the dawn of their golden age of imperialism from the peoples they conquered and from other empire builders that came before them:

Around 1517, Spanish colonists in the Caribbean islands began to hear vague rumours about a powerful empire somehwere in the centre of the Mexican mainland. A mere four years later, the Aztec capital was a smouldering ruin, the Aztec Empire was a thing of the past and Hernán Cortés lorded over a vast new Spanish Empire in Mexico.

The Spaniards did not stop to congratulate themselves or even to catch their breath. They immediately commenced explore-and-conquest operations in all directions. The previous rulers of Central America — the Aztecs, the Toltecs, the Maya — barely knew South America existed, and never made any attempt to subjugate it, over the course of 2,000 years. Yet within little more than ten years of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, Francisco Pizarro had discovered the Inca Empire in South America, vanquishing it in 1532.

And so we step back a bit and consider a popular claim Filipino ‘patriots’ teach their children — that a lot about the culture that sets the Philippines back and hinders its ability to achieve its full potential is a result of something the Spanish conquistadores who colonised the Philippines introduced to the native culture — that, as this line of thinking goes, had the Philippines’ native people been left to their devices, they will have gone on to become a great people themselves.

But as Harari writes above, the native Americans the Spaniards encountered had sustained great empires with thousand-year histories themselves, yet had failed over those centuries to turn the vast and rich continent of the Americas into a source of wealth and power the way the Spaniards did within decades of their arrival. So too, evidently, was the case of the natives the Spaniards who arrived in the Philippine islands encountered.

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Harari asserts that the key cultural feature of European colonial powers that enabled them to conquer the world lay in their thirst for knowledge which they satisfied by mounting audacious enterprises of exploration of the unknown. Harari writes in Sapiens, “European imperialism was entirely unlike all other imperial projects in history.” He continues…

The Romans, Mongols and Aztecs voraciously conquered new lands in search of power and wealth — not knowledge. In contrast, European imperialists set out to distant shores in the hope of obtaining new knowledge along with new territories.

James Cook [who went on to discover Australia in a British financed semi-military expedition in the 18th Century] was not the first explorer to think this way. The Portuguese and Spanish voyagers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries already did. Prince Henry the Navigator and Vasco da Gama explored the coasts of Africa and, while doing so, seized control of islands and harbours. Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ America and immediately claimed sovereignty over the new lands for the kings of Spain. Ferdinand Magellan found a way around the world, and simultaneously laid the foundation for the Spanish conquest of the Philippines.

Indeed, while the other powerful cultures of the time convinced themselves that they knew everything and looked inward into their comfy wealth and prestige, Europeans underwent what Harari calls “a revolution of ignorance”. By admitting that they did not know the answers to a lot of the important questions of the time, Europeans embraced a spirit of exploration and inquiry into the unknown.

We see today the same stark difference between native Filipinos who happily wallow in wretchedness and the exasperated mostly-expatriate observers who can only watch and facepalm themselves at the obvious solutions to that wretchedness that Filipinos choose to ignore. The inherent inability of Filipinos to do things differently in order to achieve a different outcome that has long baffled observers seems to stem from the same condition that afflicted the Aztecs and Mayans — a lack of curiosity over possibilities that there may be bigger and better ways out there worth exploring.

Nowhere is this more evident in Filipinos’ choice of presidential candidates in their national elections. The banal sameness of the political debate — and the options to choose from — election in and election out is astounding. Filipino voters seem to be totally disinclined to even consider that there may be other options. Instead, they imprison their thinking within the same fatal comfort zone that their politics have languished in over the last several decades.

These observations of the way Filipinos continue to choose the easy path of muddling along in mediocrity leads us to a confronting reality — that Filipinos are too lazy to think much less physically explore the uncharted.

No guts, no glory, as the old cliché goes. Glory belongs to those who beg to differ. To the Filipino belongs only the same poverty brought upon by a wholesale lack of curiosity.

[Photo courtesy Wikipedia.]

81 Replies to “Did Spanish colonial rule doom the Philippines? Think again…”

  1. The Aztec and Inca Empires, were conquered with the help of collaborating natives. Like the Aquinos collaborating with the Japanese Militarists… The Spanish conquerors, were few.So, they need help from the natives… After the conquest; the Spaniards looted the golds and silvers of the Inca and Aztec Empires, and shipped them to Spain.

    The Spaniards, set up Feudalism in every Town, in the country they conquer. In the middle of the area is always a Town; surrounding them are agricultural lands.

    The Towns are populated by the Land Owners. The surrounding agricultural lands are populated by Peasants or Share Croppers.

    It is the same Set Up now with our OFW. The OFWs go to work as “servants” in foreign countries. They Remit part of their Earnings to support their Useless relatives and corrupt government.

    It is “colonial mentality/feudalism) , in the 21st century…

  2. This can be an answer to that meme being passed around that should a battle between Conquistadors and loincloth-wearing natives, with the caption, “this is how the Philippines became Christian.” Very naive meme.

    If Catholicism didn’t come here, there’d still be religion. We’d be a Muslim country, since many of the tribes that occupied Luzon before were Muslim.

    Like I said, the problem with Filipinos is we blame our colonizers for our problems, while still asking them for dole-outs. Singapore did the opposite.

    1. The Spaniards used the Cross , Collaborators , and the Sword to subjugate people. We were Animists, before they came. Animism , is still mixed with the Roman Catholic Religion or in our Christian religion, in the country.

      In Islam, the religion is used to terrorize the Infidels.

      If you use Politics plus Religion. It is a “Witch
      Brew”. Religion can also be used to ‘brainwash” the minds of people; like the iglesia Ni Kristo. The founder , Felix Manalo, became a multi millionaire, thru “block voting” and religious tithes…the highest bidder for “cold cash” among the politicians running for offices; and, pandering for support.

      1. The Ayalas are Spaniards. And they have many lands. Same as those rich Spanish Meztizos. Look at who owned many lands in Metro Manila, and other cities…

        1. ChinoF,

          “But the Ayalas are here, and they’re Filipnios [sic].”

          Yes, the Ayalas (Zobel) are Filipinos, but they don’t marry Filipinos. They go to Portugal, Spain, or Brazil to find their future spouses so ensure their Caucasian lineage. The Ayalas are one of the most aristocratic elites in the Philippines.


        2. This is one mindset I hate about Filipinos. Blaming everyone but himself.

          So what if the Ayalas are of Spanish blood? Did they enslave us? Did they kill our fellowmen w/o remorse? Did they jail us w/o trial ’cause they can?

          Nope. They just set up business, which turns out, helped our fucked-up economy. And here we are bashing some white-colored guys who’s been living in the Philippines for decades now because they’ve supposedly stole our lands. In a sense they did, but they made it much productive than a common Pinoy will ever do.

          The Chinese-Filipinos also get this unjust treatment. Whenever we have incidents with China, we blame accuse them as spies, collaborators, saboteurs, etc. Very, very mind-boggling.

          So, are we still believing that the true Filipinos are the brown-skinned peasant-looking people? Luis Varela and Andres Novales probably wants to have a chat.

        3. You’ve got to read on the Roxas and Zobel families.. originally of Batangas, (Central Azucarrera Don Pedro).. and on Col. McMicking who married into the family. This American GI was the real visionary who convinced his in-laws to buy and develop properties in Makati. I write because, I’m afraid that, next, you will associate the Zobel-Ayala’s with the Rizal execution and the GomBurZa garroting.

        4. Presidente Emilio

          “This is one mindset I hate about Filipinos. Blaming everyone but himself.”

          I’m not blaming every Filipinos and exempting myself. I’m also including myself among our people who are affflicted by our aristocratic “Colonial Mentality.” It’s not a matter of all of us “blaming everyone but himself” for what is wrong with the country; it’s more about ALL OF US FILIPINOS denying that “Colonial Mentality” is deeply-embedded in our mental framework.


  3. “Glory belongs to those to differ”, DOUBT IT. Anyone that begs to do anything is closer to ‘FUCKED’ than ‘Glory’. yep.

    The ancients in Central/South America made do with what they had, and were grateful. The Europeans at the time sought the things in the European continent that were scarce or unavailable, and thus travelled in search of them. The suggestion that they were fueled by an inherent thirst for knowledge is an ‘iffy’ assertion.Sure they were in search of knowledge as in :’Where is the most sugar(gold/silver/spices etc etc) I can get my hands on? and steal it?’). To assert they were great in any sense of the word is subjective to whatever it is that the interested party thinks makes greatness. The Mayans creation of a calender accurate as had never been seen before was much more knowledgable than the Europeans they encountered and should have never trusted. Either way, the Cen Am Indians were much more peaceful and a cleaner people, until ‘WHITEY’ came along and brought with him all sorts of nastiness and inflicted it on their ‘hosts’ who were gullible until it was too late. What scarlet fever/small pox and syphillis did not kill, the soldiers did.
    To compare the Mayans mindset to the present day Filipino and blame it on the Spainards and how they subjugated the Philippines is laughable. Different scenarios,technologies and no mention of the Catholic Church either.

    1. Not to mention that all native americans,north south and central,lived their lives in accordance with nature,and held in high reverence all things natural,and were great stewards of the earth…yes along comes Mr.Whitefolks,and,well,go ahead and fill in the blanks…in the long run,these “simple”people,and their “simple”ways had a vast knowledge,didnt take the environment for granted,and knew better than to kill the goose that layed the golden egg….

    2. Has anyone else wondered like me,if filipino “pride” existed before the spanish came to the philippines? Having travelled,worked,been married to and lived with Spaniards,Cubans,Mexicans,Panamanians,puerto ricans,Colombians just to name a few,I see a very common and stubborn pride in ALL these peoples,all colonized by Spain….its an arrogant,pompous,self righteous kind of pride,not to be confused with self esteem….how intelligent is that??? Is this a legacy of the Spanish or what???

      1. @Biffa
        You have to remember at that time that Spain has just kicked out Islam and were only about to overpower Dutch Protestantism. You are looking at monarchy and theocratic way of governance at the same time. Islam is an arrogant religion, so the arrogance in the culture is what may have translated into Triumphalism when Catholicism got back Spain — the Islamic Spaniard is the same Catholic Spaniard in the transition.

        Colonies not knowing the background for the Triumphalism soon took it as part of the culture without questioning it.

        1. Dear Add.. Up until the mid-16th century, Belgium and the Netherlands were Spanish dominion. In fact, King Carlos I(father of Felipe II) was born in Flanders and could hardly speak Spanish when he became King in his late teens. It was Felipe II who, as King and being a devout Catholic, was fixated in eradicating Protestantism in the ‘Low Countries’, (the BENELUX). The Dutch led by William of Orange revolted, and the Netherlands became an independent country early in the early 17th century. (This is what I’ve read anyway.)

      2. Biffa Bacon,

        Pinoy Pride is nothing more than an aristocratic/arrogant (“Kahambugan”) manner in which Filipinos see themselves; and, yes, this is what we’ve inherited from the Spanish as part of our “Colonial Mentality” makeup.


      3. Biffa Bacon,

        Filipino Pride (Pinoy Pride) existed before, during, and after the Spanish. Yes, Spanish aristocracy is very much embedded in our mental makeup and it has caused us more problems than solutions, because it compelled us to compete and try to outshine each other for status and lineage (mestizos over the kayumanggi).


    3. @Nick
      “The suggestion that they were fueled by an inherent thirst for knowledge is an ‘iffy’ assertion.”

      Only when you ignore the history of Western philosophy can you say it is an iffy assertion. 15th century is the start of the Renaissance. Prior to that was the theocratic Europe, they label as the Middle Ages. Starting the 13th century was this great syntheses of faith and reason. In the process of that effort, as a by product, it was also able to distinguish what is faith and what is reason without confusing them. We take that for granted today.

      But, that clear distinction of reason and faith also allowed reason to move towards all sorts of direction unfettered by faith starting the 15th century. So, Renaissance came to be very much an intellectual quest;in fact, an atmosphere of excitement for reason trying to be by itself. If you ignore this, you are ignoring what Europe was then and the rationale behind the expeditions. To see such as only a search for gold and spices is to get caught by historical interpretations of reductionism and of utilitarianism.

      1. @ ADD, oh horsehit !!! The European excursions were to pilfer as much land title and gold and spices and anything else the explorer’s could get there hands on for the Royal Families that financed,at gunpoint if the failed,their expeidtions.
        Who the fuck do you think your kidding with that “Only when you ignore…’ horsedung ? To ignore the fact that these were IMPERIALIST EUROPEAN EXPEDITIONS is to expose your lack of knowledge of the beginnings, or the continuance of EUROPEAN IMPERIALISM. I was trying to be nice about it and say ‘iffy’, but NO ! you gotta claim the BS you espouse,in pure ignorance,about The Renaiisssance as you think it was. The Renaissance artists/composer’s/ruler’s/Church officials had no idea what these guys were going to haul back to Europe or if they would ever even return (as many did not and perished at sea).IMPERIALISM, my boy, is IMPERIALISM (‘go forth and conquer and claim all for thy QUEEN/KING’) all these centuries later.
        Hey Seus Alou!

        1. @Nick
          The motive may have been imperialism, but couldn’t there be other motives? Should we totally discount that the expedition of Magellan may have been the first to circumnavigate the globe? Was Magellan also an evangelist? And, that this may have cost him his life? But, how do you read motives when they are thoughts? Could we get a glimpse of these thoughts by looking at the way philosophies were developing at that time? For you to get a sense of that, I am directly quoting relevant paragraphs from the 8-volume Frederick Copleston History of Philosophy; below are in Vol 3. If you still don’t get the feeling of the atmosphere then, then I don’t know how I can help you.

          “The gradual breakdown of the framework of mediaeval society and the loosening of the bonds between men which helped to produce a more or less common outlook; the transition to new forms of society, sometimes separated from one another by religious differences; the new inventions and discoveries; all this was accompanied by a marked individualism in philosophic reflection. The feeling of discovery, of adventure, was in the air; and it was reflected in philosophy. To say this is not to retract what I have already said about the inadequacy of regarding the Renaissance as without roots in the past. It had its roots in the past and it passed through several phases, as we shall see later; but this does not mean that a new spirit did not come into being at the time of the Renaissance, though it would be more accurate to say that a spirit which had manifested itself to a certain extent at an earlier date showed an outburst of vitality at the time of the Renaissance.”

          “……Martin Luther was very strongly anti-Aristotelian and anti-Scholastic; but Melanchthon, his most eminent disciple and associate, was a humanist who introduced into Lutheran Protestantism a humanistic Aristotelianism set to the service of religion. The Reformers were naturally much more concerned with religion and theology than with philosophy; and men like Luther and Calvin could hardly be expected to have very much sympathy with the predominantly aesthetic attitude of the humanists, even though Protestantism stressed the need for education and had to come to terms with humanism in the educational field.

          However, though humanism, a movement which was unsympathetic to Scholasticism, began in Catholic Italy, and though the greatest figures of humanism in northern Europe, Erasmus above all, but also men like Thomas More in England, were Catholics, the late Renaissance witnessed a revival of Scholasticism, a brief treatment of which I have included in the present volume. The centre of this revival was, significantly, Spain, a country which was not much affected either by the religious upheavals and divisions which afflicted so much of Europe or, indeed, by Renaissance philosophy. The revival came at the end of the fifteenth century, with Thomas de Vio (d. 1534). known as Cajetan, De Sylvestris (d. 1520) and others; and in the sixteenth century we find two principal groups, the Dominican group, represented by writers like Francis of Vitoria (d. 1546), Dominic Soto (d. 1560), Melchior Cano (d. 1566), and Dominic Banez (d. 1640), and the Jesuit group, represented, for example, by Toletus (d. 1596), Molina (d. 1600), Bellarmine (d. 1621)’ and Suarez (d. 1617). The most important of these late Scholastics is probably Suarez, of whose philosophy I shall give a more extended treatment than in the case of any of the others.”

          “…..In the following century criticism of Aristotle’s physical theories coupled with further original reflection and even experiment led to the putting forward of new explanations and hypotheses in physics; and the investigations of the physicists associated with the Ockhamist movement passed in the fifteenth century to northern Italy. The science of the universities of northern Italy certainly influenced the great scientists of the Renaissance, like Galileo; but it would be a mistake to think that Galileo’s work was nothing but a continuation of ‘Ockhamist’ science, though it would be also a mistake to think that it was not influenced by the latter. For one thing, Galileo was able to achieve his results only through a use of mathematics which was unknown in the fourteenth century. This use was facilitated by the translation, at the time of the Renaissance, of works by Greek mathematicians and physicists; and Galileo was stimulated to apply mathematics to the solution of problems of motion and mechanics in a way for which the mediaeval scientists did not possess the necessary equipment. The use of mathematics as the special means of disclosing the nature of physical reality led to a transformation in physical science. The old way of common-sense observation was abandoned in favour of a very different approach. Though it may sound strange to say so, physical science became les!. ’empirical’: it was set free not only from Aristotelian physical theories but also from the common-sense idea of an observational method which had tended to prevail among earlier physicists. It is true that some continuity can be observed between thirteenth and fourteenth-century science, and between fourteenth-century science and that of the Renaissance; but that does not alter the fact that in the last period a revolution in physical science took place.”

        2. @ ADD, Look , anything can be said to be something it is not, and if looked at in a different light blue can appear to be green.
          I stated what I stated about this article, and it is true. To speculate that the expeditions that were sent out of Europe during the late 1400’s were anything but searches for a better route to China, to effect trade more cost effectively,or searches for wealth producing assets for the Royal Families that funded these ventures is pre-fuckin-posterous.

          Royal families even resorted to ‘housing’ the Captain of the ship’s families until the ship returned, as sort of an insurance policy. Also remember, many more ships/expeditions set sail other than Columbus and his expedition (which was one of the larger ones) and that these ventures were fabulously expensive too. They were thus to be paid for by bringing back treasures from afar to the Royals that funded the ventures.That was their purpose!
          You know, I read the first paragraph of your response,and to back up any further argument of these simple facts? It is futile. At the first read, the article seems as if the writer is imagining things and wishing they happened, which is a pretty far stretch from what the purpose of these expeditions actually were.Maybe just say that rewriting history is not the authors strong suit. AND again, I am being kind. WOW !

    4. @Nick, well the Chinese too invented gunpowder. But it was the Europeans who saw the military potential of this technology and actually applied it at an unprecedented scale.

      The point is that these technologies were not just decoratins or quaint curiosities put in the service of worhshipping deities. Europeans took the (at the time) unprecedented step of applying science and technology to the task of making wealth accumulation and creation more efficient at a scale humanity’s never seen.

      And on that note, nobody here is asserting that acquisition of knowledge was the only motivation to explore, conquer and subjugate. But it was a parallel goal — conquest proceeding side-by-side with the enrichment of Europe’s body of knowledge that powered their consistently-increasing technological superiority over the rest of the world’s over the following centuries up to the present.

      1. I find it difficult to buy into the notion that these were purely Imperialist Ventures. Great human enterprise will fall flat in its face if there is no lofty motive.

        If the adventures of US into the Middle East is all about oil, how could the public support that? How do we position their relationship with Israel on this? Is the motive for peace fake? Is their motive to share the idea of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness also fake?

        1. @ ADD, Wake up dude. Your statement “You find it difficult…”, well wake up….Money, and all things wealth producing, is what the world is all about, plain and simple.
          The second paragraph has nothing to do with the topic in this article,is incomparable, and is a red herring argument.

          and if you want an answer to the last question:YES, it is undoubtedly FAKE. It is about OIL OIL OIL…and Israel is a criminal state that has as its leader a war criminal.Look at Ukraine, the economy is in the toilet and if you want to see U.S. citizens talking about how absurd the whole idea of the spreading of ‘democracy’ is in Syria,Ukraine and Libya, not to mention all the other unfortunate countries that the West has illegally invaded in the last 15 years:SEE THIS LINK, and get a clue for crissakes! You are without a doubt one of the most clueless people I have come across, that is able to articulate in English as a second language.

          I DARE YOU TO WATCH THAT LINK RIGHT THERE !!!! See for yourself, you do not have to listen to me.

          ChinoF recently told someone that a former secretary of the US Treasury and editor-in-chief of the Wall St. Journal was not a good enough source to bolster an argument,LOL !!!! HUH? You guys here at GRP see things pretty uniquely, to say the least.Just because you think it, doesn’t make it so.

      2. Even the most reprehensible human and the most materialistic mercenary, I think, will not move an inch if you ask them to come along an adventure about gold and spices, but the actual choice is between life and death, and more about death.

        Maybe, I can never comprehend an adventurer’s spirit in matters of life and death. Maybe, they can gamble with death if there is gold, but that does not seem intuitive to humans.

        1. That’s… well, how awfully naive and uninformed of you. Not that I think that you’re either of those, but the fact is that when the consquistadores sailed into uncharted territories the world over, their intention was to hoard all the gold and all the spices and all the other treasures the lands they planted their flags on had to conquer, and if they had to use what they deemed to be inhuman savages to dig up the riches of the lands they usurped — well, how brutally convenient!

          The history of the New World after Columbus — something you only have to Google, from de las Casas’ accounts to the surviving manuscripts of post-conquest Indian elites — attests to the conquistadores’ savagery — that furthermore, these pioneers were not solely propelled westward by a sense of adventure or Christian piety, and that enough people were willing to gamble with their lives for a comfortable life afterwards to sail with Magellan and da Gama and whoever else.

      3. @Add, indeed nobody is saying that greed was absent from the list of motivations that drove European expansion. The conquest and subjugation projects of all empires past, present, and future were driven by a lust for power and wealth.

        What we are showing here is that the degree to which a quest for knowledge figured in what motivated and accompanied European imperialism is what made theirs unique and unprecedented.

        1. Oh please. What did Cortes do when his gaggle or soldiers reached Tenochtitlan? Or Pizarro, once Atahualpa accepted his invitation to come have the talk that led to the latter’s capture? Once they conquered and made off with the riches of the New World, did they, or rather the priests they managed to haul off with them to the lands they declared were of their monarchs’, did they treat the natives well? Or preserve the written sculpted knitted records of the civilizations they subjugated?

          Perhaps a select few actually did care about talking to the natives. The rest? They’re fine with shuttling the lazy bumfuck indio down the street of stereotypes. It makes talking down to them — bragging about the greatness of their God and the sharpness of their sophisticated intellects from well atop babbling pulpits and making sure that we know our godforsaken place and assure us with all the subtlety of a hammer to the head that indeed we’re lazy bumfuck indios — that much easier.

        2. Lol! @Pallacertus, goes to show your bleeding-heart mind missed the whole point — which was not about whether the conquistadors ‘cared’ about whatever natives they encountered. The point is more around the opportunities they saw that that the natives missed for thousands of years. It’s still the same today, in fact – so much promise in the Philippines (and other 3rd World countries) outsiders see that the locals continue to routinely miss. Perhaps this is the reason policy makers and foreign development banks pin all their hopes on economic growth in the Philippines on foreign investment. It follows the same pattern seen in the past.

          The only difference is that, this time, the ethics applied are different. Natives are no longer seen as a resource to plunder by modern day conquistadors, but more as a market to seduce into the consumerist ways that feed the new imperial empires being built.

          What was right then was wrong now perhaps. That’s the “morality” lens you choose to judge history with. Unfortunately because of that tint in the way you perceive things, you fail to see the stark reality that is the true common denominator between then and now — one that will ALWAYS be the driving force of history hence.

          That reality is the point of the message of this article that small minds fail to grasp.

    5. the west has no resources so they relied on looting and killing people, raiding villages (like the Vikings). hence, they learned war/colonization tactics. the native americans and we from the southeast have all the things we need to survive and we are contented. that’s why Spaniards see us as lazy and don’t want to work. lol!

  4. You can see the Aztec Pyramids , the Inca,and the Mayan Pyramids. These structures were as ancient , as the Pyramids of Giza, in Egypt.

    These South American ancient people were advanced in: Astronomy, Mathematics, and other Sciences. They have so much gold and silver. That the Spanish Conquerors load them in bulk in their Spanish Galleons destined for Spain.

  5. The main thing the Spanish colonial rule did was teach the Filipino people how to think in an aristocratic/arrogant (“hambog”) manner—especially on how they see themselves and treat one another.

    This is why Filipinos picked Jose Rizal as their national hero–a well-connected Spanish-influenced aristocrat, who was educated in Madrid, Spain and married a German woman–instead of the opposite, Andres Bonifacio–a poor, socially unsophisticated peasant from the lower class.

    A big part of the Filipino people’s pride is they want to be seen as a regal, modern, and “world class” people—and not some peasants who came from a farming, fishing, or manual labor background.

    A heightened sense of aristocracy/arrogance (“kahambugan”) is the general mindsets of the Filpino people, and it shows in the way we think, live our lives, and treat each other.

      1. Lychee,

        I am aware of aristocracy (caste system) among the Maharlika, Timawa, and Alipin tribes. However, I don’t think Filipinos want to be linked with any of our indigenous tribes as much as they want to be associated with the Spanish aristocracy. The latter (Spanish) aristocracy is much preffered because it gives our people a sense of regality, worldwide, notoriety, and more attractive lineage (mestizos).


    1. Aeta:

      Josephine Bracken, the wife of Jose Rizal, was of an Irish descent. Ireland was part of England,(United Kingdom), then…so she was British, if we call her today.

      1. 22Hayden007Toro999.99,

        My mistake. You’re right, Josephine Bracken was of Irish descent. But my point is Jose Rizal was still a member of the aristocratic class and was heavily foreign influenced–which the majority of our try to emulate and it reflects on how we Filipinos think and live our lives.



        1. @Aeta:

          My wife is also British. She is from Wales, United Kingdom. I do not consider myself “aristocratic”, nor identify myself like Rizal…I married my wife to be my partner in life, and to be my partner in work as a Technical man. I cannot find a Filipina, who has good qualifications…

        2. 55Hayden007Toro999.99,

          “I do not consider myself “aristocratic”, nor identify myself like Rizal…I married my wife to be my partner in life, and to be my partner in work as a Technical man.”

          Who you choose to marry is based on individual preference that may, or may not have been, influenced by the aristocratic mentality of our people.

          However, I am basing my assertion on historical facts that we Filipinos–our culture and tradition, including how we think and live our lives as a nation–was heavily influenced by Spanish aristocracy; and we still carry that legacy with us as Filipinos to this day.


      1. ChinoF,

        “I believe that aristocratic, arrogant hambog attitude was really around since the time of the datus and rajahs. The Spanish just added to what’s already there.”

        Whether it started with our indigenous tribes and/or cultivated and reinforced by the Spanish, this is the part of our mental makeup as Filipinos that is destroying our country and relationships with each other; and what we sorely need to address and correct if we expect to fix our problems as a nation.


  6. … seriously, Harari? Seriously?

    As a study of human history and civilization — as a chronicle of the Western historian’s tendency to distill thousands of years of accomplishments into a single variable or even one set of interlocking variables — it must be ranked alongside Toynbee’s Study of History. Which means Harari’s claims about the agricultural revolution or his paean to European imperialism (after which benign0, so fond of such distillations himself, has taken to heart) must be taken with a huge block of salt, because you know, fucking sweeping generalizations under the fucking rug.

    (Which reminds me: what did Harari make of the British empire?)

    1. Yeah, seriously, Harari.

      What is your alternative view then? I’m guessing it’s something to do with the British Empire. But then you stopped there and kept us all guessing (presumably because you can’t be bothered to elaborate on something you feel ought to be evident).

      I won’t hold my breath though. Because I too can’t be bothered to respond to someone who pastes in a half-assed comment like this simply to vent some sort of girlie gust of indignation.

  7. The Europeans indeed sought knowledge… of a faster way to Asia so they could get rich. Let’s be real, these weren’t individuals who sought knowledge because of some grand desire to advance human understanding or because they were intellectuals who got a kick out of it. They just wanted to get rich and you know there’s nothing wrong with that plenty of folks do.

    1. @ Yusuke, yeah, the were looking to get rich. Call it as it was. A quest for knowledge? OMG!!! LOL !!!! Seek/Search, apprehend, destroy, return, repeat.

  8. Neither the Spanish, the Americans, nor the Japanese doomed us. We ourselves are responsible for our misery. We don’t know, or couldn’t agree, when we have a good thing going for us, and that is why we squander them. We simply love to shoot ourselves in the foot.

    Take the case of language. We had Spanish and English, and yet we said we better have the dialect of those taga-ilog as our national language for the simple reason that a nation has to have a national language. Well, Singapore adapted Singlish, and who cares if others laugh at their accent, but they didn’t cut off themselves from the world’s body of knowledge which are mostly, guess what, in English and Spanish.

    Now, our uber-nationalist are quiet because the BPOs need, guess what, English and Spanish. I don’t know why they should just be quiet when they should have jumped into the Manila Bay for their shortsightedness.

    Together with the imposition of Tagalog on school curricula came the deterioration of education in the country. I remember a New York headhunter telling me he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He said that up to the early 1990s, he used to fill up executive positions within Asia with Filipino talents which he said was abundant. He said, however, that pool of talent seems to have just disappeared overnight. Incredible was how he described the phenomenon.

    As of today, of course, Real Education has not just been thrown under the bus; it has been run over many, many times. Now, who among the youth would be interested in subjects like humanities, sociology, philosophy, literature, etc. The direction is towards utilitarian education. It is to adjust to the job market, but market changes rapidly, so look at our thousands of nurses who are unemployed or underemployed. And, yet the dumbing down continues. When we don’t prepare our youth for any kind of change, then the Philippines is bound to be a dead duck as we can see. The are called schools, because they are about pursuit of knowledge, not necessarily about a piece of paper called diploma.

    Yet, I remember my grannies who were teachers, and how they were highly respected in the community. Today, the society sends its teachers to be DH in HKG, — really most, most, most disgusting if you ask me. We used to be the envy in Asia because we were the crossroad of Western and Asian cultures. We threw that away because we had academics who had the most stupid sense of nationalism. I don’t even understand why they are allowed inside any campus when they should be in jail for treason.

    1. Northeast Asians, even after being subjugated by European imperial powers for a while, eventually caught up when they themselves mounted a collective resolve to embrace the same ethic of scientific inquiry they observed in Westerners.

      Filipinos seem to have never developed a similar resolve. Instead they found comfort in mediocrity and idiocy. AN admired Filipino economist, based in New York wrote this waaaaayyy back in 2000

      There’s a weird culture in our midst: our jocular regard for our national problems, great crimes, villainous scams and calamities. Note that Filipinos are notorious for making fun, creating a joke of their misfortunes. The cellulars are full of them now. In other countries inhabited by serious and sensitive people, they mount crusades, indignation rallies or nationwide relief campaigns to meet such crises. They would weep or stomp their feet, or explode in anger, or demand punishment for the criminals or misfits. Here we tend to laugh at scams, crimes and natural calamities, as if they are part of the usual TV noon comedy shows, the Pinoy’s daily diet.

      …yet it reads as if it was written just now right after reading today’s headline news.

    2. Most, NO, ALL Filipino politicians should be in jail for treason, if not, then plunder, graft, coercion and any number of coruption related charges will fit the bill.
      BTW ADD, the first paragraph is the first correct statement I have heard you make in quite sometime, keep it up….you may be on a roll.

  9. I have a different theory. I see a strong correlation between skin color and IQ. It seems lighter skinned people have a greater disposition to use their brains more than other races. – which is why I think we need an infusion of northern hemisphere blood into Pinoy society to dilute the corrupt dysfunctional Mindset inherent in brown-skinned people’s DNA.

    Sorry to sound racist here, but it’s the observable fact.

    common sense- wala sa dugo ng Pinoy. Please marry a whitey as much as possible.

    If you don’t believe me – try teaching an askal dog some tricks. You’ll realize that a German shepherd (northern heme sphere breed) is far smarter by leaps and bounds.

    Phil was better off ruled by Americans or Japs. Independence was a big mistake. Enjoy the traffic – you you asked for it – you got it!

    1. Hahaha. But I beg to disagree, Zaxx. In the Ivy League schools, the honor students are somewhat peppered with lots of Indians and Chinese, and the Noypits are not lagging behind. I have 3 nephews/ niece in Rutgers who are either magna or summa, and 2 nephews in Harvard, one magna and one Dean Lister. Given a break, Noypits can do it. But here, they don’t appreciate such, so the ones with brains don’t come home. Look at Gibo, a Harvard Dean Lister, they didn’t vote for him, instead voted the most stupid who doesn’t know his ass from his elbow.

      1. @ ZAXX, there is plenty of scientific study that proves your claim,racist or not.Seems Asians are slightly higher avg. I.Q.’s than Whites, who have a higher avg. I.Q.s than Hispanics and then its a long drop to Blacks/Africans who have the lowest avg. I.Q.s. It has been proven that what you stated is correct.

    2. @add. Good point there. Which leads to my second theory that will bring a ray of hope for Pinoys who are stuck with their skin color.

      If Filipinos cannot get foreign blood into the Phil, the second option is to migrate to immerse yourself and be managed by whiteys.

      Somehow, given enough time – the common sense can rub off to a Pinoy. so that explains why you see excellent Indians and Pinoys in US. By the way, Chinese are considered a northern light skinned race – common sense is already in their blood.

      The fact that we are so much in need of foreign capital only shows how much we need foreign help – including their DNA.let the transfusions begin!

      sorry about Gibo. He should just go and carve out his own sub-state somewhere in the jungles of Aurora where he can impose meritocracy to be the name of the game. As for the rest of Phil – pogo points is all that matters – sad to say.

      1. Ya know what, Zaxx. There was a decade in Indonesia when they undertook sending annually 10,000 scholars to the US and Europe. Hahaha, your suggestion may not be original then.

        But scary, it gives you an idea why our neighbors are advancing, and we are not. They are very, very serious about education.

  10. To the extent that Cristoforo Colombo, a Genoese, Fernao Magalhaes, a Portuguese, Vasco da Gama, another Portuguese, Hernan Cortes, a Spaniard and others like them, endeavored to find routes to the east.. the efforts of their European sponsors were indeed towards acquisition of knowledge. It appears to a keen student of history, however, that the underlying motive and, therefore, the driving force was conquest and expansion of territory, and exploitation of these territories’ natural resources.. for treasure. During those times the concept of wealth ‘formation’ was unknown. Conquest and acquisition, therefore, was the default method of wealth accumulation.

    Further, and as if to bolster the thesis of ‘conquest-and-exploitation’ over ‘knowledge-acquisition’, the English, and the Dutch raided, occupied and displaced early Spanish and Portuguese territories in India, Indonesia and even in the Americas where New York City was once called New Amsterdam. None of these European powers, then, had any notion of generating wealth through manufacturing and economic development. The industrial revolution was not to come until three centuries later.

    A romanticized retelling of the age of exploration just seems disingenuous.

  11. We seem to be, still, looking for someone or something to blame for our confused (damaged?) culture, therefore, our failure to achieve our full potential. Why don’t we look at the guy in the mirror and see who exactly is to blame for this malaise; Yes.. ourselves. We can’t continue to point a finger at ‘Carlos Primero’, (not the brandy), or Magellan or Legaspi; nor can we blame George Dewey,William McKinley or Theodore Roosevelt. It’s been some 117 years since Camilo de Polavieja and Fernando Primo-Rivera the last two Spanish Governors-General sailed from Manila Bay, for General Wesley Merritt, the first American Governor-General, to take over.
    We obviously had more than ample time to take charge of ourselves and to plot our country’s and our people’s destiny.. ourselves. The formal effort towards this objective began in 1901 when Filipinos, Benito Legarda, T.H. Pardo de Tavera and Jose de Luzurriaga were appointed to serve in the first Philippine Commission. These three wrote into the first charter the laws that took into consideration Filipino customs and traditions. Further, It has also been 70 years since the first President of the Republic, Manuel Roxas firmly took over as independent leader.
    Our inadequacy and our failures are clearly on us. To assign blame on other people or situations, or even on certain benchmarks in our history is not helpful. It is counter-productive as it would just prolong our being lost at sea and ensure our downward trajectory.

  12. Very interesting post benignO. You are right to question the more or less common, though absurd notion that Spanish colonial rule “doomed” anything or anyone. Historical facts first, educated opinions second.

    When the first Spaniards arrived in (what today is) the Philippines, they found different tribes, chiefdoms and peoples, many at war with each other. In many, it was common practice to enslave men or women from nearby tribes and kill them to bury them with their masters or chiefs, to become servants in their afterlife. Sometimes they would kill slaves as a ‘sacrifice’ to help their master recover from ill health.

    The Spanish found tribes who lived two miles away, but could not understand each other because they spoke different languagues. They found animists, Muslims and followers of other religions, with very different customs, not just in different islands, but a few miles down the road. War and slavery did not occur everywhere or all the time, but it was frequent and common.

    Spain did not just bring the Cross, a common faith, but also a morality, a respect for human life and many things Filipinos consider basic today. She also brought the priceless gift of unification, meaning a common identity, a common country. This is often ignored or understated in history textbooks. The same with the introduction of the wheel and the plow, which led to widespread agriculture and better lives for thousands of people, or the clock and printing press, or building techniques which made possible the construction in stone. Spain introduced the concept of the modern Town (the municipio), and founded hundreds of them across the archipelago, which led to a broader sense of community, (beyond the tribe or the barangay) a sense of belonging to the same town, and eventually to the same NATION. Many authors don’t realise the importance of this contribution.

    But Spain also introduced education, and a common law (the civil code) and science and what was then modern medicine, and engineering, and map making, and navigation techniques. Spain founded schools across the islands, and hospitals, and orphanages, and churches and Asia’s first universities. It did not just eat up the archipelago’s resources and leave (as other European colonial powers did). Spain stayed.. because it considered the Philippines an extension of its own mainland, and Filipinos fellow Spaniards. That’s why it developed infrastructures, built roads that cut through forests, and bridges and ports and lighthouses. That’s why it founded towns, and built forts and walls to defend it from pirates and foreign assailants.

    These are the facts. Now come the opinions. (By the way, Harari is wrong about James Cook “discovering” Australia. It was a Dutch navigator and only weeks later a Portuguese one -saling for Spain- who in 1606 first laid European eyes on Australia. The Cook myth about Australia has long been refuted).

    It is intersting benignO, how you talk of the thirst for knowledge in your post: the wish to discover the unknown. I find this very plausible. Indeed, I think those Spanish and Portuguese explorers of the 16th century did not risk their lives crossing thousands of miles of unknown waters just for power and wealth. This they sought undoutedly. But they were also probably moved by a sense of idealism, a longing for achievement, the wish to discover the unknown, to contribute knowledge to humanity about new oceans, new lands and new peoples on the other side of the world. This I agree with. Congratulations for your post.

    1. Thanks! Yes, that was not Harari’s error (re ‘discovering’ Australia, that was my entry into the quote) thanks for pointing that out.

      Indeed, that was a good local example you cited, how different tribes existed virtually side by side yet failed to cross pollinate one another’s culture nor unify and explore their surroundings. The absence of curiosity over things outside of their immediate circles seems to be a recurring theme.

      As you pointed out, if it was purely just a hunger for wealth and power that motivated expansion in Europeans, then they would have simply conquered territory within their immediate/adjacent realms. But the ships they sent out went further beyond what was known to them, which indicates that burning curiosity that other cultures lacked.

    2. And there’s no reason to believe that the curiosity for new things is mutually exclusive from wanting to make a buck from it. For sure, the Europeans wanted to gain something from what they were to discover. Perhaps, one can say, why else would you want to have something to discover?

  13. In short this article is about how these enlightened Europeans went all over the world to feed their curiosity.

    Well guess what- curiosity killed the cat. Magellan was game over when lapu lapu claimed his 9th life.

    But we all know this “thirst to quench curiosity” is all just pure speculation. How could we know the motives of these guys from 400 years ago? I don’t even know the motive of my neighbor in the here and now.

    I am more inclined to speculate they had corrupt motives:

    3G’s : Gold Glory & Girls
    3W’s: Wine Women & Wealth

    Just like the average Self-centered self-entitled Pinoy drowning in narcicism!
    May the candidate with the most pogi points win – you deserve it Phil. Keep voting for the ones who best represent you; and while you’re on the way to vote – enjoy the traffic. You’ll have 6 more years of that until you Wake Up!

    Word of advise- speculate rather on the motives of Mar, Binay and Roxas, rather than dwelling on the past.

    -common sense for Pinoys

    1. It’s not just the motive of individuals that was at play here but an inherent curiosity in the system at a collective level in European society that accounted for their remarkable expansion.

      The fact that there were people and governments willing to invest in such speculative ventures and financial systems in place to channel these investments to those willing to execute them is a function of the sophistication of the cultural and social infrastructure that was evolving in Europe far ahead of the rest of the world.

      Of course no one can really be 100% certain about individual motives. But it is the emergent outcome at a macro level where collective motivations are evident. And at that level, one can readily see what set apart European imperialism from all the rest.

        1. Of course it’s always convenient to blame “only” European “Imperialism” not realizing that the Middle East and Asia had the largest Imperial regimes that almost succeeded in dominating Europe. Suleiman and Temujin weren’t exactly expanding for charitable reasons.

    2. Imperialism. It’s human nature -> “what’s in it for me?”

      Curiosity, adventure and discovery may be worth risking life and limb and investing for, but unlikely the prime motivator.

      My best guess is that the primary motive of these Colonial imperialists was the glory of their kingdoms (the fame of being the first) and the promise of wealth at the end of the rainbow (vast lands/resources and populations to claim). The fun of discovery was just a secondary byproduct.

      Then nobler causes of evangelizing and improving other primitive civilizations could be much lower on their motivation lists, and merely just propaganda tools.

      I do recognize that we can have multiple simultaneous and even conflicting motives in doing something. e.g. going to “church” to worship God (50% of the motive) + to meet friends (30% of the motive) + to find a mate (20% of the motive).

      The better we are at deciphering the motives of our candidates, the better it is in keeping our country safe and progressive. So be on the lookout for wolves.

      But it is amazing how the white man has consistently proven to be ambitious, with the capacity to dream big, think big. Look at Elon Musk – aiming for sending humans to Mars with SpaceX. Filipinos have much to learn.

  14. It by no means doomed us. Ultimately our decisions, our leaders doomed us. It has been over a century since spanish rule.

    The damaging things that the Spanish did bring is showing our elite that government is a tool to oppress people (government mandated slave labor and onerous taxes — polos y servicio’s, bandala not to mention land grabbing) and that religion is a tool to perpetuate ignorance and subservience.

    It’s the same pattern you see in most colonized countries. Whitey comes in rapes the land. Local elite jiggers a revolution for so-called freedom but turns out the locals just want to oppress fellow locals like Whitey. Not even fifty years in Hollywood could cure this pattern.

    It’s sad because if you read rizals novels today, the same issues are relevant. Insert rizal face palm meme here.

  15. @ BENIGNO, here is an article,a series actually, that will help you ascertain what others outside the Philippines think of two major issues: Global Warming(on which you did an article recently) and the 9/11 investigation and how some educated engineers have rightfully pointed out that steel melts at a higher temperature than jet fuel can burn at, by double the temperature to be exact.
    WTC BLDG 7 was a robbery, the gold vaults underneath WTC 2 were emptied and the getaway path was destroyed at 5:08 PM September 11, 2001 in a controlled demolition that was planned months in advance. See whose offices were inside WTC 7, and where the world’s largest Gold deposits/reserves were stored and you shall see a different light has been shown on a subject whose official narrative is for the weak minded and feint of heart.

  16. Talking of the Cross,

    Full Text of Pope Francis’s Address On Arrival in Havana – 9/19/2015

    Mr. President,
    Distinguished Authorities,
    Brother Bishops,
    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    I thank you, Mr President, for your greeting and your kind words of welcome in the name of the government and the entire Cuban people. I also greet the authorities and the members of the diplomatic corps present at this ceremony.
    My gratitude also goes to Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of Havana, the Most Reverend Dionisio Guillermo García Ibáñez, Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba and President of the Episcopal Conference, the other bishops and all the Cuban people, for their warm welcome.
    I thank, too, all those who worked to prepare for this Pastoral Visit. Mr President, I would ask you to convey my sentiments of particular respect and consideration to your brother Fidel. I would like my greeting to embrace especially all those who, for various reasons, I will not be able to meet, and to Cubans throughout the world.
    This year of 2015 marks the eightieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cuba and the Holy See. Providence today enables me to come to this beloved nation, following the indelible path opened by the unforgettable apostolic journeys which my two predecessors, Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI, made to this island. I know that the memory of those visits awakens gratitude and affection in the people and leaders of Cuba. Today we renew those bonds of cooperation and friendship, so that the Church can continue to support and encourage the Cuban people in its hopes and concerns, with the freedom, the means and the space needed to bring the proclamation of the Kingdom to the existential peripheries of society.
    This Apostolic Journey also coincides with the first centenary of Pope Benedict XV’s declaration of our Lady of Charity of El Cobre as Patroness of Cuba. It was the veterans of the War of Independence who, moved by sentiments of faith and patriotism, wanted the Virgen mambisa to be the patroness of Cuba as a free and sovereign nation. Since that time she has accompanied the history of the Cuban people, sustaining the hope which preserves people’s dignity in the most difficult situations and championing the promotion of all that gives dignity to the human person. The growing devotion to the Virgin is a visible testimony of her presence in the soul of the Cuban people. In these days I will have occasion to go to El Cobre, as a son and pilgrim, to pray to our Mother for all her Cuban children and for this beloved nation, that it may travel the paths of justice, peace, liberty and reconciliation.
    Geographically, Cuba is an archipelago, facing all directions, with an extraordinary value as a “key” between north and south, east and west. Its natural vocation is to be a point of encounter for all peoples to join in friendship, as José Martí dreamed, “regardless of the languages of isthmuses and the barriers of oceans” (La Conferencia Monetaria de las Repúblicas de América, in Obras escogidasII, La Habana, 1992, 505). Such was also the desire of Saint John Paul II, with his ardent appeal: “May Cuba, with all its magnificent potential, open itself to the world, and may the world open itself to Cuba” (Arrival Ceremony, 21 January 1998, 5).
    For some months now, we have witnessed an event which fills us with hope: the process of normalizing relations between two peoples following years of estrangement. It is a sign of the victory of the culture of encounter and dialogue, “the system of universal growth” over “the forever-dead system of groups and dynasties” (José Martí, loc. cit.). I urge political leaders to persevere on this path and to develop all its potentialities as a proof of the high service which they are called to carry out on behalf of the peace and well-being of their peoples, of all America, and as an example of reconciliation for the entire world.
    I place these days under the protection of our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Blessed Olallo Valdés and Blessed José López Pietreira, and Venerable Félix Varela, the great promoter of love between Cubans and all peoples, so that our bonds of peace, solidarity and mutual respect may ever increase.
    Once again, thank you, Mr. President.

    For PHL, I highlight the sentence: It is a sign of the victory of the culture of encounter and dialogue, “the system of universal growth” over “the forever-dead system of groups and dynasties”

  17. Well, we can’t blame the Spanish for what we are today. They have their own problems as we speak, they just recovered from their financial crisis that began during the world financial crisis of 2007-08. Even Latin America has its own share of problems like weak growth, soaring inflation, declining economy and I’m pretty sure they are not blaming Spain for that. Even United States can’t really solve our problems either because their economy isn’t doing so well, granted they have a powerful military but they are stagnating economically just look at their debt. Japan just came out of their recession but their growth also disappoints.

    Noone will solve our problems except for us. The problem with that is there are people that still expect their asses to be wiped by someone else, for someone to take care of their issues. But that’s not just gonna happen. I fear that the elections won’t really change anything at all for as long as the candidates are all a bunch of Judas who doesn’t care for anything but their own sake. Why do people keep voting politicians who create stupid decisions? I guess that makes us stupid too.

  18. The Ignorance Buster,

    The only two (2) problems in the Philippines are the (1) Corrupt cultural values and (2) Filipinos’ dysfunctional (self-serving and arrogant) way of thinking.


  19. Google inventions by the ancient Chinese people.

    Now Google inventions by the ancient Filipinos.

    Or Google IQ in Asia by nation.


    Most third world countries around the world benefited from colonialism, which provided them stable government, developed infrastructure and bought education to many that were colonized. Since obtaining independence many nations, though not all, have seen corrupt leaders come to power, who have robbed their people of their wealth, resulting in many people under their governments live a life of poverty. The exceptions have been those who retained the British parliamentary form of government and legal system.

    While there were some abuses committed by European powers when they administering their colonies, those administered by the British generally benefited from having a fair legal system, capable administration and government without politics. There are many nations in the world today where their people would be much better off administered as a colony, with government officials appointed based on their ability rather than politics.

    Bruce Porteous

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