History Spanish-American War Part 3 Filipino View

About the Filipino view of the Spanish-American War between the United States and the Philippines.


The Spanish-American War As Seen by the Filipinos

Tension grew over the next months as it became apparent to the Filipinos that the U.S. was in the Philippines to stay. On Dec. 10 the Treaty of Paris ending the Spanish-American War was signed. In this treaty it was agreed that possession of the Philippines, Cuba, and Guam be transferred from Spain to the U.S. for the price of $20 million. No Filipino representative had been allowed to participate in the negotiations in spite of the fact that the Philippines was, by then, a nation with a congress, a constitution, and local governments. When President McKinley issued the Proclamation of Benevolent Assimilation and ordered the U.S. Army to move out of Manila and occupy the entire country on Dec. 21, the betrayed Filipino rebels opposed this invasion and war erupted anew.

The aristocratic class, which had formerly collaborated with the Spanish, supported the Americans, while the majority of the Filipinos accepted Aguinaldo as their leader. In January of 1899 Aguinaldo formed a democratic nationalist government--the Philippine Republic--dedicated to independence. What followed is very reminiscent of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. By 1901, 126,000 troops had poured into the Philippines. Mass relocation camps were established in order to stop Filipino peasants from supporting the rebel armies. It was estimated that half the population of Luzon (the largest of the islands) starved to death after U.S. troops burned crops to keep them from falling into rebel hands. Torture was used to obtain confessions and information. American soldiers specialized in the "water cure," in which gallons of water were forced down the throats of natives; if the first application didn't have the desired effect, the victim was jumped on to empty his stomach, and the process was started over. The massacre of civilians became commonplace. Brig. Gen. Jacob Smith, commanding forces on the island of Samar, ordered: "I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn: The more you kill and burn the better you will please me."

These brutal tactics succeeded so well that, after 3 1/2 years of savage war, President Theodore Roosevelt announced on Independence Day, July 4, 1902, that the Philippines were "pacified." (In actuality, the rebels continued fighting for many more years.) From the Filipino point of view, their country had been invaded, conquered, and colonized by U.S. imperialists. Some 200,000 Filipinos were killed, while an estimated 400,000 died of war-generated diseases and starvation.

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