January 23 and the Republic Day
|Philippine Center for Masonic Studies||
The commonality between the insulares, the two groups of mestizos and the indio principales would become more obvious towards the nineteenth century, as most of them would take advantage of the opportunities being provided by the economic transformations of the Philippines, and make them more and more culturally Hispanized. This did not augur well for the peninsulares, however, as they would normally block any attempts at the political ascendancy of these groups for fear of them being replaced as colonial functionaries in the archipelago. This was also because of the fear of the repeat that Spain had in the Latin American colonies where the Hispanized portions of the colonial population were the ones who led the separatist movements.
The characteristics – of being politically powerless, though economically prominent and culturally Hispanized – would bind the insulares, the two groups of the mestizos and the indio principales into a major cluster. They would soon adopt the term ‘Filipino’ to refer to themselves, away from its original racial definition, with the term assuming a more pronounced cultural, economical and political definition. It must be pointed out that the term Filipino, even at the period preceding the outbreak of the Revolution, would still exclude the indio naturales that constituted the majority of the population of the archipelago.
The cultural and ideological consequences of this divide would be felt with the emergence of the ilustrado (literally, enlightened ones) from this emerging Filipino community. Exposed to the liberal and republican ideas of the urban centers in Manila and Europe, the influence of the ideas of enlightenment, the Age of Reason, modernity and scientifism would create a fresh perspective on their appreciation of Philippine social realities of the nineteenth century.
One must also take into account the types of ilustrados that would be borne out of this movement. The first one, with the case in point exemplified by Jose Rizal, Marcelo del Pilar, Graciano Lopez Jaena, Antonio, Jose and Joaquin Luna, Jose Ma. Panganiban, Mariano Ponce, Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, Felipe Buencamino and Isabelo de los Reyes, would be more urban-based, cosmopolitan, and had lived and been exposed to the conditions of Europe in general and Spain in particular. The second were the rural ilustrados exemplified by Emilio Aguinaldo, Santiago Alvarez, Apolinario Mabini, Ladislao Diwa, Artemio Ricarte, Gregorio Aglipay, Aurelio Tolentino and Emilio Jacinto – who would be exposed to the ideas of liberalism, enlightenment and rationality thru the local educational and academic institutions and would not have lived outside the Philippines all their lives. Most of those who belong to the second group would constitute the local leadership of the rural communities at the outbreak of the revolution. Majority of them would not have the experience of going to Spain or other parts of Europe, and their liberal tendencies were essentially obtained through their participation in the local movements.
The two groups would inspire each other at the instance of the Reform and Propaganda Movement, as well as the founding of the reformist La Liga Filipina. More importantly, most of the individuals in the two groups would also be influenced, and would eventually be part of, the Masonic movement in the Philippines. The ideology of enlightenment, rationality and liberalism oriented towards republicanism and the respect of individual rights would be highly appreciated by the two groups of ilustrados, with a highly pronounced Masonic twist. Freemasonry would inspire the ilustrados to campaign initially for recognition and autonomy but the campaign would later evolve into one that sought self-rule, independence and self-determination. But the divisions within the ranks of the ilustrados – between rural and urban; local and cosmopolitan – would define the characteristics of the leadership of the revolution. These divisions would be highlighted in the challenges that the revolutionary government would face after the June 12 declaration of independence, and the formation of the Malolos Congress. Moreover, the entry of another colonial power – the United States - would prove significant in the determination of the outcome of the events leading to the declaration of the existence of the Republic.
September 15 and Beyond: the Challenges of Republicanism
The 12 June 1898 declaration of the independence of the Philippines was a turning point in the Filipino struggle for self determination. A real challenge in the actualization of these ideas into actual, working and implementable framework of governance with functioning institutions and organizational structure would be the establishment of a constitutional republic. With the advice of Mabini, the revolutionary government of Aguinaldo would constitute and convene the Congress in Barasoain, Malolos, Bulacan to bring to the fore the establishment of a legislative institution that would harmonize the efforts of the revolutionary movement along legal and constitutional framework. Among the first acts of the Congress was the 29 September ratification of the 12 June independence proclamation in Kawit. Despite Mabini’s reservations, however, the Malolos Congress constituted itself as an assembly that would formulate the constitution of the Republic and establish its government under the framework of what may come out as the most important document that it would produce. The congress would be composed of elected and appointed members, mostly ilustrados and principalias. Urban cosmopolitan ilustrados would dominate the Congress and would prove to be a counterweight to the rural ilustrados of the executive dominated by Aguinaldo and Mabini. The officers of the congress were the following: Pedro Paterno, President; Benito Legarda, Vice President; Gregorio Araneta, First Secretary; Pablo Ocampo, Second Secretary
As a Legislature, it enacted laws for the Republic. The most significant acts of congress were concerned with the establishment of government institutions that would foster social development and cohesion. Foremost of this was the maintenance of elementary schools in every town, the establishment of the Burgos Institute that would serve as the national high school of the Philippines, and the creation, and eventual operation of the Universidad Literaria de Filipinas as the state university. The latter actually operated as a real university during the revolutionary period, conducting classes, maintaining a roster of faculty members, enrolling students and granting degrees. Aside from the educational institutions, the Congress also enacted laws and appropriated budgetary allocations for the establishment of the judiciary and the finance departments.
Moreover, the Congress transformed itself into a Constitutional body tasked to draft the political constitution of the republic. To Mabini, it was a premature move, as he advised Aguinaldo to convene the Congress merely as an advisory revolutionary body. Such advice came unheeded and the Congress asserted its preeminence over the stance of Mabini. Mabini and Paterno submitted drafts of the Constitution, but it was the Felipe Calderon version that was adopted by the said Congress. The constitution that was drafted was said to be inspired by constitutions of Belgium, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil and France. Composed of 101 articles and 14 Titles, the constitution calls for a government of the Republic that is popular, representative, alternative and responsible that exercised the legislative, executive, judicial powers of government. There were 26 articles that pertain to the national and individual rights of Filipinos, reaffirming its liberal orientation. To highlight the republican tendency of the Constitution, it included twenty two articles defining the powers of the legislature, twenty articles discussing the executive department and five articles concerning the judiciary. The following were among the major articles, and their subsections found on the Malolos Constitution:
Article 5 – State recognizes the freedom and equality of religious worships, as well as the separation of the church and state
Article 6-32 National and Individual Rights of Filipinos
Article 33-55 – Legislature
Article 56-76 – Executive department
Article 77-81 – Judiciary
Article 82 – Local government
Although the Malolos Congress was able to produce the historic document that would provide the framework of government for the revolutionary movement, its halls would also witness the intermittent, at times bordering on internecine, disagreements between the different camps of ilustrados. Mabini, the harbinger of local rural ilustrado leadership and ideologue of the revolutionary government of Aguinaldo would often come at loggerheads with the urban ilustrados represented by Paterno, Buencamino, Legarda and Araneta. Aguinaldo would oftentimes be caught in the middle of this conflict. He would initially be confiding mostly with Mabini, but the power struggles that would occur in Malolos would eventually pave the way for the victory of the Paterno and Buencamino group of urban cosmopolitan ilustrados.
Foremost among the issues that divided the revolutionary leadership was concerned with the establishment of a government characterized by a strong executive against the idea of checking the powers of the president with an assertive legislature taking the lead in governance. To Mabini, a strong executive was necessary during a state of emergency and the conditions of war. The President should be empowered to deal with the exigencies of the revolution and the conditions of foreign invasion. On the other hand, Buencamino’s group opined that an assertive legislature was needed to counter dictatorial tendencies of a strong presidency. To this camp, the choice was for a government to be established and ran by an ‘ignorant oligarchy’ (referring to the Aguinaldo executive department appointees) against the ‘oligarchy of intelligence’ (referring to the urban ilustrados of the Congress.)
Such dispute would actually focus on how the government should be reorganized. Issues on whether the country was ready to establish a republic, or the exigencies of the anti-colonial war and the arrival of the Americans would merit the continuation of the existence of a revolutionary government under Aguinaldo. To Mabini, the Malolos Congress was established to act as a revolutionary advisory body to the President. But to the members of the congress itself, the Malolos Congress should go beyond that and should constitute itself as a constitutional body tasked to not only to legislate laws but to draft a republican constitution. These questions underlined the tensions that were brewing between the executive and the legislative branches of government and resonated the present issues of legislative-executive relations in the country. To Mabini and his followers, what was needed was a revolutionary executive cabinet whose major task was to ensure the viability of the republic. To Buencamino and Paterno, the viability of the republic could be guaranteed with the existence of a permanent commission of the Congress that could oversee the enactment of laws and could bypass the executive even while the Congress is not in session. Clearly, the young republic was being exposed to the power struggles and the tensions between the two ilustrado camps in their quest for presenting a viable alternative for the country.
Another contentious issue was the role of the church in the new revolutionary dispensation. The delegates debated whether the government should recognize the church as the state religion against the position of another camp that calls for the separation of church and state. Eventually, consideration for the non-Catholic communities in the Philippines, as well as the fear of religious bigotry emanating from the establishment of a state religion (a reminder of the historical experiences of the Filipinos under Spain) became a primary concern that led to the adoption of the latter proposal, winning over the former.
While not explicitly articulated, the members of the congress also anticipated the possible challenges that would confront the young republic in its quest for the redefinition of the nation and its formation as a national community if the Catholic religion would be adopted as a state religion. The possible federation with Moro communities in Mindanao and Sulu and the integration of indigenous mountain communities would obviously become an issue if a state religion based on Catholicism was to be established. This would have profound implications on the institution of the Philippines whether the government should be organized as having a federal or a unitary government.
In all of these deliberations, Masonic principles would come to the fore in resolving the matters that confronted the framers of the Malolos Constitution. Debates concerning the separation of church and state were articulated by two masons, Tomas del Rosario and Felipe Calderon – with the del Rosario formulation on the separation of the church and state winning the approval of Congress with a margin of one vote. The idea of the separation of the church and state reflected the very principles of belief in the Supreme Being, but leaving the individual’s conscience, and not the powers of the State, as the determining factor in the decision to adopt a religious orientation. The constitution of a representative government in the articles on the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government put emphasis on the tendency for ‘anti-clericalism’ that defined the contours of Masonic ideas that inspired the revolution. The recognition of individual and national rights echoed the Masonic assertion of one’s own ‘free will and accord’. Truly, the heated deliberations and the controversial debates notwithstanding, what was achieved by the Malolos Congress was a feat for the Enlightenment and the achievements of enlightened men. Masons constituted the bulk of the revolutionary leadership. Both camps of rural and urban ilustrados were constituted of masons.
January 23 and the Republic Day