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I came across an article by Ambeth Ocampo in my copy of his Looking Back (1990).  In this article, he wrote about his sentiments about our nation’s need to celebrate the Phil-American Friendship Day. As much as I want to strike July 4 off my calendar, I can’t. It’s my birthday!

I can’t help not sharing this with you though.

For additional reference and source, click here. This is where I got all the pictures for this entry.
I am glad we do not celebrate our Independence Day on July 4 anymore and that we rightfully celebrate it on June 12.
Yet I still find it perverse that we have Fil -American Friendship Day on July 4 because I don’t think we should celebrate a colonial past. If we have special relations with a colonizer which was in the Philippines for half a century, then we should have Fil-Spanish Friendship Day because Spain was here for almost four centuries.

In a land addicted to PX goods, green cards, and everything American, people like me who are not enamored with the American way are seen to be weird at times. And we are even labelled Communists, in as much as they say America has done some good for the Philippines during her colonial rule. I don’t think we should lose sight of the Fil-American War. A war that many Filipinos and Americans are totally ignorant of.
One of the hilling photographs in my collection happens to be that of Americans posing in from of the corpses of Filipino insurrectos. There are photograph ditches filled with corpses, which makes one feel they are photographs taken today of salvage victims.
In 1898, Emilio Aguinaldo looked to the great North American Nation as an ally. He thought that America was fighting a war against Spain to end Spanish tyranny in Cuba and the Philippines, not knowing that he would later have to go against his former ally to regain the independence they declared in Kawit on June 12, 1898.
If you think the water cure is a new form of torture, you will be surprised that it was used by Americans in the

Philippines at the turn of the century. They pour water into the victims’ mouth through a tube until he is bloated and then they jump on the poor man’s stomach, forcing all the water out through his mouth, nose and ears!
Did you know that the .45 caliber pistol was designed for use against the Muslims in the South? If we will only care to look at the U.S. Senate documents on atrocities committed in the Philippines during the Fil-Am War, we will strike July 4 off our calendars.
U.S. General Shafter was quoted as saying in 1898 that “my plan would be to disarm the natives of the Philippine Islands, even if we kill half of them doing it.” (italics mine) Then, of course, you have General Jacob Smith who told his men, “I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn; the more you kill and burn the better you will please me. [I want Samar converted] into a howling wilderness!” To think that I got all these data from the New York Public Library!
There is enough on atrocities to fill pages and pages. One of our libraries must have the famous anti-imperialist pamphlet, The Hell Of War and its Penalties, by Edward Atkinson, who advocated the recall of all U.S. troops in the Philippines not because of fighting but because the American soldiers would be susceptible to malaria, leprosy and, worst of all, venereal disease! Armed with statistics, he says that half of the British force in Hong Kong had VD, so to save the U.S. troops’ morale and keep

them free of disease, they should be brought home! Atkinson claimed VD would kill more Americans than bullets.
In the spring of 1899, Atkinson sent copies of the pamphlet to the U.S. Secretary of War, stating that he wanted these sent to the Philippines; he received no reply. He sent copies to eight prominent men in Manila, which meant Admiral Dewey, General Otis et. al. Again, there was no reply. After distributing over 100,000 pamphlets the U.S. Postmaster-General ordered all Atkinson pamphlets removed from the mail bound for the Philippines, thus causing a row and increasing the demand of the pamphlets. One of the amusing things about Atkinson and his pamphlets in the light of the present AIDS epidemic is to ask who brought the dreaded disease to our shores?
Ocampo, A. (1988). We Don’t Need a Fil-Am Day. In Looking Back by Ocampo, A. Pasig, Anvil.
Felipe A. (2008, August 30). Philippine American War: America’s Imperial Debut. Retrieved from’s-debut-as-an-imperial-power/

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Orly S. Agawin

The author Orly S. Agawin

Orly has been writing for The Jellicle Blog since 2008. He is a training and development consultant by day and an art enthusiast by night. He lives in Parañaque with his mom.

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