Recommended: Gat Andres Bonifacio: The Anti-Colonial National Hero of the Philippines (Bonifacio Series I)
A century and nearly a score years ago today, a most patriotic and fervent hero of a land to the southeast was executed by his coup plotting secret enemies during the peak of his people's struggle for national independence. The revolutionary leader was Andres Bonifacio y de Castro, murdered May 10, 1897 in a remote mountain in the archipelagic islands the hero called the Haring Bayang Katagalugan (Sovereign Nation of Katagalugan.) The name "Katagalugan," derives from "Tagalog," which is a constriction of the word "taga-ilog" that translates as "(person/people) from the area along the river," or simply, riverine. The hero's treacherous execution marked not only the elite takeover of the revolutionary mass movement he built but, as well, the adoption of a colonial name for his country well past into its independence period until today. Tagalog was junked and the old name given by Spain after its king, Philip II, stuck. Called "Las Islas de Filipinas" by Spain--a name favored even by its other elitist heroes--or "Philippine Islands," by its next colonial master, the United States of America, it is now called the Republic of the Philippines.
The emerging global cataclysm of global warming, however, may just give the people of Bonifacio's Tagalog islands--the "Filipinos" of today--the unlikely opportunity of reverting to the non-colonial country name that reflects and asserts their precolonial heritage, and nationalist identity and aspirations. The predicted rise of sea levels due to the ongoing climate change may swamp Manila and other low-lying areas, cleansing their nation of the selfish, unpatriotic elites of class and mind in the process. A cleansing that can be likened to the Babylonian and Biblical stories of the Deluge, which would purify the population of its protracted alienation from its Malay roots--to allow the archipelago to assume the more endemic, nationalist name of Tagalog.
Predictions of Climate Change Devastation
Global warming is an emerging cataclysm such that even critics of the anthropogenic-climate-change theory concede that its impacts are now upon all the inhabitants of this planet. While scientists are yet uncertain of whether global warming affects El Nino and other climatic variability changes, they are more confident that it is an irreversible phenomenon that would impact regional extremes in temperature, seasonal precipitation, seasonal temperature, global average temperature, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, and tragically, the average level of sea waters.
The countries that scientists consider to be most vulnerable are the low-lying areas, particularly archipelagic countries in Asia, such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. According to a scientist from the Australia-based Center for Australian Weather and Climate Research, the most plausible climate change scenario by the end of the century is a total sea-level increase between 1-2 meters.
An Inundated Philippines
The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,000 islands and islets shaped like scattered pearls and lying approximately 500 miles off its coast. It has an irregular configuration, the coastline of which extends over 21,500 miles. Its topography and geology depicts a beauteous piece of nature's work--coral, volcanic, principal rock formations, and diverse mountain ranges that mostly run along the direction of the islands themselves and that host some 3,000 endemic and unique species of plants and over 500 of the 700 known species of coral in the world. While its highest peak, Mt. Apo in Mindanao, stands at nearly 9,700 feet, the central plain of Luzon, the biggest island where the capital Manila lies, rises only a mere 100 feet above sea level.
According to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), global warming could submerge areas of Manila and eradicate a number of entire islands of the Philippine archipelago. Based on data gathered for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a rapid increase in sea levels, from between 20-40 centimeters has been observed between the 1960s and the present. This sea-level rise around the Philippine coast is at least partly due to melting glaciers and higher temperatures of ocean waters.
Based on a high IPCC-predicted A2 scenario of a 100 cm sea-level rise by 2080, 5,000 hectares of the coastal region of Manila Bay would become regularly inundated. The Sulu Sea and Tubbataha Reef waters are also expected to warm and face rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 2ppmv-4ppmv annually. Greenpeace Southeast Asia warns that a one-meter sea-level increase would affect 64 of the total 81 provinces, covering over 700 of the 1,610 towns. Combining these three scenarios, total inundation within this more conservative one-meter-rise prediction would cover nearly 700 million square meters of Philippine land between 2080 and 2100.
Predictions of an inundated Philippines are not limited to scientific studies of climate change. This author is reminded of psychic forecasts dating back to the 1970s that predicted Metro Manila will be submerged in the future. At that time, logical attempts to interpret such predictions (of which Filipinos are fond of) centered on the Manila Bay reclamation project implemented by the Ferdinand Marcos administration. Psychic "Apo," who correctly predicted United States President Barack Obama's 2008 electoral win by a one-third advantage*, sees a similar scenario probably happening for the countries in Southeast Asian. He even goes on to say that Filipinos should perhaps try to emigrate to higher-lying countries that include Israel and those in the West.
Backed up by science and sensed by "psychics," the strong likelihood is that the Philippines several decades from now will be radically different. Areas of Manila--the former seat of colonial Spain and colonial America and today's political center and seat of elite power--as well as other parts of Central Luzon could transform into rivers, while low-lying small islands and islets could be swallowed up by the ocean waters. Such a scenario could gravely impact not only the fortunes of the general population but as well, those of the ruling elite. Apart from the initial economic damage from structural and infrastructural destruction and relocation and other costs, political power and organization may be physically and symbolically encumbered, given that the presidential residence, Malacanang, lies within Manila. This could be aggravated by the prospect that the higher-lying Makati City, the country's business center, could be cut off from other areas, to be connected only via river navigation.
Possible Filipino Elite Response: Emigration
Such a drastic environmental change could just prove too much for an elite class generally used to reigning over the rest of the population and owning much of the islands. With their fortunes amassed through the century or centuries of predatorily staying on top of the socio-economic ladder, they have the resources to save their skins and emigrate out of the Philippines at will. As easily as members of this same class have been historically co-opted by the Western colonialists with whom their ancestors interbred, these largely mestizo elites could, and would, easily and unremorsefully abandon a sinking archipelago.
Filipino Elite Exodus & the Rebirth of Tagalog Nation
Drastic and shocking as it may be, any such exodus of Filipino elites may just bring in the unexpected blessing of a nationalist rebirth. Any such global-warming-caused inundation of the Philippines, and the expected emigration of the jetsetting rich class, could serve to purify the archipelago of political and cultural affinities with the two Western countries that conquered its people and pillaged its identity. When the deluge of global warming does drive the easily co-optive elites away from the country they half-heartily love and barely serve, who will be left are the Filipino masses without the resources to take the easy way and flee. This same socio-economic group without the means to emigrate is the Filipino class that has long been deprived of the opportunity to overcome the economic and social inequities and rise above their lowly existence.
Without the original patriotism-bereft elite class to exploit them, and imperialist nations to take interest, the future people of an inundated Philippine islands could seize the opportunity to rise from the ravages of flooding to form a new, moral and glorious nation as the Father of the Philippine Revolution, Andres Bonifacio, envisioned in the late 1800s. With only the masses and middle class around, and shielded from Western colonial exploitation by its partly submerged state, the population who will be left to face the geographic challenges of the impact of global warming could take a liberating nationalist course away from their delimiting colonial mentality, best represented by their country's name, the Philippines. Seeing the new rivers created from the old lands, they could be inspired to rechristen their country with the same name that the great but betrayed leader Bonifacio earlier gave, Tagalog.
"Philippines" vs. "Tagalog"
It is a deplorable fact that despite the colonial roots of the name Philippines, it has not yet been dropped except briefly during the revolutionary struggle against Spain. From the time of the American Occupation to World War II until today, only one and unsuccessful attempt to have it changed was ever seriously made. During the Martial Law period under Marcos, Senator Eddie Ilarde did propose a name change to Maharlika ("warrior–noble" during the pre-colonial days before the National Assembly,but it was rejected for one reason or another.
Back in the late 19th century, the Reformist heroes Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, and Graciano Lopez Jaena, who spoke and struggled against colonial injustice suffered by their countrymen but nonetheless still looked up to Spain and aspired for representation in the Spanish legislature, batted for the name "Filipinas." Bonifacio chose a noncolonial name Tagalog, which the other revolutionary leaders clearly acknowledged as representing the whole areas of the archipelago. Presumably, they wished the new and native-derived name to bring out the country's natural features of having numerous river systems and an archipelagic coastline. A few months before Bonifacio was murdered, a Spanish periodical referred to him as the revolutionary head of the country, Titulado ‘Presidente’ de la Republica Tagala. The name Tagalog today strictly refers to a region in Central Luzon where the Tagalog dialect is spoken. Apparently the term has been localized by elitist historians who wish to belittle Bonifacio's revolutionary heroism.
While the term Tagalog was long used, perhaps before his time, it is to the credit of the revolutionary leader that he insisted on a name that gives an endemic meaning devoid of colonial subservience. Perhaps, Bonifacio did not only have the great patriotism and genuine nationalism that allowed him to build the K.K.K., or Kataastaasan Kagalang-galang na Katipunan nang manga Anak nang Bayan (Highest, Noblest Society of the Children of the Country) revolutionary movement. It could be that the Supremo had the psychic wisdom that the country he dearly loved and fought for would literally be a riverine nation.
Without the ravaging elements of attachment to its colonial masters of the past, the "Tagala" people of Andres Bonifacio's archipelago could build a new land founded on the genuine brotherhood and sisterhood of its Malay people. In such a prediction of a ravaged but purified nation, the Tagala people will claim a riverine land cleansed of its woeful colonial past, but grateful of the patriotic struggles and aspirations of its heroes and heroines of the old.
The Decalogo & Rise of the Tagalog Nation
Beyond the reversion to the indigenous name of the country, if the risen Tagala people will also be faithful to the principles and aspirations of the Katipunan, they will perhaps resurrect or revisit Andres Bonifacio's Dekalogo (Decalogue). Revealing the depth of the patriotism and political morality of the Supremo, it was written to provide the revolutionaries with a ten-point "duties of the children of the country," as follows:
1. Love God with all your heart.
2. Implant it in your heart that the true love for God equates with true love for one's Land of Birth, which is also love for others.
3. Nurture it in your heart that the true value of honor and comfort is for you to die in defense of Motherland.
4. Your every good aim will meet triumph if you exercise composure, patience, reason and hope in your deeds and acts.
5. Take good care--as you do your honor--the mandates and aspirations of the K.K.K. (Highest, Noblest Society of the Children of the Country).
6. It is the responsibility of all to help anyone in grave danger of reneging on his/her duty, even at the risk of losing one's life and resources.
7. Our strength of will and our discipline in carrying out our duties will serve as examples to others.
8. Share what you can to anyone in need and less fortunate.
9. One's industry in his/her source of livelihood is the genuine source of love, of love of self, of your spouse and children, of your siblings and compatriot.
10. Punish anyone who's evil and traitorous and commend good works. Believe that the teachings of K.K.K. are graces from God; that what the Motherland aspires for, are also the wishes of God. (Translation by the author from the Dekalogo)
In the 1920s, President Manuel L. Quezon, the first Philippine leader under American rule, expressed the belief that "Nothing depicts and portrays the character" of the great anti-colonial national hero more than the Dekalogo (Note: the Dekalogo was replaced by the Kartilya or Primer of the Katipunan, written by Emilio Jacinto, upon Bonifacio's humble deference to his revolutionary compatriot and friend). If the future people of the Southeast riverine land will abide by it, the Dekalogo should be enough to make the new nation indeed the 'most exemplary' in the world. As the renewed people of the Pearl of the Orient Seas shall have turned their backs on a colonial name and identity and the corruption such alienation helped wrought, so then shall proudly stand the virtuous, nationalist Republika ng Tagalog, and the Supremo will look down from the heavens and beam with exalted joy.
*Psychic Predictions on Estrada, Arroyo, the US & the World. 19 October 2008. Jesusa Bernardo Newsvine Column. http://jesusabernardo.newsvine.com/_news/2008/10/19/2016629-psychic-predictions-on-estrada-and-arroyo-the-us-obama-the-world
Related Andres Bonifacio article by the author:
Bernardo, Jesusa. Gat Andres Bonifacio: The Anti-Colonial National Hero of the Philippines (Bonifacio Series I). 30 Nov. 2009. http://forthephilippines.blogspot.com/2008/11/andres-anti-colonial-national-hero-of.html
Burgonio, TJ. Global Warming Threatens to Sink Half of Navotas. 30 April 2007. Consequences of Global Warming Site. http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/news/view/20070430-63180/Global_warming_threatens_to_sink_half_of_Navotas
Cruz, Hermenegildo. Mga Tanong at Sagot Ukol Kay Andrés Bonifacio at sa KKK. 1922. Maynila. Project Gutenberg EBook of Kartilyang Makabayan, by Hermenegildo Cruz. 28 January 2005. ftp://opensource.nchc.org.tw/gutenberg/1/4/8/2/14822/14822-h/14822-h.htm#D
Cueto, Francis Earl. Philippines: Country ¡®shrinks¡¯as sea level rises. 8 February 2007. http://www.ccchina.gov.cn/en/NewsInfo.asp?NewsId=7088
Global Climate Change: Country and Regional Information. http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/environment/climate/country_nar/philippines.html
Guerrero, Milagros, Emmanuel Encarnacion, and Ramon Villegas. Andres Bonifacio and the 1896 Revolution. In Sulyap Kultura. National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 1996. NCCA Site. 16 June 2003. http://www.ncca.gov.ph/about-culture-and-arts/articles-on-c-n-a/article.php?i=5&subcat=13
Hutme, Mike and Nicola Sheard. Climate Change Scenarios for the Philippines. http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/~mikeh/research/philippines.pdf
"Philippines." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica 2006 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD 10 May 2009 .
Quezon, Manuel L. "Andres Bonifacio, The Great Plebeian." Historical Bulletin 7.3 (September 1963 ): 245-248. In Bonifacio Papers, 2 Jan. 2006. http://bonifaciopapers.blogspot.com/2006/01/quezon-manuel-l.html
Quimpo, Nathan Gilbert. Colonial Name, Colonial Mentality and Ethnocentrism. KASAMA. Vol. 17 No. 3 (July–August–September 2003). Retrieved from http://cpcabrisbane.org/Kasama/2003/V17n3/ColonialName.htm
Rodis, Rodel. 'Maharlika’ Reconsidered. 2 September 2008. http://globalnation.inquirer.net/mindfeeds/mindfeeds/view/20080902-158208/Maharlika-Reconsidered
Sea Level Rising in the Philippines. Updated Mar 16, 2009 http://www.siiaonline.org/?q=programmes/insights/sea-level-rising-philippines
Museo Oriental de Valladolid Site
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Jibrael Angel Blog @blogspot.com
Environmental Protection of Asia.com
(Updated 18 May 2009)