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Photo Gallery III - Filipinos On Stamps

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The Filipino: A Proud Heritage
(Philippine National Heroes And Heroine On Philippine Stamps And First Day Covers

Filipino Heroes/Heroine On Stamps - 1969 And 1995
Andres Bonifacio, Melchora Aquino And Jose Rizal

     Historical records and socio-anthropological studies have shown that a few large kingdoms and many small, highly independent barangays (communities) with self-sufficient economies thrived along the coastal areas of the Old Philippine archipelago. That was the situation when the Spaniards, who were led by Ferdinand Magellan on a discovery voyage to the East Indies, found the islands in 1521 and began the colonization of the archipelago. From the start of the colonization, the natives resisted but they were overwhelmed by superior Spanish forces.  

Lapu-Lapu On Main Part Of First Day Cover - 1963
Symbol Of Initial Native Resistance To Spanish Colonization

Spanish colonization continued and, no doubt, there were some good elements in it. However, as the years and centuries went by, corruption, greed, neglect, abuse and racial inequality became the norms of the day. Approximately 100 native revolts, which were often spontaneous and fragmentary, occurred throughout the Spanish colonial period which lasted for more than 350 years. The most notable native uprising was the revolt of the Boholanos led by Francisco Dagohoy. The resistance started in 1744 and it had grassroot level support. It was finally crushed in 1829 by the superior arms of the Spanish military.
     The revolts continued, and by the second half of the 19th century, natives from various groups and islands began to realize the common denominator of their struggles. It was during this period, too, when a new socio-economic class emerged: the clase illustrada. It was the former exclusive socio-economic class of the creoles or Espanoles-Filipinos, Spaniards born in the Philippines who have developed a loyalty to the Philippines yet remained Spanish oriented by virtue of their Hispanized culture and background. The class expanded to include the Spanish mestizos, Chinese mestizos and urban natives, and the term "Filipino" was appropriated by these new members. It was from the rank of the illustrados that the articulators of the people's struggle emerged.
     The articulators were the propagandists of the people's struggle and their work for socio-political reforms in the Philippines came to be known as the Propaganda Movement. Among the well-known members of the movement were Jose Ma. Panganiban (linguist and essayist), Marcelo H. del Pilar (writer) and Graciano Lopez Jaena (writer and orator).

Graciano Lopez Jaena
Main Part Of First Day Cover - 1952

At the age of 17, Lopez Jaena wrote a satirical article entitled "Fray Botod" which depicted the greed and vices of Spanish priests in the Philippines. The manuscript made him popular with the local people. Later, in 1895, he founded the La Solidaridad, which was the official newspaper of the Propaganda Movement in Spain, a country which was in a state of transition. One of the writers of La Solidaridad was Dr. Jose Rizal, a highly educated and multi-talented man. He was a poet and a writer, an eye surgeon, a sportsman and a linguist, and he was the most influential person among the reformists.

Noli Me Tangere On Enlarged Stamp - 1986

His novel, "Noli Me Tangere" ("Touch Me Not"), which was published in Berlin, Germany, was a pointedly critical socio-political analysis of Philippine society under Spanish colonial administration. The book caused an uproar in the Philippines, and it made Rizal an enemy of the Spanish friars and colonial administrators.
      The last time Rizal returned to the Philippines after working abroad was in 1892. On July 3, he organized the Liga Filipina in Manila. One of the founders of the organization was Andres Bonifacio, who was to become a revolutionary hero. The aims of the Liga were the following: 1) Unite the whole archipelago into one compact, vigorous and homogenous body; 2) Mutual protection in every want and necessity; 3) Defense against all violence and injustice; 4) Encouragement of instruction, agriculture and commerce; and 5) Study and application of reforms. Three days later, he was arrested by Spanish authorities and, then, deported to Dapitan in Mindanao where he remained for 4 years. 

La Liga On First Day Cover - 1992
Jose Rizal And La Liga Filipina

     Bonifacio organized a secret society called Kataastaasan Kagalanggalangang Katipunan Ng Mga Anak Ng Bayan (Highest And Most Respectable Society Of The Sons Of The People) or the Katipunan on the day Rizal was arrested. Yet, he continued to work hard for the Liga. Later, he and his compatriots realized that armed revolution was the only way to establish a democratic and independent Philippine state. By 1896, the Katipunan had gained many members. Unfortunately, the society was betrayed by a newspaper worker named Teodoro Patino to Spanish authorities. The authorities began to search for members of the society. 

The Katipunan On First Day Cover - 1992
The Katipunan (KKK), Andres Bonifacio And Katipuneros (Revolutionaries)

On August 23, 1896, Bonifacio and his katipunero (revolutionaries) gathered at a yard of the son of Melchora Aquino. Aquino, or "Tandang Sora" (Old Sora) as she was known, was an old woman who provided food, shelter and assistance to the katipunero. At the yard, Bonifacio and the katipunero decided to start the revolution. They declared their intention to fight and shouted, "Long live the Philippines!"  This was the "Cry of Pugadlawin" ("Cry of Balintawak"), an event which marked the beginning of the downfall of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines and the creation of the Filipino nation.

Melchora Aquino On Stamps - 1969
"Tandang Sora" (Old Sora): Mother Of The Katipunan

     During the early days of the revolution, Rizal was on his way to Spain to get further instructions concerning his work in Cuba as a volunteer medical doctor. His exile in Dapitan ended when the Spanish administration accepted Rizal's offer to use his medical skill in Cuba, which was a colony of Spain in a state of war. It was on this trip that Rizal was once again arrested. He was sent back to Manila and imprisoned. Before a military court, Spanish officials accused Rizal of leading the Philippine revolution. The trial lasted for only a few weeks, and the court's verdict was a death penalty sentence for Rizal. On December 30, 1896, Rizal was executed by firing squad in Bagumbayan field. His death added more fuel to the burning desire of the katipunero and the people to liberate their country from Spanish colonial rule.

Jose Rizal On First Day Cover - 1996
Centennial Of Jose Rizal's Martyrdom

     The revolution continued, and at this point in Philippine history, the native population considered themselves as Filipinos with a country of their own: the Philippines. The term "Filipino" was no longer the exclusive name for Espanoles-Filipinos, Spaniards born in the Philippines. It was no longer the exclusive property of a group of people with wealth, education and Hispanized culture. It was a name which had been cleansed of its racial bias and elitism by the blood of the natives. For Andres Bonifacio, the katipunero and the inhabitants of the Philippines, the term "Filipino" meant racial equality, human dignity and love of country in its purest form.
Updated: December 7, 2009
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Alex Angara Moises. Advance Thematic Collector. Philippines