The American governance of the Philippines


  1. Historical summary
  2. Land and Agricultural Policy
  3. Maintenance of the Infrastructure
  4. Industrial Development
  5. Issues On Education
  6. Anti-government movement
  7. Issues of uncivilized people
  8. Conclusion

Historical summary

The Philippines became Spanish colony in the early sixteenth century. In 1898, when the Spanish-American war started, the United States called on Aguinaldo, the independence leader for the Philippines, exile in Hong Kong, to take arms to fight along with the United States. However as the Spanish army surrendered, the US commander showed sympathy to the Spanish commander who could not bear to surrender to the savages, and excluded the Filipino army. The Filipino army was not allowed into the Manila castle. Moreover, they were refused to take a part in the peace conference in Paris. As a result, a three-year long independence war started.

On the other hand, the Philippines were sold to the United States for twenty million dollars as determined in the Paris peace conference in December, 1898. The official American governance began in April of 1899, four years after the Japanese possession of Taiwan and eleven years before the annexation of Korea.

The American governance of the Philippines began with the battle against the army led by Aguinaldo. Three military administrators were appointed until the civil government was established in July, 1901. The last military administrator was Arthur MacArthur, whose son was the commander of the Allied Forces in Japan, Douglas MacArthur. President McKinley has given several instructions on the basic policies. One of them was an emphasis on education, based on the principle "Education is the greatest weapon," six hundred some teachers were brought in from the United States and the elementary education was given for free. Moreover, the United States appointed their vice-governor-generals also as the secretaries of education, emphasizing the education of the natives. This attitude of emphasizing on education was equally great to that of Japan, among the many colonial nations.

Another instruction of McKinley was about local governments. He instructed: "We would allow city governments the maximum self-governing, as we organize from small to big, as we go from cities to statehood." On this instructin, officials of local governments were appointed among Filipinos.

In the judiciary system, the native laws were respected, as long as it did not infringe the military rule. The grand jury was established in May, 1900 and six out of nine justices were Filipinos. A later, the American justices were appointed only one person than Filipino justices. Safety in the towns was quickly regained through these appeasement policies,and the revolutionary army was almost suppressed three years later. But it was 1906 that the revolutionary armies were completely surpressed. It was the eight years after@since the opening of the war with a revolutionary army. Compared to Taiwan, which took seven years, it was well-done.

The government moved toward civilian control in 1901. The first governor-general of the Philippines was Taft, who later became the president of the United States. As a member of the Philippine committee which was the highest organization of a legislation, 4 Americans and 3 Filipinos were appointed.

State governments were composed of governor, prosecutor, secretary, financial commissioner, and director. At first the Philippine committee apointed Americans as financial commissioner, and director, and Filipinos as prosecutor and secretary. Also according to the city and village act passed around this time, the mayors and all the council members were to be elected through the election.

Taft despised the fact that churches and monasteries owned a huge amount of land and literally controlling the farmers. He negotiated with Spain and bought those land for seven million dollars. Simultaneously he passed a landlord act, and prohibited American capitals to own a great deal of land. In 1906, he resumed the construction of railroad, which had been interrupted because of the war, and in 1908, established the University of the Philippines. It was before the Japanese annexation of Korea.

The congress of the Philippines was established in 1907, and state governors were to be elected by direct referendum, and instead of directors, state committees were to be elected into public offices through direct referendum. As seen here, the Filipino politics has greatly involved the Filipinos since the beginning.

In comparison, Masatake Terauchi, the first governor-general of Korea, appointed Koreans for six out of thirteen governor positions, selected Koreans for chiefs of villages, but freedom of media, and assembly was not guaranteed, and ordered Isshinkai, who contributed greatly to the annexation of Korea, to disband. There never was an equivalent to council at any level of the government. Japanese government established the House of counselors with the establishment of a governor-general's office. In this organization, all the others were influential Koreans except chairman, chief secretary, and a few secretaries. However, this organization was only to answer questions, and investigate old customs.

As Wilson, who is famous for the self-determination of people, had been elected as the president in 1912, and Haliman was appointed as the governor-general. The positions as high-rank officials, which had been given mainly to the Americans, were given to the Filipinos. Out of nine members of the Committee of the Philippines, five were Filipinos and they were also nominated for high-rank officers. At the same time six hundred American government officials who felt uncomfortable about working under the natives had returned home.

In 1916, the Jones Act was passed and the future independence was insured. The Filipino congress became bicameral and the suffrage was granted to all the men who were twenty-one years or older. The localization of the Filipino government has advanced. Although there were some commotion under the Republican administration, but there was no difference in the entire flow. The ordinary election started in Japan in 1925, thus the Philippines got started earlier. Also this act allowed the Philippines to send a two-member delegation to the United States Congress.

Would Americans enthusiastically continue investing to a place where it will soon to be a separate nation? The American investment in the Philippines has decreased drastically around this time. On the contrary, Japanese investment in Korea had a goal of one day becoming one nation, and that has built a basis for the modern nation of Korea as we see today.

In 1919, inspired by Wilson's self-determination of people, an immense anti-government movement called the 3.1 movement took place in Korea. Governor-general Makoto Saito who was in charge to settle the matter took more generous policy than his predecessor, and executed a large scale modification in the local government system twice in 1920 and in 1930. However it was far from that of the Philippines; there was no establishment of Korean parliament nor Korean participation in the national politics.

The Philippines, by the Tyding-MacDuffy act of 1934, was assured its independence by 1946, and the commonwealth was inaugurated. The American representative had transferred from governor-general to high commissioner who had a right to veto, and the local politics was entrusted to the Filipino government. Quezon won the presidential election, and elected to be the first president. This independence was in response to the demand of the Filipinos but there also was a strong demand from the Americans, as well. The world was in a great depression. Importing tariff-free, and unlimited sugar and coconut oil into the United States was a great blow to the farmers in the United States and those who invested in Cuba. Also the workers who lost their jobs to the Filipino immigrants demanded to cut off the Philippines.

However, Kazushige Ugaki, who was appointed as the governor-general of Korea in 1931, protected the profit of Korean farmers by refusing the demand from the ministry of agriculture and forestry, that wanted to stop the Korean rice from being exported to Japan. He simultaneously started a movement to stimulate agriculture, and using the incentive wages for gold mines as a trigger to start an industrial revolution in Korea and has built the fundamentals of the contemporary development in Korea. Korean mass media, from this time onward, praised Japan and became the choir for the unification of Japan and Korea.

As seen here, the Filipino politics has gradually been entrusted to the hands of the Filipinos but they were not allowed to participate in the American politics. On the other hand in Korea, the suffrage was not allowed to the residents in Korea, including the Japanese but to those who lived in Japan were allowed to participate in politics, both Koreans and Japanese alike. In 1932, Pak Yong Hyo was nominated into the House of Lords, and in 1932 and 1937, Park Shung Kong was elected twice into the House of Commons from the Tokyo district. Moreover seven Koreans were nominated into the House of Lords in 1945 and eighteen seats were given in the House of Commons from Korea in the next general election - though this never crystallized because the war ended prior.

At the begining of anexation of Korea, Japan was negative that Koreans participate in politics, but turned graduallyly to admit.


Land and Agricultural Policy

What concerns us the most in colonial rules is the exploitation of the land by the farmers of the suzerain state. In this issue, the United States prohibited even the Americans from owning a huge amount of land. However, the ownership of up to 1024 hectares of land was allowed - such ownership would be considered landlord in Japan. However it was too small to maintain the irrigation system and manage a large farm in a rational manner. Therefore those in sugar business chose to purchase from or invest in those farms run by the Filipinos rather than running their own farms.

Also, those U.S. soldiers who settled in Mindanao, an uncivilized island (the idea was advocated by Wood, who at the time was a commander of the army and later became the governor-general), were not ale to procure labor as smoothly as they wanted to, and withdrew gradually from the island and by 1914, they pulled out of the island almost completely.

Therefore the trouble between the natives and agricultural immigrants was small in numbers. On the same token only a small advancement in the agricultural technology was seen and the amount of rice obtained per acre was about a half of that of Taiwan and Korea. Also, even though the climate was temperate for growing two crops a year, the ratio between the first season and the second season remained less than ten percent. On the comparison, the rice fields throughout Taiwan almost always raised two crops a year and often raised three a year.

In Taiwan, a large irrigation system of Ka-nan-tai-shu was built and changed a large area between Taichung and Tainan into a large producting district of rice. This huge irrigation which is immune to flood, connects Ri-yue-tan, a natural lake, of north and Shanhu-tan, a man-made lake, of south, with network of aqueducts. The aqueducts altogether extend up to 6800 km, longer than the radius of the earth. Even in Korea, as part of the plan to increase the amount of rice, they invested in land reclamation of the Yellow Sea and invested largely in the maintenance of the irrigation system. There was no large scale infrastructure maintenance such as these in the Philippines.

In Taiwan, Japanese immigrants settled in the uncivilized land on the east coast and there was almost no friction with the natives.

On the other hand, a positive immigration to Korea was planned since it is closer to Japan, its climate being similar to that of Japan. And the Korean agricultural industry was immature, so there was a lot of room for further development. Japanese government negotiated with the Korean royalty to provide them with the land, establish joint enterprize,Toyo Takushoku Corporation in 1908 and solicited immigrants from Japan. Also in the private sector, there was a large number of those who purchased land and migrate into Korea. Duke Hosokawa, ancestor of the former prime minister Hosokawa, was one of them.

What proves to be a failure was the research on land. Research on land means to make clear an area of land, an owner, the use situation, and to impose fair tax, and to make an appropriate use plan. Then the courts passed a judgment over the pending land between Korean royalty and the farmers as the land owned by the Korean royalty. Then Korean royalty had disposed to the Japanese farmers. These things caused friction between the Japanese and the Korean farmers, and bred hatred among them; it also was one of the factors that led to the 3.1 movement. Also on the Korean history textbooks it says that Japan exploited more than forty percent of the arable land by the land research but this is clearly wrong; it was merely about three percent. Govenor-general Terauchi came to realize the problems with these exploitation in 1913, and asked for renouncement over reception of land from the Korean farmers. By this, it brought an end to the immigration of Japanese farmers. In the peak-era, the Japanese farmers numbers to be 10,000 and owned 250,000 hectares of land, counting to be six percent of all Korea.


Maintenance of the Infrastructure

What is obvious by looking at the maps of Korea and the Philippines is that the railroads run all across Korea whereas in the Philippines there is one line each in the Luzon and Panai islands. Taft, the first governor-general, restored the railroad construction of Luzon. In 1907, the railroad construction also began in Panay and Sebu but one in Sebu went bankrupt in 1937 and was discontinued.

The Philippines got motorized early on. Therefore highways were got ready but peripheral roads have been badly preserved, the continued length based on the area is only one half of Korea, and about equal based on the population. It has to be noted that transportation in general, including railroad and ship, were a lot behind than Korea and Taiwan.

Korea has gone through a magnificent electric development, centered around the Yaliu jiang river in the 1930's. It equated to TVA, one of the major projects under Roosevelt's New Deal policy in scale and created a basis for the industrial revolution of Korea. For details, please refer to: "The reasons for the post-war development of Korea" in this HP. However the electricity in Korea was mainly for the industrial use and the household use was ten years behind of Taiwan. In 1943 the prevalence of electricity for the household use was fifteen to sixteen percent, exceeding the percentage for the Philippines, which was nine percent. However the electricity infrastructure of Korea was partial to the northern part, and furthermore these equipment was destroyed due to the Korean war. The situation surrounding the use of electricity in both Philippines and Korea in the year of 1955 is close to equal.


Industrial Development

The Filipino industry was limited to agricultural products such as sugar, coconut oil, manila hemp and cigarettes; the two cement plants were the only modernized industry. Those cement plants produced only 170,000 tons together in 1939. On the other hand, Korea had four cement plants, producing 560,000 tons in 1936.

The sugar plants in the Philippines were limited to its primary production stages. On the contrary in Taiwan, they were successful in the integrated production of white sugar.

Since the United States took over the ownership of the Philippines, a lot of gold mines were discovered and had become an important industry of the Philippines. The country was also abundant in iron, bronze and chrome but they did not have enough technology to refine them to be final products.

Taiwan and Korea in the 1930's have experienced a rapid development of their industry, making the basis for the today's progress in both nations. Why was there no such industrial development in the Philippines? One has to do with the desire to invest among the Americans and the other has to do with the desire to invest among the Filipinos.

First of all, the problem on the American side has to do with localized politics of the Philippines after 1913 and the Jones act of 1916 which determined Filipino independence. Feeling insecure about the near future, many American investors withdrew from the Philippines by the late 1920's. The other factor might be that the common notion of contempt toward the natives among the white people that the natives cannot acquire high skill technology.

The problem on the Filipino side was lack of fund and strong will. Japan recovered the lack of fund by an extremely desire and wisdom and has established themselves to be a member of the leading nations after the Meiji Restoration. Who comes next is the Taiwanese capitalists. They developed steadily after the war benefiting from Japanese help.


Issues On Education

For this issue, please refer to the chapter of "On Korean development in the post-war era."in this HP.


Anti-government movement

In Korea, there was a large scale uprising called the 3.1 movement in 1919. The largest reason for this rebellion was their nationalism stimulated by Wilson's self-determination of people. The second largest factor was the holdup of the freedom of speech and assembly by the governors-general Terauchi and Hasegawa. The third factor was a failure of Governor-general Terauchi's policy over land. As a solution, Governor-general Saito eased the minds of the people by the two-time land reform. Two governors-general Ugaki and Minami brought a trend of unifying Japan and Korean by enlarging their income through agricultural improvement and industrial revolution. However, Minami's over-gone unification policy invited a repulsion by the Koreans.

In Taiwan there was a large scale uprising called the Wushe incident by Takasagos, uncivilized and ferocios tribe, in October of 1930. It became a case to sent airplanes to surpress in steep mountainous district.
The dead persons of the government side reached 52 including local tribe, and the dead persons of rebel tribe were more than 800. It is said that the roots of incident were heavy labors for construction work such as a road, a bridge, a waterway, and old grudge for the subjugation. However, by the later wise administration, Takasagos participated in the Japanese army in the Pacific Wars positively and contributed very much.

On the other hand in the Philippines, there was no large rebellion after the suppression of Aguinaldo's independence movement for a long time. But in May of 1935 there was a large scale uprising by the Sacudar party in the three states of Laguna, Burakan, and Cabite . It is said that Begunino Ramos, the leader of the Sacudar party, organized his party in protest to the American racism. 3500 participated in this riot, and 53 were killed.


Issues of uncivilized people

One of the important issues in the Philippines is the issue of the Moros. They are Muslims living in the Mindanao island and the Sulu islands and did not subjugate to the Spanish rule for a long time. It took the Spaniards till 1887 to almost repress them all. Even when the administration transferred to the United States, they were out of control till Governor Carpenter's diplomatic abilities worked well in 1913. The Filipino congress, reformed by the Jones act of 1916, allowed the delegation of two to the senate and nine to the house of representatives from the Moros. Through these public policies, they were able to keep their peace throughout the time the Americans ruled the Philippines. However, after the independence, the conflicts have risen again and again.

The Moros in the beginning of the American rule, were similar to the Takasagos of Taiwan, who were also uncivilized and fierce headhunters. Christians and Muslims are both monotheists, and has a lot of incompatibilities in spite of common origins, and there are conflicts between these two religions all over the world.

The Japanese subjugation of the Takasagos started with a five-years plan in 1909. Up until then, the administrative plan was to keep the Takasagos in the mountains and separate them from the Hans, reducing the chances of contact. Governor-general Sakuma who was appointed in 1906 was concerned of the fact that the headhunters were still wild in their areas, was determined to squash them, and led subjugation despite his old age (near seventy). He was injured from falling from the cliff in a battle of the Taloko valley, now a major tourist point in Taiwan.

What was wonderful about was the policy it took afterwards. They had policemen live among the Takasagos in the trackless mountains with the families, and had them teach reading, writing, cultivation of vegetables and other agricultural crops and tailoring. Some fell as the victims of headhunting. It brew a sense of togetherness by going through these hardships together. It is said that their common language was Japanese long after the war.

We do not hear about the organized anti-government movement by the Takasagos in Taiwan after 1930's Wushe incident. What was the difference between them and the Moros? First, it was the abundance Taiwan had. When life gets hard, ethnics become scapegoats and often leads to anti-government movement. Second, it must have been the devoted effort made by the Japanese policemen. It was great that Takasagos changed their customs and they have learned the virtues of civilization through the effort of the policemen.



What I feel strongly about when I compare the two colonial policies of the United States and Japan, is the noninterference policy of the United States and the interference policy of Japan. The United States was zealous about the administration of the Philippines in the beginning, but as Wilson got elected president, rapidly shifted the weight of the self-rule to the Filipinos, determined the future independence of 1946 in 1934, and let the Filipinos plan their own policies. There was no backing up in funding nor government. After the autonomous body was established, some of the tariffs such as commodity tax on coconut oil, taxation caused due to the fact that the Philippines were American colonies, were paid back to the Philippines.

Such policy making satisfied the Filipino self-esteem and there really was only a few anti-government movement. However on the other hand, it reduced the desire to invest in the Philippines among the Americans and being one of the reasons why the Filipino economy is stagnated, compared to Korea and Taiwan.

On the contrary, Japan planned to improve the living standards of the natives, and made the assimilation a goal. At the time of the annexation, Japan made a great financial assistance, and contributed to the maintenance of infrastructure, and industry. There were problems with human rights in the beginning of the annexation but these were improved after the 3.1 movement. Because Japan considered Korea as a part of the same country, the investment was stimulated and built the basis for today's development.

The United States made a contribution to the education of the Philippines but there was a problem with the idea of what education should be and being a part of the reason for the contemporary Filipino stagnation.

I can say in a word, the Philippines were brought up being indulged and were thrown out before grownup,
on the other hand, Japan is criticized in various ways because of too severe, but brought up Taiwan and Korea into a qualified country.

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