Sunday, June 11, 2017

No news of Philippine independence in Spain in June 1898

This picture appeared in the 20 June 1898 issue of Ilustracion Artistica of Barcelona, which is accessible from the online digital library of Biblioteca Nacional de Espana (BNE).

The Cronica de Guerra (Chronicle of War) in that issue was still talking about the 'tagalog insurrection' and the ongoing war with the Yankees, no mention yet of the Kawit declaration of independence on the 12th. The caption of this photo: "In December 1897, he was shouting 'Long Live Spain!,' and in May 1898, he was allied with the Yankees against Spain."

We expected to see news items on the defeat of the Spanish fleet on Manila Bay by the Yankee naval forces of George Dewey, and of the Kawit event, which the American general snubbed, but the Spanish press was relying on telegraphic reports, primarily military updates, from the command in Intramuros to the authorities in Madrid. There were no embedded journalists as we know today doing real-time reportage in various media.

From 1896 to 1899, the war photos in the Barcelona press were of the Spanish military defenses and deployments, and there were more of typical 'Islas Filipinas' scenes: churches, streets of Manila and a few cities and towns, 'indigenous' people and activities. In 1899, pictures of the celebration of the inauguration of the Malolos republic, and a page of portraits of military officers of the Philippine revolution (like Gregorio del Pilar in his iconic pose) appeared in Ilustracion Artistica.

Going back to the 20 June issue, the author of the war chronicle, identified as "A" at the end of the article, wrote:

"We must not comment on the behavior of the infamous Aguinaldo; he was a traitor to his people and has now been to the Spaniards. He has therefore made the office for which he has predisposition and special aptitudes. As to the conduct of the Yankees by aiding the Tagalog insurgents, it will cause real repugnance to all civilized peoples.

"This shameful connotation is admirably and graphically qualified in the following paragraph that we copied from a correspondence in Madrid:

"“That miserable (Aguinaldo), allied with the Americans, has landed in the Philippines and has managed to stir the whole country to revolt against Spain. The Yankees have also achieved part of his infamous work, to destroy the sovereignty of Spain in all the island of Luzon at very little price. It has been enough for them to surprise an almost defenseless city and to give the rebellious children of Spain the means to commit the horrendous crime of betraying their country. It is the only victory that has been achieved so far by this so-called great republic over us, destroy a squadron of old ships by surprise, and dismember our territory by assisting a treason.”" 

We found a modern-day humor in the Aguinaldo photograph: a photo-bomber. Careless photographer and photo editor, dah!

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