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Iron Way: Sixth Anniversary of Bringing History

"Zensokuryoku de yukou yo sekaijuu wo makikonde donna chiisai ippo mo ashita ni tsunagaru yo."

This emerging history website, the Filipino Historian (#FilipinoHistorian) commemorates its anniversary every 15th of December. Founded on the eve of the "end of the world" (according to the Mayan calendar) by an unknown author writing somewhere in the Philippine archipelago, there has been historically low expectations for it. Low profile is exemplified at its finest when this blog began in 2012, and the expectations were not without basis. Blogging was a relatively new trend in the Philippines then, and not much deal with an unpopular discipline. In the first two years of this blog, it registered only a little more than 1,000 reads. So much about writing for free and for public consumption. It has become the laughingstock of "professional" and "amateur" historians alike. Then again, had this single author given up, there is no way the Filipino Historian would forge on. As was the annual tradition, let this be taken as an opportunity to witness how much we have accomplished.

From Silky Road to Iron Way
In popular culture, iron is one of the trademark items for remembering what has reached six years, and it is quite apt for the occasion. In 2016, this website has been compared to walking on a silky road. Similar to silk, anything the Filipino Historian has built can easily be shredded by most people. At that time, the vision dubbed as "one million miracles" has been publicly declared: 100,000 views and one million people reached by 2018. As this deadline has come to a close, it is time to evaluate if it was just empty boasting or a testament to a nation's growing support for the discipline.

By the end of 2016, the blog exceeded 50,000 views. This was almost tripled when the blog recorded more than 130,000 views at the end of 2017. For 2018, this figure was almost tripled again. Reads registered by website exceeded 365,000. For more accomplished bloggers who earn massive incomes monthly, and even those cool vloggers (video bloggers) with their armies of fans, this does not bring much to the table. However, for an author that has been through historic lows, this is a boost like no other. This is affirmed by the Filipino Historian being the only history blog ranked in Feedspot's Top 100 Philippine Blogs, a position it has retained since December 2017.

This phenomenon has been aided by the Filipino Historian's continued presence in social media. Entering Facebook in 2014 and Twitter in 2015 in hopes of reaching more people, it has yet to see a large sea of followers which thousands of bloggers and influencers enjoy to this day. From 800 Facebook followers and 5 Twitter followers in 2016, this history website has grown to more than 3,700 Facebook followers and 23 Twitter followers as of 2018. While this can qualify as remarkable growth in a way, this can also be seen as the passing point for future record breaking milestones.

More significant among social media metrics currently being observed is the number of people reached. As envisioned by the revised "million miracles" goal, the Filipino Historian's social media outlets must be able to reach two million people by the end of 2018. Not only was this achieved, it was even exceeded. As of December 31, 2018, this history website has reached more than 2,262,650 people. This unprecedented development has led the author to create yet another vision for the greater good of history to the Philippines and the world. As the Filipino Historian goes through 2019 and eventually enters a new decade in 2020, it is aimed to record 500,000 views and reach five (5) million people. Similar to the original "one million miracles" vision in 2016, this can be considered a long shot. Not only does the single author have no resources for advertisement, promotion, and even to buy a personalized domain name for better search engine optimization, article production has slowed down in recent months. Then again, even at the time, achieving the million miracles is not expected as well. It may have been difficult, and bashers are everywhere, but it may not be outright impossible.

Social media has contributed greatly towards increasing traffic for this history website. Readers from Facebook amounted to a 32% share for all audience sources in 2018. Twitter appeared to be the breakthrough audience source for this blog in 2018 with its 6% share, up from 0.1% a year prior. Direct searches also contributed to web traffic as the Filipino Historian ranked high among various search engines (e.g., Google, Yahoo, Bing, Naver) in selected topics. Google alone had an audience share of 4.7%, down from 8.8% in 2017, but fairly comparable to its 2016 share of 5.5%.

Speaking of audiences, the Filipino Historian has been read in more than 90 nations worldwide besides his homeland, the Philippines. The installation of its translating feature is just about half the battle. Continually churning out interesting articles and stories for greater and more diverse readership is no small feat. Outside the Philippines (67.1%), most of the views can be traced from the United States (13.9%), Canada (1.9%), United Arab Emirates (0.9%), Australia (0.9%), and Saudi Arabia (0.8%). Nations formerly in the top, including Russia and Germany, follow them closely. There are also rising audiences from other countries, such as Singapore, Korea, France, and Spain.

The single author writing somewhere in the archipelago has also embarked in speaking engagements and media appearances. Since at least 2014, he has been invited by local, national, and international media outlets to discuss history and related disciplines (mainly in the social sciences). This has enabled him to reach millions of people in the Philippines and the world through radio, television, and even internet videos. While people in the media has given him the unofficial title "youngest historian" for being featured by them at a relatively young age, this has earned him ire and doubts among academics and non-academics alike. While it needs further verification, it appears that the author has been seen on your screens even as a teen, which led them to say so. There is no need for criticism on a person who just got a moniker granted by others. Of course, the author believes it to be too presumptuous and undeserving to be called a "historian" because a historian is also a scholar, and usually requires graduate studies. However, there appears to be no alternative term to apply for disciples of history at this moment. For the author, it is a humbling experience as he keeps a low profile to this day. Besides, as time progresses, he would no longer be qualified as "young," and it may be asked how long would he be a faithful disciple of this discipline. Ultimately, only God knows when his record would be broken as many more people become appreciative of his art and works.

A Walk To Remember
Within a few years, a relatively obscure blog has become the leading Filipino history blog. It has distinguished itself as an innovating take in developing local and national historical consciousness, albeit it is not something that could swell heads of some who seek tomi (wealth), meisei (fame), chikara (power). For this author, it has never been the case ever since this history website began. In achieving all of these, it is not the sole work of this single author writing somewhere in the archipelago. More than sheer individual will, this goal of bringing history to the Philippines and the world has been driven by the thousands, if not millions, of readers and visitors who collectively made it possible. With some statistics at hand, we can ascertain that our demographic has developed as follows. In terms of gender, 69% were male and 31% were female. In terms of age, 2.9% are below 18 years old, 62.1% are 18 to 34 years old, 18.1% are 35 to 44 years old, 8.6% are 45 to 54 years old, 4.2% are 55 to 64 years old, and 3.4% are 65 years old above. Compared to the past two years, there has been slight increases among women and young readers. It is with utmost thanks for each and every one of you that we have reached this far. I pray for your continuing support for the Filipino Historian. Let us continue this walk to remember the best way on the best day, to infinity and beyond.

Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come?
(Ecclesiastes 8:7)

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The reunited Balangiga bells set foot on Philippine soil in 2018
Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN News
"It is right, he told himself, not reassuringly, but proudly. I believe in the people and their right to govern themselves as they wish. But you mustn't believe in killing, he told himself. You must do it as a necessity but you must not believe in it. If you believe in it the whole thing is wrong."
(For Whom The Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway)

On December 11, 2018, the Balangiga Bells have been returned by the United States to the Philippines. In all, three bells were returned. The smaller bell, which has a mouth diamater of around 20 inches, was formerly located in Camp Red Cloud, an American military base in Uijeongbu, Republic of Korea (South Korea). The two larger bells, having mouth diameters of around 27 inches and 31 inches respectively, were formerly located at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The bells have long been regarded by some as a symbol of captive nationalism, wherein the colonial masters have triumphed over its colonies in both material and spirit. For those who may not be too spiritual, the bells are being considered as war booty. The Americans merely wanted to have tangible evidence of their specific victory, and the specific incident they won is what is now called the Balangiga Massacre or the Balangiga Conflict. What led to the exile of the bells? Also, why has a small-scale conflict in a Samar town of seemingly little significance to the overall course of the war escalated to more than a century old crack in Philippine-American relations? A lot has been written about the incident, and this may just be another Balangiga article.

The Filipino tactical ambush
General Vicente Lukban in masonic uniform
Photo courtesy of lukban.org
By 1901, the Philippine-American War was virtually over. On March 23, after more than a year of disappearing from the public eye, President Emilio Aguinaldo was captured, and uncertainty reigned in the chain of command. The next ranking general, Miguel Malvar, effectively commanded only the Filipino forces in Batangas. Nevertheless, with most of the high command eliminated or captured, Malvar was authorized by the Hong Kong Junta to assume the presidency in April. Fighting also continued elsewhere. In Samar and Leyte, the Filipino forces were consolidated under the command of General Vicente Lukban (one of Aguinaldo's appointees), who formerly served as commander of the forces in Bicol. However, being in the periphery of the war, Lukban was allocated few troops and equipment. Perhaps fortunately for Lukban, he also had to contend with a relatively small American force. When General Jacob Hurd Smith initially assumed command of the American forces, he was appalled by its size. Troops numbered a little under 1,000. For a province with a population of more than 266,000 (as of 1903), Smith believed that the American garrison in Samar was at a disadvantage. Provided the Samareño population leaned in sympathy with Lukban's forces, opposition against the Americans have the potential to significantly increase. Then again, the American forces in general cannot fully focus their efforts further south. At least 4,000 Filipino soldiers coalesced under Malvar's command, who were able to gather as much as 10,000 rifles to arm the so-called "Liberation Army." With Batangas being geographically closer to the capital, Manila,  Malvar posed greater threat at the time. By November 1901, the Batangas situation was described as a stalemate.

The American press cannot conceal the rare Filipino win
Photo courtesy of the Salt Lake Herald
When compared to the Batangas situation, the theater of war in Samar appeared insignificant. This is despite Samar having almost as large a population as Batangas. The latter had a population of more than 257,000 (as of 1903). At least not until the morning September 28, 1901. A 500-strong Filipino force ambushed the American forces located in the church and the municipal hall of Balangiga, a town with a population of around 5,000. It was said the Americans were just about to take their breakfast. The Balangiga bells were used as a signal for the attack. Abanador's assault of an American soldier also served as a signal for the attack. In the American perspective, it was a massacre. Commentators usually compare the incident with the Battle of Little Big Horn, a part of the Great Sioux War in 1876, wherein 268 soldiers were killed in their fight against Native Americans. Company C of the 9th Infantry suffered heavy casualties. Out of 74 troops, 36 were killed in action (KIA), eight were severely wounded (they would die later on), and four were missing in action (MIA). Only 26 survived, of which four were unscathed. The ambush appeared to have focused on the American officers, which the Filipinos have attacked with "ferocity unusual even for guerrilla warfare," as noted by Colonel Thomas Bruno. Then again, despite their numerical superiority, the Filipinos suffered 28 deaths and 22 wounded. In the Filipino perspective, it was a rare victory, albeit a tactical victory. They took 100 rifles and 25,000 rounds of ammunition. Even the most optimistic of American estimates cannot cover for the results of the ambush, a practice which appeared to be associated with early American campaigns. Perhaps as a saving act, the Americans reported that they took down with them 150 out of the 400 Filipino troops. This was definitely a false number.

Confusion and retaliation
Valeriano Abanador years after the Balangiga Conflict
Photo courtesy of Rolando Borrinaga
In reality, Lukban might have been as shocked as the Americans when he and his compatriots learned of the Balangiga conflict. With around a thousand troops for the entire province, and less than half of them armed with rifles, Lukban cannot hope at the time to assemble 500 troops for the ambush. Worse, the American media tagged Lukban as the mastermind of the attack. Then again, perhaps wanting to take advantage of the situation, Lukban issued letters encouraging all forces aligned to the Filipino cause to follow the example of Balangiga. This was in conjunction with Malvar's call for coordinated offensives at the remaining resistance areas in November 1901 as attempts to break the stalemate. Then again, if it was not Lukban's idea, who organized the engagement at Balangiga? More recent research such as that of Rolando Borrinaga credit the coordinated attack to the local chief of police, Valeriano Abanador, and two of Lukban's officers, namely Captain Eugenio Daza, and Sergeant Pedro Duran, Sr. For one, Abanador was one of the least suspect for his befriending of the Americans. He even played chess with one of the officers of Company C, Major Richard Sill Grisworld, the company's surgeon. Apparently, it was an entirely Balangiga plot, and none of Lukban's men in the area even informed their commander. Of course, there are logistical and communication reasons. It took around a week before news of the Balangiga conflict reached Lukban. While in the strict military sense, this may qualify for insubordination, Lukban's promotion of Balangiga's success made it appear that he is not entirely opposed to the idea, at least in theory. Both the American and the Filipino forces were scattered over the province, so one cannot expect any large-scale engagements to occur. Also, since Aguinaldo disbanded the regular army in November 1899, Filipino forces usually operated in guerrilla groups. Even Malvar's command is nowhere near the size of armies commanded in the opening phase of the Philippine-American War by Antonio Luna.


General Jacob Hurd Smith in Leyte
Photo courtesy of Arnaldo Dumindin
Meanwhile, backlash from the United States became bloated and exaggerated as the Balangiga Massacre. The media began to have its attention on Samar, so much so that President Theodore Roosevelt himself said, "[I] am deeply chagrined at the disagreement which aside from unfortunate results in the Philippines may also have unfortunate results here. I most earnestly wish to have this question settled in the Philippines." The military command in Samar had been paying attention, too. Smith in particular was furious. While in a way, this was his ticket to actually be granted the reinforcements he was requesting, Smith viewed Filipinos as a lower and more savage race than the Native Americans he faced in the United States. As a colonel assigned in Luzon two years prior, Smith was known to have captured enemies shot at their hands. Smith also tried his hand at religious affairs, particularly in an incident at Dagupan. In addition, he was particularly proud of his harshness, a policy the Americans in general wanted to avoid in their pursuit of benevolent assimilation. Of course, Company C were battle-hardened soldiers fresh from the American campaign in China (they arrived in Samar on August 11, 1901). In particular, they fought the Boxers. In their mind, the annihilation of such crack troops, even due to a surprise attack, must have not resulted in a terrific defeat. As expected, Smith began to receive the troops he wanted. The Sixth Separate Brigade was composed of 4,000 troops, wherein seven companies (around 700) were formed by Filipino recruits. This made possible the devastating response Smith was planning. In his order to Major Littleton W. T. Waller, who commanded a battalion of 315 Marines, Smith said,
I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn, the more you kill and burn the better it will please me. I want all persons killed who are capable of bearing arms in actual hostilities against the United States... The interior of Samar must be made a howling wilderness.
American soldiers check on Filipino dead
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
When Waller asked the minimum age as his reference, Smith said it would be ten years old, limiting the criteria to all males who can bear arms. With this command, Smith was stretching the limits of the Lieber Code, also known as General Order No. 100. Originating from the American Civil War, the Lieber Code was modeled after European standards of war, wherein ethical considerations are mandated during wartime. The code predates the Hague Convention (1899) and the Geneva Convention (1929). However, when implemented for the Philippine-American War, only an abridged version was issued for the United States military. This oversight may have been a contributor to the perception among American commanders that such brutal tactics were even possible. In the observation of Major Brian McCarthy, while some American commentators have applauded the effectiveness of such counterinsurgency and counterguerrilla warfare, others have criticized the severe brutality which were employed for the sake of ending the war. In addition, Smith issued a declaration to the local leaders in Samar and Leyte to cooperate with the Americans. He also accused the influential and affluent people of secretly aiding the Filipino forces, alienating many of the elites in Samar and Leyte. Again, this is a departure from America's official policy.


Littleton Waller (center) with his staff in Mexico
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Investigating the American strategy
Among Smith's officers, it seemed that Major Waller's case was the one which gained widespread coverage. His infamous "March across Samar" caused the deaths of at least 39 Filipinos, 11 of which were porters shot in January 1902 for refusal to help their expedition, and allegedly attempted treachery against the Americans. Even while Smith's campaign in Samar continued, Waller was already facing court martial in Manila. Beginning in March 1902, the 13-officer military court was chaired by General William Bisbee. Waller appealed that while he did commit such acts, he cannot be held liable for them provided that the United States Army had already relocated him and his unit in Cavite. Thus, the Army did not have the jurisdiction to actually prosecute him. There was also a speculation that Waller was being harassed by his fellow officers for reporting success in the Samar campaign. In November 1901, military engagement against Lukban's forces in Basey resulted in an American victory. Eventually, upon agreement by President Roosevelt, Waller was acquitted. While Waller continued in service, distinguishing himself in the border war against Mexico, some believed that his court martial cost him a possible promotion as the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the highest rank in the Marines.

General Claro Guevarra shake hands with General Frederick
Dent Grant (center), son of US President Ulysses Grant
Meanwhile, Waller's case caused uproar back at home, especially among anti-imperialists. It brought to fore the commander of the war in Samar, General Smith, whose turn to face the court martial came on April 21, 1902. Unlike Waller, who softened Smith's "kill and burn" order as applicable only to "insurgents" during his expedition, Smith himself was already known for his harsh policies as a military officer, as well as his reckless talk among fellow officers. His order to Waller earned him the moniker "Howling Wilderness" as symbolic of his middle initial (H), as well as the nickname "Hell-Roaring Jake." For critics, it was a no-brainer to render the guilty verdict on Smith, even if he used Waller's case as a precedent for acquittal. However, similar to Waller's case, there was speculation that the court martial was an attempt to dampen Smith's success in Samar, and that the general had already expended its usefulness. In the words of General Adna Chaffee, "General Smith has worked very hard in Samar but I cannot say that he has always worked with good judgment, particularly so when he first took command of the Brigade." On February 18, 1902, Lukban was captured and sentenced to imprisonment in Bilibid. A little over two months later, on April 27, General Claro Guevarra, Lukban's successor, surrendered with 744 troops, 65 of which are officers. Malvar, reputed by most history textbooks as the "last general to surrender" during the war, actually surrendered in Batangas earlier than Guevarra, on April 13. Even before Smith's court martial, the Samar campaign was virtually over. Smith's successor in Samar, General Frederick Dent Grant, appeared to have no major objections to his predecessor's methods.

"Kill Every One Over Ten"
Photo courtesy of the Theodore Roosevelt Center
As expected, in light of testimonies by more officers other than Waller's, Smith was handed down the guilty verdict, but not for the killing of Filipino civilians through a military campaign. He was sentenced to be "admonished by the reviewing authority" in the sense that the evidence presented in court showed that "the accused did not mean everything that his unexplained language implied, that his subordinates did not gather such a meaning, and the orders were not executed in such sense." In sum, the court martial saw that the American soldiers killed less people than what was credited of them, and Smith can only be held liable for his improper or "uncivilized" conduct of a military campaign. One of the earliest estimates of Filipino deaths in the war over Samar was from an American historian, Kenneth Ray Young. In 1977, he put the estimate at 50,000 people, a number which was carried on by subsequent Filipino historians. Considering the population of Samar at the time, it was indeed a massacre. In the Filipino perspective, this is the Balangiga Massacre, as emphasized by Teodoro Agoncillo. However, the court officially placed the death count at 425, all of them being "insurgents." Later estimates also presented conservative estimates. In 1979, David Fritz placed the death toll at around 2,000 through the use of population ageing techniques. Meanwhile, Bob Couttie in 2004 placed the death toll at around 2,500 to 3,000, but this was not only confined to Smith's order. This figure represented Filipino deaths for the entire Samar campaign. In addition, Couttie noticed a flaw in the estimation methods used prior. For instance, the Spanish census takers have conflicting population estimates for the entire Philippines. Thus, when compared with the American census, there would be issues in tracing the population dynamics of any province. It could result with an amazingly small number, or a severely high number. As he put it in a 2005 interview, the 50,000 death estimate was "pure bunk and is totally wrong." Couttie noted how the Samar population even increased during wartime despite accounting population loss. Filipino historian Rolando Borrinaga also agrees with more recent estimates, stating that the allegation of 15,000 disappearances during Smith's command in Samar was unfounded. Meanwhile, the 50,000 figure appears to be connected to the dislocation caused by Smith's campaign. Colonel Bruno discussed how the American strategy of creating concentration areas, as seen also in the remaining theaters of war such as Batangas and Marinduque, caused this dispersion. However, while the Batangas campaign under General Franklin Bell was acclaimed as the more successful one, albeit causing dislocation by even more people (estimated at around 100,000 were made homeless), Smith's campaign in particular was highlighted for its sheer brutality. It led to his retirement.

Justification of the conflict
A Samar town burned by American soldiers
Photo courtesy of Arnaldo Dumindin
Whether the Americans killed 50 or 50,000 Filipinos, it was not entirely a matter of numbers. The central point that cannot be revised by any statistical or historical method was that military personnel ignored ethical considerations of war and took action against unarmed civilians. Then again, careful consideration is deserved by Smith's subordinates. Of course, there are a number of reasons why they did not seem to carry out Smith's order to make Samar a "howling wilderness." For one, the Filipino forces moved from place to place, as expected of guerrilla warfare, and the Samareño population appeared sympathetic to the Filipino cause. This made it difficult for the Americans to ascertain friend from foe, especially when all officers have the same perspective as Waller's, and it stretched the American logistical requirements. Samar is the third largest island in the Philippines, following Luzon and Mindanao. Another consideration might be the American faith. Even as soldiers, most of the Americans sent here were Protestants. There had been instances wherein soldiers refused to kill because of their religious leanings. Lastly, the court finding might have some merit. Smith's officers did not take their commanding officer seriously, presumably because of his character. Provided that Smith usually talked as he did, then discretion on the part of his officers can be considered for their inaction. However, their ethical considerations appeared limited to the killing part. Many..
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Filipino Historian: Third State of the Blog Address

This is the history blog's fourth State of the Blog Address. This, however, is not your ordinary blog update. Last year, the third State of the Blog Address was published to provide an annual report on the progress being made by this history blog. This year, the newly established tradition of publishing an annual address continues with the fourth address. This is the 33rd update article published by this history website. For many who may think this is just some chest-beating and chair-raising, then I am probably doing mine. However, these small successes are owed not only to a single author writing somewhere in the archipelago, but also to the tens of thousands of readers who even bothered, because I may be an army of one, but we have empowered thousands to know and appreciate their history. These people must know that they have been part of a larger movement to restore and maintain our national memory, because a nation without history is like a person without memory.

Why October?
New name, new logo
It portrays the site's initials
It has to be recalled why the annual address has been delivered every October of the year. While the anniversary is in December, on October 4, 2014, the Filipino Historian (FH) began as The Young Filipino Historian (TYFH), which revival was first announced on September 29 of the same year. The task was not easy as this blog focuses on a discipline that is not really popular in the Philippines, as exhibited by this year's survey of history in the web. There is also fierce competition presented by older and better organized, although usually trivialized to the point of near mediocrity, history blogs and websites. What can a "single author writing somewhere in the archipelago" do? Still, while the situation seemed hopeless, the restoration is on. This is where our story begins.

Not expected to outdo in the near future what has been achieved in the first two years, the bar at the time was quite low. However, it is to be found out that this is not your ordinary history blog. Going beyond simple trivia and speculation, the blog featured details and analyses that are not to be found among leading history blogs. Most of the articles also have a reference list to encourage readers to confirm what they have read and to establish authority for this history blog. Relevant images and videos were added wherever possible to keep articles from appearing bland. What is aimed here is to show that history is not only about dates, personalities, and places. There is more to it than meets the eye. These methods, however, had kept the article generation of the blog relatively low compared to most blogs.

In the first two years of this blog, it has recorded a monthly average of 52 views. In the next four years, the blog has recorded a daily average of 188 views (up from 106 views a day as of October 2017), and the trend continues to hold. As of September 2018, the blog has exceeded 20,000 views in a month, a performance which may well solidify a spot for the Filipino Historian as one of the top blogs in the Philippines.

Rising the ranks
This blog began from what we can call level zero. Frankly, it was insignificant when it re-entered the blogosphere four years ago. However, as the audience continued to grow, and traffic began to take an upward trend, the Filipino Historian was soon detected in the radars of national and global rankings.

In Blogs ng Pinoy, a directory featuring thousands of websites in the Philippines, this history blog ranked 4th overall as of August 2018, and 6th in September 2018. Meanwhile, in website rankers Alexa and SimilarWeb, the Filipino Historian ranked in the top 0.2% and top 0.1% of live websites, respectively, as of October 2018. This is the highest level reached by the website since it was ranked in 2015 (for Alexa) and in 2017 (for SimilarWeb). This means that out of billions of active sites in the internet, this history blog is doing well enough to even be ranked.

Other rankings do not seem to show a growing website. In Feedspot's list of Top 100 Philippine Blogs, this history blog's rank fell from 72nd in December 2017 to 86th in July 2018. Also, the Filipino Historian is not even included in ASEAN UP's list of top 50 blogs in the Philippines, which was updated as of April 2018.

While it is indeed recognized that history is not a very popular discipline in the Philippines, and the website itself does not appear to consistently rank well across the board, it has to be acknowledged that one history website is making strides to share freely such knowledge for all people.

Facebook page as of 2018
Two million miracles in 2018


Even though this history blog has been serving the world for more than five years, it only began to permeate social media recently. On October 29, 2014, the official Facebook page of this history blog was launched. To date, the page had exceeded 3400 followers. This means an average growth of 7% per month since the third address. While still respectable, it is a markedly slower pace than last year's 12% per month. However, as a stern note, unlike other "popular" blogs and websites, even those dabbling with history, the Filipino Historian does not, and will not, buy or purchase followers and views for the sake of popularity. Until now, the author has no means to acquire its own top-level domain, which may further boost its search engine optimization. What was achieved now by this single author is hard work, coupled by the irreplaceable support of thousands who grew to love and appreciate history through this medium.

Twitter page as of 2018
All time statistics reveal that Facebook has been the largest single source of views for this history blog so far. Views from Facebook account for 42% of the total all time views of the blog, down from 50% last year. The following year, on October 27, 2015, the official Twitter page of this history blog was launched. From 14 followers last year (2017), it has increased to 21 followers. While Twitter remained insignificant in contributing to traffic for this blog (around 0.2%, up from 0.1% last year), it is seen as one of the possible growth areas in the coming years. It has already trumped over Wikipedia and Blogarama, two of the sources which generated more traffic than this blog's Twitter platform last year. Other rising traffic contributors include Google (14.6%, increased from 8.7% last year). This can be seen as a positive note in efforts to diversify this website's traffic sources.

After last year's unexpected growth, 2016 projections for the Filipino Historian have been readjusted from reaching a million people to reaching two million people by 2018. This history blog revised this short-term vision as "two million miracles." It is the sole author's pleasure to inform all of you that this dream has been achieved as of October 25, 2018, when this history website's social media platforms reached 2,007,100 people. A miracle has indeed been made, especially since we still have a few weeks left for the year 2018. Of course, the service to the people of the Philippines and the world does not end here. This is just the launching pad. As we approach six years of public service, it is envisioned for this blog to reach as many as possible to fulfill the greater good of history.

Satisfaction ratings
The exact question used in the survey is: How is your experience with the articles? There are four choices: Very satisfied, satisfied, unsatisfied, and very unsatisfied. More than 99% of the 138 respondents were very satisfied, and less than 1% were satisfied. For the second time since 2014, there were no unsatisfied ratings. Respondents increased from the past year (2016), and ratings remained sky high (it was 97% from 2014-2015, and 98% from 2015-2016). However, the poll feature of this history website's platform has been discontinued. Rest assured, the lone author would find ways to keep updated with the audience's sentiments.

A national blog for the Philippines
On November 24, 2014, the blog began to officially record its reach throughout the Philippines partially through Facebook. This is the first result received by the blog. Darker areas meant there are more readers within the province. It is evident that the blog had only reached some parts of Luzon. Of course, it has to be considered that the blog had to begin from virtually nothing, and it has no tangible team to even consider. This history blog is maintained by a single author.


However, the goal has been raised. It is now aimed to expand towards nationwide coverage and finally be worthy to be called a national blog. On October 3, 2015, this is the extent that the blog has reached. The task ahead is arduous, but we have breakthroughs by having presence in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao for the first time since 2012.


As of 2017, this is the extent reached by the blog nationwide. There are still provinces of the Philippines wherein the blog has not received a significant readership.


A year later, in 2018, the Filipino Historian has truly become a national blog by having readers from all provinces of the Philippines. Not only from Aparri to Jolo, as the song goes, but literally from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi. This may not mean much for many people, but this phenomenon is sufficient manifestation of this website's motto: "Bringing history to the Philippines and the world."



How international is international?
On June 1, 2015, the history blog recognized that it was read in 35 countries worldwide other than the Philippines, and had double- and triple-digit number of visitors in at least six (6) of these countries since the official count began February 3, 2015. Since then, the title International has been added. How has the Filipino Historian fared after three and a half years? As of October 25, 2018, the blog has been read in 90 countries. It also had double- and triple-digit number of visitors in at least 33 countries worldwide, an increase from 30 countries last year. Meanwhile, the social media outlets of this blog has followers from 50 different nations, up from 45 last year. Despite the increasing worldwide reach of this blog, and the diversification of the topics being covered, it is noticeable that 61% of all time views (down from 62%) and 85% of social media followers (down from 90%) hail from the author's homeland, the Philippines. He is, after all, the Filipino Historian.

The itsy bitsy blog crawling up the Web
The following are some of the screenshots to showcase how the blog has fared in leading search engines. All the readers and the followers of this history blog receives utmost thanks from its author.

Filipino Historian is top search entry in Google

This blog also has three out of ten top entries in Yahoo

This blog is the top entry in Bing, and has three other entries in the top ten

This blog is also the top entry in Naver

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!"
(Matthew 25:21)
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General Gregorio del Pilar
Photo courtesy of the Presidential
Museum and Library
On September 5 of this year, the so-called "Boy General," Gregorio del Pilar, goes to the big screen for the first time in more than two decades with the film Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral (with Paulo Avelino as Gregorio del Pilar). Prior to this, Romnick Sarmenta played the role of the general in the 1996 film Tirad Pass: The Last Stand of General Gregorio del Pilar. At any rate, as the sequel of the highly successful independent film Heneral Luna, Goyo would prove to have less action, not because of the production's choice. As the Filipino armed forces retreated to the north, battles have involved less and less troops and equipment. It ultimately led to guerrilla warfare, which was officially adopted as the Filipino strategy in November 1899, but has already been suggested earlier in the year. Of course, for many people, he is known for his "last stand" at Tirad Pass. A spoiler alert for those who have not yet seen the movie, perhaps: Goyo dies. This engraved the image of a capable young general beating the odds. Almost. It is also common knowledge that del Pilar died in the Battle of Tirad Pass, along with most of his troops. However, the story leading to this somber event has never been the emphasis of most history books. Who is Gregorio del Pilar, really? A conscious hero or a man of no ego? What had driven his lightning rise in the ranks? Sheer ambition or pure dedication to the nation?

The Eagle Takes Flight
Born on November 14, 1875 in Bulacan, Bulacan, Goyo or Goyong finished his secondary and tertiary education at the Ateneo de Manila University. Members of the family were also quite prominent, such as his uncle Marcelo H. del Pilar, the editor of La Solidaridad, and his aunt Hilaria del Pilar, the spouse of Katipunan President Deodato Arellano. As soon as he graduated from school in 1896, the Philippine Revolution erupted. His desire to take a master's degree was cut short. Already serving as a secret messenger for his uncle Deodato Arellano in Manila before the Revolution, del Pilar has been involved in the Katipunan with the code name Agila or "eagle." As with some Katipuneros, del Pilar would soon become known through his code name. He had already displayed expertise in arnis, a Filipino martial art. In the initial phase of the Revolution, he was a lieutenant in the Uliran unit of his friends, Colonel Vicente Enriquez (born 1879) and General Anacleto Enriquez (born 1876). It was said that del Pilar himself was inspired by General Enriquez, who was appointed as second-in-command of all Bulacan forces on October 20, 1896 by General Isidoro Torres, president of the Apuy council administering the Katipunan forces in Bulacan.

General Anacleto Enriquez
Photo courtesy of Filipinas Heritage Library
At the age of 20 years and 25 days, Anacleto Enriquez became the youngest general of the Philippine Revolution (at least, in comparison to all officers who are in record). Manuel Tinio, who received the rank of general on November 20, 1897, follows in close second at 20 years and five months, albeit it is widely believed to this day that he was the youngest general. Flaviano Yengko, who received the rank of general on February 22, 1897, is the next youngest at 22 years and two months. While it can be observed that military ranks may come easier during times of revolution and war, such young generals might appear extraordinary in today's context. Then again, the era actually featured military officers at the age of 14, such as in the case of Andres Novales. Nevertheless, the career of General Enriquez was short-lived. While holding ground in Hacienda Buenavista (now split into the municipalities of San Rafael and San Ildefonso), General Enriquez and his 800-strong force faced a Spanish contingent of around the same size under Major Lopez Arteaga. Major Arteaga was quite infamous with the revolutionaries, whose counterattack in Nueva Ecija on September 5, 1896 forced the retreat of Tinio (then a captain) and General Mariano Llanera. To think that Arteaga had command of a smaller force then - a company composed of around 200 troops. Better equipment and military discipline proved to be pivotal in the battle, with the Spanish opening up through a barrage of artillery fire, followed by a coordinated infantry attack, on November 30, 1896. The Filipino forces, then in dire need of arms, can only manage hand-to-hand combat. At the end of the battle, General Enriquez was found dead with most of his courageous yet somewhat ragtag army.

Filipino negotiators concluding the Pact of Biak-na-Bato
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
When del Pilar learned of his death, he was at Kakaron de Sili (now Pandi) where he was fighting, this time under General Eusebio Roque, for almost every inch of land through skirmishes against the Spanish. However, by January 1897, the Spanish were gaining the upper hand. In del Pilar's own admission, the Filipino forces have to leave the fort of Kakaron de Sili due to the intense Spanish offensive. Perhaps due partly to news of how the campaign goes in Cavite, del Pilar and what remained of the revolutionaries in his unit marched to Imus by going through Angat and Norzagaray from January 26 to February 10. Then, the march stopped at Montalban (now Rodriguez). Instead of going ahead to Cavite as planned, it was evident that del Pilar was having a breather while waiting for arms from Imus. What stopped del Pilar's march? By February 1897, the new Spanish governor general, Camilo de Polavieja (born 1838) focused the offensive against Cavite. In this move, Polavieja attempts to show why his predecessor, Ramon Blanco, failed to crush the revolution by believing that the threat lies more in Bulacan and the neighboring northern provinces. This change of strategy is the likely rationale behind del Pilar's return to Bulacan. Despite the Filipino victory at Zapote Bridge in the Las Piñas-Bacoor border (February 17), the Spanish continued their unrelenting campaign which culminated with the recovery of most of Cavite by May 1897. After considering their situation, Emilio Aguinaldo with some 500 of his soldiers escaped Cavite through Morong (now Rizal), and settled at their new headquarters at Biak-na-Bato, Bulacan. By this time, del Pilar was serving as a captain in the unit of Commandant Adriano Gatmaitan, who was operating in Paombong, around 60 kilometers from Biak-na-Bato. In the Spanish ranks, Polavieja had resigned his post, and was succeeded by the relatively moderate Primo de Rivera (born 1831). In Rivera's view, Aguinaldo and his troops may take advantage of the vast expanse further north to escape their offensive (a scenario which actually happened in the Philippine-American War). As Rivera would say, "I can take Biak-na-Bato. Any man can take it, but I cannot say I can crush the rebellion." With neither side gaining clear superiority in Bulacan and neighboring provinces, a stalemate pinned both forces until July 1897, when diplomacy began to take shape with Pedro Paterno serving as mediator between them. However, it did not mean a cessation of hostilities. In September 1897, the Battle of Aliaga in Nueva Ecija, one of the largest during the Philippine Revolution, proved to be the defining moment for many of its participants, Tinio included. He was promoted as colonel. Despite what was considered a Filipino victory, the battle eventually caused the dispersion of many of the Filipino revolutionaries. At the same time, a smaller feat by del Pilar with ten men gained him an audience with Aguinaldo himself. They raided a Spanish garrison to steal arms, particularly Mauser rifles.

Gregorio del Pilar with Emilio Aguinaldo, Pedro Paterno,
Vito Belarmino and Wenceslao Viniegra aboard a train
to Pangasinan, their stopover before going to Hong Kong
Photo courtesy of Presidential Museum and Library
In recognition of his bravery, del Pilar was appointed as lieutenant colonel. This promotion means he had already outranked his immediate officer, Commandant Gatmaitan. It also signalled his entry into Aguinaldo's inner circle. Meanwhile, Filipino forces began to coalesce around Aguinaldo as the Republic of Biak-na-Bato was established on November 1, 1897, with Aguinaldo himself as president. Two weeks later, a constitution was drafted, and del Pilar became one of its ratifiers. Soon, diplomacy between the Spanish and the Filipino leaders resulted to the Pact of Biak-na-Bato, signed on December 14, 1897, del Pilar was one of the revolutionary leaders who were to be exiled abroad as mandated by the pact. The exiles chose Hong Kong as their destination. While in Hong Kong, it was said that del Pilar acquired a gold tooth. Did he need to replace a tooth? Was it out of vanity? Or something else altogether? At any rate, the Spanish saw that the peace secured by Rivera would not last. Six months later, Aguinaldo returns with del Pilar and many of the exiles to resume the Revolution. This time, the Americans have already been at war with the Spanish, and it included their intervention in the Philippines. During this time, it appeared that Aguinaldo's confidence on del Pilar had increased so much that Aguinaldo was known to have said of him, "He was my man of confidence. I could trust him with anything. Therefore, I had him always at my side until he died." As the Filipino forces began pushing the Spanish to the limit, they begin to form what would become the First Philippine Republic. When they have closed in on Manila, the capital, del Pilar was charged in taking over the areas of Tondo, Divisoria, and Azcarraga (now Recto). On September 15, 1898, the Revolutionary Congress, also known as the Malolos Congress, convened to begin drafting the constitution. The day represented another landmark for del Pilar's military career. He was promoted as brigadier general, as well as the overall commander of Bulacan. Meanwhile, his unit was designated as part of the Presidential Guard. In this regard, del Pilar has exceeded his former superior, General Anacleto Enriquez.

One of Gregorio del Pilar signature poses,
the hidden hand is a prominent gesture used
also by leaders such as Napoleon Bonaparte,
George Washington, and Simon Bolivar.
Photo courtesy of Presidential Museum
and Library
Administration's Attack Dog?
The Americans shed the disguise of being allies of Filipinos when war broke out on February 4, 1899. When Filipino presence collapsed in Manila and its suburbs, the next theater of military action was Bulacan, where the fledgling Philippine Republic had founded its capital (Malolos). By this time, the command of all Central Luzon forces (and concurrently as Commanding General of the Philippine Republican Army) have been given to the Director of War, General Antonio Luna. However, rumors began to spread concerning Luna's ambition, bolstered by reports of deeds wherein he was overarching his legal reach (something which Apolinario Mabini, then Prime Minister, had noted to Aguinaldo). When the war breached Bulacan, Aguinaldo placed del Pilar's unit under Luna's. Then again, Luna especially requested for the 1,900-strong force of Manuel Tinio, who was also a general by this time. Besides, Tinio's force is larger than del Pilar's unit of some 1,000 troops, and the unit has proven itself in larger battles, such as that in Aliaga. Still, if Aguinaldo has begun suspecting Luna, it might be possible that he placed del Pilar to balance, and even watch, Luna and his subordinates. In the words of General Jose Alejandrino, one of Luna's friends,
"There was a young pretentious general who set up his headquarters in one of the nearby towns, not bothering to present himself to General Luna. He did not recognize any orders other than those which emanated from the Captain General, of whom he was a favorite. At the headquarters of General Luna, it was learned that this gentleman spent days and nights at fiestas and dances which flatterers offered in his honor."
It was not exactly unusual for many generals of the Revolution to attend social functions every once in a while, especially those who also serve in political positions. Del Pilar in particular was someone known to be smooth with women. However, it does not suit well with the kind of discipline Luna and his subordinates had been trying to instill, considering it was wartime. Also, Tinio's unit was largely composed of soldiers from Northern Luzon. Luna's Ilocano background might draw them closer to the general than Aguinaldo himself. While in the service of Luna, del Pilar did distinguish himself at the Battle of Quingua (April 23), which was initially a Filipino victory, but then, the Americans soon overwhelmed them. To credit del Pilar, he appeared to be the type of general who preferred low number of casualties. In this battle, 13 were killed in his unit. As Filipino forces suffer one defeat after another, internal conflict developed among their leaders, especially after the Battle of Calumpit (April 25-27). The feud between Luna and General Tomas Mascardo, who was commander of the Filipino forces in Pampanga, Bataan, and Zambales, divided the already small army Luna had against the Americans. At the aftermath of the battle, the Americans have prevailed. There are some who seek to continue fighting, Luna being one of their primary personalities, while there are some who seek an alternative to independence. In particular, taking the diplomatic channel once more to come up with an agreement with the Americans, just as they did with the Spanish.

The Filipino delegation to Manila was headed by
Gregorio del Pilar, seated in center.
Photo courtesy of Presidential Museum and Library
The latter's dominance became more pronounced when Mabini was out of the Prime Minister position to be replaced by Paterno on May 7, 1899. This reoriented the priorities of the Filipino government, which sent a delegation to talk with the Americans a mere two weeks after the Cabinet revamp (May 22). To head the Filipino delegation was del Pilar himself, accompanied by Captain Lorenzo Zialcita, Alberto Barretto, and Gracio Gonzaga. Meeting them in Manila were the American delegates, namely Jacob Schurman, Colonel Charles Denby, Dean Worcester, and John MacArthur. The American governor general, Elwell Otis, was not present in the talks, but he did come to meet del Pilar. Their meeting was portrayed by the foreign press as a scene between David and Goliath, with del Pilar being the smaller figure. Then again, del Pilar supposedly had a pretty decent height even in today's standards, which was ranging from 160 to 170 centimeters (5'3" to 5'7"). Despite being a cordial affair, the outcome of the meeting was not as good. The Filipinos wanted an armistice, possibly as a tactic to regroup and rethink, but not to the point that the Republic would be surrendered. However, the Americans did not want anything less than recognition of their sovereignty in the archipelago. When it became clear that the Americans would not compromise as far as the Spanish did, the Filipinos formally declared war in June 1899, albeit the war has been ongoing for four months by this time.

However, the litmus test of the administration came when Luna was assassinated on June 5 at Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, done no less by a unit of Aguinaldo's Presidential Guard, the Kawit Battalion. A sort of silent purge against Luna's subordinates followed his death, and Aguinaldo put del Pilar in charge of the operation. One of the relieved officers was General Venancio Concepcion, one of the higher ranking officers connected to Luna. Settling his headquarters in Angeles, Pampanga, Aguinaldo and del Pilar personally confirmed his loyalty to the Republic - on the same day Luna was assassinated. Confusion reigned not only among Filipino ranks, but also in the American side. There were even talks of Luna finally taking over the government, replacing Aguinaldo as dictator. What happened was the opposite, with Aguinaldo further consolidating his hold of whatever remained in the Filipino armed forces. Since del Pilar relieved many of the remaining officers connected to Luna, who he likely knew personally due to his service under the slain general, it is possible that he earned the ire of these very men. Later on, it would be known that there were really plans to liquidate Luna. General Pantaleon Garcia, who replaced Luna as commander of all Central Luzon forces, admitted that he was tasked by Aguinaldo himself to assassinate Luna, but was unable to do so. It would also turn out that del Pilar was another option to conduct the assassination. Then again, Aguinaldo himself would not admit any involvement, emphasizing that if he intended to have Luna dead, it would be easier to have him killed in battle. Owing to this turn of events, in the words of Nick Joaquin, he became viewed as "Aguinaldo's hatchet man." Has the noble eagle been transformed into an attack dog of the administration? Did he fully realize the implications of his loyal service to the president? Nagoyo ba si Goyo?

View of Mount Tirad
Photo courtesy of Carl Henry Lico
Calculated Heroism?
Despite the critical view of Luna by historians such as Teodoro Agoncillo, who noted Luna never winning any battle in his military career, there is apparent consensus that the loss of Luna only helped in highlighting the weaknesses of the Filipino Republic. From Pampanga in June, Aguinaldo and his forces would be retreating to Pangasinan and Ilocos by November 1899. As they traversed the area, del Pilar saw the strategic position of Mount Tirad, where Tirad Pass or Pasong Tirad was located. At more than 1,100 meters above sea level (MASL), Tirad Pass would be a natural high point where a smaller force can have an advantage. Thus, the moment for the "Hero of Tirad Pass" comes. In del Pilar's own words,
"The General has given me a platoon of available men and has ordered me to defend this pass. I am aware what a difficult task has been given to me. Nevertheless, I feel that this is the most glorious moment of my life. I am doing everything for my beloved country. There is no greater sacrifice. I have a terrible premonition that the enemy will vanquish me and my valiant men; but I die happy fighting for my beloved country."
 As history goes, del Pilar and most of his troops were killed in battle. Eight of his 60 soldiers survived, among them his former superior, Colonel Vicente Enriquez. Most of what we know of the battle would come from these survivors, who noted that del Pilar met a quick death through a shot on the head. Then again, for someone who was known to keep casualties at the minimum, why has del Pilar allowed himself and his unit be sacrificed in the first place? Would it not be more heroic to survive the battle and fight for another day? For instance, in the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC), an event which many may compare with the Battle of Tirad Pass, the 300 Spartans under King Leonidas were only part of a larger Greek force of around 7,000 facing a much larger Persian force. Apparently, Leonidas and his unit stood ground to allow some 3,000 more Greeks escape. In this instance, was del Pilar intent on keeping the Americans to let Aguinaldo escape? Or perhaps the extraordinary, Aguinaldo becoming disillusioned of his favorite general for some reason, thus deciding to have him taken out in battle? Nevertheless, what merits analysis is the Battle of Tirad Pass itself. In the observation of the Americans, the Filipinos were calm, which can be seen as odd considering the overwhelming superiority of the former in manpower. With some 300 troops, the Americans under Major Peyton March definitely had military superiority, at least in numbers.

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Surveying History in the Filipino Online World

August is National History Month in the Philippines
Photo courtesy of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines
"The art of history writing is greatly underappreciated in this country."
(from the About page)

A meme satirizing the historian's career
Photo courtesy of Peabody Lament
Non-creative non-fiction? What does the Filipino people really consider history as? In 2016, this history website commemorated National History Month (Buwan ng Kasaysayan) for the first time through its little platform. It was limited to promoting undiscovered articles in this blog. This time, in the 32nd update article to be published, it would be attempted to survey the vast and lively Filipino online community in search of the relevance of history during this digital age. It has been widely considered that history in general is not the most popular discipline in the country. This is compounded by the relative lack of historians in the Philippines as compared to other nations. In the first place, it is not the most lucrative career path. If Richard St. John can list historians in his study of successful people, their success might be partly due to context. These historians have an environment which support a more sustainable career path, but even they have issues to encounter. For instance, the "old guard" looking down on younger historians who damage the academic world, and yet seek the spotlight as "public historians." Indeed, while it becomes harder to pursue the historian way, the benefits are still appealing, at least for historians abroad. For instance, OwlGuru estimates the average salary of a historian at USD 60,990 (PHP 3.25 million) a year. Besides monetary benefits, historians in the international scene tend to have more flexible schedules to suit their various activities, research included. How about the Philippines? SalaryExpert estimates the average salary of a historian at PHP 401,940 (USD 7,535) a year. As if this was not enough of a disincentive, historians are usually pegged at the standard work day. In a way, this stifles the opportunity to conduct various activities, which again includes research. The expected worst case scenario is unemployment, which the public perceives more often than not.

According to Google Trends, the online interest for history worldwide
has remained stable in the past five years, peaking at 84 this year.
A score of 100 means peak popularity.
So much about the historian way. Of course, success is not limited to the capacity of enjoying a hearty meal after research. As historians, the apparent disinterest of the population with history lies partly with the historian's work. How come similar social sciences such as political science and economics tend to attract more buzz than history, especially among the youth, whereas history has the power to make or break politicians and businessmen? This is the context wherein the Filipino Historian entered as it was launched to the online world in 2012. With the purpose of "bringing history to the Philippines and the world," this history blog has become a free medium with which thousands of people from every nation have come to appreciate history better. It has revolutionized the art of historiography in the Philippine web by sharing the sources and the references used by the articles. In light of the hardships of the historian way in the Philippines, a single author operating such tedious work for free is not deemed as sustainable. As for this author, while there are no clear and direct incentives like access to better resources, the fulfillment lies in the greater good of history. Nevertheless, this history blog is not the only site in the web wherein history is the niche, albeit not all of them might be in the same financial straits as this history blog. Considering the growing relevance of connectivity in the online community, it is deemed beneficial to have Filipino history websites surveyed of their impact today.

Assessing the influence of top history websites
According to Google Trends, the online interest for history in the Philippines
has been erratic in the past five years, peaking at only 52 this year.
Again, a score of 100 means peak popularity.
While no single metric may suffice to evaluate this impact, one factor considered in this survey is the popularity of the website itself. In the first place, driving traffic to one's website is a basic tactic. The initial problem in populating the list of top history websites of the Philippines is the lack of an actual list to begin with. Many website rankers do not categorize them as dealing with history, which makes their owners classify them under other categories such as personal, politics, local, government, arts, and society, among others. However, there are history websites which tend to stand out among them. Other than the Filipino Historian, which is this history blog, the websites to be ranked are Indio Bravo, Views from the Pampang, Filipino Genealogy Project, My Silay Heritage, Philippine History, The Kahimyang Project, The Filipino Historian (Ambeth Ocampo's blog of a similar name), It's Xiaotime!, Philippine Historical Association (PHA), Philippine National Historical Society (PNHS), Bagong Kasaysayan (BAKAS), Ngayon sa Kasayasyan, With One's Past, and Philippine-American War. For reference purposes, two government websites on history, namely that of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and of the National Archives of the Philippines (NAP), would be used in the comparison since state-operated websites tend to attract a more sustainable stream of web traffic. Since this is an initial list, there is the possibility of excluding other ranking history websites at this juncture. In addition, each website does not have similar amounts of content, which means varying drivers of web traffic as well. Thus, newer websites such as this history blog is at a disadvantage. However, this does not discount the paramount task of ranking Filipino history websites for the first time in the online world.

According to Alexa and SimilarWeb, two of the more renowned website rankers, the NHCP site ranked 2,313 and 6,290 in the Philippines, respectively, while the NAP site ranked 10,615 and 18,272, respectively, as of publishing date. This is an expected result as earlier discussed. As for the aforementioned history websites, they are ranked by Alexa as follows:

  1. The Kahimyang Project: 3,115
  2. Philippine History: 3,508
  3. It's Xiaotime: 4,777
  4. Philippine-American War: 30,613
  5. Filipino Historian (Al Raposas): 35,814
  6. With One's Past: 48,684
  7. Indio Historian: 59,396
  8. Views from the Pampang: 82,380
  9. Filipino Genealogy Project: ranked, N/A
  10. Filipino Historian (Ambeth Ocampo): ranked, N/A
  11. Silay Heritage: ranked, N/A
  12. Bagong Kasaysayan, unranked, N/A
  13. Ngayon sa Kasaysayan: ranked, N/A
  14. Philippine Historical Association: unranked, N/A
  15. Philippine National Historical Society: unranked, N/A
Meanwhile, they are ranked by SimilarWeb as follows:
  1. The Kahimyang Project: 7,936
  2. Philippine History: 9,656
  3. It's Xiaotime: 18,444
  4. Philippine-American War: 46,255
  5. Indio Historian: 59,396
  6. With One's Past: 72,874
  7. Filipino Historian (Al Raposas): 73,060
  8. Views from the Pampang: 82,087
  9. Philippine National Historical Society: 237,753
  10. Silay Heritage: 337,922
  11. Philippine Historical Association: 444,360
  12. Ngayon sa Kasaysayan: 564,757
  13. Bagong Kasaysayan, 613,342
  14. Filipino Historian (Ambeth Ocampo): 3,622,307
  15. Filipino Genealogy Project: 3,672,426
While these website rankers have produced varying results, the following can be observed:
  • The top history websites ranked in the thousands level in the Philippine context alone. This means more dismal numbers at the international stage. This also reinforces the prevailing idea of Filipino indifference to history despite these efforts to reach the online population.
  • This history blog, the Filipino Historian, has consistently ranked in the middle of the pack despite being the youngest history website in the list (5th in Alexa, 7th in SimilarWeb). This can be seen as a positive development for the rising star among Filipino blogs.
  • History websites with more content than others such as the Kahimyang Project and Philippine History have led the rankings, especially since they are more of a complex database of sorts than a simple blog. However, amount of content alone is not a deciding factor as similar sites such as Ngayon sa Kasaysayan and Views from the Pampang ranked lower.
  • History websites with more personnel in charge of operations may also rank higher, as in the case of the Kahimyang Project and Philippine History, but this is not always applicable, as in the case of PHA, PNHS, and BAKAS.
  • Since this initial survey excluded social media influence, Google Pagerank, MozRank, and other metrics, the websites ranked here may have more or less reach than they are credited for.
Significance of history in the digital age
As the Philippines commemorates yet again its National History Month, the online society is increasingly permeating the consciousness of the populace. That is, how to advance the saysay (significance) in kasaysayan in this era. History cannot be confined only in the hallowed halls of renowned publications and elite fora, albeit their immense contribution to the discipline is indispensable. It is not that world wherein history progressed up to this day has to be destroyed in order to make it appear more attractive. History as trivialized? Perhaps, but the issue lies beyond appearances. Still, while there has been little attention paid to the power of online media in promoting history in the Philippines and beyond, it has to be remembered that at least one of them historians is trying to make strides to do just that. As this history website's motto goes, "bringing history to the Philippines and the world," not just for the rich nor the poor, neither for the elite nor the masses, but for all. This is the historian way of the single author writing somewhere in the archipelago.

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Filipino Historian: Midyear Update

The leading Filipino history blog
"Samugariya no yume tsumetai kimi no te atatameru mahou wa hitotsu no michi wo shinjiru koto"
(from Houki Gumo)

This is the blog's update for June 2018, and the 31st update article published. The present is fast being devoured by the past as we have now reached the middle of the year. It has been a while since an update is published, but do remember that these articles are for all the readers who love and support the Filipino Historian and the work done in these past years. Indeed, this is a humbling experience for the single author writing somewhere in the archipelago.

Two Million Miracles in 2018
As we reached our fifth year in service, this history blog has made a clear vision in the next few years: reach two million people by 2018. This aim for "two million miracles" is a modified version of the original goal of "one million miracles" set in 2016, since the initial goal was attained last year. As of December 31, 2017, we had 1,250,000 impressions in social media. To add to this, we have reached 402,500 people as of June 30, 2018! To attain the target for year 2018, we need 347,500 more impressions. Of course, the goal may still seem to be a long shot at this point, but each and every one must receive utmost thanks for their continuing patronage.

Readership
In our fifth year anniversary last December 15, this history blog topped off 130,000 reads. This led to modifications in the projection: from 100,000 views in 2018 to 150,000 views. However, as of June 30, 2018, this blog has registered more than 200,000 views. The record exceeded expectations for the year as June 2018 became the most popular month (that is, the month having the most views) for the blog to date.

If you missed it, the new logo has been in use since 2017.
It portrays the site's initials.
Blogger Network
As of May 29, 2017, the Filipino Historian was included as a member of the blogger network of the Philippine Daily Inquirer called ThINQ. You can access the full report here.

Rising Star among Filipino blogs
As of December 2017, the blog has been ranked in the Top 0.1% of live websites worldwide, as confirmed by the ranking website SimilarWeb. Meanwhile, it was ranked in the Top 0.2% of live websites by Alexa. It has also continually ranked nationally (the Philippines) since 2017. Feedspot reveals that Filipino Historian is the only history blog listed in the Top 100 Blogs in the Philippines (ranging from ranks 70 to 80 overall), reinforcing the need for quality history writing in the country and beyond through a free and accessible medium such as this history website.

Worldwide coverage
On June 1, 2015, after recognizing the fact that it was read in 35 nations worldwide since February, the author gave the title International to the blog. To date, this history blog is read in more than 90 nations other than the Philippines. Outside the Philippines, the most reads come from the United States (17%), Canada (2.4%), Russia (1.4%), Saudi Arabia (1.3%), and the United Arab Emirates (1.2%). Meanwhile, in terms of social media, most followers other than the Philippines come from the United States (4.3%), Saudi Arabia (1.2%), the United Arab Emirates (1.2%), India (0.8%), and the United Kingdom (0.8%). The Philippines contributes 59% of the total views (down from 61.1%) and 83.5% of the followers (down from 86.1%) of this blog. The continuing decline of the Philippine share can be seen as a positive note in diversifying the international audience of this history blog.

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The followers and readers of this emerging history website are thanked for by its humbled author. A single author sitting somewhere in the archipelago to write may seem unable to do much, but we made a great team and have come so far to become the premier history blog in the country and beyond. Let us continue bringing history to the people, for a nation without a history is like a person without a memory. Today, the nation. Tomorrow, the world.

Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come?
(Ecclesiastes 8:7)

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"Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low."
(Wallace Stanley Sayre)

Photo courtesy of PA Distance
A year ago, this history blog published Leaders of Tomorrow, an article concerning student council elections in the University of the Philippines Diliman. It is one of the more successful articles in the series as it reached more than 24,000 people to date. Whether or not the views and ideas expressed a year ago had an impact, it remains to be seen. The conclusion? The student population may have been experiencing an imbalance in the means and the representation to voice out their interests. Therefore, they choose either not to vote or to abstain. They are trapped into an either-or option, though in this diversified age, they should have multiple options. A year later, it is time to re-evaluate these findings, and see if it is comparable in other colleges and universities nationwide. It is hoped that this short article may be of help for future research on student councils nationwide. Also, since they say that the university is the microcosm of Philippine society, and the leaders of tomorrow are the youth of today, it is expected that it may also be of help to the nation in general.

University of the Philippines Diliman
Year
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
Turnout
43.1%
48.6%
48.9%
45.1%
48.1%
51.2%
49.1%
49.7%
Voters
9,728
N/A
11,532
11,187
11,626
12,578
12,783
11,951
*2009 was the first year when automation was implemented, but it lacked statistical data in the college level.


Breakdown of the 2009 voter turnout
Photo courtesy of People Are Machines



As mentioned in the past article, most analysts view voter turnout as an important factor that needs utmost attention in the current democratic system. To this day, it is recognized as the foremost legitimizing factor of any democracy of its type. The elections in 2015 was celebrated as the most successful in recent years for finally achieving the elusive 50% turnout. Evidently, an across college increase in voters must have caused this. This turnout was not achieved even in 2012, wherein there was a four-way race for chairperson when independent candidate Martin Loon ran. Thus, it is projected no less by the Office of Student Affairs that a 60% turnout be reached in 2016. The following year, more students did vote in terms of numbers (12,578 vs 12,783, an increase of 205). Another record was made when both the winning chairperson (Bryle Leano with 5,840) and vice chairperson (Beata Carolino with 8,409) garnered the highest number of votes in the electoral history of the university. The STAND UP standard bearers broke the record made by ALYANSA. Nevertheless, turnout is down to 49% in the next two election cycles (2016-2017). This level is fairly comparable to the turnout in 2012. Apparently embarrassed about its projections, the 60% claim was taken down. While automated elections managed to keep turnout at certain levels, which are definitely higher than it was during the 1990s (when apathy became the paramount issue because as late as 1999 and 2000, the turnout was a measly 36% and 35%, respectively), why is turnout in such a high-level election fluctuating? Whatever happened to student government?

Yesterday's future, tomorrow's future

"Mukashi mirai, ashita mirai. Sou da ne toki wa nonstop."
(from Fure Fure Mirai - フレ降レミライ - Rainy Rainy Future)

It is not to say that a 60% turnout is not possible. Actually, a 60% turnout is healthy enough for such election. Voters with college level education usually post high turnouts. To be specific, 61% turnout in the national scale in 2010. In comparison, voters with elementary level education only had 32% voter turnout in the same year. The United States population with college education posted an overwhelming 98% turnout. In comparison, voters with high school level education had 20%. In addition, when there is a perceived sweeping change in administration (that is, the top persons are to be replaced), then voter turnout is driven higher. For instance, national turnout in 2013 (midterm senate election) was 76%, but in 2016 (presidential election), the turnout shot to almost 82%. Still, the university never had such a healthy turnout in a decade despite high-level elections are held annually. That is a fact. Of course, expecting higher turnout is yesterday's future (mukashi mirai - ムカシ ミライ). What does it mean? It simply means that we should not stop at expecting higher turnouts to legitimize our elections. There are indeed more factors to consider, and voter turnout is just one factor among them. Watching only the voter turnout is a thing of the past. It is in areas where elections are mandatory wherein 99% or 100% turnouts are reached. If only we are aiming for a higher voter turnout, then make voting compulsory. There is not much hindrance in terms of registration because students are automatically registered voters in student council elections. So, what is the problem? In addition, for the 51% who did not vote in 2017, are they politically apathetic?

"Representatives may not even be representing him/herself."
(Alvin Toffler)

A stagnant voter turnout does not mean that they are apathetic. They actually care about the university, perhaps even more than you do. Who knows? However, it is most likely that they are just unsatisfied with how issues are being tackled. They had enough of how elections boil down to competition between parties who tend to have common ground in some, if not most, issues (for example, tuition fees). After the domination, the deluge began to reveal this phenomenon. The three major parties in the university - ALYANSA, STAND UP, and KAISA - tend to have common ground on a number of issues. This deviation towards the center reveals that the middle ground is the largest pool of voters there is. This is not merely a college phenomenon, because it can also be observed in the Philippines as a nation. Why risk taking up an unpopular position in an issue that catches the public eye? This, in turn, may cause a "they are all alike" mentality. Interest in the process eventually drops. In addition, since elections in the university are more frequent than in the national scale, it is expected that college democracy matures faster. This is also why in older democracies like the United States tend to post lower turnouts than younger democracies like the Philippines. Evidently, voter turnout is a noticeable parameter to point out just that. Still, if we are to realize tomorrow's future (ashita mirai - アシタ ミライ), we should step out marching towards tomorrow. Then again, how do we exactly do that?

Voting none of the above

The voters made the conscious choice not to participate... by not voting, [they] may be expressing the belief that politicians either cannot or will not do what the voters want done.
(John Naisbitt)

Usually, we do not expect voters to horse around (as critics would call it) with their vote in Election Day. Recall that voters with college level education have a more informed choice, and are easier to mobilize to get out the vote. If they simply do not want anyone on the list, then why vote? It is just a waste of time. In the national scene, this is not noticeable because the abstain option is yet to be added and counted. However, abstention votes have been an unexpected contender in university student council elections. While abstain may have not been a mainstay in most of our election experience, including such an option in our elections today is a dose of reality. There has been instances wherein candidates are defeated by abstention vote (as seen in 2015 in the College of Science, and the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, among others). To fully realize the relevance of the abstention or "horsing around" vote, let us take for example the heralded 2015 student council election. Abstain takes third place with 21.1% of the vote. This means more than ten percent of the voting population chose to abstain.

Add that to the 51% who did not vote, none of the above wins by a landslide! Hardly a mandate, really. Not even a third of the entire electorate managed to coalesced around a single candidate. This is higher than 17.5% for abstain in 2014, and 11.4% in 2013. Thus, it is evident that while turnout is up by 3% from 2014 to 2015, abstention vote increased further by almost 4% in the same time period. In addition, while turnout is up by 6% between 2013 and 2015, abstention vote was up by almost 10%. If we simply follow the trend, a 60% voter turnout might give abstain around one-third of the vote! Of course, all these percentages for abstention vote are only derived from the chairperson level. Even if an independent ran at the chairperson level in 2012, it differed only slightly from the abstention vote in 2013 (10.4% vs 11.4%). However, the 2016 election made a difference despite failing to achieve the 60% turnout. Abstention rate is significantly decreased to reach single digits (9.9%). This election saw a three-way race with independent candidate Raymond Rodis garnering second place. Rodis himself has praised the previous article, and after reading, he has messaged the author that he aimed to lower the abstention rate that year. Of course, while it is significantly lower than the abstention rate at least in the past four years, it differed only slightly with the 2012 election, when independent candidate Martin Loon ran. Meanwhile, the 2015 election also features an even higher abstention vote for the vice chairperson level, with 25.2%. It is much higher than 15.4% in 2014 and 12% in 2013. The 2017 election saw a significant decrease in abstention for the vice chairperson level (9.1%) as it featured a three-way race. Then again, all these are still within projections of this model. This not deviated much from the abstention rates in at least the past five years. In sum, higher voter turnout had not yet invalidated the case for abstention.


2017
figures
Chairperson*
Vice Chairperson**
Councilors***
Average
Abstention votes
1,721
1,087
854
-
Percentage to total votes
14.4%
9.1%
7.1%
10.2%
*Three candidates competed for the position. Only one winner.
**Three candidates competed for the position. Only one winner.
***29 candidates competed for the position. Only twelve winners.

"People can tell you to keep your mouth shut, but that doesn't stop you from having your own opinion."
(Anne Frank)

Using this illustration, it is clear that a higher turnout simply meant that more voters decided to express that they have no one to choose. Lower turnout meant that more voters decided not to express that they have no one to choose. The findings in the past four years are not proven obsolete despite fluctuations in voter turnout. Having more options may be an easy answer to this phenomenon. For instance, the presence of two independent candidates (Jethro David and Raymond Rodis) who topped the councilor elections caused only a 10.6% abstention in 2014. Independent candidate Carlos Cabaero topped the 2017 councilor election, which recorded only 7.1% abstention rate. Similar to 2016, which had a 7.2% abstention rate, two independent candidates got seats as councilors. Of course, this remains to be seen. In 2013, abstention for the councilor elections is at 10% flat, and evidently no independent candidate ran for councilor that year. The presence of an independent candidate in 2015 (Mark Navata) did not keep the abstention rates from rising. Meanwhile, the vice chairperson level experienced a drop in abstention in 2016 despite having less options compared to 2015. Multiple options can only keep down the bar to a certain extent, and there is more to it than meets the eye. For instance, the number of candidates running for the same positions are getting less (73 in 2016 vs 62 in 2017). It can also depend on which candidates are running.

"Top Student Council Bets Junked"
Photo courtesy of the Varsitarian
This may mean that the current system is becoming inadequate for leader formation. The trend of increasing abstention vote is still intact. In addition, one must not forget that 51% of the electorate did not vote, slowly becoming a sort of "silent" bloc. There might as well be a movement called We are the 51%. Again, this is not exactly apathy, nor a silent majority. Not only are candidates choosing not to participate, the voters make this choice as well. Whether they do not vote or abstain, it is a conscious choice. The real winner in every student council election, at least since the 21st century began, is none of the above. This is becoming an alarming situation. We do not want to be like Seoul National University which had no student council in 2011, even after conducting two elections that year. We also do not want to be like our neighbor, Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU), which also did not have a student council in 2016 despite holding special elections. The widely covered case of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in 2017 featured abstain winning in four out of six university-level positions, earning them the title "abstain nation." While the second-ranked candidates still assumed office after arguing that abstention is not a legitimate voting share, it provides evidence that student government in the Philippines is in crisis. Besides, if the student electorate did not want to vote, would it have not been easier to ignore the ballot box and go home? Yet, 66% of the UST student electorate voted. This is a daily dream for cases similar to that of the University of the Philippines.

Independent independents

"Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party."
(Winston Churchill)

Despite the increasing popularity of independent candidates, with five of them running for university level positions in 2016, it is apparent that the independent movement failed to weather the effects of increasing dissatisfaction with how the student council works, particularly student council elections. There is no significant change in the numbers whether or not they are there. It may be rooted to this reason: our independent candidates are not really independent. What does this mean? This means that these independents have entrenched organizations to carry them beforehand, or they may have been former party members and simply broke away, taking a significant amount of support with them. For instance, this Political Science 14 study on The Independent Movementwhich features four of the more successful independent candidates from 2012 to 2015, shows that:
  • Three out of four of them are members of fraternities (Alpha Phi Beta, Sigma Rho).
  • All of them have been part of organizations inside and/or outside the university.
Basically, it is to be perceived that an independent is supposed to be, well, independent. However, to be truly independent is not an easy task. The reason why these independents managed to be quite successful is their connections. No matter how they brand themselves, they are not truly independent because of the very connections that propelled them into position. In addition, not all independents are alike. They represent a myriad of issues, usually the positions of the groups which support them, while some of them may have been former party members who have been rather ungrateful of the party they left. Also, recall the so-called "King Center" or middle ground where most voters are located in the political spectrum. These not-so-independent independents are more prone to change positions than hardline party members or even true independents. Meanwhile, the electorate is not as dim as they are portrayed to be. They know this situation. Independents might as well be a candidate with a virtual party, composed by his supporters. Indeed, who would actually self-fund a campaign in the student level? That is why despite efforts of these supposedly independent candidates, student council elections continue to lag behind. What can attest to this? The same study mentioned above also notes the following in a survey of 77 students:
  • 10.4% had not yet voted in student council elections
  • 38.2% of those who did vote in student council elections also voted for independents
  • 51.9% had a leaning to any one political party
  • 59.7% still examines the candidate regardless of being a party member or an independent
  • 88.3% thinks that there are serious political divisions in the student council
  • 88.3% of those surveyed are first year and second year students
Of course, in reality, 51% did not vote in the 2016 election. Thus, the percentages in this survey may be significantly higher or lower. This may mean that the electorate who does not vote may have been older students. That is, those who may have had enough experience of how the university student council is running. It is fairly easy to figure out if one considers the demographic of the 77-people survey undertaken by the study. In addition, the perception of serious divisions may have resulted to a consequent perception that nothing much is being done. A house divided cannot work as much as a house united. It is not a difficult logic to consider. However, while independents did take advantage of this situation, their presence has had no significant effect on this perception of the electorate. While independents usually expect to unite the contending forces on the top, it is not the case most of the time. The perception of the government is also not quite changed. They are seen more as another contender than someone to rally with to gain better results. Thus, the discontentment remains, and now the electorate went out to express it much stronger with their abstention vote.

Yesterday's future

We all sense intuitively that it is obsolete.
(John Naisbitt)

Yes, you read it right. Our students still live pursuing yesterday's future. The university continues to operate with a student council that does not meet the needs and demands of the ever changing electorate (the studentry) enough. However, what may explain the increase in turnout. regardless of the greater increase in abstention votes? One possible booster in the 2015 voter turnout would be the incentives given by the student council to voters. No, it is not the incentive to go home early after voting. It is still yet to be realized when half a day, or even the whole day, is devoted to voting. Instead, freebies were promised to be given to students when they vote. Well, it is only to be found out that supplies are very limited (exhausted within the first hour of voting) and ended up going home without freebies. This material incentive to vote might be seen as "vote buying" in one side of the coin. Technically, you are enticing people to vote, albeit without specifying any one candidate or party in particular. Of course, since there is no specification on who to vote, this is generally not considered as vote buying. Besides, it is a grand accusation to brand handing out freebies in election booths as vote buying, especially on the incumbent. This is not as successful if the aim is to significantly increase voter turnout, but it is quite successful to retain the incumbent anyway. even if it is perhaps unintended. Speaking of vote buying, it cannot be said that is has left the university completely, as student elections to this day feature gimmickry which attempt to conceal vote buying for certain candidates. In addition, the electorate might have been fed up with available campaign methods, which includes mudslinging and black propaganda. Apparently, what is being done is to conduct temporary solutions to problems of long-term consequences. Most of the paramount issues remain unresolved, and future student governments tend to inherit them. What needs to be done is a major overhaul..
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Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man. (Dwight L. Moody)

CCF Center is dubbed as the largest worship center in the country
A megachurch refers to a Protestant Christian (usually Evangelical) church with an average weekly attendance of at least 2,000 (see the Hartford Institute definition). The megachurch phenomenon is evident in nations with sizeable Protestant populations such as the United States and South Korea, with missionaries bent on exporting their faith. However, the shift of counting methodology from membership to attendance show the difficulty of determining the former. Some churches have elaborate membership processes, which include practices such as baptism and discipleship classes. Other churches take account of adherents (followers, supporters) or even attendees as members. Attendance can be measured better than membership, provided that a number of churches do not even report official numbers. Catholic churches, still commanding 80.57% of the total population in the Philippines as of 2010, and other large Christian churches such as the Iglesia ni Cristo (2.45% as of 2010) are not considered megachurches because the megachurch fever is mainly a Protestant phenomenon, which began in the 1950s and continued to this day. This also means that churches which attracted large audiences prior to the 20th century, such as Charles Spurgeon's 5,000-seater Metropolitan Tabernacle, is not covered by the megachurch phenomenon. In addition, megachurches are regarded as extreme contrast of simple churches or house churches, which is prevalent in Europe, West, and East Asia. For instance, in China, churches with less than 25 members tend to be tolerated by the government. The house church movement in China resulted to a nation with around 80 to 100 million Christians. Meanwhile, in Europe, a 2010 study of more than 1,400 churches revealed that "simple churches" have an average membership of 96 people.

In the Philippines, one of the largest megachurches is the Jesus is Lord Church Worldwide (JILCW), a Full-Gospel (often interchanged with Charismatic and Pentecostal) church which claimed a membership of four million as of 2013 . It was founded by Bro. Eduardo "Eddie" Villanueva with a group of 15 students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines on October 5, 1978. Villanueva, who was a communist and an atheist prior to his conversion to Christianity in 1973, did not finish law studies due to his opposition to the Marcos regime. He even survived an assassination attempt in 1983. The following year, pursuant to his vision of "a bloody revolution that may come if the churches will not unite to win the country with the Gospel", he led the establishment of the Philippines for Jesus Movement (PJM), a nationwide campaign purposed to see the lives of Filipino's changed by the love of Jesus Christ (Psalm 33:12). Villanueva sought the presidency of the Philippines not once, but twice, carrying the banner of reform. In 2004, he had 6.16% of the vote (1.99 million). His campaign was strongest in Metro Manila (NCR, 11%) and Cordillera (CAR, 8%). Finishing last in a five-way race, Villanueva doubted all surveys (he was then at 5%), as well as the eventual election results. His campaign featured the largest political rally in Philippine history, with an estimated 3.8 million people flocking at Rizal Park (Luneta). Police estimates, however, show only a crowd of 750,000. His 2010 campaign was not as successful. He finished fifth in an election with nine candidates, having 3.12% of the vote (1.13 million). This is despite having another large rally in Rizal Park on the eve of the election. It was reported to have amassed 1.2 million people. He also did not outdo surveys, which show him at 3%. His foray into politics caused some Christians to question his calling as an evangelist and church leader. Critics also pointed out that his large political rallies may be mainly composed of church members. Still, it apparently did not slow down the growth of the church, which was reported to have three million members as of 2007. Besides, a global survey of Evangelical leaders show that 84% approve of activism and expression of political views. However, a more conservative estimate from a global study conducted by the Leadership Network show that JILCW only has 53,000 members (Asia only). Other endeavors of the church include operating television programs. In 1998, ZOE Broadcasting Network (Channel 11) was acquired by JILCW. However, GMA Network was given control of all operations of Channel 11 in 2005, reformatting it as GMA News TV in 2011. At the same time, the church acquired a new station and made it Light Network (Channel 33).


Another megachurch within from a similar denomination (Pentecostal) is the Philippines General Council of the Assemblies of God (PGCAG). In 1926, missionary Benjamin H. Caudle came from the Assemblies of God USA to preach in the Philippines. However, it would only be on January 2, 1940 when Hermogenes P. Abrenica, Rosendo Alcantara, and Rodrigo C. Esperanza met with missionary Leland E. Johnson to plan the first convention of the Assemblies of God in the Philippines. The convention was held two months later, on March 21 to 27, 1940, in Villasis, Pangasinan. The newly organized Philippines District Council of the Assemblies of God was incorporated on July 11 of the same year. In 1953, after years of being administered by the Assemblies of God USA, the Philippines District became independent. Thus, the establishment of the PGCAG, with Rev. Esperanza as the first General Superintendent. In 1958, membership grew to more than 12,000. As of the year 2000, it was reported that PGCAG had 198,000 members and an attendance of more than 420,000, leading one author to label the church as the "largest evangelical body in the country." The church has acquired airtime in the Far Eastern Broadcasting Company (702 DZAS) to broadcast a number of radio programs.

A megachurch affiliated with the Assemblies of God is Word of Hope Christian Church (WOH). It was founded by Rev. Dr. David Sobrepeña in August 1988 with three people at Paramount Theater. Within two years, attendance grew to 8,000. Official reports show that, to date, Word of Hope has 40,000 members. WOH also aims to have 100,000 members by 2020. Their main church in Quezon City has a seating capacity of 6,500. Leadership Network, meanwhile, shows a figure of 35,000 members and a seating capacity of around 4,000 for their main center. Sobrepeña has served as Assistant General Superintendent and is currently serving as General Superintendent of PGCAG. In 2010, Sobrepeña had to deal with six issues raised by Reverend Joseph Suico, resulting to his suspension from office in the PGCAG. In 2016, the Court of Appeals decided to lift the suspension of Sobrepeña and let him assume the position of (Acting) General Superintendent.


Greenhills Christian Fellowship (GCF) is also a megachurch in the Philippines. The church was began by Rev. David and Patty Jo Yount of the Conservative Baptist Mission, with 67 people meeting at the Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan on February 14, 1978. It is now being led by Dr. Larry Pabiona as senior pastor. Pabiona has been a member of GCF since 1994. The church reports a membership of 7,000. Meanwhile, Leadership Network shows a figure of 8,000 members for GCF, and a seating capacity of around 1,500 in its main center.

Despite the growth of denominational megachurches, non-denominational Christianity also figured in the megachurch movement in the past thirty to forty years, as observed by a CNN report in 2015. For instance, Rev. Caesar "Butch" Conde and his family founded Bread of Life Ministries International (BOL), a non-denominational megachurch, on November 14, 1982. The first service, held in Maryknoll College (now Miriam College), was attended by around 120 people. Conde, who was a Buddhist aiming to become a monk, had an initial counter with Christianity in the Cursillo, a Roman Catholic movement featuring three-day retreats. This was after he finished a management engineering degree in the Ateneo de Manila University. A new Catholic convert with Pentecostal orientation, he attended the Far East Advanced School of Theology (FEAST), a seminary administered by the Assemblies of God. After his studies, he began attending the International Charismatic Community (ICC), a church affiliated with the Assemblies of God. His experience in church services in ICC and the New Life Christian Fellowship, the second church he attended, prompted him to leave the Catholic faith. Conde’s perception is that in the 21st century, there will be a "blessing of God to the churches which understand that ‘organicity’ does not lie in church growth." In ten years, BOL membership grew to 2,000. However, on June 30, 1996, Reverend Robbie Casas and Pastor Florencio Ragos of BOL Baguio City split from the church and established Guiding Light Christian Church (now Guiding Light Ministries) two days later (July 2). As of 2012, it has reported to have 600 members. Another issue faced by the church was the story of Faye Nicole San Juan. The 11-year old girl supposedly won the "Intercontinental Science Quiz Net" at Australia in 2004, and BOL featured her in an article (print advertisement) supposedly written by Pastor Rito "Bong" Saquing. However, when the story was proved to be a hoax, he made a public apology for not investigating the issue thoroughly. After seven months in isolation (part of the church's discipline program), he was removed from church leadership. This led him to find a new church. Later on, he became a pastor in the next church in this article, CCF. Meanwhile, by 1998, the Crossroad Center (formerly Crossroad77) in Quezon City was dedicated as the church's main center. It has 2,500 seats and can accommodate an additional 1,000 to 1,500 people (overflow). BOL also holds the distinction of establishing the first prayer mountain facility in the Philippines (and the first in Southeast Asia, according to some claims), the Touch of Glory Prayer Mountain in Antipolo City. Rev. Conde derived the idea from Korea, where the prayer mountain Osanri Choi Ja-Sil can accommodate up to 10,000 people. The church also operates a school, the Meridian International Learning Experience. The church reports a membership of 25,000 as of 2012. However, Leadership Network shows a figure of 15,000 members. BOL is currently being led by Reverend Noel Tan.

In the same year, 1982, Pastor Peter Tan-Chi began a home Bible study in Cainta, Rizal. He was a business administration graduate of the University of the Philippines, and then finished a master's degree in management at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). He also had a doctorate in ministry from the International Graduate School of Leadership, an institution founded by the Campus Crusade for Christ. Two years later, in 1984, Tan-Chi founded the non-denominational Christ's Commission Fellowship (CCF) with a core group of 40 people. The first service was held at AIM. In 2013, to accommodate a growing church with 40,000 members at the time, CCF constructed their own worship center at Frontera Verde in Ortigas, Pasig City. Known as the CCF Center, it is 48 meters high (ten stories) built on a 2.3 hectare lot. It has a capacity of 10,000 people and can accommodate an additional 2,000 to 2,500 people (overflow). However, in a Christmas celebration at CCF Center in 2014, Executive Pastor Ricky Sarthou was said to have dressed up as "an Arabic suicide bomber", causing criticism from Filipino Freethinkers. Sarthou had sent an apology and cleared that he was portraying Osama bin Laden. Leadership Network shows a figure of 25,000 members. However, the church reports a membership of 75,000 to date. Besides posting sermon videos in the internet, CCF had acquired airtime in TV5 (Channel 5) to broadcast sermons of some of their pastors, including that of Pastor Tan-Chi.

In the same year that CCF was founded, Rice Broocks, Al Manamtam, and Steve and Deborah Murrell led a group of 65 American missionaries on a one month mission trip at the University Belt in Manila. It was summer of 1984. After two weeks, these missionaries founded the non-denominational Victory Christian Fellowship (now known simply as Victory) with a core group of 165 Filipino students. The first service was held at Tandem Theater on Recto Avenue, Manila. Steve Murrell had an encounter with a Presbyterian pastor, leading him to become a Christian in November 1975. Meanwhile, Rice Broocks was a graduate of Mississippi State University. He then finished a master's degree in the Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS), a seminary in the service of the Presbyterian Church of America. Both are accomplished authors. Murrell wrote WikiChurch: Making Discipleship Engaging, Empowering, and Viral, and 100 Years From Now: Sustaining a Movement for Generations. Broocks wrote GOD'S NOT DEAD: Evidence for God in an Age of Uncertainty, MAN MYTH MESSIAH, and the Purple Book. The first book was adapted into the film God's Not Dead, which grossed 62 million dollars in box office sales. The second book was also adopted in film, this time in the second installment of God's Not Dead, which grossed 23 million dollars. The last book is currently being used in discipleship classes in Victory. In 1994, Victory became affiliated with Every Nation (formerly Morning Star International), an Evangelical group of churches and campus ministries. However, since both Broocks and Murrell were formerly connected with Maranatha Campus Ministries (a Charismatic church founded in 1971), with 15 other Maranatha churches in the United States and the Philippines joining the group, critics saw it more as a repackaged Maranatha than a new ministry. Murrell, serving as Every Nation's president, defended that they had rejected Maranatha and its extreme practices such as "controlling discipleship, authoritarian leadership, and theological mysticism." Meanwhile, the church reports a membership of 110,000 as of 2015. Leadership Network even lists Victory as the fifth largest megachurch in Asia (the so-called "Manila Miracle"). Indeed, in the same year, more than 14,000 people gathered in Smart Araneta Coliseum for Victory's Ignite Conference. Despite the increasing number of members, increasing by almost 25% from 2000 to 2012, Victory has not taken any project to build larger worship centers. Meanwhile, the Every Nation Center in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City is allotted mainly for the Schools of Ministry. Unlike many churches, Victory does not highlight sole leadership of the church. Even Murrell, who is president of Every Nation, does not assume such position in Victory. He even called himself an "accidental missionary." There are senior pastors in every church location, perhaps causing enough confusion for newcomers. However, there are executive directors in every region of the Philippines. As for Metro Manila, where most Victory members are concentrated (65,000 as of 2013, a figure corroborated by Leadership Network), the executive director is Pastor Ferdinand "Ferdie" Cabiling. He is better known as the "running pastor", who ran 2,180 kilometers around the country in 2015 for the benefit of 250 youth scholars.

Even after the 1970s and early 1980s, there are more megachurches emerging in the Philippines, and even outside it. On June 6, 1985, Pastor Eduardo "Ed" Lapiz began the non-denominational Day by Day Christian Ministries (DBD) from a small fellowship of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Lapiz was a graduate of the University of the Philippines, finishing degrees in Philippine Arts (BA) and Philippine Studies (MA, Ph.D.). He has also authored some 40 books, including Paano Maging Pilipinong Kristiano: Becoming a Filipino Christian, which featured his ideas of Filipinizing (indigenizing) Christianity. Lapiz himself admitted that he was being criticized for his views and practices to indigenize the Christian faith, such as the Kristianong Pasyon and the use of kakanin in communion. He returned to the Philippines in 1991, holding his first service at McDouton Building in Quezon City. As the number of members grew, the church was moved to the Folk Arts Theater, Pasay City in 2005. It was then dedicated as the Bulwagan ng Panginoon (Hall of the Lord). The theater became the main center of DBD. Since then, the church has expanded to other locations. While the church does not release official membership counts, the average attendance in the main center is around 6,000. The church has acquired airtime in the Far Eastern Broadcasting Company (702 DZAS) to broadcast a number of radio programs.

On June 27, 1987, the Presbyterian Church of the Philippines (officially The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Philippines or GAPCP) was officially founded. This is around two years after DBD. The founding of the church was partly caused by the arrival of Korean missionaries in the 1970s. In 1974, Reverend Choi Chan-Young from the Presbyterian Church of Korea (TongHap) was sent as a missionary to the Philippines. He worked for the Philippine Bible Society until 1977. After him, Reverend Kim Hwal-Young left Vietnam and arrived in the Philippines in 1977. He was sent by the Presbyterian Church in Korea (HapDong). Kim attempted to establish a Presbyterian Church in the Philippines as difficulties in cooperating with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) mounted. This led to the establishment of the Evangelical Presbyterian Mission (EPM), agreed upon in 1981, and established in 1983. Four congregations joined EPM. In the same year, the Presbyterian School of Theology was founded. Nevertheless, as the number of Korean missionaries increased (266 by this time), so did the number of churches. By 1986, agreement was reached between the EPM (sponsored by HapDong), the Reformed Church of the Philippines (sponsored by TongHap), the Presbyterian Mission in the Philippines (sponsored by the Presbyterian Church in Korea (Kosin)), and the Presbyterian Church in Korea (HapDongBoSu) mission to unite under one Presbyterian Church, thus forming the GAPCP the following year with Reverend Lemuel Dalisay as the first Filipino minister. However, in 1989, Reverend Kim Yooshik left the Presbyterian Church, and then established the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the Philippines with himself as president. He has been a missionary (HapDong) in the Philippines since 1979, and the congregation he led began in 1983. In the same year of his leave, 20 Korean missionaries from TongHap, Koshin, and HapDongBoSu reaffirmed unity under one Presbyterian Church in the Manila Manifest. On September 16, 1996, the first General Assembly was held in Los Baños, Laguna. To date, 287 congregations are organized in nine presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church. As of 2009, while there are no official church reports, membership is estimated to have been 11,000. Meanwhile, a 2007 source mentions membership to be at 8,000. It is currently being led by Reverend Nelson Dangan as general secretary. Dangan was formerly senior pastor of Light of the World Presbyterian Church.

Other megachurches in the Philippines include:
  • Cathedral of Praise (formerly Manila Bethel Temple), a Pentecostal church founded by Dr. Lester F. Sumrall in 1954. To date, the church is led by Pastor David E. Sumrall. It reported a membership of 24,000 as of 2002. However, Leadership Network puts their membership numbers at 6,000. It has also acquired airtime in television since 1986.
  • Church of the Foursquare Gospel in the Philippines (CFGPI), a Pentecostal church branched from the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. The church reports a membership of 95,000. Reverend Valentin C. Chaves leads the church as its president.
  • Destiny Church (or Destiny Church Manila, to distinguish itself from other churches with the same name), a church affiliated with the G12 Conference. The church originated from a youth core group in the University of the Philippines known as Students of Destiny (formerly Students of Christ) in 2001. It was founded by Pastor Leo..
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History bears witness to the profound impact of the Bible on the life of nations, and to how it has moved and inspired many people, including statesmen and social reformers, to work for the betterment of their fellow human beings even at great cost to themselves.
(Rodrigo Duterte)

The Holy Bible
Photo courtesy of Crosswalk
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time with more than five billion copies sold, while Publishing Perspectives puts the estimate to more than six billion copies. The Little Red Book (毛主席语录) by Mao Zedong follows a distant second with around a billion copies, albeit there are claims that all of Mao's works combined have sold as many as that of the Bible, and the Quran (Koran) at third with around 900 million copies. Considered by Christians as sacred, the Bible is regarded as the highest or the ultimate authority for being the very Word of God (Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος). This is particularly highlighted by the theological concept of Scripture Alone (sola scriptura) forwarded by Protestants, and to an extent Evangelicals, which maintains the Bible as the only cornerstone of sound doctrine. While the history and the authorship of the Bible is debated to this day, especially in the face of seemingly conflicting archaeological finds, there is wide recognition of its significance in society as a whole.

Fidel Ramos is the first Filipino Protestant
to become Philippine President.
Photo courtesy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
The importance of the Bible in society has also been recognized in the Philippines. On November 19, 1982, President Ferdinand Marcos signed Proclamation No. 2242 to designate the last Sunday of November as Bible Sunday, and the week thereafter as the National Bible Week. On November 21, 1986, President Corazon Aquino signed Proclamation No. 44, moving the Bible Sunday and the National Bible Week to the last week of January. This was superseded by Proclamation No. 1067, signed by President Fidel Ramos on August 26, 1997, wherein the Bible Sunday was removed, but the National Bible Week was retained. Almost two decades later, on January 5, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation No. 124, making January as National Bible Month, and the last week of January as National Bible Week. With the series of proclamations recognizing the Bible's role in nation building, there seems to be little consideration of how the Bible has spread in the archipelago anyway.

Issues of translation and canon
While Christianity was supposedly brought to the Philippines by the Spanish, Filipinos were particularly forbidden to read the Bible. Since Bible reading is considered lawless among the laity, there were Filipinos who were forced to read it in secret. One of them would be Nicolas Zamora, known to be the first Filipino to be ordained a Protestant minister. There is also the notion that  Jose Rizal read the Bible, albeit he was not a professing Protestant. In his discussion on the existence of purgatory, Rizal writes that the term did not appear anywhere in the Bible, suggesting that he might have read and studied the Bible as well. Of course, Zamora, and most likely Rizal as well, knew how to read the Hebrew, the Greek, the Latin, and the Spanish Bibles, yet many Filipinos at the time were not even educated in any foreign language (including Spanish). Reinforcing this observation is the lack of translation of the Bible to any vernacular in the Philippines during the period, perhaps except the translation of Luke to Pangasinan in 1887. This is best exemplified by an excerpt from Rizal's Noli Me Tangere. At one point, Fr. Damaso says that all should have knowledge of the Bible:
All should know by heart the Holy Scriptures and the lives of the saints and then I should not have to preach to you, O sinners! You should know such important and necessary things as the Lord’s Prayer, although many of you have forgotten it, living now as do the Protestants or heretics, who, like the Chinese, respect not the ministers of God. But the worse for you, O ye accursed, moving as you are toward damnation!
Jerome
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Then again, he seems to contradict himself later on, when he preaches that the Bible is not available for all to study:
Marvel, O sinners! You, in spite of what you study, for which blows are given to you, you do not speak Latin, and you will die without speaking it! To speak Latin is a gift of God and therefore the Church uses Latin! I, too, speak Latin!
Truly, while the sermon was said to be delivered in both Spanish and the vernacular (in this case, Tagalog), Latin was the language wherein the Bible was available in the Philippines. While there have been earlier translations, such as the Spanish translation of Fr. Felix Torres Amat published in 1824, and the Pangasinan translation of Pastor Manrique Alonzo Lallave published in 1887, they were not readily available to be read by most people. In the case of Alonzo Lallave, his attempt to distribute Bibles in Spanish were stopped by the colonial administration. Since it is the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church not to translate the Bible from the Latin Vulgate, as affirmed by the Council of Trent, it will not be until 1965 when the said church promulgates Dei verbum as a result of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II). The document states that the Bible may be translated into other languages other than Latin. Of course, the Roman Catholic tradition may also hold some flaws, albeit there is indeed the point of losing details due to translation. For instance, the Vulgate was largely a translation work by Jerome of the available Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts in 382 to 405. Provided the church only wanted to keep the original language of the Bible, then it is certainly not in Latin. At any rate, other translations even before the Second Vatican Council like the English Douay-Rheims (1582, 1610) have been approved by the Roman Catholic Church, mainly as an instrument against the Protestant Reformation (also known as the Counter-Reformation).

A fragment of the Gospel of John,
reputedly the oldest copy of
the New Testament yet discovered.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Just as complicated as the translation issue is the issue of content, particularly the Biblical canon. Jerome claimed to base his Biblical canon from the Council of Nicea (325), but since the said council's primary product is the creed affirming the divinity of Jesus Christ (the Nicene Creed), it is uncertain whether the delegates at Nicea agreed upon a canon. Nevertheless, even before Nicea, there have been attempts to establish Biblical canon mainly due to the existence of opposing views on various Christian doctrines. Darrell Bock (2004) mentions the second century (c. 100 onwards) arguments between church leaders such as Irenaeus and Origen, and "heretics" such as Marcion and Valentinus (Valentine) on which books should be included in the Bible. Also known as gnostics for their emphasis on "access to secret knowledge," the likes of Marcion and Valentinus removed and added books to the Bible which they saw fit to their teachings. Among these had titles such as the Gospel of Truth, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of the Ebionites, the Gospel of Nicodemus, the Gospel of Barnabas, the Secret Gospel of Mark, the Hypostasis of the Archons, the Apocryphon of John, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Apocalypse of James, the Apocalypse of Paul, the Apocalypse of Thomas, the Sophia of Jesus Christ, the Third Epistle to the Corinthians (3 Corinthians), the Epistle to the Laodiceans, the Shepherd of Hermas, the two epistles of Clement (1 and 2 Clement), and the Three Steles of Seth, among others. The prevailing concept of the Bible being inerrant maintains that there are no inconsistencies in the overall doctrine of the Bible. This is in support of the recognition of the Bible as the Word of God, since God cannot lie to or be in conflict with Himself (Hebrews 6:18). In addition to this is the concept of God providing the Holy Spirit to His people, enabling them to discern what is correct (Romans 8:5-8). As Jesus Christ put it, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32). If an alleged book of the Bible contradicts this doctrine, then it is likely to be non-canonical, and the earlier church leaders may have had the time to work on them. For instance, Jerome worked on the Vulgate for more than two decades. This is comparable to the advent of "fake news" in our era, primarily through social media. While news sources and photos may refer to the same person (e.g., Donald Trump), place (e.g., Mayon Volcano), or event (e.g., Independence Day), there are some which would have a somewhat distorted report compared to most of them. While this is not to say that the popular is always right, it would be relatively easier to spot the odd ones out through comparison and elimination. As Hermann Hesse would say, "The truth has a million faces, but there is only one truth," and to paraphrase Tertullian, "Truth precedes error." This process may have been slower during the early years of Christianity, but history reveals that time is of the essence for sound doctrine. If it is a fad, it is likely to flounder, but if it is a fact, it is likely to flourish. Otherwise, we might have had a Bible with twice as many books.

John Calvin
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
However, the Biblical canon is far from resolved even after two millenia since Jesus lived, and no single article may be able to contain the entire issue. The Catholic Bible has 73 books (46 for the Old Testament, 27 for the New Testament), which canon is somewhat different with that of Jerome's Vulgate. For instance, Jerome excluded Baruch, but it was in the Catholic Bible. Meanwhile, Jerome included the Prayer of Manasseh, and the Epistle to the Laodiceans, but they were not in the Catholic Bible. The Protestant Bible has less books for the Bible with 66 only (39 for the Old Testament, 27 for the New Testament), and excluded additions such as Psalm 151, 1 and 2 Esdras (3 and 4 Esdras in the Vulgate), the Prayer of Azariah, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon. Nevertheless, even during the Reformation, the Protestant canon was not yet considered mainstream. For instance, Martin Luther's German translation of the Bible (from available Hebrew and Greek texts, but not much from the Latin Vulgate) in 1522 had 61 books. He excluded Tobit, Judith, Sirach, Baruch, Esther, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation as non-canonical. Luther is particularly against the inclusion of Esther since it has not mentioned God anywhere in its content. Later on, the efforts of the Reformed tradition, of which John Calvin was among the primary figures, would establish what is now the Protestant Bible as early as 1559. Luther's followers also chose the canon agreed upon by the Reformed tradition. It is also through the efforts of the Protestant movement that the Bible was democratized, encouraging all Christians to read, study, and meditate on the Bible (Joshua 1:8). Of course, this reveals yet another contradiction in Fr. Damaso's statements, wherein he says Protestants have forgotten the Word of God, yet in the somewhat farcical scene, he himself had forgotten the Bible reading he was about to discuss.

Presbyterian missionary Robert Morrison (far right) is believed
to be one of the first Protestants to conduct missions in China.
In this 1828 illustration, the Bible is being translated.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Bibles for Filipinos
While not all of the Roman Catholic clergy in the Philippines then may be similar to Fr. Damaso, it is correct to observe that the Bible was not widely studied among Filipinos for most of the Spanish colonial period. To this day, there are Filipino Roman Catholics who have not even read the Bible, which goes to show how this tradition has become firmly embedded in Philippine society. Evidently, it will be through the entry of the Protestant movement in the Philippines which will make the Bible translated in the indigenous languages of the Philippines, and will make it available for more Filipinos. During the 1830s to the 1850s, there were attempts from Protestant missions in China, and later in Japan (mainly British and American), to bring Bibles to the Philippines, and likely to begin evangelism as well, but they were not realized. At best, the circulation of these Bibles were confined in foreign commercial houses, which at the time have been growing in number. As of 1859, there were 15 foreign commercial houses in Manila, of which seven were British, and three were American.

Manrique Alonzo Lallave
Photo courtesy of Protestante Digital
In 1870, the German seller Heinrich Hoffenden saw the opportunity to distribute Bibles in the Philippines, figuring the change in the colonial administration would mean relaxation on the Bible ban. However, his little break came to an immediate end with yet another change in the colonial administration in 1871. In 1888, another attempt to bring Bibles was made by that of Alonzo Lallave. He got hold of one of the Protestant Bibles Hoffenden sold in the Philippines. His reading of the Protestant Bible led him to become a Protestant pastor at Seville in 1874. Almost a decade later, in 1883, he finished the translation of the Gospel of Luke to Pangasinan, publishing it in 1887 at London. He would also publish a dictionary on the Bible from 1881 to 1884. Alonzo Lallave was said to have died due to an illness in 1889, albeit there is the notion that he was poisoned by his opponents. In 1896, Nicolas Zamora's father Paulino was arrested and exiled for being involved in the Philippine Revolution and for distributing copies of the Spanish Bible. In 1898, the first Protestant mission entered the archipelago, and they made use of the Pangasinan translation of Luke done by Alonzo Lallave, making it the first book of the Bible to be widely distributed in the Philippines. Among the first to receive a copy of these Bibles was President Emilio Aguinaldo himself. A year later, a Bible depot was established, which would lead to the founding of the Philippine Bible Society (PBS) with Rev. Jay Goodrich as its first general secretary. PBS is currently a member of the United Bible Societies (UBS), a global fellowship of some 149 national bible societies worldwide.

Pascual Poblete
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Among the first translations of the Bible to Tagalog was the New Testament translation done by Pascual Poblete in 1898. Poblete was a renowned translator. Besides the New Testament, he also made Tagalog translation of Rizal's Noli Me Tangere in 1909. In 1905, the first complete translation of the Bible into Tagalog was published and distributed by PBS. This version has become known as Ang Dating Biblia. Deriving on the available Spanish and English versions, particularly that of Fr. Torres Amat (1824), the King James Version (1611), and the American Standard Version (1901), Ang Dating Biblia included only 66 books. This shows adherence to the Protestant canon as forwarded by the Reformed tradition. Derived from this version is the 1978 translation called Ang Biblia, followed by a 2001 revision of the same name. A more recent translation to Tagalog was the Magandang Balita Biblia, which was first published in 1973, completed in 1983, and had a revision in 2005. This version was largely derived from the Good News Bible (1966, 1976). Other recent translations to Tagalog were Ang Salita ng Dios (2010), which was largely derived from the New International Version (1978, 1984), and Ang Bagong Tipan: Filipino Standard Version (2009), which was largely derived from the English Standard Version (2001, 2007). Meanwhile, among the first to translate the Bible in Philippine languages besides Tagalog would include Cayetano Lukban and his Bicolano version of the New Testament (1899), Isabelo de los Reyes and his Ilocano version of the New Testament (1904), and Braulio Manikan and his Hiligaynon version of the New Testament (1912). The PBS would later publish complete versions of the Bible in Ilocano (1912), Bicolano (1914), and Cebuano (1917). Again, by complete, this means adherence to the Protestant canon, albeit not all translators were Protestants, such as Poblete and de los Reyes who were founding members of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church or Aglipayan Church).

The Book of Isaiah is almost completely intact in the
Dead Sea Scrolls or the Qumran Caves Scrolls.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Conspiracy of the Lost Verses
Later translations have the benefit of newer archaeological discoveries involving earlier copies of the Bible. For instance, there are the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Qumran from 1946 to 1956. The scrolls are dated to be made at around the second century (c. 100 onwards), making it around 200 years older than the Vulgate, and around 700 years older than the Masoretic Text. To date, there are still parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls which were not deciphered. At any rate, the discovery of older copies show that there are parts of the Bible that were added later. This led newer translations, such as the New International Version and the English Standard Version, to omit, bracket, or footnote verses that were once present in older translations of the Bible, such as the King James Version, which derived more from the Vulgate and the Masoretic Text. Among the supposedly lost verses would include Matthew 18:11 (For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.), and Acts 8:37 (Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”). In addition, there are also later translations, such as the 2011 revision of the New International Version, which are gender neutral (e.g., brothers only or brothers and sisters).

These conscious choices among later translators brought controversy on which translations are more faithful to the original texts. There are some who choose to use only older translations like the King James Version and its derivative Ang Dating Biblia. Among them would be Filipino televangelist Eli Soriano. Meanwhile, there are some who choose to use only newer translations like the New International Version, and the English Standard Version. There are yet others who choose to use multiple translations to avoid relying heavily on a single version. A 2014 study in the United States shows that up to 55% of Americans prefer to use the King James Version, compared to 19% for the New International Version, and 26% to other English versions. In the perspective of history, unless older evidences surface and provide a supporting or a differing view, the conclusions reached by existing proof stands, albeit tentative at best. Also, one has to think if the supposedly lost verses would have changed the message of the Bible whether or not it was present.
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Jose Rizal was said to be a federalist
Photo courtesy of Library of Congress
Kincaid and Cole (2016) writes that federalism has been closely related with public administration. It is defined by Gamper (2005) as “a dual system that consists of the federation and the states.” More specifically, while there can be differences between nations with federal systems, Auclair (2005) cites the common structural characteristics of federalism as articulated by Professor Ronald Watts, which are the following:
  1. Two orders of government, each in direct contact with its citizens.
  2. An official, constitutional sharing of legislative and executive powers, and a sharing of revenue sources between the two orders of government.
  3. Designated representation of distinct regional opinions within federal decision-making institutions.
  4. A supreme written constitution that is not unilaterally modifiable but requires the consent of a large proportion of the federation members.
  5. An arbitration mechanism to resolve intergovernmental disputes.
  6. Procedures and institutions designed to facilitate intergovernmental collaboration.
Map of Spain and Portugal during the Napoleonic Wars
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Introduction
By the 19th century, federalism has spread both in America and in Europe. This includes the monarchial Spain. Peyrou (2007) notes that by this time, the Spanish state has been weakened by the Napoleonic Wars (1807-1814), South American Wars of Independence (1808-1833), the numerous pronunciamentos (rebellions or coups) launched by opposing military groups, and the civil wars among candidates for the Spanish throne. Despite these developments, the Philippines remained as Spain’s only major colony in Asia. When the monarchy collapsed after the Glorious Revolution (La Gloriosa, to distinguish the event from others of the same name), a federal Spanish republic was formed in 1873. Peyrou (2007) points out that the various problems faced by Spain, primarily the revolutionary experiences and the popular uprisings, have been related to the rise of federalism in the country. What is relatively significant to this study will perhaps be the first experience of the Philippines under a federal setup. However, while was recognized in the 1869 Spanish Constitution as an overseas province (provincia de ultramar), it was denied representation in the Spanish Cortes (Assembly). Perez Ayala (1999) writes that it was also not considered for elevation to statehood in the 1873 Draft Constitution, even though other Spanish colonies such as Cuba and Puerto Rico were listed as two of the 17 states of the federal republic. In addition, federal Spain proved to be short-lived. In 1874, the monarchy was restored through another pronunciamento. In relation to this, Elizalde (2013) narrates the experiences of one of the first Filipino representatives, Ventura de los Reyes. This representative illustrates that if an election was proclaimed in 1812, then it will take until 1814 for the elected to reach Spain. By that time, the Cortes must have concluded its session, making them unable to participate. Rizal may have had a background on these issues as well, since his grandfather, Lorenzo Alberto Alonso, was also a deputy in the Cortes when the Philippines still had representation. Thus, the conditions pertaining to distance and costs have burdened the Spanish colonial administration. Shortly after the Glorious Revolution, the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869 has reduced the distance between the Philippines and Spain, but it would still be take considerable travel time, and it would have still reduced the possible impact of a Spanish federal republic. Nevertheless, Agoncillo (1990) observes that the opening of the canal still facilitated a quickening pace of political and administrative ideas from Europe coming to the Philippines.

Emilio Aguinaldo
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Meanwhile, the advocacy for federalism in the Philippines began as early as the birth of the nation (Brillantes & Montes, 2007; Cureg & Matunding, 2006). Indeed, Mojares (1999) writes that in 1898, the Visayas was organized as a federal republic, before eventually recognizing the First Filipino Republic headed by Emilio Aguinaldo as its president. Quimpo (2000) notes that even the framers of the 1899 Philippine Constitution had deliberations on what system will be adopted, and federalism was one of the systems being considered. There was a proposal from both Aguinaldo and his chief adviser, Apolinario Mabini, to have three divisions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. As history goes, Mabini’s constitutional programme was not accepted. Nevertheless, it can be observed that the 1899 Constitution provides for the “broadest decentralization and autonomy of administration” (Article 57). What can be inferred is that the framers probably were still compelled to compromise, for if they meant federalism in laying the “broadest decentralization,” then the First Republic was purposed to be federal in all but name. However, in practice, government authority rested much on the president. For instance, half of the representatives in the Malolos Congress were actually appointed.

Rizal the federalist?
Meanwhile, proponents of federalism to this day has maintained the notion that Jose Rizal, one of the foremost national heroes of the Philippines, also advocate a federal agenda. A historical figure as a poster boy of today's federal initiatives? In a March 2011 Social Weather Stations survey on the "genuine Filipino hero," Jose Rizal ranked first with 75%, reinforcing his dominating popularity among our roster of Filipino heroes. President Rodrigo Duterte, himself an advocate of federalism, also believes in Rizal’s support. Considering this, it will make Rizal the forerunner of the federalist initiative in the Filipino context. The most quoted excerpt of “Rizal the federalist” is his essay “The Philippines a century hence” (Filipinas dentro de cien años), where he writes that:
Absence of any great preponderance of one race over the others will free their imagination from all mad ambitions of domination, and as the tendency of countries that have been tyrannized over, when they once shake off the yoke, is to adopt the freest government, like a boy leaving school, like the beat of the pendulum, by a law of reaction the Islands will probably declare themselves a federal republic. (Rizal, 1889)
However, this is apparently the only Rizal work cited when arguing the preference of the hero in terms of administering the independent nation of the future. Nevertheless, noting Rizal’s careful use of “probably,” is it possible that he is not referring to a preference but a pragmatic observation? While there may be instances of Rizal showing bias, as exhibited in his Annotations of Morga's Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas, the essay leans more on the academic side of the spectrum. For instance, in the same essay, Rizal (1889) also writes that the United States may take interest in taking the Philippines, provided the European powers will allow her, which later on occurred in 1898. However, it is apparent that his preference is Germany, which took the Carolines in 1885, and then bought the neighboring isles in 1899. In his letter to his sister Trinidad, Rizal advises them to become more like German women. Besides, Rizal had no positive experience to write for post-Civil War and federal America, as he was determined to leave the continent as soon as possible. Guerrero (1963) mentions that Rizal, when he came back to the Philippines in 1887, was suspected to be a German spy. There were also talks that when he climbed Mount Makiling during the same year, Rizal planted a German flag on the top to proclaim German sovereignty. Of course, at this point, Guerrero (1963) saw this as a “fantasy.” Also, another look at Rizal’s essay would show a large part dedicated to how Spain may be able to keep the Philippines by giving it basic freedoms and representation, which may support the notion that he is not a supporter of independence. In sum, Rizal making predictions and citing the obvious may not necessarily display his preferences.

Mount Makiling
Photo courtesy of the Calamba City Government
Going beyond the essay, Rizal is known to have authored a number of works, and it is possible to integrate his overall idea of administration with them. While Rizal seemed to talk more about the church in his two novels, Noli Me Tangere (Noli) and El Filibusterismo (Fili), the government also takes a significant portion of the narratives. In the first novel, the returning Crisostomo Ibarra envisioned to build a school, but perhaps owing to his long absence from the colony, he sought the advice of the old philosopher named Tasio. While Tasio has expressed doubt about acquiring the government’s support, especially since even at the local level, government officials would have to “consult a head existing in another part of the globe” to settle matters, we see Ibarra’s differing view:
I can admit that the government does not know the people, but I believe the people know the government less. There are useless officials, bad ones, if you wish, but there are also good ones, and if these are unable to do anything it is because they meet the inert mass, the people, who take little part in the affairs that concern them. (Rizal, 1887)
Another dissenting view of the government in the novel comes from the Governor-General himself, who relates to Ibarra that officials “have to do and be everything,” emphasizing the highly centralized colonial administration. While faced by this Governor-General, Ibarra remained in his idea that the government and the people ought to help each other.

Emilio Terrero
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
In the second novel, wherein Ibarra transforms into the dreaded Simoun, the tables seem to be turned. It is now Simoun who lacks the confidence in the government. Meanwhile, Ibarra’s concept of an existing “good official” takes human form in the sequel through an unnamed alto empleado (high official). There are multiple speculations on who this official might be. Anderson (2006) offers the personality of Jose Centeno, civil governor of Manila, and one of the principal aides of the liberal Governor-General Emilio Terrero (1827-1890). With his heated discussion with the new Governor-General, it seems that Rizal’s views of Spain in the essay still remains in the novel. The reasoning of the high official is clear: since the administration is not elected by the Filipinos, then all the more should the administration be treating the Filipinos well. To emphasize his point, the official says, “Let us put ourselves in the place of the Filipinos and ask ourselves what we would do in their place.” (Rizal, 1891). There is also the discussion between the cynical Simoun and Father Florentino, wherein the latter declares, “Like master, like slave! Like government, like people!” In another instance, the priest says, “With or without Spain they would always be the same, and perhaps worse! Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow?” This emphasizes that the transformation of the Philippines, either as a colony or as a country, will not come from the government above, but from the people below. More than representation, this shows a preference for participation. However, it also seems that participation would be useless if the people are uneducated, and does not have the capacity to actually participate in decisions that concern them. This can be observed in Rizal's letter to the Women of Malolos.
If the Filipina will not change her mode of being, let her rear no more children, let her merely give birth to them. She must cease to be the mistress of the home, otherwise she will unconsciously betray husband, child, native land, and all.
In any work of literature, the author knows he does not translate his ego into one or two characters only. Imagine wearing something like the Ring of the Nine Dragons, which causes oneself to be divided into various personalities. His voice can be seen in many of the characters, if not in almost every character, and Rizal does not seem to be an exception. From the two novels, which to this day are being used in high school and college as a requirement, it can be derived that Rizal sees the possibility of implementing “good” administration through “good” officials, whether it would be within the context of a colony or an independent country. There is also the education and the involvement of the people in general, because even with “good” officials, yet confronted with an uncooperative populace, there is little work done for any administration. The government in itself cannot do all things for all people, more so a foreign government. This people-centered approach reminds more of governance than traditional or “old” public administration. Nevertheless, at this point, it does not directly point anywhere near a federal agenda. Boix (2003) observes that a federal setup does not always lead to a participatory democracy, and vice versa. In a way, this explains the recent rise of “participatory federalism” as a response to the concept of a representative federal structure. Cheikbossian (2000) observes that even under a federal setup, the norm is the election of representatives, albeit lowered further from the national level to the regional level. Thus, federalism does not seem to fit well with Rizal's idea of administration, as far as his works are concerned.

Rizal the liberal?
Beyond his works, Rizal’s political activity might also give insight on how he preferred the Philippines to be administered. For the longest time, Rizal has been heralded as a typical Filipino liberal. Meanwhile, observing his actions, it would seem that Rizal preferred to work at the small scale. For instance, Anderson (2006) points that Rizal’s planned project to colonize Sandakan (a part of Borneo) was seen by some as a repeat of Tampa. At the time Rizal proposed the project to Governor-General Eulogio Despujol (1834-1907), Cuban immigrants have flooded Tampa, Florida and organized for the cause of independence. A few years later, they returned to Cuba, and waged a revolution. Bascara (2002) notes that this may be the genesis of what Antonio Luna called a “Revolutionary Club.” Other Filipino migrants in Europe expressed desire to be part of the project, with a few like Edilberto Evangelista wanting to even have some portion of land reserved. It is probable that both Rizal’s compatriots and opponents saw the project as an attempt to overthrow the colonial government. As expected, the governor-general did not grant Rizal permission to “exile” themselves. Guerrero (1963) points out that Despujol must have seen this as a bad signal both at home and abroad. This does not only mean movement of people already outside the colony, but the project also had plans to move people from Laguna. This mass migration, even at a relatively small scale, will show an image of dissatisfaction with how the colony is being administered. As a consolation, Despujol offered Rizal to continue the project anywhere in the Philippines. Apparently, Despujol’s hammer is not the only major blow to the project. Despite the approval of the British North Borneo Chartered Company, Rizal was having problems raising enough money to purchase a considerable amount of land to even start the project. Ultimately, the project was not pursued.

Eulogio Despujol
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
One can only speculate how Rizal’s Sandakan colony could have been administered. However, an idea can be derived from Rizal’s experience in Dapitan. Shortly after the project floundered, he returned to the Philippines in 1892. Anderson (2006) observes that Rizal’s return to the Philippines seemed like a foolhardy move, as compatriots urged him not to go back at the time. Their fears are with reason, and soon enough, Rizal was arrested within a number of days. Guerrero (1963) sees Despujol’s move as one of the best by any governor-general in that century. Dapitan was part of the Jesuits’ jurisdiction, and who else can better rehabilitate Rizal than his beloved Jesuits? Besides, if the Jesuits succeed in reforming him, it will be a devastating achievement to put in the faces of the other religious orders. While Rizal did not write much on his political views, it seemed like his frustration at Sandakan led him to work it at Dapitan. Guerrero (1963) writes that when Rizal won 6,200 pesos at the lottery, he bought land by the sea, and developed it. By 1893, Rizal writes that he had grown some 200 trees, as well as coffee and cocoa. Besides agricultural work, he had also built a house, a school, a clinic, a dam, a system to produce clean water, and he had even installed oil lamps. Rizal was exiled for four years, and apparently, he was given much leeway for his development projects, something that Ibarra was unable to have. Still, Rizal alone cannot accomplish all these works. For instance, he had his students collaborate with him in the field. Despite the seemingly small scale of Rizal’s experience, Dapitan can be seen as Rizal’s ideas translated into practice, and it does not seem to deviate from the people-centered approach he had articulated before. In addition, he continued to operate within the context of a centralized colonial administration. It is possible that Rizal intends to display that reforms can be done even without independence, although it does not necessarily follow that Rizal is not supportive of independence. This is highlighted by Guerrero (1963) with the discussion between Rizal and the district governor, Ricardo Carnicero. All the freedoms Rizal sought seemed liberal, but the system with which he intends to implement them is not within the context of a liberal democracy.
Carnicero: Tell me, Rizal, what reforms seem to you convenient to introduce in this country?
Rizal: Well, I'll tell you. In the first place, give the country representation in the Cortes. This would put a stop to the abuses committed by some people. Then, secularize the friars, putting a stop to the tutelage which these gentlemen, together with the Government, are exercising over the country; and distribute the parishes, as they are gradually vacated, among secular priests, who could well be either natives or peninsular Spaniards. Reform the administration in all branches. Encourage primary instruction, eliminating all meddling by the friars and giving the teachers of both sexes better salaries. Divide government jobs equally between peninsular Spaniards and the inhabitants of this country. Make the administration moral. Create schools of arts and trades in provincial capitals with a population of more than 16,000. These are the reforms that I would propose. Once they are introduced in the manner I have stated, the Philippines would be the happiest country in the world.
Carnicero: Rizal, my friend, your reforms do not seem to me to be all bad, but undoubtedly you forget the very great influence the friars have both in Manila and in Madrid, for which reason it is almost impossible to put your reforms into practice just now.
Rizal the administrator?
Another of Rizal’s political ventures would be the Liga Filipina. Rizal (1892) writes that its purpose is creating a homogenous union, mutual protection, defense against violence, development of commerce and agriculture, and study and implementation of reforms. However, the league did not have an opportunity to prove itself when its organization collapsed after Rizal’s arrest. Was the league’s national structure similar to a federal setup? Or perhaps the league was intended to be a civic institution to work with the government in the context of federalism? For one, by “uniting the whole archipelago,” Rizal may well be talking about a centralized and unitary system. The league’s motto is more definite: “One is equal to all.” (Unus instar Omnium). Jandoc (2011) writes that Rizal saw institutions as a “social glue” to amalgamate a divided nation, as Filipinos tend to prioritize one’s self and one’s family than others. In Rizal’s view, the Philippines lacks cohesion, and fragmenting it further may not help. The structure of the league would agree to this notion. According to the league’s constitution, the national or supreme council is composed of the president, fiscal, treasurer, and secretary. Corpuz (2006) highlights the “popular base” of the league, which is exhibited by the creation of provincial and popular (local) councils with a structure similar to that of the national council. However, the councils are supposed to be “composed of the most influential members of the community.” As Asiniero (2013) observed, the term pueblo (bayan or town) is nowhere in the league’s constitution. This contradicts with Corpuz’s idea of a “popular base,” and suggests Rizal's preference for a limited democratic mechanism that does not solely rely on a candidate's popularity, because influence can be translated in multiple ways. For instance, influential in the academic sense, or in the monetary sense. When compared with the
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