Thursday, January 17, 2008

Santo Nino, and other such nonsense

"In April 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, in the service of Charles V of Spain, arrived in Cebu during his voyage to find a westward route to the Spice Islands. He persuaded Rajah Humabon and his wife Hara Amihan, to pledge their allegiance with Spain. They were later baptized into the Catholic faith, taking the Christian names Carlos and Juana. Magellan gave Juana the Santo Nino as a symbol of the alliance. However, Magellan died during the Battle of Mactan later that month, and the alliance became more or less moot.

The Spanish returned to the Philippines in February 1565. Cebu was the first stop of Basque explorer Miguel López de Legazpi, who would later found Manila. He defeated Rajah Tupas (nephew to Humabon) on April 27, destroying the village in the process. The Santo Nino was found relatively unscathed in a burnt-out dwelling. This event was quickly acknowledged as miraculous, and a church was later constructed on the site of the discovery. Today, the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño is an important historical and religious landmark in Cebu, with devotees forming long line up to pay their respects to the Holy Child."
~Article quoted from Wikipedia

So... As the Spanish colonizers destroyed the natives' village, they eased the idea of subjugation by alluding that their victory was divine, as deemed by their Christian god. Later on, as the church-state subjugating government would proliferate, Catholicism would be further used to oppress the people of the Philippines by having them reject their native culture, losing heritage and cultural identity, and adopting the new Christian ideology that was trickled down by the almighty Spanish priests... but I digress...

For better or for worse, the proliferation of Catholicism by the Spanish is a part of not only Filipino culture, but of many other cultures as well. One can take a look at the entire continent of South America and the nations of Central America and see the legacy of the colonial influence.

Before, however, the Filipinos used to worship gods of their cultural standards; gods that reflected themselves. The first man and woman, Malakas and Maganda, were said to have been of beautiful brown skin like polished bronze, black hair as dark as the night, and described within the standards of beauty of an uninfluenced culture. But when the Spaniards came, suddenly women would refrain from the sun to make their skin pale, clothespins would be kept on the noses of children in hopes to create pointier noses, and suddenly the image of beauty and the divine were replaced by the imposing images that the Spaniards left the Filipinos to impossibly aspire to. What was left were people worshiping the ideas of the foreign subjugates.

And there I was, sitting in my auntie's living room, pondering upon her leftover Christmas decoration, a statue of a brown-skinned angel:

And all I could think was, "Well... maybe we're finally getting somewhere."

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