by Wystan de la Peña
University of the Philippines Diliman
This article is published by UNITAS, a semi-annual peer-reviewed international online journal of advanced research in literature, culture, and society (Vol. 94, No. 1, May 2021)
The Jorge Mojarro-edited book, More Hispanic than We Admit 3 (2020), takes a look at Filipino-Spanish engagements during the first 300 years after the Magellan arrival in the Philippines. This latest installment of the More Hispanic than We Admit series continues with examinations of interactions between the colonized (Filipinos) and colonizer (Spaniards) began in the first two books that came out in 2008 and 2015, respectively. The essays in the recent collection provide various perspectives in the treatment of different topics. While the two earlier books explicitly focus the reader’s attention on the country’s cultural history, all three nevertheless zoom in on Filipino agency inside a colonial context, posing the idea that Filipino-Hispanic culture was the eventual result of engagements between the natives and the Spaniards, not a top-bottom transmission.
Filipino-Spanish interactions, Filipino Hispanic culture, Philippine intellectual history, Filipino-Hispanic identity, Spanish colonial period.
Academic publisher Vibal Foundation’s latest addition—the third—to its More Hispanic than We Admit series under its Academica Filipina collection comes as a timely read with the commemoration of the quincentennial anniversary of the Spanish arrival on Philippine shores. Edited by Manila-based Spanish scholar Jorge Mojarro, the book purports to discourse on “Filipino and Spanish interactions over the centuries,” as its subtitle proclaims.
The subtitle is nothing new. Five years earlier, Vibal Foundation released the Richard Chu-edited More Tsinoy Than We Admit: Chinese-Filipino Interactions Over the Centuries, and a quick survey of the publishing house’s released titles will show its fascination on “interactions.” Mojarro’s volume follows More Hispanic Than We Admit 1: Insights into Philippine Cultural History (2008) and More Hispanic Than We Admit 2: Insights into Philippine Cultural History (2015), edited by compatriots Isaac Donoso and Gloria Cano, respectively.
Despite having a different subtitle, the first two books hardly differ from the third one. While the two earlier books explicitly focus the reader’s attention on the country’s cultural history, all three nevertheless zoom in on Filipino agency inside a colonial context, posing the idea that Filipino- Hispanic culture was the eventual result of engagements between the natives and the Spaniards, not a top-bottom transmission.
In the last decade, scholarship on Philippine identity, especially those by non-Filipinos, has been shattering the idea of a monolithic Filipino self. The discourse is particularly on peripheral aspects—hyphenated, if one will—of this selfhood. This is seen in Donoso’s explorations of the rich Muslim dimension—with traditions from the Middle East and Spain—of Philippine intellectual history in Islamic Far East: Ethnogenesis of Philippine Islam (2013) and More Islamic than We Admit (2017); in the essays in the aforementioned works, Richard Chu edited the 2015 volume, and those found in More Pinay than We Admit (2010), was edited by historian Maria Luisa Camagay.
In 19 essays, the foreword included, More Hispanic than We Admit 3 aims to show the dynamics of Filipino-Spanish political and cultural cohabitation from the 1521 arrival of the Magellan expedition to 1820, three centuries later. Three of the essays—one from American historian William Henry Scott (1921-1993), the lone foreigner to teach Philippine history at the post-war University of the Philippines, and two from psychiatrist-genealogist Luciano Santiago (1942-2019)—are posthumously reproduced in this collection, suggesting the importance given to them by the book’s editor in reconstructing the story of Spain’s first 100 years of colonial rule in Asia.
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