Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/234

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

people who are so intelligent to-day have become so through a long process of transmission and struggle. History shows that the Romans thought no better of the Germans than the Spaniards do of the Tagals, and when Tacitus praises the Germans he does so in the same spirit of philosophical idealizing which we see in the followers of Rousseau who thought that their political ideal was realized in Tahiti.

4. The condemnatory criticism of the Filipino by Spaniards is easy to explain but appears not to be justified. Rizal demonstrates this in the following way: Weaklings do not emigrate to foreign lands but only men of energy who leave home already prejudiced against the colored races and reach their destination with the conviction, which is usually sanctioned by law, that they are called to rule the latter. If we remember, what few white men know, that the Filipinos fear the brutality of the whites, it is easy to explain why they make such a poor showing in works written by the latter while they themselves can not reply in print. If we consider, further, that the Filipinos with whom the whites have dealings belong, for the most part, to the lower strata of society, the opinions of them given by the whites have about the same value as that of an educated Tagal would have who should travel in Europe and judge all Germans and French by the dairy maids, porters, waiters and cabdrivers he might meet.

5. The misfortune of the Filipinos is in the color of their skin and in that alone. In Europe there are a great many persons who have risen from the lowest dregs of the populace to the highest offices and honors. Such people may be divided into two classes, those who accommodate themselves to their new position without pretensions, and whose origin is consequently not reckoned to them as a disgrace, but on the contrary they are respected as self-made men; and the conventional parvenus who are ridiculed and detested universally.

A Filipino would find himself ordinarily in the second of these two classes, no matter how noble his character or how perfect a gentleman he might be in his manners and conduct, because his origin is indelibly stamped upon his countenance, visible to all, a mark which always carries with it painful humiliations for the unfortunate native, since it forever exposes him to the prejudices of the whites. Everything he does is minutely criticised, a trifling error in etiquette which would be overlooked in a shoemaker's son who had acquired the title of baron, and which might easily happen to a pure-blooded descendant of the Montmorencys, in his case excites amusement, and you hear the remark 'What else can you expect? he is only a native' But even if he does not infringe any of the rules of etiquette, and is besides an able lawyer or a skillful physician, his accomplishments are not taken as matters of course but he is regarded with a kind of good-natured surprise, a feeling much like the astonishment with which one regards