Tuesday, August 12, 2008
A FRENCHMAN IN OLD MANILA
His name was Felix Renouard de Sainte-Croix. He arrived in Manila in September 6, 1804 and remained there for two years, leaving the Philippines for Tourane by way of Macao.
Immediately after Spain's Relations with France was formalized in January, 1804, Governor General Raphael d'Aguilar requested from General Decaen, by letter, technical assistance of French officers to help put Manila in a state of formidable defense. Decaen replied that the officers under his command and whom he may dispatch are in Batavia.
However, a reserve cavalry officer, Felix Renouard de Sainte-Croix, was lured by the spirit of adventure and providentially found himself in Manila to render the requested service to the Philippine Government. Given the rank of captain by d'Aguilar's cavalry regiment and the title of aide-de-camp to the Governor General, Felix Renouard de Sainte-Croix carried out his duties with great zeal.
From him came a historical statement of facts, which were studied and adopted by the Governor General, in regards to the management of the colony's inhabitants and leading them to defend the archipelago threatened with an invasion by the British in July 1805, a period during which the Philippines only had 7,000 armed men.
It should be noted that at that time, the Philippines' role in the French Republic was to be a trump in France's struggle against her prime enemy -- England.
Regarded a trump because the Philippines was considered ideologically detestable since it was ruled by the clergy -- the Spanish superstition perpetuated by the clergy did not bode well with the atheistic beliefs of the French. Moreover, the French also considered the Philippines as being economically weak, militarily vulnerable and politically unstable.
Yet, the French nurtured ideas to wage a war against Spain, essentially to seize the Philippines. Under their rule, they saw this Asian country as becoming a veritable goldmine, a depot of the Moluccas, Japan and China. But in the end, France opted to keep Spain as an ally.
Besides providing the Governor General with a memorial to strengthen the archipelago's defensive strategies, Felix Renouard de Sainte-Croix made an in-depth study of the Philippines. And from which came the following excerpts from his monograph, which was not at all kind to the friars:
I believe to have already presented to you the reason why the Philippines, under the sunniest sky and on a soil so fertile is in a state of misery.
You must attribute that to the government; it is because the altar is on the throne and bearing down heavily on it. In speaking of the Government that the Spaniards established in all of their colonies, you should always distinguish civilian powers from religious powers; thus I will speak to you about them separately, because in Spain the powers emanating from the Church always prevail over the others.
The secular clergy seems to depend entirely on monastic authority; it only has the rejects of the friars. The friars all come from Spain where they acquired, at least, the necessary education to enter priesthood; the others are nearly all Indians, who hardly know how to read Latin: You can hardly imagine their pedantries; it is ignorance personified and the worst kind found in a soutane.
As the King of Spain's subjects diminish, and he can no longer have as many friars as before, very soon, the Philippine bishops will ordain even their valets.
The friars have the right to nearly 1,300 parishes; one may count about 165 tribes per parish, with five persons per tribe. Around 400 were abandoned by the firars, which brings up from 2,500 to 3,000 the parishes assigned to seculars.
The friars, in general, based on the authority that they arrogated, could mobilize a large number of Indians if these pastors could be moved by patriotism in an instant. They would be able to teach them agriculture, show them the use of mechanical methods, which serves to double the output, force them to cultivate such-and such plant which should enrich them.
Why burden their work with the construction of these huge churches and presbyteries so large, when they should be able to focus their attention on more useful things?
All the friars, I do not exempt anyone of them, have, among other practices, the habit of having themselves served by the village maidens, who in Tagal are called 'alagas' -- young girls aged 14 to 15 years. I saw a Franciscan father in his prime with at least 20 virgins in his service: one to bring him his tobacco; another, a flame to light it with ...
If I talk endlessly about the ignorance of the clergy, friar or secular, you will perhaps accuse me of a kind of obsession. It is necessary, however, that I mention the reasons why all priests ordained in Manila are inevitably uneducated.
Be it known that a college where Spanish, let alone, Latin, may be learned does not exist. Unbelievable! And of the 1,200 friars from all orders, not one devotes himself to teaching the youth. No idea of mathematics! All limit themselves to some words of Latin; half 'Tagalized.'
How many men are gulty of elevating their image through the practice of priesthood's sacerdotal functions with hardly an idea of the duties! But what frenzy when one sinks into this crass ignorance, prerogative of stupidity, to believe oneself all that is most holy and most sacred in society!
If you dare to whisper or speak of interrogators of the Inquisition, they throw you in the dungeons; the wretches know their entire knowledge is there, that in these dungeons you have only your conscience for support; for judges, only men who share the opinions of those who condemned you in advance, and torturers who will anathematize you and beat you to death.
From the inadequate care taken in choosing and training subjects, glaring disasters occur. Indeed, how can we have confidence in a man who does not practice what he preaches?
It is for this reason that ecclesiastic abuses wormed their way into this colony; and to give an example, I will cite theft to which the Indians are so inclined and which exists only because of the self-seeking indulgence of the confessors who pardon it willingly, provided they are compensated with a few masses.
This sin, and many others, are likewise settled accordingly, with Papal bulls which the Roman Court trades in the Philippines, and which gives a fixed profit to the Church and the parish priest, who sells them without however warding off evil.
FRANCE AND THE PHILIPPINES
From The Beginning to The End of The Spanish Regime
by Denis Nardin
translated by Maria Theresa J. Cruz
2004 National Historical Institute
I very much appreciate my articles and photos appearing on fellow bloggers' sites, popular broadsheets, and local broadcast news segments, but I would appreciate even more a request for permission first.
Labels: Manila history
posted by Señor Enrique at 7:27 AM
- NOYPETES said...
...de ja vu! It sems like the opinion of the Frenchies..."Regarded a trump because the Philippines was considered ideologically detestable since it was ruled by the clergy -- the Spanish superstition perpetuated by the clergy did not bode well with the atheistic beliefs of the French. Moreover, the French also considered the Philippines as being economically weak, militarily vulnerable and politically unstable."....is still true today!...I believe to have already presented to you the reason why the Philippines, under the sunniest sky and on a soil so fertile is in a state of misery.
You must attribute that to the government; it is because the altar is on the throne and bearing down heavily on it. In speaking of the Government that the Spaniards established in all of their colonies, you should always distinguish civilian powers from religious powers; thus I will speak to you about them separately, because in Spain the powers emanating from the Church always prevail over the others."
...de ja vu?...and amen to.."Be it known that a college where Spanish, let alone, Latin, may be learned does not exist. Unbelievable! And of the 1,200 friars from all orders, not one devotes himself to teaching the youth. No idea of mathematics! All limit themselves to some words of Latin; half 'Tagalized.'"...de ja vu!...so nag "menage a trois" rin pala ang Pilipinas, Francia at Espana nuon!
- nutart said...
I may not recall historical names and events like an academician but...as i had observed, the French have had their disdain of anything un-French ;-). Not that Sainte-Croix's observations are inaccurate (very similar to that of Rizal) but that his is that of a political and economic angle. What would happen if the French took over? The Old World empires have the habit of sending their "outcasts" and "un-educated" to the countries they occupy! Correct me if I'm wrong...
- Señor Enrique said...
That's right, Pete, though the lust for the Philippines inspired the French to nurture thoughts of altogether waging a war on Spain and grabbing this strategic piece of territory, but in the end, the French opted to just settle for a 'menage a trois' ... hehehe.
- Señor Enrique said...
Very good point, Bernadette. I also wonder if the French would have done a better job of enslaving the Filipinos.
The French by the way had the French Indochina, Algeria, French West Africa, French Polynesia, Haiti and etc., so they had their share of fun and profit as well.
- Cebu Security Camera Recorder said...
Spanish and French, Germans, Americans, Britist and Japanese seems no different in managing their colonies.
By the way, can we have an exchange link. Httpp://depedteacher.blogspot.com
- Señor Enrique said...
Come to think of it, you're right, DepEd Teacher!
I guess if we were under Le France,Old Manila would have been preserved,because we would not have become a target for the Japanese bombers.
- Señor Enrique said...
That's right, IndioBravo, there would have been no carpet bombing in the city at the end of the war!