So what is an article on the Philippines doing in a blog on lawyers. Well, since this is a blog about laws and lawyers, it might be informative to our readers (those who still do not know) where exactly , as lawyers and as a people, we are coming from, judging from an historical, cultural, and yes, also a legal perspective.
We will try—and very hard—to be accurate, but mostly we intend to convey “our take” of Philippine history, not as a chronologically correct story of the past but as a continuing annotation of the past as it affects the present and provides a road map to the future. From a cultural and legal points of view, we will only attempt at bridging certain gaps which we fill are there .Because of the wide scope involved in writing about a country and its people, this blog category will be a continuing one and we welcome others to offer their opinions on the regular releases.
AT A GLANCE:
Officially, the Republic of the Philippines, colonially known as the Philippine Islands (or P.I. to most Americans in their 80’s), and historically as Las Islas Filipinas to its Spanish founders, it is a group of about 7,000 islands in Southeast Asia made up of a population of diverse Asian and Occidental groups. The official capital of the Philippines is Quezon City but the seat of government as in colonial times is still in the City of Manila where all the three branches of government, the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial still hold offices.
Originally inhabited by the aboriginal Negritos (blacks in Spanish) and later by waves of Malay and Indonesian migrations from nearby Southeast Asian neighbors, it was known to the ancient Greeks and early Chinese traders, the latter through the centuries having intermarried with the local population before and after its colonial occupations by Spain in the 16th century and the United States early in the 20th century after the former ceded its former territories in the Philippines to the latter via the Treaty of Paris of 1898.
By some accounts, the Philippines culturally may be the most occidental countries in Southeast Asia brought about by more than 300 years of Spanish colonial influence and a half century under the mold of the American public school system of the early 1900’s. Ironically however, the Spanish language has not been as widely spoken by the native population as English has been in only the last 100 years. It predominates in fact the educational and political systems, so much so that Filipino which is the official national language has to be translated in documents to its English version before it is recognized as official.
Politically, the system is a clone of the American Presidential system with a dominant , directly elected President and a bicameral legislature made up of a Senate and a House of Representatives. It follows the Jeffersonian notion of an executive which wields the sword of government , a legislature which holds the purse, and a judicial branch that dispenses justice. Individual rights are governed by a bill of rights almost directly lifted from the U.S. Constitution.
The Philippines has always maintained a feisty stance against Federalism (or historically being annexed as one of the States of the United States), typified by the rhetorics of the first President of the Philippine Commonwealth, Manuel Luis Quezon, that he would rather have a Philippine ran like hell by Filipinos than a Philippines ran like heaven by Americans. True enough, after World War II when the Philippines emerged as one of the most devastated countries in the world, perhaps next only to Poland, the colonial masters seeing the cost of rehabilitating the territories, not to mention the attitude of the local politicians, grudgingly granted independence to the Islands on July 4, 1946. But it left the wild oats of the colonial past with a parity amendment to the Philippine constitution which granted Americans equal rights with Filipinos in the utilization of the natural resources of the Philippines. It also left two huge military bases which ranked as the largest military installations outside of the American mainland.