By: Jonathan C. Balsamo
In celebration of the 112th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence, the Philippine Historical Association sponsored a colloquium on the theme “Diplomacy and Philippine Independence in 1898: Asserting Sovereign Rights in the Age of Empire and Imperialism” last June 15 at the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) building in Manila. The colloquium was one of the activities of the 2010 national Independence Day celebration in partnership with the NHCP and the 2010 Kalayaan Organizing Committee.
The event aimed to disseminate knowledge on the diplomacy undertaken by the Revolutionary Government in 1898 in defense of Philippine sovereignty and to analyze the significance of the Spanish-American War, the Battle of Manila Bay, and the Treaty of Paris vis-à-vis the struggle for independence and the creation of a Filipino nation-state in 1898-1899.
The first lecture, “From Hong Kong to Washington D.C. to Paris: Felipe Agoncillo’s Diplomatic Odyssey in 1898 in Defense of Philippine Sovereignty” by Dr. Celestina Boncan, chronicles the diplomatic offensive carried out by Felipe Agoncillo as Minister Plenipotentiary of Philippine Revolutionary Government from 1897 to 1898. The second lecture, “The Philippines and the Spanish-American War” by Dr. Estrellita Muhi, discusses the role of imperialists, religious, businessmen and the press in the outbreak of the Spanish-American War that led to America’s conquest of the Philippines. The third lecture, “Diplomacy, Deception and Dollars: Filipino-American Diplomatic Relations in 1898” by Prof. Arleigh Dela Cruz, analyzes how American officials used diplomacy as a strategy for deception to colonize the Philippines. The fourth lecture, “The Lessons of 1898” by Dr. Evelyn Songco, provides practical ways to make relevant and meaningful in contemporary times the liberty that our forebears fought hard for our country.
NHCP head Prof. Gabriel Ma. Lopez, PHA vice president Prof. Michael Chua and PHA executive director Dr. Gloria M. Santos opened the program with their messages challenging the participants to value and propagate the teachings of our heroes to strengthen the sense of nationalism and patriotism of Filipinos today. More than 200 teachers and students from different colleges and universities in Manila attended the event.