Disidentifying Nationalism

Camilo Osias and Filipino Education in the Early Twentieth Century
  • Roland Sintos Coloma

Abstract

Representing the state of Illinois at a Midwest inter-normal oratorical competition on May 8, 1908, the 19-year-old Camilo Osias began his speech “The Aspiration of the Filipinos” with the phrase: “All nations and individuals love liberty and independence; they hate servitude and restraint” (Osias 1908). Ten years after the United States gained control of his native country at the end of the Spanish-American War, Osias addressed the American spectators not as a mere contest participant, but as a living symbol of intellect and civility, a testimony to the Filipino capacity for self-rule. He stressed the American ideals of freedom and equality to win the hearts of the audience and the votes of the judges as well as to appeal for his country’s independence. Whereas Spain, the former imperialist ruler of the Philippines, became an emblem of cruelty and injustice, he pointed to America’s commitment to liberty through its Declaration of Independence, its eradication of slavery, and its pledge of “Philippines for the Filipinos.” The speech impressed and won over the judges who awarded him the grand prize. Demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of the tensions in the American colonial project and challenging the unequal relationship between the United States and the Philippines in the early twentieth century, Osias performed a type of nationalism, which appropriated and refashioned the codes and language of the dominant power in order to advocate for the sovereignty of his country.

Keywords

Migration Europe American Ideal Assimilation Arena 

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Copyright information

© E. Thomas Ewing 2005

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  • Roland Sintos Coloma

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