Published: July 15, 2010
The 19th century was the birth of Filipino nationalism. This important phenomenon was caused by the following:
#1. the opening of the Philippines to world trade
#2. the rise of the intelligentsia
#3. the influx of liberal ideas into the country
#4. the liberal regime of Governor-General de la Torre
#5. the martyrdom of Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos and Jacinto Zamora
The opening of Manila (1834) and other parts of the Philippine to foreign trade brought not only economic prosperity to the country but also a remarkable transformation in the life of the Filipinos. As the people prospered, their standard of living improved. They came into contact with foreign ideas and with travelers from foreign lands. They read periodicals and books, including those brought in from abroad. As a result, their mental horizons were broadened. They became discontented with the old order of things and wanted social and political changes that were in harmony with the freer spirit of the times.
Economic properity produced a new class of Filipinos–the intelligentsia–educated, widely read, and enlightened individuals. Many Filipinos had learned Spanish, and some knew other Western languages such as French, English, and German. Boldly patriotic, they discussed social and economic problems and advocated reforms to remedy the evils of colonialism. Many of them sent their children to colleges and universities not only in Manila but in Europe too.
From the intelligentsia came patriotic leaders who sowed the seeds of Filipino nationalism. Among these were Father Pedro Pelaez, Father Jose Burgos, Dr. Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, the Luna Brothers (Juan and Antonio), Jose ma. Panganiban, Mariano Ponce, Graciano Lopez Jaena and Pedro A. Paterno.
Through the newly opened ports of the Philippines streamed liberal and modern idea. These ideas were contained in books and periodicals brought in by ships form Europe. These included ideas of freedom of the American and French revolutions and enlightened thoughts of Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire, Locke, Jefferson, and other philosophers of freedom. The Filipinos began to wonder at the deplorable situation in the Philippines. In their minds sprouted the aspirations for reforms, justice, and liberty.
The opening of the Suez Canal which was built by Ferdinand de Lesseps to world shipping on November 17, 1869, linked the Philippines closer to Europe. It promoted the flow of ideas of freedom into the Philippines.