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Philippine Falange

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I have great affection for our Latin past, but this is a part of our history that is always going to be controversial. We  have seen how several times up to 1898 we've had to tangle w/ the Kastilas. But sth that is not generally known is that there was quite a bit of pro-Axis sympathy among Spinoys in PI leading up to 1941.

Of course, pls bear in mid, there are good Spinoys and bad Spinoys, and many of the latter have seen the light. Also, I'm not so sure if the author was completely impartial... he made a factual error on p.42 of the original text (not the PDF).  (|;)

History of Philippine Falange circa WW2 (see on pp.21-50 of the original text, not the PDF)

Apologies to any whom the above offends... once again, the monograph is to be taken with a grain of salt... scholalry, but nevertheless, largely interpretive historiography rather than factual history.

I'm not particularly sympathetic to the Spanish community in the Philippines at that time but there are a few things I'd like to point out:

1) Manila Falangistas were united only in as far as being anti-communist, pro-catholic and for the preservation of Spanish culture or "hispanidad" in the former colony of the Philippines.

2) You will note that there was political rivalry and factionalism even from within the Falangistas as shown by the power struggle between Pou and Soriano.

3) Prior to the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis pact, even the nazis supported Chinag Kai Shiek's neo-fascist Kuomintang. The Germans even sold military equipment and sent military adivsers to train the Chinese nationalist army to help fight the Japanese during the Sino-Japanese War in the 1930s.

4) The mindset was that the "war" (up to that time when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor) was strictly a "european war". America was still technically neutral, as was Spain. Of course the falange was sympathetic to the axis, especially when Hitler repudiated the Nazi-Soviet pact and invaded Russia in the summer of 1941, but that didn't mean that it was united in wanting to drag Spain or the U.S. commonwealth of the Philippines into the war as a belligerent. There were naziophiles and germanophiles in the falange but then there were also anglophiles and so on.

5) Filipino-Spanish businesses actually had it good under the Americans. They enjoyed much better security and line of credit than they would have had if they were still just another Spanish colony. Above all, they enjoyed peace while avoiding the horrific effects of the civil war that just so recently ended back in their mother country. Their assets were gutted in Spain while their Philippine assets remained intact.

6) Like most westerners in the orient just before the "pacific war" started, Filipino-Spaniards would have had little confidence that the imperial Japanese armed forces would be "up to the task" of actually being able to prevail against modern "western" armies supplemented by colonial troops which garrisoned their asiatic holdings.

7) For the Philippine Falange (as a whole) to have engaged in 5th column activity on behalf of the Japanese implies that they would have been able to predict exactly just how capable the Japanese really were of lanunching a successful invasion and inflicting such humiliating defeats on American, British, and Dutch forces in the far east.

8 ) Like most westerners (and even local Filipinos), the Spanish community would have been most resentful and alarmed at the ever increasing number and economic influence of Japanese immigrants into the Philippines during those pre war years.

The Japanese themselves had enough spies and sleeper agents among their expats in the Philippines running all those bazars and retail shops all over the country, THAT'S THE REAL FIFTH COLUMN. There would have been little reason why they would entrust vital information to any european expatriate. They would have needed to do just that if they were depending on any real cooperation or coordination from a falangist "5th column".

Had 5th column C.E.A. activity been all that effective, then the Japs wouldn't have bombed Manila repeatedly even after it had been clearly declared an "Open City".  Too many posh falangista homes, businesses and property would have run the risk of being destroyed "unecessarily".

9) As a matter of pragmatic survival, the activities of whatever hispano-filipino falangist 5th column that existed as such would certainly have been blown all out of proportion to its actual importance and contribution to Japanese "victory", and would have been recognized by the whole Philippine Falange itself only afterwards when the Japanese occupation became an accomplished fact. 

Axis or no axis, the whole idea of a bunch of Philippine based euro-centric hispanophiles enthusiastically working for the furtherance of a Japanese dominated Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere whose emphatic slogan is "Asia For the Asians!" should be taken with more than just a grain of salt.


--- Quote from: etajima62 on August 05, 2008, 12:49:22 PM ---2) You will note that there was political rivalry and factionalism even from within the Falangistas as shown by the power struggle between Pou and Soriano.

--- End quote ---

Very good points, esp. this one. Note that Pou and Del Castano were direct imports from Spain (peninsulares) while Soriano et. al were insulares. I suspect the insulares were actually anti-Axis, but were trying to work w/in Falange to bring about what were benevolent intentions re: Pinas.

And as you read on p. 50 of the text, Soriano ended up being  a good Spinoy.

--- Quote from: etajima62 on August 05, 2008, 12:49:22 PM ---1) Manila Falangistas were united only in as far as being anti-communist, pro-catholic and for the preservation of Spanish culture or "hispanidad" in the former colony of the Philippines.

--- End quote ---

Sounds like many of us timawans ^^^

Personal question: How many of the Modern Pinoy Falangists are related (whether by consanguinity or mere affinity) to the pre-War Falange? Kung ayaw mong sagutin ito, ma-iintindihan ko ang posicion mo... PERSEC etc.

Also, have you made any progress towards organizing the Falange Honor Guard mentioned in the thread about military participation in religious processions? That would be lovely to see.

No Joey, the "guard" is not a political one, although it is consistent with what we are trying to promote socially. Will it happen?...hopefully next year. I have yet to find a local metal craftsman who is willing to make a set of brass helmets, and combination chain mail and plate body armor as close to the original. It's very difficult you know. But if we want this ceremonial honor guard to last through the generations, its equipment must be made no less. I'd be willing to apprentice in metalcraft if that's what it takes. At least the uniform and leather accoutrements are solved.

Oh BTW, I came across this photo of a painting about the "Last Pre-War La Naval Procession". Note that the Philippine military was once at the very core of this religious procession, see the khakis and guinit sunhelmets?

The clergy, the miltary and the people had mutual respect for each other in those days. That's what the procession really signified.



Evidentemente, lucheramos para ambos lados...



My parents who belonged to that Spanish-speaking generation would talk occasionally about la guerra civil before the onset of the war in Europe in 1939. It was in the papers (Tribune and Herald), on radio (KZRH), and newsreels before the cartoons and feature film. The images of civilian dead in the streets of Madrid after an air raid are still vivid in my memory. I was then in grade school in Paco.

On Sundays I would hear Mass with the family at San Marcelino church where I saw young Spanish/mestizos in scout uniforms (whom my mother called “falanghe”) giving the fascist salute. I learned later about the support that the church, Catholic schools, and oligarchic families (whom Frankie Jose portrays in his novel Sins) gave to Generalissmo Franco who defeated the Republicans and ruled Spain for 40 years as dictator. Renato Constantino wrote about their parades in Manila before the Pacific war.

Following la guerra civil in the media, I read a news item about Filipinos (some Philippine Constabulary men) volunteering to fight in Spain, on whose side—Republican or Franco’s—I can’t recall.

Years later, I would meet one who volunteered on the side of Franco—Don Luis Gonzalez who migrated to Canada during martial law. He and family arrived in Montreal at the same time that we did. Despite our political differences, they became good friends. Don Luis said that as a young man in the Tabacalera community in Marquez de Comillas (close to San Marcelino church), he volunteered along with other mestizos to fight on the side of Franco. At the front he met the generalissimo who was pleased to see Filipinos in his army. Don Luis recalled how bravely captured communists (fighting on the Republican side) faced the firing squad—perhaps with clenched fists or singing the Internationale.

Sometime ago the Spanish ambassador told me that the Casino Español on T. M. Kalaw Street has put up a plaque listing the names of Filipino volunteers who fought in the civil war. The other day I visited the Casino Español and the adjoining Instituto Cervantes and asked about the plaque but none of those I asked knew. Perhaps I should do a more diligent search.

Anyhow I found an unexpected source, the first volume of the history of Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (Communism in the Philippines: The PKP, 1996) apparently based on the manuscript written by Celia Mariano and William Pomeroy. Both now in their 90s, they have lived in London since they were released in 1962. Pomeroy, an ex-GI, was my classmate in American literature. In prison he wrote The Forest, an account of two years and the “long march” in the Sierra Madre. Celia Mariano finished her BS degree in U.P. before the war, joined the PKP in 1940, and the Huks during the war. Both were captured in 1952.

According to Andreu Castells in Las Brigadas Internacionales de la Guerra en España, the total number of Filipinos in the Republican ranks was at least sixteen, one of whom was killed and four injured. But according to one volunteer, Pedro Penino, who was able to return to the Philippines, there were around fifty Filipinos (“pure Filipinos” and “mestizos”) who joined the International Brigade as well as the Spanish Republican Army and Militia.

In a 1938 interview with the Spanish weekly Union, Penino said that among the “pure Filipinos” who fought in defense of the Spanish Republic were a certain Claro, a political commissar, in a Mixed Brigade; a Colonel Santiago (from Tondo) and someone surnamed Mendoza who both held high positions in the general staff of General Jose Miaja of the Republican Army; someone surnamed Manuel; and another militia man in Valencia who claimed to be related to Commonwealth president Quezon. NOTE: Kung kamag-anak ni Quezon, paano naguing pure?  :eyes:

Apparently there is no record of anyone leaving the Philippines for Spain directly. Most of the Filipinos who served in the Republican ranks either left from the US or Mexico or were already in Spain when the war began. Most of the volunteers were not heard of again. With the defeat of the Republican forces, Franco’s falangists herded thousands of prisoners in camps where many were executed or died of hardships.

Penino who was with the US Abraham Lincoln Battalion fought for a year in Madrid. On his way back to the States in 1938, he was denied re-entry and forced to return to the Philippines, sick and penniless. He joined the PKP, helped train Huk fighters in Tanay in early 1942, and became active in the underground network in Manila-Rizal. He was killed by the Japanese in Tanque area near where we used to live in San Jorge, Paco.

Part 2

The Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas’ (PKP) account of Filipino participation in the Spanish Civil War says:

“Not all of the Filipinos in the Republican ranks were attached to the l5th Brigade, and at least one—a certain Dimitri Gorostiaga [probably a pseudonym]—enlisted from Mexico. By March to April 1939, Gorostiaga was reported to be imprisoned in the concentration camp at Angeles-sur-Mer, one of the places in Southern France where those fleeing Spain [after the March 1939 fall of the Spanish Republic] were confined. Within the camp, Gorostiago was placed with the ‘Groupe Sur Americaine’ implying that he had been with the Latin American 3rd Battalion of the 15th International Brigade.

“Another Filipino, Aquilino Belmonte Capinolio [born 1902] was also captured by the fascists and was listed, as late as 1942 [already during the Second World War], as still being a ‘prisoner without help’ who was interned with other Spanish Republican detainees at the Miranda del Ebro concentration camp in Burgos, Spain.”

There were efforts in Manila to organize “Aid to Spain” centers; a pro-Republican magazine Democracia had writers including anti-fascist Spaniards and Filipino-Spaniards as well as Filipino progressives like Pedro Abad Santos, chairman of the Socialist Party, and Bishop Gregorio Aglipay of the Philippine Independent Church. The PKP also said: “Several other publications carried articles attacking the falangist forces of Franco in Spain as well as their prominent sympathizers in the Philippines [the Catholic hierarchy and the falangist Spanish businessmen such as the Sorianos, Elizaldes, Ayalas, Zobels, Roxases and Ortigases].”

A history buff reader said that among the journalists who supported the Falangists were Adolfo Garcia, Antonio Estrada, Benito Blanco, Miguel Colayco, Enrique Fernandez Lumba, Theo Rogers and Joaquin Ramirez Arellano.

He said several streets in Metro Manila were named after Spanish falangists: Solchaga, Sotelo, Primo de Rivera, Aranda, Cabanelas, Davila, Mola, Barron, Tella, Ponte, Goded, Cervera, Yague, and Mascardo in Makati; Jimenez in San Andres; and Paredes in Sampaloc.

The Republicans who were imprisoned in Manila by the Japanese were Miguel Pujalte (father and son), Tomas del Rio (father and son), Restituto Ynchausti, Ricardo Ariandiaga, Leonor Gonzalez, Rafael Anton, Jose Maria Campos and Benito Pabon.

Our reader added that Fr. Gabino Olasco Zabala, Agustinian friar who was executed by the Republicans and beatified in 2007, ordered the torture of a Filipino priest Mariano Dacanay during the 1896 Revolution. Dacanay while in prison translated Jose Rizal’s Noli into Ilocano.

The Basques in Cagayan Valley were said to be opposed to Franco. This is corroborated by a friend who now lives in New Jersey. Here are excerpts of his e-mail:

“Your last two postings were like Proust’s madeleines. I was reminded of my grandfather who was a loudly proclaimed atheist, and a full-time hater of Franco and the Falangistas. Lolo was the typical Catalan and loudly proclaimed his disdain for the Spanish even as he worked for Tabacalera out there in the compania’s tobacco sites in Cagayan and Isabela.

“I remember the Casino Espanol right beside the Jai-Alai building, behind which was the San Marcelino church. I had vainglorious dreams [at age 13] to become a pelotari and sometimes practiced in the Casino’s cancha. Talk about social stratification; since I didn’t look like your typical Castila, I sometimes drop my father’s name who was then with La Vanguardia.

“Your mention of the Franco’s war reminded me of Hemingway, Malraux, and beyond that, Koestler and Silone, as well as the local names, Callanta, Saulo, and of course, as you cited, Pomeroy, Celia, Jess Lava and the others in Padre Faura. I attended a few meetings of what was called the Philippine Cultural Committee at the old YWCA on Lepanto and listened to the lectures from Callanta, Feleo, Crudo. I didn’t have any ideology or politics. I was just curious. But I think I could relate to all who, in one way or another, were involved with the PKP—it was ‘the only game in town’ that promised to get things aright, as what happened, I think, to the Rosenburgs. At that time, at my age then, I was searching. I even signed up, along with some of the guys in Padre Faura, to join the Merdeka Movement; we were supposed to go to Indonesia and help our brothers there oust the Dutch. Romance.”

Why is it that the writers/artists on the Republican side like those mentioned above are the ones who count—add Picasso, Federico Garcia Lorca (killed by fascists), Luis Bunuel, George Orwell (Homage to Catalonia), Pablo Neruda, Muriel Rukeyser, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, Robert Capa (photographer) and more. Of those listed as Franco supporters, only one stood out—Salvador Dali (surrealist).

Filipino writer, SV Epistola, wrote a short story “The Andalusians,” about Republican exiles in Manila.


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