Diary of Lieutenant X (Aime Ernest Motsch)

Monday, July 4, 1898

An Anniversary

At 8 o’clock, the flag is hoisted. It is the independence day anniversary of the United States. A hundred and twenty years ago, these people did not constitute a nation. Three hundred years before that, they were, literally speaking, as distant from humanity as our planet is from Uranus or Saturn. And here they are grabbing the last stronghold of Spain, the Spain which brought them into existence. What must the ghosts of Magellan, Columbus, Charles V and Isabela think of this situation?

Meanwhile, on land, it appears that the Tagals are furious at the Americans and blame them for having dispatched black troops to the Philippines. The Tagal feels humiliated for being regarded in the same light as the Negro and is quite aware that to the Yankee there is no difference. Aguinaldo himself must sooner or later make a choice: either relieve himself of the Americans or submit to them. Admiral Dewey’s game is well hidden; he will not put his cards on the table until the end of the month, when all the advantages will be on his side –the 15,000 men and additional ammunition. And even then, bringing the Tagals into submission will not be as easy as he thinks.

An Englishman who knows the Filipinos well made the following observation: “America has not conquered the Philippines yet, and will occupy the country only with the help and goodwill of its people.” The occupation of Manila does not imply that they have taken possession of the Philippines, in much the same way that possession of New York would not signify the possession of the whole American empire. It is my firm belief that without the consent of the natives, neither the United States nor any other power can hope to become the master of the Philippines with less than 200,000 men, whatever one may want to believe. And yet, I have to admire the Spanish infantrymen for their courage, endurance, and patience even when subjected to hunger and lack of comfort. In a country like the Philippines, a soldier must have the agility of a mountain goat to be on equal footing with these natives.

“. . . The only possible solution to the Philippine problem is an independent government under the protection of the United States. This is my recommendation to General Aguinaldo and his countrymen.”