Diary of Lieutenant X (Aime Ernest Motsch)

Wednesday, August 31, 1898

Truth Above All

General Merritt is leaving to attend the Paris Congress primarily to demand the annexation of the Philippines to the United States. His is the privilege of being the sole representative of 10 million Filipinos whom he considers as his conquest, in a commission which will decide the fate of these people.

About three weeks ago in Cavite, there was a poster addressed to the Filipinos and signed by General Merritt: “The American people have not come here to make war but have come as champions and liberators of a people oppressed by the bad government of Spain.” General Merritt, like many Americans, is unpolished and self-centered, and makes no effort to be pleasant. He has a massive head, a double chin, a heavy moustache over thick fleshy lips, and is broad and ugly like a bulldog.

I have been observing these Filipinos for almost a year. Once again they find themselves being oppressed, a state from which they though they had been freed. In the autumn of 1897, after a dramatic show of force, but without much illusion, they signed a meaningless treaty with the Spaniards with the objective of regaining their forces for the next rebellion. One year later, in 1898, they had not conquered the Spaniards but rather found themselves once again beneath the yoke, except that this time their chains were riveted by the Americans.

The Great Republic, as Aguinaldo called it, promised them their liberty by spring of that year and used this pretext to crush Spain. If by the month of September 1898 the Philippines would no longer be Spanish, undoubtedly the United States owes this to the Filipinos who assisted them in the bombardment and siege of the city.

The Mighty Republic now considers the country American since it is no longer Spanish. The English would say: A colony which belongs to no one is ours. But for the Americans: We can claim a colony even if it belongs to someone else. In a manner of speaking, the Americans are already the successors of Spain. They have started making their peace with the established powers, with the Church, the religious orders, and the English traders. In the name of the mighty dollar, they are massacring the native population as did the Spaniards in the name of the Church.

The Tagals are banned from Manila, now considered conquered territory. The Philippine Republic, and the freedom of the Filipinos lasted only long enough to give the Americans time to substitute their tyranny for that of Spain. If the Tagals really deserve freedom –a freedom which the Americans, six months earlier, dared to guarantee– all they have to resort to is a mass uprising.

The Americans, desirous of becoming masters of the Philippines, are beginning to behave as the Spaniards did. They, too, are convinced that there is barely any difference between these savages and monkeys. At Easter, they were indignant some dared treat the Filipino people as a free nation. By the feast of the Assumption, those very Americans denied the allegations they had made at Easter. And on both occasions, the civilized world stood back to witness the emergence of another power in the Philippines.

[diary ends here]