On Filipino legislators

The legislators of the Philippines are gentlemen born, men educated in conformity to the ideals of education in aristocratic countries, but unfortunately they have not had, owing to the political conditions which have prevailed here, the practical experience of an aristocratic body in other lands. In Mrs. Ward’s “William Ashe” there is an analysis of a gouty and rather stupid old statesman, who is so exactly a summary of what a Filipino statesman is not that I cannot forbear quoting it here:

“He possessed that narrow, but still most serviceable fund of human experience which the English land-owner, while our English tradition subsists, can hardly escape if he will. As guardsman, volunteer, magistrate, lord lieutenant, member (for the sake of his name and his acres) of various important commissions, as military attaché even for a short time to an important embassy, he had acquired, by mere living, that for which his intellectual betters had often envied him—a certain shrewdness, a certain instinct both for men and affairs which were often of more service to him than finer brains to other persons.”

The only large practical experience which Filipino leaders have enjoyed has come through their being land-owners and agriculturists. But agriculture has not been competitive; and when the land-owning class travelled, it was chiefly in Spain, which can hardly be called a progressive agricultural country. Of men of the artisan class who have worked their way up by their own efforts from ignorance to education, from poverty to riches; of men who have had any large available experience in manual labor or in specialised industries, the present Assembly feels the lack. The Filipino leaders are a body of polished gentlemen, more versed in law than in anything else, with varying side lines of dilettante tastes in numerous directions.

Such as they are, the schoolboy desires to be.

A Woman’s Impression Of The Philippines, Fee, Mary H., 1912


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