Saturday, October 01, 2005

Schumacher, John N. Excerpt from Response to "The Making of a Myth: John Leddy Phelan and the 'Hispanization' of Land Tenure in the Philippines," by Glenn Anthony May. Philippine Studies 52.3 (2004), 314.


Response: John N. Schumacher, S.J.

Glenn May is not a historian ready to repeat without question the domnant or accepted histoncal orthodoxies, no matter how impressive the list of predecessors who have done so. He has shown it in more than one of his books, most notably in his book on Andres Bonifacio, Inventing a Hero. Though I myself cannot accept all his conclusions in that book, unfortunately his arguments were for the most part not met here with solidly-based counterarguments.
Rather, several of those who had personal stakes of one kind or another in the orthodoxy imposed by Teodoro M. Agoncillo answered him with few solid arguments and much personal vilification. Well-known historians used such epithets as the "ugly American returns" (Guerrero and Villegas 1997), or marred argumentation with highly-charged emotion and a kind of reverse racism of "white" vs. "brown-skinned" (Ileto 1998, 224, 231), or edited a book of essays by historians, most of whom had already joined the attacks on his scholarship, while regretting she could not find anyone to take the other side (Churchill 1997, v), though it seems she did not look very far. What resulted was an attempt to dismiss his book without trying really to answer his whole sequence of arguments. As one who read the original manuscript, and while pointing out a number of defects, recommended it positively to a university press for publication, hoping that it would lead to a real scholarly discussion among historians in the Philippines, I was badly disappointed. I have yet to see any solid refutation of such key points raised by May as the dubious role of Epifanio de los Santos, and the even more dubious activity of Jose P. Santos...