La Indolencia de los Filipinos, more popularly known in its English version, "The Indolence of the Filipinos," is a exploratory essay written by Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, to explain the alleged idleness of his people during the Spanish colonization.
The Indolence of the Filipinos is a study of the causes why the people did not, as was said, work hard during the Spanish regime. Rizal pointed out that long before the coming of the Spaniards, the Filipinos were industrious and hardworking. The Spanish reign brought about a decline in economic activities because of certain causes:
First, the establishment of the Galleon Trade cut off all previous associations of the Philippines with other countries in Asia and the Middle East. As a result, business was only conducted with Spain through Mexico. Because of this, the small businesses and handicraft industries that flourished during the pre-Spanish period gradually disappeared.
Second, Spain also extinguished the natives’ love of work because of the implementation of forced labor. Because of the wars between Spain and other countries in Europe as well as the Muslims in Mindanao, the Filipinos were compelled to work in shipyards, roads, and other public works, abandoning agriculture, industry, and commerce.
Third, Spain did not protect the people against foreign invaders and pirates. With no arms to defend themselves, the natives were killed, their houses burned, and their lands destroyed. As a result of this, the Filipinos were forced to become nomads, lost interest in cultivating their lands or in rebuilding the industries that were shut down, and simply became submissive to the mercy of God.
Fourth, there was a crooked system of education, if it was to be considered an education. What was being taught in the schools were repetitive prayers and other things that could not be used by the students to lead the country to progress. There were no courses in Agriculture, Industry, etc., which were badly needed by the Philippines during those times.
Fifth, the Spanish rulers were a bad example to despise manual labor. The officials reported to work at noon and left early, all the while doing nothing in line with their duties. The women were seen constantly followed by servants who dressed them and fanned them – personal things which they ought to have done for themselves.
Sixth, gambling was established and widely propagated during those times. Almost everyday there were cockfights, and during feast days, the government officials and friars were the first to engange in all sorts of bets and gambles.
Seventh, there was a crooked system of religion. The friars taught the naïve Filipinos that it was easier for a poor man to enter heaven, and so they preferred not to work and remain poor so that they could easily enter heaven after they died.
Lastly, the taxes were extremely high, so much so that a huge portion of what they earned went to the government or to the friars. When the object of their labor was removed and they were exploited, they were reduced to inaction.
Rizal admitted that the Filipinos did not work so hard because they were wise enough to adjust themselves to the warm, tropical climate. “An hour’s work under that burning sun, in the midst of pernicious influences springing from nature in activity, is equal to a day’s labor in a temperate climate.”
It is important to note that indolence in the Philippines is a chronic malady, but not a hereditary one. Truth is, before the Spaniards arrived on these lands, the natives were industriously conducting business with China, Japan, Arabia, Malaysia, and other countries in the Middle East. The reasons for this said indolence were clearly stated in the essay, and were not based only on presumptions, but were grounded on fact taken from history.
Another thing that we might add that had caused this indolence, is the lack of unity among the Filipino people. In the absence of unity and oneness, the people did not have the power to fight the hostile attacks of the government and of the other forces of society. There would also be no voice, no leader, to sow progress and to cultivate it, so that it may be reaped in due time. In such a condition, the Philippines remained a country that was lifeless, dead, simply existing and not living. As Rizal stated in conclusion, “a man in the Philippines is an individual; he is not merely a citizen of a country.”
It can clearly be deduced from the writing that the cause of the indolence attributed to our race is Spain: When the Filipinos wanted to study and learn, there were no schools, and if there were any, they lacked sufficient resources and did not present more useful knowledge; when the Filipinos wanted to establish their businesses, there wasn’t enough capital nor protection from the government; when the Filipinos tried to cultivate their lands and establish various industries, they were made to pay enormous taxes and were exploited by the foreign rulers.
It is not only the Philippines, but also other countries, that may be called indolent, depending on the criteria upon which such a label is based. Man cannot work without resting, and if in doing so he is considered lazy, they we could say that all men are indolent. One cannot blame a country that was deprived of its dignity, to have lost its will to continue building its foundation upon the backs of its people, especially when the fruits of their labor do not so much as reach their lips. When we spend our entire lives worshipping such a cruel and inhumane society, forced upon us by aliens who do not even know our motherland, we are destined to tire after a while. We are not fools, we are not puppets who simply do as we are commanded – we are human beings, who are motivated by our will towards the accomplishment of our objectives, and who strive for the preservation of our race. When this fundamental aspect of our existence is denied of us, who can blame us if we turn idle?
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