In 1901, during the American occupation of the Philippines, Civil Governor William Howard Taft (1901-1903) suggested to the Philippine Commission that the Filipinos should be given a national hero. From candidates such as Andrés Bonifacio, Marcelo H. del Pilar, and even anti-American Apolinario Mabini, Pepe went above them as the Philippines’ undisputed national hero. According to Civil Governor William Cameron Forbes’ (1909-1913) opus, The Philippine Islands, the American civil government and the Philippine Commission chose Pepe over all candidates due to the fact that he “never advocated independence, nor did he advocate armed resistance to the (Spanish) government.” What he did was campaign for reforms, appealing to the public conscience through his writings which were most of the times controversial. His writings rode on the high-octane level spirit that former Spanish colonies had had during their respective revolutions which earned for them their independence. This proved to be effective for Pepe since his ideas spurred the nucleus of the independence movement led by the Kataastaasang, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan, or the Katipunan for short. They’re the local version of the US’ Klu Klux Klan. Both used KKK as initials. And both have Masonic origins. The American KKK killed Afro-Americans. The local KKK killed Spanish friars. But going back to our story, Pepe condemned the KKK revolution. This he emphasized by siding with Spain when one of the colonies, Cuba, had an insurrection during that same period.
This is what America had really wanted to emphasize. They wanted to bury the sentiments of the Filipinos’ burning desire to become independent. At the same time, Pepe’s declaration as the country’s national hero somehow helped convince the Filipinos into hating their former masters, the Spaniards, since the former was executed by the latter. The true motives behind Pepe’s writings were deemphasized, i.e., his anti-clericalism. The US, which was just starting out to become a superpower, needed some additional ammunition from the Filipinos to be used against themselves. This will cleverly and safely uncompromise then US President McKinley’s so-called Benevolent Assimilation (which eventually wiped out 1/6 of the country’s population!!!).
Although Emilio Aguinaldo, way back during 1898, did declare 30 December as a day of national mourning, he wasn’t able to declare it on a national or large-scale level the way the Americans did. Besides, the Philippine Commission has had a very motivated member in Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera, a creole who, ironically, came to loathe both the Malay and the Spaniard in himself. He was one of the first American butt-kissers, a “tuta ng Kanô,” who championed the cause of this oh-so polite language I’m now using (how translatable are the words “crap, pissed off, shithole, fucked up, etc.?). He also worked hard to eradicate all traces of Spanish culture from the Philippines.