THE PHILIPPINE SOCIETY UNDER THE AMERICAN RULE
Having proclaimed that the Philippines will be kept by the United States, President McKinley started the task of governing the colony. In his address before the 4th session of the 76th U.S. Congress, McKinley stated America’s aims concerning the Philippines. “The Philippines is ours not to exploit, but to develop, civilize, educate, and to train in the science of self-government.” In his instructions to the First and Second Philippine Commissions, McKinley explained in effect that the U.S. came to the Philippines not to conquer the Filipinos, but to work for their benefit and welfare.
The Military Government
Following the surrender of Manila in August, 1898, President McKinley ordered the establishment of a military government here. Major General Wesley Merritt, the commander of U.S. forces in Manila, served as its first military governor. When Merritt left for Paris, France to brief the U.S. and Spanish peace commissioners on the conditions in the Philippines, he was succeeded by Major General Elwell Otis who served until May, 1900. The last American military governor was Major General Arthur MacArthur. He served until 1901.
During its brief existence from 1898 to 1901, the military government accomplished the following among other things:
1. It reorganized the courts in the country. It established a Supreme Court composed of six Filipinos and three Americans. A Filipino, Cayetano Arellano, was named as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
2. It organized town and provincial governments in areas that had already been pacified by American troops. Elections were held to choose the local officials. The first town to hold elections under U.S. rule was Baliwag, Bulacan. The elections under were held on May 6, 1899.
3. The military government introduced the public school system in the Philippines.
One of the schools established by the Americans was Manila High School, the first public high school in the Philippines. It was established on June 11, 1906.
English was taught for the first time with America soldiers acting as the first English teachers of the Filipinos. Re. William McKinnon, a U.S. Army chaplain was assigned to supervise the first seven schools opened in Manila, after its regain by the Americans in August, 1898. McKinnon was replaced on June 1, 1899 by Lt. George P. Anderson as superintendent of schools in Manila.
The Schurman Commission
While the Philippine-American War was raging, President McKinley sent two commissions to the Philippines. The first of these commissions was the Schurman Commission which was headed by Dr. Jacob G. Schurman, President of Cornell University. Its members were Adm. George Dewey, Maj. Gen. Elwell Otis, former U.S. Minister to China, Charles Denby, and Prof. Dean C. Worcester of the University of Michigan. The Schurman group was officially known as the First Philippine Commission.
The Schurman Commission was given the primary task of looking into the situations in the Philippines and to recommend the kind of government that should be established in the Philippines. The Commission was also told to tell the Filipino people about the good intentions of the United States in coming to the Philippines.
The Commission arrived in Manila on March 4, 1899. After completing its survey of the existing conditions in the Philippines, the Commissions submitted its report to President McKinley on January 31, 1900.
The major recommendations of the Commission were the following:
1. The U.S. should remain in the Philippines inasmuch as the Filipinos were not ready for independence. 2. In areas already firmly under American control, military rule should be lifted and replaced by a civil government. 3. A territorial government should be put in the Philippines with a bicameral lawmaking body. The lower house would be elective while the upper house would be half elective and half...