What Really Caused the Philippine Revolution?

The Philippine Revolution which begun in 1896 saw the rise of the demands and grievances of the people of the Philippines against the Spanish colonial rulers of that time. In studying the causes of the revolution, early historians have tended to attribute the events of that period mainly to the despotism of the Spanish. Afra Alatas, a student of History at the National University of Singapore, compares two articles that address the causes of the Philippine Revolution. They are complementary in nature in the sense that one article discusses issues which the other fails to address. The first will be ‘The Cause of the Philippine Revolution’ by Vincente Pilapil, while the second will be ‘The Enlightenment and the Philippine Revolution’ by Jose Arcilla. While Pilapil addresses a broad range of causes that led to the revolution, Arcilla addresses the Enlightenment in particular, and how it had an impact on the nationalist leaders and Rizal in particular. In analysing these articles, she seeks to argue that while Pilapil successfully challenges early historiography on the causes of the revolution, he appears to overlook the true significance of the Spanish. Furthermore, he lacks analysis on the significance of the Enlightenment; a factor which Arcilla discusses and argues for its influence in the nationalist movement and hence the revolution.