The Black Presence in The Philippines‏ – Atlanta Black Star

BY RUNOKO RASHIDI*

Although the great majority of the people of the Philippines today are Tagalog, the country is not racially monolithic. In spite of their small numbers today the original inhabitants of the Philippines are the Diminutive Africoids, who still live in scattered communities in the Phillipines and are commonly and pejoratively called Pygmies, Negritos, Aeta, and a variety of other names based upon their specific locale. The word Aeta, a widely-used Tagalog term meaning filthy, is especially derogatory.

At least one group of Diminutive Africoids in the Philippines is known as the Agta (the People). I am, however, reluctant to the use the term Agta as a blanket term for the entire population of Diminutive Africoids in the Philippines, for fear of lumping groups together with a broadly similar phenotypes but not necessarily cultural similarities. Such an approach would only tend to perpetuate an injustice to an already wounded sense of humanity to a once proud people. In regard to phenotype, broadly speaking, these Black people can be described as short in stature, dark-skinned, spiral-haired and broad-nosed. They are an extremely ancient people and are no doubt modern representatives of the world’s earliest-known modern humans.

A BLACK WOMAN AND CHILDREN IN THE PHILIPPINESIn stark contrast to the Diminutive Africoids, the Tagalog majority seem to have only entered the Philippines during the last several thousand years, and while not enough is known of the early history of the Diminutive Africoids in the Philippines, it has been well-documented that they engaged in bitter martial conflicts with the Spanish invaders, whose presence in the islands began in the 16th century. It was the Spaniards who named the aboriginal people of the Philippines Negritos, meaning little Blacks.

These are the Diminutive Africoids—the first people of the Phillipines. Once a proud people, today, they are generally despised by their Tagalog countrymen. They were, however, at one time, for thousands of years, the masters of the land.

Collectively, the story of the first people of the Philippines—the Diminutive Africoids–is truly fascinating. Individually, the story of David Fagen, an African-American soldier in the U.S. Army stationed in the Philippines during the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1901) and who defected to the Filipino freedom fighters, is remarkable, especially in its symbolism.

A YOUNG BLACK MAN IN THE PHILLIPINES (1)In November 1899, when he was in his early 20s, U.S. Army Corporal David Fagen defected from the 24th Infantry Regiment and went over the revolutionary insurrectionist forces led by Emilio Aguinaldo. Working with the insurrectionist army, Fagen quickly distinguished himself as a guerrilla fighter against his former comrades and fought so effectively that he was referred to as “General Fagen” by his Filipino companions. Indeed, as his exploits became so widely known he was actually referred to as “General Fagen” in the New York Times. Officially, he was quickly promoted by the guerrillas from first lieutenant to captain. From August 1900 to January 1901 he was in involved in at least eight clashes with U.S. forces.

As pressure was brought to bear on the insurrectionist forces and the major rebel leaders dead or captured, Fagen’s position became more and more tenuous. Indeed, the U.S. Army became obsessed with his capture and put a substantial bounty on his head.

Fagen’s end is not clear. One account has him assassinated and decapitated. Another has him living long and peacefully in the mountains of the Philippines, within a supportive and embracing Diminutive Africoid community. The latter account is very pleasing to me.

A YOUNG BLACK MAN IN THE PHILLIPINES (2)

A BLACK WOMAN IN THE PHILIPPINES

 

*Runoko Rashidi is a historian, writer, lecturer and researcher based in Los Angeles, California. He has written extensively on the Global African Presence and leads tours to various sites around the world. This essay is culled from his most recent work African Star over Asia: The Black Presence in the East, published by Books of Africa in 2012. His upcoming tours include the African heritage in Mexico in July 2014, the African heritage in Europe in August 2014 and Nigeria and Cameroon in December 2014. For more information write to Runoko@hotmail.com or go to http://www.travelwithrunoko.com

The Black Presence in The Philippines‏ – Atlanta Black Star.

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White Watch: US imposes sanctions on Uganda for anti-gay law

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has received criticism for passing an anti-gay law in February

The US has imposed sanctions on Uganda for anti-gay laws it says are “counter to universal human rights”.

It said Ugandans involved in human rights abuses against gay people would be banned from entering the US.

The White House is also cutting funds to a number of programs it is running with the Ugandan authorities, and cancelling a military exercise.

Uganda has said it will not be pressed by the West to change the laws, which can see gay people jailed for life.

The law signed in February allows life imprisonment for acts of “aggravated homosexuality” and criminalizes the “promotion of homosexuality”.

The White House described the legislation an affront that called into question Uganda’s commitment to protecting human rights.

“The Department of State is taking measures to prevent entry into the United States by certain Ugandan officials involved in serious human rights abuses, including against LGBT individuals,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden Hayden in a written statement.”

The US will also discontinue or redirect funds for certain programmes involving the Ugandan Police Force, National Public Health Institute and Ministry of Health, and has cancelled plans to conduct a US military-sponsored aviation exercise in the African nation.

It is the latest effort by US officials to challenge Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Ugandans supportive of their government's anti-gay stance attended a march in Kampala, Uganda, on 31 March 2014
Uganda is a deeply conservative society where many people oppose gay rights

Last week, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand decried the nomination of Uganda’s foreign minister to president of the UN General Assembly, given his country’s treatment of gay people.

It would be “disturbing to see the foreign minister of a country that passed an unjust, harsh and discriminatory law” preside over the UN body, she told US media of the nomination of Sam Kutesa.

More than 9,000 people also signed a petition urging UN states to block him. He was subsequently elected to the role.

Ugandan rights activists and politicians also filed a legal challenge to overturn the law, arguing it subjected them to cruel and inhuman punishment.

Uganda’s authorities have defended the law, saying President Yoweri Museveni wanted “to demonstrate Uganda’s independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation”.

The World Bank postponed a $90m (£54m) loan to Uganda to improve its health services after the law was approved.

Several European nations – including Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden – have cut aid to Uganda to show their opposition to the law.

White Watch: US imposes sanctions on Uganda for anti-gay law.

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