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Thursday, September 21, 2006


SPECIAL REPORT: Philippine History

What ifs in Philippine history

By Augusto V. de Viana

Given the benefit of hindsight, we could stretch our imagination on what the country could have been if history had taken a different turn. Could it have been for the better or worse?

What if the Philippines became a German colony?

The Philippines would have been a German colony had a second battle of Manila Bay taken place in 1898. After defeating the Spanish fleet on May 1, 1898, US Rear Admiral George Dewey ordered a blockade of Manila. Other countries like Japan, Great Britain, France and Germany sent naval vessels to protect their nationals and interests in the country. The German squadron under Vice Admiral Otto Von Diederichs, which consisted of five warships and two auxiliaries, outnumbered the Americans.

One ship alone, the transport Darmstadt, carried 1,400 men, nearly the number of Dewey’s men. The Germans violated Dewey’s blockade of Manila by supplying flour to the trapped Spaniards and Spanish ladies and residents were treated aboard the German vessels. German officers also visited Spanish and Filipino outposts. At one time the German warship Irene interfered with the landing of Filipino troops on Grande Island in Zambales that Dewey had to send the cruiser Concord. On seeing the American warship the German vessel quietly left Subic Bay.

At that time Germany was looking for new territories to colonize. It had acquired the eastern half of New Guinea in 1873 and half of Samoa in 1889. In 1876 a German resident of Jolo, Captain Hermann Leopold Schuck, asked Germany to intervene on behalf of the Sultan of Sulu. The sultanate at that time was being attacked by Spanish forces.

The Germans continued to violate the blockade. They took soundings off Malabon and at the mouth of the Pasig River. Von Diederichs himself landed at Manila and occupied one of the quarters of the Spanish officers. The German soldiers occupied the lighthouse of Manila and some of them landed in Mariveles and conducted drills.

They also irritated Dewey by sending a launch one night at 11 p.m. to deliver an unimportant message.

To be continued




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