The breaking point came when the German gunboat
Cormoran refused to acknowledge signals from the Americans to be
boarded for inspection. The boat had to be stopped by firing a shot
across its bow. Von Diederichs then sent an officer to complain
about Dewey�s provocative acts.
While listening to the German officer, Dewey�s
complexion changed from white to red. He then asked: �Does his
Excellency [von Diederichs] know that it is my force and not his is
that is blockading this port [Manila]?
The officer answered yes.
Dewey continued: �And is he aware that he has
no rights except as I choose to allow him and does he realize that
he cannot communicate with that city without my permission?�
�One can imagine, sir, that you were
conducting this blockade,� was the reply.
Dewey then bluntly asked, �Do you want war
�Certainly not!� was the officer�s curt
�Well, it looks like it, and you are very near
it, and . . . you can have it as soon as you like!� replied Dewey
with his voice raised so that he could be heard by officers below
The German officer backed in consternation and
whispered to Dewey�s flag lieutenant: �Your admiral seems to be
much in earnest.� The flag lieutenant replied: �You can be
certain that he means every word he says.�
For a while there was a tense situation in
Manila Bay. The Germans were superior in both men and firepower to
the Americans. At this point the British squadron under Captain Sir
Edward Chichester sided with Dewey. The British ship Immortalit�e
sailed alongside Dewey�s flagship the Olympia with its band
playing �The Star Spangled Banner.� The balance now tipped in
favor of the Americans and the Germans stopped their provocations.
If a second battle was fought and if the United
States were defeated, the Philippines would have become a German
colony. The idea would have been supported by the Filipino elite
since Germany had a positive image as a rapidly progressive European
power. Rizal and other reformists admired Germany, its culture and
its industry and hoped that Filipinos imitate the German work ethic
known for its emphasis on efficiency and frugality.
The histories of territories which experienced
German rule such as the Northern Mariana Islands, remember the
period �as the good old days.� Though the natives could not be
German citizens, education and health care were extended to the
population. The people were allowed to retain their native customs.
The German language was taught in the public
schools. The Germans instilled the concept that work itself was a
virtue. Order, punctuality, camaraderie and obedience to authority
and technical knowledge were taught as desirable characteristics.
The measure of progress was the improved standard of living. Most of
the natives had a job which provided them with security and
necessities in life.
However, if the Philippines became a German
colony, Germany�s rule would be a brief one. With the outbreak of
the First World War in 1914, Japan rapidly occupied the German
Pacific colonies in the Marianas, Palau and the Carolines came under
Japanese mandate of the League of Nations.
The Philippines would have suffered the same
fate as the former German colonies. Had the Philippines become a
Japanese territory from 1914 up to the Second World War, the
Filipinos would be fighting on the side of Japan, not the United
States, and history would have been vastly different.