Comparative Analysis: Indonesian and Philippine Nationalisms Examined

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Indonesian and Philippine Nationalisms Examined

Submitted by:
Mary Grace A. Pelayo

I. Introduction.
Southeast Asian countries are characterized above all by their diversity in terms of culture, religion and language to name a few and even their political and economic orientations may vary distinctively from each other. Certainly, being immersed in these Southeast Asian countries also implies being in contact with series of different culture that one can say that they lack a unifying cultural force comparable to that Confucian conformity in East Asia. Yet, despite the significant factor of diversity, Southeast Asia has a shared experience of colonialism and the reaction to it, which resulted in accounts of nationalism. Independence, needless to say, brought a reorganization of traditional values; especially as the quest of nationhood was intensified and moved beyond the initial endeavor of showing the former colonial rulers that they have mastered the Western ideas and the art and style of government. But then, although it was stated in the 1950s and 1960s that nationalism was the prevailing force in the region, in reality, it was a limited, elite-based nationalism, articulated by the few who had a vision of modernizing their countries as well as leading their nation past the clutches of their colonial masters. It is our purpose here to compare and contrast the nationalism of the two archipelagoes in Southeast Asia, namely Indonesia and the Philippines, through their history of colonization, the factors that contributed to the rise of their nationalist fervor and the continual development of their nationalism in the face of the 21st century with the intention of better understanding their distinctions and similarities.

II. Analysis
Nationalism, for one, has many definitions, but it is largely considered as the increasing desire of the people to determine their identity and destiny for themselves. Both Indonesia and the Philippines have experienced and have known the effects of an extensive foreign occupation and domination in their homeland, the Dutch occupied Indonesia and the Spaniards and subsequently, the Americans settled in the Philippines. They had been subject to unjust treatment that became the key factor to the birth of their nationalist sentiments although it was known for a fact that Filipinos were the first to throw off colonialism and had a gradual development of national identity ever since Jose Rizal and the ilustrados (“enlightened ones”) have had an important role in “imagining” the nation, just as the concept of Benedict Anderson, and strived for reforms through the formation of the Propaganda Movement, using publications such as La Solidaridad (Solidarity) during the time of the Spaniards. Also in Indonesia, there was the rise of intellectuals that founded an organization they called Budi Utomo (Noble Endeavour) that although only made a minimal impact on the Dutch regime, came to be known as the first stirring of Indonesian nationalism. This rise of intellectuals in both nations can be traced in the educational opportunities, although limited in some respect which was granted to them by their colonial masters that broadened their mental horizons and made them discontented with the old order of things. In other words, both had struggled to attain their independence from their colonizers. But then, it is still very important to note that Indonesian nationalism was inspired by the Philippine nationalist movements. Another similarity of the two can be seen on their not being fit within Anthony Smith’s model of nationalist provenance. That is, both their nationalisms are not rooted in a dominant ethnicity because of their considerable cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity. That although it can be seen as influencing their national identities, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their identities are formed over long-time spans...
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