1940: The Independence Debate in the wake of Japanese Agression
The Face of the Unexpected Filipino: Japan's next target
Increased Japanese aggression in the region and editorials of Filipino concerns over independence perpetuates racialized images of the island’s inhabitants. These images are used to validate arguments for adjusting the date for Philippine independence. The New York Times reporter, Robert Aura Smith, examines the debate over Philippine Independence in light of Japanese forced expansion and the realization that Filipino forces are staggeringly unprepared for confrontation. In “The Filipino Ponders,” published in 1940, Smith uses the experience of Filipino citizen, Juan De La Cruz, to lend an native perspective to independence debates. He argues, “Juan wants to be ‘free,’ but he is beginning to wonder whether ‘indepencia’ is the road to true freedom. If the United States doesn’t buy the sugar and the coconut oil, who will?... Independence would probably mean the end of this busy shipping scene at Manila, unless the Japanese felt inclined to take over the islands. And it is doubtful if the few well-drilled Filipino troops, such as shown here, could stop them.” “Juan” represents a Filipino population not yet ready for independence. The inclusion of images of the native population and the landscape of the Philippines, depicted as untilled and uncultivated hills, reveals that not enough progress has been made in the five years since the Tydings-McDuffie Act. This article foreshadows the circumstances that would lead to the Japanese invasion of the Philippines a year later.