Why The Philippines Loves The KKK (A Historical Trip Through Manila’s Dark Past)

Why does the Philippines love the KKK? Is it because they’re racist? Not at all. When you think of the KKK, you might think of the far-right, terrorist group that was founded in America. But what if I told you that in the Philippines, they have a version of the KKK that is almost a total paradox of the American one? A nationalist movement that would fight for the freedom of a country that was colonized for 333 years. In this article, we’ll cover that group and show you just why the Filipinos love them so much, sharing a short history about them, and suggesting a historical trip you can take while you’re in Manila.

(this article does not serve as a comprehensive history of the KKK, but rather a short overview and travel guide to help you plan a short trip around Manila when you arrive)

If you’d prefer to watch a video here’s the full journey we took below:

What Is The KKK of The Philippines? (Summed Up Answer)

PC: BWorldOnline

The Katipunan, KKK (in Tagalog: Kataastaasan Kagalang-galang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan), which translates into English as the “Supreme and Honorable Society of the Children of the Nation”, was a nationalist group that was founded in Tondo, on July 7th 1892, led by Andres Bonifacio (and others), with aims to gain freedom from the Spanish rule through an (albeit short) successful armed revolution in 1896-1898, that would include many revolutionary armies and groups including the KKK.

This revolution would see an independent, Philippine Republic wave the first flag, designed by the General in exile, who would become the first-ever president of a free nation – Emilio Aguinaldo.

So why does the Philippines love the KKK so much? It’s an organisation that finally ousted a 333 year Spanish colonial rule.

Journeying Though The Philippines’ Dark Past

The Philippines has had its fair share of invasions in history, firstly with the Rajahs coming from (what we now know as Brunei) attempting to take the city of Manila; later the Spanish would arrive and successfully conquer the Philippines for a 333-year rule; but it wouldn’t stop there, Chinese pirates would raid the land, the British would have a short 2-year stint, and finally, the Americans would rule for 40+ years.

In this section, the main focus is going to be the Spanish rule and resistance to it, because that’s where the KKK’s roots lie.

Spanish Expeditions & Colonization

spanish colonization philippines ferdinand magellan arriving
PC: Vocal Media

In 1519 Ferdinand Magellan set sail on a trip that would discover the Philippines for the Spanish Empire. In 1521 he anchored at an Island called Mactan, with plans to initiate a Spanish rule, alongside Rajah Humabon, and Datu Zula (two chiefs that had small control of Mactan, but not entire control). However, a different chief – Lapu Lapu, who was in direct competition with Humabon, disagreed to submit to the Spanish king and a battle between the Spanish expedition of 49 soldiers, and 1500 of Lapu Lapu’s men would erupt a day later. Magellan was slain here on the shores of Mactan, never completing his first voyage of the world, and the Spanish fled returning to Spain empty-handed, with only 18 of the original 237 men left over.

… we entered the bay of San Lucar with only eighteen men out of the 237 who composed our crew when we left that same port.

Antonio Pigafetta (The First Voyage Round the World by Magellan)

This expedition would discover the Philippines for Spain, but they wouldn’t take it until 1565 when Miguel L√≥pez de Legazpi sent an expedition which would finally arrive on the shores of Cebu with those same plans of spreading Catholicism through the Philippines and controlling it as a colony of their empire. After taking Cebu, and hearing of a better settlement up north, in 1570, they would send an expedition to dock at Cavite City, launching an invasion of Manila from here, which would take Fort Santiago – later to be rebuilt as a stone fort, inside the walled city of Intramuros.

For the next 333 years, the Philippines would become a colony of Spain, and they would use it to transport spices, silk and other commodities to the Americas for silver, alongside extracting free labour from the indigenous peoples, introducing new crops and building new infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, roads and more.

The Small Beginnings of A Revolution – Executions & Cavite City’s Mutiny (1872)

If we fast-forward 307 years, the Spanish rule was starting to come to an end, but something equally important that is considered one of the first Filipino mutinies would occur where the Spanish would first land with plans to take Manila – Cavite City, Fort San Felipe.

In 1872 Fernando La Madrid, led Filipino troops who were based in the Spanish Arsenal to seize Fort San Felipe, killing 11 Spanish officers, holding the fort for a day until a regiment of Spanish troops fought them until they surrendered. After the failed mutiny, the Spanish government imprisoned most of the troops, killing one who would not shout “viva espana”, later trialling Fathers Burgos (last name Samonte, Dr Samonte), Gomez and Zamora, who were said to be the masterminds behind the mutiny, although never actually fought in the battle.

These two events, alongside the discrimination and systematic injustices, would be some of the most pivotal reasons that Filipinos would use to start revolutionary, nationalist organizations such as the La Liga Filipina and KKK later on.

There may be different versions of the event, but one thing is certain, the 1872 Cavite Mutiny paved way for a momentous 1898.

Chris Antonette Piedad-PugayTHE TWO FACES OF THE 1872 CAVITE MUTINY

Founding of The La Liga Filipina & Arrests of Jose Rizal

Jose Rizal in the area where he was imprisoned and spent his last days

The La Liga Filipina was a similar organisation to the KKK, but it was a nationalist group with different aims to socially reform the country through peaceful means, rather than a full-scale armed revolution. It was founded on July 3rd 1892 by Jose Rizal – a prominent writer and poet who is known for his controversial novels that questioned the Spanish colonial rule. His writing and involvement with the La Liga Filipina eventually led to his arrest, which would be one of the reasons the KKK would begin.

Many of the same people who founded the KKK, were part of the La Liga Filipina, and the events leading up to Jose Rizal’s arrest, and final arrest would be one of the catalysts for the group to begin operating.

The Founding of The KKK, Revolution & Freedom

Finally, on July 7th 1892, after Jose Rizal’s arrest, the KKK was founded by Andres Bonifacio (and others). It’s said that they operated before this, but became active in July. They would later be discovered by the Spanish government in 1896 and launch a full-scale armed attack, which would be the start of the Philippine revolution, at first, consisting of Guerilla warfare battles, until prominent General, Emilio Aguinaldo and others joined the fight.

This revolution would initially fail, with the Spanish government paying Aguinaldo to disband his newly instated government for 400,000-800,000, fleeing in exile to Hong Kong. But with the dawn of the Spanish American in 1898 war, the Americans would transport Aguinaldo back on a US Navy ship, who would carry with him designs, of the first-ever Philippine republic flag, which he would fly in Kawit after a final victory in the Battle of Alapan, ousting the Spanish once and for all in Cavite.

A short-lived independence from the Spanish would be celebrated, a new government formed and a new president of the First Philippine Republic would be elected – Aguinaldo. But their new “allies” would have other plans, wanting the Philippines for a colony of their own. So, the fighting continued until 1913, with different revolutionary armies banding together, including the KKK and other factions.

Historical Trip Itinerary

Here’s a short historical trip you can take around Manila to see and learn about the history of the KKK:

  1. Museo ng Katipunan – a small museum where you can learn a comprehensive history of the KKK
  2. KKK Gat. Andres Bonifacio Monument – a monument to the first battle of the KKK revolution and the area it took place
  3. Fort Santiago – here you can learn about the Spanish invasion, the American takeover and the execution and imprisonment of Jose Rizal (La Liga Filipina founder)
  4. Tondo – where the KKK and La Liga Filipina originally began, with two monuments which can be found here, very vibrant streets, but a little on the dangerous side
  5. Quezon City – the cry of Pugad Lawin happened here, there’s a huge monument, some beautiful churches and all in all a great area to check out
  6. Cavite City – the first Filipino mutiny happened here, and 3 priests were executed by the Spanish government for ‘organising the mutiny’.
  7. Imus – old battle monument to one of the first battles Emilio Aguinaldo would win, 100-year-old Spanish churches, town halls and more interesting things
  8. Kawit – Aguinaldo would fly the first Philippine flag (his own design here) for the First Philippine Republic after winning at Alapan, also a KKK knife replica forgery
  9. Alapan – the final battle that would destroy the last Spanish stronghold in Cavite would take place here, and there’s a huge monument you can see

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