The Filipino “elites” have a starring role as heroes and villains in Philippine history. So-called “ilustrados” were vanguards of the Propaganda Movement whose writings helped inspire the Philippine Revolution in the late nineteenth century and from whose ranks have been drawn many of the country’s “National Heroes.” The urban middle sector and municipal elites actively participated in the Philippine Revolution. But the Filipino elites have also been taken to task for “betraying” the Revolution, for putting their selfish, factional interests above those of the nation and the “masses”, for collaborating with the colonizers, and for being the principal beneficiaries of the American-era “colonial democracy” and post-war “elite democracy” that have plunged the country into crisis for most of the twentieth century.
This book shows how Filipino literature has intervened in the intellectual and popular debates on the historical origins, ascendancy, power, and legitimacy of the elites. Writers like Jose Rizal, Nick Joaquin, Ninotchka Rosca, Miguel Syjuco, and Ramon Guillermo are unsparing in their criticism of elite authorship of the Philippines’ past and present woes while seeking to recuperate the critical stance once represented by the “ilustrado.” The book identifies a number of emblematic cosmopolitan figures— the “middle sector” or “middle element” in Manila and other urban areas, Manila men and musicians, Overseas Filipino Workers, intellectuals, and Fil-foreigners—whose emergence as social forces points to the ongoing redefinition of the elites and the transformations of Philippine society, politics, and economy.
Coming out in May 2017 from Ateneo de Manila University Press.