Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Philippine History: Who Were the Thomasites?

Who Were the Thomasites?

While some Filipinos may know who the Thomasites were, most Americans probably don't have the foggiest notion of who they were.

In 1901, soon after the American civil government was established in the Philippines, the American government sent 540 teachers to the Philippines  on board the USS Thomas. These American teachers and those who followed, were thus called the Thomasites

The Thomasites were like early Peace Corps Volunteers, teaching in remote places such as AlbaySorsogonMasbateSamarZambaleAparriJoloNegrosCebuDumagueteBataanBatangasPangasinan Tarlac, and other places.

I found these old pictures of Thomasites and an editorial cartoon depicting what America offered the Filipino people: on the one hand their soldiers, on the other the Thomasites.  It's an interesting image that indicates America's conflicted approach of ruling their newly acquired colony: the gun and the pen (or books). 

The Thomasites did a lot for Philippine education, and here I quote from Wikipedia:

"The Thomasites built upon the contributions laid down by the U.S. Army. They built elementary schools and learning institutions such as the Philippine Normal School (now Philippine Normal University) and the Philippine School of Arts and Trades (now Technological University of the Philippines) in 1901, the Tarlac High School on September 21, 1902 and the Quezon National High School (now, Tayabas High School), also in 1902.
"The Thomasites also reopened the Philippine Nautical School, which was originally established by the Board of Commerce of Manila in 1839 under Spain. About a hundred of the Thomasites stayed on to live in the Philippines after finishing their teaching assignments. They transformed the Philippines into the third largest English-speaking nation in the world and they became the precursors of the present-day U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers.
"For their contribution to Philippine education, the Thomasites Centennial Project was established in cooperation with American Studies associations in the Philippines, the Philippine-American Educational Foundation, the Embassy of the United States of America in Manila, and other leading cultural and educational institutions in the Philippines."

Read also
Tags: history, Philippines, Thomasites, Philippine American War, imperialism, education, Spanish American War
This is all for now,

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