ABSTRACT

In San Juan, Metro Manila, not far from where the authors lived for many months in the early 1990s, there lies an area known as Pinaglabanan, a Tagalog word meaning ‘battlefield’. Indeed, the name commemorates the outbreak of armed conflict in this part of San Juan in 1899 between Filipino defenders of the newly (and briefly) independent Malolos Republic and recently arrived American occupational forces. There is also a monument in the area, known as the Pinaglabanan Monument, which, if memory serves, consists essentially of a crescent-like saber rising out of a stone fulcrum at the end of a long plaza. But the Pinaglabanan Monument is hardly a well attended, or well tended, monument to Philippine nationalism: it is covered with graffiti and otherwise neglected by the authorities. More revealingly, perhaps, the monument is also surrounded by the homes of more than one hundred ‘squatter’ families. The plaza is used as a makeshift basketball court, and residents let visitors know that they are not particularly welcome.