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A Critique of Custom of Tagalog

Deanna Mae T. Gicale, Far Eastern University, Nicanor Reyes St. Sampaloc Manila,


The Custom of Tagalog was written by a Juan Plasencia to inform the readers about the traditions
that can be seen in the Philippines. It has been seen that the author of the article, Juan Plasencia, was a
Spanish friar of the Franciscan Order. In that the manner the way how, the author wrote the article can be
assumed that the content is problematic, specifically, arrived with pure observation that expresses full biases
and does not provide any basis at all. In the similar way in the first reading which stated there about how
Phelan uses the other people’s life of the other country to compare and to use as representation of how
Filipinos lived in Philippines. The readers might see the article in just an informative way but looking deeper
on the article shows how Plasencia wrote not just the tradition in our country but how the Filipino adopt
and influence the lifestyle taught through them by the Spaniards who colonized them. The article is very easy
to understand and to comprehend but despite of it there are still some points or claims stated there that gives
the reader an argument that needs to be improved on. Given the fact about the background of author of this
article, this critique paper focuses on the fault of the whole article starting from how the author wrote this
up until how the whole content shows bias observation. The author was sending an indirect message to the
readers about injustice which this issue is very relevant in today’s time considering the main intention of this
article is to show the tradition that the Filipino has. Using critical approach, this is how this critique flows
and in order to give other ideas on the arguable claims stated on the article and how I can have these faults
make sense to the readers.

Injustice before and today

The first paragraph of the article stated, “to avoid discussing the conflicting reports of the
Indians…” this statement is very problematic since it shows biases at all. It contradicts its purpose which is
to let the readers know about the traditions of the Filipinos because maybe the real purpose of Plasencia in
writing this article is to use the Filipinos to distract the readers about what might be shows on the behind
reason of those conflicting reports of the Indians and be able to get a response from them which might help
Plasencia since it was stated on the last part of the first paragraph is “from them I have obtained the simple
truth.” (Plasencia, 1902).

Evident from the article, this article was written in full of injustice in the lives of Filipino. It stated
in the article, “this people always had chiefs, called by them datos, who governed them and were captains in
their wars, and whom they obeyed and reverenced. The subject who committed any offense against them or
spoke but a word to their wives and children, was severely punished.” This statement shows how the Filipino
leaders influence by Spaniards have good leadership, however, are brutal when you disobey or betrayal on
them. They were trained that way because that’s how the Spaniards taught and influence them. In the context
of today’s generation, we can be seen that our President today are just like our datos who are brutally leading
us, Filipinos, wherein he uses his own authority and power not to make change but instead make things even
more complicated and chaotic.

The issue of injustice in the Philippines has a direct effect on the lives of people before and up until
now. It was stated in the article that there are castes namely; the nobles, the Commoners and the Slaves. It
was defined in the article as, “The nobles were the free-born whom they call maharlica.”. while, the
commoners are called aliping namamahay.” Lastly, “The slaves are called aliping sa guiguilir.” These are there
the Filipinos before who controlled by all the datos and all these three castes must do anything and serve
their master with all their hearts and without any hesitation because doing the otherwise will be punished. It
is really evident in the given statements how the Filipinos feel the injustice in living here in the country. In
today’s generation, it clearly shows that we, the filipinos, are belong on these three castes. Those aliping
saguiguilid are the ones who are poor today, while, the maharlica are those people who are more privilege.

The contents of the article really show how the traditions of the Filipinos was developed by the
influence of the colonization of the Spaniards. The whole text is long but very detailed wherein starting from
how one of each was defined and on what are their purpose in the country. The article discusses in the detail
how the Spanish colonization influence the lifestyle of the Filipino. However, going back to how this article
was written by Plasencia, it clearly shows that these whole contents are full of bias in terms of how we are
colonized by the Spaniards. It was stated in the article, “Others, perchance, may offer a more extended
narrative, but leaving aside irrelevant matters concerning government and justice among them, a summary of
the whole truth is contained in the above.” It simply shows that Plasencia used the life of Filipinos to obtain
the simple truth and must give his response to alcal – des – mayor.

Given the fact that Juan Plasencia was not a Filipino and all these contents of the article are only
based on his observation and shows full biases, it simple shows that the purpose of writing this article is not
to show what are the traditions and beliefs that has the Filipinos before but, unfortunately, it is just like the
others literary works made by other authors that shows that Filipino is a product of Spain. Overall, I found
the article quite interesting. The article gave an informative amount of data, and which is helpful to know
the background of our history. However, the article may show problematic impact since it discussed about
how the Filipino life before was controlled. As a critical thinker, it would be much better to the article if the
author wrote this having a concrete intention about on its purpose. This article could have been enhanced by
discussing its real definition and relate it on what’s happening today, so it may give the reader an opportunity
to get a realization not just in one side but in relating also into their generation.


De Plasencia, J. (1903) Customs of the Tagalogs. In The Philippine Islands.