BREAKTHROUGH – Elfren S. Cruz – The Filipina Star

September 15, 2022 | 00:00

“Grief is the price we pay for love.” These are the words of Queen Elizabeth when terrorists deliberately crashed their plane into the World Trade Center in New York, resulting in countless deaths.

Since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, there have been demonstrations of grief all over the world beyond the shores of the United Kingdom, her native land. There have been genuine feelings of grief in the British Commonwealth, an association of nations made up of former colonies of the British Empire.

I always thought the existence of the Commonwealth was a bit of an anomaly. It would seem that these former colonies harbored resentment towards their former colonial masters. In many of these nations the struggle for independence was not peaceful. And yet, they voluntarily agreed to join together in a Commonwealth of nations. The reason for this may be that the British Empire spread good things to its colonies, such as the English language and parliamentary democracy. The largest democracy in the world is India, which inherited this idea from its former colonial master, Britain.

It has been widely written that in South Africa, another former British colony, its great liberator Nelson Mandela befriended Queen Elizabeth II. Among the most vibrant democracies in the world are countries whose first settlers came from England, such as Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Interestingly, the Philippines almost became a British colony when the city of Manila and the port of Cavite were occupied by the British for 20 months from 1762 to 1764. The occupation was due to the Seven Years’ War between Great Britain and France. , into which Spain entered on the side of the French. The British wanted to use Manila as a trading center, especially with their trade with China. The Spaniards accepted in exchange that Manila be spared another sacking.

The Seven Years’ War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on February 10, 1763. However, at the time of signing, the signers were unaware that Manila had been captured by the British and thus, Manila fell under the general provision that all other lands not otherwise provided for be returned to the Spanish Crown.

At that time, the British Empire was a much stronger nation in terms of military and naval strength than the Spanish Empire, then already in steep decline as a world power. I have often wondered what the impact on our history would be if the British decided to keep the Philippines as part of their colony. Perhaps we can see indications or hints of the history of Malaysia, which is the closest former British colony to the Philippines, also a Malay nation.

Our country would never have become an American colony because the British and Americans never went to war. Our democracy would have been a parliamentary democracy. Modern Malaysia has a very large Chinese minority as it has had to resort to importing labor from China due to its lack of population. Perhaps the British would have encouraged bringing Filipino workers to Malaysia and Singapore, rather than the Chinese. I also think there would have been a distinct possibility that Malaysia, Singapore, Sabah and the Philippines were merged into one colony and became one independent country.

The most interesting facet of British history is that its global expansion and economic progress occurred during three specific periods of its history. Coincidentally, the era was when the British monarch was a woman: Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, Elizabeth II.

Elizabeth I reigned from 1558 to 1603. It was called the Elizabethan era when England became a world power when it defeated the Spanish Armada which was supposed to conquer England. This marked the end of Spain as the dominant naval power, replaced by England which began its global exploration and expansion. It was also the time of the flourishing of English literature, when Shakespeare was writing his plays. The poet Sir Walter Raleigh was said to be a favorite courtier. Queen Elizabeth I became sovereign of England because there were no male heirs available. It was therefore an accident of history that produced one of the greatest monarchs in the world.

Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901. It was during her 63-year reign that Britain became the center of the world’s industrial revolution. The British Empire reached its peak so that it was said that the sun never set there. At that time, England could rightly be said to be the world’s superpower and the national anthem was “Rule, Britannia”, as its navy ruled all of the world’s oceans. This era also saw the revival of English literature with writers like Charles Dickens, the Brontes, George Eliot and the Brownings.

Elizabeth II reigned from 1952 to 2022 which saw the colonies of her empire become independent one by one. However, Britain remained a world power and the Queen was the personification of global Britain. His reign began in the aftermath of the destruction of World War II and ended in the midst of a technological revolution. Like the first Elizabeth, she was also an accident of history and not destined to ascend the throne. But she proved to be the most worthy heiress of the other two great female monarchs in British history.

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Our September writing dates via Zoom: September 17: Writing in Challenging Times, for our adult series with award-winning novelist Glenn Diaz, 2-3:30 p.m. His debut novel “The Quiet Ones” (Ateneo University Press ) won the Palanca Grand Prix and the Manila Critics Circle’s National Book Award.

Sept. 24: Meeting of young writers with host Sofi Bernedo, 2-3 p.m.

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