A Study On The French Revolution and Its Impact On Modern Philippine Society


Who wouldn’t be familiar with this historical event in France? What impact did it leave on the modern Philippine society and today’s generation?

A. The History Of French Revolution

The French Revolution of 1789 was considered as a period of socio-political upheavals in France wherein the ideas of philosophers Edmund Burke, John Locke and John Jacques Rosseau gave contribution to the mainstream exchange of political ideas which concerned even those French men who belonged to the lower class. This period originally took place in the year 1789 where some historians considered or said that the event ended after the Reign of Terror , whereas other people believed that this event continued until another French Republic was established after Napoleon’s fall.

This historical event was marked by the emergence of social-political abstract principles rooting from the views of different individual or group, seeking to establish an ideal society and these ideas were not made exclusive for practice only in France wherein both the Christian democrats and revolutionaries during the said period heavily pointed out that liberty and equality are basic human rights that should be enjoyed by individuals who also wish to attain world peace.

During the time of the French Revolution, theological concepts were never disregarded , however, most of the people paid more attention to scientific ideas. Churches remained firm in its doctrinal teachings in morality but still accepted the freedom of religion. However, the philosophers remained anthropocentric wherein they regarded humankind as the central or most important element of existence, as opposed to God or animals. In the end, both sides still aimed for the protection of the said right with regards to mutual respect and preservation.

On June 17, 1789, the House of Commons adopted the title of “National Assembly” , then swore an oath three days after in the Tennis Court, stating that they will not be abolished until a constitution for the said state has been formulated and on June 27, the king initiated to combine the houses eventually to form a National Assembly, thus proving the importance of the concept of equality in political power, giving the common people the freedom and say on how the country should be governed through the formulation in public policies.

B. Its Impact On Modern Philippine Society

The idea of French Revolution first entered the Philippine archipelago during the time when the Suez Canal in Egypt was opened in order to shorten the route of trade from Europe to Asia and so that the Filipino ilustrados or the educated people were able to study these ideas which leads them to become leaders of the Reform Movement.

Versailles held a ceremony of the first Estates General on May 5, 1789 and these religious ceremonies the day before were held in grandeur. These ceremonies were likened or almost similar to a Filipino fiesta wherein the extravagance, luxury and corruption of the French monarchy was also the same as that of the Spanish government officials and the way of the friars enraged the common Filipino people in both France and Philippines.

Here in Philippines, the ilustrados or educated people created a movement for reforms in order to ensure the restoration of Philippine presentation to the Spanish Cortes for them to make public policies beneficial to the colonies. These ilustrados were: Jose Rizal, Graciano Lopez Jaena, Juan Luna, Antonio Luna, Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo, Marcelo H. Del Pilar, Jose Maria Panganiban and others who took part and gave their financial or moral support to the idea. However, this Propaganda movement failed due to the death of Jose Rizal and Graciano Lopez Jaena, thus leaving only the Legislative branch of the movement which was set to create laws. The common people can object to the decisions made by the senators and lower house representatives by evaluating the public policies and the common man himself can initiate the formation of the public policies.

The great works of the National Assembly includes the Civil Constitution of France and the Declaration Rights of the Man and Citizen , which were then adopted by other countries such as Philippines. This Civil Constitution of France is the reason why we have several constitutions here in Philippines. The main objective of the Declaration of Rights of the Man and Citizen is to give an overview of the basic human rights, followed by certain guidelines established by law.

The former (Declaration of Rights of the Man and Citizen) gives people the freedom of speech and the press and states that a man should not be considered a criminal unless he or she is proven guilty of such crime and this press freedom initiated by France subsequently inspired the creation of journalism, adopted by Philippines through Philippine regular and campus journalism in the 20th century.

Adding to the contribution or impact of French Revolution and the Declaration of Rights of the Man and Citizen to the modern Philippine society will the basis for the creation of the Bill of Rights and writ of habeas corpus which was then dismissed during the Martial Law (time of former President Ferdinand Marcos) , enabling the quick arrest and jailing of alleged criminals and activists by removing their right of defending themselves before the court. Furthermore, it also gives man the freedom of worship and religion, which was even more emphasized when Gregorio Aglipay wanted to establish the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, which is a Catholic church wherein the leadership is not Papal and independent from the Vatican rule. These rights were then introduced to the Filipinos just in time when the Spaniards left the Philippines. Through this Declaration, France initiated that slavery both in motherland and colonies should be abolished.

Much more was contributed by France and the Declaration to our country, especially the political power of women as they were given an important role during the Revolution. This was made evident when there was an occurrence of female militant activism , an example of this is the March to Versailles. The women of French Revolution inspired the Filipino women to take part in the Philippine Revolution and lead against the regime’s oppressive rule.

Without the French Revolution and the presence of women , there wouldn’t be a Philippine Revolution against the Spaniards. The Women’s Chapter of the Katipunan was responsible for admitting new members, whether male or female, and served as a front whenever the male members would hold meetings at the backroom. There would also be no EDSA People Power Revolution if it hadn’t been for those women, who gathered on the streets with the aim to bring real democracy back in the country. These women who took part included the nuns, teachers, peasant women, politicians and even the late President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino. Women can really take part in the Revolution and make a genuine change.

Truly, Filipino citizens are those angry men who wanted to bring back freedom. We hear the people sing the songs of those angry Filipino citizens and join them in the fight that will give them the right to be free!

Quoting a song from the Les Miserables,  ‘Red, the blood of angry men! Black, the dark of ages past! Red, a world about to dawn! Black , the night that ends at last!’ .