Confrontations, Crossings, and Convergences (1998)

Confrontations, Crossings, and Convergences

Editors: Enrique B. de la Cruz and Pearlie Rose Baluyut with Rico J. Reyes

Paperback: $7.00
ISBN-10: 0-9340522-7-1

Product Details: 96 pgs., 8.75 x 8.5 x 0.33 in, with photographs

Categories: Art & Culture; Asian American Studies; Diaspora Studies; Ethnic Studies; Education; Filipino; History; Philippines; U.S.-Asia Relations; War & Peace Issues

Co-published with the UCLA Southeast Asia Program



With nearly 100 photographs of the Philippines and the United States, 1898-1998, this centennial reflection is the companion book to an exhibition on the complex relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines. This publication contains prints from governmental archives, libraries, museums and personal collections in Asia, Europe, and North America.



The signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1898 significantly altered the historic direction of the Philippines. As it sealed four centuries of Spanish colonialism, it also signaled the emergence of American empire on Philippine soil. Colonial efforts to render 'familiar' the distant archipelago and its people enlisted many scholars in the field of anthropology, history, medicine, and linguistics. One hundred years later, attempts to understand the complex relationship of the Philippines and the United States have led to the reconfiguration of the empirical frame. To this theoretical construct of domination and resistance, the element of negotiation is introduced; to the process of textual narration, we add the experience of visual encounters. The aim of the exhibition and the companion book, hence, is to articulate the complexity of Philippine-U.S. history through photography.


Under American colonial rule, the photographs of the Philippines and its people were regarded as ocular templates of truth-scientific records of both the ideal and the stereotype. Yet these so-called 'black-and-white' evidence were always colored by the personal intentions or political ideology of the photographer/institution. Although often subjected to racial ridicule, it was not entirely a matter of surrender on the photographed subject's behalf. Over the years, picture-taking itself became an occasion of intervention; at other times, it was calculated embrace, a desirable collaboration, and an urgent negotiation.


This introductory essay serves only as a point of departure. Rather than textually recapitulate the last century of Philippine-U.S relations, the images in the exhibition and book are the ones tasked with the burden of representation and narration. Loquacious and never silent, photographs are versed narrators that tell man stories and, simultaneously, pose historical riddles. As such, they no longer remain as objective, unchanging evidence of history, but are encounters in the making.


To engage the reader/viewer in a fuller discourse, we have added forty-nine more photographs to fifty images that were exhibited. The book, however, preserves the original thematic organization of the exhibition: "Spectacle and Surveillance" explores the United States' uncanny display and discipline of Filipino bodies at the turn of the century; "Diaspora, Struggles, and Survival" surveys the experiences of Filipinos in the United States and the Americans in the Philippines; "Resistance and Collaboration" critically examines the shifts in Filipino American relations during the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, and the Second World War; and, finally, "Closures, Fractures, and Parallels" revisits the U.S-supported Marcos and post Marcos era and reflects the path that Philippine-U.S history has taken.


Although the four themes follow a certain chronology insofar as their sequence is concerned, temporal crossovers, fractures, and parallels occur under each theme. In fact, the element of time is used not to create order, but to encourage overlaps, ultimately blurring the thematic boundaries and disrupting the temporal continuum. Rather than explain, the photographs seek to problematize the relationship of the Philippines and the United States while engaging the viewer in a dialogue that further reevaluates this complexity. In this power-game of looking, being looked at, and, most importantly, looking back, photographs signify the dynamic shifts-domination, resistance, and negotiation-in relations. And here lies the power of pictures.

(From the "Foreword" by Pearlie Rose S. Baluyut)

Table of Contents


  • Foreword: The Power of Pictures Pearlie Rose Baluyut
  • Acknowledgements
  • Overview
  • Spectacle and Surveillance
  • Diaspora, Struggles, and Survival
  • Resistance and Collaboration
  • Closures, Fractures, and Parallels
  • About the Curators



"A portrait of 100 years of Philippine-US relations, this book of photographs and essays reveals the powerful political implications of visualizing history and nationalism through the lenses of the camera. "Confrontations, Crossings, and Convergence" graphically records the responses of those Filipinos who resisted ethnographic incursion upon their faces, bodies, and minds. An excellent resource for students, scholars, artists, and cultural workers." - Russell Leong, Editor

"Considering that the Filipinos were the first people in Asian to successfully launch an anticolonial nationalist movement for independence, it is a tragic fact of history that it was the United States of America that suppressed it and inaugurated an era of imperialist expansion, symbolically shredding its own Declaration of Independence. The exhibition, as well as the companion book, is a provocative and indispensable overview of the political, social, and cultural relations between the Philippines and the United States during the past century. It explodes the stereotypes, challenges received opinion, and opens up the discourse of colonial and postcolonial power relationships in vivid and spell-binding imagery." - Albert Boime, Professor of Art History


Related Center Press Publications

Amerasia Journal 24:2 Essays into American Empire into the Philippines: Part I. Legacies, Heroes, and Identity (1998)
Amerasia Journal 24:3 Essays into American Empire into the Philippines: Part II. Culture, Community, and Capital (1998).
Quinsaat, Jesse (1976). Letters in Exile: An Introductory Reader on the History of Pilipinos in America.
Robles, Al (1996). Rappin’ With Ten Thousand Carabaos in the Dark: Poems by Al Robles