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Despite its Importance, “the exact course and depth of the recession in the [Philippine] Islands have never been seriously studied” (Richardson 1984:208). Indeed, studies that attempt to calculate the impact of global trade cycles, including that of the Great Depression, on the employment economies of the primate cities of Southeast Asia form a special lacuna within the generally underdeveloped literature on the economic history of Southeast Asia. This article opens both research questions by presenting a time-specific assessment of the impact of this international business contraction on important segments of the economy and society of metropolitan Manila, the capital and major port-city of the Philippines. In particular, this article focuses on the depression experience of the large Filipino bureaucratic middle class, of Filipino manual workers in commodities handling, manufacturing, and construction, and finally of the Chinese commercial sector. The article provides a first-cut disaggregation and analysis of relevant statistical data—much of it assembled here for the first time, as well as commercial reports and the contemporary press. The result is a picture of selective dislocation and hardship but one that is at once more variegated and generally less severe than anticipated.
A few weeks after the rice harvest of 1985, drums, song, and loud cries echoed through the headwaters of the Salu Mambi, celebrating the ambush of seven victims in regions downstream. Several bands of headhunters had returned with their bloodless trophies to renew the fertility of their terraces and the prosperity of their households. If such forays appear to be troubling anachronisms in Indonesia's aging New Order, they also display the surprising tenacity of those mythical realities that shape local history. What makes these annual headhunts so unusual and so instructive is the absence of real violence: no enemy actually is slain, no human head is taken. Instead, a village sends out a cohort of weaponless headhunters to get a surrogate head—;usually a coconut bought in a nearby market town. Upon the cohort's return, the community launches into a weeklong ceremony of music, feasting, and speechmaking to honor the headhunters and to glorify the village. Yet the ceremony also commemorates the past, especially with songs and liturgical chants that depict scenes from the ritual headhunts of an earlier era. In short, what takes place is not a headhunt, but something staged to look like one.
The twenty years during which the Tasaday of the southern Philippines have drawn the attention of anthropologists and social scientists can be divided into two major periods. The first is the “discovery” of the Tasaday in the early 1970s, followed by nearly fifteen years of relative neglect. The second is the eruption in the late 1980s of charges that the Tasaday were an instance of fraud, deception, and political corruption by the Marcos regime.
Initially, the Tasaday were portrayed as exotic in their isolation, their hunting and gathering lifestyle, their nakedness, their existence in caves, and their gentleness. Exotic “others” have been similarly characterized by descriptive (usually one-word) labels that emblemize what the people and the society are thought to be about. Thus, Kalinga are litigious, Samoans are sexually liberated, Tikopians are hierarchical, Javanese are patient, Balinese are theatrical, and Yanomamo are fierce.
In studying the ideas of Sung Neo-Confucians, scholars have made much use of the so-called yü-lu texts, or “records of conversations.” Disciples, sitting in the presence of their master, would record his exchanges with them; less frequently they would jot them down later from memory. The ideas of many of the foremost thinkers of the Sung dynasty (960–1279) are better known to us as a result of the stenographic efforts of their disciples: the teachings of Chang Tsai (1020–1077), Cheng I (1032–1107), Cheng Hao (1032–1085), Hsieh Liang-tso (1050–1103), Yang Shih (1053–1135), Lu Hsiang-shan (1139–1193), and Chu Hsi (1130–1200), to name but a few, were transmitted to later generations in yü-lu, recorded and edited by devoted followers.
Unsurprisingly, writings on the economic history of nineteenth and twentieth century China have been confusing and full of controversy. A major question is whether the Chinese economy experienced per capita output growth, stagnated, or declined between 1870 and World War II. Studies prior to 1937 usually claimed that the rural economy's output per capita declined, with only modest expansion of a small, modern sector restricted to railroads and manufacturing firms, and that this modern sector declined during the great world depression of the 1930s (Myers 1970:13–18; Ozaki 1939; Tawney 1932). A few studies of the 1960s and 1970s generally confirmed this view (Eastman 1974:chap. 5; Paauw 1952:3–26). Various theories attempted to explain this continuing or deepening poverty in China, including some, such as Ch'en Han-seng's, that emphasized exploitation or the misdistribution of wealth (Myers 1970).
The central theme of my book, reviewed in the previous article by Ramon Myers, is that, contrary to the expectations of the classical models of Adam Smith and Karl Marx, commercialization does not necessarily bring modern development to the countryside. China before 1950 saw six centuries of vigorous and protracted commercialization, but rural underdevelopment persisted, so that the great majority of the population remained tied to the land and to bare-subsistence food production (down to the 1980s). In spite of fairly vigorous expansion of urban industrial production after the 1890s (and accelerated development after 1950), the countryside remained poor, with per capita incomes hovering around subsistence. The classical vision of market-driven capitalist development, with mutually reinforcing and spiraling urban and rural development, simply did not occur in China. What happened instead were commercialization without rural development and urban industrialization without rural development—combinations of empirical phenomena that appear paradoxical to us from the standpoint of Western-derived expectations.