1. "If I could only be a professor in my country, I would stimulate these Philippine studies which are like the nosce te ipsum* that gives the true concept of one’s self and drives nations to do great things. But never would they permit me to open a school in my country, despite the fact that I have obtained my professor’s diploma in Madrid!"

    Jose Rizal to Ferdinand Blumentritt, 13 April 1887, Berlin

    *Know Thyself


  2. Big Bads and the Monsters that dwell in the dark

    As a country we seek out ‘Big Bads’; we construct these monolithic entities -even when they don’t exist- hell bent on doing the exact opposite of what we want. Maybe it gives us some comfort as a people, it lessens our own responsibility in nurturing our nation. It’s not our fault as a people that nothing as improved. We shift the onus of responsibility to other entities, offering ourselves a reprieve from facing self-inflicted failures.

    Big Bads are excuses.

    Today (as yesterday) for some it’s the RCC. The Biggest Baddiest Bad on the block, always around the corner defiling and obstructing any moves to improve the country. Even though the country has changed, our democracy has changed and the protection of rights has evolved, we’re still stuck in a very antiquarian mode of thinking when it comes to the religious. For others, it’s not the RCC it’s a grand atheist condom conspiracy that seems to be focused on destroying the moral fabric of Philippine society. We miss the fact that Filipinos are allowed to belief whatever they want, derive inspiration from whatever source; no matter how well or ill informed that opinion is. The duty of a responsible citizen is to seek out an opinion or stance, hopefully after researching, that best fits their core belief system. It is a lot to ask in a mis-educated country, but it is a necessity for Filipinos to start thinking in those terms. Deeper, analytically and not falling for whatever is the prevailing wisdom of the day; or against whomever is the de rigueur Big Bad of the season.

    We set ourselves against our governments, even those that were elected into office. It seems that patience is not our virtue yet. In the process of setting government against people and people against government we create a schism between the two. The flow and interplay between is lost in the process. Instead, we have entities that seem to favor operating apart. They see each other as the enemy and act accordingly. While we can put much blame on the politicians who exploit the people, we have to remember that this is our country as well. And we elected them. Those in government forget that they are elected to represent the people. Filipino citizens forget that civic responsibility extends well past voting every few years. Citizenship is a lifelong commitment.

    We have broken down our society into Big Bads and the Abused. Any richer is bad anyone poor is good. And we do the same with our history. Anything colonial is bad while anything native is good. Well, at least until low culture is encountered, then it’s criticized for being too ethnic and not Western enough. In setting ourselves against something, we also have to demonize that opposition. It doesn’t matter if the public sphere is supposed to encompass all and offer space for discussion and debate.

    We’ve become a people that can’t just be for something; we have to be against something. Can’t be for Bonifacio, you also have to be against Rizal. Can’t be for RH, you also have to be against the RCC.  It’s political and social insouciance at work. In this arena, the ability to respect counter opinions without resorting to unnecessary polemics and personal attacks, we remain wholly superficial.

    I would argue that it derives from our understanding of history. History, along with day-to-day encountered culture, helps explain and define who we are as a people, as a country. The way our history is presented is a series of moments of opposition. Revolution, minor revolts, our history vis-a-vis certain historians is one of conflict; only conflict. The process of acculturation and growth, development and change, is wholly ignored. For example, there prevailing understanding of the Philippine Revolution and Republic is that it sprung out fully formed from some sort of mass consciousness. Just wrong on so many levels. It ignores the decades of work undertaken by reformists, propagandists, revolutionaries, sangleys, creoles, indios, peninsulares…in other words Filipinos. That part of our history is overlooked. The important stuff, the parts where Filipinos worked together to build something new. In public consciousness and our understanding of history, the importance of people to work together towards a common goal is lost. There is an old saying that rebuilding the Philippines does not begin in the Halls of Power or the Chambers of Congress, it begins in the classroom. I’d argue it begins with re-interpreting and re-understanding our history not as de-coupled secluded moments of opposition, but as a continuing communal process of a people’s growth and development.

    If we fail to see ourselves as connected, as a people, the country will forever remain fractured.

    Which is what we have today: A fractured people. A country incapable of working and discussing political issues without resorting to base demonization tactics. We see things through a prism of opposition, through a reductive “I am right, you are wrong. Since you’re wrong you’re bad” mode of thinking. We don’t see nuance, we don’t see shades of grey. We just see monolithic entities, even where they don’t exist. As a result, we demonize and alienate whole segments of the population in the public sphere.

    What we have that the 19th century did not is opportunity for self-rule. It exists. And while we seem to love the concept of democracy, we don’t seem to like it in action. Especially when vocal minorities become too vocal and involved for the perceived main’s liking. And it can work the other way as well. We want to silence them, force them into line. In other words, nascent totalitarianism in action. In other words, the opposite of democracy and respect.

    The good of the country is not found in forcing people to believe in one singular way. That is not so different from the manufactured Big Bads we so often decry as anti-democratic. It will be found when we can mature, educationally and thus intellectually, enough in the public sphere to actually have discussions and debates. It’s a tall order, probably an impossible goal, but the process of attempting to achieve that goal will result in a better country for all. At least, I would like to dream so.

    And maybe just maybe, we can eventually get away from the hate-speak and fear-mongering. And possibly put this superficial need for monolithic monsters to bed.


  3. Bad History: Agoncillo’s Filipino

    Quite simply, Agoncillo’s construct of the Filipino is racism in action. Visiting Agoncillo’s ‘A History of the Filipino People’ is delving into an antiquated history. It is a construction of the Filipino people that is highly flawed in concept and more than a little racist. It shares a disturbing number of similarities with early American and even Spanish descriptions of Filipinos.

    As a matter of fact, to step back and reread his long description of the Filipino is to see that racism at work. It offers a sobering example of how colonial interpretations of self have infiltrated our history and even our concept of self. The sad thing is he and his work remains the most popular prism through which we see ourselves and our history. Even by those who purport to be ‘intellectuals’ offering ‘new’ critiques of Filipino society and history. These critiques are not new, they are not deep. Instead they skate along the superficial; propagating ideas derived and adapted from repressive colonial regimes. Following Agoncillo’s construct of the Filipino means rejecting everything for which our greatest heroes fought.

    We don’t have much in the way of new critical thought on our history and culture infiltrating the main. Sure, while there is tremendous work being done in the academe, our so-called public intellectuals very rarely draw from that wellspring of information and thought. Instead they continue to rely on methodologically and evidentiary flawed works like Agoncillo’s History. Most of our public ‘intellectuals’ and writers come from various grades of the same school of thought. All influenced by these antiquated, exclusionary ideas. 

    Agoncillo was probably not racist, but the way he constructs the Filipino is. He extends the colonial mentality inculcated by an American regime hell-bent on substantiating their imperial objectives. When we talk about rewriting Philippine history and constructing a new Filipino identity is begins with eliminating race from our construct of identity. It means going back and re-understanding what Rizal, de los Reyes, Mabini, Jacinto et al were advocating in the construction of a new Filipinas. When we return and reread their philosophies we find a distinct rejection of ideas race and physical feature in anything, not just identity and the building blocks of nation-states. Our heroes created philosophies that were cutting edge in the 19th century and are still ground-breaking in the 21st. Agoncillo, on the other hand, does not even approach the complexity of their thoughts.

    The idea that a people, a diverse people from different backgrounds, faiths, beliefs can be defined by a set of arbitrary standards and ‘colors’ is racism at heart. It is exclusionary. It is antiquated. And it has to be excised from our understanding of self if we are ever to prosper. By keeping these ideas around and active, we are hamstringing our potential as a people.

    Agoncillo opens up his description of the Filipino peope by talking about race. “The Filipino belongs to a mixture of races, although basically he is Malay.” As if someone can only be Filipino if he is from that background. Again, it is an antiquated way of understanding identity completely at odds with Emilio Jacinto’s exhortation that importance is not based on an ‘aquiline nose’ or religious belief, but in the manner a life is led. Our understanding of identity, nationalism, whatever you want to call it, has to evolve beyond such simplistic concepts. By immediately saying that someone has to be Malay to be Filipino it excludes the possibility than anyone else from an ethnic background could ever be Filipino. How is that even possible or acceptable?

    He goes on to talk about racial blending leading to ‘curious contradictions’ that are ‘apt for misunderstandings by foreigners.’ Note who the audience becomes: Foreigners. He is in essence apologizing for Filipinos; he is saying that because of our ‘racial blendings’ there is something wrong with us. He goes on to talk about ‘half-breeds’ who are ‘qualified by the nationality of their parents.’ Again, for him the race of a person is far more important than what they believe, or what they feel.

    After that paragraph he dives into class warfare, broken down along racial lines. Basically imbedding the idea that class is defined by race, that a light skinner person is more apt to be racially superior than a brown skinned person. His passages on race and class are frankly disgusting. Applying in broad generalizations of intellect, mental features and status along wholly racial lines. Essentially, Agoncillo has spent a page describing the false dichotomies between whites and darks. As opposed to constructing an identity or defining Filipino along lines of belief or shared, imagined possibilities he seeks out color as defining factors. He at no point rejects the idea that race matters in identity and instead upholds that wholly false conceit.

    His next section on ‘common traits’ of Filipinos is too long in this space to discuss. But my critiques run along the same basic lines as above. In attempting to define social traits of a people he is basically saying: “This is what it means to be Filipino. What a Filipino is.” Without these traits, without thinking, acting or looking like this, you aren’t Filipino. Racism by any other name.

    The most pathetic part about this whole thing is that this is exactly what our Propagandists, Reformists and Revolutionaries were attempting to avoid. Quite frankly, who the hell cares about what the color of your skin is, or what faith you come from, or these sad little attempts to define cultural traits. This isn’t about the experience of being a Filipino, what it means to be a Filipino. It is about boxing Filipinos into neat little boxes; basically saying if you’re not like this, you aren’t Filipino.

    In most international academic circles the idea of race defining identity has been rejected completely. It is a step we have failed to take here. Identity is not that simple at all. There is a reason that nationalism has been defined as an ‘imagined community’ that is not restricted by state borders or defined by something as insipid as the color of skin or religious beliefs. National identity should be far more complex than that. It has to be able to encompass a diverse background. Look at our country today. We aren’t a simple people by any means, with simple easy to define and apply cultural traits. Yet, that is what we do. And when someone, or even a group of people, do not fit those little tick boxes they are told they are not Filipino. Even if they think they are, even if they believe they are. It’s a failing in our construction of identity and it has roots in works like Agoncillos.

    Our heroes did not want to see a country built upon racial, social or economic lines. They did not see the Filipino as belonging to a single racial class and everyone else who wasn’t part of that class as not being Filipino. Instead they saw identity built along shared beliefs, encompassing a wide-range of hopes, dreams, desires, faiths, creeds and colors. Yet, instead of inculcating those new, positive and non-discriminatory ways of seeing the self, we imbed racial classifications and divisive ideas in our education system. From the first moment students enter our schools they are taught that the brown is inferior, the white is out to get them and they are inheritors of a long-history of gormless, indolent flawed people with little redeeming qualities. To read Agoncillo’s description of the Filipino is to read a manifesto of racism, a colonial legacy designed to beatdown a people and create a sense of self-loathing. We make Filipinos hate to be Filipino.

    Our writers and intellectuals once railed against easy definitions of self. They sought to up-end the social assumptions upon which the world as they knew was built. They demanded a new way to view what it meant, what it is, to be Filipino. Basically, we’ve repudiated everything they fought for. It’s long-past time to resurrect their old ideas. These ideas still remain new and lamentably unimplemented. If we truly want to move forward together as a nation and a people we have to reimagine our understanding of identity. Basically, we have to reunderstand what it means to be Filipino. Failing that, we will continue to fail to be cohesive people. That’s our new, yet very old, challenge. To finally build a free, open and accepting nation.


  4. Just RH

    I’m actually surprised I’m having to do this, I thought it was fairly evident that I’m pro-RH; nuanced as it may be and with my own reasons. Yet somehow, out there in the ‘real world’, it seems that there is some quite puzzling confusion over my stance. Kind of odd to attract criticism from some pro and anti crusaders alike. I fear the confusion may be something as simple as agreeing with position, but disagreeing with methodology. So, since I spent some time addressing that confusion in the ‘real world’, I will include some of my thoughts on Tumblr.

    I have written on RH in the past and I have given my reasons or supporting portions of the bill. My position though has always been based on the fact that RH, to be truly successful, needs all relevant social stakeholders working together in the implementation phase. Or at least working in their niches in some sort of coordinated way. Which is part of the reason I have always exhorted the CBCP to dampen their bombastic rhetoric and for the pro-RH crowd to follow suit. For me, the battle is not with the CBCP, it is with the decision-makers and the citizenry. Building a broad-based consensus among them is the only way this will be passed. Granted, especially among Filipinos, that will lead to confrontation with the Church in certain arenas. But, confusing a position on a political matter with issues of faith and personal belief can be damaging in the long-run. In a country pre-dominantly religious (whether Catholic, evangelical or Muslim) religious wars are a dead end. A side-effect could be alienating supporters who are religious; especially those who feel like their beliefs are under attack.

    The other side is that in my estimation the CBCP has always been on the defensive and eventually will give way. Their only hope is to inflame passions to such a high degree that they cow people into backing down. Pro-RH factions have to keep to mind that the RCC has worked with RH in other countries around the world. There are distinct precedents elsewhere in the world, aptly demonstrating that interdiction and excommunication gambit is just empty bluster and an easily callable bluff. There is no way that the Holy See will put the Philippines, their only pre-dominantly Catholic ally in Asia, under interdiction. None. They have not done it in other nations and they will not do it here and now. To give them more power and influence than is due them as respected members of a democracy only further emboldens them to issue divisive proclamations. And they will take advantage of any opening to push their agenda, just like any interest group would if given the chance.

    I do have some experience working with the Church here and abroad in philanthropic endeavors. And I have noted elsewhere that most of the priests that I know support RH (must be a Jesuit thing). Internationally, I have seen priests work to push reproductive health education. I suspect, that the CBCP here is actually quite conservative compared to other countries (for better or worse).

    This should not be a religious war or a personal conflict. It has to be political process that operates in the public sphere and focuses on discourse and discussion; not derision and demonization. It is about crafting and pushing a piece of legislation that cannot solve all the ills of the country, but will (hopefully) improve certain areas. Now, a citizen’s conscience can be guided by whatever wellspring they choose: Whether religious or secular in nature. And those inputs should be taken into consideration. That only comes from open-minded, well-researched and informed discussion. It is not found in insults and outright dismissal of different views.

    In the past I have written on the intersection of RH and the Millennium Development Goals. The RH debate encompasses far more than condoms and fuck-time. True reproductive health demands coordinated action from civil society and government to be effective. That means religious groups, non-profit organizations and government agencies working together. When looking at the broad focus of RH it becomes clear exactly why cooperation is in order. ‘Reproductive health’ is actually a misnomer, in a way. More than anything else it’s about providing life skills; in other words the moral, ethical and intellectual tools and foundation needed to make mature and informed life choices:

    • Concept of health (personal health, including physical, mental and social health, healthy environment)
    • Growth and development during adolescence (physical)
    • Growth and development during adolescence (mental)
    • Growth and development concerns (rise in hormones and so on). Sexual responsibility and mutual respect, responsible sexual behaviors
    • Reproductive health and rights
    • Healthy eatings and the importance of nutrition
    • STI risks
    • Substance abuse (affects)

    What is frequently overlooked and rarely discussed here is that RH must be organic to be effective. The ‘meat’ of the overall areas above has to reflect the cultural realities of a country and even locales within that country. We cannot overlay the curriculum of a country like the United States here: The terms, focus even ways of addressing social issues would not resonate or ultimately be effective. There will be a disconnect. This has borne out by pilot programs operating in Sri Lanka, India, Uganda and so on. The most successful of these programs are cognizant of a country’s unique social and cultural markers, and are adapted and adjusted accordingly. For a multi-cultural nation like ours, this means adapting RH to fit indigenous, Muslim and Catholic communities. Language (and I don’t mean words used) is very important. This is where LGUs come into play. Improving and addressing RH shortfalls in the country is an evolutionary process and has to reflect the on-the-ground situation in various communities.

    Simply I support RH because I support informed choice and education. I cannot conceive of a situation where keeping people ignorant of biological processes and the risks/rewards paradigm of certain activities is a ‘bad thing’ (to put a value judgement). Even more, reproductive health can help reinforce existing social and cultural mores. This is not about overlaying Western ethics and morals on our own; it’s about addressing shortfalls (such as sexual abuse, mutual gender respect and addressing extant potentially dangerous sexualized attitudes) and reinforcing existing cultural ethics (whatever they may be).

    Beyond the mental and ethics formation aspects of RH, the information imparted is of key importance in a country where most people do not understand even the basics of adult nutrition; much less the complexities of childhood and pre/post natal health and nutrition. From personal experience, some Filipinos don’t even understand how a woman can become pregnant! Much less what makes a person sick and the correlation between poor nutrition and health. I have seen some homes using superstitious remedies like hanging certain objects in a house to ward off illness and pregnancies. In urban areas, statistics concerning awareness of sexually transmitted diseases (what they are, how they’re passed, what behaviors are at risk behaviors) are shocking. These gaps in knowledge have to be addressed.

    To be frank, there are well-founded and informed critiques (ignoring doctrinal issues for the moment) of reproductive health, as it’s presented today. To dismiss well-thought perspectives outright is to ignore potential opportunities to improve legislation and make it more palatable for all involved. Just because someone disagrees with a position does not mean they are ‘wrong’ and disagreement as such should not become personal.

    For example, I actually do understand some concerns, one area is overpopulation. I find it difficult to support legislation or education that focuses on convincing people to reduce the population. For me, reproductive health education has to be focused on providing the tools necessary for a family to decide how many children they want; with as little bias either way as possible. In a sense, ‘neutral’ education. Whether that is 1, 2, 3 or even 10; it has to be the family’s personal choice, sans government pressure to limit family size. When constructing and crafting RH programs, the philosophical foundation those programs are built on is important. There is a difference between “The preferred size of a family is 4” and “The size of a family is a personal choice grounded in social, economic, religious and cultural factors.” I think it is an important distinction. If a side-effect of RH (along with other economic factors) in the long-run is a reduction in growth rate, well and good. But reducing the population rate should not be the primary focus of RH, that can be a dangerous road. Instead it has to be providing people the tools necessary to make informed choices about their family.

    And that’s what RH means to me: Providing culturally sensitive tools that allow people to make informed choices. Whatever they end up being. I see RH as a positive force, one that can help address certain social and cultural iniquities in education and attitudes. As well, it can be a law that helps make existing government programs more effective. Right now we have programs, but they don’t work in tandem, the RH Bill can help make sure that they mesh properly.

    At the end of the day, properly and culturally sensitive in construction and implementation with all stakeholders at the table, reproductive health can be a boon, a benefit, in the growth and development of the Philippines.


  5. juanrepublic said: When we were studying Philippine History in the Seminary, our Professor (he is not a Prayle by the way) made Constantino's book as our Bible. He abhor the works of Zaide (too biased) and Agoncillo (incomplete). He is a former student leader and an activist and he made us venerate history in the eyes and perspective of Renato Constantino.

    When I graduated from the Seminary and (temporarily) started to live outside her confines, I learned history in a different perspective. And surprisingly, I learned more about the things in our history outside the classroom.

    My school days are marked with, uhm, not-so-good history professors. My HS Prof was bookish and my College Prof had too many irrelevant stories. In your opinion Sir, what is the proper way of teaching history to students?

    Thanks for sharing my friend! I was pretty much in a similar boat as you. It was only after prep school that I became enthused with the study of history.

    Yikes, that is a difficult question actually. The fact is there will always be a lot of students who find history in and of itself (dead people?! who cares!) boring. But, that doesn’t mean you have the teaching of the subject boring.

    Within our country, first and foremost is that the history community needs to (pardon the term) get their collective heads out of their asses. Meaning, toss out the old history books, stop relying on the old stand-by cliches and really sit down and start re-working our understanding of history from the ground-up. That means actually visiting historians who have done field work, and groundbreaking publications, in the various epochs and eras. Textbooks should never be a singular endeavor; no historian, no matter how brilliant, can ever expertly discuss all aspects of Philippine history. That’s why true historians end up specializing.

    Make the effort collaborative. And then work with pop culture writers and luminaries to get out the new take on Philippine history (yeah, easier said than done, but it has to happen). We have a serious weakness here when it come to bridging between the ‘hard’ historians and ‘pop’ historians.

    For me, when it comes to teaching, our way of approaching education has to change. We frequently focus too much on the rote side (remember this, copy this, regurgitate that). It doesn’t do much to engage students. And while there are certain aspects of history that have to be rote, not all of does. What we miss is the meaning of what happened; the whys. The ‘whys’ of history though, aren’t truly understood when they are just told to you.

    For me, I think that is really the weakness when it comes to how we approach teaching history: It’s about being told and not discovering.

    Which means, that our schools and teachers have to reconsider. There should be exercises that try and engage the innate curiosity in students, to get them to think critically about history and get them, on their own, to try and interpret it. History becomes important when it becomes meaningful to someone.

    That’s what we should be trying to do: Making history meaningful for each student. Allowing them to opportunity to explore history and engage it on their own terms. Guided accordingly of course.

    Part of that is having a new curriculum, part teachers (retraining and getting them enthused about the subject as well). I will tell you something, a history professor who considers history to be the province of the academe and unsuitable for the uninitiated can kill interest in history quicker than anything. History is alive, it has to be, it must be. It must be up for grabs, it has to open for new interpretations and explorations. History is current and constantly changing; it’s today and tomorrow. Professors who think of history in any other terms is doing the study a disservice. Give students the tools to explore and engage on their own…then let them at it (with guidance of course).

    There is also one other part. I’ve always believed in what Joaquin said: nationalism begins as a local piety. Nationalism is built on a foundation of culture and history. Which means that the understanding of history has to begin locally. And from there, organically expand into an exploration of national history (and thus nationalism).

    Anyway, those are my long-winded and meandering thoughts, would love to also hear what you think! And of course from any of the other really knowledgeable people around these parts.


  6. Bad History: The Veneration of Historians

    I’ll tell you a little secret: the histories of Renato Constantino, Gregorio Zaide, Teodoro Agoncillo (etc etc) are wrong. Frequently and wide-rangingly. It has been proven time and again by new research and new interpretations. Yet rarely do these new, more sound, ideas filter down into popular history.

    That is not to say that they don’t have good points and make some insightful commentaries. It is to say that they are not infallible, their historical interpretations should be challenged and we need to stop treating them and their histories as sacrosanct.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to Philippine historiography, we do have a tendency to do just that. These historians are typically used in classrooms and cited as unimpeachable sources in Philippine popular history; basically, they have ‘written’ the book on who and what we are. Even if most of their central ideas are simplistic in nature, reductionist at best and overly deterministic at worst. Constantino approached Philippine history locked into a very rigid Marxist framework, ignored a legion of primary sources and eschewed modern historical research and interpretations in favor of flawed sources at best. The same holds true for Agoncillo as well (though he was methodologically flawed for other reasons). Some of his works rest on shaky evidentiary foundations. 

    Why is it that historians have become bigger than our history? A common occurrence, when offering differing views from these hallowed historians, is to be attacked as elitist, anti-Filipino and so on. It is strange and quite frankly alarming. History, and the understanding of history, is not static, nor should it be. Each generation, each new generation of scholars, has at their disposal new tools, new frameworks and new ways of understanding and interpreting sources. Hell, they even have access to new primary sources. The process of understanding our past must never be impeded by the veneration of long-dead writers. 

    One of the worst things we can do is to conflate our histories with historians. They are not one and the same. You can easily refute histories without insulting the historian. But respecting his contributions does not mean blindly supporting his work; and ignoring their voluminous flaws. Sadly, there are even modern day ‘historians’ who seem to confuse their work with their self-worth. They infuse themselves to much in what they do that they become what they produce, they consider themselves more important than the study of history, than their history of their countrymen. Some even say that without their ‘contributions’ (so to speak) to history, Philippine historiography would end.

    The same books that were written 20 or more years ago are still in use today. Which means, we are still educating our youth with the same old methodologically and evidentiary flawed works. The same bad ideas are passed down, the same falsified stories and interpretations are propagated. That has to end. And it begins by understanding that while we can still respect the historians of yore and draw inspiration from them; we also have to grow beyond them. They are not the end-all and be-all of Philippine history, at best they are stepping stones to greater understandings of who we are as people.

    But they aren’t. They are obstacles. Their veneration stifles creativity. It hinders a deeper understanding of the Filipino and his circumstances. In essence, they are killing Philippine history. Each generation has to come up with their own idea of what history is. They have to develop their own understanding and interpret it in ways that are meaningful to their own unique circumstances. Let’s really not forget, that is exactly what our older historians were doing. Jose Rizal (though not a historian) was re-building Philippine history. He was using it as propaganda to incite rebellion against Spain. Constantino did somewhat the same; he was using history to criticize the circumstances of the country. Agoncillo, I imagine the same.

    History is not static and it always has to be reinterpreted in ways that are relevant to today. That is how it remains viable and important, that is how it informs current discourse.

    And that is precisely what we fail to do.

  7. ellobofilipino:

    The PCIJ asks young people what they know about the 1986 People Power revolution.

    The words from the “hope of the nation” made my heart ache. I wonder what the families and friends of those who fought and died for freedom against the Marcos dictatorship would feel if they watch this.

    I was just thinking the same thing; and I’m not sure if I ever could, or would.

    As I mentioned on twitter, I’ve been asking and talking with some of the old opposition leaders and members for some of their memories and stories of ML and EDSA. And the hope, the dreams and what they felt and were fighting for is so damn inspiring. You can see it in their eyes when they talk about it.

    And you can see the slight bitterness, even among those who are still active and fighting, when they talk about what came after.

    I think one of the students actually said: Then Korina…

    It’s impossible to get mad at them; that’s their education, that’s their grounding in Philippine history. And knowing the reputation of the PCIJ, I doubt they really edited for shock value.

    We wonder how and why we haven’t progressed since EDSA. It’s really not a surprise. It’s not that we haven’t learned, it’s that we haven’t taught.

  8. ellobofilipino:


    Sir Ken Robinson’s Changing Education Paradigm

    a friend of mine posted this on facebook. might as well share this here. 

    An eye-opener for those who view education as a means to realize one’s full potential. I hope the the country’s policy-makers have seen or known what Robinson shared in this lecture.

    A thought-provoking watch. Which, I think I rambled on a couple of posts ago about. Good times.

    The rambling and the video both, I mean.

    Tagged #education

  9. marionatrandom:

    This reminded me of something my Philippine History teacher once related to the class.

    An observer was watching an American teach a class of Filipinos about how America was once an English colony. One of the Filipinos raised his/her hands and very politely (and innocently) told the teacher that how England treated the US was similar to how the US was treating the Philippines then, as a colony. The Filipino child had made the connection on his/her own and the teacher did not rebuke the child. Instead the teacher encouraged the student’s intelligence (i think).

    (ok, going back to work/cooking now…) 


    Thanks for sharing the story!

    Very interesting. Especially since that Filipino child marked on something the US believed on certain levels: that this was their India; an opportunity to cover themselves in glory. And as well, extend the US brand of good governance to the four corners of the globe.



  10. margoism:


    Not that I’m disagreeing with the post, education was definitely used as a method for winning the hearts and minds. That I do not really quibble with. And there is no doubt that there was a confusing overlay of American concepts on top of pre-existing Philippine values and mores.

    However, what I do find curious is that the connection between the explosion of grassroots Filipino nationalism, in essence the reclaiming and reconstruction of what it meant to be Filipino, in the 1950s and 1960s and American education is never really made.

    Almost all of those thinkers were products of the American school system in some sense. You could say, in some way, that it was a latent reaction to American colonial policies. Yet, at the same time, they were utilizing the frameworks that their American education (here and abroad) gave them in their pursuit of re-crafting what it meant to be Filipino.

    We can argue about their scholarship and conclusions, but many thinkers and writers who have delved more deeply into our culture and history post-WWII were products of an American education.

    Additionally, I would say that the Philippines only became really close to the US post-WWII and as a direct result of being liberated. Prior to WWII, despite the education, there was still a lot of anti-American sentiment percolating throughout the country. And that sentiment existed afterwards as well. 

    Again, not to say that the post isn’t wrong, in broad strokes it is correct. But, not everything is as cut and dry as the post makes it out to be.

    I’ve heard through that there is one historian who is specifically working on American educational policies and their interactions with Philippine culture. I need to check if the manuscript has been finished yet.

    oh kindly do :D

    …but you know, that’s what i sort of feel like missing out on in modern philippines, the strong aroma of nationalism. that’s just the sad part, like we needed turmoil just to jolt us into that direction. 

    first it was liberation from spain, then america, then the japanese, then martial law, then there we go, democracy - we have gone complacent and our education (well, most, if not all) now simply just serves as a means to get that good job and if it is not available here, then abroad. 

    uh. okay, hahaha. i’ll end there before i bring this elsewhere.

    Yup, will do! I agree completely with you by the way. Education has become a cookie-cutter, pseudo-assemblyline type system. At least public education. There are people who are working to try and get social studies frameworks re-infused into the education system. Though, with the shift in government has come as well a shift in priorities. Not that it was prioritized under GMA; far from it. But at the moment the current admin has other educational priorities. Hopefully, they’ll wake up and remember that education is much much more than learning how to read, write, add and do a job.

    And yes, whether as a reaction to post-American policies (and the new ability to rejoice in what it means and is to be Filipino) or the growth of post-colonial nationalism (utilizing US educational frameworks and the training to…think) there was a great groundswell in the 50s and 60s of Filipino nationalism. It took form in different ways: Nick Joaquin and his explorations of the Spanish-era, Anding Roces and the rise of FEU, writers delving into ethnic and folk traditions, Philippine movies, Father Horacio de la Costa and his historical explorations, even the changing of the language on our currency (though controversial) and the shifting from July 4 to June 12 (which you referenced before I think!). All were examples of a country trying to find it’s footing as a nation and a vibrant culture.

    Yeah, unfortunately it was derailed, with so much else, by Martial Law. What I hope for is that the Philippines of today will undergo some sort of cultural renaissance; if not mirroring, extending what has been done in the past.

    And no, that means more than wearing a slick little t-shirt. A nation does need symbols, as it needs heroes. But those symbols have to be imbued with something more; they have to represent something greater than the mundane.

    Mundane. Oh that’s a nice word.

    Tagged #education #US