Friday, May 13, 2005

Rethinking Our Philippine History

Rethinking our homeland's history

History has been one of my favorite subjects in high school and to this day, it continues to be one of my great interests. However, in retrospect, I think the study of History, whether of the Philippines, of another country or that of the World, was badly taught since the stress has been mainly on memorizing names, dates and events. This teaching method lead History to being unpopular among many students and most important, to losing its true value for the future adult citizens and members of society.

It was only when battles during the Vietnam War became a daily news item did my outlook towards History in general took a different spin. From then on, even while attending a college of engineering, I would spend time and money reading about the Vietnam War and especially, about the causes or roots of this war.

The reason I mention the above is the fact that we Filipinos grew up and were schooled in books, even those on Philippine history, written primarily by American authors (as any serious thinker knows, the victors write well about themselves and badly about the vanquished). Of course, as young kids and/or young adults, we tend to take the written word of textbooks as historically accurate and we did not question them; all we needed to do was memorize dates,places and peoples to get a good grade and be done with it.

History, come to think about it, if seriously studied, provides one an understanding of a people, a place, a culture. Thinking about what transpired in the past provides a history buff a way of linking isolated, if not apparently unrelated events or historical milestones and therefore gives meaning and direction to the “who, what, when, where, how and why” questions concerning such past events. Learning and understanding history help provide a fresh perspective, the identification of a common thread, on recent and current events. Such obtained knowledge when applied to society can help formulate some approaches to problem solving of society’s current ills.

As to our Philippine history, I believe and think that the 50-year American invasion, occupation and colonization need a deeper rethinking if one wants to understand the seemingly confusing and incomprehensibly perennial predicament of Filipinos in the Philippines. The restudy of Philippine-American History by Filipinos should aptly begin with the much ignored and glossed over shift to expansionism by the formerly anti-imperialist and isolationist America; most especially its new market-driven and/or military-driven expansion towards the Pacific Rim, during the later decades of the 19th century. [Note that decades before, America declared/warned the Europeans, through its Monroe Doctrine, that the western hemisphere -all the Americas- was its sole domain.]

The gradual shift from American isolationism to American imperialism, joining the exclusive imperialist club of England, France, Spain,etc. as the new bully in the block, was demonstrated with the landing of American armed forces in the islands, their political trickery towards the Katipuneros and Filipino people who had faith in the American revolutionary heritage (thus the Filipinos' failure to perceive the new American reality), their subsequent brutal war against the Filipino natives, and the "Americanization" (cultural imperialism) of the natives -through public education- as a new, subtle, more efficient and effective, and long-lasting way of colonization, i.e. neo-colonialism, that persists up to the present.

“The HISTORY of an oppressed people is hidden in the lies and the agreed myth of its conquerors.” - Meridel Le Sueur , American writer, 1900-1996"

The HISTORY of the past interests us only in so far as it illuminates the HISTORY of the present." Ernest Dimnet, 1866-1954, French Clergyman

"We shall be better and braver and less helpless if we think that we ought to enquire, than we should have been if we indulged in the idle fancy that there was no knowing and no use in seeking to know what we do not know..." - SOCRATES

"Upang maitindig natin ang bantayog ng ating lipunan, kailangang radikal nating baguhin hindi lamang ang ating mga institusyon kundi maging ang ating pag-iisip at pamumuhay. Kailangan ang rebolusyon, hindi lamang sa panlabas, kundi lalo na sa panloob!" - Apolinario Mabini La Revolucion Filipina (1898)

“Nations whose NATIONALISM is destroyed are subject to ruin.” - Colonel Muhammar Qaddafi, 1942-Present, Libyan Political and Military Leader

“Colonies do not cease to be colonies because they are independent” – Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister (1804-1881)

“If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them”. – Isaac Asimov, 1920-1992

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