Ms Diokno (and her team) should rewrite our history books

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Marlen V. Ronquillo

Marlen V. Ronquillo

THE Zaide style of writing history, mechanical and without gems of illuminating facts about epic events in our nation’s life, has been the standard approach to the all-too-critical task of writing our history books. Agoncillo’s preferred method—subversive by Zaide’s standards—was never really favored by the education establishment, which prefers history books to be bland chronologies, not factual accounting of important events and the behavior of the major actors.

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Even during the time of Cory Aquino, there was no serious attempt to alter the turgid prose and the purely mechanical value of the history books. There was mention of Maragondon, Cavite, but there was no indictment of those who plotted and executed the murder of the Bonifacio brothers. The permanent dominance of the elite class started with that tragedy in Cavite.

This is at the root of the young’s cluelessness (we can add indifference) to events that took place from the distant past up to the recent past. Such as Bonifacio’s heroism, which was in full bloom as the 19thcentury was giving way to the 20thcentury, and the current debate on what Ferdinand Marcos’ place in history should be .

That the current generation knows more about the innards of their smartphones than the life and times of Gat Andres can be blamed on the non-committed “history writing “ by those commissioned to write our history books. When faced with a historical conundrum, like what stand to take on the Marcos burial and the second political life for the Marcoses, the current generation just rely on the mechanical, chronological rendering of the Marcos regime by the non-committal history book writers.

We now have the perfect opportunity to commission a team of truly committed historians to rewrite ourflawed history books. History professor Maria SerenaDiokno has resigned from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, over her strong, principled reaction to the Marcos burial at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. She says she plans to go back to teaching.

There is a more urgent task ahead for Ms Diokno. Instead of waging a lonely fight against historical revisionism in a class of 50 max every semester, she should be commissioned to head a team of committed history writers, meaning committed to facts and committed to a truthful rendition of the events and people that have shaped and influenced and changed the nation’s history .

The rewrite is an urgent task, perhaps as urgent as funding our basic and most important R & Ds.

With Ms Diokno as head of the rewrite team, our history books will be free from the following:

.Zaide’s version of history that is zero on these things: what forces should be blamed for our woes, who should be held accountable for our major misfortunes and tragedies and what have been our leaders’ “acts of folly.”

.Eric Hobsbawm’s brilliant history writing (The Age of Capital, The Age of Extremes, The Age of Empire, etc.). He would have been the greatest history writer of the 20thcentury except for the Leninist determinism that tainted the otherwise spectacular brilliance of his writing and his unbending apologies for the atrocities of Stalin.

.Francis Fukuyama’s version, “ the end of history “ thesis that proclaimed the final triumph of liberal democracy. Trump and Putin have shattered that thesis.

The factual, faithful rendering of history will have a liberating effect on the next generation. Their defined views, political and otherwise, would be based on unpolluted sources. Debates on an issue they would confront would be made with clarity–and with historical landmarks acting as solid grounding and reference points.

At the very least, the next generation would have informed answers on these questions: What have been the most civilizing moments of the past half century? What have been the most brutal and most tortured?

Even the electoral choices would be much more enlightened and less swayed by fake news and unsubstantiated claims. Just imagine the transformative effect of good leaders and wise leadership.

The economic impact from an informed citizenry able to make wise decisions on national issues, would be priceless. Even decisions on labor migration and permanent resettlement elsewhere can be made more discerning by solid grounding on the historical relationship of the Philippines with other countries.

Who will fund the team and the rewriting of our history books?

This is the obligation of the government. Earnings from legal gambling (so many gambling licenses have been granted) can be channeled to the writing enterprise. The head of the Department of Education is a political progressive and she can take steps to incorporate a rewrite fund into the national budget.

If not the government, us. Those shocked by the events that led to the Marcos burial, the speed and the stealth, would readily contribute to a fund to finance the rewriting project. (Poor as I am, I can sell a few piglets for that cause.)

We have to rewrite those books before we start believing that:

.The Kristallnacht was a true act of purification;

.That Mr. Marcos is a hero; and

.That Mr. Aquino was a competent president.

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12 Comments

  1. History books for school use should be straightforward and devoid of partisanship, and should read like a newspaper report (like those of yesteryears, as the new type of news reporting has become colored and opinionated). That is a tough job!

  2. Please begin the history before year 1521 and for heaven’s sake do not ever mention Ninoy is a hero.

  3. Albert Martines on

    IS THIS IN YOUR HISTORY BOOKS ??? In August, 2006 local residents and former NPA rebels led government authorities to “The Garden” on an isolated ridge in barrio Kaulisihan, Inopacan town, Leyte province, where the skeletal remains of hundreds of victims of internal Communist Party purges from 1985 were dug up with the help of K-9 units and forensics experts. Former company commander of the NPA’s Southern Leyte front committee, Zacarias Piedad, and platoon leader Leonardo Tanaid, testified before the media last September in Manila, that he personally saw the signed orders of CPP Chairman Jose Maria Sison, Central Committee member Satur Ocampo, and NDF spokesman Luis Jalandoni to rid the organization of government spies and infiltrators, who were then brought before an NPA kangaroo court then summarily knifed and hacked to death, then buried in “The Garden”. It is one of the many “killing fields” that not even the CPP-NPA has been able to deny it created as a result of paranoia that the they had been penetrated by government agents and then engaged in bloody pogroms against suspected comrades, reportedly resulting in thousands killed and few if any spies found. In this report from Bulatlat, which often serves as the media outlet and apologist of the CPP-NPA, present-day Bayan Muna party list representative Satur Ocampo joins with a certain “Committee Defend” of the CPP Central Committee in Utrecht, the Netherlands in damage control over the discoveries in Leyte by claiming the mass grave is a fake. But now that Ocampo, Sison, Jalandoni and 50 other CPP NPA NDF leaders have been charged with rebellion and warrants of arrest for mass murder have been issued against them by a Regional Trial Court in Hilongos, Leyte, But even the Interpol may soon be after them. Other officials of the communist movement’s aboveground front organizations may also be charged in connection with an ongoing investigation into extrajudicial killings by the CPP NPA in Bongabong, Nueva Ecija. Manila Standard columnist Emil Jurado reviews the “unreported atrocities” of the communist movement that has received scant attention from other mass media.(Philippine Commentary dtd 12 March 2007)

  4. I doubt Diokno could write objectively that there was nutri-ban during Marcos time.

    You should be writing to nominate MT’s Rob Tiglao as her replacement to head of the National Historical Commission, vice alternate Tatad, Contreras or Makabenta.

  5. Excellent piece of work. I have some points to offer however. If we use gambling money to write our history, we will be much obliged to gamblers. If we use government (read: administration) funds to write our history, we will be much obliged to those who sit in power and may alter the version. So I think the best option is to create a independent commission with the participation of private foundations who should do the research, draft, review and critic of the accounts of our history. What is urgent is to remove the glaring errors currently being peddled by textbooks used in our educational system. I am much surprised that many important events in our history were not even mentioned in our history books – take for example the arrival of Jews in Bukidnon during their exodus in WW2 and the in migration of a group of Russians to our country during the purging of the tsars in early 1900s.

    Besides landing in Leyte with Gen. Romulo, the real facts about what Gen.Douglas McArthur did during and post-war Philippines should be examined closely. There were many accounts of his interventions in our political system after our independence and his lavish lifestyle officially supported by our government if true, is a serious piece of consideration and fact-finding.

    Another missing part of our great history is pre-Magellan Maharlika. Before the internet, I was very much frustrated that I cannot find any historical account on what our country and our people were like before 1521! Our pre-Magellan history should be presented on a global perspective (the existing trade and in-migration of southern chinese, the islamic conquest during the 10th century, etc) to understand how these events unfolded to affect our history. Perhaps many will also be surprised that the account of the 10 datus leaving the Sri-Visayan empire to escape the wrath of their leader is a big fabrication. What a shame that we do not even examine these events in our history.

    I have read several candid footnotes that add spice to our history. Would you believe that the whole La Union and Pangasinan was conquered by a mere 11 Spanish soldiers and 1 friar in the 1700s? We must not also glorify Jose Rizal and present his real persona. Like many other children of elite families during and before his time, he came to study in Europe, particularly France and Spain, and was greatly influenced by the current social and political thoughts of this time. Sad to say, but many of his thoughts and ideas were not original.

    There are indeed a lot to cover. Please promote your proposal to benefit the future generations of Filipinos!

  6. After 30 years in power, where is the proof the yellows are capable of solidly proving their thesis that Marcos was an ogre?

  7. Its a known fact that the 2 Aquinos are racing each other as the WORST OF ALL Phil Presidents.

    Ouch the Yellows hates this.

  8. Leodegardo Pruna on

    With my personal and official experience with Ms. Diokno and her staff in the NHCP, I would say that if she and her company would be made to write or rewrite history, then it would just be a matter of selection from what they perceive to be written as history. My bad, if not my worst experience, in the conduct of research. God bless the Philippines.

  9. History according to Yellow Historian. The latest yellow history books by yellow senator PapaRazzi and yellow Etat were distributed to schools, what’s the next yellow publication title against Macoy? Hey! The Yellow Mernaid never opposed the installation of a marker for a FAKE Jabiddah Massacre.

  10. Jose A. Oliveros on

    “That Mr. Aquino was a competent president.” More appropriate and factual if the phrase had read: “That Mr. Aquino,III and his mother, Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino were competent.” And any written work on the matter will fall under the classification “fiction.”

    • with due respect, Atty:

      Mr. Ronquillo prefaced:

      …..before we start believing ….

      “that mr. aquino is a competent President”