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.
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.