A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK FOR THE STUDY AND TEACHING
OF PHILIPPINE HISTORY AND FOR NATION-BUILDING
LESLIE E. BAUZON
I have the honor and pleasure to enjoy this splendid chance of meeting you today at the 2nd National Conference on the Teaching of Philippine and Asian History and Culture (12-16 April 1999, U.P. Diliman)* with the theme "Assessing and Updating the Textbooks and Curricula in Philippine and Asian History and Culture: Bridging Historical Research and Classroom Instruction." I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Prof. Carmencita T. Aguilar, President and Founder, and to Dr. Angelina T. Irapta, Executive Director and Co-Founder, for putting this important academic gathering together under the good auspices of the Association of Social Science Educators, Researchers, and Trainors, Inc. Keep the torch ever more aflame than before!
My task this morning is to share with you my thoughts and reflections with regard to the theme of the Conference. When Professor Aguilar and Dr. Irapta invited me to talk during this session, I readily accepted their invitation because I saw immediately how fitting the topic is to a conceptual framework for the study and teaching of Philippine history in particular which I have been toying with in my mind for the past four years, especially during the three years I spent as a visiting professor at the University of Tsukuba in Japan when I could enjoy the
*Held on 12-16 April 1999 at the UP College of Engineering Auditorium, Diliman, Quezon City. Paper presented to Japanese audiences at Kyoto University, Soka University and University of Tsukuba in the Autumn term of 2000.
proper atmosphere engendered by Tsukuba for the pursuit of the life of the mind. I have been testing and sharing this framework with my students at the University of the Philippines in Diliman since my return from Japan in April 1997, but this is one of the earliest opportunities for me to present it formally and publicly to a nationwide audience and gathering of Filipino social science educators, reseachers and trainors. Your constructive comments and alternatives are therefore very much welcome in order to improve and fine-tune the proposed framework.
My conceptual framework is based on the view of history as the dynamic and cumulative development of Philippine society and the life-style of its people. The Philippines is a product of its past; in other words, the past has influenced our present. Thus, in my Philippine history classes at the University of the Philippines, I always begin the semester by discussing what the present realities are in Philippine society. We all know that last year was the centenary of the proclamation of Philippine independence on 12 June 1898. The Republic of the Philippines fittingly and joyously observed on the 12th of June last year this centennial event. I was one of the five million or so ecstatic Filipinos jamming the Luneta that day. It was a hundred years ago in Kawit, Cavite, when the revolutionary general, Emilio Aguinaldo, proclaimed the Filipinos free from nearly three and a half centuries of oppressive Spanish colonialism, and proceeded to establish the First Philippine Republic.
Under international law, that de facto Filipino government under Aguinaldo fulfilled the basic criteria for nationhood. The first Philippine Republic proved to be short-lived though because it soon found itself embarrassed by American colonial sovereignty. The triumphant United States annexed the Philippines by virtue of the Treaty of Paris which America concluded with Spain on 10 December 1898 in the wake of the Spanish-American War (1896-1898). America exercised colonial sovereignty over the Filipino people for about half a century until she withdrew and restored Philippine independence on 4 July 1946, thereby paving the way for the Filipinos to enjoy political freedom since then.
As an independent Southeast Asian nation, one of the basic goals of the Filipino people is the attainment and preservation of national unity. The unity of the nation is essential toward political stability, which in turn is a vital prerequisite to economic progress and prosperity. Ideally, all the citizens should be doing their part to make society tick and to push the economy together in the same forward direction, instead of pushing each other to the brink of disaster on account of politically disintegrative tendencies based on cultural, social and economic differences. Unfortunately, this ideal has remained elusive. The Filipino nation-state remains weak and there is no full national unity.
The affirmed reality in its historical and contemporary aspects is that flagrant inequalities and disparities in income exist in Filipino society. This is not to mention the real division between the dominant Christian lowland population on the one hand, and the non-dominant indigenous non-Christian minority population on the other. This dichotomy between the Christians and the non-Christians is an unfortunate but a real fact of life in the Philippine nation. What is important to bear in mind is that the Filipino nation-state at present is confronted with two major obstacles toward the realization of genuine national unity. These obstacles are related to the iniquitous nature of the Philippine social structure as well as the existing dichotomy between the dominant Christianized population and the non-Christian minority cultural communities.
THE DOMINANT CHRISTIANIZED MAJORITY
Within the context of the dominant Christianized sector of Philippine society, we find all kinds of political, economic and social dilemmas besetting the people. There is the dilemma and problem of the imbalance in the distribution of political power. The incumbent power structure is controlled by rural warlords and family dynasties in towns and provinces throughout the Philippine archipelago. For the most part, they are the ones who manage to get elected to public office because the country's electoral system is such that only the rich can expect to be elected to elective public offices or appointed to high government posts. Moreover, the country's administration of justice is often tilted in favor of the politically powerful and those with connections to the powers that be, while the poor people are the ones languishing in jail because they cannot afford to hire lawyers to defend their legal and human rights. This is known as the compartmentalized administration of justice: one for the affluent, and one for the impoverished.
In the economic sphere, there is the dilemma of widespread rural and urban poverty. The economically deprived and the underprivileged are suffering all the more because of the raging economic crisis and the Philippine government has not adequately managed to cushion the adverse impact of the said crisis on the impoverished elements of the dominant Christianized society. There is unemployment, and those who somehow land jobs are compelled to accept those that are low-paying and carried out under poor working conditions. Then there continues to be the problem of landlessness, wherein land is owned by so few people while so many do not have titles of ownership to even a parcel of land. This is aggravated by the persistence of usurious moneylending practices, because bank loans, even the ones called the character loans, are still generally inaccessible to rural and urban dwellers. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program that is currently in place is hardly making a difference in the lives of the landless tillers of the soil because of obstacles like landlord opposition, lack of funding, bureaucratic inefficiency and venality, and the absence of a political will to reduce if not eradicate inequities in land distribution.
And in the social sphere, there is inequality and class division into Upper, Middle and Lower classes, between the "Haves" and the "Have-Nots" in society. This is the modern character of Filipino society, and this stratification is reflected in words like "baknang" for the rich and "agrigrigat" for the poor in Ilocano: "eggegga" for the rich and "mariga" for the poor in Ibanag, "macualta" for the rich and "calulu" for the poor in Kapampangan; "mayaman" for the rich and "mahirap" for the poor in Tagalog; "dakulang tao" and "sadit na tao" in Bicolano; "maysarang" for the rich and "mapiut" for the poor in Ilonggo; and "dato" for the rich and "pobre" for the poor in Cebuano and Bisayanized Mindanao. In other words, this social class division is nationwide.
Impoverishment prevents the poor people from availing of opportunities for basic and quality education, and thereby be liberated from illiteracy. In fact there are villages in many parts of the Philippines without schoolhouses for primary education. It also prevents them from having adequate nutritional support to keep them able and strong physically to be engaged in labor. Furthermore, it prevents them from availing of medical care to protect their health and that of the members of their families. These sunburnt and rain-drenched impoverished people face desperate choices while being in the margins of existence everyday. Given this situation within the context of the dominant Christianized sector of society, the unjust, oppressive and iniquitous conditions as well as structures have bred popular forms of protest, such as outright banditry, millenarianism and revolution. These protest forms have become stable phenomena in contemporary Philippine society because injustices, iniquitous social and political institutions, and grueling poverty remain intractable problems crying for action by the authorities controlling the incumbent power structure in the country.
Banditry may be interpreted as a form of social and popular protest, and as a form of individual resistance to the imposition by the ruling elites of their world view. This form of popular protest is usually local in scope and is oftentimes undertaken not in coordination with other elements of society on a nationwide basis. The immediate and underlying causes of banditry are the wrongs in society such as the failure of courts to administer justice fairly; the accumulation of vast fortunes by owners of landed estates while their workers and tenants remain landless and receive meager incomes; and the lack of any hope on the part of the poor masses to have any meaningful participation in the governmental process.
In the Philippines, bandits may be classified as being of the mercenary type or of the Robin Hood type. The mercenary type bandit robs people simply because they are robabble, and enjoys the loot from such act purely for his personal gain. This type of banditry is rampant around the country, and gives peace-loving people a sense of insecurity and fear for their safety. On the other hand, the Robin Hood type of banditry also exists in Philippine society. He is also known in the literature as a social bandit. The social bandit is often perceived to be endowed with special or supernatural qualities. He often articulates the needs and desires of ordinary people. Consequently, the peasantry often support, admire and protect him. When killed during armed clashes with lawmen, the peasant mourns his death. Statues are often erected in his honor and he is looked up to as a local culture hero. For the social bandit, there is no ideology except to take the law into one's hands to avenge the wrongdoing done on him. A good contemporary example of a social bandit in the Philippines is Leonardo Manecio, alias "Nardong Putik," of Cavite.
As to millenarianism in the Philippines, it is usually given rise to when desperate members of the humbler classes resort to it as a way of expressing their dissatisfaction with existing conditions. Their leaders are oftentimes charismatic individuals claiming supernatural qualities and dependent upon charms or amulets to protect them from harm's way. Millenarian members are recruited from the agricultural laboring population; and they often operate independently from other groups. Millenarianism is a form of protest availed of by the humble classes for the purpose of challenging the iniquitous institutions and injustices obtaining in society. However, the millenarian groups do not believe in taking direct human and political action to change their condition into a more joyful existence and a better life. Their tendency is to withdraw from the larger society. They establish their "ideal communities " in isolated mountains or remote islands, examples being Mt. Olivete in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija, where we can find the Sambahan ng Amang Kaama-amahan at Inang Kaina-inahan (Church of the Most High Father and the Most High Mother); Mt. Banahaw in Dolores, Quezon, where we can find 200 millenarian groups, the most well-known of which being the Tatlong Persona Solo Dios (Three Persons One God) in Kinabuhayan; Ang Suprema de la Iglesia del Ciudad Mistica de Dios (Supreme Church of the Mystical City of God) in Santa Lucia; the Alaph Divine Temple in Divina Colonia, Sagay, Negros Occidental; the Salvatorri in Siaton, Negros Oriental; the Dios na Amahan (God the Father) in Marintob, Quezon, Southern Palawan; the Alpha and Omega in Mt. Apo, Makilala, North Cotabato; and the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association in San Jose, Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte. However, there are also millenarian groups that flourish in urban poor communities, such as Father SQUPQUZ Holy Catholic Church in Pasig City, Metro Manila, with known branches in Cavite City, Tiaong, Quezon and Puerto Princesa City; and the Church of Yahweh, Father of God based in Parang, Marikina City. This is not to mention the Wisdom of the World Church in Paranaque, Metro Manila. You may be aware of other examples in your respective towns and provinces. Do let me know so that I can include them in the mapping of Philippine millenarianism that I like to see done.
The point to remember is that millenarianism is a form of protest, a manifestation of the dissatisfaction and disillusionment of the humbler classes with existing conditions in Filipino society. When big numbers of people withdraw from mainstream areas to isolated and remote places -- there to hope and pray for deliverance from their dismal state in the form of divine intervention -- that hoping and praying mean hopelessness with leaders who think only of getting elected in the next elections rather than thinking of the next generation, and with prevalent social and political institutions or structures that are unresponsive to the miserable plight and felt needs of the poor and the impoverished. Even if there is prophetic disconfirmation especially with regard to the occurrence of the end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, millenarian followers cling to their faith and still express their hope that their messiahs, redeemers, divine masters and popes will remain true to their promises of having a better life within the egalitarian communities in which they have nurtured and engendered a deep sense of belonging.
An even greater obstacle toward the attainment of unity and stability for the Filipino nation-state is revolution. Revolution occurs when the people simply get tired of their government because it is not responding to the society's felt needs. The government has become callous, the wielders of its powers have become abusive, power-hungry, self-centered, and absolutely corrupt. The corruption of the prevalent power structure is compounded by the iniquitous distribution of wealth, the failure of the courts to provide impartial justice, and the grinding poverty of the inhabitants. Therefore, revolution involves the overturning of society and the implementation of fundamental changes. Usually, it takes place when one class overthrows another class, in which case it is typed as a social revolution. However, it is typed as a national revolution when it is directed at a foreign power and it aims at political emancipation from colonial rule. In the context of present Philippine society, revolution as an option and path for the poor to effect fundamental change breaks out when the impoverished and the miserably poor do not wish to wait for divine intervention, and simply decide to take direct political and human action to overthrow the existing order. This existing order is controlled by the ruling social, economic and political elite unable to reconcile their interests with those of the lower layers of society. This elite is furthermore unable to capture the humbler people's views, sentiments, and aspirations. Consequently, the state controlled by the ruling elite responds by using violent military repression, without understanding why the peasants and the urban poor are protesting and why they have been compelled to take protest actions. The elite-dominated state then becomes preoccupied with the outward manifestation of peasant unrest, but being invincibly parochial, it does not make an effort to grasp the peasant world view, and it does not bother to ask why people are rebelling. The ruling elite does not try to understand the root causes of peasant unrest. This is the tragedy of it all. As a result, the powers that be in the prevalent social structure and government do not, cannot muster the political will, and is even unwilling to undertake unequivocal and drastic reforms designed to redress the fundamental imbalances with regard to the distribution of economic and political power in society. The elites do not make a serious effort to bridge the gap between their own world view, thought system, and perceptions and those of the peasants. They do not recognize that it is incumbent upon them to rise up to the challenge of statesmanship and try to transcend their manipulative egoism as well as their personal and class interests, and to reconcile these interests with those of the lower layers of the population. This is the best way to avert being swept in a massive social upheaval.
I see two major examples of revolution in contemporary Filipino society taking place in the context of the dominant Christianized population. One seriously occurred in 1947-1954, and nearly resulted in the overthrow of the democratically constituted government at that time. I am referring to the Huk revolution -- even if it failed I would still classify it as a revolution since it aimed at fundamental social change -- led by Luis Taruc. The Huk revolution stemmed from the age-old problem of caciquism or landlordism in the Central Plain of Luzon, from the deterioration of tenancy conditions, from usurious moneylending practices that reduced the landless tenants to debt peonage, and from the impoverishment that tenant farmers wanted to do away with.
The second example is the ongoing revolution being waged by the New People's Army as the military arm of the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front. The New People's Army reached its peak strength during the years of martial law under the late dictator, Ferdinand E. Marcos. With his authoritarian abuses, greed, corruption, and monopolistic policies favoring crony capitalists, Marcos himself became the number one recruiter for the NPA, although some of those joining the rebel army were not necessarily communists but were simply tired of dictatorial rule and wanted to restore democratic rule in the country. At present, there is a peace process being pursued by the government of the Republic of the Philippines with the CPP-NPA-NDF. Let us hope for the success of this process for the sake of national unity, political stability, and economic prosperity and progress. The government should not feel satisfied with a mere military solution to the conflict with the communist rebels. It should demonstrate the capacity and the political determination to make the ruling elite of the country share their privileged status with those in the underprivileged and economically deprived classes before it is too late. The country could be faced with a far more serious case of social upheaval if the inequalities that engendered two social revolutions within the past half a century are not remedied to everybody's satisfaction.
The Non-Dominant Cultural Minorities
While the conditions and realities in the dominant Christianized society are such that centrifugal forces are weakening the Filipino nation-state and preventing it from attaining and maintaining national unity, thereby making it difficult to build a stable nation-state so essential toward economic progress, it is well-known that ethnic cultural diversity has been and continues to be a historical fact of life in the Philippines. The situation is unlikely to change in the future years, although the rapid advances made by globalization in recent times are mercilessly impacting on indigenous culture, sometimes leading to the near-extinction of some ethnolinguistic groups.
The indigenous upland inhabitants, not to mention the Muslims, have come to be considered as outsiders by those claiming ethnic and cultural dominance in the Christianized lowlands and coastal areas. This utter social segmentation is reflected in the disparaging words used by the dominant Christianized majority in describing those in the minority communities. Thus in the Philippines, we hear the Christians of the Central Plain of Luzon referring to the Aetas as "Balugas," a term of derision and condescension. Worse than this, a prominent Filipino diplomat and educator, the late Carlos P. Romulo, branded the Igorots of the Northern Luzon Cordillera mountains as "non-Filipinos," even as the Christian lowlanders use the label "Igorot" condescendingly to mean the inferiority and cultural puerility of these Cordillera highlanders. In the Southern Philippine island of Mindano, the Christian inhabitants there display their own biases toward the island's highlanders, known across Mindano as the lumads or "sons of the soil". There is one lumad group in Northeastern Mindanao, especially in the Surigao and Agusan provinces, known as the Mamanwa or "people of the forest." The Christianized Surigaonon and the Agusanon lowlanders have a term for the Mamanwa: "Kong King" which is a play of "King Kong" the gorilla! The implication is that the Mamanwa are no better than monkeys dwelling in trees up in the Eastern Cordillera ranges of Mindanao.
With regard to the Muslim Filipinos in Mindanao, I know that we Christianized lowlanders all around the Philippine archipelago have typecast them as fearsome, warlike, treacherous, filthy and inferior. We call them "Moro" disparangingly, and this label itself connotes all the negative meanings carried by the words fearsome, war-like, treacherous, filthy and inferior which I have just mentioned. This is the reason why Filipino Muslims are deeply resentful toward the Christians even up to this day, despite the late Prof. Mamitua D. Saber's writing that the Maranaos, the Maguindanaos, the Tausugs and all other Muslims should be proud of the name Moro because to him, it means bravery, courage and resistance to Western colonial aggression. During my visits to Muslim areas like Marawi City, Jolo, Sulu, Cotabato City and Tawi Tawi, I have talked with Muslim Filipinos who expressed to me their bottled-up feelings of resentment at being treated as inferiors by the Christian Filipinos. This is additionally despite Chairman Nur Misuari's having proudly proclaimed his being a Moro and having dignified the name by calling the movement he founded as the Moro National Liberation Front aiming, during the height of the MNLF secessionist rebellion in the 1970s and early 1980s, for the establishment of a Bangsa Moro Republic. There is empirical basis for the resentment of the Muslim Filipinos because some years ago, during the mid-1970s, the Filipino sociologist Rodolfo Bulatao did a study nationwide, the finding of which indicated the prejudice and discriminatory attitude of Christian Filipinos toward the Moros. For example, the majority of those surveyed responded by saying they would not want to have a Muslim for a neighbor, a Muslim for a superior or boss in office, a Muslim for a son-in-law, and so on. This prejudice is prevalent even in today's media. It is common in a daily newspaper with a wide circulation like the Philippine Star to say "Muslim bandits" being responsible for this or that criminal activity in Mindanao, but it does not say "Christian bandits" for those committing similar crimes in Metro Manila and elsewhere in the Christianized areas of the country. The same with some of the anchor persons and reporters of the leading television stations.
In other words, there is a wide gulf separating the cultures of those in the majority and those in the minority, even if the latter are living within the borders of the nation state where the dominant Christianized society lives. No congruency of interests, obligations, in other words, identity, has taken place or is taking place between the majority group and the minority groups, mainly because the pre-judices of the majority society are so deep-seated that it has been difficult to arrive at a common consensus about how to reconcile the interests of the majority-controlled state and the indigenous peoples. In the absence of social and economic equality in lowland-upland as well as in majority-minority relationships, and in view furthermore of the absence of such a belief in social and economic equality pervading the governmental process, it comes as no sudden wonder or astonishment that liberationist movements and insurgency have become a fact of life in the Philippines. From this perspective, the problems of multiculturalism in the Philippines are significant because they have a bearing on national unity and stability. For example, there have been, and there continues to be, armed liberationist movements in the Philippines. It is for this reason that ethnohistorical studies are needed in order to foster our greater knowledge and understanding of the rich cultures and creativity of the ethnic groups comprising the Philippine population, and thus recognize them as a precious part of our cultural heritage.
The examples of liberationism in the non-dominant cultural minorities include the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which waged a fierce armed struggle for the establishment of an independent Moro homeland in Mindanao, and thus dismember the territory of the present Philippine nation-state, during the 1970s. The fighting tapered off after the signing of the Tripoli Agreement in 1977 and the subsequent establishment of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) comprised of the four provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi where the Muslims are in the majority. Both sides observed an uneasy cease-fire until a peace process came about which culminated in the signing of the peace agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro National Liberation Front in September 1996. Consequently, Nur Misuari won as governor of ARMM and is concurrently serving as chair of the Southern Philippine Council for Peace and Development. While there are problems facing the implementation of the GRP-MNLF peace agreement, such as the integration of the MNLF fighters into the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the release of funds to finance the livelihood activities and the infrastructure projects in ARMM, it is hoped that both sides are committed that there shall be no more war, and that they will sort out their differences around the negotiating table instead of in the battlefield.
The reality remains though that the Muslims are themselves divided along ethnolinguistic lines, and while the GRP-MNLF peace agreement is so far holding, a breakaway faction of the Tausug-led MNLF known as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the leaders and members of which are Maguindanao Muslims, is presently waging a guerrilla war against the Philippine military. There is currently a ceasefire while a peace process is also being put in place. However, this peace process with the MILF is stalled on the issue of territories. The MILF wants the government to recognize certain areas of Mindanao under MILF control as legitimate territories already of the said rebel Muslim group. Naturally, the GRP panel refuses to accede to this MILF demand, as recognizing the territories will be tantamount to giving MILF a status of belligerency under international law. Another sticking point has to do with the MILF applying the Muslim Sharia court on criminals, and executing these criminals by firing squad, thereby defying the jurisdiction of the Philippine police authorities and the country's judicial system in dealing with such matters. Again for the sake of unity and harmony among Filipinos, it is hoped that progress will be attained in the current peace process with MILF while keeping the peace with MNLF. But even if peace is eventually achieved with the MILF and maintained with the MNLF, there is still the Abu Sayyaf, a militant and hardline Muslim rebel group that is against any peace agreement with the GRP, and will not stop its armed struggle until a separate and independent Moro Nation is achieved.
Still in Mindanao, this time among the lumads, there is actually a growing assertiveness among them for the protection of their ancestral rights and for the preservation of their indigenous cultural heritage. There exists a Mindanao Highlanders Association waging a peaceful campaign for the government to reverse centuries of neglect and pay more attention toward the sad plight of the non-Muslim, non-Christian cultural communities in Southern Philippines in particular. This means that they aim to present a united front in meeting the unremitting advance of Christian and Muslim interests over areas used to be their preserves, and which now threaten to overwhelm them. In other words, the Mindanao highlanders do not wish to be pushed aside altogether and go into extinction culturally. They are aware of their respective cultural identities and the richness of their heritage, and some of them, especially the Manobos of Northeastern Mindanao -- the largest indigenous cultural community among the lumads with over 300,000 members -- they are ready to engage in armed struggle through the recent formation of the Bagani Force Liberation Front. "Bagani" means "warrior" and in traditional Manobo society, the bagani was looked up to as a local hero because he was brave, courageous, an expert in fighting, and a protector of and provider for his follower in the village.
In Northern Luzon, we all know that Fr. Conrado Balweg, an Itneg from Abra who used to be a priest of the Society of the Divine Word, organized the Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CPLA) during the early 1970s. The CPLA fought the military forces of the Philippine government, especially and during the height of martial law under the late dictator, Marcos. A highlight of this struggle was the bitter opposition it spearheaded toward the construction of the proposed Chico River Dam Project, which was intended to modernize life in the Cordillera Region through electrification, while providing irrigation water to thousands of hectares of farmland. However, the project would have meant the relocation of whole village populations to other places, and the submergence of sacred burial grounds so essential in the cultural identity of the Cordilleras. One of those who gave his life during this struggle was Macli-ing Dulag, who is now elevated to the status of a folk hero among the Kalingas. Eventually, when the Marcos regime collapsed in February 1986 and Mrs. Corazon C. Aquino rose to the presidency, Balweg and President Aquino met at the Mt. Data Lodge shortly thereafter and had a peace pact that ended the fighting, paving the way for the creation of what is now the Cordillera Autonomous Region.
For me, the point to bear in mind with regard to the non-dominant cultural minorities is that they wish to preserve their customs and traditions in the face of the acculturative and assimilative processes they have been subjected to in the course of the Spanish and American colonization, and the onslaughts of modernization in the late 20th century Philippine society. Their ethnic cultures are revered by them because these are rooted in their own experiences over the centuries, and seem to have satisfactorily provided their essential needs for subsistence and survival. Their cultures are based on their common tongues, legacies, values and appurtenances for confronting the tasks of everyday existence. The feelings of togetherness and belonging draw inspiration from their tradition-based cultures. Their unwritten epic literatures mirror these feelings. Their indigenous cultures gave them self-sullficiency, defined their relationships, gave them a sense of unity and social cohesion, and instilled in them a feeling of oneness with the land or forests in which they live. Being sons and daughters of the soil, they "ate the forest" that served as the source of their nutritional requirements. What is foremost in their minds is then the preservation of their own precious cultural heritage because it has been tested by tradition and time to be sufficient in enabling them to satisfy their essential requirements for living. The tragedy is that the Christianized lowland Filipinos have stereotyped them as inferior and relegated them to the margins of existence and the underclass of Philippine society. As a result they have been branded even as non-Filipinos. Is it any surprise then that they have taken the countervailing option of liberation from the Philippine nation-state?
Possible Approaches Toward Unity of the Nation-State
Prof. Tsuneo Ayabe of Josai International University, in a study that is at the leading edge of ethnic studies in Japan, identified and analyzed three types of relationships between ethnic groups in the United States and the building of the American nation. Professor Ayabe's typology is relevant for the purposes of my conceptual framework for the study of Philippine History and the building of the Filipino nation. These types are assimilation, amalgamation, and multiculturalism. Each of these may be explained further for the context of my analysis of present realities and situation in Philippine society. I understand Professor Ayabe's seminal model as follows:
Under assimilation, for all intents and purposes, the culturally and numerically dominant society plays a colonialistic role, and overlays its culture upon the minority cultures. In the process, the latter lose their cultural heritage and identity, become assimilated into the majority culture, and assume a new identity which is that of the majority. Assimilation need not only be cultural. It can also be political and economic. This means that when applied to the case of the dominant Christianized majority, those with centrifugal tendencies will be assimilated into the political and economic system of the majority, are taken in and made part of the whole dominant society.
In amalgamation, there occurs a synthesis and a blending of all cultures, with no ethnic group playing a dominant role. The "melting pot' principle applies in this situation, with the different ethnic groups gaining some and losing some during their interaction with one another. From out of the hodgepodge, a kind of hybrid culture appears, not unlike the commingling of races which produces half-breeds or mestizo offspring. In time this hybrid culture assumes a new identity of its own. There is a mixing of cultural influences from different provenances. The amalgamation principle can also be applied to the political and economic spheres, with a real give and take process taking place, until new political and economic approaches appear that mix the best of the diverse viewpoints.
Multiculturalism recognizes no majority-minority dichotomies. There is no absolute social division existing between the different ethnic groups, which means there are no marginalized underclasses in the nation, because all ethnic groups are accorded equal treatment, based on mutual respect and tolerance of each other's beliefs, values, customs, practices and contributions toward the weaving of the national tapestry. All are members of the nation according to the principle of equality. Therefore, all have a stake in pushing the economy together and enjoying equally the fruits of national development. There is only one nation, and the ethnic groups are loyally bound to the preservation of national unity, but the rich diversity of cultures is allowed to flourish. It goes without saying that multiculturalism also involves plurilingualism, which means respecting and preserving the rich multiplicity of languages as the thumb print of identity of each ethnic group comprising the nation. No single language is permitted to be dominant to the point of resulting in internal colonization by the native speakers of that dominant language.
In the sphere of the dominant Christianized majority, there is political pluralism, not to mention freedom of ideas in the academic marketplace, in order to allow those espousing the socialist and communist ideology to come out into the open and compete freely for the hearts and minds of the electorate in the political arena. Let the general public judge what is the best political platform based on the unfettered discussion and presentation of these platforms of government. Nobody has the monopoly of knowledge, and let no one impose his will and views on others through intimidation or authoritarian methods. The nation-state will be noisy with political debate, but the bottom line is that no group is higher than the nation-state, and when it comes to the preservation and the upholding of national unity, then everybody knows what is good for the country. They will close ranks and transcend their partisan interests to preserve the very freedom that allows when to engage in lively political discourse openly.
The Role and Prospects of National History
In this presentation, I have taken pains to show you how I view the societal situation in the Philippines, the situational dimensions of societal problems -- social, economic, political, and cultural -- as a means of improving our understanding of these current areas of concerns. I also tried to seek to describe and discuss briefly the persistent problems and the patterns of reactions and responses by the people and by the government toward them and their multiple effects on Philippine society. My aim in doing so is to show the dynamic nature of history, how it influences and shapes the present. In short, the present is the product of the past. Therefore, the study and teaching of Philippine national history can play a vital contributory role toward clarifying the developmental and originating causes of present social, political, economic and cultural problems, and critically elaborating on the full dimension of these problems in terms of the present conditions, thus providing complementary perspectives and approaches. My point is that the study and teaching of Philippine national history can and should shed light on how we came to form our nation-state; how it came to pass that this nation-state is weak and unable to enjoy full national unity; how the modern character of Filipino society was defined by events in the past; how we came to have class divisions; how we came to have iniquitous power structures; how we came to have an unbalanced landholding system that gave rise to centrifugal forces like banditry, milenarianism and revolution; what the historical and contemporary examples are of these phenomena in Philippine society in order to enable us to understand the nature of peasant society and peasant movements; how the Filipino people was Christianized and how the Christianized population became dominant; how the absolute social division between the dominant majority and the non-dominant minority cultural communities came about; what the underlying and short-term factors have been that gave rise to secessionist movements among the minority groups; and what the nature is of these liberationist groups in terms of their leadership, membership, history, structure, beliefs, and objectives. By undertaking the necessary studies on the developmental and originating causes of these issues and social dilemmas, then history, national history, can transcend its reputation of being concerned with the past that is long dead, but can make the past alive and demonstrate how it molded the present, and then the knowledge derived from such studies can then provide inputs toward the formulation of appropriate policies and legislation leading to the solution of the social dilemmas I pointed out in my conceptual framework. These findings and studies will also hopefully conscientisize and sensitize our policy makers and legislators to our basic social, economic, political and cultural problems, and challenge them to exert political will and determination to become true statesmen concerned with the welfare of the next generation instead of just being politicians concerned with winning in the next election.
I therefore see the prospects of national history for the 21st century bright. What I would like to emphasize here is the fact that there is a great deal more that needs to be done and many more areas of our history and contemporary developments still remain hidden from us. Part of the reason for this flaw is that we lack a national sense of history. Also, as a people, we need to develop a greater love for research into our past beyond the contemporary happenings, while relating the past to the present.
It has been said that a large segment of our national population, especially the cultural communities in the various regions of the country, had been marginalized or even neglected. Consequently, they are left out of the range of historical understanding of our race and culture. There are many more reasons for this unfortunate development. It has been said that our education, dominated and molded by Western influence, has also misoriented our vision of ourselves. And we have been guilty of overemphasis in one area and comparative neglect of the other. There are many more problems that we encounter in historical research. And they need to be addressed immediately. My conceptual framework underscores my recognition of the fact that the marginalized small cultural communities, with their rich and varied cultural history, cannot be neglected. The pressing demand for national unity and development makes it imperative for us to take up this challenge willingly.
I propose the following practical measures to engender appreciation of our national history as the bedrock of our identity as Filipinos for the 21st century:
a. There should be a law requiring or amending existing laws and regulations and proposing new measures for the preservation of public records which are of historical significance, and greater care and support for the preservation of and maintenance of historical sites and monuments so they can be transmitted as the legacy of the present generation to posterity.
b. There should be established archives and museums and libraries in a single unified complex in each region and where possible, in every city of the Republic; the State shall assist the regions and the cities in this task to set up such a unified complex or archives, libraries and museums. Moreover, they should set up historical gazettes, a periodic publication that will record and document all researches, new findings, new discoveries and rare records that are of relevance and importance to the preservation and conservation of historical records and monuments.
c. Regarding our current history, I recognize the elemental importance of day-to-day developments in the country as the fountain head of national history. I also recognize the weakness and neglect in the systematic keeping and preserving of the records in the various branches of the government, and I note with regret and awe the official documents reportedly sold out as scrap paper; or bundled up and neglected in the storage areas of various offices and entities. The scholars today as well as the future generation of scholars will be denied access to current history if we do not take urgent and decisive steps to remedy this deplorable situation. I recognize further that the three branches of the national government -- the executive, the legislative and the judiciary -- are apparently neglecting the conservation and preservation of their official records; it is reported that among many individual officials, when completing their tour of duties in elective or appointive offices, cart away official documents and papers and leaving behind either nothing or incomplete records of their tours of duties. I therefore sincerely urge the President of the Republic, the members of the cabinet, and the heads of all offices and entities to take necessary steps immediately to inculcate the virtue among their employees and officials of the value of official records as a trust for posterity. Similarly, I urge upon the current leadership of the legislative branches of the government -- the Senate and the House of Representatives -- to set up similar measures to ensure that the records of the legislature are not denied to our scholars in the years to come in the next century.
I also urge the judicial branch of government to take particular care of the historical papers on the administration of justice in the country so that our children and our children's children can learn from our errors and omissions, as well as from our achievements.
I like to take this opportunity to articulate the idea and recommendation that the deliberate burning, or the burning through negligence, and the destruction of public records to hide anomalies and irregularities, should be considered as a heinous crime against the whole national community and the future generations. Such a heinous crime does not only deprive the present generation of Filipinos their right to know of their current history, but it deprives forever the coming generations of Filipinos who will never know of the past.
I implore the national government to pay particular attention to the enhancement of the people's awareness of our national history. It is my firm conviction that it is only through the learning of the various conflicts of the past, such as those I discussed in my conceptual framework, that we can fully appreciate the need for a united national community for our survival, development and growth.
The role of the private sector in this particular regard is even more important and significant. It must in fact play the lead role and act as the catalyst for our national emancipation from our self-imposed ignorance and indifference toward our history as a sovereign people.
I also urge upon the various private sectors, the educational institutions, the NGOs, the professional groups and associations, the business firms, the labor sector, the women and the youth and all other sectors to recognize the urgent need for consolidating their records for their respective and specific historical significance. It is only through such combined and concerted efforts that we shall realize our dream for a complete and total historical overview of our society, culture and people.
I also urge those who call themselves revolutionaries of one persuasion or another not to forget the significance of record keeping regarding their activities and their exploits, as they perceive them today, so that the future generations may decide for themselves how they will assess the significance and importance of their doings and undoing, and all those who set themselves to reconstruct or remake our society.
Last but not least, I appeal to all committed scholars not only in the discipline of history but in all fields of learning to give special attention to the role and contribution of the marginalized and inarticulate sectors of our society today. Their deeds, their words, their problems, and their aspirations need to be documented and articulated and placed in the proper context of the destiny of the national community.
The scholars and the academics and the observers of our current history are also urged to take special notice of the Filipinos who are forced to leave the country for good for better or for worse, and where they are forced to seek whatever employment comes their way as a laboring class all over the world -- in the Asia-Pacific region, in West Asia, in Europe, in North America, in South America, and in various parts of Africa. Their history must also be documented and written and their role as a force in the cultural and economic transformation of the global community deserve careful examination.
In closing, let me say how happy I am to have this chance of sharing my conceptual framework for the study of the national history of the Filipino people, and to demonstrate through this framework, using the Janus perspective, the dynamic relationship between the past and the present, and in the process, demonstrate as well how our field of history can contribute toward building our nation, strengthening our nation-state, and attaining as well as maintaining national unity. The prospects for national history in the 21st century are indeed good. Let us get to work! Thank you for your time and attention, and good health to everyone. You all have a nice day.HOME