WE STILL NEED
A HISTORY WEEK
By Ed Aurelio C. Reyes
Kamalaysayan Writers and Speakers
(September 16, 1995)
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LTHOUGH WE cannot understand that line in the government's History Week poster that says "Ika-100 taon ng ating Kasaysayan," the Kampanya para sa Kamalayan sa Kasaysayan (KAMALAYSAYAN for short) fully supports the annual holding of History Week. Our people need it. Or, to put it more precisely, still need it. Just as we still need a "Linggo ng Wika" because we are more used to writing and reading, even speaking and thinking, in a foreign language.
There will come a time, perhaps still far off into the future, when our people shall have imbibed a much stronger sense of history (that's "kamalaysayan," the common noun) to render unnecessary the annual History Week.
That the annual History Week is timed around the anniversary of the Malolos Congress opening in 1898 is also apt. That Congress was a constituent assembly, leading to the establishment of the first western-style republic in Asia, the First Philippine Republic, inaugurated on January 23, 1899 at the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan.
Contrary to the impression of some, there was no republic formed in Kawit, Cavite, on June 12, 1898. What was proclaimed there was a dictatorial government under General Emilio Aguinaldo, who took time before heeding the urgent advice of the great Batangueño genius, Apolinario Mabini, that this be changed to a revolutionary government later that year and into a republic in January of the following year. (Neither was independence proclaimed in Kawit on June 12; what was proclaimed was a protectorate "under the...Mighty and Humane North-American nation.")
I once spoke before the general assembly of high school students of Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati to share with them the contents of the Kartilya ng Katipunan (I also did that to university assemblies at Philippine Normal University in Manila and Angeles University Foundation in Angeles City). After the talk, I was asked to do the honors of ribbon-cutting at the opening of the Don Bosco students' exhibits on Philippine history. The exhibits impressed me. Creatively-made dioramas on scenes of our past were on display, made by groups of high school students.
I noticed, though, that there was not much in the whole thing that pertained to our long and glorious history prior to the coming here of the Spaniards, and almost nothing at all about the Philippine-American war. No one can blame those students or their teacher-advisers; there really is hardly any prominence or emphasis given these periods in our officially-designed studies of Philippine history. We still have a lot of improvement to make on the standard curricula and syllabi on Philippine History. And change the usual way of teaching this in our schools, away from rote memorizations.
The annual History Week comes and goes every September, and many people, especially students, get to highlight historical matters in their minds, with exhibits like the one at Don Bosco, and with other activities and projects. That is good for enhancing at least a bit the people's "kamalaysayan." But a lot has to be done in taking a longer, harder look at the matter of content play-up and the use of more popular forms, if History Week is to have more significant impact on our people's collective psyche.
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