By Ed Aurelio C. Reyes

Kamalaysayan Writers and Speakers

(May 17, 1997)

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HERE HAS BEEN some talk about a supposed conflict or rivalry between Kamalaysayan and the National Centennial Commission (NCC), and the center of the Commission's displeasure, reportedly, is your writer here who founded Kamalaysayan and continues to serve as board secretary and executive director. Actually, such "conflict" being talked about is still very unclear to me. But not really very surprising.

          The basis of a possible, perhaps likely, conflict to develop between the views aired and actions undertaken by the two organizations goes beyond the Commission's highest officials.  It is in the very orientation of the centennial commemorations as apparently set forth in the very creation of the NCC some years after Kamalaysayan started working as a citizen-based network.

          This is basically reducible to two points which we have gradually discerned from the words and actions of the NCC, including the timing of its moves. Becoming clear in the NCC's word and work are two points: one, Aguinaldo is increasingly given the prominent projection as the central figure; and, two, the emphasis is to serve the President's Philippines 2000 programs.

          Aguinaldo's projection can be seen in the very choice of the centennial of the HISTORICALLY-INFIRM but so-called "independence day" as the climax of the whole effort, as "THE Centennial," for which all previous commemorations are to be treated as mere build-up activities. (For Kamalaysayan, the high point is the CENTENNIAL OF THE BIRTH OF THE NATION in the 1896 Revolution.)

          Couple this with the conspicuous downplaying of the centennial year of the Philippine Revolution of 1896, calling that year merely as the "Year of Heroes"; almost completely ignoring the first major military victory of that Revolution which is the Nag-Sabado event in Pasig and playing up centennials of executions and so-called defeats under Bonifacio and so-called first victory of the Revolution under Aguinaldo. Add the removal of Bonifacio from the second-most-prominent slot in Philippine money. Add many others.

          Philippines 2000 as the virtual theme of the "Philippine Centennial" can be gleaned from the high degree of priority for activities addressed to foreign audiences, including the International Conference on the Revolution and Rizal at the Manila Hotel in 1996 and the most important project of the climax year, the Philippine expo at Clark that would showcase the "world-class quality" of Philippine goods and services. It is not surprising, therefore that the launching of the so-called "Year of the Filipino Spirit" was lukewarm. The Filipino spirit could not be felt.

          These have been observations gradually accumulating, as we watched the work of the NCC, especially the glaring contrast between its enthusiasm for some projects and activities and its footdragging on others.

          We could be wrong. We would be glad to be proven wrong. The year 1997 as the Bonifacio Year proclaimed by the President last December still has about half the year left AFTER the hero's recent DEATH CENTENNIAL for the NCC to mount Bonifacio-oriented broad-based projects and activities beyond the inauguration of a high-impact shrine at the Manila City Hall. Habol! Habol!!!

          But if we are not wrong, even if personal friendships can still be had between NCC and Kamalaysayan leaders, the two organizations can be expected to have real conflicts of views. Wala namang personalan. Trabaho lang! Charge it to democratic space.

(Kamalaysayan Media Service)



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