Saturday, January 12, 2008

Uncovering Real Philippine History Details (A Short Book Summary/Review)

Since the elementary days, I have been fascinated by the stories on Philippines history. Grade Four days were spent in studying the geography and light Philippine history details. Grade Five was a step forward. Here we delved with the innumerable names of places, people, individual etc. We were then required to pass a project for every grading period: a diorama or a collection of images of the topics discussed.

Further events fostered my interest in the subject when we reached the sixth grade. Again, it was like the previous flow of discussion but there has been incorporated interpretation of the events. It was fun as I have gone as far as to involve myself to a quiz contest .Unfortunately for me at that time; I still had no easy access to the important literatures concerning the subject. One of my classmates was a daughter of a school principal who of course must have been able to provide the necessary materials for her daughter. The deserving winner, Dustin I think was his name, was of course well beyond our current knowledge on the subject. He won in the division level and went as far as the Bicol Region for the regional level competition.

But that did not bust my interest, merely fanned the fires within so to speak. Upon reaching high school, I was able to secure a spot in the provincial contest but later on discovered, to my utter dismay that I would land on the contest as an observer and alternate. But that was my first encounter with the Oblation, literally. I spent the day walking through the streets of UPLB, which was the venue for the contest and came across that one heck of a nude sculpture. Who knew that I was going to be with him officially four years after?

The next year, I joined in again, and this time as an official participant. I snatched a place in the individual category (heck, the round was mockingly easy!) but our group was not able to accumulate enough points to proceed to the next round. I did not join any Philippine history contests again and I had to wait for three more years before I was able to lay my hands on the books in the UPLB Library.

I was placed under a nice professor in history who was a Spanish Language student in FEU during his days. His style was more on the interpretation of the events and how a particular event affected the succeeding events or was affected by preceding events. The examinations, as far as I could remember, were mostly essay types, on interpretation still I think.

I finished that G.E. subject (with a very good grade) but that did not stop me from browsing through the books in the library. The next moment, I saw myself flipping through the pages of the notes and stuff written by Ninoy Aquino during his long exile which were secretly passed on to Cory when visiting.

Then there were those documents supporting the events recorded in most Philippine history books. There are I think more than 10 volumes and I just went to the expense of reading portions of the series. They’re huge I tell you.

And for no reasons at all, just before 2007 ended, my feet led me again to the Filipiana section and snatched a new-looking book amidst the deteriorating materials around. For the whole Christmas vacation I devoured it although it took me some time to finish through some of the sections because of the old Tagalog style of writings especially of Emilio Aguinaldo.

The book is entitled “Saloobin: Sagot ni Hen. Emilio Aguinaldo sa mga Paratang ng Dakilang Lumpo,” Anotasyon at Pagsaalin ni Emmanuel Franco Calairo, a surprising book on the statement of General and Former President of the Republic Emilio Aguinaldo against the accusations of the Gat Apolinario Mabini concerning the deaths of two of the towering figures of the Philippine Revolution namely: the execution of Supremo Andres Bonifacio and the assassination of the tactical general Antonio Luna.

I was personally in the belief that Aguinaldo was one heck of a traitor. Go to our library and you will see pictures of Aguinaldo vandalized with words such as “Traydor!” or with the more vulgar one such as “P_t_ng _na _o!” (I did not write on anything of those pictures despite my feelings for him.)

You get the idea. Standard history books has stated that Aguinaldo initially brought down a sentence of execution by death for the Supremo then to exile but later on “persuaded” by intimates to put it back again to death by execution. That was it. No more, no less.

But just as I was to live my life with a secret grudge for Aguinaldo, the book became an enlightenment (this of course, is basing on the premise that all of the contents of the said book are true). In the first half of the book, I got a picture of the persona of General Aguinaldo, mostly silent (as far as his statements went) and often times reduced to a ‘shocked’ man when surprises came his way. His attitude was more on the concern for others, which of course is expected during those tumultuous times. There are just numerous attributes of General Emilio that I was able to understand in reading the book but it would mean lengthy explanations which I am trying to avoid right now.

I would skip in discussing Apolinario Mabini. But it must be known through out the whole Philippine archipelago that our “Dakilang Lumpo” is one heck of a jealous man and inconsistent as to his very own statements. (Is it because of his handicap? We could only surmise…) This was communicated to us by the stories told to us by General Emilio himself and the accounts of Gregoria de Jesus on the meetings of the Supremo with him. These are separate events and we cannot claim that Aguinaldo and Bonifacio (through Gregoria) conspired to bring out these ‘tales’ if ever.

To put it in a few words, General Aguinaldo simply acted for the sake of the revolution as a whole. Bonifacio has become a liability and nuisance in the internal affairs of the revolutionaries and a conscientious leader would and must naturally act for the good of the majority. Although his feelings for the decision are quite the opposite, I personally saw the benefit of the execution but at the same time felt the sadness in which these internal problems have to end. Bludgeoning blood brothers is for me as shameful as selling your flesh in the streets.

But one cannot ignore the importance of Bonifacio in setting the necessary fire for the revolution. But history will tell us that he has not been successful in virtually all of his battles and thus become a liability and burden for the revolution.

Actually my grudge fell upon Antonio Luna. I’ll omit the title General just for brevity’s sake and not because of these ill feelings for him. He was a hot-headed (does that sound like me?) and a bit of a sadist with the people under his command. His one famous punishment for a group of people who did not obey his orders must have acted as the trigger to his assassination. And the accounts of Aguinaldo certainly tell us that he was not all connected in ordering Luna’s presence in that place in Cabanatuan, thereby setting the place for his death. I think when Aguinaldo said that forging documents was widespread during times of war he did not mean to clean his name but merely state the situations taking place at those times.

The book is in fact a collection of different accounts for different events and yet construct right before your eyes a string of cause and effect pointing towards the issue of the deaths of Bonifacio and Luna.

I would like to end this narrative with the subject of trust. The last segment on the accounts presented in the book talked of the arrest of Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela. Here we can vividly picture the talk, the invitation for refuge a seemingly natural scenario of the typical hospitality (although this term I think is debatable) of the Filipinos. Aguinaldo was still deceived up to almost half the duration of the arrest drama and here again we see the ‘shocked’ man at his best. The lesson? In times of peace or in times of war, there is this perpetual job to keep our trust to ourselves and only give them out IF and ONLY IF time, situation and reason deemed it okay to give them another person, however trustworthy that another person is. Humans will always be human, subject to corruption and demise.

Read the book, there is no reason not to enjoy it.


CHKO said...

This is one great account of history. I mean, this could be a testimonial that one can browse through in searching for chronicles. You have not failed to amaze me with you writings, Francis. You're one damn good artist, writer.

About the history contest, is the first one the one where we were still the contestants? Or I guess, I was just an observer. hehehe I never loved history. I used to sleep during my History 1 class at, imagine, 12-1pm!

me. said...

yup, it was the one where we were team mates...well as far as I can remember.

Anonymous said...

The Philippine revolution is an elite movement similar to that of the recent EDSA revolution. The Tagalog and Pampangos then, the corrupt politicians and the richest group of Filipino now. History repeats itself, unfortunately here in our land, it repeats itself more compared to other places.

Pransis said...

Thank you Sir for that note.

It's really rather disappointing to observe that those who have led changes in our society in the past are the ones who seem to play the role of the 'bad guys' now.

That's the bad side of revolutions, as one of my professors has said: they only seem to take the old role; the system is as corrupt as before.

What's sadder is that they have become an apathetic group which involves itself only with politics and money-making.

Anonymous said...

You know, we never had good leadership, perhaps with a few exceptions of extraordinary men like Magsaysay. From the beginning of the republic we already witnessed leadership malfunction, tragic disunity (Bonifacio & Luna murders), we saw the first republic crumble because the elite pulled the plug and decided to go with the americans, we saw federalistas begging the americans to make us americans, these selfish human beings are still with us todays,disguised as public servants. What we have here is a failure in leadership, not of the Filipino race.We have survived wars, epidemic, great earthquakes and massive typhoons, we are indeed a great nation. When I read people conclude that its the Filipino trait that keeps us down, I say no, its our leaders and how we have accepted how to be led that has put us were we are today.


Let's link up. Thanks bro.

Pransis said...

I'd agree to that Sir.

But what can you say about Claro M. Recto? I think he was a good leader.

Sure Sir! I'd put put you up on my blogroll.

I have read some entries on your blog and they're quite interesting! =)


Anonymous said...

Great that you brought up Recto, I'm a great admirer him.

Unfortunately, his legacy is being maligned by some historians because of two things; his preference of the Spanish language and hispanic culture and the Japanese occupation, where he was seen as a collaborator. Of course this are all BS.

There was this popular conspiracy theory then that when he was about to go to Spain to deliver his now famous speech (El español es nuestra cosa, propia, carne de nuestra carne y sangre de nuestra sangre...), that he was terminated by the Americans for the reason that he would incite nationalism against the Americans through the Filipino's hispanic past, he never reached his beloved Spain, he died in Rome (during this time there seems to be a group of Spanish politicians and generals wanting to regain the islands, Franco would express this intention during WWII).

Recto's Spanish poems are some of the greatest hispanic literary pieces, hope you could find time to read them also.

Pacencia na sa mahabang comento.