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Readings in Philippine History- GEC 108

Melinda Narisma-Casauay, MPA



Why study history? A student of Philippine History may ask this fundamental question for two reasons.
First is to determine a sense of direction or purpose and second is to justify the need to learn the subject
matter because any course of study needs justification.

The past aids an individual in understanding who he is. Collectively, the past helps a nation understand its
realities. In the 21st century, individuals are so much concerned about defining themselves on where they
are going instead of where they come from. They perceive the past to be irrelevant and outdated. They are
indifferent of the past as they are blinded with the rapid changes experienced in the modern society. They
put less value to the lessons of history and they underestimate its power in changing individual and
collective lives. In other words, they fail listening to what history has to say, thus, impeding their sound
understanding of the past which supposedly tells much about the problems in their present and future

In this context, knowing the meaning and relevance of history is essential and compelling in this
generation. The millennials need to believe that history matters. They need to understand that history has
its value and significance. Fundamentally, however they must show interest and willingness to learn
history as this is an essential requirement in the course. As David Crabtree remarked, “The past speaks in a
voice audible to those who want to hear and listen attentively.”

Learning Outcomes:
 Analyze the meaning and relevance of history in national development
 Appraise the process of historical inquiry as well as sources and discourses in the Philippines
 Evaluate primary sources for their credibility, authenticity and provenance

Readings and Sources:

Gottschalk, L. (1969). What are “History” and “Historical Sources”? in Understanding history: A primer of
historical method. New York: A.A. Knopf.

Gottschalk, L. (1969). Excerpts from “The problem of authenticity (external criticism) and the problem of
credibility (internal criticism) in understanding history: A primer of historical method. New York: A.A.

Schumacher, J. N. (1991). Excerpts from “The Historian’s Task in the Philippines” in The Making of a
Nation: Essays on Nineteenth-century Filipino Nationalism, Ateneo University Press, 7-15

What is history and how is it written? The word history means differently to various people including
among scholars and historians themselves. In all definitions however, everyone is one I saying that history
Readings in Philippine History- GEC 108
Melinda Narisma-Casauay, MPA

relies on evidence which is the backbone upon which history stands. History rest on the diligent research
and by careful inquiry, historians could reconstruct the past and write them down in some form, so that we
today can read their accounts, and at least know how these events appeared to men of the time (Barrows,
1905). Indeed, facts constitute the “heart” of every historical writing. They are collected from various
sources and carefully investigated and written by a historian. The scientific investigation of these facts
proves that history is not merely a collection of “dead” facts or data from events but an intellectually
rigorous activity for searching for truth about the past.

History deals with the study of past events. Individuals who write about history are called historians. They
seek to understand the present by examining what went before. They undertake arduous historical research
to come up with a meaningful and organized reconstruction of the past. But whose past are we talking
about? This is a basic question that a historian needs to answer because this sets the purpose and
framework of a historical account. Hence, a salient feature of historical writing is the facility to give
meaning and impart value to a particular group of people about their past. The practice of historical writing
is called historiography. Traditional method in doing historical research focuses on gathering of documents
from different libraries and archives to form a pool of evidence needed in making a descriptive or
analytical narrative. However, modern historical writing does not only include examination of documents
but also the use of research methods from related areas study such as archaeology and geography.

Learning Objectives:

By the end of this lesson, the student will be able to:

 Define history
 Differentiate history from historiography
 Restate the sources of history
 Analyze how historians write a history
 Recall some Filipino historians and their contributions to historiography

What are “History” and “Historical Sources”?

Louis Gottschalk

The Meaning of “History”

The English word history is derived from the Greek noun utopia, meaning learning. As used by the Greek
philosopher Aristotle, history meant a systematic account of a set of natural phenomena, whether or not
chronological ordering was a factor in the account; and that usage, though rare, still prevails in English in
the phrase natural history. By its most common definition, the word history now means “the past of
mankind. Compare to German word for history-Geschichte, which is derived from geschehen, meaning to
happen, Geschichte is that which has happened. The meaning of the word history is often encountered in
such overworked phrases as “all history teaches” or “the lessons of history”. It requires only a moment’s
reflection to recognize that in this sense history cannot be reconstructed. The past of mankind for the most
part is beyond recall. Even those who are blessed with the best memories cannot re-create their own past,
since in the life of all men there must be events, persons, words, thoughts, places, fancies that made no
impression at all at the time they occurred, or have since
Readings in Philippine History- GEC 108
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been forgotten.

Sources of History
Basic to historical research is utilization of sources. There are diverse sources of history
including documentary sources or documents, archaeological records, and oral and video
accounts. To date, most of our historical sources are documents. These refer to handwritten,
printed, drawn, designed, and other composed materials. These include books, newspapers,
magazines, journals, maps, architectural perspectives, paintings, advertisements, and
photographs. Colonial records such as government reports and legal documents form a
significant part of our collection of documents here and abroad, particularly in Spain and the
United States. In the 20th century and up to now, memoirs or personal accounts written by
important historical personages constitute another type of documents. Philippine presidents such
as Emilio Aguinaldo, Manuel Quezon, and Diosdado Macapagal wrote their memoirs to
highlight their roles as nation-builders.
On the other hand, archaeological records refer to preserved remains of human beings,
their activities, and the environment where they lived. In the Philippines, the most significant
excavated human remains include the Callao Man’s toe bone (dated 67 000 BCE) and the
Tabon Man’s

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skullcap (22 000 BCE). Aside from human remains, other archaeological records are generally
categorized as fossils and artifacts. Fossils are remains of animals, plants, and other organisms
from the distant past, while artifacts are remnants of material culture developed by human
beings. These include clothing, farm implements, jewelry, pottery and stone tools.
Oral and video accounts form the third kind of historical source. These are audio-visual
documentation of people, events, and places. These are usually recorded in video and audio
cassettes, and compact discs. Aside from scholars, media people also use oral and video accounts
as part of their news and public affairs work.

Doctrina Christiana, the first published work

Artifacts as Sources of History
Only where relics of human happenings can be found- a potsherd, a coin, a ruin, a manuscript, a
book, a portrait, a stamp, a piece of wreckage, a strand of hair, or other archeological or
anthropological remains- do we have objects other than words that the historian can study. These
objects, however, are never the happenings or the events themselves. If artifacts, they are the
results of events; if written documents, they may be the results of the records of the events.
Whether artifacts or documents, they are raw materials out of which history may be written.
Historical knowledge limited by incompleteness of the Records
Unfortunately, for most of the past we only have no further evidence of the human setting in
which to place surviving artifacts; we do not even have the artifacts. Most human happen
without leaving vestiges or records of any kind behind them. The past having happened, has
perished forever with only occasional traces. To begin with although the absolute number of
Readings in Philippine History- GEC 108
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historical writings is staggering, only a small part of what happened in the past was ever
observed. A moment’s reflection is sufficient to establish that fact. How much, for example, of
what you do, say, or think,is ever observed by anyone (including yourself)? Multiply your
unobserved actions, thoughts, words, and physiological processes by 2,000,000,000, and you got
rough estimate of the amount of unobserved happenings that go in the world all the time. And
only a part of what was observed in the past was remembered by those who observed it; only a
part of what remembered was recorded; only a part of what has survived has come to the
historian’s attention; only a part of what is credible has been grasped; and only a part of what has
been grasped can be expounded or narrated by the historian. The whole history of the past (what
has been called history-as-actuality) can be known to him only through the surviving record of it
(history-as-record), and most of history-as-record is only the surviving part of the recorded part
of the remembered part of the observed past of that whole. Even when the record of the past is
derived from archaeological or anthropological remains, they are yet only the scholar’s selected
parts of the discovered parts of the chance survivals from the total past.
Historical Method and Historiography Defined
The process of critically examining and analyzing the records and survivals of the past is here
called historical method. The imaginative reconstruction of the past from the data derived by that
process is called historiography (the writing of history). By means of historical method and
historiography (both of which are frequently grouped together simply as historical method) the
historian endeavors to reconstruct as much of the past of mankind as he can. Even in this limited
effort, however, the historian is handicapped. He rarely can tell the story even of a part of the
past “ as it actually occurred.” Although the great German historian Leopold von Ranke enjoined
him to do so, because in addition to the probable incompleteness of the records, he is faced with
the inadequacy of the human imagination and of human speech for such an ‘actual’ recreation.
But he can endeavor, to use a geometrician’s phrase, to approach the actual past “as a limit”. He
must be sure that his records really come from the past and are in fact what they seem to be and
that his imagination is directed toward re-creation and not creation. These limits distinguish
history from fiction, poetry, drama, and fantasy.
Imagination in Historiography
The historian is not permitted to imagine things that could not reasonably have happened. For
certain purposes that we shall later examine he may imagine things that have happened. But he is
frequently required to imagine things that must have happened. For the exercise of the
imagination in history it is impossible to lay down rules except very general ones. It is a platitude
that the historian who knows contemporary life best will understand past life best. Since the
human mentality has not changed noticeably in historic times, present generations can
understand past generations in terms of their own experience. Those historians can make the best
analogies and contrasts-that is- the widest range of experience, imagination, wisdom and
knowledge. And so historiography, the synthesizing of historical data narrative or expositions by
writing history books and articles or delivering history lectures, is not easily made the subject of
rules and regulations. Some must be left for native talent and inspiration, and perhaps that is a
good thing. But since precepts an examples may help, an effort will be made
The historian’s problem in choosing a subject and collecting information upon it sometimes
Readings in Philippine History- GEC 108
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dignified by the Greek name of heuristics (this will be discussed from the next readings). So, the
historian, however, has to use many materials that are not books where these are archaeological,
epigraphical or numismatical materials, he has to depend largely on museums. Where they are
official records, he may have to search for them in archives, court houses, governmental libraries
etc. where they are private papers not available in official collection he may have to hunt among
the papers of business, the muniment rooms of ancient castles, the prized possessions of
autograph collectors, the records of parish churches, etc. having some subject in mind, with more or
less definite delimitations of the persons, areas, times, and functions (i.e., the economic,
political, intellectual, diplomatic or other occupational aspects) involved, he looks for
materials that may have some bearing upon those persons in that area at that time functioning
in that fashion. These materials are his sources.
The Distinction between Primary and Other Original Sources
There are two general kinds of historical sources: primary and secondary. Primary Sources refer
to documents, physical objects, and oral/video accounts made by an individual or a group present
at the time and place being described. These materials provide facts from people who actually
witnessed the event. Secondary sources, on the other hand, are materials made by people long
after the events being described had taken place.
Most historical narratives today are so reliant on documentary sources due to the plethora
of written records and the lack of archaeological records and oral/video memoirs. Although
having several documents about an event allows for easier counterchecking of facts history
researchers are confronted with one basic challenge with regard primary sources- their ability to
read and understand texts in foreign languages.

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Primary sources
Example: Anne Frank was a teenager during World
War II.She kept a diary or journal the years
before she died in a concentration camp.
H er diary was later published as the “Diary of Anne
Frank”. This is a primary source.

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Example: Sarah
Morgan was young woman during the Civil War. She wrote in her diary or journal what
happened to her and her family during the war. This is a primary document because it
was first hand. She wrote it at the time it happened. Sarah Morgan Dawson: A
Confederate Girl's Diary

✣ Autobiographies
is when you
write a story
or book about
Nelson Mandela wrote his autobiography about events in his life
called “Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson
Mandela. This is a primary document because he wrote his first
hand experiences.

Sound Recordings and interviews are considered

primary resources.
⨳ E x a m
the Great Depression and World War II, television
had not been invented yet.Those radio addresses are
considered “primary sources.”
⨳ Example 2:
During the 2008 election
Obama, had
many interviews
that were
televised. hose
interviews are considered primary sources.

Secondary sources are written "after the fact" - that is, at a

later date.
Usually the author of a secondary source will have studied
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the primary sources of an historical period or event and will then interpret
the "evidence" found in these sources.
You can think of secondary sources as second-hand

Secondary Source think about it like this. If I tell you something, I am the primary source. If you
tell someone else what I told you, you are the secondary source. Secondary source materials can
be articles in newspapers, magazines, books or articles found that evaluate or criticize someone
else's original research

Diplomatic Sources is a kind of sources that professional historians once treated as purest,
“best” source. A legal document is usually sealed or authenticated to provide evidence that a legal
transaction has been completed and can be used as evidence in judicial proceedings in case of

Social Documents these are information pertaining to economic, social, political or judicial
significance. They are records kept by bureaucracies. Examples such as government reports,
municipal accounts, property registers and records of census.

Many of our untapped archival documents here and abroad are written in Spanish. A
good knowledge of Spanish is a huge advantage. But this skill is unusual among today’s
historians who prefer to read translations of Spanish texts such as the 55-volume. The Philippine
Islands, 1493- 1898 (1903-1909) edited by Emma Blair and James Robertson, which is the most
cited collection of primary sources about the Philippines before the advent of the American
colonial regime. The collection includes translations of portions of 16 th- century chronicles such
as Antonio Pigafetta’s Primo Viaggio intorno al mundo (1524), Miguel Loarca’s Relacion de las
Yslas Filipinas (1582), and Juan de Plasencia’s Relacion de las Islas Pilipinas (1592).
Filipino historians, such as the father-daughter tandem of Gregorio Zaide and Sonio
Zaide, have also compiled and translated colonial documents. They published the 10- volume
Documentary Sources of Philippine History (1994).
Aside from reading the Spanish originals documents or translated words, another
daunting task for Filipino historians is to discern the cultural context and historical value of
primary sources because most of these primary documents were written by colonialists and
reflected Western cultural frames. For examples, derogatory terms used to Label Filipinos such
as “pagan,” “uncivilized,” “wild,” and “savage” abound in these colonial documents. Uncovering
myths and misconceptions about Filipino cultural identity propagated by the Spanish and
American colonizers is extra challenging for contemporary Filipino scholars.
If the key function of primary source documents is to give facts, secondary source

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documents, on the other hand, provide valuable interpretations of historical events. The works of
eminent historians such as Teodoro Agoncillo and Renato Constantino are good examples of
secondary sources. In his interpretation of the Philippine Revolution, Agoncillo divided the
revolution into two phases: the first phase covers the years from the start of the revolution in
August 1896 to the flight of Emilio Aguinaldo and company to Hong Kong as a result of the Pact
of Biak-na-Bato, while the second phase spans from Aguinaldo’s return to Manila from Hong
Kong until his surrender to the Americans in March 1901.
However, Constantino refuted Agoncillo’s leader-centric scheme of dividing the
revolution into two phases by stressing that Agoncillo’s viewpoint implied that the revolution
came to a halt when Aguinaldo left the country. Constantino disputed the soundness of
Agoncillo’s two-phase scheme by asserting that the war of independence continued even without
Aguinaldo’s presence in the country.
Aside from the issue on Philippine Revolution, there are other contending issues in
Philippine history such as the venue of the first Christian mass in the country and the question of
who deserves to be named national hero. By and large, interpretations serve as tools of
discernment for readers of historical sources, but they should be cautious of frames of analysis
used for biased, discriminatory, and self-serving ends.
Historical Criticism
Many documents have primary and secondary segments. For instance, examining a
newspaper as a historical source entails a discerning mind to identify its primary and secondary

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components. A news item written by a witness of an event is considered as a primary source,

while a feature article is usually considered as a secondary material. Similarly, a book published
a long time ago does not necessarily render it as a primary source. It requires a meticulous
reading of the document to know its origin.
To ascertain the authenticity and reliability of primary sources to be used in crafting a
narrative, a historian needs to employ two levels of historical criticism, namely, external
criticism and internal criticism. External criticism answers concern and questions pertinent to
the authenticity of a historical source by identifying that composed the historical material,
locating when and where the historical material was produced, and establishing the material’s
evidential value.
The following elements for external criticisms are:
a. The problem of authenticity
b. To spot fabricated, forged, faked documents
c. To distinguish a hoax or misrepresentation
Tests of Authenticity
1. Determine the date of the document to see whether
they are anachronistic (a chronological misplacing of
persons, events, or customs in regard to each other)
e.g. pencils did not exist before the 16th Century
2. Determine the author
e.g. handwriting, signature, seal
3. Anachronistic style
e.g. idiom, ortography, punctuation (Louis Gottschalk, Understanding History)

Internal criticism, on the other hand, deals with the credibility and reliability of the
content of a given historical source. This kind of criticism focuses on understanding the
substance and message that the historical materials wants to convey by examining how the
author frame the intent and meaning of a composed material.
The following elements for internal criticisms are:
a. The Problem of Credibility
b. Relevant particulars in the document – is it credible?
c. Verisimilar – as close as what really happened from a critical examination of best
available sources
Tests of Credibility
1. Identification of the author
e.g. to determine his reliability; mental processes,
personal attitudes
2. Determination of the approximate date
e.g. handwriting, signature, seal
3. Ability to tell the truth
e.g. nearness to the event, competence of witness, degree of attention

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Locating Primary Sources

There are substantial primary sources about the Philippines here and abroad. In the
country, government institutions such as the National Library and the National Archives are
major repositories of documentary sources.
The National Library has complete microfilm copies of the Philippine Revolutionary
Records (1896-1901), a compilation of captured documents of Emilio Aguinaldo’s revolutionary
government, and Historical Data Papers (1952-1953), a collection of “history and cultural life”
of all towns in the country spearheaded by public school teachers during President Elpidio
Quirino’s term. The Manuscript’s Section of the National Library’s Filipiniana Division contains
the presidential papers of different administrations from Manuel Quezon to Joseph Ejercito.
Search aids such as the “Checklist of Rare Filipiniana Serials (1811-1914),” “Filipiniana Serials
in Microfilm,” and several registers of Philippine presidential papers are provided for faster and
easier way to look for historical materials.
The National Archives, on the other hand, holds a substantial collection of catalogued and
uncatalogued Spanish documents about the Philippines composed from 1552 to 1900. These
consist of 432 document categories such as Administration Central de Rentas y Propiedades
(Central Administration of Rentals and Properties), Administration de Hacienda Publica
(Administration of Public Finance), Aduana de Manila (Customs Office of Manila), Almacenes
Generales (General Stores), Asuntos Criminales (Criminal matters), Ayuntamiento de Manila
(Town Council of Manila), Colera (Cholera), Padron General de Chinos (General register of
Chinese), and Presos (Prisoners). For local historians, valuable materials from the National
Archives include Cabezas de Barangay (Heads of Barangay), Ereccion de los Pueblos
(Establishment of Towns), Guia Oficial (Official Guide), and Memorias (Official Reports of
Provincial Governors), Aside from Spanish sources, the National Archives is also the repository
of 20th-century documents such as civil records, notarial documents, and Japanese wartime crime

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records. There are also some sources written in Tagalog such as the documents pertinent to
Apolinario de la Cruz, the leader of the Coonfradia de San Jose in the 19th century.
Academic institutions such as the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Ateneo de
Manila University in Quezon City, University of Santos Tomas in Manila, Silliman University in
Dumaguete City, and University of San Carlos in Cebu City have also substantial library and
archival holdings. The Media Services Section of the UP Main Library has microfilm copies of
Philippine Radical Papers, a compilation of documents relevant to the Partido Komunista ng
Pilipinas (PKP) and its allied organizations as well a People’s Court Proceedings, a collection of
court proceedings against Filipino leaders who corporate with the Japanese during their short-
lived occupation. The Ateneo de Manila’s Rizal Library houses the American Historical
Collection that consists of vital documents relevant to the American experience such as the
Reports of the Philippine Commission (1901-1909), Annual Reports of the Governors-General of
the Philippine Islands (1916-1935), and records of the Philippine legislature from 1907 to 1934.
Privately owned museums and archives, such as the Ayala Museum in Makati and Lopez
Museum in Pasig City, have also considerable historical resources. Religious congregations such
as the Augustinians, Dominicans, Jesuits, and Recollects also have extensive archival holdings
that remain untapped.
Outside the Philippines, there are several documents about the country found in Spain
and the United States. The bulk of Spanish documents are found at the Archivo General de
Indias in Sevilla, Spain. Important American sources are available at the Manuscript Division of
the United States Library of Congress, Harvard University’s Houghton Library, United States
National Archives, and the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library.
In this age of Internet, there are open access online archives on Filipino history and
culture, such as the extensive digital Filipiniana collection of the University of Michigan, which
consists of manuscripts and photographs of the early part of 20th century Philippines. Another
rich online source of primary documents is the University of Illinois at Chicago Field Museum. It
houses the extensive photographic collection of Dean Worcester, the secretary of Interior of the
American colonial government in the country from 1901 to 1913.
Colonial Historiography
Philippine historiography has changed significantly since the 20th century. For a long
time, Spanish colonizers presented our history in two parts: a period of darkness or backwardness
before they arrived and a consequent period of advancement or enlightenment when they came.
Spanish chroniclers wrote a lot about the Philippines but their historical accounts emphasized
the primacy of colonization to liberate Filipinos from their backward “barbaric” life ways In the
same manner, American colonial writers also shared the same worldview of their predecessors
by rationalizing their colonization of Filipinos as a way to teach the natives of the “civilized
lifestyle” which they said the Spaniards forgot to impart including personal hygiene and public
administration. Colonial narratives have portrayed Filipinos as a people bereft of an advanced
culture and a respectable history. This perception challenged Filipino intellectuals beginning in
the 1800s to rectify such cultural bias or prejudice. In 1890, Jose Rizal came out with an
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of Antonio de Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (Events in the Philippine Islands), a book
originally published in 1609. He used de Morga’s book, a rare Spanish publication that positively
viewed precolonial Filipino culture, as a retort to the arrogant Spaniards. However, cultural bias
against Filipino culture continued even after Rizal’s death and the end of Spanish colonialism.

Jose Rizal Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas

Learning from the fate of its colonial predecessor, the United States did not only use
brute force but also affected ingenious ways of pacification such as the use of education as a tool
to control their subjects and increase political and economic power of the elite few. These
colonial instruments were so ingrained among Filipinos that they perceived their colonial past in
two ways: initially maltreated by “wicked Spain” but later rescued by “benevolent America.”
This kind of historical consciousness has effectively erased from the memories of Filipino
generations the bloody Philippine-American War as exemplified by the Balangiga Massacre in
Eastern Samar and the Battle of Bud Bagsak in Sulu. Consequently, such perception breathes
new life to the two-part view of history: a period of darkness before the advent of the United
States and an era of enlightenment during the American colonial administration. This view has
resonated with Filipino scholars even after the Americans granted our independence in 1946.
Philippine Historiography after World War II
The stark reality of Filipino historians thinking like their colonial counterpart’s during the
postcolonial period troubled a small group of professors and cultural workers who were mostly
alumni of the University of the Philippines. This spurred the emergence of Filipino scholars who
challenged the narrow view of colonial narratives and developed historical writing from the
viewpoint of a nationalist agenda.
In the 1950s, Teodoro Agoncillo pioneered nationalist historiography in the country by
highlighting the role of the Filipino reformists and revolutionaries from 1872, the year that saw
the execution of the Gomburza priests, to the end of the Philippine Revolution as the focal point
of the country’s nation-building narrative. Two of his most celebrated books focus on the impact

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of the Philippine Revolution: The Revolt of the Masses:

The story of Bonifacio and the Katipunan (1956) and
Malolos: The Crisis of the Republic (1960). His writings
veered away from emphasizing Spanish colonial period
and regarded events before 1872 as part of the country’s
“lost history.” This discourse of “lost history” was not
accepted by another known scholar, Renato Constantino,
whose published work entitled “The Miseducation of the
Filipino” became a staple reading for academics and
Teodoro Agoncillo
activists beginning in the late1960s. Constantino
advanced the idea of a “people’s history” – a study of the past
that sought to
analyze society by searching out people’s voices from colonial
historical materials that typically rendered Filipinos as decadent, inept
and vile. Following this mode of historical inquiry, he authored The
Philippines: A Past Revisited (1975), a college textbook that offered a
more critical reading of Philippine history compared to Agoncillo’s
Renato Constantino
History of the Filipino People (1973). Undoubtedly, these two
nationalist scholars inspired or challenged other historians to
reevaluate the country’s national history.
Three other Filipino historians set new directions in redefining Philippine historiography
in the last 30 years of the 20 th century. The first of these scholars is Zeus Salazar who
conceptualized “Pantayong Pananaw” as an approach to understanding the past from our own
cultural frame and language. He emphasized the value of our Austronesian roots to defining
Filipino culture and encouraged other scholars to conduct outstanding historical researches in
Filipino such as the work of Jaime Veneracion’s Kasaysayan
ng Bulacan (1986).

Zeus Salazar
Reynaldo Ileto

Equally important is the contribution of Reynaldo Ileto who

wrote about his “history from below” treatise in his ground-
breaking work, Pasyon and Revolution: Popular Movements in
the Philippines, 1840-1910 (1979). In this work, Ileto
endeavored to recognize the way of thinking of ordinary folks by
using alternative historical sources such as folk songs and prayers.
His other works spurred new interpretations of common topics such
as Jose Rizal, Philippine-American War, and American colonization.
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There is Samuel Tan, another prolific historian who is remembered for mainstreaming the
role and relevance of Filipino Muslims in the country’s national history. His definitive work, The
Filipino Muslim Armed Struggle, 1900-1972 (1978), sougth to examine the struggle of Filipino
Muslims in the context of 20th –century nation-building dynamics during the American colonial
regime and subsequent postcolonial Filipino administrations. In
his book, A History of the Philippines (1987), Tan tempted to
write a national history reflective of the historical experiences
not only of lowland Christianized Filipinos but also of the other
different cultural communities in the archipelago.
Since the latter part of the 20th century, there have been
considerable changes in the way historians compose our
national history. However, contemporary Philippine
historiography still continues to be characterized by the
dominance of political narratives, colonial histories, elite-
centric perspective, and patriarchal orientation as well as
emphasis on lowland Christianized Filipinos. Samuel Tan

Political Narratives
Most of our national histories today favor narratives that deal with the political aspects of
nation-building such as the legacies of political leaders and establishment of different
government. Questions such as the following are focal points in these narratives. Who was the
first Spanish governor-general vital in implementing the encomienda policy? Who was the
governor-general responsible for the massive employment of Filipinos in the American colonial
bureaucracy? Who served as the last president of the Philippine Commonwealth and the
inaugural chief executive of the Third Republic? Who was the Philippine president responsible
for the declaration of martial law? The challenge for present-day historians is to present a more
holistic history that goes beyond politics by means of integrating other aspects of nation-building
such as its economic and cultural aspects.
Colonial Histories in Historical Narratives
Another weakness of most national histories is the importance given to colonial histories.
This continues to breed Filipinos who are more familiar with stories about our colonial history
rather than stories of our precolonial past. Up to now, some social studies textbooks misrepresent
ancient Filipinos as savages or barbarians by portraying colonizers, especially the Spaniards and
American, as liberators of the Filipinos from cultural backwardness. The key to uncover such
cultural prejudices is to examine available historical sources and to write about our past by
understanding the myths and misconceptions that characterized the Filipino culture for centuries.
Elite-centric Perspective in Historical Narratives
Some historical narratives focus on the contributions of the elite in nation-building such
as what the Illustrados (educated Filipinos) fought for in the 19th century or how the local
politicians negotiated with their American counterparts to obtain an independence law during the

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Readings in Philippine History- GEC 108
Melinda Narisma-Casauay, MPA

first half of

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Readings in Philippine History- GEC 108
Melinda Narisma-Casauay, MPA

the 20th century. Though eminent historians such as Constantino and Ileto reiterated the
importance of a “people’s history” and “history from below,” respectively, so much has to be
done in terms of writing about the roles played by ordinary people in our history.
Patriarchal Orientation in Historical Narratives
Most of the country’s historical narratives highlight the heroism of men in different ways:
leading revolts and liberation wars against colonizers, championing the cause of independence,
and spearheading political and economic development. Women, on the other hand, are viewed by
several historians as merely support to men. Let us take for example the women leaders such as
Gabriela Silang, Tandang Sora, and Corazon Aquino. Silang assumed the leadership of the Ilocos
revolt after her husband was murdered in May 1763. Tandang Sora’s decision to offer her barn
and farm to revolutionaries in August 1896 was linked to her son’s involvement in the
Katipunan. Aquino rose to prominence as a martyr’s widow who led a movement to depose a
dictatorship in February 1986. These representations show women’s roles as consequences of
their connection to the men in their lives. With this bias in mind, it is imperative for
contemporary historians to use gender-sensitive approaches in understanding history to avoid
typecasting women as dependent, emotional, less important, passive, submissive, and weak.
Emphasis on Lowland Christianized Filipinos
National histories tend to show partially toward lowland Christianized Filipinos at the
expense of other cultural communities such as Muslim Filipinos and other indigenous peoples
such as the Manobos of Mindanao, Ibalois of Cordillera, and Mangyans of Mindoro. Celebrated
figures of our past are all lowlander Christians and predominantly Tagalogs including Jose Rizal,
the leading propagandist; Andres Bonifacio, the Katipunan founder; Emilio Aguinaldo, the
revolutionary leader who declared independence; and Manuel Quezon, the first president of the
Philippine Commonwealth. Non-Christians and highlanders remain unrecognized in historical
narratives. Muslim Filipinos, in particular, have been subjected to negative characterization by
lowland Christians in published works such as history books. This is caused by the culture of
mistrust that developed between Christians and Muslims during the colonial periods. Muslim
Filipinos are depicted as brutal, cruel, ferocious, and vicious as exemplified by their attacks of
Christian towns. This narrow-minded view has to be reevaluated in order to correct
misrepresentations of Muslim Filipinos in this age of political correctness and cultural
Because of the need to reassess our national histories, many local stories- narratives about
origins and development of a barangay, town, city, province, or an ethnolinguistic community –
have been written in the last three decades. The writing of these stories broadens the scope of our
national history reflective of the roles played by the country’s cultural communities in nation –
Source: Gonzalez, M C, Madrigal, C., San Juan, DM, Ramos, DJ (2014). Chronicles in a
changing world: Witnesses to the history of the Filipino people. Santillan, NM (Chapter): Diwa
Learning Systems Inc: Innovation in Education, Makati.

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Readings in Philippine History- GEC 108
Melinda Narisma-Casauay, MPA

Learning Activity: Essay

Instructions: Kindly answer the questions directly and concisely. You give your own personal
definition and insights on the question below. Please be honest in answering. I know if you copy
from website etc. Again, your course guide is your basis in answering. Enjoy reading. (encoded
please whether at MS Word or Documents.
1. What is history? How is it different from historiography? 10 pts.
2. What are the sources of history? Enumerate them. 10 pts
3. How do historians write history?10 pts.
4. Who are some of the notable Filipino historians? What are their
contributions to Philippine historiography?10 pts.

Completeness- all questions are answered

Quality- Answer for each question is well explained with elaborations and/or example.
Miscellaneous- the worksheet is erasure-free and cleanly accomplished. No grammatical lapses are

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