PNoy’s call for a re-writing of Philippine history: Will it change the future for Filipinos?

According to Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III, history taught in Philippine schools should consist only of “truthful information” and not “the web of lies spun by propagandists and revisionists.” This is what he makes the underlying principle in his latest project — to rewrite Filipino history books according to what he thinks actually transpired.

President BS Aquino was quite specific about what he thinks need to be “corrected”.

Among the revisionist information that he wants corrected are the following: that Martial Law resulted in less crimes, that Martial Law caused the number of communist rebels to dwindle, and that the country’s economy boomed during the Marcos regime.

Where BS obtained this information is not stated in the report. But regardless of how reliable his prescribed revisions are, that he is being as specific as he is in his order to correct the historical record is quite disturbing.

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Updating the historical record per se is not by itself a problematic proposition. There is nothing wrong with a politician organising an independent review of the information currently in history books used in the public education system. In this case, however, the nature of the revisions have been all but spelt out by the President; recommending that the historical account should be made to show,

(1) that crime was more rampant during Martial Law;

(2) that the communist insurgency worstened or remained unchanged in its badness during Martial Law; and,

(3) that the economy remained stunted over much of the Martial Law years.

Perhaps so. Then again, perhaps not. Will there be a process put in place to systematically determine whether it is the earlier or the latter? Or will the project be more about implementing what the President has already decided actually transpired during the Martial Law years?

This is an important question considering that whether or not the Martial Law years were actually that bad remains debatable to this day.

The key question to ask in considering this “debate” is quite simple:

Who said so?

That the Martial Law years were that bad is simply taken as gospel truth today — because, quite simply, to state otherwise is not done in polite company. To do so will attract ridicule, because an entire generation of Filipinos have been born — and practically baptised — into the notion that the Martial Law years were baaaadddddd. Consider how hundreds of generations of 14th- to 15th-Century Europeans so believed in their hearts that the world was flat that they’d be be unlikely to think twice about burning someone at the stake for stating otherwise. It took a systematic approach to teasing out the truth from a sea of data to change people’s minds. That systematic approach is called the scientific method.

Where is the science in what President BS Aquino is proposing with regard to the content of future Philippine history textbooks? There is none. As we now observe, he has already decided what should be written in Filipino history textbooks. Never mind that there is a lot of debate to be resolved and a lot of information to sift through. If President BS Aquino really wants the truth to emerge from the data, a scholarly environment needs to be created and not the political one he seems to favour for this exercise.

For so long, Filipinos have delegated the writing of their history and its interpretation and embedding into the collective consciousness to private enterprise — specifically to media giant ABS-CBN whose producers practically single-handedly engineered the whole Yellow Edsa-as-“revolution” and Laban (“Fight!”) rhetoric of the ruling Aquino-Cojuangco feudal clan.

But what a joy it must be for the rest of the melodramatic Aquino fans who love living in the past at the expense of the poor. Likewise, the oligarchs that benefit from a family member’s stay in Malacanang are basking in the glory coming from a guaranteed grip on the people’s minds for years and years to come. The Filipinos have indeed, given “people power” a new meaning after 25 years. The political opposition should never have underestimated the power of illogical people moving in large groups.

It has been said that the victors get to write history. It has also been said that propagandists get to use history to their advantage. Thanks to the lack of progress in the country, the victors of the so-called “revolution” have been reduced to resorting to propaganda in recent years. Since none of the perpetrators during the Marcos’ years have been put on trial or convicted anyway, the Aquino family and their cronies continue to use media outlets owned and operated by their own family and friends to continue demonizing the Marcos regime. By doing so, the Aquino family likewise continue to come across as martyrs. The victors – the Aquinos — are quite successful applying this approach towards keeping the majority of the population beholden to them even when democracy in the country is alive only in theory.

It is quite a mind-boggling exercise to ponder the question of why most Filipinos have such a screwed up memory of the events that unfolded after Edsa I. Four years after Marcos was ousted, Cory’s administration was highly criticized for its failure to deliver on the much-needed economic reforms and was plagued by allegations of corruption involving Cory’s wealthy and influential relatives – the same allegations they used to topple Marcos in the first place.

Was it the application of independently-sourced information, objective analysis, and critical evaluation that led Filipinos to the conclusion that the rhetoric of the Yellowist “Laban” mob is good and the militaristic regimented soberness of Martial Law nationalism is bad? Or was it all just an emotional high churned up using the same methods of persuasion employed by Nazis and jihadists on their largely frustrated and ignorant adherents that created these now popularly-held beliefs? Perhaps Maria Ressa was right when she extolled the virtues of keeping people “on a perpetual emotional high” in a speech she delivered to University of the Philippines students during the UP Los Baños campus leg of the “Social Media for Social Change” of “social news network”

It is a tried-and-tested persuasion technique:

Keep people emotionally-charged, and they are less likely to think.

Personally, I look back to the 1970s and remember a decade when “original Pinoy music” (OPM) was experiencing its golden years, when parents didn’t think twice about letting their kids out to play on their own unsupervised, when news — albeit allegedly controlled by the state — was reported in a dignified and sober manner, and when schools of little guppies swam in Manila’s storm canals. But were we “free”? Coming from my perspective, that suddenly sounds like such a silly question. Perhaps the abundance of choice 21st Century Filipinos enjoy today gives them that comfy illusion that they are a “free” people.

I’d think twice about whether “freedom” is really all that it is made out to be. It’s not as if being free and being able to elect their leaders necessarily made Filipinos a better people. That “social media” “activists” today are digitally-lynching the direct outcomes of the popular vote — people like Senator Tito Sotto and “Senator” Antonio Trillanes — and people who display their mugs on banners and tarps says a lot about the epic failure of imagination Filipinos have applied in the use of this so-called “freedom”.

So let’s go ahead and follow the lead of President BS Aquino — rewrite history and further propagate the debatable notion that it was all bad back then and all good today. Like elections, history is applied information science. You need an engine to apply intelligence in the conversion of data into good quality information. Until they learn to apply intelligence rather than drink the Kool-Aid served by their so-called “thought leaders” that gives them that much-hyped “perpetual emotional high,” Filipinos will continue to muddle along in that unique brand of mediocrity they have become renowned for.

33 Replies to “PNoy’s call for a re-writing of Philippine history: Will it change the future for Filipinos?”

  1. About the only gospel truth that I could live up to is this: no amount of progress will ever justify the oppression, incarceration, torture and death suffered by the victims of crackdowns during the era of Martial Law.

    What is not clear to many though is that:
    1. Martial Law was as much about political and economic infighting within the ruling oligarchy as it is against the “communists”.

    2. The communist party committed just as many horrendous atrocities and spewed as many lies and disappeared as many people as Marcos, perhaps even more, and in worse ways.

    3. The Philippines has not yet breached the near 9% GDP growths of 1973 and 1976, respectively. Fortunately it hasn’t yet breached the -7% GDP lows of 1984 and 1985.

    4. No amount of positive economic data will remove the fact that the Philippines relied on American industry after WW2 (hence the perception of “good days back then”) and has since failed to industrialize on our own — a prerequisite of any real, actual and permanent “graduation” to a developed country status.

    1. That’s just the point; the Martial Law years were murky and complicated. All history is, and can’t be explained away in the form of an emotional false dichotomy by one who is clearly incapable (for obvious and actually forgivable reasons) of taking a broad, objective view of it.

    2. In fact, BS Aquino specifically pointed to the period after the 1983 assassination of his father to highlight the supposed economic downturn and breakdown in peace-and-order which he then associates to the Marcos regime. Yet 1983-1986 is just three years out of the total 14 years encompassing 1972-1986. That plus the fact that 1983 saw the advent of the local cash/credit crunch that was precipitated by the assassination of Ninoy Aquino.

      Non sequitur.

      If Noynoy wants to prove the Marcos years were baaaaddddd, then he should make generalisations that hold consistently across the entire 19721-1986 period and factor out outlier events like the Ninoy assassination in order to make a more levelled assessment of how bad — or good — the effect of limited “freedom” truly was on Pinoy fortunes.

      1. On the other hand, people should not ignore the fact that much of the economic progress during 1972 – 1982 was marked by unabated borrowing to finance industrialization projects that did not materialize into sustainable revenue generating schemes.

        There was a good chance of turning things but even back in the Marcos days we were blowing those chances big-time.

        1. I’m not a PNoy nor a Marcos Loyalist but the problem here is not that it did not materialize but it was discontinued. Many of his great ideas where discontinued after people power. The bataan nuclear power plant is one, the K-12 style education and many more. We as a nation are Glory Hogs. So many good projects where scrapped bec he was the author of it. And also the idea of a Government owned basic necessities like water, electricity and gas is Good since they have total control of the price. Plus look what happens after the collar of the Martial Law happened. Many of the great parks and buildings back then where turned into the country’s notorious squatters area, filled with low lives, garbage and so much more. Ex Pasay river, Quiapo, and Morayta which was back then was clean of criminals posing as street beggars waiting for the right opportunity to victim some one. Yeah many human rights where violated back then but we were disciplined, maybe because of fear for our own lives. But look at what is happening now? people have no fear and even disregard to law.

    3. I think that the state if under attack by lawless forces, like crime, terrorism, idealogical groups that uses arms against the chosen and appointed government by the people, is plausible and acceptable to use force against these elements. It is but right, just and moral in many degrees that the state should protect its citizens and its institutions given the fact that it is one of its functions. To assert the alternative borders between neglect of duty and incompetence. The Marcoses, thus, seeing such complications decided to declare Martial Law.

      To say that force and firmness of resolve is never necessary or always unnecessary in order to enforce peace and order only says the ridiculous and the foolish. I believe that Without the use of force we will end up with no choice but to beg with bended knee to criminals and ask them to stop what they are doing. That is pathetically stupid 🙂

    4. “[The Philippines] has since failed to industrialize on our own — a prerequisite of any real, actual and permanent ‘graduation’ to a developed country status.”

      This statement reminded of a time back in college, back when there was a lot of hope for “Philippines 2000” and the planned gradual industrialisation of farming. I remember having a discussion with someone who was adamant that industrialising farming was bad for the farmers (because machines will ostensibly replace the poor farmers), and I was saying it will actually be good for the farmers (because it will turn virtually indentured slave laborers to knowledgeable agriculturists). I insisted that what the farmer really needs is not de-industrialisation but land reform, i.e. they need to own the land they farm.

      The irony here was that my father and my grandfather were farmers in Tarlac (where I’ve seen how having a tractor instead of a carabao made such a big difference in productivity and leisure time), and the other person was a member of the upper-middle class crying out for a continuous revolution.

      Thanks to bystanders, I did not win the argument. In the meantime, my cousins (all children of farmers) found ways to leave the Philippines to go abroad.

  2. There was a portion in our History Book, about the Battle of Manila Bay. Between the Spaniards, and the Americans. It took only a few minutes. The Spaniards raised the White Flag of Surrender. We were already sold by the Spaniard , to the Americans thru the “Treaty of Paris”. Roxas Blvd. was Dewey Blvd., to make alive the deception.
    If Aquino wants to revise History Books. There will be no shipment of arms by Ninoy Aquino to the NPA, thru the MV KARAGATAN. The Plaza Miranda bombing done by the NPA will not be there, with Ninoy Aquino hiding from the LP “Miting de Avance”…Hacienda Luisita massacre by the Aquinos will never be there. The Land Reform issue will be deleted. The way the Aquinos scammed the government to covet Hacienda Luisita will never be there. Perhaps, Benigno Aquino, Sr. the Chief Japanese KALIBAPI collaborator , will become a World War II hero. Instead, of being sentenced to death by Treason by the Philippine government. Then, fleeing to Tokyo, Japan during the World War II liberation. Aquino will feature his grandfather, as awarded with Medal of Honor. It stinks to high heaven, what he wanted…to twist true events in history.

      1. re-write history, abnoy nga, ok yun ha..i’m a martial baby myself born 1962. fyi, our house was near the UP oblation thats why i witnessed the start of the UP commune. JD busses burning, molotov bombs exploding. Then martial law. In my opinion the declaration was justified due to the events. It was peaceful and orderly afterwards. I don’t know if you would agree but, with the present goverment and if I had the power to decide. Better to declare martial law again. Just my opinion for a chaotic and self righteous administration.

  3. Imposing apparent state control, regulation and censorship on even Philippine History is setting a very bad precedent. The last time I heard the Bill of Rights is still existing. One man alone(through others)dictating how Philippine history should be re-written speaks for itself.

    What about the books of the writers of Philippine history? Should certain portions and even chapters be deleted in one man’s search for what is “real” truth? No! Freedom and Democracy cannot be used as an instrument of censorship of how Philippine history should be written.

    To allow such state interference would just validate the existence of tyranny. This proposal should be assailed in the highest court in the land. State control that violates the freedom of the pen to write history as seen through human events in favor of one man’s opinion should be attacked by all who love freedom and democracy!

  4. We all understand that there is process on how to go about revising, amending or correcting historical records of our documented past. And for purposes of sharing ideas this is my take on the issue.

    No question, rewriting history will affect, if not entirely change, what happened in the past, particularly in the martial law years. However, rewriting as espoused by P-Noy needs further elucidation for the risk of it being misinterpreted is great. His family is the political nemesis of the author of martial law, Ferdinand Marcos. His father was killed under suspicious circumstances under the watch of Marcos. Cory, his mother, run against Marcos, etc……….and the rest is history. In other words, P-Noy’s pronouncement about ‘correction’ of our history will have political underpinnings. And it would not be good for those people who will be selected or appointed to do the job of ironing out the kinks and truth in our not so distant past.

    By declaring that there are lies and mistakes in that part (martial law years) of our history, P-Noy practically pre-empted the people who will be in-charge to dissect and review the facts and records of the period wherein his family and the Marcoses have deadly and vicious encounters. If he continues to jump the gun on his thinking as to how to go about ‘correction’ people might suspect that he’s out to get even with the Marcoses which I’m sure, he himself, will deny. So, if I can talk to P-Noy, I’ll say, back off!

    I think, martial law in it’s initial stage brought something that was different from the prevailing status quo at the time. More or less, there was a period of relative stability after Marcos declared martial law. Political control and management and social order gave impetus to greater economic opportunity. That part, while fleeting, did happen and should not be declared lies nor erased from the history books. In fairness.

    1. Marcos, and the Martial Law are not the issues here. It is the deceptions of the Aquinos on the Filipino people. They sanitize their wicked and evil acts. They make themselves, as heroes. In truth, they are scammers and political opportunists. Now, they use Martial Law again, to divert attention from the multi-billion pesos Puno’s scam; and the ceding of Philippine territories, by Aquino and Trillanes to China. We are not naive people, dude…

    1. Aquino wants history to fit his delusion , that his family are fsmily of heroes. In truth, they are: traitors; scammers; and political opportunists…It’s like his chasing of PhDs in foreign universities…

  5. This proposal by Pnoy is quite similar to the historical revisionism of the past. As said by Captain Price “This is for the record. History is written by the victor. History is filled with liars. If he lives, and we die, his truth becomes written – and ours is lost. Shepherd will be a hero, ’cause all you need to change the world is one good lie and a river of blood. He’s about to complete the greatest trick a liar ever played on history. His truth will be the truth. But only if he lives, and we die.”

  6. Anybody who have read the book Marcos Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave would understand that martial law was nothing but Marcos’ cover-up to recover the Yamashita treasures. From day one, public service was never his real intention but to get his dirty hands on those precious stones and metals.

    Marcos represented everything that was evil and if I had the power to rewrite Philippine history, I would certainly delete him and the events of martial law, never to come back to haunt present and future generations of Filipinos.

    1. Delete him all you want. It doesn’t take away that he’s nothing more than the list of the old families who managed to prevail through post spanish colonialism and wrested power throughout the years through strong local political connections. The Cojuangco line has long been involved in Pinoy politics throughout a hundred years dating back to the early 1900’s. And they just make pacts with growing businesses and even foreign business owners who in time become ingrained as Filipino house hold names.

  7. This is what I feared. The moment the government, especially the current one, tinkers with education, a lot of truth may be compromised. Besides, if it wants to demonize the previous governments, it fails to realize that it is doing the same thing they did. Zaide and Agoncillo are considered revisionists now, despite their being “official” historians then.

    It makes me wonder, is there now an effort to suppress the truth? I’m worried that what happened to that Conjugal Dictatorship guy will happen to those critical of the current admin.

  8. “President BS Aquino was quite specific about what he thinks need to be “corrected”.
    Among the revisionist information that he wants corrected are the following:

    that Martial Law resulted in less crimes, that Martial Law caused the number of communist rebels to dwindle, and that the country’s economy boomed during the Marcos regime.

    Where BS obtained this information is not stated in the report. But regardless of how reliable his prescribed revisions are, that he is being as specific as he is in his order to correct the historical record is quite disturbing.”

    P-Noy got that revived info from :

    If such entries in Philippine history are to be corrected, might as well make the deaths of the Bonifacio brothers and Gen. Luna be injected in common textbook history.

  9. All in all, the aquinos were nothing but a mistake of Philippine history, a curse that the Filipino has to suffer and something that needs to be corrected.

  10. This is what I think:

    Perhaps Martial Law is truly bad at that time and Marcos might have technically done some things that are “unwritten” which remains as political questions, but I wonder what happened if it was not declared and the Communist took over instead, it should be beyond hell by now. Look at North Korea.

    We should also know that the Martial Law and the EDSA period are not the only revised in the Philippine history, they omitted or twisted several things since the beginning that might relate from one thing to other, like things from the Pre-hispanic period.

    Even the doctrinators are now indoctrinated.

    Still I know that there are several historians that know what is written in our textbooks are lies, but I wonder why there is no one who tells this.

  11. There’s a lot to be changed or added. The involvement of Philippines to sovereignty of South Korea to North Korea where many Filipino soldiers died defending South Korea from the North. This has to be taught in school. They are unsung heroes. Another is President Manuel L. Quezon being the Oskar Schindler of the Philippines. The time of NAZI, the only nation that opened door to many holocaust survivors was Philippines. Quezon welcome them and that is why Israel was among the first country to help the Philippines after Yolanda. Many scratch their heads when the Israeli humanitarian mission said “We are only returning the kindness that you did to us.” which left many Filipino people wondering “What did we do to them in the past that made them say something like that?” Nobody knew about this… maybe only a few..

    1. we were even among the first nation to recognize in 1948 the state of Israel to be a member of the United Nations. as for welcoming the Jews to seek refuge in our country, this was largely at the behest of the U.S. because the U.S. Congress passed a resolution denying to take them in as refugees……..

  12. “Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.” -1984, George Orwell

  13. Its funny but if you also read about PNoy’s mother’s supposed “Great and historical Democratic run” as the First Female President of the Philippines and you look closely, it wasn’t all that great or rosy either. You look at how she authored the renewed Constitution of 1987 with a more watchful eye and you certain see flaws in it and how some parts of it that make no sense now are lobbied through certain outside allies that helped Corazon Aquino.

    Hell this entire propaganda to pick and choose how Filipino history is perceived by its own citizens has been happening for years. Rizal is treated like a hero to many but so many people forget his aims. He wasn’t anti-Spaniard or anti-colonization. Hell he was very well traveled Pinoy. He had opponents as well from fellow Filipinos. He is the farthest thing that mainstream Pinoys think and perpetuate about the ideals they learned from school books about him.

  14. that is the one of the best that i have heared on pnoy.. the history of the philippines should really be re-written with nothing to hide. write the whole truth with nothing to fear but only god.

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