Is there a right or wrong point of view of history?


lens12772021_1281962174truthFact is, one will be hard-pressed to find a totally objective account of history. Though ultimately historians either avoid bias to the greatest extent possible or purposefully show it, individual accounts will never truly be free of it. Ultimately each individual’s account passes through a filter which is composed of his/her philosophies, belief systems, experiences, and aspirations.

It is also unavoidable that no two people will have the exact same view or outlook on an historical event. Again, this is due to the phenomenon I described above: filtering through one’s own philosophies, belief systems, experiences, and aspirations.

Ultimately, it is also inevitable that the “winners” – those who emerge dominant in their respective societies or areas of influence – get to write history in a manner that suits each one of them best. Each “winner” would like to paint itself as a saint and/or a bastion of goodness and virtue, not only because it believes that such is true, but quite simply because each one of them has to. If it boils down to having to use propaganda, those who do so can use history to their advantage. And they often do.

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What happens when people start seeing through the propaganda?

People start forming counter-assertions, and debate ensues. This needs to be accompanied by a systematic approach to determining which assertion is the one that objectively holds more water. However, all sides have to be open to the possibility that their point of view may not at all be entirely correct, or complete. If even just one side is utterly and inflexibly convinced of its correctness and righteousness, the process of systematically teasing out the truth becomes excruciating and cumbersome.

The last sentence in the paragraph above describes a situation all too common in the Philippines. And in recent times, the Aquino-Cojuangco clan is often involved in it. The state of affairs here in the Philippines has shown that the mystique of EDSA, People Power, and the veneer of saintliness of the Aquino-Cojuangcos have been fading away. Whereas before very few were willing to question the infallibility of these people and events, the portion of the population that has grown dissatisfied and disillusioned with them has grown larger. And Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino’s performance as the current president of the Philippines is contributing to this growing dissatisfaction and disillusionment. Much like his mother’s performance as president did.

I think it is also worthwhile to mention two things here:

1)BS Aquino had attempted to call for a re-writing of Philippine history by getting books to mention that the Martial Law years were categorically bad, and;

2)Recently, ABS-CBN put up a post on their Facebook website, “Cory Aquino. Democracy Icon. How do you #RememberCoryAquino?”, which was inundated with negative responses from commentators who no longer believe so.

The underlying point that can be easily overlooked here is that ultimately there is more than one valid point of view. In order to form a recounting of historical events that is as objective as possible, one has to draw from different sources. And when information from these different sources is cross-referenced and validated against each other, it is only then that the real account comes out.

That being said, I find it very disturbing if people suddenly come up and say that only they have the sole authoritative/definitive viewpoint. I also find it very disconcerting that there are people who have the gall to make summary and premature judgments on other people’s views instead of accepting them at face value.

One thing that is often overlooked is that one can respect other people’s viewpoints while subjecting them to scrutiny. It takes a logical and critical mind, and a systematic process for testing assertions to do so. That process is called the scientific method.

Accompanying Filipino society’s ambivalence towards the truth – things are often sugarcoated here but people chase after accountability for past events like rabid dogs – is that Filipinos consistently fail to answer a simple question:

What happens next once the truth has been determined?

The ideal is that the events of the past should serve as a guide for the present and tools to help shape the future. Naturally, societies want to learn from their past mistakes so that those will not be repeated. They also want to know what worked before that they can consistently apply to their situations. They also want to know what changes should be expected when they look at their future.

I once came across a Russian proverb: “Dwell on the past, and you lose one eye. Forget the past, and you lose both eyes.” Well, Filipino society has been described by some people as “the blind leading the blind”.

Now we all know why.

[Photo courtesy Wicked Minds]

43 Replies to “Is there a right or wrong point of view of history?”

  1. You know, on Da Prez’s order to “rewrite history books…” I don’t know where he’s coming from, because to my knowledge, it is being taught that Martial Law days down to the late Marcos years were pretty bad. That was being taught in Ateneo in my college, although going back, my grade school years were under those last Marcos years. I don’t know what they teach today. Most of the talk that Marcos days were better are mostly opinions by some older people. My mom, one of them.

    1. Ang matatanda ay nakita nila na pagkatapos ng martial law at naupo si Cory at ngayon nga Noynoy ay lalong sumama ang lagay ng Pilipinas.

        1. Only Aquino apologists like you would say that. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

          State reasons why MEDIOCRITY means a better life…

          Of course I will get is crickets. 😀

      1. That’s it, exactly. The president may be barking up the wrong tree, when it’s not the books that are the problem but the kwentong-matanda. Although the matandas can have differing opinions.

  2. When I was in high school before cable TV, we were at the mercy of the educational system that taught revisionist history using books approved by the government. Add to that, the personal opinions by instructors, and things can get skewed quite a bit. We really only knew what they wanted us to know.

    As an adult, I became fascinated with the History Channel, Learning Channel, Discovery and others. Not being controlled by the government, they were free to (hopefully) provide an honest record of history.

    The moral of the story is do not take the history lessons learned in schools using approved textbooks as gospel. You need to educate yourself, hopefully NOT with Wikipedia.

    For example, how many Pinoy actually know about the Philippine-American War and the tactics used by the US Army against Filipinos?

    1. Agree. Kaya nga mas marami nakakakita ngayon na Pilipino kung bakit bagsak ang bansa noong panahon ni Marcos at Gloria.

      1. At mas madami din nakakakita na pinabagsak ni PNut ang bansa kumpara kina Gloria. Ngunit ayaw ninyo makinig sa mga kritisismo. Tsk tsk.

    2. It depends on the school too. We learned about the Philippine-American War and the brutalities by the US Army in Ateneo’s history lessons. I think that’s where I watched “Sakay” starring Julio Diaz.

  3. The Victor writes the History, for his own account.
    History is sometimes twisted to make heroes of people, who are not heroes…

    1. That is what happened during Marcos era, dapat mukha nya daw nasa 500. But after Marcos era, it changed. Ang dalawang bayani na natin ang nakalagay

      1. And then the Philippines began its downward spiral AFTER Marcos left.

        And he’s talking about the Aquinos, TROLL. 😛

      2. Heroes my ass. The two frauds on the 500 peso bill are just like kim il sung and kim jong il…shut up they are dummkopf!

      1. When considering history, we shouldn’t be bothered by versions of events that conflict with one another. It’s the historian’s obligation to explore the viewpoints of both the common everyday man-on-the-street as well as “elite” actors regardless of how appealing or unattractive those perspectives may be. This is done, not in an attempt to parcel out sympathy in proper proportions, but to show, in a faithful account of the past, the interconnected-ness of the rulers and ruled, and of all strata of society, and how one group’s experiences influence another’s.

        It is essential to be objective in assessing historical accounts and base one’s analysis on empirical evidence. That means taking into account all the factors that may have influenced the events — causation, society, motivation, cultural significance, or personal experience.

        The one thing that historians MUST resist is the notion that one can formulate an honest historical account based on political opinion and partisan loyalties. That ends up becoming a screed that confuses historical fact with personal agenda.

        1. I think history could also be changed to unify our nation. Mas maganda kung nakikita ng mga inaapi noong martial law ang ginawa sa kanila at paano nila nakamit ang hustisya.

        2. When your beloved president and his clan stop blaming past presidents and start doing something about the problems they are facing today, come back and perhaps we can talk, ha?

          And by the way, pretending your critics don’t exist, and wearing a symbol that represents only your clan, are not ways to unify the nation.

        3. Well, you keep on blaming the past and because of that, we have no vision of a future to look forward to.

          You always focus your EMO on Marcos who apparently shattered the country. Well if Marcos wasn’t around, who would build the nationally funded structures then still heavily used by the country now? After him Cory nor others didn’t even give a lick about national infrastructure or foreign investments. You overrate his atrocities yet many claimed before finding out the truth about him that his time was actually a time where society was disciplined. Two sides of the same coin. People demonize Marcos but take away what he did for the country. People uplift the humanly nice Cory and the Aquinos as demi-gods of the country when just as much corruption happened in her time as much as Marcos did, to go with inefficient decision making as a leader to boot.

          Or should I remind you about the Mendiola Massacre? 😛

        4. And once again the pile of ordure calling itself “bida kapamilya” proves my point by being the perfect example of WHAT NOT TO DO.

          “Mas maganda kung nakikita ng mga inaapi noong martial law ang ginawa sa kanila at paano nila nakamit ang hustisya.” This is exactly the kind of sermonizing that the yellow mob uses to replace objectivity with personal bias. There is no “right” or “wrong” here; no empirical data. Just a mingling of political agenda with a sprinkling of historical factoids masquerading as dogma. Like all fascist states and totalitarian regimes that came before it, the Aquino administration and its propagandists use “history” as a tool to shore up the power of the Aquinos and the Cojuancos and stifle frank dissent.

      1. FallenAngel,

        You’ve touched on the approach in your question. The key is “objectivity.” Historical accounts and their analysis shouldn’t be coloured by personal or political agendas.

        It is fortunate that those who lived through the latter half of the 20th century have the benefit of telecommunications media and audio-visual records of significant historical events that shaped not only the Philippines but also the world. These are documentary evidence unblemished by personal biases that could make their way into personal accounts of the same events such as journals or diaries. The way history used to be handed down through the millennia. The empirical records are easily verifiable.

        The second part of historical analysis — the interpretation — is where conflict usually arises. Different historians will necessarily look at the same events and interpret them according to his/her own personal experience, cultural background and societal context. And they will come to different conclusions as regards causation, motivations and historical significance. But by framing the analysis according to agreed upon scientific standards, we are more likely to arrive at the “truth” than we are to fall prey to the confusion of what we would like history to be.

        That confusion is where the danger lies. Sycophants (like “bida kapamilya”) with a political agenda emphasize ideology over empirical truth. Then they proceed to tell whatever history they think is appropriate. Here is “bida kapamilya’s” post:

        “I think history could also be changed to unify our nation. Mas maganda kung nakikita ng mga inaapi noong martial law ang ginawa sa kanila at paano nila nakamit ang hustisya.”

        There is no consideration for the actual events nor is there any attempt to frame them in any context other than “Aquinos-vs-the-Marcoses.” This assessment of history doesn’t care for objective, empirical data, preferring instead political opinion. Ultimately this kind of thinking leads to the wrong conclusions; or at least, largely incomplete answers. And as an historical reference, it is ultimately, proven wrong.

        1. Often the problem is the interpretation at a higher level
          for instance Marcos built more schools, hospitals etc. than any other President before or since. The economy did well. it is when one comes to assess him as a president that the problem arises.

      1. So where does he plan to steer the future of the Filipinos towards, ha? Until now, there is no sign of any vision of the future from your beloved Pwehsident.

      2. What the country needs are people like Gibo and Gordon. They have something in common: A CONCRETE VISION.

        Your loss. 😀

      3. Putting the future into the hands of one person, especially one who is not proven to be competent, is cultic fanaticism.

  4. Do any senators run their own NGO’s.
    The legal truth is no.
    The absolute truth is that their family members/relatives do.
    The moral truth is that they are lying and stealing and being hypocitical shits of the first order.
    The sad truth is that no-one in mainstream media asks the obvious questions or challenges politicians.
    People like lynda jumilla are more like their PR people.
    President pnoy never wants to know the truth.
    The filipino people cant handle the truth.

    the truth is always multi-faceted and an elusive foe in politics

    1. I suggest you file a case to the Sandiganbayan, together with your colleagues here. Your cult will be named “Sandbags”.

      1. So you clearly support corruption.
        You are just too idiotic.
        Let the senators steal your money, but sime people have a brain, not just an amoeba cell.
        Just too pathetic.
        Take your one-liners elsewhere and stop shaming the philippines

        1. It is ONLY your stupid brain that says I support corruption. We just cannot say that a statesman is corrupt based on your perception. E di dapat tanggalin na lang sila lahat.

        2. We just cannot say that a statesman is corrupt based on your perception.

          BOOM! That’s exactly what your beloved BS Aquino has been doing to his political enemies as President!

        3. “It is ONLY your stupid brain that says I support corruption. We just cannot say that a statesman is corrupt based on your perception. E di dapat tanggalin na lang sila lahat.”

          HURP DERP! The SYSTEM is the problem, not necessarily the people in it.

  5. “which was inundated with
    negative responses from
    commentators who no longer believe so.”

    Well that is not a good evidence that the Aquino has already bad reputation because social media is not a good basis and does not use scientific calculations to know the pulse of the nation.

    1. tsk tsk.

      When it’s positive, it’s a good indicator. If it’s negative, it’s not.

      Please, Malacañang Communications Group trolls, make up your mind and stop using double standards, ha?

    2. What a load of SH*T.

      So don’t post here anymore because you said that social media is bad, huh?

      Nice logic you got there. Admit it that yours is PROPAGANDA.

      Request for deletion because propaganda-ridden comments should never be tolerated.

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