Date with History

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There is a new trend that threatens to sweep and twist history.

History is the knowledge of and study of the past. It is the story of the past and a form of collective memory and evidences. History is the story of who we are, where we came from, and can potentially reveal where we are headed.

It is the mainframe of our identity, from culture, religion, down to politics. History shapes us to fit in the narrow tube towards the future. Essentially, it is our user manual on how to walk the path of life by reencountering problems from the past.

I always shun the idea that history is neither black nor white and that it is neutral.

History often depicts the triumph of nationalistic endeavors. Here in the Philippines, patriotism wins the day.

Take this with a grain of salt, our history books narrate the colonialism during the Spanish era, the sufferings and torments of the natives. It is there, written and highlighted in our history books. History also presents the “greater good” that emerged from colonialism, such as Christianity and education.

Now to crank it up, history is not one-sided. We can argue that Spanish colonialism affected us negatively, but we cannot ignore its impact on our present life. Education is one benefit we received from those years of colonialism.

We cannot dismiss nor deny things that shaped our history. It might not be what we would have wanted it to be, yet, what comes after or its outcome is important.

This brings me to another topic, the multi-perspective.  This allows us to be open towards the possibilities of multiple truths about history. Different people experienced things differently, that is why there are a lot of variations on how history is told and retold. Every experience is valid and should be accorded with utmost respect.

Revisiting the 1972 Martial Law is another example of multi-perspective. To some, it was a golden era that ushered growth and economic development. However, for some people, it was the dark era that simply sucks. That is, it sucked the life out of the country.

Maybe, the country did flourish during the Martial Law. National coffers were stocked, literally, with gold. It was a financial wonderland for some. But the truth is, for those who experienced it differently, Martial Law benefitted only a few. The lavish lifestyle was reserved for those who were in power.

The other face of Martial Law, the one that majority of the people went through, was totally different. The extreme torment suffered by those who dare to speak against it, the media shutdown, the widespread hunger and poverty, and yes, violence everywhere. This is the version of Martial Law, the 21 years of the Marcos regime that our parents and grandparents tell us.

The point is simple, both did happen during that time and we are left with the choice on which story to believe. By which lens would you rather view history? With the lens of frivolity that defined that era or the horror stories of torments and abuses?

Most of us, at least my generation, have not seen, felt, or experienced any kind of abuse. But this is not enough reason for us not to engage in this discussion, or prefer to sit idly and enjoy our youthful dreams.

But well, who I am to judge. I’m just a simple boy using my voice to raise awareness that reciprocates as rants and raves. – NWI