Sunday, November 27, 2016

On "Historical Revisionism" and the President Duterte's Strategic Use of "Historical Injustice"

Although I am so busy with the final papers in the Ph.D. in Development Studies program here at the University of the Philippines-Los Banos, but I cannot resist and have to answer this thought-provoking questions of a scholar in Islamic Studies, Islamic Jurisprudence, and Philippine Law (COMELEC Commissioner) and former UP Institute of Islamic Studies Dean M. Sadain. These valid questions were originally posted in his facebook page which upon reading demanded my immediate response as part of my self-imposed social responsibility as a Muslim scholar in history and sustainable development. The questions were beautifully crafted in this manner, to wit:
"To our historians, please educate me. Is historical revisionism always bad? Or does it also serve a good purpose?
Take the skewed history of the Muslims in the Philippines in Zaide's book, or the scant attention it deserved in Agoncillo's (at least the edition I read in college) or the obviously colonial view Saleeby accorded it. If we revise some of these historical accounts, is that historical revisionism also? Or does historical revisionism signify changing established history by glossing over its narrative?
I ask because the Muslims of this country who respond to ethnic nomenclatures and have recently been identified as Moros or Bangsamoros collectively, very much desire to revise history as it was handed down to us by historians who saw Philippine history through colored lenses, so that history can also be rewritten from the eyes of the main protagonists themselves.
I ask because if we really delve into the history of these group of islands we now call the Philippines, we will see that the history of the Muslims in this country represents the core of the struggle against colonialism --- a core shaken by colonial intrusions but never subdued; a core originating from native roots instead of the vestiges of peninsular illustrado influence.
And unless we properly acknowledge this by revising our treatment of Philippine history, we can never tell a complete history of our struggle against colonialism and foreign interference.
So back to my initial question. Is this historical revisionism, and is it always bad?"


HISTORICAL REVISIONISM is not at all times bad, and it really has something to do with HlSTORICAL CONTEXT and perspective of the historian. People's hero is other people's villain. Sometimes, the so-called nationalist historians commit a "selective amnesia syndrome." They seem to forget that it was during the Marcos presidency that the government caused the REWRITING of almost all our fundamental history books through an executive fiat and centers were created for that purpose with corresponding funds from the national government---PCAS of the University of the Philippines,  the Mindanao State University System, Zamboanga Normal School was converted to what we know today as the Western Mindanao State University, and other institutions were created in the light of promoting historical revisionism towards attaining peace, and national unity amidst diversity by educating the underprivileged sectors (the Moros) to become part of the mainstream of the Philippine society. 

Scholars were sent abroad to reinforce that purpose of revisiting the Filipino peoples' history. The Philippines recognized LAPU-LAPU and SULTAN KUDARAT as HEROES and later on Rajah Matanda, Rajah Baguinda, Rajah Sulaiman, who were presented in the Philippine history prior to Marcos as VILLAINS in their own lands and shores. This was followed by the declaration of Diego Silang, Gabriela Silang, Panday Pira, and other heroes who were apparently not coming from the mestizo heroes but coming from the Spanish categorization of Indios when the colonial government divided the people according to their reactions and responses to colonialization and Christianization and into three: los Indios referring to those or whose forefathers did not resist, los Infiles with reference to those who or whose ancestors did not fight and instead went up the hinterlands and some to the forested islands and islets, and los Moros referring to those who or whose forefathers fought and resisted Spanish colonialization and Christianization. 

Corrolarilly, history books were rewritten allegedly from the Filipino perspectives (which was centered on the Indios who later on used Tagalog as a medium of instruction and communication, and thereafter Pilipino which was the basis of President Quezon's order of Pilipino as the official language that the Visayans protested at the outset that was neutralized by incorporating some languages to form part of the evolution of Filipino's national language of today) in various forms and approaches that led the HISTORICAL REVISIONISM and at some point DECONSTRUCTION and RECONSTRUCTION of history in the late 60s and 70s resulting in the postcolonialists and nationalist history using Philippine historiography for instance: The Roots of the Filipino Nation by then UP President and MECS Minister O.D. Corpuz, College of Arts and Sciences Dean C. A. Majul's the Constitutionality of the Philippine Revolution, UP Department of History Chairperson Prof. Agoncillo's History of the Filipino People, Dr. Z. Salazar's Pantayong Pananaw, R. Constantino's Venerating Without Understanding, and countless Filipino historians and social scientists to include Pascual, Agpalo, Medina, Evangelista, Guerrero, Cortes, Tan, Ileto; and all other historians commissioned by President Marcos to rewrite history from the perspective of the development Filipino as a people as a vehicle to his New Society that revised and departed from the very colonialist and some point colonially inspired history books of Zaide and the like who served as the apologists of the colonizers. 

The discourse of who the national hero should be is still on-going in various forms and spaces. Understandably, in all those national government efforts through the National Historical Institute of yesteryears and the highly politicized National Historical Commission of today as well as in some academic institutions, the discourses of heroes and heroism continued, and the Moros were still marginalized and often presented as the others if not villains. The Moros with pejorative connotations attached to pirates, slave raiders and traders, marauders, among others did not change notwithstanding the liberation of the Philippines from the iota of historical ignorance.

There seems to be a worst carry over of those prejudices by the Indios and mildly by the Infieles against the colonial mentality of the others. The Moro-Moro with some modification in usage was and still is often used in books and in various media with reference to the Zarzuela or Moro-Moro play of the Spanish colonial era. It was only during after the advent of CONVISLAM as an organization of concerned Muslims following Dr. C.A. Majul's reversion or conversion to Islam that scholarly works on Moros and Muslims were given a little attention by the Filipino majority when he wrote the Muslims in the Philippines in 1968 and republished by the UP Press in 1973, the Contemporary Muslims in the Philippine which was purposely not made available in the Philippines up until the later part of the Martial Law because of the fear of the government that it could soften the impact of the government campaigns against the Muslims in the Philippines, and followed by more than a hundred of published works on Muslim-Christian relations using Asian Historiography which is distinct from the Philippine historiography and perspective of Dr. C. A. Majul that gained respect internationally and even led to a lot of dialogues with the Pope and other Church and other non-sectarian leaders of his time in the Asian universities and in the Western academia that led to his accolade as the "University Professor Emeritus" of the University of the Philippines. 

In short, GIANTS in Philippine History and Social Sciences of today were products of HISTORICAL REVISIONISM by revising the history which was allegedly colonially-inspired if not made and transformed to the national language which happened to be Tagalog and Manila-centric to the Kasaysayan ng bayan that is now gaining momentum in the arena of historical discourse. 

What is clear to me as a researcher-educator in political science, policy and sustainable development specialist, and a serious student of history is that the Moro and Philippine Muslim perspectives of history up to this time are greatly marginalized and isolated. I speak and write in eight out of the 13 ethnolinguistic Moro languages in the Philippines tempered with their respective cultures, and practicing the Islamic way of life to the best of my ability, and at the same time an advocate of peaceful coexistence of people regardless of cultures, beliefs, religions, color, gender, age---I saw and still seeing a lot of the deliberate HISTORICAL DISTORTIONS of MORO HISTORY---that if not RECTIFIED could pose some serious challenges in the future that will be beyond us anymore.

Hence, my crucial and life changing decision in 2000 of not taking the bar exams and instead pursue my masters degree in History and thereafter a Ph.D. in History program at UP Diliman in order to present a Muslim historiography viewed from within and not from without---because I still maintain that any development endeavor that is not anchored on people's history from within is doomed to fail.

As I continue my journey of helping people and institutions in further understanding the Muslims in the Philippines, various historical narratives were rewritten in an attempt to pollute the already perverted history of the Moro people by no less than the historians of their former rivals in the sphere of prowess---and the lack of it.

Importantly, I agree on some points advanced by some pseudo historian's claim on the rewriting of Muslim history in the Philippines, except that the Philippine historiography as it was in the past and up to this juncture is molded not as an accommodating platform for the Moros and Muslims to present their history as it happened and from their perspective to form part of the Philippine history. Thus, C.A. Majul attempted to use another historiography, other methodologies, and alternative sources from within. However, he was overtaken by events, and left a lot of unfinished business for research works worthy of intellectual discourses for their positive utilization. 

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte used "historical injustice" of the Moros by the American colonizers in the Philippine islands as his weapon through his "high-octane powered politics" as a strategic move towards declaring an independent foreign policy in the context of ART. 2, sec. 7 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution towards lasting peace, inclusive growth, and sustainable development.

The best is yet to come, in sha Allah!