I’m a huge sucker for romantic comedies, so this [his character Oliver’s romance on HTGAWM] was definitely on my vision board. You learn more about yourself in intimate relationships than any other endeavor. I can go do King and I and sing out in front of 1,000-plus people, but trying to open up about something that’s bothering me with somebody that I’m in a relationship with? That’s the scariest thing. | x
Teodoro Andal Agoncillo (1912-1985), one of the great historians of the Philippines, had undoubtedly made significant pioneering advances on the narrative history of the country. His works, like The History of the Filipino People, The Revolt of the Masses: The Story of Bonifacio and the Katipunan (a book on the Philippine Revolution, similarly titled from the book of the Spanish philosopher, José Ortega y Gasset), Malolos: Crisis of the Republic, Burden of Proof, The Fateful Years: Japan’s Adventure in the Philippines–all of these had cemented a view of Philippine history that is rigorous in primary sources, impartial (and as such, polarizing), Filipino-centric (that is, taking on the perspective of Filipinos themselves as actors in history), and does the liberty of using “historical imagination,” making the narrative not only factual but artististically compelling in its form of storytelling. This Filipino perspective pursued by Agoncillo, at the time, were largely misconstrued and misinterpreted. Even up to now, many academics dismiss Agoncillo’s work as leftist-leaning—an unfortunate and baseless accusation from a time when the Cold War was still on and the world was seen as either pro-American or pro-Communist.
Thanks to time and distance, we as students of history can now have more clarity in viewing his works. I remember one of my professors saying that while Agoncillo was a pioneer in his own right, his study had had its time and has already become outdated. As such, our task is to build on and revise the historiographical tradition he started and to endeavor to make our historiogaphy more impartial, more representative of our peoples, and bring it closer to the primary sources that have surfaced in recent years. I think Agoncillo would heartily agree.
In commemoration of Agoncillo’s 103rd birthday, I’m sharing these short notes of mine, with heavy quotations from Ambeth Ocampo’s book “Talking History: Conversations with Teodoro A. Agoncillo,” a book which contain the transcript of his interview with the man. I do encourage history researchers to buy the book, published by UST Publishing House, as it is most helpful in having a scholarly insight on the field of historiography. Hopefully other historians or history enthusiasts in the country would find this useful. There was one question posed to me on this blog that asks how does one become a historian. Teodoro Agoncillo perfectly answers such a question here.
How to be a Filipino Historian:
1. Be impartial. There is no objective history.
AGONCILLO: What history is not biased? …Show me a historian, a real historian, who is not biased! …show me! … You have to interpret, of course. In history, pag sinabing objective ka, you are nothing! You are nothing, absolutely nothing! [laughs] Humanap ka ng kalendaryo, makikita mo na hindi lahat ay nakalagay sa kalendaryo. [laughs]… the very fact that the student of history chooses what to include and what not to include in his work, is proof that history is never objective…. The moment the student of history gives what is called the value judgment, and in history you always do that, wala na! Saan nandoon ang objectivity mo? It is important in history to be impartial! Which is different.
2. Keep writing to develop your style.
AGONCILLO: You must continue to write and write and write to develop your style…. That’s the way to develop, because writing, like any other profession needs constant practice. Parang doctor, pag hindi ka nag-practice nang matagal, wala na. Boxing ganiyan din. Athletics.
3. Be brave to challenge your own bias.
AGONCILLO: Ang historian, kahit na ikaw Catholic, kung talagang mali ang Catholic you have to state that…. Hindi ka matatakot. Iyon ang impartiality na sinasabi ko, you see. Which is different from objectivity. You cannot obtain objectivity in history. You cannot, because you are a human being. As a matter of fact, if you study the great written histories, you’ll find that these authors, historians, were involved. Hindi maaari eh. You always find yourself involved because you are human. Halimbawa ako, you are discussing two sides of a question and your sympathy lies with one. Sabi ko, makikita mo ang bias is towards the other, pero sa akin it’s alright. Ang masama, ang hindi mo ibigay yung floor to the other side. In other words, instead of saying objectivity, impartiality ang sabihin because impartiality means that you give the other fellow a chance to be heard, hindi iyong hindi mo siya pinagbigyan.
4. See the big picture. This requires analytical and imaginative abilities.
AGONCILLO: Talagang sinabi kong openly iyan, pinakamagaling sa pinakamagaling, [maraming] alam. Maraming nalalaman iyan, sabi ko, pero hindi maiakma para makita iyong [kabuuan], to see it whole. Steadily and see it whole… Kaya nga magkaroon ka ng imagination eh. It requires analytical and imaginative ability. You see, you must have both para makita mong ganiyan… Doon makikilala ang galing ng historian.
5. Historical research is hard work. Prepare to lose time and money.
AGONCILLO: Mahirap ang research. Kaya ang great majority diyan hindi maaaring mag-research. Because it requires dedication, physical and mental energy plus expenses.
6. Keep an open mind, but make a stand (based on primary sources) and stand by it.
AGONCILLO: …the conclusions in history are never final. Tentative lahat iyan… Not only that. History is rewritten by every generation. Every generation writes his own history using the same sources. The interpretations vary according to time. That is why it is incorrect to say that the interpretation is wrong. Interpretations are never wrong or correct. They are either perceptive or with insight, but never right or wrong. Because what may be right today may be wrong tomorrow and vice-versa. That is why historical conclusions and interpretations can never be called correct or wrong. No such thing. … You’ve got to take a stand, whether your stand may not be the stand of the generation of tomorrow, at least you made a stand.
7. Stay with the facts. Don’t answer “what if” questions because historians don’t predict the future.
AGONCILLO: Historians don’t [predict, but] political scientists might. Historians deal with the past, not the future. We use history to avoid the mistakes of the past, not to re-create the very same events. You cannot… There is a great difference between historical and literary imagination. Historical imagination is more difficult because you are limited by the facts. You cannot go beyond that. Literary imagination, you can go anywhere and nobody can question you. Fairy tales, for example, maganda pagkakasultat. Nobody questions the reality of it. But in history, hindi maaari. The question in history is did it happen? In literature, the question is, can it happen? … In history, your imagination is limited to the facts. You use imagination only in interpretation.
8. Be confident in your own voice.
AGONCILLO: You should see my personality on every page of my book, because I am the author. The book reflects the personality of the author. Do you expect my work to reflect the personality of another?
(1) Banner courtesy of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO).
(2) Photo of Teodoro Agoncillo on his birthday, in 1950.
Sgt. Wu is one of the greatest mysteries on “Grimm.” After two and a half seasons of the NBC show, we pretty much only know that he’s a cop, single, a cat lover, a foodie, and a reliable source of sarcastic one-liners. Even Reggie Lee, the actor who plays Wu, doesn’t have that many more details to offer.
Do you ever watch a show with a lot of poc representation and think “ok now they’re just trying too hard.” I find myself thinking that every now and then and I have to correct myself! I have gotten so accustomed to watching a series of white families/friends with the occasional poc friend. (See: Friends, That 70s show, Supernatural, Sherlock, Bones, Gilmore Girls, HIMYM, Drop Dead Diva etc.) So when I finally see a show with accurate representation of a poc, I automatically think “they’re just trying to gain approval and get more ratings.” That is such a gross way of thinking!!! Especially from a poc myself! Why is that my first thought? Because seeing white actors get good roles has become the norm for me. So much so, that I sometimes find myself preferring it. And that’s messed up.