Saturday, July 2, 2011

History of the Inarticulate

The problem is self identity.

With a colorful history painted by people who colonized our country, we remain as fragmented as the seven thousand islands scattered all over the Philippine seas. Look at what our fellow Filipinos in the government are doing to us and always getting away with. Ask around and they will tell you, "that's the way it is," as if we deserve less than the rest of the world.

Where do I begin?  How about going back to Yoyoy Villame's account of our history in a song that goes, "In March 16, 1521, when the Philippines was discovered by Magellan."  This version that we acquired from history books implied that the Spaniards brought civilization to the islands. For your information, recent discoveries say otherwise. (While the Spanish Catholic missionaries piggybacked their way to our neck of the woods on some ruthless colonizers, still I am thankful.)

Picture Tondo with some Arabian-looking  knights in shining bling-blings. These "Rajahs," as they were called, ruled other kingdoms as far away as Borneo thousands of ages ago. Docked in a nearby sea port were ships that could carry 300 men. They would sail back and forth bringing goods from trade partners like China, India, and Thailand.

An artifact called Laguna Copperplate Inscription backs up this part of our history. Discovered by Alfredo E. Evangelista in Laguna de Bay in 1989, this was a document chiseled on a plate in  Kawi Script, dated in an era estimated to be 822 A.D., and even mentioned Tondo as well as other towns. It releases the bearer from his debt in gold, revealing that a civilized state already existed in our islands long before Magellan.

Now, how about our love affair with Jose Rizal?  No doubt, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo were the fire that lit the spirit of nationalism across the scattered islands. Finally after 300 years, the little "Indios" found the guts to unite and stand up against their foreign rulers. However, not all of our ancestors before Rizal cowered at the sound of condescending Spanish voices.

For instance, there is an interesting story of bravery and betrayal in Pangasinan. A rebel leader known as Don Andres Malong led a revolt against the Spaniards as early as 1660. His troops were gaining grounds against the Spaniards when a fellow from Pampanga named Don Juan Macapagal and his troops sided with the enemies to defeat the revolt, killing Don Malong.

Interestingly, Don Juan Macapagal was the great grandson of Lakan Dula, who was credited for the Spanish conquest of the kingdoms of the Pasig River delta in the early 1570s. Like father, like son. Would you be surprised if I told you that President Diosdado Macapagal, no need to mention Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, descended from them?

I came to know all these facts as well as myths (for example, it was not the Americans who brought prostitution to Manila but the Europeans) from a book I found in the Filipiniana section of a bookstore in Manila.  Although hard to read for ordinary people like myself because of its references to hundreds of names and Spanish quotes, History of the Inarticulate was written with a mission.

The author, Luis Camara Dery with all his wisdom, mapped out new routes for our history in his book.  He hopes that it would guide other historians in their search for truth about ourselves. To quote him-"Isang-dugo and sama-sama are indigenous terms that describe the ties that bind the Philippine inhabitants before the establishment of colonial rules fragmented them into groups hostile to each other. Highlighting such native traits-and those that survive the colonial onslaughts-are valuable as they can help the Filipino people today to rediscover their precolonial common roots, thus helping efforts fostering national unity."

With enlightened Filipinos like Luis Camara Dery, it is only a matter of time before we finally unearth our God given traits, innate as the color of our skin, like that golden statuette found in an archeological dig in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur. (photo above)

1 comment:

  1. Hi!

    It's the first time I've seen your Blog site and I'm overjoyed for finding someone who can relate to my obsession with Philippine History and how it has molded us into the Filipinos that we are today. Keep up the good work!

    Flip Ambrose, soon to be Blogger.