Tuesday, June 12, 2012
SINO ANG CHUMORVA KAY MAGELLAN?
SINO ANG CHUMORVA KAY MAGELLAN?
By Stanley Palisada
“Sino ang CHUMORVA kay Magellan?” asks University of Asia and the Pacific History professor Alvin Campomanes. History teachers these days go to lengths (and even gimmickry) to make history appealing to students whose interest span is as short as a soap bubble’s life.
“And then my students laugh and I get their attention. I do it not because I just want to make it funny but that way naka-connect ako sa estudyante,” justifies Campomanes.
By the way the answer to the question would be Lapu-Lapu, not the fish. Who is Lapu-Lapu is another story buried in the mythical yesteryears of this country where the rest of our history and heroes lie in state. Revisiting dates, places and names is not the coolest thing when you’re a teenager oozing with hormones and trapped in a 1 p.m. History class under a teacher whose previous career was reading the “Cenaculo.”
The way history is generally taught in schools has led (partly) to the untimely demise of interest in History itself. An insipid teaching style and poor retention of students are the outlying reasons why interest in history is history.
A recent survey on heroes that we conducted drew a handful of the most far-fetched historical tidbits from today’s youth. A respondent said (very confidently) that Andres Bonifacio led flag-raising and Independence Day ceremonies in Cavite, an ignorant credit grab from Emilio Aguinaldo who was the one who held the flag and not the bolo.
Another respondent said Emilio Aguinaldo is “ang taong nasa pera” and that’s as far as he knows in spite of his being a college freshman and having survived his elementary and high school history classes.
A Philippine historian, Michael Xiao Chua explains that confusion results when kids are taught to memorize historical facts alone. History is not a “fill in the blanks, fill up the calendar” undertaking. Like Journalism it’s equally important to know the “hows and the whys”, aside from the whos, whats, wheres, and whens. The hows and whys provide meaning to events.
“Ang History ay salaysay na may saysay,” says 24-year old Chua who is also the vice president of the Philippine Historical Association in spite of his youth. “Nire-remind tayo ng ating common experiences para magkaisa ang Pilipino. Mayroon tayong common na karanasan, kolonyalismo, sama-sama tayong naghirap sa digmaan,” Chua said.
But lackluster teaching to an uninspired student is not to blame entirely. It is also pitiable that preoccupation with survival and the rush to overcome poverty make many see history a whim fit only for those who have spare time or resources.
According to Philippine historian, Celestina Boncan PhD, Filipinos can be on the road to greatness if they know their journey. “It’s as if history is an intangible that cannot fill up the stomach or cannot wipe hunger. But learning or understanding history is the spirit that would drive our people to become great,” Boncan said.
It’s been a while since we allowed our heroes to inspire us to love our country the way they did. We hailed them during the 2000 Centennial Celebrations but forgot all about them after the party.
And how can we love a country we don’t know?
“Ang isang mamahalin mo, kikilalanin mo muna. Hindi mo pwedeng mahalin ang isang bagay na di mo alam, na di mo kilala,” explained another Philippine historian Jonathan Balsamo.
Lastly, History is learning the past, and learning from the past.
Why do we as a country, stay trapped in a cycle of poverty, corruption, and bad governance? Why do we keep missing the lessons of the years that came and went?
It’s because in our journey, we Filipinos are engrossed with today and the future, that we don’t look back. In so doing, we’re merely walking in circles.*