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GE 2/ GE 1

READINGS IN THE PHILIPIINE HISTORY

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

Philippine History viewed from the lens of selected primary sources in different
periods, analysis and interpretations. The course aims to expose in different facets
of Philippine History through the lens of eyewitnesses. Rather than rely on
secondary materials such as textbooks, which is the usual approach in teaching
Philippine History, different types of primary sources will be used- written
(qualitative and quantitative), oral-visual, audio-cisual, digital- covering various
aspects of Philippine life (political, economic, social and cultural). Students are
expected to analyze the selected readings contextually in terms of (stated and
implied). The end goal is to enable students to understand and appreciate our rich
past deriving insights from those who were actually present at the time of the
event.

SUBJECT TEACHER
CHRISTINA C. MALAYAO
WEEK 8. MAKING SENSE OF THE PAST: HISTORICAL INTERPRETATION

History is the study of the past but a more contemporary definition is centered on how it
impacts the present through its consequences. Geoffrey Barraclough defines history as “ the
attempt to discover, on the basis of fragmentary evidence, the significant things about the past.”
He also notes “the history we read, through based on facts, is strictly speaking, not factual at all,
but a series of accepted judgements.

The CODE OF KALANTIAW is a mythical legal code in the epic history Maragtas.
Before it was revealed as a hoax, it was a source of pride for the people of Aklan. In
fact, a historical marker was installed in the town of Batan, Aklan in 195, with the
following text:

“CODE of KALANTIAW, Datu Bendehara Kalantiaw, third Chief of Panay, born in


Aklan, established his government in the Peninsula of Batang, Aklan Sakup.
Considered the Filipino lawgiver, he promulgated in about 1433 a penal code now
known as Code of Kalantiaw containing articles. Don Marcelino Orilla of Zaragoza,
Spain, obtained the original manuscript from an old chief of Panay which was later
translated into Spanish by Ravael Murviedo Yzamaney.

It was only in 1968 that it was proved a hoax, when William henry Scott, then a
doctoral candidate at the University of Santo Tomas, defended his research on pre-
Hispanic sources in the Philippine History. He attributed the code to a historical fiction
written in 1913 by Jose E. Marco titled Las Antiguas Layendes de Isla de Negros.
Marco attributed the code itself to a priest named Jose Maria Pavon. Prominent
Filipino historians did not dissent to Scotts’s findings, but there are still some who
would like to believe that the code is a legitimate document.

Historians utilize facts collected from primary sources of history and then draw their draw
reading so that their intended audience may understand the historical event, a process that in
essence, “makes sense of the past”. The premise is that not all primary sources are accessible to a
general audience, and without the proper training and background, a non-historian interpreting a
primary source may do more than harm than good, a primary source may even cause
misunderstandings, sometimes, even resulting in more problems.

Interpretations of the past, therefore, vary according to who reads the primary source, when it
was read, and how it was read. As students of history, we must be well equipped to recognize
different types of interpretations, why this may differ from each other, and how to critically sift
these interpretations through historical evaluation. Interpretations of historical events change
over time; thus, it is an important skill for a student of history to track these changes in an
attempt to understand the past.

“SA AKING MGA KABATA” is a poem purportedly written by Jose Rizal written by Jose Rizal
when he was eight years old and is probably one of Rizal’s most prominent works . There is no
evidence to support the claim that this poem, with the now immortalized lines “Ang hindi
magmahal sa kanyang salita/ mahigit sa hayop at malansang isda, was written by Rizal, and worse,
the evidence against Rizal’s authorship of the poem seems unassailable.

There exists no manuscript of the poem handwritten by Rizal. The poem was first published in
1906, in a book by Hermeneglido Cruz. Cruz said he received the poem from Gabriel Beato
Francisco, who claimed to have received it in 1884 from Rizal’s close friend, Saturnino Raselis.
Rizal never mentioned in writing this poem anywhere in his writings, and more importantly he
never mentioned of having a close friend by the person of Raselis.

Further criticism of the poem reveals more about the wrongful attribution of the poem to Rizal. This
poem was written in tagalong and referred to the word “kalayaan”. But it was documented in Rizals
letter that he first encountered the word through a Marcelo H. Del Pilars translations of Rizals essay
“El Amor Patrio” where it was spelled as “kalayahan”.

While Rizal’s native toungue was tagalog, he was educated in Spanish, starting from his mother,
Teodora Alonso. Later on, he would express disappointment in his difficulty in expressing himself
in his native tongue.

The poem’s spelling is also suspect- the use of letters “k” and “w” to replace “c” and “u’,
respectively suggested by Rizal as an adult. If the poem was indeed written during histime, it should
use the original Spanish orthography that was prevalent in his time.

Many of the things we accept as “true” about the past might not be the case anymore; just
because these were taught to us as “facts” when we were younger does not mean that it is set in
stone—history is, after all, a construct. And as a construct, it is open for interpretation. There
might be conflicting and competing accounts of the past that needs one attention, and can impact
the way we view our countrys history and identity. It is important, therefore, to subject to
evaluation not only the primary source, but also the historical interpretation of the same, to
ensure that the current interpretation to support our acceptance of events of the past.

MULTIPERSPECTIVITY

With several possibilities of interpreting the past, another important concept that we must note is
multiperspectivity. This can be defined as a way of looking at historical events, personalities,
developments,cultures, and societies from different perspectives. This means that there is a
multitude of ways by which we can view the world, and each could be equally valid, and at the
same time, equally partial as well. Historical writing is, by definition, biased, partial, and
contains preconceptions. The historians decide on what sources to use, what interpretation to
make more apparent, depending on what his end is. Historians may misinterpret evidence,
attending those that suggest that a certain event happened, and then ignore the rest that goes
against the evidence. Historians may omit significant facts about their subject, which make the
interpretation unbalanced. Historians may impose a certain ideology to their subject, which may
not be appropriate to the period the subject was from. Historians may also provide a single cause
for an event considering other possible causal explanations of said event. These are just many of
the ways historian may fail in his historical inference, description and interpretation. With
multiperspectivity as na approach to history, we must understand that historical interpretations
contain discrepancies, contradictions, ambiguities, and are often the focus of dissent.

Exploring multiple perspectives in history requires incorporating source materials that reflect
different views of an event in history, because singular historical narratives do not provide for
space to inquire and investigate. Different sources that counter each other may create space for
more investigation and research, while providing more evidence for those truths that these
sources agree on.

Different kinds of sources also provide different historical truths- an official document may note
different aspects of the past than, say, a memoir of an ordinary person on the same event.
Different historical agents create different historical truths, and while this may be a burdensome
work for the historian, it also renders more validity to the historical scholarship.

Taking these in close regard in the reading of historical interpretations, it provides for the
audience a more complex, but also a more complete and richer understanding on the past.

REFERENCES: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4500918-readings-in-philippine-history