A Legacy of the Propaganda: The Tripartite View of Philippine History by Dr. Zeus A. Salazar
The broad division of most national histories in the Third World into: precolonial, colonial, and post-colonial has its equivalent in Philippine historiography and historical consciousness. The Filipino view, however, was worked out even before the Spaniards were driven out of the country. It was, in fact, a major weapon in the ideological armory of the Filipino struggle against the Spanish colonial regime. Elaborated during the Propaganda Movement, it became the historical worldview of the Revolution which was considered to be the final struggle to bring about the period of freedom from colonial bondage. Imbibed by Filipinos of today as part of the revolutionary heritage, it still dominates ordinary Filipino thinking about Philippine history and history as such. By inextricably attaching our people's history to the colonial phenomenon, it in fact still nourishes what has been called "colonial mentality" down to the very depths of the popular (and, to an extent, even professional) historical consciousness. During the Propaganda and the Revolution, however, this tripartite view of our national history had a positive effect on the burgeoning national psyche. Its power as an idée-force came from its being a highly emotive reaction against the Spanish bipartite view of Philippine history which had supplanted an earlier Filipino historical consciousness. The Indigenous and the Spanish Views
We had, at the arrival of the Spaniards an indigenous sense of history, but scarce regard for the past as history. Unlike the French histoire (which derives from the Greek word for "inquiry" whose Indo-European root, wid, had given Gothic witan (German wissen, English wit) or "knowledge" and Sanskrit Veda or "knowledge par excellence, mystical knowledge"); or unlike even the German Geschichte (from geschehen "to happen," as in a story of history, which are the meanings of the substantive), our word for "history" in Tagalog does not refer to knowledge, to the search for information or to what happened in the past as such. Kasaysayan comes from saysay which means both "to relate in detail, to explain," and "value, worth, significance." In one sense, therefore, kasaysayan is "story" (like German Geschichte or another Tagalog term, salaysay, which is probably simply an extended form of saysay). But kasaysayan is also "explanation," "significance," or "relevance" (may saysay "significant, relevant;" walang saysay or walang kasaysayan, meaning "irrelevant; senseless"). What was then important to us was the story and its significance, in so far as this could be explained and made relevant to a particular group. Now, apart from the lack of reference to inquiry (the methodological aspect which, up to the end of the Spanish regime, was hardly heeded), that is exactly what history is all about, knowledge being actually meaning rendered understandable and relevant to a group of people. From their kasaysayan, however, our ancestors derived a different sense of history. For our ancestors had a sense of the eternal recurrence of natural and human phenomena: day and night, the seasons, seed and plant, the cycle of life and death, the passing and coming of generations, youth and age, planting and harvesting, war and peace with neighboring barangays. There would therefore be myths and legends about these recurrent "events," for they had kasaysayan –– meaning and relevance –– to their lives, to be explained and recounted in detail to everyone. Our ethnic literatures and religions are replete with these explicative stories. Equally relevant to the community were the genealogies which made the elite families, descend from the gods, thus explaining their socio-political primacy. It was a practice common to the entire archipelago, closely connected with the religious ideology of the epics which, because they contained these "vain genealogies," were sung precisely under...
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