by Marjorie Joy S. Almario
Prof. Rohane M. Derogongan, chairperson and Marjorie Joy S. Almario, faculty member of the Department of History attended the 2016 Philippine Historical Association (PHA) National Conference last August 18-20, 2016 at Ateneo de Davao University, Davao City. In the same gathering, Prof. Derogongan registered all History faculty members of the College of Arts and Social Sciences as members of the PHA, thus making the Department of History a recognized and affiliated organization of the association.
The conference that gathered experts and students of History with its theme “Philippine Governance: Historical Perspectives” challenged the amor propio of Filipinos to not only focus on telling about the good and the beautiful but also to include introspection and discussion of our weaknesses and failures as a people, even in political realms, using historical perspectives.
Fr. Albert E. Alejo, Ph.D. who gave the keynote speech discussed the inevitability of teachers to be attached to telling lessons of history, especially tackling topics on political governance. He pointed out that despite the supposed objectivity of the historical discipline, history teachers would be most effective if they localize lessons based on their experiences with the premise that history teachers are historical beings and thus part of the historical process. With all the chaos and confusion surrounding Filipino people, Fr. Alejo challenged history teachers to continuously inspire students as they wonder if there is still hope for the Philippines. He likens a teacher to that of a rooster that crows in the morning, always anticipating a brand new day.
Succeeding plenary sessions were filled with thought-provoking scholarly researches about public service and governance. Dr. Zeus A. Salazar on his lecture entitled “Ama ng Pantayong Pananaw” argued that corruption was non-existent in pre-Spanish Philippine society as evidenced by its having no native equivalent in our languages. The term corruption, according to Dr. Salazar, only entered Filipino vocabulary after the US occupation.
Dr. Salazar stressed that there was no corruption in our political governance, because the ancients demonstrated cooperative behavior in which everyone had a role to play in pursuit of the kaginhawaan. This concept was also shared by Dr. Evelyn A. Songco who supported the absence of corruption in pre-colonial society, citing that there was only cooperation then.
Dr. Ambeth R. Ocampo talked about the Marcos Diaries that he was working on. Using historical evidences, Dr. Ocampo shed light on some of the controversies involving President Marcos including his being one of the most decorated wartime heroes of the country by receiving 32 medals for his exploits during World War II; a claim that was later disputed due to authenticity. Dr. Ocampo, citing American authorities said that President Marcos was not even entitled to the awards. Dr. Ocampo’s book the Marcos Diaries will be out in 2017.
In sum, the 2016 PHA National Conference encourages history educators to be advocates of good governance. It inspires us to be that change that we want to see in our society. Work must not be considered only as a source of income. A public office is a public trust. Therefore, it must be rendered with honor and dignity.
The Philippine Historical Association only allows individual membership; to become an affiliated and recognized organization, all members of a given organization should be an individual member of PHA. The Department of History is now entitled to membership rights and privileges such as attendance to PHA conferences as well as recipient of PHA journals and resources.