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Opinion

History lessons

SKETCHES - Ana Marie Pamintuan - The Philippine Star

It looks like the Department of Education will be restoring Philippine History in the basic education curriculum.

This may prove complicated, and must entail the participation of unbiased experts who can present the story of the Philippines, warts and all, without slipping into historical revisionism favoring any party.

A general picture can be provided to high school students, with the nuances and details left to advanced history lessons in college.

In my youth we had Philippine History beginning in fourth grade. It wasn’t my favorite subject; the lessons were basically timelines starting from the prehistoric age. I would memorize lines from our textbook verbatim for class recitation during oral exams – not an ideal way of learning, but useful for all the dates that we were required to remember.

I became genuinely interested in our history only when I was already working and got hold of books published by the National Historical Commission. That was how I learned that there was so much in our history that was not taught in school, even at the University of the Philippines, except perhaps for those majoring in History.

I wasn’t even aware that in 2014, Philippine History was removed as a dedicated subject in the Grade 7 curriculum with the launch of the K to 12 system.

So we have so many people entering adulthood with little awareness of the story of our nation – whether in prehistoric times, the colonial and Commonwealth eras, post-war and modern.

In this environment, it’s easy to rewrite history to suit personal or partisan narratives. This is helped along by the preference of many people for knowing about the world around them from TikTok and the other junk foods of information consumption in this age.

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The only son of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos is busy rewriting the story of their family, and the TikTok generation may be unable or unwilling to determine the truth.

Ferdinand Junior’s latest effort to whitewash his parents’ criminal record (of large-scale corruption and gross human rights violations) can be seen in his seemingly innocuous birthday greeting to his mommie dearest, Imeldific.

After treating her to yet another birthday party at Malacañang, where her infamous shoe collection was moved out many years ago, BBM paid tribute to “Mama Meldy” in a six-minute vlog, in which he lauded her “profound impact” on the country and for turning Filipinos’ “countless dreams into reality.”

BBM correctly cited Imeldific’s pet projects when she was the all-powerful first lady of Ferdinand Senior: the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, the Philippine Heart Center, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, Cultural Center of the Philippines and Folk Arts Theater.

Left out of this gushing tribute were the corruption scandals when they were built, about the massive kickbacks that gave rise to the term “edifice complex” and the jokes about Imeldific’s penchant for “mining” – all this is mine, mine, mine.

During the Marcoses’ encounters with Japanese officials at the time, the standard joke was that the conjugal dictators “robbed the Philippines very much.”

“My mother doesn’t get angry. She doesn’t pick a fight with anyone,” BBM posted in his vlog.

You won’t get angry, either, and won’t feel the need to pick a fight if you manage to get away with everything.

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One good thing that came out of the split in the UniTeam is that Vice President Sara Duterte, as secretary of education, did not allow herself to be used for historical revisionism of the Marcos 1.0 regime.

Last February, the VP even issued a statement urging remembrance of the 1986 people power revolt, although it was hastily retracted by her office, which explained that she had not approved its release.

Years after the Marcoses returned from exile in Hawaii, a long-time expat often asked me why Imeldific remained out of jail, despite the determination of ill-gotten wealth in the Swiss deposits, and the numbers that clearly didn’t add up in the combined earnings of Ferdinand and Imelda as government officials and their massive assets.

The expat noted that ours is a country where large-scale corruption has been established, but no one has been punished. Wealth was determined to be ill-gotten, but where’s the culprit?

Yes, the sins of the parents shouldn’t be visited on the children (unless they serve as administrators of the ill-gotten wealth). But the parents, once guilt is established, should not be spared from punishment.

Imeldific is not only staying out of jail, despite her conviction on seven counts of simple graft (because there was no plunder offense at the time the crimes were committed), she will never set foot in a prison cell. She will still be singing “Dahil sa Iyo” and “New York, New York” at Malacañang for at least four more years (or forever, if the clan can swing it). Her loving son will see to it.

It’s institutionalizing impunity and the lack of accountability for world-class plunder. It’s rubbing salt on the wounds of martial law victims, and the millions of Filipinos whose money was stolen and stashed away in personal accounts in Switzerland, used to buy up prime property in the US along with priceless artwork by the masters and a king’s ransom in gaudy jewelry, some of which are on display at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Truly (and sadly for this unfortunate country), history is written by the victors.

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

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