Reliving the past

Hen. Antonio Luna (John Arcilla) and Col. Paco Roman (Joem Bascom). (Photo by Artikulo Uno)
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If the point about the study of history is to learn enough about the past so as not to repeat it, it should be more than obvious that what happened in Philippine history has never been quite understood or even widely known, the present being so obviously a repetition of the past. Those students’ wonderment after they had seen “Heneral Luna” over why Mabini was always sitting down speaks volumes about the current state of historical awareness among Filipinos—and condemns the country’s schools for their failure to impart to the young even the most basic information about the past.

Watching one movie won’t change that. But “Heneral Luna” is enjoying an unexpected, continuing run in cinemas across the country, hopefully indicating some interest in Philippine history, particularly that part of it that historians generally describe as the “second phase” of the Philippine Revolution.

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The sub-“uber” class

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The diversion of pork barrel funds, of which Janet Lim-Napoles and several members of Congress have been accused, could be implemented not only with the collaboration of congressmen and senators and other high level bureaucrat-capitalists. It also needed the sustained efforts of a class of individuals familiar with the way things are done in this country and its government. Their peculiar and criminal skills have enabled them to amass vast fortunes for themselves as well as their principals and co-conspirators. Those skills are well-suited to, and mesh smoothly with, government practice and the dominant values of Philippine society.

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Information control

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CONTROLLING THE flow of information—deciding what citizens are told, how it’s presented to them and even determining what they should and shouldn’t know—has always been a critical concern among the powerful. Whether in the Philippines, its neighbors, or in the most backward or most developed countries of the world, the kind of information that reaches citizens is crucial to the outcome of elections, the making of the policies that decide the quality of life of millions, the staying power of dictators, and even the prospects for war or peace.

The entire planet is inundated with tsunamis of information daily, thanks to the international media organizations’ relentless transmission of reports, commentary and images via cable, print and the Internet. The swift advance of information and communication technology has also made national borders of no consequence to filtering information. At the national level, radio, TV and print assail the senses daily in most countries including those yet to achieve the same level of development as Japan and most Western nations.

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