“The spread of ‘fake facts’ aims to distort history and present it as truth.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Did the Marcoses inherit their wealth from a certain royal family of “Tallano?”
This is just one of the questions apparently raised by a student to a history teacher. A piece of disinformation that spread early this year seemed to have rubbed off them.
Historians, teachers, sociologists, and journalists did not find it a bit surprising as they gathered at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines to relaunch Tanggol Kasaysayan, a week before the 47th commemoration since the declaration of martial law rule in the country.
At the heart of Tanggol Kasaysayan, its co-convenor and history professor Francis Gealogo, said is the aim to combat the rampant historical revisionism intending to empower the Marcoses further through widespread disinformation.
In a statement on the relaunch of Tanggol Kasaysayan, the group said the spread of “fake facts” aims to distort history and present it as truth.
The group added that fake facts aim to veer history away from recognizing people’s movement for change while presenting fascists and dictators as role models.
As a result, the group said this “undermines the critical analysis of history through the propagation of wrong ideas, beliefs, and historical data in order to advance the revisionist agenda.”
In its position paper, Tanggol Kasaysayan also criticized the Duterte administration for disregarding the strong historical basis for the country’s claim over the West Philippine Sea and the outright sellout of sovereignty.
History of the people
Academics from other disciplines have also seen the need to promote “nationalist history.”
Urban studies and sociology professor Chester Arcilla said it is important to trace the history of an urban poor community to understand its present predicament.
In the mainstream urban studies, urban poor families are not recognized for their role in building a society, said Arcilla.
Political science student Jose Torio of the Ateneo de Manila University found the present government’s sense of nationalism “distorted.”
He said that while the Duterte administration is pushing for the mandatory student military training to purportedly foster nationalism, it has also removed history and other relevant social sciences subjects, which could have served as a strong backbone of nationalism.
In a statement, Tanggol Kasaysayan said the hands of historians and teachers are “tied” with the changes in the basic education curriculum, which removed Philippine history, and Filipino as subjects.
Meanwhile, textbooks are not only lacking in number but also the content is proving to be challenging, said history teacher Menandro Asi.
Media as chroniclers of history
Bulatlat, among the co-convenors of the re-launched Tanggol Kasaysayan, has two major projects that touch on history – its weekly online show This Week in People’s History and a regular column “Baliksaysay” penned by Gealogo himself.
Ronalyn Olea, managing editor of Bulatlat, highlighted the role of revolutionary and progressive media in standing up to the powers-that-be during critical times in the Philippine history.
This included the various newspapers that were put up during the country’s colonization period under Spanish, American, Japanese forces, the martial law period under Marcos, and the post-Marcos administrations where democracy has supposedly been restored.
In the months leading to the ouster of former President Joseph Estrada, for one, Olea said, news and investigative reports by the now defunct “Pinoy Times” and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism on his ill-gotten wealth played an important role in the turn of the century in the Philippines.
She said that the alternative media today continues the progressive tradition of the Philippine press.