History keeps unfolding even as we keep on ignoring it. The answers to our social problems are there, reformatted and formulated by historians and delivered to us in blood and tears – splattered papers. With national memories made up of the likes of Lapu-lapu, Sultan Kudarat, Gabriela Silang, Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, Ramon Magsaysay, Ninoy Aquino, etc. We should have long ago elevated the nation to the pinnacle of glorious existence.

      They say we wallow in social misery because we as a people never learn. That is not so true. We never really “never learn,” it’s just that we are being prevented from learning what should have been learned long ago.

      We are prevented by the government, by our traditional beliefs and social norms, themselves products of manipulation by those who benefit from the state of the nation being misled and misruled.

      The dominant mode of living is enforced upon us by a systematic education that provides the knowledge, skills and encouragement so we can adapt to a dictated destiny. The school curriculum is clearly constructed through a selective process of teaching methods and exclusive retelling of cultures and experiences. The discrediting of histories of most collective resistance that matter and the muffling of echoes of injustice by targeting non-critical issues in the classrooms are so subtle that students get so excited debating the intrigues of the revolution, instead of reflecting on the necessity of a radical change. Indeed, this nation celebrates and reveres the memory of the revolution, concluding its ending as successful. It is a glancing blow to the armored fortress of historical truth. The truth is the revolution was stopped dead in the night, not by the men who led it, certainly not by the men and women who fought for it, not even by the might of the armies that opposed it. The revolution stopped on its own accord. Like a living entity with a mind of its own, it stopped moving by its own decision. A revolution fathered by social injustice and incubated for centuries by malgovernance is a thing of beauty, like a heavenly symphony, it rolls on via a perfect combination of tone and timbre, and nothing less can make it play. Thus, a miscalculation, hesitation or discord among the revolutionists made the revolutionary process stop. But no true revolution is ever permanently stopped. It only hibernates, while generation of revolutionaries rally to find the perfect pitch of consciousness to bridge the revolutionary lull.

Life under colonialism is a life of hell. So true in Southeast Asia, Africa, North and South America, Australia, everywhere. Revolution against colonialism is never wrong. In fact, it is always moral. The oppression of people for the good of another nation is always wrong. The men who formed and joined the Katipunan certainly knew that. And the time of this realization was the defining moment of their existence. Our Muslim brothers have known that all the time, but their defensive measures for freedom have been deliberately misunderstood. 

      The conviction of the Katipuneros was not enough to carry on the revolution to its desired end. Contradictions among leaders, whom many were anxious to maintain  wealth and status quo, emerged. Resistance from the elite made it necessary for the Revolutionary leaders (who needed their prestige, influence and money for the consolidation of power) to entertain the mode of political accommodation and compromise. But political accommodation entails the preservation and continuation of social systems and entities being protested in return for social assistance, more often monetary. In the Philippines, political accommodation (or reconciliation) helped return to power persons representative of a much despised social system. Reconciliation is a favorite government slogan to preserve peace. It was also a very effective antidote to a budding revolution. To be sure, it ushered in development to the Philippines, but it did not alter the state of economic dependency of the Philippines nor the severely unequal distribution of wealth among the people.  This was very clear during the commonwealth era and the post-EDSA revolution period. These were the times when minute superficial social changes were encouraged and popularized as momentous and historic social transformation. This was to manipulate the sentiments of the people and convince them of the necessity and workability of rehashed political systems. It brought the people some kind of social diversionary role that gave them phantasmic participatory feelings in reworking the society. It was a masterful manipulation method of the politically inconsiderate. EDSA II was symptomatic of this. There was euphoria among the people who joined the rallies and demonstrations against President Estrada after he stepped down. But the real reason for his ouster was the political turnabout of the military.

      It was putting the revolution in high reversed gear.

      The persistent effort of those in power to preserve the status quo seesaws from the willing to bargain to the violently intolerant. The use of force to discourage a radical social or political change usually is the hallmark of a government employing oppression as the basis of its survival and to preserve a way of privileged life. This phenomenon may be sincerely believed by its enforcers as the only true way to live a manageable life. A divergent code of ethics antagonistic to its principle is usually responded to with persecution.

      To encourage people to live a way of life supportive to the survival of the rulers and in prolonging their dominance, the government issues grants and policies, devices laws and regulations, specifies the form of language, popularizes jobs and social conditions, decrees education and learning methods to conform and convince people of the rationality of the kind of life being enforced upon them.

      To persuade the people never to struggle in the interest of their liberation, the rulers oftentimes obscure the skies for any sign of hope that despair becomes convincingly permanent. The strategic softening of the will readies the people to accept their role in the tragedy of life, and supposedly make them feel heroic that through their miseries others could live a fuller, more comfortable life. These subtle twistings of national occurrences to entrap the people to unresisting servility are not so hard to detect and expose by the inquisitive mind.

This is the real function of history. It is the ultimate instrument of revelation. In the hands of the humanizing ones, it can be called upon to provoke the people to unite in confronting their oppressors and demand their liberation. Reading history to the core of its truthness, with the inquiring mind looking deep into the memory of oppression, one can not help but be angry. And an angry man provoked by history is a righteous man, and an enemy of those who oppress.

      The revolution may have found its missing timbre this time. (by Peter Jaynul Uckung)