More than just 'Buwan ng Wika': Why August is also History Month in the Philippines

Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2022 09:18 PM

People visit the “Museo ng Katipunan” inside the Pinaglabanan Complex in San Juan City on Bonifacio Day, November 30, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File
People visit the “Museo ng Katipunan” inside the Pinaglabanan Complex in San Juan City on Bonifacio Day, November 30, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - For many Filipinos, August is knows as the "Buwan ng Wika", or the month when the Filipino language is celebrated.

But did you know that it is also the country's History Month?

Proclamation No. 339, signed by the late president Benigno S. Aquino III in 2012, declared the month of August as History Month. 

According to the proclamation, this is due to the several important historical events that happened in August, such as the National Heroes Day on August 30, and the commemoration of the start of the 1896 Philippine Revolution.

Dr. Rene Escalante, chairman of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), said it is not surprising that both the country's language and history is celebrated on the same month.

"Hindi nagkataong sa buwan ng Agosto pumatak ang Buwan ng Wika at Buwan ng Kasaysayan. Magkaugnay ang pusod ng wika at kasaysayan. Buhay ang kasaysayan dahil sa wika. Ang wika ay buhay dahil may malay tayo sa kasaysayan," he said during the opening of the Buwan ng Wika and Buwan ng Kasaysayan held at the Manila Metropolitan Theater on Monday.

(It is not a coincidence that August is both Buwan ng Wika and Buwan ng Kasaysayan in the Philippines. Language and history are connected. History is alive because of language. Language is alive because people are aware of their history.)

"Napili ang Agosto dahil punong puno ito ng makasaysayang pangyayari na may kinalaman sa pagsilang ng bansang Pilipino. Kasama na rito ang pagsiklab ng Rebolusyong Pilipino noong Agosto 1896. Ito’y isang pangyayari sa ating kasaysayang nagtulak sa ating pagkabansa, paglaya, at pagiging unang demokrasya at republika sa buong Asya," he added.

(August was chosen because it is filled with historical events related to the birth of the Filipino nation. This includes the start of the Philippine Revolution in August 1896. This is an event in our history that paved the way for the birth of our nation, independence and becoming the first democracy and republic in Asia.)

Escalante said it is better to celebrate history during the whole month of August since there are still some debate on when the 1896 Revolution actually started.

"Naging maingat dito ang Pambansang Komisyong Pangkasaysayan ng Pilipinas. Sapagkat kung ipipilit natin ang isang petsa, tiyak na may aangal at ang pagdiriwang taon-taon ay puputaktihin ng mga batikos, sa halip na maging pagkakataon ito upang magkaisa at magbunyi. Wala mang aktuwal na petsang mapagkayarian kung kailan nagsimula ang Himagsikang Pilipino, mananatiling sagrado ang buwan ng Agosto sa mga Pilipino. Kaya tinuturing ito ngayon ng pamahalaan bilang Buwan ng Kasaysayan," he said.

(The National Historical Commission of the Philippines became very careful about this issue, because if we insist on one date, there will surely be opposition and the celebration every year will be criticized instead of being a day for unity and celebration. We may not have an actual date when the Philippine Revolution started, but August will always be a sacred month for the Filipinos. This is why the government now considers it Buwan ng Kasaysayan.)

NHCP OIC-Executive Director Carminda Arevalo emphasized the importance of facts and evidence in the writing and telling of history.

"Ang kasaysayan ay nakasandig sa katotohanan, bunga ng masidhing paraan ng disiplina ng pananaliksik na nakabatay sa mga mapagkakatiwalaang ebidensya. Alam natin na sa kabila ng hamon sa interpretasyon sa ating nakaraan, ang ating gawain ay tahimik na tumitindig at nagpapatuloy," she said.

(History is based on truth, which came from the rigorous process of the discipline of evidence-based research. We know that despite the challenge of interpretation of our history, our task perseveres and continues.)

Among the events lined up for the month is the launch of the official logo for the 125th anniversary of Philippine Independence and Nationhood 2023-2026, which coincides with the opening program for History Month 2022.

The event will be held in Cebu City. 

IMPORTANCE OF HISTORY

For historian Michael Charleston "Xiao" Chua of the De La Salle University, celebrating History Month is more than just remembering the past.

"Ang layunin ng Buwan ng Kasaysayan ay ipakita ang Saysay ng Kasaysayan sa ating bansa, bakit ito mahalaga kumbaga, at gunitain ang mga ikutang-pangyayari na nagpabago nito tulad ng Himagsikang Pilipino at ang mga bayani nito upang makita natin na ang sanhi ng kasalukuyan ay ang nakaraan, at puwede tayong matuto mula rito," he told ABS-CBN News.

(The objective of Buwan ng Kasaysayan is to show the relevance of history in our country, why this is important, and to commemorate the turning points that changed our history like the Philippine Revolution and its heroes, so we can see that history is the cause of our present and that we can learn from it.)

With the current issues affecting the country's history, Chua said it is now imperative to also look into historical methodology and the importance of the use of sources and evidence in narrating history.

"Subalit ngayon, kailangan nang dagdagan ang empasis liban sa mga nabanggit. Kailangan pong gamitin ang Buwan ng Kasaysayan upang ipakita ang kahalagahan ng metodolohiya o yung bagang pagpapakita paano ba nalalaman ang mga kuwento ng nakaraan batay sa ebidensya," he said.

(But now, we have to also emphasize that more than what is already mentioned, we have to use Buwan ng Kasaysayan to show the importance of historical methodology, or how we can know what happened in the past based on evidence.)

"Lalo na sa panahon nang pambabaluktot sa kasaysayan, kailangan nating magtanong at maging kritikal. Hindi lamang ito tungkol sa kuwento ng nakaraan. Ang mga isinasalaysay natin ay salamin ng ating pagkatao at pagkakakilanlan," Chua added.

(Especially in the time of historical distortion, we need to ask questions and be critical. This is not just about the story of our past. The stories we tell are who we are as a people.)

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