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Horacio de la Costa: The Background of Nationalism and Other Essays – History and Philippine Culture

I. Problem: difficulty of defining our national culture as clearly and accurately as we would wish
a. What is Filipino culture? How do we define generalization
b. How to answer?
i. Food
ii. Customs, traditions
c. Difficult to come up with accurate presentation for it
II. Reasons
a. Our knowledge of the past is spotty
i. We can’t define Ph CULTURE bc we do not know our past
ii. We know things about a certain segment of our past, but not as much
1. We only know 19th century, nothing furthers
iii. About other periods and aspects = hardly anything
1. Nothing
2. Population
3. Wealth
a. Indication = number of people that serve you
b. We do know enough of the grand lines of our historical development, to venture certain
very broad generalizations about our national culture
i. We do have enough knowledge to attempt certain generalizations
ii. Generalizations
1. our culture is made up of many elements of widely different
provenance (source/ORIGINS)
a. Hinduized SEA communities and their muslim successors
i. ~Indian culture
1. Indonesia = Borobodur/ Hindu Temple
2. Thailand/Myanmar = Buddhist temple
3. Cambodia = Ankor Wat
4. Buddhism
a. Northern India
b. China = influenced by india
i. Indigenized/localized Buddhism
5. Islam
a. Malaysia/Sumatra/Indonesia
b. Chinese Influences
i. Perhaps even earlier bc trade with communities in
ii. The Chinese would migrate to the PH in great numbers
and form communities
iii. Stay bc they provide goods and services only they can

b. Summary a. Very hard to make distinctions since internet and globalization and technology ii. Urban vs Rural communities III. From Chinese 2. Cultural borrowings from abroad did not long remain in their original state among us. Natives did not build stone things c. changing what was originally foreign substance into our own. from Europe as well as Asia 2. What exactly this og thing from which we began ii. Horizontal = region/barangay/province c. kept being added to from many sources outside our borders. 1. Architecture ii. Anglo-saxon/ ANGLO-AMERICAN e. i. Highland vs Lowland culture 1. we did something to them. these intrusive cultures did not only do something to us. not only did they do something to us but we also did something to them i. PH: Made it pansit (assimilated) b. even if the rate and degree of assimilation varied considerably… a. from far and near. Ex i. It was not the same taste. culture was porous and we were eager to assimilate their experiences . Our national culture: developed not in isolation (like Chinese culture?). we assimilated them. Kundiman 3. into their cultural heritage. Stone/lime/cement 2. while it is possible to speak of a national culture common to the Philippines as a whole. Noodles 1. or depth everywhere c. more or less successfully. Original capital 1. we must expect significant horizontal and vertical variations… For example: a. Assimilated i. Ex i. Spanish influences d. first: from the very earliest times to the present these islands have been subjected to an almost continual stream of cultural influences from without. Mountain communities = less hispanized 2. second: Filipinos reacted to these influences not by rejecting them or simply imitating them but by assimilating them. its components: i. Vertical = classes/social classes b.

from class to class. Complexity therefore. We oprate on a prejudice and beat ourselves for not being Asian b. but also a pointless undertaking…for if our aim is to arrive at a definition of what Filipino culture is. c) so perhaps categories like “foreign” and “indigenous” are NOT helpful at all… V. b) it seems that there is nothing foreign about our national culture: there is hardly any external factor impinging on our culture which we have not colored by our attitudes and shaped to our purposes c. More on complexity a. We identify Filipino with a nation/indigenous culture 2. differences are glaring bt a city in manila or a town in sulu 4. Fil culture is identified in nativist terms ( a. diversity of origins of these components iii. our national culture is vastly more complex than would appear at first glance b. from region to region. it is what we have today… i. it is complex for various reasons: i. If ther eis any one word that characterized Filipinos = “Negotiation” . Confusion between “national” and “indigenous”. urban vs rural ii. ) it seems that our national culture is a wholly foreign culture i. When we say national we do not mean indigenous b. Even Filipino is constructed/produed and open to influences iv. this process of acculturation (localization) varied horizontally. multiplicity of its components ii. resulting in significant differences within a recognizably common culture… i. they have moer things in common among themselves 3. c. nothing is monolithic/monochromatic IV. important practical consequences a. Nayong Filipino 3. What we have today IS Filipino culture iii. and vertically. variety and delicacy of their articulation with each other and with the whole iv. but also the realization that to distinguish what is indigenous from what is foreign in our culture is an extremely risky undertaking… 1. now = differences are becoming more and more glaring 1. Continues to assimilate v. Good point ii. Our national culture is not what we had in the beginning. But not only risky. you have areas which are becoming enclaved (bgc/qc) 2. an arbitrary equation the national does not equate to indigenous i. it is certainly not by such a process of selection that we shall arrive at it… a.

no arbitrary limits to the range of historical research therefore could be permitted… XIII. GOMBURZA a. VI. we cannot limit the beginning of Philippine history to the mid-19th century. There is need for archival research and gathering of data… a. PH history started in 1872 1. First. It is rather the case that the usable evidence is fragmentary and incomplete. Repetition b. We have to go back as early as we can to see how we are iii. and that it is now merely a question of revising the construction that has been placed upon the evidence. can it tell us anything more? It can. DLC: Do more research/discover more about our ancestors VIII. A false assumption underlies this misconception: that the materials are there to be interpreted. that all or most of the evidence relevant to the main phases of our historical development has been submitted. it must begin with research. but only if 1) we clear away certain misconceptions and 2) take certain positive measures (more research/reflection) VII. cannot be completely understood without reference to our past. It is important that we ask the historians questions. Shade to Teodoro Agoncillo i. . The data is already there = interpret/reinterpret b. Much of what happened during the Revolution. we cannot limit the beginning of Philippine history to the mid-19th century. We cannot begin to understand the Philippines as a nation without first understanding it as a colony i. IN THE SECOND PLACE: we should avoid the mistake of limiting the area of our historical interest and the scope of our investigation for reasons which are largely emotional or simply irrelevant. a. historians must do research into the entire range of our historic past. How come lapu and raja are “Filipinos” XII. IN THE FIRST PLACE: we must get rid of the idea that the task which faces the historian today is merely a task of reinterpretation – of interpreting correctly what his predecessors interpreted wrongly a. but we must not tell him what answers to give… XIV. but this does a disservice to history as a discipline a. This honors the nationalism of the proponents of this limitation. 19. Conjecture (speculation) X. Two alternatives open to one who wants to write on the history of the Philippines but does not want to do research: a. PH = postcolonial product ii. First to articulate Filipino national consciousness ii. XI. and often to our remote past. what must we do to extract from history the additional information that we need for a greater understanding of our national culture? a. and much of what is happening even today. Example again: the Tobacco Monopoly… The point: revision cannot begin with revision.3 IX. This is what history at the moment can tell us.

*AGoncillo = only objective impartial (x completely objective) XV. they show how nationalism can promote the study of history. Second. and how history can serve the highest purposes of nationalism . b. they must do this research in an objective and dispassionate spirit i.