IN HIS response after receiving the Baganihan Award, DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero commented that he did not know about the events of the Negros Revolution of 1898. The audience watched, prior to the distribution of the awards, a documentary on that uprising. Why were they not told about it? He then challenged the Department of Education to include local history in the curriculum. In truth it is there, but how’s the implementation? The result speaks for itself.
The suggestion of Usec Panadero is not new. So many people had been talking for a long time about the need for the young to know their history. In few cases local history was (supposed to be) integrated with other social science subjects. But this did not happen thus we find an almost universal ignorance of local history. Ask any student about their town or city’s history and chances are they will stare back, confounded. How about asking the teachers, or for that matter local officials?
At one time I chanced in a party a group of principals and supervisors. I asked about the origin of the name of their city. They didn’t know. So, what can we expect of the students and those who graduated to become leaders of their community? Thus the ignorance becomes a legacy in itself.
Last Monday, several Bacolod City officials and officers and members of the Bacolod Cultural Foundation posed before the marker after they laid a wreath at the place where they said stood the house of “Don Jose Ruiz de Luzuriaga and the site of the signing of the Act of Capitulation” that ended the Negros revolt of November 1898.
There are two errors here. First, the house where the Act was signed belonged to Luis Luzuriaga, and second the location of that house is over 50 meters away from the marker. The marker is where once stood Don Jose’s house, but no signing took place there.
The photograph of Don Luis’ house taken at that time has the caption so that one ought not to have missed it. Moreover the house of Don Jose had a different design and size than that of Don Luis.
This is a case of perpetuating a historical error simply because our officials don’t bother to check and, worse, they also belong to the crowd that don’t bother to know. They just assume. I don’t blame them for lack of historical sense because they did not study and thus failed to appreciate their history.
Another case is the date of the Bacolod Charter but let us not belabor that anymore since the error has been corrected.
But take a look at the name of our province as officially used. The provincial government uses “Negros Occidental” but the law that created the two Negros provinces declared it as “Occidental Negros” and “Oriental Negros” for the eastern side. Look up at the main entrance of the Occidental Negros Capitol building and there is it is – the correct name of the province.
Actually the descriptive “Occidental” and “Oriental” are interchangeable depending upon what language one uses. It is “Negros Occidental” if one uses Spanish, but “Occidental Negros” when one uses English. It is a matter of grammar. However, since we use English, “Negros Occidental” is grammatically wrong.
Another evidence of common errors is about names of places or their origin and meaning. There is plenty of guesswork and the guess becomes “the fact”, even officially adopted.
Manapla, for instance is said to be named after an old woman called Manang Pula, but there is no identification of this woman and the name Manapla already existed by the time the Spaniards arrived, and in fact is listed as a village in 1574.
How about Binalbagan, where the Spanish missionaries listed as the first town in this island in 1572 and yet named supposedly because a big snake blocked the railroad bridge to the town? The problem is that this railroad bridge was constructed only in the 1920s to be used as passage for trains transporting sugarcane. Clearly the snake and the bridge had nothing to do with the name.
There are many more of these officially adopted historical oversights.
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