Different title for a posting, eh?
Little story… A couple of weeks ago I had to go to the Embassy to obtain a verification for legal capacity to marry. Not really a big deal, but we got down there early that day, just in case. Well, it only took about 30 minutes, and Rebecca and I were in Intramuros and had a few hours to kill (I was flying out later that day). So, we played “Tourist” in Intramuros that morning… Neither one of us had ever been there. You see, prior to living here, I was always here on business and Rebecca was only in Manila from the airport to the bus station on her leave home. Also, I guess it’s a little like my relatives in New York who have lived there their entire lives and never visited the Statue of Liberty. So, we walked over to Fort Santiago and Manila Cathedral.
I have always been interested in History from the time I was a little kid. As a matter of fact, one of the first things I did after moving to the RP was buy a book on Philippine History. I look at it like this: If I am going to live here, I should try and learn as much about the history of the place as possible. I knew a little about RP history, but not all that much. However, history can give a great understanding of current issues…. WHY are things the way they are? (both good and bad). How can things change for the future?
What surprised me was Rebecca’s reaction when I brought home this book. She said, “You will probably know more about Philippine History than I do when you are done reading it!” That’s an interesting comment. Yes, she was taught Philippine History in school (I was not). Yes, she sees the pictures on the money every day (I do too, but do you ever pay attention?). Yes, she is a very smart woman with a lot of knowledge (Far more intelligent than I am). However, growing up, her family never took vacations (Too busy making a living). Manila, where the museums and such are, was just an annual, arduous shopping trip to buy clothing and farm equipment. There was no such thing as cable TV in those days, and little exposure to history outside of stories her grandmother told her.
Her statement got me thinking: How many Filipinos really know their own history and appreciate the struggles of their ancestors? Is knowledge of the past some knowledge that is valued? I am not trying to be facetious or insulting here. There are many, many Americans who are completely ignorant of their own history. I wonder, however, if the strain of poverty relegates history to the “useless knowledge” category here. Rebecca told me, very matter-of-factly, “If you are not sure if you can buy rice today, do you really care about Rizal, Quezon, Bonifacio, Lapu-Lapu, or any of the other Filipino heroes?” I had to admit, my answer was “No”.
That being said, back to the story. We walked over to Fort Santiago, and I could tell the old high school knowledge was coming back to Rebecca. She felt national pride, which was nice to see.
They have the very well presented Rizal Museum at the Fort, and you can walk along the old walls and ramparts. You can take a calesa ride, and visit the memorial to the victims of the Japanese occupation. If any readers have some time in Manila, it is well worth the time to go down there, if you have not been. A very informative and pleasant day. The museum staff deserve kudos for maintaining a good, informative place to learn history, under, I’m sure, a very tight budget. A few pictures from Fort Santiago…I hope they are interesting to you.: