Friday, September 25, 2015

What I Need to Know I Learned in History Class

To the student reading this letter,

If you should ever come across this post, I hope you would find the time to read my letter. I assure you that this can teach you something different.

You might say that we lived in a different world. I know that you will. In a way, yes, that is true. You live in the now while I lived in the then. You are in the world where smartphones and gadgets had replaced lot of the things someone like me did back then. While I loved befriending the Webster's dictionary to learn all about antonyms and synonyms, you now don't need to flip page after page as you can just do it with a touch of a button. While I was lucky to have tried spending afternoons  in sweat and grime playing if not watching  street games like piko, patintero and tumbang preso with other kids, you spend yours tinkering your gadgets over a game of Clash of Clans or Criminal Case.

But let me ask you one thing: How familiar are you with history and our heroes?

Compared to you, I don’t know how Viber works. I do have an Instagram account that I don’t utilize a lot and the worst is, I don’t own a smartphone thus the unfamiliarity. Wikipedia wasn't born just yet in my time. My dose of history came from three people and one important object. Those would be my grandmother, my parents, my history teachers and lastly, the history books that I have to read each and every time for 18 years (yes, that's from grade school until I reached university). You may think that that sounds boring, but I honestly don't find that to be the case.  Recently, something was making rounds in the news and all over the internet about someone who, after watching the movie Heneral Luna asked, why was Apolinario Mabini not standing the whole time the movie was shown. My dear reader, I too am aware of it and I really do hope that that insanely inquisitive person is not you. If there was one thing I appreciated about History is that it showed me how simple yet interesting life in the past was. Blame it on my curious and imaginative mind, next to reading books, listening to my teachers as they discuss history felt as if I traveled back to their time without the need for a time machine. 

Don't take your history subject for granted. I highly suggest that instead of listening to songs that only teach you curse words, why not  listen to your history teachers and ask any question you do have about a particular era of history should there be something you want to know (and I promise you, you’ll get something interesting out of it) . Next to our historians, it is our history teachers who can give you the answers. Ask about how an ordinary Filipino lived to become a national hero. Instead of reading comic books, why not take a moment to read and flip the pages of your own history books? Read and travel back in time. Find out more about the person who bears the name of your town or your street. Because long before the street names became what it is now, its namesake was once a living person. In my case, the street where I spent my childhood was named after a first lady; and while her life was not discussed a lot in history subject at school, I still tried to learn more about her; from how she lived and even to the manner of which she died.  The people who became part of history did not live and die for nothing. Unlike cartoon or comic book characters, our heroes are not a figment of imagination. The person where your street got its name was someone who lived and died just so you can have the sweet taste of freedom that you enjoy today. Rather than memorizing cheats and shortcuts of computer games that teach you nothing but violence, why not memorize the towns and capital cities in our country and what is unique in every place. That way, you’d be able to promote what’s good or what’s interesting about our country and why it really is more fun (to be) in the Philippines.

I may not be as young as you are now as you read this but I learned that history can also be a form of entertainment – and a good one at that. You may think Guinness Book of Records is just a compilation of silly attempts done by crazy people who can’t find anything productive with their time. But it is now that I would tell you that some of those attempts were done by people with one worthy mission: To make and become part of history. When I decided to cut my hair a week ago, I only wanted to do one thing: to help a child with cancer. When it was finished, I felt fine. But when I found out that the event broke a world record, I was more than happy. I felt a sense of pride because at least I still am alive to witness something that’s literally and potentially one for the (Guinness) books. You see, I didn’t have to die a violent death nor do a death defying stunt just to make history. It gave me a kind of pride that I would be able to tell people head up high – that I am a Filipino and I am already part of history.

In the end, I wish to tell you one thing and I hope you won’t let it go down the drain: Don’t treat your History subject as something that you need to take so you can graduate. Learn as much as you can (from it). Remember that the things that you do today, becomes a part of history tomorrow. Never, ever let your ignorance be part of it.

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