HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 46 no. 1 - 4 (2000)

Twenty-First Century Prospects for National History: A Conceptual Framework for the Study of Philippine History and Nation-Building

Leslie E. Bauzon

Discipline: History



As an independent Southeast Asian nation, one of the basic goals of the Filipino people is the attainment and preservation of national unity. The unity of the nation is essential towards political stability which, in turn, is a vital prerequisite to economic progress and prosperity. Unfortunately, this ideal has remained elusive. The Filipino nation-state remains weak and there is no full national unity.


The affirmed reality in its historical and contemporary aspects is that flagrant inequalities and disparities in income exist in Filipino society. This is not to mention the real division between the dominant Christian lowland population on the one hand, and the non-dominant indigenous non-Christian minority population on the other. Thus the Filipino nation-state at present is confronted with two major obstacles toward the realization of genuine national unity. These obstacles are related to the iniquitous nature of the Philippine social structure as well as the existing dichotomy between the dominant Christianized population and the non- Christian minority cultural communities.


My paper aims to show that the study and teaching of Philippine history can play a vital contributory role toward clarifying the developmental and originating causes of present social, political, economic and cultural problems, and critically elaborating on the full dimensions of these problems in terms of the present conditions, thus providing complementary perspectives and approaches.


By undertaking necessary studies on the, developmental and originating causes of these issues and social dilemmas, history—national history—can transcend its reputation of being concerned with the past long dead, and can make the past alive and demonstrate how it molded the present, and then the knowledge derived from such studies can provide inputs toward the formulation of appropriate policies and legislation leading to the solution of the social dilemmas which will be discussed in the conceptual framework.


Possible approaches toward the unity of the Filipino nation-state will be discussed. These are assimilation, amalgamation and multiculturalism. Each of these will be explained in the context of my analysis of present realities and situation in Philippine society. We can then judge which is the best path for the Philippines to follow into the next millennium.