HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 59 no. 1 (2013)

Public History and The Philippines: The Case of the Western Visayas

Matthew J. Riley

Discipline: History



Public History, the branch of historical research and dissemination which takes place outside the confines of

University History departments, will take on a more critical role as the Philippines develops a Filipino-driven national historical narrative, and as a result, affect the development of a Filipino national identity. The paucity of academically-trained historians, especially outside the Metro Manila area, mandates an expanded role for Public Historians. This paper will look closely at Public History in the Country, and most specifically in the nation’s administrative Region VI, most commonly referred to as the Western Visayas. The essay will discuss current venues and exhibits of Public History in the region, and outline an aggressive campaign of both research and outreach, with the express purpose of introducing West Visayans to their unique history from their perspective. The activities outlined here include plans for the resurrection of the zarzuela, the development of oral histories from the immediate post-World War II generation, and a close look at the history of sugar production in the region. These interventions will be conducted at the provincial and local level, and will contribute to the ongoing examination of a post-colonial, Filipino based national self. Although some of this work may result in a controversial re-examination of past injustices, it must be accomplished so as to contribute to the emergence of an expressly Filipino national identity.