Message of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda: 8th Local Historical Committees Network General Assembly

August 3, 2021

I am usually accustomed to meet and be with cultural workers and advocates of indigenous peoples and seldom am I in the company of historians—especially those who are into what we call local history. I know Chair Rene Escalante, and Prof. Xiao Chua, since we have worked together especially when we had Road to 500, and I am glad to see here a number of historians from different provinces all over the country, honored to be in your presence. Thank you for the opportunity to be present and speak before you. What a great way to open History Month, which coincides with Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa and ASEAN Month!


Reviewing the directory of the affiliate-members of the NHCP Local Historical Committees Network, out of 60 I do not see Antique, my home province. Chair Rene and Director Aguilar, I will contact the Provincial Government of Antique to immediately get in touch with the LHCN Secretariat for the process of affiliating with the network. I am saying this in public because I see the necessity of being involved in the process and system of the national government agencies like the NHCP, especially if it concerns the memory and identity of the locality. The number of LHCN affiliate-members from the local government units is relatively small, and we need to address this with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Chair Rene and Director Aguilar. I see LHCN a promising unit of the NHCP under your charter, RA 10086. We need to elevate the standard of historical research in the localities. I personally implore with our scholars and academics to help us do this. Let’s continue the legacies of our pioneer historians and scholars of local historical studies in the country, like the late John Alan Larkin who died last July 29. Let’s promote the interest of the Filipino people to local history even more.


To the NHCP and LHCN, I congratulate you for crafting the LHCN National Action Plan 2019-2022, otherwise known as the Baler Agenda. I want to commend the NHCP for allowing the LHCN affiliate-members take part in your system and process. Upon reviewing the achievements of the Baler Agenda, you have responded to the clarion call of the historians and scholars from the provinces to democratize your collection in Manila and 27 history museums across the country, for free. And today, we heard from the reporting of Director Aguilar that the National memory Project Philippines of the NHCP will now be converted into a digital library of rare Philippine history books, images, documents, artifacts, ephemeras, and other historical materials from the NHCP collection. Not only that—anyone in the world will access them in high-resolution and downloadable for free. As we gear towards the new normal, not only will the LHCN affiliate-members benefit from this wonderful project of the NHCP—including the students, teachers, and the ordinary people, here and abroad. I am happy that a cultural agency like the NHCP is brave enough to bring out the best of the agency for free. Let me know, Chair Rene and Director Aguilar, what else I can do to support this revolutionary idea of digitizing and uploading your collection online.


I also like to recognize the freedom you gave to the LHCN affiliate-members in selecting the annual History Month theme from 2020-2022.  I hope, as the Baler Agenda ends, you maintain this consultative and empowering processes.


To the LHCN affiliate-members, we have just heard from Director Aguilar how you became and continuously becoming productive in this time of pandemic. Let’s keep that passion burning. Spread your wings. Soar high even more. Influence other localities and the others to organize themselves and form their own local historical bodies. This, I think, is the very essence why you are called a network. You inspire each other through your best practices, achievements, resources, gifts, problems, solutions, strategies, and most importantly, your love for your own native land and land of birth.


More than research, writing, publication, conservation, documentation, and promotion, the role of a historian for me is to see the kabutihan of our heritage. History should help our people refine their thinking process, emotions, decisions, and actions. Awareness and understanding of our past are more than just a gift—it is a nugget of wisdom, that can be imbibed and imparted. History enables us to protect what is ours, uphold what is right, and correct what is wrong. History equips us to fight for what are dear to us, assert what is just, and mitigate the conceivable problems. But most importantly, History inspires us to be a better Filipino and human being because of the values, example, and lessons by those who came before us. History makes us profound, grateful, hopeful, dignified, and ever ready.


We are grateful because we have history in each and every barrio, municipality, city, province, ethnic group, and institution waiting to be discovered and rediscovered. We need more scholars and advocates of local history like you to unlock that world. We are now in a society where local history is no longer taken for granted. I do hope that someday, we will visit each and every locality of the country having its own local history book accessible to anyone, especially the hopes of our country—the students and the young people.


As one of my humble contributions in fostering and enlivening Philippine local history—para naman naman maipagpatuloy natin ang magandang pagsasama natin sa mga historyador sa ating mga lalawigan—I wish to officially introduce to the public my new online program titled Kasaysayang Lokal Mo or KASALO Mo. We envision it as an hour-length bimonthly program on Facebook, with yours truly as host. Here we will discuss with various historians, scholars, and champions of local history what they do, the problems they encounter, and how history in our country is enlivened and shared. I just want you to feel that you are not forgotten but worthy to be acknowledged and celebrated. I know that historical research, conservation, and promotion is not an easy task. So, let’s make use of this online platform, especially as we all adjust to the new normal. I would like to thank Chair Rene and the NHCP family for responding to my request to have this kind of online program in lieu of what we had started a year ago, the Road to 500 Episodes. Nalungkot ako na nagtapos ang Road to 500 noong Marso 2021 dahil nagsimula na ang quincentennial o ang paggunita natin ng iba’t ibang pangyayari sa ating kasaysayan limandaang taon na ang nakalilipas. That’s why I look forward to this new partnership, KASALO Mo and I hope to be able to invite all of you as guests in the future.  


The first episode of KASALO Mo will be on 10 August 2021. Our guests for that day are one of the most staunch advocates in the scholarship of local history: Dr. Emmanuel F. Calairo, Director of the Cavite Studies Center of the De La Salle University Dasmariñas, and Dr. Lino Dizon, former Director of the Center for Tarlaqueño Studies of the Tarlac State University. They are also currently members of the Board of Commissioner of the NHCP. They are here with us wearing two hats—as a historian of local history and as a commissioner. My guests are historians from the Juan D. Nepomuceno Center for Kapampangan Studies of Holy Angel University in Angeles City, Director Robert P. Tantingco and Curator Alex Castro. They will share with us the rise of Kapampangan local history scholarship and interest before and after the cataclysmic Pinatubo eruption in 1991. These episodes are in line with the observance of History Month this August 2021.


I cannot wait to make this partnership brought into fruition, and allow me to extend my warmest felications, as your partner in heritage endeavors. Congratulations to each and every bayani ng kasaysayang lokal.