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Squabbling over the ‘First Mass’—and why should even care?

By Nestor Garcia

Contributed photo

When I was in high-school in 1970’s our history teachers would praised the European navigators like Ferdinand Magellan as the greatest sailors in the world.

But one time, me and my classmates wondered why no Filipinos were ever mentioned as equally great when many times it was said our ancestors were brave and daring seafarers even before the Philippines discovered Magellan.

Please take note of this contention because to some progressive historians, academicians and critics, we were never discovered by the mercenary but the other way around, and our ancestors never cared if the white men didn’t come at all. They were not relevant and even unwanted.

To them the white men were only passing ghosts turned strangers but shrewdly overstayed and abused the hospitality and naivety of the short, brown men and women. We’re not even sure if they treat the locals as citizens of the islands or human beings worthy of respect.

Now, hundreds of  years later, we are still debating, quarreling to defend our pathetic claim of the so-called honorable place in Christian religious history. Fine,we might as well learn the significance of acknowledging the  distant past and until the present time. History is not just black and white but a rainbow of colors.

I refuse to ride along the idea of celebrating the colonizers voyage around the world and then oppressing us, treating us as rugs afterwards and leaving us a legacy of inferiority complex and values of our “primitive” selves.

Values in fact are total opposite of our ancient “bagani” (tribal warriors) who are fearless and refused to bow down to enemies.

Let the Spaniards, Portuguese and the Hispanic minions remember their explorations as they cornered and greedily divide the world to themselves, and why should we islander-victims celebrate with them.

Are we still colonized until today? Or could not shed off our shameful blind royalty to the point of forgetting our pains, hardships and insults like it never happened? We are devaluing ourselves.

Think about it, we are proud to be the only Christian country in Asia, but we are also the most corrupt, even violent and dehumanizing. What then is to celebrate? We never learned from our past, way back the time we were conquered. We never asked why and vow to change our lives.

Look at our national leaders, they kept telling us real change will come at their helm. It never did. Too late we found out they are wearing the same masks. But then we probably deserve it. We never fought back we have become contented cows.

I don’t really care about Magellan. I am curious to know more of Datu Silongan and other datus, baganis and fighting maidens, there must be many of them, and it’s time to honor and celebrate them. They who fought and failed and fight again until they perished.

They deserve to be remembered too- and no longer second rate citizens but in lead roles. It’s time we come up with our own.




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