REVIEW: Giving our indigenous brothers and sisters a voice in a world in which their wisdom and lives are muted

Book: Handumanan (Remembrance): Digging For The Indigenous Wellspring
Author: Karl M. Gaspar, CSsR
Published by the Claretian Communications, Inc. and the Episcopal Commission
on Indigenous Peoples
Online book launch on March 10 at 3 p.m.
Register here: https://forms.gle/bPVUcEkN1mCiDUcj9

I felt like a finite being in front of the infinite while reading the first hundred pages of this book.  I remember how Renato Constantino’s book was celebrated as a critical alternative to Teodoro Agoncillo’s, way back in college. As I made that leap to political theory, I was introduced to the work of Jojo Abinales and Donna Amoroso, “State and Society.” While doing my research on radical politics in the Philippines, I even read Tiglao and his accounts on EDSA, including the works of up and coming scholars like Curato, Thompson and Kusaka.

Lo and behold! I think this manuscript will change the way we look at Philippine colonial history forever. The difference lies not only with excellent writing style, but more importantly with the author’s way of seeing things. I read Dr. Gloria’s history from below account of Mindanao and found great importance in her way of contextualizing Mindanao history. But this book is more than different. For instance, the way it engages the text of Vicente Rafael is incisive but humble. I don’t think Rafael is a humble man. He is after all a guy away from home. But the author is different because he has been with the folks he is writing about.

“Pasyon and Revolution” is the standard I suppose when it comes to paradigm shifts, although the quarrel between Jojo Abinales and Ileto disturbs me. As a “finite and nothing to show” being in the land of the giants, I can only be an observer. I sincerely think that Handumanan will be epoch-making, and the author has actually, not only actually but magnificently given our indigenous brothers and sisters a voice in a world in which their wisdom and lives are muted. He has done a great service not only to future readers, but to our country’s history as well. This is a work beyond compare, I believe so, in the new millennium or in the last 20 years. The 1970s belonged to Agoncillo, the 1980s to Ileto, the 1990s to Abinales, and this millennium, to the author!

I am not a scholar of Philippine history, but I am always an avid reader and fan of the great works of the brightest of minds since their insights and reflections have given concretization to my field. Not much to write in philosophy if we are uninformed of the everyday life of real people. The big difference with the author is that he has been with the people he has been writing about. But he has not only been writing for them. He writes with them. I can sense that they too are speaking with every ink of  his pen. Michel Foucault should be happy about what the author has done. For this book shows an example of his archaeological method. The book’s author not only sees and writes about phenomena. He is actually challenging our long held assumptions in terms of unities, traditions, and beliefs.

(Christopher Ryan Maboloc, PhD, is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Ateneo de Davao University and the former chair of its Department of Philosophy. Dr. Maboloc holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of San Carlos (maxima cum laude), in Cebu City. He obtained his Erasmus Mundus Master’s in Applied Ethics degree from Linkoping University in Sweden and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway. He completed his Master’s in Philosophy from the Ateneo de Manila University and his AB Philosophy at the Ateneo de Davao University)

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