by Albert Garong, SSP
That title got your attention, right?
Sorry, but this isn’t another hugot article to dish out love advice to you struggling romantics. But surely it is about moving on from the past—our collective past, that is—the right way.
How Not to Move On
People approach the past differently. Some experience it like a pirated DVD: they keep jumping back to the same scene, replaying painful memories over and over. Stuck in the past, they just won’t let old wounds heal! Is it any surprise they’re so bitter?
Some offer a “healthier” approach: just brush off the past and focus on the present. “Let’s live in the moment!” they would often say. To them, the past is simply a burden that must be let go, a baggage to be buried and left forever.
The first approach is classic human tragedy. No one should ever—ever!—stay like that for long. But while the past should never dictate the present, it should inform it. That’s why a complete disregard for history can be just as dangerous.
Think of it as a moving car. The first approach keeps the car moving but only in circles (through the same battered roads of the past). The second approach lets the car travel far, sure, but not necessarily in the right direction (or to the right destination).
Ignored, Distorted, Wasted
If experience is the best teacher, then history must be the grandmaster, the sage of all human wisdom. So why do we ignore it? (or, as students, snooze through it?)
Filipinos tend to have little sense or knowledge of their own history. Just look at how easily misinformation spreads in social media. Practically anyone who can superimpose a few choice words to a picture can pass off “truth” and rally the Internet mob against anything or anyone. But that’s just one viral post. Imagine if it’s a carefully planned attempt to sway people’s opinion, say during the past election campaigns.
Or just take any major part of our history and ask people what they know or think about it—for instance, the martial law years. You’ll be surprised at the conflicting responses you’d get about that era. Why? Because there have been lots of similarly conflicting “information” peddled about it online.
Who knew history could be so easily rewritten?
So how should we approach the past? How do we not get stuck in it or repeat the same mistakes?
Simple. By honoring history.
To honor history, you have first to know it. And, please, don’t just believe what you see on Facebook. Through a quick online search and a dose of good ol’ common sense, you could easily crosscheck the many claims going around the Internet. Make sure your own sources are reliable too, like established news and academic institutions. A person who knows history won’t be so easy to fool (and won’t in turn fool others).
Second, to honor history, you have to protect it. This we owe to our heroes. Correct erroneous claims. Fight misinformation. Let your social media account not just be a parade of OOTDs. Let your conversations not just be about K-Pop or your budding puppy love. Participate in discussions, such as those on Twitter—but do it respectfully. No need to kindle the Internet hatred with insults and sarcasm. Remember, when you fight for truth, you have one weapon liars will never have: facts. Fight with facts, and watch as the lies come tumbling down (evil laughter not required).
And finally, to honor history, you have to learn from it. Don’t just talk about it; take its lessons and apply them. We’ve already seen how unchecked, absolute power can damage our country; should we really go down that road again? We are still paying for the (long) past sins of a few corrupt people and families; should all that just be buried and forgotten without justice? History can help us answer these questions today. Let it be the map and compass to guide this car’s journey and destination.
History might be nothing more than a snooze fest of a class to you now. But it can be so much more. To know and appreciate the past, to let old mistakes not embitter us but make us better, stronger, wiser people, to let the past be a friend and not a shadow feared or ignored, that’s the right way—the only way—one moves on from the past.
You know what? That kind of applies to your love life too.
1. Form a group and choose a common historical event you can talk about. List down what you know about it without checking any source. How well did you do? What does it say about your knowledge of history?
2. Think of any recent meme or online post about any Philippine historical event. Do a quick check on it. How accurate was it? What do you think is/are the reason/s behind such a post?