By John Gabriel Pabico-Lalu, Editor-at-Large |
IN A JUNE 2012 survey conducted by the analytics group Socialbakers.com, there are about 25 million Filipino netizens who allots an average of 7.9 hours per day on social networking sites. If you are observant enough, this is about the time span of a workday. If you are too observant, you would notice that if an employee works for eight hours and goes online for another eight hours, he or she would have to jam-pack all of his or her other activities within the remaining eight hours of the day –– which is virtually impossible.
Well, you can hit two birds with one stone. Use the office’s internet connection to socialize and pretend that you are working.
Never mind if it seems that the internet’s negative side outweighs its positive side. The internet and the emergence of social networking are the marvels of the 21st century, and it is such a wonder how man-made devices can save money, save time, and convert a 3-megabyte internet connection into a thousand or more kilometers. Who knows if in the near future, these apparatuses would bridge light years?
From pondering upon what lies tomorrow, we can question ourselves: What would have happened if the internet was developed earlier? Would we be an intelligent society? Would we be a foolish community? Would members of the Malolos convention plagiarize?
A Facebook page dedicated to the immortal Katipunan offers a guess –– with a twist.
“If the Katipunan were on FB” is a Facebook page that’s gradually gaining popularity among the country’s history-curious and sophisticated teenagers. Managed by a group of college students, the page revolves on wild guesses regarding how the characters of our past would have spoken had the internet existed in the Spanish-colonial period. As of the moment, the page has more than 8,900 likes, and a series of 32 posts starting from the roots of the secret revolutionary society up to the results of the Tejeros convention. The group’s administrators promised to release more posts that will probably last until the fight of the Katipunan’s remnants against the American rule.
A new translation pattern
So how do the posts look like? The administrators of the page transform or ‘photoshop’ an ordinary post into a Katipunan-related status or conversation that appears to be from some well-known historical characters. Majority of these posts come from and centralizes on the Supremo, Andres Bonifacio, and from the Brains of the Katipunan, Emilio Jacinto.
Since there are a few, if there are even any, published manuscripts which will show us how Bonifacio, Jacinto, and the others spoke, the page decided to align their speech patterns to the youth of today. The Katipuneros use a mixture of English and Tagalog, or as the street language puts it perfectly, “conyo”.
Can you even imagine the Supremo speaking a near-Kris Aquino style of semantics? Can you even imagine them getting hooked to a 21st century computer game? Such would be considered as blasphemy, especially when Filipinos consider him man enough for standing against Spanish rule, and for being unselfish when he lost the presidency to Emilio Aguinaldo. Take a look at this reaction from the fictional Bonifacio, on trailing Aguinaldo at the elections in the Tejeros convention:
“OMG, sobrang Filipino time nung mga supporters ko.” (“Oh my God, my supporters are so late.)
Attention versus controversy
These posts are certainly controversy-magnets, but reactions would vary from person to person. This fictional Bonifacio’s manner of speaking sure looks funny to students who would want a bit of humor with history, but plain disrespect in the eyes of some activists and historians.
For the college students who revitalized the secret society through the new media, there is something else to understand behind the funny side.
According to the page’s managers, history is a part of education that some students find, well, boring. Rather than studying the past intently because they want to, the youth force information in their minds because they are obliged to do so. They (administrators) think that it should not be that way.
Definitely, it should not be. If history repeats itself, how will the present generation prepare for the future if they do not know history?
But how are you going to attract students in a practically boring aspect of academics?
Since a lot of young people are disinterested in history because of the forced memorization of dates (Magellan hit the Philippine shores at March 21, 1521); the endless open-ended questions (what if Ferdinand Marcos didn’t marry Imelda); and the subjective dullness of some discussions (why do we even need to discuss Jose Rizal’s love-life), the administrators of the Facebook page hope to attract the new generation by adhering to their customs. While the minor details may get out of hand, the sequence of events is actually based on facts.
By adding a bit of comicality, the group hopes to emphasize what transpired between our heroes. It seems like that “if we get these conyo kids to appreciate history, then we can inform them that Aguinaldo ordered the execution of Bonifacio.”
Pasyon and the revolution
The group also cites the “Pasyon”, a series of poems read by Filipino Catholics during the Lenten Season as point of analogy. During the Spanish colonial period, friars forced the natives or the “Indios” into memorizing the Spanish manuscript, thus spurring boredom towards the religious activity.
“According to the historian Reynaldo Ileto in his book Pasyon and Revolution, the moment the Spanish translated the Pasyon to the different dialects of the country, the Filipinos finally understood it; their interest in the religion grew and they began to relate more with this Christ that they read about,” the administrators said in an online interview.
Naturally, the Indios appeared to be concerned with the Pasyon and the religion as well, after it was translated into their own dialects. Sans the religious effects, that is what the group aspires to do: to bring history closer to the young people by translating it into their lingo.
“It’s the same thing with the Filipino youth nowadays and the subject of history. For years we had to memorize the important names, the places and the dates of our history. But it was never that interesting to us; we were just memorizing blindly, and it’s easily forgotten,” the group added.
Essence over humor
The good thing in studying history is that different scenarios are created and re-created in the minds of the people by simple ‘what-if’ questions. We know that the past would have been changed drastically had development accelerated a thousand times faster. There is a possibility that certain things may have been prevented or aggravated.
Sadly, this generation needs a bit of this ‘noble ridicule’ in order to learn how his or her country started. These students never wanted to poke fun at the country’s heroes, yet they were forced to do so by the alarming unconsciousness of the youth.
Some may frown at the idea, and some may find delight in it –– basically because they share the same train of thought. Why frown if the method is probably more efficient than those used by Grade School teachers?
But does this mean that if everyone within the group understands that Aguinaldo ordered the death of Bonifacio, the teachers can teach kids using this mode of communication?
Should society allow these heroes to be forgotten, or to be known in a new way?
Either way, it is a sword without a handle –– a sword that can kill but would eventually cut your hand.
You could check their Facebook page: