The Perfect History Lesson
“Okay, class. Who is Emilio Aguinaldo? … Yes, Mary?”
“Emilio Aguinaldo is a traitor who sold our country to the Americans.” I proudly recited to a room full of shocked first graders.
Needless to say, my teacher didn’t like this turn of events in her Let’s Talk About History and Patriotism! lesson.
“What did you say, Mary?” she asked in a don’t-you-dare-say-it-again tone.
Sadly, I wasn’t good at reading context clues back then. So I clarified my answer with more proof of Aguinaldo’s treachery.
“Ma’am, Emilio Aguinaldo killed Andres Bonifacio. Then he sold us to America for 300,000 pesos!”
It was chaos all around as kids discussed this juicy piece of gossip. And then laughter as my teacher hauled me in front of the room and slapped my hands five times with a ruler.
“Go stay in the corner until afternoon!”
I will never forget that day, standing alone in the corner. Listening to my classmates extol the virtues of our dear heroes. Telling myself “don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry” in an effort to appear strong and full of conviction that Aguinaldo is evil.
I wonder if it had any effect on them.
I wonder if they remembered me, five or more years later, when they reached 6th grade and were (hopefully) taught the whole story. That Aguinaldo did orchestrate the execution of Bonifacio. That Aguinaldo did sell us on the eve of our actual independence to a country not even responsible for it.
Did they say, “Aaah, so Mary was right”. Or did they already forget? Merely remembering me as a troublemaker who was punished for disturbing the peace?
In retrospect, it was the perfect lesson on Philippine History. Or any history in general.
He (or she) who holds the power, decides the truth.
As far as my teacher who ruled the classroom was concerned, Aguinaldo was an excellent general who rallied our people into independence.
And if you say otherwise, you’re wrong.
Happy Independence Day, everyone!