11:30am - 1:00pm PDT March 20
Ambeth Ocampo, Professor of History, Ateneo de Manila University
Jose Rizal chased after origins in the British Library and published in 1890 an annotated edition of Antonio de Morga’s 1609 book “Sucesos de las islas Filipinas.” His footnotes formed the first history from a Filipino point of view. Rizal wielded history as a weapon against colonial rule, and, to paraphrase James Joyce, “forged in the smithy of [his] soul the uncreated conscience of the race.”
Forging the nation, however, has a dark side. To forge means creating something false or fraudulent. Jose E. Marco produced forgeries like the Code of Kalantiaw and the novel La Loba Negra attributed to Fr. Jose Burgos. In retrospect, Marco’s half-century career is a cautionary tale on greed and academic one-upmanship. His work fed into the search for origins and the national project. Marco is a cautionary tale on the (ab)uses of History, and what Caroline Hau aptly calls “necessary fictions.”
Ambeth Ocampo is a historian and public intellectual who is in residence this spring at the University of Michigan. He is Professor of History at Ateneo de Manila University. The author of more than 50 publications, Prof. Ocampo’s earlier work focused extensively on examining the history and legacy of nationalist hero Jose Rizal, while other work has examined myths and past constructions in Philippine history. He is known also, more popularly, for his regular newspaper columns on Philippine history published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Along with many other awards and accolades, he received a Presidential Medal of Merit from the Philippine government in 2013 and Japan’s prestigious Fukuoka Prize in 2016 for his contributions to Philippine history and culture. 250 Sutardja Dai Hall