I finally got around to perusing my digital copy of the Office of the President of the Philippines’ Historical Atlas of the Republic. Self-described as the first of its kind, the atlas traces the country’s geopolitical landscape through the years, from prehistory to the May Day Rebellion.
Though I’ve only read bits and pieces (what I wouldn’t give to get a free glossy hard copy for easier viewing!), I can say that the work is a testament to the genius of the multidisciplinary approach, and to the skills of the Filipino researchers involved. Kudos to the team who made this. We need more ways to remember and love and forgive our history.
Here’s the lovely cover. It’s a preview of the clean and pleasing imagery of the rest of the book.
There’s the general mix of contents, acknowledgements et cetera. To be clear, this book was a project of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office under President Noynoy Aquino.
The book is divided into historical eras, with key events highlighted with its own map. What I didn’t like about the structure of this book was how all of the events/map descriptions came first, and then all of the maps were grouped together. I think it would have been much better to have had the descriptions right before the map it pertains to for easy reference.
The first section was on Prehistory. Part of the discussion traced the peopling of the archipelago.
Look at that clean image.
There are mentions of rebellions, movements and revolutions that are often not highlighted in the classroom discussions of Philippine history. This atlas is both a handy guide for researchers and a good way for the neophytes to learn.
In my quick browsing, I learned so many things already. For example, I never really visualised the extent of the old Manila-Legazpi railroad. Now I’m just wondering why we can’t have that kind of extensive railway system again.
There were facts on the political character of the Philippines in relation to the international arena. For example, there’s a map highlighting the Asian multinational organizations we’ve been part of, and another map showing the OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) distribution around the globe.
But to be quite honest, the most timely and resonating maps I noticed in this atlas were those which tackled the Martial Law, and the political struggles that came after.
This past election season has taught me much about the capacity of the Filipino people to forget. Truly, we need more historical records such as these –palatable to the eyes and accessible to many– that would help paint past our struggles in a fairer and clearer light.
The Historical Atlas of the Republic contains many more maps and details. I’m looking forward to reading them all.
Get your own copy of the atlas today! Educate yourself, because there are a lot of things that formal education misses out on (by restraint of necessity). Or help educate others.
For the Filipino People.
This has been a scheduled post. I’m probably dying right now.