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Sunday, February 1, 2009

The President's Report

by Dr. Celestina P. Boncan
President, Philippine Historical Association (2006-2008)
PHA General Assembly
January 31, 2009, National Historical Institute

Good morning!

I have the honor and pleasure to give you today a report of the activities of the Philippine Historical Association from 2006 up to the present. For the information of everyone, a resolution was passed by the outgoing board on December 28, 2005 allowing itself to continue as an Interim Board until such time that a new Certificate of Incorporation could be acquired from the Securities & Exchange Commission inasmuch as the old one would already expire by the end of 2005. Then President Evelyn Miranda declined to become president again, Vice President Evelyn Songco begged off due to pressure of work. Yours truly accepted the offer by the board to become president.

We officially started our term as president on February 3, 2006 in which day the Interim Board was formally inducted by Mrs. Emelita Almosara, Deputy Executive Director of the National Historical Institute.

When we began our term, we faced a daunting task. The first item in our agenda was to put the “house in order” so to speak and this was to get a new Certificate of Incorporation from the Securities & Exchange Commission which we were able to get on October 20, 2006.

Another very important matter that had to be attended to immediately was the restoration of the PHA’s good standing in the Philippine Social Science Council in which the PHA is one of the regular members and where it represents the History Discipline together with the Philippine National Historical Society. The matter stemmed on the fact that the PHA had been remiss for five years in complying with the PSSC’s requirement of an annual journal. We immediately addressed this requirement by publishing five journals before the deadline given by the PSSC. I am happy to report that the PHA starting from April 2007 until now is in good standing in the PSSC. And because of this, the PHA has been able to enjoy, for 2007 and again in 2008, the privilege of regular members of receiving an annual financial grant as support for their activities, especially the annual conference, the first time that the PHA has enjoyed this privilege in so many years.

We thank the PSSC for its patience and generosity to the PHA.

We also faced a daunting task as our term comes right after the PHA had just celebrated its 50th anniversary. There was before us the achievements of the PHA’s founders and past presidents. It was only but fitting that we endeavor to make this second half century of the PHA as dynamic as it could be possible.

In our first year as president, we endeavored to continue the PHA tradition of making the annual conference as a venue in tackling issues of national importance. Hence, we chose the theme “The Historical Development of Philippine Political Parties” as there had been much public debate on Charter Change at the time. Through this conference held at the University of Makati (September 18), the PHA offered a venue for an academic discussion on one of the pillars of the country’s political life --- the political party system.

We endeavored to increase attendance in the annual conference by focusing on topics that would be interesting and beneficial to teachers of history on all levels. The 2007 annual conference which was held at the National Library (September 21) dealt with “Controversies and Fallacies in Philippine History” while the 2008 annual conference held at the University of Santo Tomas (September 19) was on “Effective and Creative Strategies in Teaching Philippine History.” I am happy to report that the 2007 and 2008 annual conferences each registered more than two hundred paying participants, the first time that this has happened in so many years.

We conceptualized new seminar projects to be undertaken such as “The Men of Valor and Fortitude: The Generals of the Philippine Revolution and Philippine-American War” which was first held at the University of the Philippines Baguio (February 10, 2007), then at St. Anthony’s College in San Jose de Buenavista, Province of Antique (February 26, 2008), this focusing on the generals of the Visayas.

Another is the Pocket Lecture Series wherein the PHA shall conduct half day lectures at public schools free of charge as part of the commitment to Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya of the Department of Education to help enhance the teaching of Philippine History. The first was held at the Manila Science High School (November 9, 2007), the second at the V. Mapa High School (November 16, 2007), the third at the GSIS Museum of Art for the Pasay City High School (January 29, 2008), and the fourth at the J. Laurel High School (February 20, 2008).

We ventured into the realm of public health by holding a seminar entitled “America’s Legacy to Philippine Public Health” on July 7, 2007 at the Baguio-Mountain Provinces Museum.

Upon the invitation of the Colegio de Sto. Nino in Cebu City, we held a seminar on the theme “Teaching Greatness to Filipino Youth through History” on October 20, 2007.

We echoed free of charge our 2008 annual conference “Effective and Creative Strategies in Teaching Philippine History” at the Holy Trinity College in Puerto Princesa, Palawan on November 6-7, 2008 to benefit 156 public school teachers of the Divisions of Palawan and Puerto Princesa.

In terms of publications, we endeavored to come out with an issue of the Historical Bulletin (annual journal) every year and the PHA Balita (newsletter) during the annual conference.

We have also endeavored to come out with printed programs, for the 2007 and 2008 annual conferences and the colloquia for Philippine Independence Day (in Kawit in 2007 and in Malolos in 2008).

We revitalized old linkages, most especially with the National Historical Institute. We actively participated in the project of the National Historical Institute to popularize local history writing --- in 2007 held at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (September 20), Silliman University, Dumaguete City (November 6-7) and University of Northern Philippines, Vigan (November 23-24); in 2008 held at the National Historical Institute (August 21-22), at the Rizal Memorial Colleges, Davao City (September 25-26), at the Naga Colleges Foundation, Naga City (October 16-17), at the University of San Carlos, Cebu City (December 11-12).

We also actively participated in two main historical commemorations undertaken annually by the NHI. For Philippine Independence Day, we organized colloquia, in 2007 on the theme “The Significance of June 12 as Philippine Independence Day” at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite (June 9) and in 2008 on the theme “The Role of Bulacan in the Struggle for Philippine Independence” at the Casa Real Shrine in Malolos, Bulacan (June 11).

For Rizal Day, we continued the seminar-workshop that we conceptualized in 2005, “Teaching Rizal in the Classroom: Making the Rizal Course Relevant in Our Time” --- in Siliman University, Dumaguete City on January 26-27, 2007, University of San Agustin, Iloilo City January 18, 2008, and Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro City on December 9, 2008.

We have also endeavored to request the National Historical Institute to publish a special issue of the Historical Bulletin in commemoration of its 50th anniversary. I am happy to report that the NHI will indeed publish this commemorative issue in time for the 2009 annual conference in September.

We thank with the utmost gratitude all the support that the NHI has given to us in the last three years.

We also revitalized our linkage with the Philippine Social Science Council. In 2006 the PHA was a member of the National Organizing Committee chaired by the Philippine Social Science Council that prepared the 19th Conference of the International Association of Historians of Asia which was held on November 22-24, 2006 at the Hotel Intercontinental Makati. The PHA had a stake on this since the IAHA traces its beginnings to the international conference organized by the PHA in 1960 whose participants passed a resolution to found an association of historians of Asia. For the 19th IAHA, the PHA fielded a panel on the theme “History in a Multi-disciplinal World.” I am proud to report that the PHA was the only regular member association of the PSSC that fielded a panel.

On May 8, 2008 the PHA participated in the PSSC’s 6th National Social Science Congress by fielding a panel entitled “Imparting History in Philippine Education.”

We made use of the PHA’s membership in the Committee of Historical Research of the NCAA by applying for financial assistance to be able to hold more seminars outside of Metro Manila (“The Men of Valor and Fortitude” seminars held in Baguio City and San Jose, Antique and the seminar “America’s Legacy to Philippine Public Health” in Baguio City).

We thank with the utmost gratitude all the support that the NCCA has given to us in the last three years.

We thank with the utmost gratitude too all the institutions and schools that partnered with us in bringing history closer to our people.

I must admit that the task of being president was not easy. Being PRESIDENT means being PRESSED to give one’s all, being PRESIDENT means being PRESSURED to “deliver the goods.”

But surely there were lighter moments in being president of the PHA as there were many instances of being together and being able to keep in touch with past presidents (Napoleon Casambre, Oscar Evangelista, Milagros Guerrero, Pablo Trillana III, Ambeth Ocampo) as part of our thrust to link the present with the past. Unfortunately, however, one of them is no longer with us, our dearly beloved Dr. Rosario Cortes.

Before I close, I would like to thank the people without whom we would not have been able to accomplish what we have set out to do. At this point, I would like to personally thank:

Dean Gloria Santos (Executive Director)
Dr. Cesar Pobre (Governor, Past President)
Dr. Evelyn Miranda (Immediate Past President)
Dr. Teofista Vivar (Auditor)
Dr. Evelyn Songco (Vice President)
Dr. Estrellita Muhi (Treasurer)
Prof. Orestes de los Reyes (Assistant Treasurer)
I would also like to thank three young men whom I personally recruited to the board on my authority as president. I was not mistaken in getting them as they have proven themselves time and time again to be responsible, dedicated and trustworthy. They are:

Prof. Jerome Ong (Secretary)
Mr. Jonathan Balsamo (Public Relations Officer)
Mr. Michael Chua (Assistant to the President)

Sa inyong lahat, maraming maraming salamat po!