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Culture and History

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Nick Joaquin, said Jose Garcia Villa, is “the only Filipino writer with a real imagination—the imagination of power and depth and great metaphysical seeing—and which knows how to express itself in great language, who writes poetry, and who reveals behind his writings a genuine first rate mind.” Reprinted in 2004 by Anvil, with illustrations by Beaulah P. Taguiwalo.


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Nick Joaquin, said Jose Garcia Villa, is “the only Filipino writer with a real imagination—the imagination of power and depth and great metaphysical seeing—and which knows how to express itself in great language, who writes poetry, and who reveals behind his writings a genuine first rate mind.” Reprinted in 2004 by Anvil, with illustrations by Beaulah P. Taguiwalo.

30 review for Culture and History

  1. 5 out of 5

    RE de Leon

    Let it be known. This is the best book on Philippine History I have ever read. It ought to be a basic text taken up by any serious student of history. (Although not forced upon a student not interested in history at all - for such readers, I recommend Ambeth Ocampo.) Your experience of Philippine History (and Philippine Contemporary News, actually) is not truly complete unless you've digested a number of key points about the study of history, raised here by Nick Joaquin. Not every chapter is as Let it be known. This is the best book on Philippine History I have ever read. It ought to be a basic text taken up by any serious student of history. (Although not forced upon a student not interested in history at all - for such readers, I recommend Ambeth Ocampo.) Your experience of Philippine History (and Philippine Contemporary News, actually) is not truly complete unless you've digested a number of key points about the study of history, raised here by Nick Joaquin. Not every chapter is as important as the rest, but "Culture and History", "A Heritage of Smallness" and its companion piece at the very end of the book are absolute must-reads. [More details later - the book is currently in storage, as I'm moving to a new city.] RE de Leon 11:44 PM 6 January 2011 Agoo, La Union, Philippines

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rise

    Not every essay Nick Joaquín wrote is agreeable, but his arguments are thoughtful if not thought provoking, and the ways he phrased them are a display of skill and intelligence. He argued that the pre-Hispanic civilization in the Philippine islands are not too far advanced compared to China and India. He called it a "heritage of smallness": the Filipino works best on a small scale and by implication is unable to commit to big projects, hence, our ancestors built small boats (balangay). They also Not every essay Nick Joaquín wrote is agreeable, but his arguments are thoughtful if not thought provoking, and the ways he phrased them are a display of skill and intelligence. He argued that the pre-Hispanic civilization in the Philippine islands are not too far advanced compared to China and India. He called it a "heritage of smallness": the Filipino works best on a small scale and by implication is unable to commit to big projects, hence, our ancestors built small boats (balangay). They also choose to work in soft, easy materials like clay, molten metal, and tree bark. According to him, our artifacts show that they did not develop to the next level, our pottery not as advanced as the Chinese porcelain. In contrast, the arrival of the Spanish brought advancements in technology that led to cultural progress. Joaquín is often accused of being a Hispanophile. He is a Hispanophile. His writings offer a reckoning of the Filipino in terms of colonial influences and the way diverse identities blended to produce the imprints of a culture and history.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rose Ann Aquino

    This was my output for school so just an amateur attempt of summarization(as always). I was not forced to publish this as a form of compliance to the course subject but I just wanted to post it here so that it will not go to waste after submission. I apologize for the incorrect grammar and uses, English is not really my first language nor did I have fluency in my first. Précis: Culture and History by Nick Joaquin (view spoiler)[In his provoking 1988 essay, Culture and History, Nick Joaquin conve This was my output for school so just an amateur attempt of summarization(as always). I was not forced to publish this as a form of compliance to the course subject but I just wanted to post it here so that it will not go to waste after submission. I apologize for the incorrect grammar and uses, English is not really my first language nor did I have fluency in my first. Précis: Culture and History by Nick Joaquin (view spoiler)[In his provoking 1988 essay, Culture and History, Nick Joaquin conveyed the impression that Filipinos cannot attempt to repudiate concepts, beliefs and overall influence that was parted to them by other countries with the intention of restoring their identity to its “original” state. The reason behind his judgement is that there is a great extent by which the things that Filipino folks are practicing and utilizing today was brought about by the foreign ascendancy. Joaquin developed, rationalized, and disseminated this postulation with the use of his appended information about the inventions and spices(which was introduced by the Spaniards), as it caused a substantial contribution to the creation of culture and tradition created by the Filipinos; by wanting to altogether delete the foreign impacts, people are implying to consciously or unconsciously destroy their so-called present form of being. Like a set of building blocks, removing the foundation will obliterate the holistic structure of what depicts the entirety of the group, Filipinos, by nature and by what sets them apart from other factions. Generally, identity is a sustaining process wherein one picks up a variety of ideas to concoct and develop their selfhood; therefore, in the simplest terms, it was implied by Joaquin that it was necessary for the Filipinos to use other’s influence because Philippines is a young developing country that is still testing waters. One can use a sponge as a visual representation of the country: absorbing surrounding edification, excreting what will not be useful in its situation, and still retaining slivers of past encounters, by default was its traditions. The aspiration of the writer by publishing his essay is to supply additional facts for his target audience, which is his fellow Filipinos, to reflect about customs and in order to decrease the debaters who were driven only by ignorance. (hide spoiler)] I just based my work based on what little did I read about what is to be contained in that kind of summary. Posted on 4th Day of October in the year 2019.

  4. 4 out of 5

    John Rey

    This is not a history book, but a book about history and culture. The grand design of this collection is accentuating the noteworthy, and the mainstream air of what we considered history in our classrooms become footnotes against it. Published in 1988, this collection of essays came out with a subtitle Culture and History: Occasional Notes on the Process of Philippine Becoming (1988). From that, it is obvious what that is all about. Nick Joaquin heralded the unsung pieces of our culture that make This is not a history book, but a book about history and culture. The grand design of this collection is accentuating the noteworthy, and the mainstream air of what we considered history in our classrooms become footnotes against it. Published in 1988, this collection of essays came out with a subtitle Culture and History: Occasional Notes on the Process of Philippine Becoming (1988). From that, it is obvious what that is all about. Nick Joaquin heralded the unsung pieces of our culture that makes for history -- pieces, albeit small and ordinary, could tell a Filipino, that s/he recognizes something as part of The Filipino. Thus, the national identity that may seem so elusive to this day was brought to the front in this collection, yet with enough wit and style to get you through the entire book. Joaquin debunked the myth that all that the Spaniards brought to the Pearl of the Orient are evil and that our pre-Hispanic forefathers were the real Filipinos and should have left alone in peace, just like the indigenous peoples in the mountains. But culture as history proved otherwise since the Spaniards gave us the wheel and the plow, the guisado, the adobo, etc. Could we, then, say that the adobo, the pan de sal are evil? And could the primeval forefathers have united the islands to a nation that we have today? Yet how come did the indigenous peoples across the country still remain as tribal communities? Is it a shying away from the big task of nation-building? A laborious task that it took conquistadores, people from the other side of the world, to do the job for the island-dwellers? Those were some of the strings of thoughts, arguments and counterarguments that were brought to light that cast contrast to the drab sequence of events that we point to as "history". Joaquin gave analysis to the events-- which were mostly Introductions -- and came out with flare, with new perspective that all that were introduced to the people after 1521 were but ingredient to the process that makes the Filipino who s/he is today. This is a great collection in its entirety, full of insight about the Filipino Becoming. I somehow lament that Joaquin did not placed footnotes or a bibliography about his sources of facts that he referred to in each essay. But he sure had all his claims backed by a huge amount of facts and observations of previous writers that it is difficult not to give in to his arguments. This maybe due in part of his writing style as a journalist than being a scholar. Perhaps, by the great amount of effort of having those sources, or by sheer talent and style of writing, or by the conclusions and insights he presented, I should say I like this book. For people who are bored of Philippine history yet want to have another take on it, this may be a refreshing read not to ignore. And yet it is difficult to pass up finishing this collection of a great writer.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Guillermo

    I officially love Nick Joaquin!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gabriela Francisco

    "A nation is not its politics or economics. A nation is people. And a nation changes only when the people change." This book is not easy reading. Not just because of the meaty subject matter (perhaps THE ultimate subject: what IS the Filipino? And how did history make him?) but because the answers Nick Joaquin posed will not sit well with a lot of idealistic patriots with romanticized notions of a glorious aboriginal culture. He challenges the idea that the pre-Hispanic Filipino and Philippines w "A nation is not its politics or economics. A nation is people. And a nation changes only when the people change." This book is not easy reading. Not just because of the meaty subject matter (perhaps THE ultimate subject: what IS the Filipino? And how did history make him?) but because the answers Nick Joaquin posed will not sit well with a lot of idealistic patriots with romanticized notions of a glorious aboriginal culture. He challenges the idea that the pre-Hispanic Filipino and Philippines was culturally rich, and points out weaknesses in the modern-day Filipino most bluntly, to the point of giving offense. One should not read this book expecting to be comforted by visions of past greatness. CULTURE AND HISTORY is a collection of fifteen essays written in various decades, some from the 1960's but collected and first published in 1988. To be honest, the book is so rich in material that each essay deserves its own review! But for my future ailing memory's sake, I shall stick to my usual social-media-friendly soundbyte-style. While some of the essays were critiques of artifact exhibits in Club Filipino and anthologies of essays on Philippine culture, most were miniature historical treatises which seem intended for publication in newspaper or magazine form. The word "miniature" is one I will forever associate with this book. One of several controversial themes is his observation on the Filipino, throughout history, as having "the habit... of thinking poor... and petty. Is that the explanation for our continuing failure to rise -- that we aim small and try small, that we think small and do small?" "Why are we as a people so disinclined to face up to challenges?" "We don't grow like a seed, we split like an amoeba... We make a confession of character whenever we split up a town or province to avoid having to cope with big problems and operations... we are capable only of the small." Not everything is dark and dreary in the book. The central theme is the use of cultural artifacts to inform us of history... "Culture is itself history." I was particularly fascinated with his essays on the beatas of Manila in the 1600's ("cryptomovements of protest") and the apocalyptic Christian-Socialist cult known as the Guardia de Honor of Pangasinan, with their Apo Laki and their New Jerusalem in Cabaruan and Santa Ana. Here were peasant revolts and feminist revolts pre-dating the Philippine Revolution, with the latter continuing up until the movement was taken down by the Americans. One essay, "Our Hearts in the Highlands?" tells of the time he and his friends went up to the Cordillera mountains in search of the noble natives uncorrupted by Western civilization... and were disappointed. "The journey in search of identity had ended not in the highlands but back home... where the heart is." This book, I think, was written with that goal: to provoke self-examination, for us to look inside and sift out the good (along with the evils) that our colonial past brought us, and learn from that good. For to deny any part of our history is to risk a fractured identity. When an author (whose father fought alongside Emilio Aguinaldo) has lived through World War II and Martial Law writes thus, one would do well to listen and reflect. I take comfort in the ending phrase of the last essay (with the same title as the book): "... this nation-in-the-making called the Philippines, this identity-in-progress called the Filipino." The revolution ... and our evolution ... are not yet finished.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bookbed

    We think this book is worth checking out! Consider adding it to your to-read pile. :) Check out more of our recs here:"15 Books to Buy from the Manila International Online Book Fair" Please note: We don't use ratings but for this purpose, we tag books with three stars by default. Would like to be a reviewer/contributor to Bookbed? Sign up here! We also accept review requests. More info here. We think this book is worth checking out! Consider adding it to your to-read pile. :) Check out more of our recs here:"15 Books to Buy from the Manila International Online Book Fair" Please note: We don't use ratings but for this purpose, we tag books with three stars by default. Would like to be a reviewer/contributor to Bookbed? Sign up here! We also accept review requests. More info here.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ivy Madrid

    This is probably the most important book I've read. A must-read for every Filipino anxious to know why he is how he is when he is what he is which he is where. Every page is enlightening. It's like meeting a long lost friend who's retelling a story I didnt get the first time. If only we were told about this in our history text books. I wish they create a "gradeschool" version of this book so children can read it. "By snubbing the truly important to favor the less important, we have been developi This is probably the most important book I've read. A must-read for every Filipino anxious to know why he is how he is when he is what he is which he is where. Every page is enlightening. It's like meeting a long lost friend who's retelling a story I didnt get the first time. If only we were told about this in our history text books. I wish they create a "gradeschool" version of this book so children can read it. "By snubbing the truly important to favor the less important, we have been developing in our people a warped view of our culture and history." When we fully realize that, we may begin to understand why the Filipino bears the name of a king.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Aeron Ruazol

    For everyone asking who and what is a Filipino, this book is a must read. A brilliant analysis of Filipino culture vis-a-vis Philippine history, Nick Joaquin crushes the Filipino identity crises into ashes. Misconceptions are reduced to mere illusions and out of the smoke arises the true-blue Filipino created by the unique circumstance called the Philippines. Only by knowing his true self can the Filipino proceed towards nation building and embrace his destiny. In the culture, indeed, lies our s For everyone asking who and what is a Filipino, this book is a must read. A brilliant analysis of Filipino culture vis-a-vis Philippine history, Nick Joaquin crushes the Filipino identity crises into ashes. Misconceptions are reduced to mere illusions and out of the smoke arises the true-blue Filipino created by the unique circumstance called the Philippines. Only by knowing his true self can the Filipino proceed towards nation building and embrace his destiny. In the culture, indeed, lies our salvation as a nation.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Philip Esguerra

    Author Nick Joaquin has been a discovery for me. He wrote in prolific English that even surpassed in my opinion other native English authors. His book gives much insight on what the Spanish colonization has contributed to the Filipino culture and more. All I know about the Philippines is what I reluctantly learned from Gregorio Zaide's high school textbook. This a much h needed info of why we are what we are now as the Filipino. Great read! Author Nick Joaquin has been a discovery for me. He wrote in prolific English that even surpassed in my opinion other native English authors. His book gives much insight on what the Spanish colonization has contributed to the Filipino culture and more. All I know about the Philippines is what I reluctantly learned from Gregorio Zaide's high school textbook. This a much h needed info of why we are what we are now as the Filipino. Great read!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Argene Clasara

    Offers a superb and enlightening insights on Filipino identity, history, and culture. It is a pity that this work has no citations or bibliography for further reading enjoyment. A good starter for students of history!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ike Eslao

    Others may deplore your bad thinking process but if you say all these times you have been reading Nick Joaquin thoughtfully, rest in the thought that it's still an honor being deplored in this manner. Others may deplore your bad thinking process but if you say all these times you have been reading Nick Joaquin thoughtfully, rest in the thought that it's still an honor being deplored in this manner.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Iyan De Jesus

    There are parts of this book where I agree with the author. There are parts where I appreciate being introduced to a different way of seeing how things went... But there are also times when I wanted to summon Nick Joaquin via ouija board just to give him a piece of my mind.

  14. 5 out of 5

    emil

    di ako sumasang-ayon sa lahat ng mga sanaysay dito. okey. peroooo mahusay pa rin at mayroon mga ilang sanaysay na nakaka-ano. ano. uhhh basta HAHAHA it made me think lang ha

  15. 4 out of 5

    Generose Dumaboc

    good

  16. 5 out of 5

    Robbie G

    I might be alternating Nick Joaquin and Stephen King for the remainder of the year. And I do not give a damn. At all.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alejandro Cadion

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mara

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ian143

  20. 4 out of 5

    Christian Concepcion

  21. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Claire

  22. 5 out of 5

    Maria Seda

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  24. 4 out of 5

    Abigael Mag-Atas

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jubert

  26. 5 out of 5

    Esathena Nabata

  27. 5 out of 5

    crescentwave

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nerie M

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hilary Tamano

  30. 5 out of 5

    Glenzy Kin

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