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Read these free PH history books before your next quiz bee

Read these free PH history books before your next quiz bee

“Education crisis” is officially the Term of the Week. But while we’re aware that the GomBurZa fiasco in the Pinoy Big Brother history quiz kicked it up the algorithm, what made it easier for us to agree with the phenomenon are situations we ourselves witness: struggles in blended learning, budget cuts in the education sector, and horrifying historical denialism, to name a few. If anything, those wrong answers to basic history are just the tip of the iceberg. 

There’s a lot left to be done in the fight for quality and accessible education. The academe can sometimes be an alienating place, but luckily, there are references spread across the virtual realm made available for everyone. In a sea of unverified spliced videos and sensationalized stories, here are some online reads on Philippine history—authored by Filipino writers and historians—you can visit anytime.

“The Philippine Islands” by Ramon Reyes Lala

If you’re on your own mission to find out our islands’ origin stories, this book—dubbed a “culturally important work”—chronicles early conquests, conflicts between Church and State, commerce history, and more. Some chapters even zero in on our natural minerals and the oppressive systems that surround them. Also, here’s a fun fact: In the first few pages, you might have spotted “A Native of Manila” under the name of the author, Ramon Reyes Lala. Well, he’s believed to be the first naturalized Filipino-American, with this book being the first one written about the Philippines in English by a Filipino. 

Read it on Project Gutenberg.

“Philippine History Source Book” by various authors

Looking for a thick pile of sources for your next humanities paper? Thank the National Commission of Culture and the Arts (NCCA) for the RRL assist. In 2021, they released the free version of an e-book that spans events from the pre-Spanish period to post-war Philippines, providing different materials like inaugural addresses, executive orders, and personal letters, among others. A collaborative work by members of the academe, this collection of primary and secondary sources is a trip to the Filipiniana section in itself. 

Read it for free after completing this survey.

“A Question of Heroes” by Nick Joaquin

National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin plays critic to 10 prominent figures of Philippine revolutionary history. This essay collection serves as a deep dive into the nuances of the narratives surrounding Jose Rizal, Graciano Lopez-Jaena, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, and Gregorio Del Pilar, among others. It explores stories of identity, victory, and other complex spots of history—an interesting addition to your stock knowledge if you want to go beyond the usual textbook discussion. (We’re particularly intrigued by this topic: “How ‘Filipino’ Was Burgos?”)

Read it via The Filipinas Heritage Library.

“The Story of Our Country” by Leandro Fernandez

Sharing a reading session with a sibling or a cousin for their first history class? A more digestible work for younger readers, Leandro Fernandez’s book feels like a non-intimidating dialogue—complete with enticing illustrations—for those brushing up on their basic nuggets. Stories include the early revolts, our forefathers, and the Katipunan’s timeline. There’s even a special chapter titled “The Story of Three Great Filipinos” dedicated to Filipino poet Francisco Baltazar, Father Pedro Pelaez, and Father Jose Burgos. 

Read it via The Filipinas Heritage Library.

“Kartilyang Makabayan: Mga Tanong at Sagot Ukol Kay Andrés Bonifacio at sa KKK” by Hermenegildo Cruz 

Meanwhile, in the Andres Bonifacio department, there are still questions that are rarely tapped into. Good thing Hermenegildo Cruz—historian and founding member of Union Obrera Democratica—decided to craft a book specifically focused on his life and the Katipunan, saving you one (or more) Google searches with every page. What was Andres Bonifacio’s early life like? How did the Katipunan acquire members? What were Jose Rizal’s thoughts on it? Sometimes, history is more easily remembered with questions. 

Read it on Project Gutenberg.

Read more: 

How were we not taught these stories in Philippine history class? 

Here’s an online database of Philippine docus since 1913

Unconventional films that tell more than your history books 

Art by Yel Sayo



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