Filipinos’ historical milestones | Inquirer Opinion
Social Climate

Filipinos’ historical milestones

/ 05:02 AM August 27, 2022

Last Monday, Aug. 21, SWS communications man Leo Laroza searched our website using the phrase “Ninoy Aquino.” He found two survey reports—one in 1999 on the importance of a number of 20th-century events, and another in 2011 on genuine Filipino heroes—and shared them at the weekly staff meeting as context for National History Month and the death anniversary of Ninoy Aquino.

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A 1999 poll on the importance of 14 events of the 20th century. In its final survey of the last century, Social Weather Stations laid out 14 events on separate cards before a national sample of 1,200 adults (3 percent error margin). The respondents were asked to look at all the cards and then indicate whether an event was “one of the most important that happened in the Philippines, very important but not the most important, somewhat important, or not important” (“Edsa revolution is Philippines’ most important event of the century—SWS survey,” www.sws.org.ph, 12/29/1999).

The events (internally chosen by SWS; this was non-commissioned research) are listed below, in order of the percentage calling it “most important” or MI; it is the first number following the description. The number after the slash is the total percentage calling it either “most important” or “very important,” abbreviated MVI.

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The top two in terms of both MI and MVI were: (1) 1986 EDSA revolution and restoration of democracy, 27/63, and (2) 1946 Political independence, 24/60.

At 17 percent MI were: (3) 1983 Assassination of Ninoy Aquino, 17/52 (4th in MVI). and (4) 1941-45 War against Japan, 17/44 (7th in MVI).

At 16 percent MI was (5) 1987 Establishment of the present Constitution, 16/55 (3rd in MVI). At 15 percent MI: (6) Spread of Filipino workers overseas, 15/49 (5th in MVI), and (7) 1991 Eruption of Mt. Pinatubo volcano, 15/44.

At 14 percent MI was (8) 1972 Declaration of martial law, 14/43. At 13 percent MI: (9) 1991 Departure of the US military bases, 13/48 (6th in MVI), (10) 1935 Constitution during the US period, 13/41, and (11) 1899-1902 War against the US, 13/39.

At 9 and 8 percent MI were: (12) 1987, 1989 Coup attempts by rebel military, 9/35; (13) Rebellions of various Communist groups, 8/29; and (14) Rebellions of various Muslim groups, 8/28.

Note that the poll did not ask for the events to be ranked against each other. There was no limit to how many events could be called “most important.” The total percentage of “most important” answers is 209, meaning that, on average, the respondents rated two events that way rather than only one.

A 2011 poll on Filipinos recognized as genuine heroes. The other report that Leo Laroza found by online search was: “First Quarter 2011 Social Weather Survey: Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and Ninoy Aquino are top three most identified Filipino heroes,” www.sws.org.ph, 4/8/2011.

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This non-commissioned survey asked a national sample of 1,200 adults in March 2011: “Who are the persons whom you consider a genuine Filipino hero? You can name up to 5 persons.” It offered no list to prompt the respondents.

The poll found only six persons named by double-digit percentages as genuine Filipino heroes (“tunay na bayaning Pilipino”): 1. Jose Rizal 75, 2. Andres Bonifacio 34, 3. Benigno Aquino Jr. 20, 4. Corazon Aquino 14, 5. Apolinario Mabini 14, and 6. Emilio Aguinaldo 11.

Rizal is, of course, in a league of his own. The next five are all from the revolution against Spain, with Ninoy and Cory Aquino as notable exceptions. The double-digit heroes are a veritable pantheon, statistically far above those below.

The next 16 names got only single-digit percentage-mentions: 7. Ferdinand E. Marcos 5.1, 8. Ramon Magsaysay 4.3, 9. Manuel L. Quezon 3.8, 10. Lapu-Lapu 3.7, 11. Melchora Aquino 3.2, 12. Marcelo H. Del Pilar 3.0, 13. Noynoy Aquino 2.9, 14. Emilio Jacinto 2.8, 15-16. Manny Pacquiao and Gabriela Silang 2.6, 17. Gregorio Del Pilar 2.2, 18. Juan Luna 1.9, 19-20. Manuel Roxas and Joseph Estrada 1.8, 21-22. Diosdado Macapagal and Fernando Poe Jr. 1.6.

There were 15 percent whose nominees did not merit a single percentage point when rounded. Three percent said they had no hero, and 3 percent refused to answer. Thus, 94 percent had at least one hero to nominate. The average number of heroes named was 2.3, or only half of the permitted limit.

Social surveys are scientific documentations of history from below: what the people say that they know and value, of the nation’s past.

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