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Honoring a historian

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The Philippine National Historical Society (PNHS) feted renowned scholar and former National Historical Commission of the Philippines chairman Dr. Samuel K. Tan, bestowing the Lifetime Achievement Award for History, during its 40th National Conference on Local and National History held recently at the National Museum of Anthropology for his life-long work on Philippine historical studies.

Born in Siasi, Sulu, in 1933, Tan, former chair of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman’s Department of History, devoted his life in the study of the Sulu Archipelago and the history of the country in general.

To date, he has authored more than 20 books including A History of the Philippines (1987); Decolonization and Filipino Muslim Identity (1989); The Filipino-American War, 1899-1913 (2002);

the three-volume Surat Sug: Letters of the Sultanate of Sulu (2005) and The Muslim South and Beyond (2010).

The PNHS, through its president Bernardita Churchill, describes Tan as a champion of “the value of local history and importance of oral sources” and he “championed the voices and vantage points of those marginalized and obscured by national(ist) historiography.”

It said, “As a public historian, Samuel Tan’s writings have long nurtured not only a spatial perspective and cultural sensibility, reflective of his familial roots deeply sown in Siasi, but have also pioneered and sustained a new way of seeing and sensing the Muslim South as an integral part of the national narrative in modern Philippine history.”

It added, “Prof. Tan has restructured how we teach and study the makings of the modern Philippines and, as a result, he has fostered and facilitated the ethos of ‘national belonging’ across publics, regions, cultures and religions.”

In the national conference co-sponsored by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ National Committee on Historical Research, National Museum (NM) of the Philippines, and the Philippine Social Science Council and to be held at NM of Fine Arts Auditorium, more than 10 scholars presented papers ranging from prehistory to indigenous textiles, Filipino novelty music, the controversial St. Louis Fair in 1904, marriage customs of the Tagalogs and Kapampangans, Jawi materials of Sulu, the Chinoys of the 19th century, Japanese pioneers in Davao and the balagtasan, among others.

Presenters included food historian Felice Prudente-Sta. Maria; Ligaya Lacsina and Allan Alvarez of the National Museum; Anthony Medrano of the Yale-NUS College, Singapore; Jomar Encila of the local government of Taguig; Jose Buenconsejo, Jay Galang, Nicholas Sy, Galileo Zafra, and Vim Nadera of UP Diliman; George Borrinaga of the University of San Carlos, Cebu; Maria Nela Florendo of UP Baguio; Eri Kitada of Rutgers University, New Jersey; Munap Hairulla of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology; Rolando Borrinaga of UP Manila in Palo, Leyte; Marya Svetlana Camacho of the University of Asia and the Pacific; Regalado Trota Jose of the University of Santo Tomas and Michael Coroza of the Ateneo de Manila University.

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