Sunday, October 19, 2008


The National Historical Institute will be celebrating its 75th anniversary this week. The entire place was abuzz with people who were working on the final stages of the building's refurbishment when I stopped by there last Friday. Even the elevators were being worked on; hence, I had to walk up the stairs all the way to the third floor to get to its bookstore.

Presently chaired by Prof. Ambeth R. Ocampo, and administered by Director Ludovico D. Badoy and Deputy Executive Director Emelita V. Almosara, the National Historical Institute Board boasts of a group of distinguished scholars for its members: Jose Cruz, S.J, Heidi K. Gloria, Benito J. Legarda, Serafin D. Quiason, Corazon S. Alvina (Director of the National Museum) and Prudenciana C. Cruz (Director of the National Library).

And according to its Web site:

NHI’s forerunner was the Philippine Historical Research and Markers Committee (PHRMC) created in 1933 by virtue of Executive Order No. 451 signed by American Governor General Frank Murphy. PHRMC's mission was to identify, designate and appropriately mark the many antiquities of the Philippines. The chosen head of the committee was an American journalist Walter Robb, while other members of the committee included Fr. Miguel Selga, S.J, Prof. Otley Beyer, Prof. Jayme C. De Veyra, Prof. Conrado Benitez, Dean Edward Hyde and Eulogio B. Rodriguez.

The PHRMC, however, was abolished following the inauguration of the Commonwealth Government. Philippine Historical Committee (PHC), though, was created by Executive Order No. 91, dated 23 January 1937, to assume the same responsibilities as that of its predecessor. The PHC performed its mandate for about five years, from its creation until the outbreak of the Second World War. When the country was occupied by the Japanese Forces, PHC was abolished and its functions were absorbed by the Commission of Education, Health and Public Welfare. On 20 January 1947, six months following the inauguration of the Third Philippine Republic, the PHC was reconstituted, and was placed under the Office of the President and later transferred to the Department of Education.

During its 28 years of existence, the PHC was able to install about 444 historical markers all over the Philippines. It was also able to acquire historical shrines such as Mabini Shrine in Tanauan, Batangas and its counterpart in Manila and the Juan Luna Memorial Shrine in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. The PHC was also responsible in reconstructing the Rizal home in Calamba and collect about 600 rare Rizaliana items and took charge on concerns about naming and renaming of streets, plazas, towns and other public sites.

Meanwhile, alongside with the PHC, the Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission (JRNCC) was also created by virtue of Executive Order No. 52 dated 10 August 1954. It was created to take charge of the preparations for Jose Rizal’s birth centenary. For about six months, this commission published books on the works of our national hero. JRNCC was later converted and became Rizal Presidential Committee on 1 July 1962 after President Diosdado Macapal issued Executive Order No. 14.

Before 1962 ended, President Macapagal issued Executive Order No. 28 that amended EO No. 14 which paved way for the creation of the National Heroes Commission with the additional task of conducting preparations for the centennial birth celebrations of Filipino heroes and luminaries. The NHC was placed under the direct supervision of the Secretary of Education. Meanwhile, the Rizal Shrine in Calamba was placed under the supervision of the Director of the National Museum while research and publication works were directed by the Director of the National Library.

In 1962, there was a social and political clamor for the creation of a historical body with functions and duties were broader than those of the existing PHC and NHC. In 1962 three bills were filed, one from the Congress and two from the Senate. The said bills possessed the same objective—the creation of a historical commission. Sen. Camilo Osias and Sen. Eulogio Balao co-authored Senate Bill No. 18 approved by the Senate on 9 March 1964 while House Bill No. 2241 sponsored by Rep. Salih Ututalum was approved by the Congress on 7 May 1965.

To fuse Senate Bill No. 18 and House Bill No. 2241, a conference was held attended by members of both houses on 18 May 1965. Senator Francisco Rodrigo amended the title of the proposed historical body from Heroes Commission to Historical Commission. The fused bill was finally approved on 19 June 1965 as Republic Act No. 4368.

From 1 July 1965, the NHC and the PHC were merged and named National Historical Commission which started to function as a separate bureau under Department of Education and Culture. Its functions were divided into research, administration of shrines, monuments and markers and general administration. Under the chairmanship of Mrs. Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil, activities were launched in full blast despite limited fund. One of the major projects of NHC was the floating museum dubbed as KASAYSAYAN that brought NHC to various places in the Philippines to reach the public. This effort was continued by the succeeding heads of the agency.

In 1972, in accordance with Presidential Decree No. 1 of 24 September 1972 otherwise known as an Act Reorganizing the Executive Branch of the Government, the National Historical Institute was created. In line with this aim of streamlining government entities performing identical or parallel functions with that of NHI, agencies like National Historical Commission, Intramuros Restoration Committee, Roxas Memorial Commission, Quezon Memorial Committee, Emilio Aguinaldo National Centennial Commission, Gomes-Burgos-Zamora Centennial Commission and the Pinaglabanan Commemorative Commission were abolished while transferring all of their functions, records, appropriations, records and properties to the NHI.

To read more about the history of the National Historical Institute, click here.

To view some vintage photos from its archives, click here.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 7:57 AM


Blogger Dennis Villegas said...

I always frequent NHI's bookstore way back in the 1980s while a student in Manila. Their books are cheap and of high quality printing. Marami na rin silang libro na out-of-stock at dapat na mai-reprint

October 19, 2008 8:09 PM  

Blogger JayAshKal said...

Congratulations to NHI for reaching this milestone!

And for Eric for hightlighting its existence. Love also the column of Prof Ambeth Ocampo.

Nice post Eric.

October 20, 2008 9:12 AM  

Blogger ka tony said...

Hi Eric,

Thanks for this post & your recognition of the National Heroes Commission, its creation was approved by President Diosdado Macapagal in 1963. NHC revitalized what the Philippine Historical Committee started.

NHC established absolute researched on lives of Filipino heroes & their martyrdom, historical dates, houses, sites, etc... The commission also meticulously translated Spanish, English, Japanese, Arabic, Malay, Indonesian, Hindi & Philippine vernaculars, books & documents that have something to do with Philippine history.

Sana ay na bigyan nang parangal ng National Historical Institute ang mga Ginoong nagsipagsimula, nagbigay buhay at kahulugan, ang kasaysayan ng Pilipinas sa bersyon ng mga Pilipino...

# ang mga mananaliksik at tagapagsalin wika
# Ginoong Carlos Quirino, na namuno ng komite
# Ginoong Jose Buhain ang nagkosepto at sekretaryo ni Sekretaryo ng Edukasyon - Alejandro Roces
# Sekretaryo ng Edukasyon (panahon ng Pangulong D.Macapagal) Alejandro (Anding) Roces

Sa pagpupumilit at paghandog ng mga ulat kay Pangulong D.Macapagal nila Ginoong Buhain at Roces, ang dahilan kung bakit ang ating "Araw ng Kalayaan" ay ibinalik sa takdang araw, June 12, 1898.

Dahilan rin sa magkapatid na si Alejandro at Alfredo Roces, kung bakit ang Moriones ng Marinduque, Ati-Atihan, Sinulug, at ibat-ibang uri ng kulturang Pilipino ay nagkaroon ng pansin at nabigyan muli ng buhay.

Sa iyo Eric at sa mga Ginoong ang mga pangalan ay aking na bangit, ako ay lubos na gumagalang at nagpapasalamat,

Tony ( ka tony) Donato
former Designer/Artist/Researcher for the National Heroes Commission

October 20, 2008 12:38 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You're right, Dennis! The woman who was helping me was somewhat embarrassed when half on my list were all out of print. Sayang!

October 21, 2008 10:08 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you, Mario! Glad you enjoyed this post. You may want to include this on your must-visit list when you come for vacation. Their prices are affordably-priced :)

October 21, 2008 10:10 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Ka Tony,

Thank you very much for adding another dimension to this post by sharing your insight with us about the people behind the founding of NHI!

Tulad ng nasabi ko kay Mario, sana ay mabisita mo din ito sa paguwi mo sa Maynila sa darating na Pebrero :)

October 21, 2008 10:14 AM  

Blogger Dennis Villegas said...

Hello Senyor, You should ask my friend there Joe Centeno, as he has some very old books from the Libreria Martinez. Murang mura lang ang mga ito considering na rare na talaga...Thanks

October 21, 2008 10:27 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Dennis!

Would you mind emailing me his contct info at:

Thank you!

October 21, 2008 10:39 AM  

Blogger Dennis Villegas said...

Hi Senor, I already lost Joe's cellphone number but his office landline is 5250055, and di ko rin sure if this number is still working. Anyay, Joe is just easy to find in NHI. He's in the property section...

October 22, 2008 5:53 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Sige, Dennis. I will try calling NHI and ask for him.

Thank you!

October 22, 2008 8:44 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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