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History of the Filipino History Book

In case you haven't heard, I successfully defended my dissertation last 22 June 2012. And now I'd like to share its abstract, acknowledgments, and table of contents here on my blog to publicly thank everyone who helped me get to this point, and perhaps inspire other Filipino librarians to obtain their own PhDs.

History of the Filipino History Book

For those who have difficulty reading the document above, I am reproducing the abstract and acknowledgments below:

History of the Filipino History Book
Vernon del Rosario Totanes

Doctor of Philosophy

Faculty of Information
University of Toronto



Studies of Philippine historiography often trace the emergence of history books written by Filipinos—or, more simply, Filipino history books—to the influence of Spanish and American colonialism, and the rise of Filipino nationalism. In most cases, the names of historians and the titles of their works figure prominently in discussions devoted primarily to texts and/or their authors' backgrounds, while the names of their publishers and other bibliographical details are either relegated to the footnotes or dispensed with altogether. This study proposes an alternative, complementary approach that seeks to enrich the study of Philippine historiography by reconstructing the history of the Filipino history book using the framework of the discipline known as "book history," and Pierre Bourdieu's theory of the field of cultural production.

The histories of three books, namely, Jose Rizal's annotated edition of Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (1890), Leandro Fernandez's A Brief History of the Philippines (1919), and what is now commonly known as Teodoro Agoncillo's History of the Filipino People (1960), are presented as case studies through which the evolution of the Filipino history book as a material object and commodity, and not merely as a text to be read or interpreted, may be better understood. Each book represents a different period in the evolution of the study of Philippine history by Filipinos, and was published in multiple editions over several decades.

By examining the prevailing conditions throughout each book's life cycle, the contributions of agents other than their authors, the struggles that accompanied their publication and distribution, and the evidence that may be gleaned from the books themselves, this dissertation shows that Spanish and American colonialism, and Filipino nationalism, did shape the development of Philippine historiography from the late nineteenth century to the twentieth century, but it also reveals that the Catholic Church played an important role in the production and circulation of books regardless of who was in power, and that struggles between agents involved in the historical field have affected the history of the discipline in ways that have yet to be fully acknowledged.


Dissertations, like books, are usually credited to their authors alone, but such works often also benefit directly and indirectly from the efforts of family and friends, librarians and archivists, publishers and professors, and many others. This dissertation is no exception. Hence, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to those who have contributed in various ways to the writing of this work:

Patricia Fleming, for agreeing to be my adviser even though she had just retired, and for her kindness, patience, and support as I wrote and rewrote numerous drafts over the years; Alan Galey and Malavika Kasturi, the members of my committee, for challenging me to complicate my analysis using methods and approaches I had not previously considered; and Vyva Victoria Aguirre, Roland Sintos Coloma, Gordon Davies, Leland de la Cruz, Tarleton Gillespie, Greta Golick, Christine Lao, Thomas Kessler, Susan MacDonald, Scott McLaren, Ari Ngaseo, Fr. John Schumacher, Brian Cantwell Smith, Karen Smith, and Ethel Tungohan, for asking questions, answering queries, giving feedback, and suggesting improvements.

Sharon Henry, for encouraging me to apply for the travel grant that brought me to Toronto; Lourdes David, for planting the seed that led me to contemplate the pursuit of a doctorate; Patricia May Jurilla, for introducing the study of book history as an academic discipline to Philippine studies; Leslie Howsam, for showing that history books are material objects and commodities with their own histories; Ambeth Ocampo, for suggesting that I look into the history of what is now commonly known as Teodoro Agoncillo's History of the Filipino People; and Filomeno Aguilar Jr., Bernardita Churchill, Natalie Zemon Davis, Milagros Guerrero, Reynaldo Ileto, Gregory Pfitzer, Vicente Rafael, and Edgar Wickberg, for showing interest in my research and encouraging me to continue.

Salvacion Arlante, for granting access to the Teodoro A. Agoncillo Papers and other resources at the Main Library of the University of the Philippines; the librarians and archivists at Ateneo de Manila's Rizal Library, Biblioteca Nacional de España, Biblioteca del Ateneo de Madrid, Bibliotecas AECID, Bibliothèque nationale de France, British Library, Columbia University, Lopez Museum and Library, Newberry Library, New York Public Library, Philippine National Library, US Library of Congress, US National Archives, University of California Berkeley, and University of Michigan, for not only preserving the primary sources I needed for my dissertation, but also for organizing them so that necessary materials could be easily found; and the visionaries behind Google Books, Internet Archive, and Hathitrust, for digitizing books and documents, and making them freely available online.

Teodoro V. Agoncillo III, for answering my questions and generously sharing documents I could not find elsewhere; Elvie Lapuz, Grace Tabiendo, and Ricky Punzalan, for their help in obtaining copies of library and archival materials that I was unable to physically examine; and Jonathan Balsamo, Maricor Baytion, Jonathan Best, Karina Bolasco, Mario Feir, Stephen Feldman, Caroline Garcia, Susan Go, Caroline Hau, Chas Navarro, John Silva, and Gas Vibal, for welcoming me into their offices and homes, translating documents, and/or assisting with the collection of data.

The University of Toronto, for providing the fellowship that made it financially possible for me to study in Canada; the Doctoral Thesis Completion Grant, as well as the Ethel Auster Bursary, for additional funding; Bonnie McElhinny, for the research assistantship that allowed me to visit UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library and the US National Archives; and the Faculty of Information, the School of Graduate Studies, the Asian Institute, and the Doctoral Students' Association, as well as the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library, for grants and awards that facilitated research trips and conference-related travel outside Toronto.

Bro. James Dunne, Onofre Pagsanghan, and Fr. Victor Salanga, for being good teachers and advisers inside and outside the classroom, and for being even better friends after I finished high school and college; Dulce Abad and Donna Shotwell, for being my mentors in and out of the corporate world even after we set off in different directions; Jim Arshem and Raphael Gancayco, for befriending a stranger like me and letting me stay with them on research trips to Washington, D.C., and New York, respectively; and Vanny Bicomong, Bong Buenaventura, Rene Cruz, Tom Frias, Ed Gulane, Cheche Soberano-Kau, Tony Liam, Malix Huidem, and Rancy Recato-Buenafe, for their friendship and support as I traveled between Toronto and Manila over the past six years.

My aunts and uncles in Canada and the United States—namely, Fe and Ben Dueñas, Tessie and Rudy Escribano, Aida Geronimo, Cora and Dick Macalinao, Gee and Bill Orr, Ernie and Mae Totanes, and especially Lory and Phil Mancini, and Stan and Rose Totanes—for welcoming me into their homes, and essentially treating me as one of their children; my cousins and their husbands or wives (if any)—Ben and Emily, Edgar and Teena, Erwin and Lyn, Eugene, James, Joey and Weng, Maris, Mike and Priscilla, PJ, Rachel, Rhia and Mike, Tony and Chiqui, and Vi and Ronnie—for going out of their way to spend time with me; and my siblings, Veraflor and Verchie, for helping me in countless ways over the years.

And finally, my parents, Ver and Flor, for teaching me to read and to write, to live and to love. This dissertation is dedicated to them.

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