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abel d soto
abel soto LIFE IS a paradox, especially when you are dealing with the subject of historical perspectives. Why is that? Read on.

Paul Valery, a French poet (1871-1945), owns a quote that says, "History is the science of what never happens twice." While I already forgot who said this famous line: "History repeats itself." Maybe that is the reason why George Santayana warned us that, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it." Aren't those quotable quotes revealing a paradox about life? Maybe, but just maybe..., depending probably on what one is inclined to believe in or, more appropriately, on the contextual factuality of one's experiences. You can choose what you want to believe in, for you are all entitled to that belief that you choose.

This, though, is what remains to be universally true and undeniable about history: "A history without a story is a history with a hollow identity" (A.D. Soto). ("Ang kasaysayang walang kuwento ay isang kasaysayang walang kuwenta" [A.D. Soto].)   It is the significant stories embedded in history that provide essence and sensibility to history. It is story that makes history substantial, momentous, and memorable in the hearts and minds of men.

I always tell my students in literature when I introduce the short story and the power that lies in stories: It is story that interweaves the plot and limitations of history. History does not end because the storytellers of history never die..., or at least their stories remain alive, because the flow of history does not stagnate, thus the story of history goes on and on and the history of every story is always preserved. ("Ang kuwento ang nagtatagni-tagni at tumatahi sa banghay at limitasyon ng kasaysayan. Hindi natatapos ang kasaysayan sapagkat nanatiling buhay ang mga nagkukuwento nito..., o ang kanilang mga kuwento, kahit paano, kung kaya't patuloy din ang pag-usad ng kuwento ng kasaysayan at ang kasaysayan ng bawat kuwento.")   A.J.P. Taylor was so right when he said, "History is not another name for the past, as many people imply. It is the name for stories about the past."

Here are the enduring, overarching questions now:

    •After history, what/who are we?
    •What have we become after history told its story?

If the answers you will get from these questions will already satisfy and provide you reasons for contentment, then history ends... End of the story as well. But if not, then hope begins anew. For as Marc Block wrote, "History is, in its essentials, the science of change. It knows and it teaches that it is impossible to find two events that are ever exactly alike, because the conditions from which they spring are never identical." Probably, only their essence is what is synonymous.

May we be creators and co-creators of our own history... Today.

[About the author. Abel D. Soto took up his certificatory double major course in Creative Writing and Performing Arts at Centre for Arts Foundation, Inc. in Quezon City. He also finished the Managing the Arts Program at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City. He is a resident of Bacolor, Pampanga.]

-Posted: 4:19 AM 6/16/09 | More of this author on eK!