Sunday, September 14, 2014

history as showbiz central

Ambeth Ocampo, one of my favorite Philippine history authors, held a lecture on the Luna brothers one Saturday afternoon and I attended it. (Yes, I'm on a Philippine history streak these past few weeks, including the Ilocos adventure that Ate Bing and I took on.

I like Ocampo's style of talking about history because it's not about the dates or the labels attached to people. He has a knack of making (super)heroes human again to the audiences' eyes. For instance, I can never remember the stats about Jose Rizal's life abroad but I do recall that he used to pretend that had already eaten just to not lose face in front of his landlords. 

In the case of the Luna brothers, I only recall that both had fiery tempers and that Juan, in particular, became famous due to his paintings. Ocampo's journey to learn more about the artist let us peek into the lifestyle of a clique of rich Filipino students abroad. The historian showed the audience where Juan used to live, to paint, and to eat in. He showed us the pictures and the legal documents chronicling Juan Luna's goofy side and the tumultuous family life he had led. 

Honestly, I felt like I was watching a Sunday showbiz talk show... If only Juan Luna can talk right now and say his piece on issues surrounding him! I learned more history through this lecture than through textbook-reliant classes!