National Historical Commission of the Philippines
|Chairman:||Dr. Ambeth R. Ocampo|
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), formerly the National Historical Institute, was created in 1972 to integrate the diverse functions of various historical agencies. Its stated aim is to strive towards "a Filipino society with citizens informed of their history, who love their country and are proud of their cultural heritage." NHI is responsible for the conservation and preservation of the country's historical legacies. Its major thrusts encompass an ambitious cultural program of historical studies, curatorial works, architectural conservation, Philippine heraldry, historical information dissemination activities, restoration and preservation of relics and memorabilia of heroes and other renowned Filipinos.
The NHI undertakes historical studies, incorporating translation and publication works; acquires either by donation or purchase, the restoration, preservation and maintenance of historical sites, monuments, landmarks and shines, structures, relics and memorabilias of heroes and other eminent Filipinos, documents and other source materials; commemorates significant events and personages in Philippine history and safeguards the blazoning of the national government and its political divisions and instrumentalities. It is responsible for the implementation of the National Historic Act of the Philippines (PD 260 and PD 1505), as well as the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines or Republic Act 8491.
The forerunner of NHI was the Philippine Historical Research and Markers Committee (PHRMC), which was formed in 1933 under the order of American Governor-General Frank Murphy. The directive of PHRMC was to identify, designate and appropriately mark the many antiquities abounding in the Philippines so that they may not be lost to posterity. An American journalist named Walter Robb was chosen to head the committee. Other members 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 was abolished once the Commonwealth Government was inaugurated. On January 23, 1937, the Philippine Historical Committee (PHC) was signed into existence. It took on the same responsibilities as its predecessor for about five years, up until the outbreak of World War II. While the country was occupied by Japanese forces, PHC's functions were absorbed by the Commission of Education, Health and Public Welfare. PHC was reestablished on January 20, 1947, six months after the inauguration of the Third Philippine Republic. It was placed under the Office of the President, then 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 for reconstructing Rizal's home in Calamba, collecting about 600 rare Rizaliana items and taking charge of concerns about naming and renaming of streets, plazas, towns and other public sites.
Meanwhile, alongside PHC, the Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission (JRNCC) was also created by virtue of Executive Order No. 52 dated August 10, 1954, in order to take charge of the preparations for Jose Rizal’s birth centenary. For about six months, this commission published books on Rizal's works. JRNCC became the Rizal Presidential Committee on July 1, 1962, after President Diosdado Macapagal issued Executive Order No. 14. Before the end of the year, 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 broader than those of the existing PHC and NHC. In 1962 three bills were filed, one from the Congress and two from the Senate. 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 March 9, 1964 while House Bill No. 2241 sponsored by Rep. Salih Ututalum was approved by the Congress on May 7, 1965. To fuse Senate Bill No. 18 and House Bill No. 2241, a conference was held on May 18 of that year, attended by members of both houses. Senator Francisco Rodrigo amended the title of the proposed historical body from Heroes Commission to Historical Commission. The fused bill was finally approved on June 19, 1965 as Republic Act No. 4368.
From July 1, 1965, the NHC and the PHC were merged and named the National Historical Commission, which started to function as a separate bureau under the 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 force, despite limited funds. One of the major projects of NHC was the floating museum dubbed as KASAYSAYAN that brought NHC to the public in various places around the Philippines. This effort was continued by succeeding heads of the agency.
On September 24, 1972, in accordance with Presidential Decree No. 1 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 the 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.
- National Historical Institute homepage (accessed on October 2, 2008)
- About Philippine Culture: National Historical Institute (accessed on October 2, 2008)
- History (accessed on August 6, 2007)