The writings of Renato Constantino were a major influence in the intellectual formation of countless young Filipinos who staked their lives and future in opposing the Marcos dictatorship.
At a time when the dominant, elitist view of Philippine-American relations was one of benevolence and mutual benefit, Constantino pointed out that on the contrary, our subservience to the interests of the United States had resulted in stunted growth.
Colonial miseducation was responsible for the lack of critical thinking, he said, and urged a re-examination and redefinition of the Filipino identity that would affirm our independence, uniqueness and democratic values.
Furthermore, he said, the country’s underdevelopment can be traced to our colonial history: “This condition was not abolished with independence; it was merely transformed. We see the economic structure as the basis for the iniquitous political system in which economic privilege becomes the pillar of political power – a power that enhances colonial control and further entrenches the hold of the local elite over the people.”
During the 1950s, Constantino had already been branded a “security risk” by state intelligence agencies. His continuing prolific output of scholarly books and articles, however, found fertile ground in the youth and student movement here in the 1960s, amid worldwide questioning of American domination. These ideas were taken up in activist study courses and discussion groups – where the rebellious students said they were learning more than when they were dutifully taking notes inside the classroom.
In 1972, Constantino published The Marcos Watch, a collection of critical newspaper columns. When martial law was declared, he was placed under house arrest for seven months, and not allowed to travel abroad for several years. Still, he continued to research and write, in collaboration with his wife Letizia. In 1976 the couple established the Foundation for Nationalist Studies, Inc. (now the Constantino Foundation) to initiate, sponsor or finance programs and projects for the advancement of Philippine nationalism.
Among Renato Constantino’s well-known books are A Past Revisited and The Continuing Past (a two-volume history of the Philippines), The Making of a Filipino (a biography of Claro M. Recto), Neocolonial Identity and Counter-Consciousness, and The Nationalist Alternative. His most widely read essay, The Miseducation of the Filipino, had to wait five years before it saw print.
He died in 1999 at the age of 80.
BORN : March 10, 1919 in Manila
DIED : September 15, 1999 in Quezon City
PARENTS : Amador Constantino and Francisca Reyes
SPOUSE/CHILDREN : Letizia Roxas / 2
EDUCATION : Elementary: Bonifacio Elementary School, Manila
Secondary: Arellano High School, Manila
College: University of the Philippines