A History of a History Course: Appraising the Beginnings of the University of the Philippines’ General Education Philippine History course in the late 1950s

Aaron Mallari

It was in the context of the 1950s when major curricular changes were proposed and implemented in the University of the Philippines (UP). For example, the establishment of the General Education Program (GEP) of UP traces its roots to 1958 when the University Council approved the proposed curriculum of the envisioned GEP that was comprised of a set of courses covering a wide range of areas. Among these courses was the five-unit course Philippine History and Institutions 1 (PHI) proposed and subsequently offered by the University’s Department of History. This paper seeks to explore the history of this history course and appraises its beginnings in the context of the 1950s intellectual and political milieu as well as within institutional developments in its birthplace, UP. Key events related to the course are considered, among which is the publication of the first edition of the widely known text History of the Filipino People conceived specifically to serve as source material for PHI.  The course and its textbook were also birthed attendant to the appointment of Teodoro Agoncillo to the Department of History. Looking into the development of PHI within the GEP of UP, this piece will also attempt to strike a conservation on the role of UP and its academic programs in steering and influencing academic traditions and debates in the wider context of Philippine academia.


Aaron Abel Mallari is assistant professor in the University of the Philippines Diliman where he obtained his BA and MA in history degrees. He concurrently serves as the university’s assistant university registrar.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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