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Business and History

Mount Pamitinan is a popular destination for hikers and adventurous travelers. It is located in Sitio Wawa, Rodriguez, Rizal and has a height of almost 1,400 feet above sea level. Hiking has never been my thing. I have always been a laidback, sit-in-a-cafe, watch-the-world-go-by kind of a person. But I can see why people would trek to this mountain to enjoy the beautiful views of the Sierra Madre mountain range as well as the winding Wawa River.

But Mount Pamitinan’s significance goes beyond tourism. It actually occupies a hallowed, albeit obscure, place in our history. Nestled beneath this gorgeous mountain is the Pamitinan Cave which, if we believe a number of historians, was the site of the first declaration of Philippine Independence.

According to several historical accounts, during the Holy Week of 1895 (April 12 to be precise) Andres Bonifacio, together with Emilio Jacinto, Aurelio Tolentino, Guillermo Masangkay, and other revolutionaries met inside the cave and for the first time declared Philippine Independence by writing on its wall Viva la Independencia de Filipinas (‘Long Live Philippine Independence’). The cave also served as venue for the initiation and oath-taking of new Katipunan members during that time.

Adding to the mystique of the so-called “Cry of Pamitinan” of course is the fact that it is also the setting of a Filipino folklore — Bernardo Carpio. Legend has it that Bernardo Carpio, a mythical figure of great strength, stands between two great rocks in the mountains of Montalban to prevent the two mountains from crashing into each other, and that when he shrugs his shoulder an earthquake occurs.

June 12 is, of course, our official day for celebrations of our independence. But it is important to note that there was a time when we actually celebrated Philippine Independence every 4th of July. I have always been fascinated by history. Not as an academic but as someone who believes that there are many insights in our past that can inform our decisions today and the future. Just like most Filipinos, I am intrigued by controversies and differences in the reading and interpretation our history. I think that history is not some fixed, boring set of facts but a dynamic, engaging subject matter.

So, should we change our date of Philippine Independence? Should we question the very foundation of our independence as a nation? Not at all. I think what the “Cry of Pamitinan” and all the other “Cries” (Balintawak, Pugad Lawin) tell us is that independence is not some straightforward and simplistic narrative. It tells us that there is so much more beneath the surface of the facts, dates, and names that we read in our history books which we are forced to memorized.

In the business world, understanding the lessons of the past is very important. Businesses generally look forward toward the future but it is also important to learn from the past. For instance, I have learned a lot from my experiences as an entrepreneur — the triumphs and especially the failures. I feel like I have experienced all the crises history can throw at me — global financial upheavals, political turmoil, and other challenges. By recognizing these experiences and learning from them, I have equipped myself of crucial knowledge as our company faces new challenges today and the future.
I do not consider history as a separate, bizarre, off-center subject matter. I think it is an essential component of a successful entrepreneur’s tool box. Understanding history allows a business executive to develop a strong analytical mind and problem-solving skills. Specifically, the ability to learn from the past is a fundamental skill of any business leader requiring him or her to make sense of the context of problems and opportunities facing the organization. When a manager would come to me with a problem, one of the first questions that I ask is “How did this happen? How did this problem evolve?” It is an invaluable frame of reference that provides me with the proper context on how to solve the problem.

A common frustration among young students is encapsulated in the question, “Magagamit ko ba ang history sa trabaho?” The answer, of course, is yes. Just like Bernardo Carpio preventing two mountains from crashing, a knowledge of history is a powerful tool in preventing intellectual cobwebs.



Manila Bulletin/Views/MannyVillar