I remember having to write a book report on Bones of Contention by Ambeth Ocampo back in high school. It opened with the story of Andres Bonifacio in the Malolos Congress – the first moments we had as a state. As a leader of the Katipunan and an advocate of what others might consider the ‘real’ Filipinos, Bonifacio voiced out his opinions on what our first constitution should include. However, he was met with insults from the other leaders (Jacinto). To make the long story short, Bonifacio was voted out of the congress and later assassinated by his fellow countrymen. In the end, Jacinto assumed the role as the very first president of the Philippines.
Apart from feeling complete disdain towards Jacinto, I felt absolutely horrible upon realizing that the foundations of our nation were built on “lies, betrayal, corruption, and even murder!”. What’s worse is that when we look at today’s society, it really isn’t an exaggeration to say that it hasn’t progressed much since. If there was no honesty from the very beginning, it’s no wonder why Philippine politics is the way it is today. This lead me to question – why wasn’t this included in our history books? My filipino teacher could have easily chosen another book for us to read and there by leaving me completely unaware of such an important part of history.
We talked about nationalism the other week and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that education plays a VERY important role in instilling the love for the country in the youth. However, when we examine our educational system, can we see it achieving this goal? The mere fact that it’s in English drags us farther away from our objective, I think. It may make us ‘globally competitive’ but what use is being international to a country that has not even figured out how to become ‘national’? The history narrated in our textbooks is edited and biased, patterned after the educational system the Americans have passed down to us. How then do we expect to spur nationalism if the very material taught in school promotes something else? In my opinion, we need to invest more time and resources in truly understanding how to properly educate Filipinos to become useful to their own nation. That is how to promote nationalism. As Prof. Renato Constantino once pointed out in his article The Miseducation of the Filipino, it is important to remember that the Philippine educational system’s goal should be much more than just producing useful people. Its goal should be to produce useful Filipinos.