Monthly Archives: November 2005

Silang mga nasa komunidad

Nabisita ko kamakailan ang isang community college sa Ilocos at lubha akong nabahala sa mga nasaksihan ko. Naisip ko na mukhang higit na kalunus-lunos ang sitwasyon ng mga community college kaysa sa mga state university. Hindi ko tiyak kung may pag-aaral na ukol sa malungkot na katayuan ng mga community college, pero kung wala pa, dapat isiwalat sa publiko ang kalagayan ng mga eskuwelahang ito.

Noon ay may mahalagang papel ang mga community college sa kabuuang edukasyon sa bansa. Sinulat pa nga ni Teodoro Agoncillo sa kanyang History of the Filipino People ang natatanging ambag ng community college sa lipunan:

“One of the significant changes in the educational field (1948) was the introduction of the concept of community schools…it is primarily geared to the improvement of the social, economic, and health conditions of the rural areas. The schools use actual situations and problems in the community as subjects of study.”

Ngayon, hindi na pinapansin ang mga community college. Sa punto de bista ng mga mambabatas at maging mga akademiko, wala ng silbi ang mga community college dahil sa mababang kalidad ng pagtuturo at hindi na (raw) napapanahon ang mga layunin at inaalok na kurso dito.

Kung tutuusin, dapat managot ang pamahalaan sa pagguho ng imahen at aktuwal na sinapit ng mga community college.

Puwedeng maging halimbawa ang karanasan ng Ilocos Sur Community College (ISCC) upang matukoy ang dinadanas ng maraming maliliit at kinakaligtaang eskuwelahan. Itinayo ang ISCC sa likod ng orihinal na Quirino Grandstand sa Vigan upang maging salik sa pagdebelop ng kabuhayan sa komunidad. Pero pambihira kung paano ito nagpapatuloy bilang paaralan samantalang kulang-kulang ito sa pasilidad at atensiyong nararapat matanggap. Luma, masikip at sira-sira ang mga silid dito. Malawak ang lupang hindi napapakinabangan. Ang ISCC ay isang grandstand na tinubuan ng mga klasrum!

Nakasalalay sa ibinibigay ng mga pulitiko ang pondong ginagamit ng mga community college, lalo na sa kaso ng ISCC. Dapat tuluy-tuloy ang makarinyong paghingi ng mga subsidyo, dapat laging pabor sa hiling ng mga pulitiko. Sa kabila nito’y dalawa hanggang tatlong buwan nahuhuli ang sahod ng mga guro. Ang mga kontraktuwal na instruktor na may load na katumbas ng 26 units ay tumatangggap lamang ng limang libong piso kada buwan.

Minsan, sa grandstand nagklase ng ilang buwan ang mga estudyante dahil ang kanilang gusali ay ginamit ng isang pulitiko habang hindi pa natatapos ang pinapagawa niyang paaralan para sa mga caregiver.

Kahit ang nakakainsultong pulisiya ng maraming eskuwelahan na pagsalitain ng ingles ang lahat ng estudyante sa loob ng kampus ay minsang pinatupad sa ISCC. Dahil midwifery ang pangunahing kurso dito, paano kaya nagpapaanak ang mga estudyante? Ganito kaya ang sinasabi nila: “Push! Push! Blow! Blow! You can do it, girl!”

Ganito ang kalbaryo, kamalasan at kapalaran ng ISCC sa kamay ng mga pulitikong tila walang dunong at pagmamalasakit. Paano kaya sa ibang paaralan?

Dapat maibalik ang mataas na pagtingin ng publiko sa mga community college. Dapat isalba ang institusyong ito: mga munting eskuwelahan na dapat ay may makabuluhang ambag sa buhay ng mga tao.

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No more lantern parade?

Let me express my dismay over reports that the UP administration has decided not to push with the annual Lantern Parade this December in order to save money. This is an unacceptable justification to break a glorious tradition which has become a national event. The Lantern Parade brings out the creativity of the UP community. Students, teachers, employees and school officials may be at odds with each other throughout the year but divisive politics is shunned temporarily during the colorful parade. UP may be lacking enough resources but it has an oversupply of talent and ingenuity which can always be tapped to celebrate a Lantern Parade without spending too much. Use recycled materials, apply less lighting, do away with the fireworks, etc)

And there is also this unconfirmed report that in place of the Lantern Parade, the administration will host a gathering of different school heads so they may witness the Oblation Run. Is this UP’s yuletide gift to the public and solution to the declining quality of college education? That by pumping the hormones of menopause school officials (after watching the naked students), creativity and intellectual rigor will be re-generated in their bodies?

(But wait, perhaps this decision to cancel the Lantern Parade may be a UP ploy to highlight the inadequate funding of the state university. An opportunity to show the public that the government’s pitiful education spending is doing great harm to the university? Oh, this wicked mind of mine…)

Anyway, with or without administration support, there must be a Lantern Parade this December.

Meanwhile, let us write to UP officials that as former tambays of UP, we are very disappointed that they actually planned of canceling the Lantern Parade and we demand that this unique UP tradition of celebrating Christmas must not be discontinued only because the imbeciles in Malacañang and Congress have slashed the budget of UP.

An afternoon in the DepEd library

How was Philippine education fifty years ago? What were the views of our educators? What were the problems and plans of our schools?

After work, I decided to spend an afternoon in the DepEd library in Pasig to seek answers to my questions. I was not disappointed.

Some of the interesting information I found out are the following:

1. In 1955, the sources in formulating the objectives of national education were, among others, Manuel Quezon’s code of ethics, Mabini’s Decalogue, Bonifacio’s Duties of Sons of the People, Jose Laurel’s Education orientation for Filipinos, the Encyclical on Christian education by Pope Pius XI and the Koran.

Today, the goals of Philippine education are supplied by the World Bank, IMF, Asian Development Bank and the manpower requirements of multinational firms.

2. The preamble of the Rizal Bill (RA 1425): “Today, more than any other period of our history, there is a need for a re-dedication to the ideals of freedom and nationalism for which our heroes lived and died.” Unknown to many, students shall be exempted from reading the Noli and El Fili if they can give a sworn statement that Rizal’s novels are in conflict with their religious beliefs.

Caroline Hau discussed in Necessary Fictions the role of literature and how it was taught (especially Rizal’s writings) in nation-building after World War II. She also analyzed how a particular emphasis in interpreting literature led to the encouragement of political action only after a comprehensive truth-seeking.

3. The government gathered the proposals of provincial local committees on education. Many educators have fascinating (and still relevant) suggestions:

Bukidnon, Batangas and La Union wanted Grade 7 to be restored;
La Union and Baguio demanded an optional religious instruction;
San Pablo City hoped kindergarten would be institutionalized;
Batangas proposed sex education;
Bataan argued that high school education should be free;
Batangas appealed that only Filipinos should be the head of colleges;
Camarines Norte and Bohol aspired for a year round schooling to include outdoor education.

4. The Community School Movement which began in 1950 started to yield tangible results after less than five years of implementation. The objective of this program was to facilitate the closer integration of schools with industry and community needs. Schools were able to produce the following:

poultry                                                     376,044
goat and sheep raising                              70,649
piggery                                                    326,072
fruit tree growing                                      495,608
vegetable gardens                                    813,921
pigeon raising                                          5,903
proper garbage disposal                          199,489 homes
toilets                                                      891,676 homes
drainage                                                  826,676
community reading centers                       8,863
native songs recorded                              460

Now, I think schools have less time and priority to address community needs. Everything today is all about individual achievement. And we also have government officials who castigate schools that do not produce enough English-speaking students.

5. Fifty-years ago, educators warned how the viable school-community (or industry) partnership can be counterproductive. They warned about: “…businessmen who make sizeable contributions to the funds of the purok might expect business patronage in exchange for their handouts. These self-centered interests, unless forestalled in time, could harm community development programs and the prestige of the Community School Movement. Foresight and vision, tact and diplomacy, circumspection and courage – all these and more, will be needed by school officials and other community educators and leaders if they are to stave off the insidious approaches of selfish interests in school-community collaboration.”

Obviously, only a few listened to the timely and prophetic warning!

The messenger in distress

Ex-GMA appointee and incidentally Inquirer columnist Amando Doronila wants us to think there is no war against the media after the President made that pikon speech during the KBP assembly in Baguio. I urge him to check an article in the New York Times about a review of the book ‘Attack the Messenger by Craig Crawford.’

The article explains how the two Bushes advanced their agenda by “undermining the credibility of media” and in the process they were able to “muzzle the truth.”

Since it is widely known how our fake president worships the policies and management style of Bush (the lesser), we can only surmise that the KBP speech of GMA was not just a mood swing (according to Panfilo Lacson) but a clever attempt to mimic the Bush strategy of defining the truth by turning the public against the mainstream press.

The NYT article mentions, among other things, how Bush Sr. reprimanded a TV anchor for asking about the Iran-contra scandal or how the Bush Jr. accused the media of lack of patriotism everytime the Iraq war is being questioned. Here in the Philippines, media is scolded for “abetting rebellion” or bailing terrorists when ‘enemies of the state’ are interviewed. The Bush-GMA tack is to portray the media as being at odds with middle-class US or strong republic Philippines.

Bush lambasts the ‘liberal bias’ of the media while GMA hits the ‘bad boy’ image of journalists in order to put the press in defensive position.

Bush pays conservative commentators, produces videos about government initiatives packaged as news reports and limits reporters’ access to official documents. GMA does better by having more columnists/radio commentators in her pocket. Manila Times reports how the bird flu ads, Jolo war and even the Subic rape are being used to distract public attention from government scandals.

While Bush may be rejoicing since Fox channel is already the dominant cable news channel, GMA can only lament that NBN, her mouthpiece on TV remains insignificant in terms of ratings and credibility. Nevertheless, it is still revolting that taxpayers are subsidizing a boring TV station which broadcasts only the statements and activities of Malacañang.

Doronila says it’s a phony war against media. He does not remember that the Philippines, especially today, is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists. He must be reminded that reporters do not have to be detained or newspapers closed down in order to arrive at a conclusion that there is a nasty effort to bring down the fourth estate; in the same way martial law need not be declared in order to point out there is political repression in the country today.

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Film/E-book monitor: I was able to watch ‘Closer’ and ‘Sideways’ last night. Hollywood is still capable of producing remarkable films. Finally, I finished Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground, the novel whose opening line is the famous: “I am a sick man.… I am a spiteful man. I am a most unpleasant man.”

Seeing red

I tried to post this comment in the blog of MLQ3 pertaining to his post about the “intellectual dishonesty” of local communists but there seems to be a technical problem in his comment settings. Here it is:

in other countries, when you are an avowed communist, your beliefs are respected and your proposals are deliberated with open minds. In this country, communists are abducted, killed and maligned even if they are doing nothing.

a filipino communist can propose ideas or programs which can help advance the cause of democracy, but not too soon, his thoughts will be dismissed, he will be called an NPA, a proponent of a godless ideology, stalinist pimp and all sorts of accusations.

communists are lumped into one category with the rebels in the hills as if the left is one monolithic entity.

i undertand your position to have an aboveground communist party. but right now, when conservative propaganda about communism is taught in schools and broadcasted in mainstream media, calling someone a communist in public is a tip for the military and intelligence units which have no tolerance for communist ideology given their limited and distorted knowledge of communism.

when you refer someone as your favorite communist blogger or atom araullo as a communist on national TV, you are unintentionally risking the lives of these activists.

you may call for GMA’s resignation, you may decry the military policies but you will not be harmed because you are not a communist and no one has accused you of being a communist.

to be a communist in this country makes you an automatic target of the military and the ultra-conservative-christian fundamentalists masquerading as middle class intellectuals.

In any given day, I will proudly claim to be a communist but only if what you mean by that word refers to the definition given by Raymond Williams (Keywords):

…”partly as a way of describing specifically theoretical and intellectual work and tendencies, often without political or immediately political implications – the marxist principle of the union of theory and practice gives the frequency of its contemporary use some significance…”

At present, the military will certainly detain or kill all self-confessed communists. Among intellectuals, to become a nationalist is irrationally considered by many in the academe to be a dogmatic tendency, what more if you admit to be a communist? In the media, they call all communists as members of the CPP-NPA.

Many people have negative views about communist ideology even if they have the slightest knowledge about what communism really means. It is enough that they know communists have no religion, no conscience, no brain and an oversupply of violence-inducing hormones in their bodies.

They say communists are violent people. Have we forgotten the Crusades and the Inquisition? Have we forgotten the role of the Church in the persecution of the Jews? And you still think the communists are the bad guys. Now, who is being naïve?

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TV/E-book monitor: Net25 must be commended for its Euromaxx program. I downloaded an e-book about a review of the writings of English critic Matthew Arnold so that I have something to read on the road to south Luzon this weekend.

Vanity politics

I have to explain to a visiting foreigner that the LA in “Buhayin ang MayniLA” does not mean Los Angeles city but Lito Atienza, the mayor of Manila. Then I have to correct his impression that SB is the name of the city where I live. Everyone knows that SB is Sony Belmonte, and every program or service provided by the Quezon City government is given an SB tag.

Whether its Manila’s ‘Atin Siya’ slogan, Rizal’s Ynares waiting sheds or Quezon City’s overused and exaggerated ‘SB’ projects, nobody is seriously complaining. In fact this kind of politicking is an accepted practice in the Philippines.

And this is really infuriating.

Almost all elected public officials have nothing creative to offer in solving the country’s woes but they use every opportunity to label their useless pet projects close to their names. I believe that if we kill all Filipino politicians today, the global measurement of egoism (not to mention stupidity) will be reduced into half.

Another example of the self-centeredness of our politicians is their propensity to hang streamers everywhere in order to greet their constituents during christmas, new year, graduation, fiesta and even valentines day. The most trivial occasions are exploited by grandstanding politicians. Perhaps they think that their smiling ugly face plus their heartfelt greetings on cheap hanging streamers will make people forget they have destitute lives so they can enjoy the illusion of a merry christmas or whatever holiday the community is celebrating.

The government wants to regulate billboard ads because they are road hazards. This is a reasonable decision. But the government must also regulate, if not ban all electioneering ads of politicians disguised as greeting materials and public service programs. At least billboard ads have colorful designs and beautiful models. They also contribute to the revenues of the government and help propel the economy. But politician ads are uncreative, unproductive and therefore unnecessary. Taxpayers’ money is used to advance the electoral chances of incompetent and shallow politicians.

Improving the image of leaders is not bad. Informing the public about the completion of road repairs or health centers is not also appalling. But is it right to boast that this infrastructure project X is a gift from councilor Y or senator Z when they did not use private money to finance this undertaking? Is it right to name government centers after incumbent officials?

To be vain while being a public figure is not really a sin in this modern-day era when metrosexuality or ubersexuality is a trait which can enhance public perception of leaders. But in the Philippines, the kind of vanity perfected by our leaders is the cause of the miseries of the long-suffering people and definitely a manifestation of trapo politics in the 21st century.

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Film/Book monitor: I was disappointed with the ending of the South Korean film ‘Il Mare’ but I think it was better than ‘My Sassy Girl.’ I am reading a biography of Ho Chi Minh by William Duiker. I just finished the chapter about the August revolution of 1945.