Monday, June 13, 2005

Ang Sistema ng Edukasyon sa Pilipinas

Ang artikulo na ito ay tungkol sa sistema ng edukasyon sa Pilipinas – isang talumpati ng awtor para sa Southern Luzon Education Conference sa Los Baños, Laguna noong nakaraang Enero 29. Ang kumperensya ay inisponsor ng Anak ng Bayan party list at ng College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) Southern Luzon.

Ni Dr. Edberto M. Villegas, Bulatlat.com


Ang sistemang edukasyon ng Pilipinas ay gingagamit lamang bilang instrumento ng estado sa paghubog ng kamalayan at kakayahan ng mga kabataang Pilipino upang sila ay manilbihan para sa iilang naghaharing uri sa ating lipunan at palaganapin ang mga kaugalian at pamaraan ng pamumuhay ng mga uring ito. Ang namamayaning uri sa Pilipinas, ang komprador na burgesya at panginoong may-lupa ay pangunahing tinatangkilik ang interes ng kanilang padrono, ang imperyalistang Estados Unidos. Sa kontekstong ito natin mauunawan lamang ang kalikasan ng edukasyon na pinapairal ng gobyerno sa ating lipunan.

Ang Edukasyon ay Instrumento ng Uri na Hawak ang Estado

Dahil ang edukasyon ay isa lamang instrumento ng ating estado na kontrolado ng imperyalistang EU at dahil ang pinakamahalagang instrumento ng pananatili ng kasalukuyang sistema ay ang paggamit ng dahas laban sa lumalaking rebelyon sa kanayunan, ang edukasyon ay binibigyan ng mas maliit na prayoridad sa badyet ng gobyerno kung ikukumpara sa militar. Ngunit, higit sa lahat, ang nangunguna sa badyet ng gobyerno ay ang pagbayad nito ng utang panlabas sa mga dahuyang institusyon, kagaya ng IMF-WB at sa mga bangko ng imperyalismong EU at kanyang mga kapitalistang kaalyado. Habang tumatakbo ang panahon, bumababa ang paglaan ng badyet sa edukasyon, samantalang ang pagbayad naman sa utang panlabas at pondo para sa militar ay tumataas.

May batas na ginawa pa noong panahon ni Marcos, ang PD 1177, na naglalaan ng prayoridad sa pagbayad sa utang panlabas ng Pilipinas na kasalukuyan ay umaabot na ng 58 bilyong dolyar (may balak pa ang rehimen ni Macapagal Arroyo na umutang ng panibago sa halaga ng $500 milyun ). Halimbawa sa ginawang badyet sa taong 2004, sa kabuuang P861 bilyong, P271.5 bilyon o 31.4% ang nireserba sa pambayad ng utang ng Pilipinas. Taon-taon lumalaki ang tinatakdang pambayad ng utang panlabas ng Pilipinas; sa taong 2003 ito ay lumubo ng dagdag pa ng P58 bilyon.

Hambingin naman ang badyet para sa militar na tumaas mula sa P42.5 bilyun noong 2003 tungo sa P45 bilyun sa 2004 laban sa badyet sa lahat ng state colleges at universities (SCUs) na P15.68 bilyun lamang para sa taong 2004. Para sa PNP naman ang badyet sa taong 2004 ay P33 bilyun. Kaya daw tinataasan ang badyet sa pagamit ng dahas ay para kalabanin ang mga “terorista” sa Pilpinas sa sugo ni Uncle Sam. Sa kabuuan, ang porsiyento ng badyet ng Department of Defense sa 2004 ay 5.21%, kalusugan (1.5%), pabahay (0.3%) at edukasyon (kasama na ang para sa elementarya at sekundaryang baytang, kung saan mayroon tayong milyun-milyong estudyante ) ay 15.4%. (Mula sa Badyet ng Pamahalaan para sa Taong 2004 at manipesto ng Anak Bayan Youth Party at iba pa, Dec. 10, 2003)

Ang Kalunos-lunos na Kalagayan ng mga Estudyante at Gurong Pilipino

Dahil sa palagay ng imperyalismo EU sa kanyang direktang pagsusuperbisa sa sistemang eduskasyon ng Pilipinas sa pamamagitan ng WB na ang mga paaralan ng estado ay mahigpit na hawak na niya, bale wala dito ang kapakanan ng mga estudyante at mga gurong Pilipino. Ganito din ang paninindigan ng estado ng Pilipinas hinggil sa katayuan ng mga mag-aaral at guro ng bayan. Ang interes lamang ng estado sa edukasyon sa Pilipinas ay gumawa ng mga kurikulum na palalaganapin ang tubo ng mga imperyalistang TNC at kanyang mga kakamping Pilipino. Kaya, bahala nang maghigpit ng sentoron ang mga guro at magsiksikan ang mga estudyante sa mga klasrom. Kalunos-lunos ang kalagayan ng mga estudyante at guro sa mga pambublikong paaralan. Batay mismo sa estadistika ng gobyerno, may kakulangan ng 49, 000 na klasrom at may 2,381, 943 na mga desks/armchairs sa ating mga paaralan. Ang ratio ng bilang ng libro sa mga estudyante ay 0.33 sa mga pampublikong paaralang pang-elementarya at 0.6 sa hayskul. Kaya ang kalidad ng edukasyon ay pababa ng pababa. Halimbawa, sa 1999 Third International Math and Science Study, ang Pilipinas ay pumuesto ng 36th sa kabuuang 38 na bansang sumali.

Nananatili din ang kababaan ng sahod ng mga 500,000 guro sa elementarya at sekundaryong paaralang pambuliko mula P4,000 hanggang P6,000 bawat buwan (sa karaniwan) na take-home pay pagkatapos ng mga deductions at bayad sa utang. (Datos ng Alliance of Concerned Teachers) Kaya di kataka-taka libo-libong guro ang nabibiktima ng mga utangang 5-6 at nagsasyadline bilang mga tindera ng mga kendi, siopao, at iba pa sa kanilang mga paaralan.
Ang Pakikialam ng Imperayalismong EU sa Programa at Kurikulum sa Edukasyon ng Pilipinas
Mula pa noong panahon ni Marcos, ang WB ay nagdidikta na ng mga programa at kurikulum sa mga paaralan ng Pilipinas, tulad ng Philippine Commission to Survey Philippine Education (PCSPE) ni Marcos noong 1972, ang Education Act of 1982, ang Education Commission ni Cory Aquino, ang Education 2000 ni Ramos at ang Presidential Commission on Education Reforms (PCER) at Higher Education Modernization Act (HEMA, 1998) ni Estrada at ni Macapagal-Arroyo.

Ang lahat ng mga programang ito ay naglalayun upang lumikha ng mga estudyanteng Pilipino na may mahusay na kakayahan na kailangan ng negosyo ng imperyalismo at mahubog ang kamalayan ng mga kabataan upang mahalin ang kultura ng imperyalismo. Pinagtitipid din ng IMF-WB ang gobyerno ng pondo na sana’y ilalaan para sa edukasyon upang makabayad ang huli ng kanyang utang panlabas. Nagaalala ang imperyalsimo na sa laki ng kasalukuyang depisito ng Pilipinas na umaabot na sa P220 bilyun na dulot din ng pagbayad sa utang panlabas at pangungurakot ng mga opisyal ng pamahalaan na baka mag-default ang Pilipinas sa pagbayad sa utang panlabas.

Kaya sa PCER ni Estrada at Macapagal-Arroyo, tinutulak ng IMF na bigyan ng fiscal autonomy ang mga paaralan ng pamahalaan upang humanap ang mga ito ng mga paraang makakalap ng sariling pondo. Pinapairal din ang dahan-dahang pribatisasyong ng mga SCUs. Ang PCER ay lalong pinapalala ang komersyaslisasyon ng mga paraalang publiko dahil pinapayagan na ang mga paaralang ito lalo na ang mga SCUs na magtaas ng tuition at mag-tie-up sa bisnes. Bahagi din ng PCER ang paghintulot sa mga dayuhan na magtayo ng mga paaralan sa ating bansa.

Ang Estratehiya ng Imperyalismo sa Pribatisasyon ng Edukasyon

Ang pribatsisasyon ng edukasyon sa Pililpinas ay bahagi lamang ng pandaigdiganng estratehiya ng WTO at WB upang papasukin ang mga TNCs sa Information Technology (mga computer company) sa larangan ng edukasyon pampubliko. Tinuturing ng WTO, isang institusyong hawak ng mga kapitalistang korporasyon, na ang larangan ng edukasyon ay isang mayamang mina na hindi pa nabubungkal para pagtubuan kagaya na ibang larangan sa serbisyo na matagal nang ginagatasan ng mga TNCs, halimbawa sa pangbabangko at mga restoran at fast food. Sa pinapairal na General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) ng WTO ay kasama ang serbisyong edukasyon sa mga serbisyo na tinatarget ng mga TNCs.

Ang isang nangungunang lobbyist sa mga pulong ng WTO tungkol sa GATS na inumpisahan noong Pebrero 2000 sa Geneva ay ang tinatawag na Global Allance for Transnational Education na pinapamunuan ni Gleen R. Jones, CEO ng virtual university Jones International Inc. Nais ng WTO na gawing market-based ang education sa kolehiyo at alisin ang mga state-funding. Ang prinsipyong free universal education na nakasaad sa Article 13 ng UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ay binabangga ng GATS at World Bank.

Ang WB ay nagtatag din ng Alliance for Global Learning na nagiispesialize sa tinatawag na e-learning na ginagamit ang computer. Ang Alliance na ito ay pinoponduhan ang mga IT rooms, nagsasanay ng mga guro at umuugnay sa mga gobyerno ng mga bansa upang gumawa ng mga intervention program. Ang mga isponsor ng mga ganitong programa ay mga malalaking bangko tulad ng JP Morgan at Goldman Sachs, ang consultancy firm Ernst & Young at mga TNCs sa IT kagaya ng Sun Microsystem at 3 Com. Nakikita kasi ng mga TNCs lalo na yung mga nasa IT na ang edukasyon sa daigdig, sa partikular sa kolehiyo at sa adult education, ay isang malaking bagong industriya na maaaring pasukin.

Ang kabuuang gastos sa edukasyon sa daigdig ay 2 trilyon dolyar o 1/20th ng GDP ng mundo. Sabi nga ni Gleen R. Jones: “Education is one of the fastest-growing of all markets. Private training and the adult education industry are expected to achieve double-digit growth throughout the next decade.” (Internet) Ngunit, ang pandaigdigan estratehiya ng imperyalismo, sa partikular ng EU, na sa kasalukuyan ay nababalot sa krisis ng sobrang-produksyon, na pagtubuan pati ang larangan ng edukasyon ay maghigpit na tinutulan ng mga estudyante at mga guro sa Europa sa pamumuno ng National Union of Students in Europe (ESIB) at ng mga guro sa kanilang organisasyon, ang European University Association (EUA).

Ang Millennium Curriculum o Curriculum 2002 ng Department of Education

Sa paggawa ng kurikulum para sa mga paaralan ng Pilipinas, ang imperyalismo ay aktibong nanghihimasok, mula pa noong pagpondo ng WB sa panahon ng martial law sa pagsulat ng mga textbook na tinatangkilik ang pagsisilbi ng mga kabataang Pilipino para sa negosyo ng mga kapitalista (ang programang EDPITAF) hanggang sa kasalukuyan sa pagpapairal ng tinatawag ng DepEd na Millennium Curriculum o ang Curriculum 2002 para sa elementarya at sekondaryang baytang. Sa ilalim ng Millennium Curriculum, inaalis ang mga asignatura na may kaugnayan sa pagtuturo ng kasaysayan at sibikong kamalayaan at iba pang panlipunang pagaaral, at pinagsama-sama ang mga ito sa isa lamang asignatura na pinamagatang PAGSIKAP. Kinolaps ang mga asignatura sa limang “core areas” ang English, Filipino, Math, Science at Pag-Sikap. Pinahaba ang oras ng pagtuturo ng English at Math at ginawa muli ang English bilang midyum ng pagtuturo. Ang mga pagbabago na ito sa kurikulum para sa elementarya at haiskul mula Grade 1 to 10 ay batay sa isang pag-aaral na ginawa ng WB-ADB na pinamagatang “Philippine Education for the 21st Century: The 1998 Philippine Education Sector Study” o (PESS). Pinayo ng PESS ang “streamlining” ng Philippine education at pagkukulaps ng mga asignatura lalo na yung may kaugnayan sa pagbibigay ng panlipunang kamalayan sa mga estudyante.

Ang pakay kasi ng WB at kanyang alalay na ADB ay upang makatipid ang Pililpinas sa badyet sa edukasyon, at siyempre upang makabayad ng utang panlabas. Kasabay din nito ang pagbuwag sa mga asignatura na di kailangan ng bisnis ng imperyalismo at natuturuan pa ang mga kabataan na magkaroon ng kamalayang panlipunan at kritikal na pagiisip. Sa bagong kurikulum, nanganganib ang kabuhayan ng maraming guro na matatanggal dahil ang kanilang mga asignatura ay di na kailangan, sa partikular yung mga nagtuturo ng panlipunang aralin. Ngunit ang papel ng ating mga paaralan bilang mga tagalikha ng mga gradweyt ng mahusay sa kakayahan na kailangan ng negosyo ng mga malalaking korporasyon, kagaya ng mga call center, tiga-silbi sa fast food, salesman, mekaniko at iba pa, ay nagreresulta sa sobrang lakas paggawa sa ating lipunan. Dumarami ang bilang ng mga taong di-makahanap ng trabaho na mga bagong gradwado taon-taon sapagkat lumalaki ang sobrang pwersa sa gawa, na nadadagdagan ng mga 750,000 katao bawat taon. Sa kasalukuyan, ang bilang ng walang trabaho sa ating lipunan ay 13% ng kabuuang lakas paggawa ng bayan (ayun mismo sa estadistika ng gobyerno), pinakamataas sa buong Asya.

Ayun din sa PESS: “The daunting medium-term challenge for Philippine education, therefore, is how to preserve the quantitative gains of the past, improve equity and raise quality – and to achieve all of these objectives during a period of limited or zero growth in the public budgetary allocation to education as a whole.” (PESS, p. 11, italics dinagdag) Ang ibig sabihin ng WB-ADB ay paano mapapairal ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas ang mahusay na pagtutupad nito sa pagalaga sa interes ng imperyalismo sa harap ng pagtitipid sa edukasyon. Ang sagot – ikulaps ang mga asignatura at tanggalin ang mga guro na di kailangan ng bisnes ng mga TNCs. Batay sa ganitong layunin ang PESS ay nagsaad:

“Given lower-cost labor in the People’s Republic of China and some other Asian countries, and rising labor costs at home reinforced by minimum wage regulations, the Philippines’ future comparative advantage lies not in unskilled-labor production, but rather in low-end ‘high-tech’ areas, such as electronics manufacturing and tourist services, requiring at least a secondary school education of reasonable quality.”(PESS, p.1)

Ipinapairal ng PESS ang teorya ng mga kapitalista na ang edukasyon ng isang bayan ay iaayun sa “comparative advantage” nito sa mga kapitalistang bansa sa harap ng kumpitesyon ng ibang bansa sa Pangatlong Daigdig. Kaya, kailangang gamitin ang Curriculum 2002 upang makahubog ng mga manggagawa na semi-skilled at huwag na ng mga unskilled dahil marami na nito ang ibang bansa kagaya ng Tsina. Ang mga semi-skilled na manggagawa ay kailangan sa sektor ng serbisyo at marunong ng Inggles.

Ang Revised General Education ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (RGEP)
Gusto kong talakayin sa puntong ito ang pagbabago ng kurikulum sa aking paaralan, ang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas, ang tinatawag na Revised General Education Program (RGEP). Sa ilalim ng RGEP ay di na kinakilangan kunin ng lahat ng mga estudyante sa UP ang mga asignatura tulad ng History 1 (History of the Philippines) at Social Science II (Social and Political Thought). Pinapaubaya sa mga estudyante sa partikular sa mga freshmen at sophomore ang pagpili kung anong asignatura sa GE ang kanilang pag-aaralan. Siyempre, dahil ang mga estudyante natin ay produkto ng isang sistema sa hayskul at elementarya (kasama dito ang mga pribadong paaralan), kung saan ang pinapalaganap ay kultura ng kapitalismo, ang idibidualismo at liberalismo na nakabatay sa pansariling interes, ang malamang kunin ng mga estudyante sa ilalim ng RGEP ay mga asignaturang pagkakakitaan (kagaya ng mga computer course) o di kaya madaling ipasa. Ang dating GE program ng UP na kinakailangang kunin ang mga asignatura na nagpupukaw ng kamalayang nasyonalismo (History I) at nagtatalakay sa iba’t-ibang teoryang panlipunan ay nahubog sa panahon na umigting ang nasyonalismo sa UP lalo na noong First Quarter Storm. Ang dating GE na napanalunan ng mga estudyante at guro sa mahabang pakikibaka upang gawing relebante ang edukasyon sa UP ay binuwag na noong nakaraang taon (2003). Ang hangad namang ipribatize ang UP sa impluwensa ng WT0 at WB ay nakalahad sa mga panukulang batas na House Bill 455 at Senate Bill 2587 na nakahain ngayon sa Kongreso at mahigpit na tinututulan ng mga estudyante at guro ng aking pamantasan. Noong nakaraang Oktubre, nabugbog ng mga pulis at militar at naaresto ang mga estudyante at guro ng UP na nag-rali laban sa dalawang panukalang batas na ito sa harap ng Senado.

Sa kasalukuyang kalagayan ng ating sistemang edukasyon na walang kasarinlan at ginagamit lamang ng pamahalaan upang paunlarin ang interes ng mga nagsasamantalang uri, ang tunay na emansipasyon ng mga kabataan sa mga ideya at ugali na nilalako ng mga dayuhang impersyalista ay di kailan mangyayari. Ang mga ideya at kakayahan na binibigyang-diin sa ating mga paaralan sa loob ng sistemang ito ay lalong pinapaigting ang mala-kolonyal na katangian ng ating lipunan. Halimbawa, ang mga teoryang nilalako ng mga asignatura sa economics sa ating mga paaralan tungkol sa supply at demand analysis na nakabatay sa assumption “that all other things held constant” o ang pananaw ng “ceteris paribus,” na siyang batayan ng Macroeconomics at Miccroeconomics ng mga neo-classical economists, ay isang ideyalistang pamaaraan ng pagaanalisa ng ekonomiya na pabor sa interes ng mga mayayaman, lalo na ng mga TNC.

Marami pang ganitong mga maling ideya na ikinakalat ng mga bayarang teorista ng mga kapitalista sa ating mga paaralan, kagaya ng “relative autonomy of the state,” kung saan nakuha ni Macapagal-Arroyo ang ideya niyang “strong republic,” ang mga ideya ng post-modernismo na iniinganyo ang mga tao na asikasuhin na lamang ang kanilang sariling kalayaan at huwag sumali sa anumang organisasyon, at iba pa pang teorya.. Ang mga ideyang ito ay pinapalagnap ng mga direktang bayaran ng mga imeperyalista na mga gurong Pilipino, lalo na sa School of Economics at Political Science Departments ng UP, o ng mga guro na walang kamuang-muang na ang tinuturo pala nilang teorya ay ang mga pabor sa mayayaman dahil wala naman silang natutunan sa ating paaralan kundi ang mga teoyrang ito.

Ang Pangangailangan ng Isang Rebolusyong Kultural

Upang tunay na palayain ang kaisipan ng mga Pilipino sa mga maling kamalayan na pinapalaganap ng mga kapitalista, nararapat pukawin muli ang diwa ng nasyonalismo sa ating mga kabataan. Kailangan palaganapin ang maka-masa at siyentipikong pamamaraan ng pagaaral ng ating kasaysayan at lipunan at itakwil ang mga teorya na nagpapanggap na siyentipiko na kinakalat ng mga kapitalista kagaya ng ideyalistang pananaw na “ceteris paribus” sa economics. Nararapat labanan din ng mga mulat na kabataan ang mga bahid ng pyudalismo sa ating kultura, ang mga pamahiin at iba pang atrasadong ideya na pinapalaganap ng mga relihiyon kung saan ang mga lider nito ay kakampi din ng mga nagsasamantalang uri na nais kontrolin ang masang Pilipino.

Maaring gawan ang isang rebolusyon kultura kung saan ang mga kabataan ay magiging pangunahin at aktibong lalahok sa loob at labas ng mga paaralan. Nangangaliangang makilahok ang mga kabataang na sinasandatahan ng magpalayang teorya ng dyalektikal at istorikal materyalismo sa mga lugar kung saan naroroon ang batayang masa ng Pililpinas, sa mga pagawaan at kanayunan. Ang katotohanan ng isang ideya ay nalalaman lamang sa praktika, kaya kailangan lumabas ang mga estudylante sa kanilang mga klasroom at makisalamuha sa mga organisasyon ng batayang uri, sa mga teach-in, fora, simpo, rali at live-in.

Sa loob naman ng mga kampus, mahalagang hikayatin ang mga ibang estudyante na nagiging biktima ng mga maling ideya na sumali sa mga organisasyon na naglalayun makamit ang isang lipunang Pilipino na nakabatay sa adhikain ng nasyonalismo, na may maka-masa at kritikal na pagiisip. Maaari itong matupad sa mga paaralan sa pamamagitan ng paghawak sa mga dyaryo ng mga progresibong estudyante o pagkuha sa mga liderato sa konseho ng mga estudyante.
Ang rebolusyong kultural na ito ay maaaring maging bagong sigwa ng dekada na ito sa hanay ng mga aktibistang kabataan.. Ang rebolusyong kultural ay mabisang kasangkapan upang mapabilis ang tagumpay ng kilusan ng mga mamayang Pilipino upang makamtan ang isang may-kasarinlan at makatarugang lipunan. Ang kasalukuyang panahon ng ating bansa, kung saaan milyun-milyung mga Pilipino ay nawawalan na ng pagaasa sa umiiral na sistema, ay napakainam sa paglaganap ng rebolusyong kultural na ito na sasabay sa pakikibaka ng masa upang buwagin ang mala-kolonyal at mala-pyudal na istruktura ng ating lipunan at magtatag ng bagong sistema.

Bulatlat.com



Source: http://www.bulatlat.net/news/4-6/4-6-edukasyon.html

7 comments :

dante said...

Hello.

I was looking for your email address but I couldn't find it here. I wanted to email to you this article (actually a speech) by F. Sionil Jose that i found over at http://tusilog.blogspot.com/2005/06/f-sionil-joses-literature-as-hindsight.html



Literature as history
HINDSIGHT By F. Sionil Jose
The Philippine STAR 06/13/2005

(The author gave this lecture at Cubberley Auditorium at Stanford, May 5, 2005.)

I am grateful to Stanford, to Prof. Roland Greene and the Department of Comparative Literature in particular, for having me here as writer-in-residence, to Prof. Ann Gelder who is looking after the details of this visit.



I am only too aware of this university’s greatness, its trove of Nobel Prize winners. I have a bookshop and I know the distinguished publications of the Hoover Institute. Our best doctors in the Philippines trained here. As for Stanford’s contribution to literature, in the mid-Fifties, your famous writing guru, Wallace Stegner, visited Manila. If I may brag, we have the same editor, Samuel S. Vaughan, at Random House. Mr. Stegner correctly observed that there was yet no literary record of the Hukbalahap peasant uprising that was then winding down. I should have told him then – give me time, for I was conceptualizing a novel on that subject.

I originally titled this talk "Revolution as Literature," but my wife said it may not sit well with an American audience. Certainly, it does not sit well with Filipinos. But I will digress into it just the same.

When we arrived last month, I was sent to a room where I was detained for about half an hour. When I finally joined my wife at the baggage claim area, we were the last passengers there.

I will share with you my conversation with the Homeland Security officer who corrected my immigration form. He asked what I wrote and I said novels and articles on current affairs, politics, history. That started it. He wanted to know more about we Filipinos.

First, we are not Asians, like the Chinese, the Japanese, the Indians. The two great religions of Asia, Buddhism and Hinduism, responsible for the civilization and classical traditions of that continent never reached us although geographically, we are there. We are Christians who could have been Islamized if Islam came a few decades earlier.

I told the officer we are many islands and tribes. In the past, we were at war with one another. Much of that ethnicity remains in our languages, customs, attitudes. And like the United States, we are a young nation.

I am here now to finish a novel which, will help us understand our history better. The novel is about Artemio Ricarte, the revolutionary general who refused to pledge allegiance to the United States at the end of the Philippine-American War in 1902. Yes, there was such a war, which brought America to Asia in 1898 – America’s first colonial venture. We became America’s first and only colony. But not after more than 250 thousand Filipinos, mostly civilians, were killed. In that war, America committed its first atrocities in Asia.

I have been working on this novel for so long, the research is flowing out of my ears, shackling my imagination. The English novelist, Robert Graves, advised an Australian writer to write the novel first then do the research afterwards. But I got that advice too late.

My five-novel saga is named after my hometown, Rosales. It is framed within a hundred years, from 1872, when three Filipino priests were executed by the Spaniards, to 1972, when Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law. This century is marked by peasant revolts. Through three centuries that we were ruled by Spain, peasant revolts erupted intermittently.

A word of caution to those who plan writing historical fiction. Dusk, the first novel in this saga, has a real-life character, Apolinario Mabini, the brains in the revolution against Spain – the first anti-imperialist rebellion in Asia – and later on in the war with the United States. He was a cripple, and I attributed his infirmity to syphilis as told to me by two venerable historians.

Wrong! When his bones were exhumed in 1980, as told to me by a much younger historian, Ambeth Ocampo, it was found that he had polio. I confronted the historians and both scolded me for giving credence to what they told me was gossip.

According to Ocampo, the upright Mabini opposed a scheme by some of the rich men who joined the revolution to raise money that would have enriched them but would have tainted the revolution. So they discredited Mabini.

The second novel in the saga is called Tree after the balete tree, scientifically named Ficus Benjamina Linn. A scholar visited Rosales then returned to Manila to tell me there was no such tree in Rosales. Of course, it is not there but is in many places in the country, in all of Southeast Asia. As a sapling, the young tree is soon surrounded by many vines. The vines grow to be the trunk of the tree itself; they strangle to death the sapling they had embraced. A very apt metaphor for so many of us.

Literature is mythmaking. For a young nation, it is necessary. Who can prove there was a cherry tree the young George Washington chopped down and couldn’t lie about?

Mythmakers or not, all artists are ego driven, impelled by the human impulse to celebrate themselves in the most personal manner thereby achieving style, originality. They seek originality, although in the end, so many are just plain imitators of life and of other artists, sometimes doing willfully so, sometimes in blissful ignorance. But the self gets satiated with narcissism, so artists attempt to transcend the self and transcendence becomes the motive for a more profound expression. I do not claim profundity; there is nothing deep in my motives. They are moored on the reality of my country, and fiction has difficulty catching up with that reality.

I use history to impress upon my readers this memory so that if they remember, they will not only survive, they will prevail.

I also present a nobler image of ordinary Filipinos, so that even if we are destitute, amidst the swirling tides of corruption, we can raise our heads. With memory, we can face our grim future with courage.

I created in this saga, characters like Istak, the farmer and healer in Dusk, his vagabond great grandson, Pepe Samson in Mass, and a real life hero from the underclass, Apolinario Mabini. These truths are often ignored by historians who focus on momentous events and big men but miss the "little people."

Critics call this effort revisionist, the formalists say I mangled the English language because I think in Ilokano – my mother tongue – and write in English. Still others say I romanticize the common, the mundane. I hope I am shaping not just myths and hollow hallelujahs, but literature.

In 1955, on my first visit here as guest of the US State Department, I spent an afternoon with the poet Robert Frost at his cottage in Ripton, Vermont. He was in his late seventies but still writing. He belonged to that generation which included Mark Twain. They objected to the American occupation of my country. They argued that America, which won its freedom through revolution, had no right to invade a nation waging revolution for freedom the first in Asia against Western imperialism. The millionaire Andrew Carnegie even offered to return the $20 million the United States paid Spain to acquire the Philippines.

Mr. Frost asked how that occupation turned out. I told him were it not for the public schools established by the United States, at that very moment, I would most probably be an unlettered farmer atop a water buffalo somewhere in the island of Luzon.

In 1972, I toured this country lecturing under the auspices of the Council on Foreign Relations. I told my audiences, if they did not suffer from historical amnesia and recalled the Philippine-American War, they would have never gone to Vietnam. It was not communism, which they faced in Vietnam – it was that impregnable force, Asian nationalism.

To be sure, strident voices in my country are critical of the United States. I sometimes join these out of frustration. Do no get us wrong – many Filipinos consider America our second country.

But we must wean ourselves form overpowering American influence, get rid of our American hangover induced by benevolent neglect. Our cultural workers must shed off the American veneer, which stifles creativity, and use the mud at our feet, our folk traditions, our sweat and blood to build the enduring Filipino pillars that can withstand the onslaught of globalism and McDonald’s.

I remind our writers about the "flowering of New England," how Emerson, Walt Whitman and those innovative Yankees freed themselves from 19th century European romanticism to celebrate America and give America a granite cultural foundation.

It is not easy for us to do the same. History had done its nefarious job. Stanley Karnow’s book, In our Image, sums up the colonial experience. The Americans wanted a democratic showcase and we eagerly complied. The result is a disaster. Your fault and ours.

More than 10 years ago, the Atlantic magazine editor, James Fallow’s visited us. After seeing the deadening poverty and the callousness and perfidy of our leaders, he concluded that the obstacle to our progress is our "damaged culture."

Back to our Homeland Security officer in San Francisco to illustrate this damaged culture. He had interrogated Filipinos wanting entry. He said flatly: "They are liars."

I told him they had to lie, to do anything to escape my country’s poverty and injustice.

What had happened to us?

After World War II, we were Southeast Asia’s most modern, most progressive. Students from the region came to our schools. When I traveled, the backwardness everywhere amazed me. Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur were villages. The tallest structure in Bangkok was the Wat Arun. Seoul and Taipei were quiet, with horse-drawn carts, bicycles and those low brick buildings left by the Japanese. These cities are no longer recognizable from what they were. Manila has skyscrapers now, but everywhere are the slums that show how we have decayed.

Thus, the massive hemorrhage of talent, the diaspora. There is no ocean-going vessel without a Filipino on board, from the captain down to the steward. An American diplomat had heart surgery in Washington performed by what he said is one of the top surgeons in America. He is Filipino. A Boeing executive told me Iran Air wouldn’t get off the ground were it not for the Filipino technicians there. An Indonesian businessman said most of the banks and corporate headquarters in Indonesia are managed by Filipinos. A Singaporean architect pointed to the city’s soaring skyline as the handiwork of Filipino architects and engineers.

Here, the United Nations headquarters in New York would stand still if all those Filipina secretaries were absent. And what would happen to your health service if all those Filipino doctors, nurses and technicians left?

Indeed, the Filipina is not just a maid in Hong Kong or a prostitute in Tokyo. We have become the proletariat of the world. This is our shame and our pride for as a European executive wryly commented: "You are such a wonderful people, why is your country such a mess?"

Is this mess for always?

Your Homeland Security officer said he knew of a Filipino retired general who was poor.

I said that general should be investigated for unexplained poverty.

The "damaged culture" James Fallows pointed out can be repaired. In the Fifties, President Ramon Magsaysay invigorated the Army to defeat the Hukbalahap rebellion. He cleaned up government, made it responsive to the needs of the masses. When he died in a plane crash in 1957, people in the streets wept. When Arsenio Lacson was Mayor of Manila at about the same time, the city was safe, the garbage collected, the coffers were full. A year after he died, the city was broke.

The moral decay is a slow process exacerbated by the Japanese Occupation when all the rules were thrown out and each man was for himself. The elite conditioned by colonialism collaborated all through our history with the imperialists. Like most of us, they imbibed the vices – not the virtues of our rulers – the sense of honor of the Spaniards, the enterprise and democratic ethos of the Americans, and the discipline and sense of nation of the Japanese. And like the imperialists, the rich Filipinos send their loot abroad – the Chinese to China and Taiwan, the Spanish mestizos to Spain and Europe, and the Indios like Marcos to Switzerland and the United States. As the Spanish writer Salvador de Madriaga said, "A country need not be a colony of a foreign power, it can be the colony of its own leaders."

How then can we accumulate capital to modernize? How do we end this treason? How else but through the cleansing power of a nationalist revolution, a continuation of the revolution the Americans aborted in 1898. It is not only inevitable, it is righteous.

In 1985, we finally threw out Marcos in a bloodless revolution. But Cory Aquino who succeeded him turned it into a restoration of the oligarchy – not democracy as she claims. Sure, we have free elections and etceteras but these are the empty trappings – not the essence of democracy. That essence is in the stomach, when the Manila jeepney driver eats the same food served the president in Malacañang Palace.

Listen, when I was a child, the poorest farmer ate twice a day but only in the three hungry months of the planting season. Today, the poor eat only once a day. They die when they are sick because medicines are expensive. Millions of grade school kids drop out because they cannot afford to continue. About half of 85 million do not have safe drinking water.

Two ongoing rebellions, one communist and the other secessionist, have cost us billions and thousands of lives. If the communists win – and I know they won’t – they will rule just as badly because they are Filipinos hostage to barnacled habits of mind, to ethnicity.

The real revolution has to start first in the mind and its wellsprings are not in Mao or Marx. It is in our history, in Mabini, in Rizal, our national hero, whose writing inspired the revolution of 1896.

Its creed is articulated by the peasant leader Pedro Calosa who led the Colorum uprising near my hometown in 1935. It is this: "God created land, air and water for all men. It is against God’s laws for one man, one family to own all of them."

The American reformer, Wendell Phillips confirms the Colorums. He said, "If you hold land and land is in the hands of a few, you do not have democracy – you have an oligarchy."

And this is our curse – an oligarchy that must be destroyed, whose allies are here in this bulwark of democracy. Who, after all, was Ferdinand Marcos’s best supporter but Ronald Reagan? Can you understand now why America is so crucial to us and to those in the poor countries whose despotic rulers have alliances with American leaders? Washington wants peace and stability, and so do we who are enslaved, but that peace, that stability should not be the peace of the grave.

When we parted, the Homeland Security officer said I was the first Filipino he talked with the way I did. What I told him, which I have said here, is also what I say at home. It grates the ears. For this, I have been accused of Filipino bashing, labeled a communist, a CIA agent, an opportunist. You name it. In truth, I am just an old writer whose discordant voice is drowned, unheard in the maelstrom that is my country.

I end Dusk, the first novel in the Rosales saga, with the battle of Tirad Pass in December 1900. To me, that battle is similar to Thermopylae in ancient Greece. There, Leonidas, the king of Sparta, and his men died to a man defending the pass against the invading Persians.

In Tirad Pass, high in the roof of the Cordillera range, the 24-year-old General Gregorio del Pilar and 48 of his men, most of them farmers died defending it against the invading Texas Rangers closing in on General Emilio Aguinaldo, President of Asia’s first republic.

I remind Filipinos of Jose Rizal who, at 34, was executed by the Spaniards for writing tracts against them. As Prof. Roland Greene said, he was the first post-colonial writer. In World War II, all of Southeast Asia succumbed so easily to the Japanese invasion. We didn’t. Our valiant stand in Bataan Peninsula, our bitter guerilla resistance – these are forgotten.

I repeat – we are a young nation carving our place in the sun. Young, yes, but we have a past which exalts us, which tells us that we have a revolutionary tradition, and that above all, we are heroic people.

In our search for social justice and a moral order, in our struggle to build a just society, we must rely on no one else but ourselves, endowed as we already are with a history that shaped our sinews and our genius.

And from America, what will we ask of you? Nothing, nothing but your understanding and your compassion.

But first, we must remember.

Bert M. Drona said...

Dante,

Thank you for posting the F. Sionil Jose lecture. It's a brief overview and careful speech to his American audience.

F.Sionil Jose has a book entitled "WE FILIPINOS, Our Moral Malaise, Our Heroic Heritage" published in 1999. His book expounds on the topics he mentioned in this recent speech.

I noted the warning by his wife. But it's good he still went on.

To see our fellow native Filipinos-in-the-homeland, in great poverty and hunger; unable to buy medicine or educate their children; to see our homeland practically ruled by a few oligarchs of Spanish-and/or Chinese descent, by foreigners controlling our economy; to see the so-called leaders of our homeland mainly representing and serving (and hoping to join) these socioeconomic elites instead of the neglected poor majority; to see our nationalist heritage damaged by American pop culture is to feel frustration and rage.

We see only a bleak future for the young and the next generations of natives in the homeland. Thus, we Filipinos today and tomorrow need to know and understand our history; and hope that the young with knowledge and understanding, will --as our nationalist leaders allude to-- be braver than we are and destroy the Spanish and American influences that militate against nationalist progress. And make changes for their betterment as humans, determinants of their future and true, sole owners of the homeland.

dante said...

Yes, I really agree. :)

I guess what we truly lack as a nation is a sense of esteem or pride for our country. We have lost our sense of dignity or self-respect as a people. Thus, we are not outraged when there's corruption, or when the environment is degraded... I guess if we only look back and study our past, we will see that we had many heroes. i guess it's important that we remember our forefathers' visions and dreams for our nation...

it's important that we reclaim back our pride as a people. when we have pride, we have dignity. when we have dignity, we will demand that we be treated with respect by our leaders. we will feel outraged by betrayal of public trust. we will feel indignation when our environment is abused...

Paulinecfny said...

Do you have a breakdown of the P15.68 billion allocated for education? It sounds like there's enough there provide for more salary, classrooms, etc. Baka kinukurakot yung badget.

On a cultural note, I myself experienced a transformation when I learned more about Filipino culture, especially music. I got involved with an arts group that promoted Kulintang (gong) music and dances. Because the group had a first class staff, the stage productions of Kulintang were always beautiful, even attracting the interest of the American press. The group invited master musicians and dancers from the villages in Mindanao so the presentations were authentic and depicted the culture through villagers in regal costumes, indigenous instruments (gongs and drums), colorful art decorations, and many more. I never saw such things in the Philippines. It's a hidden treasure.

I believe that if chidlren grew up exposed to Filipino arts and culture, their attitude towards their country and its people would be that of pride and admiration -- which in turn would affect the way they evaluate other cultures. I grew stronger as a person because I realized I had something to be proud of and that I had something beautiful to share with other cultures that is worthy.

In New York City, where I have lived now since I came here at age 16 in 1974, Kulintang art is highly prized by Americans who appreciate first class entertainment. Organizations like Asia Society and Channel 13 are purveyors of master performances from cultures that depict original music and dances. This type of appreciation should be discussed at some point.

I think it is also worth digging up contributions in the area of literature, whether written or oral, handed down by our ancestors, or any old material that depict the values and traditions of Filipinos, young and old. I've heard of Ibong Adarna. Somehow I think it would be a nice start into probing the mind of the original Filipino. I believe we have a wealth of myths and legends that truly reveal our concept of life and creation, etc.

Thanks,
Pauline Santos

Paulinecfny said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paulinecfny said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
joel ferraris said...

Hello,

Our present social condition is also my concern.

The problem of the Philippine society reflects on how individual Filipinos were molded to become citizens and Christians.

As an atist I express my thoughts through art by digging deeper into the causes of moral and spiritual decay in the hope of contributing to its cure.

Spiritual ignorance is the main cause of our society's problems and the youth, molded and blinded by the shallow ideologies of groups like those warring fraternities, become themselves crooked fathers to their families and leaders of our people.

Kindly visit HEART, ART & SOUL at http://joelferraris.blogspot.com/ and the links thereto.

Thanks,

Joel Ferraris