Thursday, March 23, 2006

THE MISEDUCATION OF THE FILIPINO...(The Making of Americanized Filipino Minds) - Part 2 of 3

“The true Filipino is a decolonized Filipino.” – Renato Constantino

Neocolonialism - The dominance of strong nations over weak nations, not by direct political control (as in traditional colonialism), but by economic and cultural influence.

"Upang maitindig natin ang bantayog ng ating lipunan, kailangang radikal nating baguhin hindi lamang ang ating mga institusyon kundi maging ang ating pag-iisip at pamumuhay. Kailangan ang rebolusyon, hindi lamang sa panlabas, kundi lalo na sa panloob!" --Apolinario Mabini,  La Revolucion Filipina (1898)

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NOTE: Because of the length of this extremely relevant essay by the late Prof. Constantino, I have posted it in three parts. See (click -->):  Part 1, and Part 3 of 3

Neocolonialism - The dominance of strong nations over weak nations, not by direct political control (as in traditional colonialism), but by economic and cultural influence.

Hi All,

Under the guise of preparing and teaching us self-government, the American imposition of public education was designed for the Filipinos to be Americanized in their outlook; and this was greatly attained by the use of English as the only medium of instruction (all part of subtle but extremely effective "cultural" imperialism). During their 50-year rule, public education was given the greatest priority and was actually run as part of the US Department of the Army to ensure compliance until 1935.


Thus years thereafter, America was able to leave peacefully since the educational system has guaranteed and continually produced "little brown brothers" who wittingly and unwittingly thought, loyally worked, and ruled for America. America did not need anymore to have American occupational troops in the islands!

In addition, the practiced "free trade" during the entire colonial period and its later postwar imposition via Bell Trade Act our co-opted ruling elites perpetuated American dominance in all significant business and industries; and embedded our taste for imported goods/culture and thus practically killing any nascent native industrialization, keeping us mainly as a source of supply for agricultural products and strategic minerals, and losing our patrimony, sense of national history, national unity, and national identity.



critical study of American history will show that the Americans came not to help free the native Filipinos from the Spaniards (the revolutionaries have them surrounded until the Americans joined in and fooled them to stay put until their reinforcements arrived).

The Americans came because during that moment in time in history, Americans saw their need for a fueling station for their growing navy, recognized the need to expand their sources of supply for raw materials, and new markets for their excess products in Asia, especially the illimitable Chinese market, and saw the Philippines as the gateway for all.

Of course, we can not learn these historical truths in Philippine and American schools unless one goes to seek them beyond official school textbooks and government publications.

- Bert M. Drona


Prof. Renato Constantino, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol.1., No.1 (1970)

“The true Filipino is a decolonized Filipino.” – Renato Constantino

Transplantation of Political Institutions 

American education in effect transplanted American political institutions and ideas into the Philippines. Senator Recto, in his last major address at the University of the Philippines, explained the reason for this. Speaking of political parties, Recto said: 

"...It is to be deplored that our major political parties were born and nurtured before we had attained the status of a free democracy. The result was that they have come to be caricatures of their foreign model with its known characteristics --patronage, division of spoils, political bossism, partisan treatment of vital national issues. I say caricatures because of their chronic shortsightedness in respecting those ultimate objectives the attainment of which was essential to a true and lasting national independence. 

All throughout the period of American colonization, they allowed themselves to become more and more the tools of colonial rule and less and less the interpreters of the people's will and ideals. Through their complacency, the new colonizer was able to fashion, in exchange for sufferance of oratorical plaints for independence, and for patronage, rank, and sinecure, a regime of his own choosing, for his own aims, and in his own self-interest." 

The Americans were confronted with the dilemma of transplanting their political institutions and yet luring the Filipinos into a state of captivity. It was understandable for American authorities to think that democracy can only mean the American type of democracy, and thus they foisted on the Filipinos the institutions that were valid for their own people. 

Indigenous institutions that could have led to the evolution of native democratic ideas and institutions were disregarded. No wonder we too look with hostility upon countries who try to develop their own political institutions according to the needs of their people without being bound by western political procedures. 

We have been made to believe in certain political doctrines as absolute and the same for all peoples. An example of this is the belief in the freedom of the press. Here, the consensus is that we cannot nationalize the press because it would be depriving foreigners of the exercise of the freedom of the press. This may be valid for strong countries like the United States where there is no threat of foreign domination, but certainly, this is dangerous for an emergent nation like the Philippines where foreign control has yet to be weakened. 

Re-examination Demanded 

The new demands for economic emancipation and the assertion of our political sovereignty leave our educators no other choice but to re-examine their philosophy, their values, and their general approach to the making of the Filipino who will institute, support, and preserve the nationalist aims. To persist in the continuance of a system that was born under the exigencies of colonial rule, to be timid in the face of traditional opposition would only result in the evolution of an anomalous educational system that lags behind the urgent economic and political changes that the nation is experiencing. 

What then are the nationalist tasks for Philippine education? Education must both be seen not as an acquisition of information but as the making of a man so that he may function most effectively and usefully within his own society. Therefore, education can not be divorced from the society of a definite country at a definite time. It is a fallacy to think that educational goals should be the same everywhere and that therefore what goes into the making of a well-educated American is the same as what should go into the making of a well-educated Filipino. This would be true only if the two societies were at the same political, cultural, and economic level and had the same political, cultural, and economic goals.

But what happened in this country? Not only do we imitate Western education, but we have also patterned our education after the most technologically advanced western nations. The gap between the two societies is very large. In fact, they are two entirely different societies with different goals. 

Adoption of western values 

Economically, the US is an industrial nation. It is a fully developed nation, economically speaking. Our country has a colonial economy with a tiny industrial base -in other words, we are backward and underdeveloped. Politically, the U.S. is not the only master of its own house; its control and influence extend to many other countries all over the world. The Philippines has only lately emerged from formal colonial status and it still must complete its political and economic independence. 

Culturally, the U.S. has a vigorously and distinctively American culture. It is a nation whose cultural institutions have developed freely, indigenously without control and direction from foreign sources, whose ties to its cultural past are clear and proudly celebrated because no foreign power has imposed upon its people a wholesale inferiority complex, because no foreign culture has been superimposed upon it destroying, distorting, its own past and alienating the people from their own cultural heritage. What are the characteristics of America today that spring from its economic, political, and cultural status? 

What should be the characteristics of our own education as dictated by our own economic, political, and cultural conditions? In contrast, both are to realize how inimical to our best interests and progress is our adoption of some of the basic characteristics and values of American education. By virtue of its leadership and its economic interests in many parts of the world, the United States has an internationalist orientation based securely on a well-grounded, long-held nationalistic viewpoint. U.S. education has no urgent need to stress the development of American nationalism in its young people. Economically, politically, culturally, the U.S. is the master of its own house. 

American education, therefore, understandably lays little emphasis on the kind of nationalism we Filipinos need. Instead, it stresses internationalism and underplays nationalism. This sentiment is noble and good, but when it is inculcated in a people who have either forgotten nationalism or never imbibed it, it can cause untold harm. The emphasis is on universal brotherhood, on friendship for other nations, without the firm foundation of nationalism which would give our people the feeling of pride in our own products and vigilance over our natural resources, has had very harmful results. Chief among these is the transformation of our national virtue of hospitality into a stupid vice that hurts us and makes us the willing dupes of predatory foreigners. 

UnFilipino Filipinos 

Thus we complacently allow aliens to gain control of our economy. We are even proud of those who amass wealth in our country, publishing laudatory articles about their financial success. We love to hear foreigners call our country a paradise on earth, and we never stop to think that it is a paradise only for them but not for the millions of our countrymen. 

When some of our more intellectually emancipated countrymen spearhead moves for nationalism, for the nationalization of this or that endeavor, do the majority of Filipinos support such moves? No, there is apathy because there is no nationalism in our hearts which will spur us to protect and help our countrymen first. 

Worse, some Filipinos will even worry about the sensibilities of foreigners lest they think ill of us for supposedly discriminating against them. And worst of all, many Filipinos will even oppose nationalistic legislation either because they have become the willing servants of foreign interests or because, in their distorted view, we Filipinos can not progress without the help of foreign capital and foreign entrepreneurs. In this part of the world, we are well nigh unique in our generally non-nationalistic outlook

What is the source of this shameful characteristic of ours? One important source is surely the schools. There is little emphasis on nationalism. Patriotism has been taught us, yes, but in general terms of love of country, respect for the flag, appreciation for the beauty of our countryside, and other similarly innocuous manifestations of our nationality. 

The pathetic result of this failure of Philippine education is a citizen amazingly naive and trusting in its relations with foreigners, devoid of the capacity to feel indignation even in the face of insults to the nation, ready to acquiesce and even to help aliens in the despoliation of our national wealth. 

Why are the great majority of our people so complaisant about foreign economic control? Much of the blame must be laid at the door of colonial education. Colonial education has not provided us with a realistic attitude toward other nations, especially Spain and the United States. The emphasis in our study of history has been on the great gifts that our conquerors have bestowed upon us. 

A mask of benevolence was used to hide the cruelties and deceit of early American occupation. The noble sentiments expressed by McKinley were emphasized rather than the ulterior motives of conquest. The myth of friendship and special relations is even now continually invoked to camouflage the continuing inequities in our relationship. Nurtured in this kind of education, the Filipino mind has come to regard centuries of colonial status as a grace from above rather than a scourge. 

Is it any wonder then that having regained our independence we have forgotten how to defend it? Is it any wonder that when leaders like Claro M. Recto try to teach us how to be free, the great majority of the people find it difficult to grasp those nationalistic principles that are the staple food of other Asian minds? The American architects of our colonial education labored shrewdly and well. 

The Language Problem 

The most vital problem that has plagued Philippine education has been the question of language. Today, experiments are still going on to find out whether it would be more effective to use the native language. This is indeed ridiculous since an individual can not be more at home in any other language than his own. In every sovereign country, the use of its own language in education is so natural no one thinks it could be otherwise. But here, so great has been our disorientation caused by our colonial education that the use of our own language is a controversial issue, with more Filipinos against than in favor! 

Again, as in the economic field, Filipinos believe they can not survive without America, so in education, we believe no education can be true education unless it is based on proficiency in English. 

Rizal already foresaw the tragic effects of a colonial education when, speaking through Simon, he said: 

"...You ask for equal rights, the Hispanization of your customs, and you don't see that what you are begging for is a suicide, the destruction of your nationality, the annihilation of your fatherland, the consecration of tyranny! 

What will you be in the future? A people without character. A nation without liberty -everything you have will be borrowed, even your very defects!... What are you going to do with Castilian, the few of you who will speak it? Kill off your own originality, subordinate your thoughts to other brains, and instead of freeing yourselves, make yourselves slaves indeed! Nine-tenths of those of you who pretend to be enlightened are renegades to your country! He among you who talks that language neglects his own in such a way that he neither writes it nor understands it, and how many have I not seen who pretended not to know a single word of it!.." 

It is indeed unfortunate that teaching in the native language is given up to second grade only, and the question of whether beyond this it should be English or Filipino is still unsettled. Many of our educational experts have written on the language problem, but there is an apparent timidity on the part of these experts to come out openly for the urgent need of discarding the foreign language as the medium of instruction in spite of remarkable results shown by the use of the native language. Yet, the deleterious effects of using English as the medium of instruction are many and serious. What Rizal said about Spanish has been proven to be equally true for English. 

Barrier to Democracy 

Under the system maintained by Spain in the Philippines, educational opportunities were so limited that learning became the possession of a chosen few. This enlightened group was called the ilustrados. They constituted the elite. Most of them came from the wealthy class because this was the only class that could afford to send their sons abroad to pursue higher learning. Learning, therefore, became a badge of privilege. There was a wide gap between the ilustrados and the masses. Of course, many of the ilustrados led the propaganda movement, but they were mostly reformers who wanted reforms within the framework of Spanish colonialism. In a way, they were also captives of Spanish education. 

Many of them were the first to capitulate to the Americans, and the first leaders of the Filipinos during the early years of the American regime came from this class. Later they were supplanted by the products of American education. One of the ostensible reasons for imposing English as the medium of instruction was the fact that English was the language of democracy, that through this tongue the Filipinos would imbibe the American way of life which makes no distinction between rich and poor and which gives equal opportunities. Under this thesis, the existence of an ilustrado class would not long endure because all Filipinos would be enlightened and educated. There would be no privileged class. 

In the long run, however, English perpetuated the existence of the ilustrados --American ilustrados who, like their counterparts, were strong supporters of the way of life of the new motherland.  Now we have a small group of men who can articulate their thoughts in English, a wider group who can read and speak in fairly comprehensible English, and a great mass that hardly expresses itself in any language. All of these groups are hardly articulate in their native tongues because of the neglect of our native dialects, if not the deliberate attempts to prevent their growth.

The result is a leadership that fails to understand the needs of the masses because it is a leadership that can communicate with the masses only in general and vague terms. This is one reason why political leadership remains in a vacuum. This is the reason why issues are never fully discussed. This is the reason why orators with the best inflections, demagogues who rant and rave, are the ones who flourish in the political arena. 

English has created a barrier between the monopolists of power and the people. English has become a status symbol, while the native tongues are looked down upon. English has given rise to a bifurcated society of fairly educated men and the masses who are easily swayed by them. Clear evidence of the failure of English education is the fact that politicians address the masses in their dialects. Lacking mastery of the dialect, the politician merely deals in generalities.

Because of their lack of command of English, the masses have gotten used to only half-understanding what is said to them in English. They appreciate the sounds without knowing the sense. This is a barrier to democracy. People don't even think it is their duty to know, or that they are capable of understanding national problems. Because of the language barrier, therefore, they are content to leave everything to their leaders. This is one of the root causes of their apathy, their regionalism, or parochialism. Thus, English which was supposedly envisioned as the language of democracy is in our country a barrier to the full flowering of democracy.

In 1924 the eminent scholar Najib Saleeby wrote on the language of education in the Philippines. he deplored the attempt to impose English as the medium of instruction. Saleeby, who was an expert on the Malayo-Polynesian languages, showed that Tagalog, Visayan, Ilocano, and other Philippine dialects belong to the same linguistic tree. He said:

"..The relation the Tagalog holds to the Bisaya or to the Sulu is very much like or closer than that of the Spanish to the Italian. An educated Tagalog from Batangas and an educated Bisayan from Cebu can learn to understand each other in a short space of time and without much effort. A Cebu student living in Manila can acquire practical use and understanding of Tagalog in less than three months. The relation between Tagalog and Malay is very much the same as that of Spanish and French..."

This was said forty-two years ago when Tagalog movies, periodicals, and radio programs had not yet attained the popularity that they enjoy today all over the country. Saleeby further states:

"...Empirically neither the Spanish nor the English could be a suitable medium for public instruction in the Philippine Islands. It does not seem possible that either of them can become the common or national language of the Archipelago. Three centuries of Spanish rule and education failed to check the use of the vernacular. A very small minority of Filipinos could speak Spanish in 1898, but the great mass of the people could neither use nor understand it. Twenty-five years of intensive English education has produced no radical change. More people at present speak English than Spanish, but the great majority hold on to the local dialect. The Spanish policy might be partially justified on colonial and financial grounds, but the American policy can not be so defended. It should receive a popular free choice or give good proof of its practicability by showing actual and satisfactory results. 

The people have as yet had no occasion to declare their free will, and the present policy must be judged on its own merits and on conclusive evidence...But teaching English broadcast and enforcing its official use is one thing, and its adoption as the basis of education and as the sole medium of public instruction is a completely different matter. This point can not be fully grasped or comprehended without special attention and experience in colonial education and administration. Such a policy is exalted and ambitious to an extreme degree.

..It aims at something unknown before in human affairs. It is attempting to do what ancient Persia, Rome, Alexander the Great, and Napoleon failed to accomplish. It aims at nothing less than the obliteration of the tribal differences of the Filipinos, the substitution of English for the vernacular dialects as a home tongue, and making English the national common language of the Archipelago."

That is more true today. very few college students can speak mixed English and the dialect. Our congress has compounded their confusion by a completely unwarranted imposition of 24 units of Spanish.

(to be continued...Part 3 is still to be transcribed!)


Anonymous said...

Many thanks for your emails on Tato Constantino's miseducation of the Filipino(s). Allow me to put in my two-bits thinking at the this point.

As some of us in the FEU group (I was with them occasionally in the campus from 1950-52 until I decided to drop out of college and never came back--for any degree but to teach as I do now) pointed out to Tato in our coffee sessions (regulars were faculty members Ike Joaquin, Salvador Laurel, Benito Reyes,Nick Joaquin, students Dante Calma, Ernesto Banawis, Tony Joaquin, Arsenio Fabros, Isabelo Crisostomo, Jose Abcede, Greg Datuin, Alfonso Policarpio, artist Duldulao and others whose names I can't remember): he was too much negatively affected by his hate for the Americans that he forgot to use the situation to the
Filipinos' advantge.

I regard(ed) it like jujitsu: throw the enemy by his own weight and use his own mass against him.

The Americans can be beaten in their own game--in their own language too. I think of Tony Escoda, Tony Arizabal, Al Valencia and myself who had become correspondents and bureau chiefs in the Associated Press and AP-Dow Jones here and abroad. Think of Mike Marabut, Joselito Katigbak and Ernie Mendoza who had been bureau chiefs of Reuters, or Teddy Benigno of Agence France-Presse. Or authors Frankie Sionil-Jose,the Tiempo couple etc. Or Sixto K. Roxas who was vice chair of American Express International, Bobby Romulo of IBM in his younger days. There were also one Victoriano Yamzon who was the most successful correspondent(better than the American reporters) of the old Manila Tribune in 1910 in the judgement of his American editors. A lot more name there are.

My point is our educational system must include a subject on how teach the Filipinos the hard facts of life--of geopolitics and international relations, and
international political-economics. Teach them how to work out for themselves in the field of international competition. Learn more of the enemy because without
that information we are dead meat even before we start. Work with what is possible and improve on our
national lot. Be part of the solution, not the problem.

Cheers Gil

Bert M. Drona said...

Hello Gil,

Thank you for your response.

Though I have read, reread and keep many of his published works, I never came to know him personally and do not know whether he really hated America and/or Americans as a people. As you may know, nationalism is a sentiment and may serve as an ideology too.

Like you I believe in education as a possible solution to the long-term improvement of the Filipino masses; an education that teaches a means to decent livelihood AND a means to understand his and society's realities, to identify the symptoms versus the roots of his daily personal misery and that of his society.

Of course such education will need to touch on the geopolitics of international economics, capitalism in terms of individual persons as investors versus corporate/transnational and institutional investors, etc. In a globalized economy the ordinary, individual investor is really a nonfactor. We seem to forget that, although we hear a lot of talk (propaganda or advertisement) about the "foreign investors", as if we still have much individual foreign investors.

I understand your valid points especially on education. However, the prior questions that we need to address are: how do we implement that kind of education, how and who will finance it? Can we see that happening in present realities where the national leadership have been/are corrupt and have only demonstrated selfish and subservient interests? Can we see that occurring when our educational system is designed to follow the IMF/WB/ADB "recommendations" as preconditions to continuing loans; and we know these supposedly neutral and benevolent international institutions are prophets of economic and cultural globalization (neocolonialism)?

I frankly do not see such an education being realized without a strong motivation from a leadership, supported by a nationalistic populace, that would push for a nationalistic educational program. Here again, the prior issue asks how can we have a nationalist leadership and a nationalistic majority?

Not from the recent, present and foreseeable governments and institutions. But it really has to start somewhere, somehow. It is discouraging indeed. I feel and think that we Filipinos seem to have significantly lost nationalism among the younger generations since the Marcos Dictatorship, but we just have to continue fighting for nationalism (that's what I try to do in my own little way).

Else, a nation of decolonized Filipinos will not come to reality. And the Filipino will perpetually be having his "damaged culture," continually living his life of selfish individualism inherited from his culture and reinforced by the historical neglect from his government; with no sense of national community beyond his circle of family and friends. A country not his own since it will not be under his control, and therefore not a nation he can call his own.

A bleak future for a country and a people that oftentimes only a thinking Filipino can appreciate and sadly long for especially when he looks at his homeland from afar, in a foreign soil.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bert:

This is not April Fools line.
I appreciate your emails. It's good to know you are one of my friends who think of the mother country from the other side of the Pacific.

We as a people are not hopeless. The education of the Filipino we want will certainly not come during our time (since we have only 75 more years to go each, wanna bet?), but it surely will. Because it is evolutionary. See where the Chinese were in the 19th century,and where they are now? This is not to say I am endorsing the Mao-type of governance. Not at all. I surely hope we do not have to go a bloody cleansing phase in our history. That's why our evolution will take longer than the Chinese.

I only hope this present-day frustration over the rotten political setup spreads to the grassroots much faster so the slumbering rural folks finally wake up to the needs of the times.


Bert M. Drona said...

Hello Gil,

Happy April Fools's Day!

Speaking of the mainland Chinese. Coincidentally, two days ago I watched "55 Days in Peking" movie (Heston) after 30+ years ago when I first saw it. What a difference years make. Then, I love to watch such movies but now, after learning more about history (am an engineer), I see things with a critical if not cynical eye. As you may know, a lot of Hollywood movies then and now have differing, if not questionable, assumptions, intended or unintended.

The movie of course was set or based on the early 20th century (1900) "Boxer" rebellion, when the Chinese people were beginning to be nationalistic (maybe the term was not invented yet). The Chinese resented the foreigners (Europeans and Japanese) who have divided the country into agreed spheres of influences.

Thus the Chinese Boxers started attacking and killing the foreigners; therefore the Europeans with the help of the American government (via John Hay who made arrangements to help them but, as a new imperial power, demanded an "open door" policy) joined together and defeated the native Chinese.

Gil, note that the Chinese had a Sun Yat Sen, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao who were all nationalists (though of course latter was a communist). The Chinese communist party has gradually since Deng Xiao Ping become a mixed economy: State/Party capitalism with private capitaism; but obviously the country is a nation, a united people, proud. They are nationalists wanting to preserve their national identity and sovereignty.

And that as you know is what we Filipinos do not have. I do not believe in evolution since it implies natural inevitability. Nationalism MUST be willed, rekindled and fostered to propel social transformation. With the way we are right now, it may take a generation even if the political conditions would allow it.

I see now with globalization a similar parallelism where our homeland is now being deluged with other foreigners in addition to the Americans, Chinese, Japanese. The only difference is we do not see much foreign troops getting involved (though there are reports that US troops, 4 officially unconfirmed killed, really are participating in attacking MNLF/MILF rebels down south. Thanks to Estrada regime with the signing of the VFA).

With the present regime hastily selling out i.e. 100% foreign ownership and/or operation on mining, etc. and the agenda of foreign interests in the proposed Cha-cha revision, the homeland becomes de facto under an "open door" policy.

As modern history shows, the US will use military force when its business/economic interests are threatened; and it will do so given that it's the only superpower now. That's why it's emboldened to go unilaterally and ignore the rest of the world.

Of course, as you alluded to, the question is how fast we can politicize and mobilize the majority. It may take a generation or longer than the 10-15 years it took to rebuild nationalism prior to the Dictatorship, as many of the nationalist politicians are gone and the educational system is not in that nationalist groove.

Maybe we would not see it in our lifetimes. But still, we the educated should just go on ranting so we ourselves and the ignorant majority become conscious and concerned about our national predicament and its roots and act in correcting it. Regards