All is not lost for 'Filipino' in college

By Patrick Quintos,

Posted at Jun 29 2014 07:24 PM | Updated as of Jun 30 2014 03:24 AM

Group pushes for ‘intellectualization’ of Filipino

MANILA - After drawing flak from several quarters, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has backtracked in its stance on the use of “Filipino” language – both as a discipline and medium of instruction.

In a text message to, the office of CHED chairperson Dr. Patricia Licuanan said they are still in the process of conducting discussions on including Filipino as a subject in the General Education Curriculum (GEC).

''The next round of consultations happening early July will try to get the consensus of how Filipino will be taught given the clamor of many groups. All proposals of these groups will be discussed,'' said CHED.

A group of teachers believe that if the government intends to reform the educational system, Filipino should never be excluded from the college curriculum.

Katipunan ng mga Gurong Filipino para sa Bansang Filipino, or ORYANG, said Filipino – both as a medium of instruction and as a discipline – should still be taught in college in a much higher and more critical level than how it was taught in senior high.

Teaching Filipino should go beyond grammar, reading, writing and research, the group said.

"Hindi na ito gramatika lamang o 'yung apat na kasanayan sa komunikasyon—pananalita, pakikinig, pagbasa, pagsulat. Mas angat at mas kritikal ang paggamit ng Filipino," ORYANG president and poet Rebecca Anonuevo told in an interview via email.

The group is proposing three Filipino subjects in college: Filipino at Pagsasalin (Filipino and Translation), Filipino at Eco-kritisismo (Filipino and Eco-criticism), and Filipino at Social Media (Filipino and Social Media).

"Sa mga kursong iminungkahi namin, makikita ang papel ng Filipino bilang praktikal na kaalaman at gawain," she added.

CHED earlier excluded Filipino as a subject in the revised GEC.

In 2013, CHEd released CMO No. 20 entitled “General Education Curriculum: Holistic Understandings, Intellectual and Civic Competencies” which will serve as a guide to higher education institutions during the K to 12 transition.

Licuanan said the revision of the GE is a “paradigm shift and in the context of the K to 12 curriculum based on college readiness standards.”

CHED ordered further discussions on the use of Filipino as a medium of instruction for nine subjects in the new GEC.

The choice of which subjects will be taught in Filipino remains with the schools, however.


While CHED assured that course descriptions in the new GEC will be available in both languages, ORYANG doubts that Filipino will be as dominant as English.

''Ito ang malaking problema ng mga mambabatas at mga namumuno sa gobyerno. Kayo-kayo o tayo-tayo ang nagkakaintindihan, mga edukado, at etsa-puwera ang karaniwang Filipino. Ang bagong kurikulum ay dapat higit na ipakalat sa Filipino at sa iba't ibang wikang mulang mga rehiyon. Diyan tayo magsisimula,'' ORYANG said.

Last year, the government was criticized for not explaining well what a storm surge was before "Yolanda" hit the Eastern Visayas.

A Filipino-American geologist and environmental scientist said a Filipino word should have been used in place of "storm surge" to evoke a clearer sense of danger.

"Sa mga kursong iminungkahi namin, makikita ang papel ng Filipino bilang praktikal na kaalaman at gawain," Anonuevo said.

And because of the interdisciplinary approach of the new curriculum, Añonuevo said the syllabus for their proposed subjects will be needing inputs from teachers and experts in other disciplines.

''Mahirap na trabaho ang pagbuo ng matinong silabus. Dahil interdisciplinary ang approach at content ng bagong GE, kailangang isangguni sa ibang mga guro/eksperto ang lalamanin. Hindi puwedeng isang tao lang ang gagawa ng silabus,'' she said.

‘CHED has the power to push for the use of Filipino’

Añonuevo believes that if CHED really wants to, it can push for additional six to nine units of Filipino in college given the fact that the new GEC only has 36 units, compared to 120 average units in the professional program.

''Kung stats lang, 36 GE units in Filipino [sana] as against 120 plus average units in professional program, plus six to nine additional units in Filipino as discipline. Bakit di talaga igiit?''

While it recognizes the stand of Filipino teachers, CHED admitted its limitations on such matters since colleges and universities enjoy academic freedom.

The Republic Act 772 or the Higher Education Act of 1994 provides the academic freedom of universities and colleges.

Añonuevo believes, however, that pressure should still come from CHED, especially since it is the one implementing the reforms in the educational system.

''Revolutionary ang magiging pagbabago. Sa ibang mga bansa sa Asya, malakas ang pagpapahalaga sa wika. Sa atin kailangan pang makipagkontes tayo sa Ingles," she added.

Filipino departments of some of the country's premier universities, including the Ateneo de Manila University and the University of the Philippines, have already expressed the same sentiments as ORYANG.

The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) also backed the call of various groups to retain Filipino in college in a memo if its own.

A petition calling for the inclusion of Filipino subjects in college is likewise circulating online, and as of posting already has 4,777 signatories.

College teachers, not just in Filipino, are facing massive displacement as a result of the CHED memo.

The CHED has already proposed a P30-billion stabilization fund to help mitigate the effects of the K-12 program.