Not 'hearsay': PH history not just about heroes but events - lawmaker

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 05 2022 11:39 AM | Updated as of Jul 05 2022 10:38 PM

ile photo of former President Ferdinand Marcos who placed the Philippines under Martial Law in 1972.
File photo of former President Ferdinand Marcos who placed the Philippines under Martial Law in 1972.
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MANILA (UPDATED) – Is history nothing but chismis (gossip) as claimed by actress Ella Cruz? 

Rep. France Castro, a long-time educator and now current ACT Teachers Party-list Representative, believes Filipino students' knowledge about the country's history should go beyond personalities but the importance of actual events. 

"Wala yung buo, buong pagtingin doon sa history, pag-alam doon sa history. That’s why nakita natin in the, teaching Philippine history in elementary, puro mga ano lang, mga individual, yung ating mga bayani, yung mga tao lang, pero yung importance of events, hindi masyadong dini-discuss,” she said.

(We have no wholistic view about our history; in elementary schools, they are only taught about individual heroes, but the importance of historical events is not discussed.)

Castro, who is urging Congress to prioritize a bill mandating the inclusion of Philippine History as a subject in the high school curriculum, said a deeper dive into these historical events would dispel notions that these are just gossip. 

"Nagiging chismis kasi mga tao-tao lang yung dinidiscuss sa elementary,” the lawmaker explained. 

(It becomes gossip because history lessons at the elementary level only discuss people.)

Cruz, who is playing Irene Marcos in an upcoming movie which tackles the Marcos family’s last 72 hours before fleeing Malacanang in 1986, has come under fire for saying that history is like "chismis (gossip)...filtered and dagdag na rin (embellished)." 

"Hindi natin alam what is the real history. Andoon na iyong idea, pero may mga bias talaga," she said. 

(We don't know what is the real history. The idea is there but there are biases.) 

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History professor Xiao Chua has debunked Cruz's statements, saying that the discipline of history is heavily dependent on verification.

More than 1,000 educators and scholars have signed a manifesto vowing to defend historical truth and academic freedom, as they fear that the victory of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in the May 9 presidential elections would spell more attempts at erasing “memories of plunder and human rights violations” committed under his father’s martial law rule.

For his part, Teachers’ Dignity Coalition chairperson Benjo Basas said Philippine history should be taught at all levels of education. 

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Basas, a history teacher himself, said he was hurt by Cruz’s remarks.

“When we say history ‘no, we’re talking about the records of the past. Record po ito. Hindi po ito, pag sinabi po kasi nating tsismis eh tsismis lang narinig mo lang yan,” he said.

(When we say history, we are talking about records of the past. These are records. When you say it's gossip, that's just hearsay.)

“Ang proposal nga namin diyan ano, mula grade 1 ano, dapat in-inject na natin yung Philippine history, yung Philippine symbols, hanggang lahat po ng antas ng pag-aaral, hanggang kolehiyo, dapat po meron po tayong mandatory teaching of Philippine history, to be specific,” he said. 

(Our proposal is that Philippine history must be taught as early as Grade 1. Maybe we can start with Philippine symbols, but it must be taught at all levels up till college.)

"Pati iyong kultura, iyong sining po natin, napaka-importante nito. Hindi maaari na ito ay wala. Lahat ng bansa na umunlad, lahat ng bansa na naging matagumpay ay bumalik sa kanilang nakaraan, tiningnan ang mga aral nito at iyon ang ginamit nila para sila ay sumulong papunta dito sa progreso. Sana ganoon din sa atin," he added.

(Even culture and the arts are very important. These must not be forgotten. All successful countries looked back on their history, learned their lessons, and used these as they marched towards progress. I hope we can do the same.)

Basas even said the subject shouldn't even have been removed when the K to 12 curriculum was first implemented. 

"Nakadalawa na tayong Department of Education secretary na wala tayong Philippine History as a dedicated subject in high school. This time, sa panahon ni Sec. Inday Sara Duterte, inaasahan namin na isa ito sa mga unang-una niyang tutugunan," he said. 

(We've had two DepEd secretaries under whom Philippine history wasn't taught in high school. this time, under Secretary Inday Sara Duterte, we hope she will attend to this problem.)

Basas shared he is in favor of a review of the K to 12 Program, as this will help in improving the Philippine education system.

But he reiterated that the curriculum should include history, "with or without K to 12".

"In the first place, ito ay decision ng Department of Education, ito ay executive decision, ito ay administrative decision ng Department of Education. Pwede silang magtanggal, magdagdag ng nilalaman ng curriculum. Ang problema, bakit iyon ang tinanggal?" Basas explained.

(In the first place, this was a decision of the Department of Education, an executive decision, an administrative decision. They can remove or add to the curriculum. The problem is, why was that removed?)

When sought for a statement, Atty. Reynold Munsayac, Duterte's spokesperson told ABS-CBN News that "a review of the K-12 curriculum was already initiated by (former DepEd) Sec. Briones to be continued by the current administration." 

--with reports from Arra Perez, ABS-CBN News