Philippine Daily Inquirer - - LETTERS -

These are the many er­rors to be found in Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Leonor Bri­ones’ re­sponse to my ar­ti­cle “Kuriku­lam” (9/17/17).

Bri­ones said: “While Philip­pine his­tory, as a sub­ject, is no longer part of the ju­nior high school cur­ricu­lum, dis­cus­sions of events in Philip­pine his­tory, es­pe­cially on mar­tial law, are ‘nat­u­rally in­te­grated’ in sev­eral sub­jects, among them South­east Asian po­lit­i­cal land­scape in the fourth quar­ter of Grade 7, and con­tem­po­rary pol­i­tics of Asia in Asian his­tory (also taught in Grade 7), which fo­cuses on the rise of dic­ta­tor­ship in South­east Asia, e.g., Suharto and Sukarno of In­done­sia, Lee Kuan Yew of Sin­ga­pore, and Mar­cos of the Philip­pines.”

None of what Bri­ones stated with re­gard to “mar­tial law,” “Mar­cos” or “dic­ta­tor­ships” ap­pears in the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion’s (DepEd) K to 12 Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Cur­ricu­lum Guide of May 2016 for Grade 7. None ap­pears in “Asya: Pag-us­bong ng Kabi­has­nan,” the text­book rec­om­mended by the DepEd for the use of Grade 7 stu­dents in their sub­ject Asian His­tory.

Bri­ones cat­e­go­rized the for­mer prime min­is­ter of Sin­ga­pore Lee Kuan Yew as be­long­ing to a group of South­east Asian dic­ta­tors. Mr. Lee must be turn­ing in his grave! I won­der what his son Lee Hsien Loong, the present prime min­is­ter of Sin­ga­pore, who was in the coun­try for the Asean Sum­mit, must feel, know­ing that this atro­cious and slan­der­ous idea is be­ing taught and im­printed onto the minds of young and im­pres­sion­able Filipino learn­ers and stu­dents by no less than the ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary. Lee Kuan Yew was never a dic­ta­tor like Sukarno, Suharto and Mar­cos!

Lee Kuan Yew was the long­est-serv­ing prime min­is­ter in mod­ern world his­tory—for good, ob­vi­ous rea­sons. He vir­tu­ally raised the city-state of Sin­ga­pore from scratch. His strict, no-non­sense and­mildly au­thor­i­tar­ian but clean, ef­fi­cient and in­cor­rupt­ible style of gov­er­nance led to the evo­lu­tion and trans­for­ma­tion of that small is­land into South­east Asia’s most pros­per­ous and pro­gres­sive na­tion. Mar­cos’ dic­ta­tor­ship, by con­trast, set in mo­tion the process of the Philip­pines’ degra­da­tion and de­vo­lu­tion, which even­tu­ally led us to where we are now: at the bot­tom of a cesspool out of which we can­not hope to es­cape. There’s a world of dif­fer­ence be­tween the two—the for­mer cre­ated, and the lat­ter dev­as­tated and de­stroyed. It is un­for­tu­nate that this piece of fake news em­anated from our ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary, who should know bet­ter than to call the great states­man a dic­ta­tor like Sukarno and Mar­cos.

In­stead, Bri­ones should have in­cluded in her rogues’ gallery of South­east Asian dic­ta­tors that Grim Reaper of the killing fields of Kam­puchea, Pol Pot, un­der whose bloody Kh­mer Rouge regime a quar­ter of the en­tire pop­u­la­tion of Cam­bo­dia per­ished.

“Pilip­inas: Bansang Pa­paun­lad,” the first book I cited in “Kuri-ku­lam,” is a pub­lic school text­book, proven by the fact that it is men­tioned 14 times in the DepEd Cur­ricu­lum Guide as a “learn­ing ma­te­rial” for the use of Grade 6 pupils of pub­lic el­e­men­tary schools in their sub­ject Hekasi (Ge­og­ra­phy, His­tory, Civics). In this book, Philip­pine his­tory ended on July 4, 1946, with the Dec­la­ra­tion of Philip­pine In­de­pen­dence. As a re­sult, mar­tial law and the Mar­cos dic­ta­tor­ship are top­ics that have no way of be­ing discussed in this book. It con­tains many factual er­rors as well. Thus, it is a grossly de­fec­tive pub­lic school text­book.

While the other nine books I men­tioned were in­deed pub­lished by pri­vate pub­lish­ers, the DepEd can­not es­cape the fact that pri­vate text­book pub­lish­ers and their au­thors base the con­tent of what they write solely and en­tirely on the DepEd Cur­ricu­lum Guide. They may not write based on their whim, caprice, or the wind­mills of their mind.

Bri­ones’ ad­mis­sion that “Philip­pine his­tory is no longer part of the high school cur­ricu­lum,” plus the ex­is­tence of the 10 de­fi­cient and de­fec­tive text­books I cited in “Kuri-ku­lam” which are presently be­ing used by Grade 6 pupils study­ing in both pub­lic and pri­vate schools, af­firm my as­ser­tion that mar­tial law and the Mar­cos dic­ta­tor­ship are top­ics that are not discussed at all in both grade school and high school. Kulang, ’di ba? (Lack­ing or de­fi­cient, isn’t it?) There­fore: “Kurri-kulang-kulang!”

There is in­deed a con­certed plan to san­i­tize, triv­i­al­ize and ig­nore the evils of Mar­cos and mar­tial law in Philip­pine text­books. Bri­ones should look into this if she is re­spon­sive and re­spon­si­ble, rather than deny it. I take um­brage at what the sec­re­tary im­plied when she said: “An­to­nio Calipjo Go’s as­ser­tions are nowhere near the truth.” That is tan­ta­mount to call­ing me a liar. AN­TO­NIO CALIPJO GO

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