Alexa, Play “Pamantasan ng Puso” by Gary Granada: Are We Filipinos Educated?

No longer is the word “educated” a term exclusive to those who attain diplomas inside the four corners of the classroom, but a term inclusive to those who possess the consciousness to see, assess, and analyze the social ills existing outside such corners — social ills that our oppressors desperately want to hide.

Before we define the qualities of an educated Filipino, we must first analyze the history of our education system. Through the decades, we have witnessed the liberalization of our economy in favor of foreign interests, the privatization of our national industries from the supposed regulation of the government, and the commercialization of our rights to basic social services. However, beyond the economic repercussions of our country’s neoliberal restructuring is the cultural repercussions. According to Constantino (1996), the private individual is given the illusion that through education, they can rise from their current class standing to one that has more opportunities for profit; and that education — once shouldered by the government but handed over for commodification by the private sector — is the responsibility of the private individual and not of the state. Hence, despite its financial inaccessibility, a diploma is still sought after by Filipinos for it is seen as a ticket from poverty, or a “cultural capital” to satisfy the employment demands abroad (Lumbera et. al, 2007). Leaving the Philippines as a measure of success among Filipinos is not only a symptom of the commodification of our education system but its colonization, too.

Lumbera et. al (2007) further asserts that both Spanish and American colonizers used education to pacify our revolutionary consciousness against their aggression. For the Spaniards, it was religion and their friars; for the Americans, it was the English language and their Thomasites. Despite our decades-old independence from them, the education systems they have established are designed for continuity. We can observe such continuity through the use of the English language as the medium of instruction, and the prioritization of the “practical” STEM fields over the “critical” HUMSS fields. This lack of critical thinking in our present curriculum is reflected in Paulo Freire’s criticism of the modern education system, which he calls “banking education” in the book The Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

The modern education system is coined as such because the teacher acts as a depositor and the students become mere depositories of information (Maylor, 2012). Freire (1970) further expands the functions of the students as only receiving, filing, and storing the deposits; they may become cataloguers of knowledge but they cannot do deeper thought and analysis. This is because the banking model sees the world as static and non-changing, and the goal is to ensure that students conform and fit into the system by destroying their creative power, disregarding their minds as a source of knowledge, and transforming them to be of service to the interests of the oppressors (Freire, 1970; Rose, 2017).

From such a goal, Freire argues that our oppressors want to “change the consciousness of the oppressed, not the situation which oppresses them.” Hence, in the Philippines, we are encouraged to stray away from the pasaway narrative so we can become productive members of society. However, Freire deems this notion as a scam by the elite to the masses. For him, true education must liberate and humanize students until they become “conscious beings” of the system (Maylor, 2012). No longer is the word “educated” a term exclusive to those who attain diplomas inside the four corners of the classroom, but a term inclusive to those who possess the consciousness to see, assess, and analyze the social ills existing outside such corners — social ills that our oppressors desperately want to hide.

The question still stands: are we, Filipinos, conscious enough to be distinguished as “educated?” The 1896 Revolution against the Spanish colonizers, the Hukbalahap Rebellion against the Japanese forces, the First Quarter Storm protests against the US-Marcos regime, the EDSA People Power 1 and 2 against corrupt leaders, and all the mobilizations in between — all of these historical events are a show of consciousness to our oppression as a nation. However, with us electing the same people we toppled years back, therefore repeating the dark chapters of our history, can we still call ourselves “educated?” The answer, like the question earlier, stands, too. To reiterate, it is the commodified and colonized education system paired with a rigged electoral institution that renders Filipinos to choose between candidates whose illusionary distinctions are mere symptoms of factionalism among the same breed of ruling oppressors (Hedman, 2010). Furthermore, for Hedman, the trend of class interests among our choices of politicians is always for the “landowning, commercial, and industrial oligarchy — ” never for the masses.

From a personal point of view, the consciousness of Filipinos seems to be generational. It is always the youth of the past generations that first saw, assessed, and analyzed the ills of society; and it will be the youth of today that will harness the same consciousness on-ground and below the ivory tower of the academia — whose definition of “educated” is to follow the footsteps of our oppressors. To reiterate, in maintaining the right of the coming generations to be distinguished as “educated,” the youth must channel their inherited consciousness in materializing the nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented alternative. We Filipinos, as this paper argues, are undisputedly “educated;” but only through an education system that promotes a self-sufficient domestic economy, contextualizes theories to the needs and conditions of the country, and ensures the access of free quality education to every Filipino can we retain and pass down the right to be called as such (Constantino, 1970). As Gary Granada (n.d.) sings,

“Ang tunay na matatalino

Totoong nakakaunawa

Ay di silang mga henyo

Kundi silang may pandama

Sila ang gradwet ng palengke

Sa unibersidad ng kanto

Sa kolehiyo ng kalye

Sa pamantasan ng puso.”

REFERENCES

Constantino, R. (1970). The mis-education of the Filipino. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 1 (1), pp. 20–36. https://doi.org/10.1080/00472337085390031

Constantino, R. (1996). Intelektuwalismo at Wika. Mga Piling Diskurso sa Wika at Lipunan. pp. 8–12.

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. ISBN 9780826412768.

Granada, G. (n.d.). Pamantasan ng Puso. On Pamantasan ng Puso [Audio File]. Retrieved from: ​​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnbsDPF-Ycg

Hedman, Eva-Lotta E. (2010). The politics of ‘public opinion’ in the Philippines. Journal of current Southeast Asian affairs, 29 (4). pp. 97–118. ISSN 1868–1034

Lumbera, B., Guillermo, R., & Alamon, A. (2007). MULA TORE PATUNGONG PALENGKE: Neoliberal Education In the Philippines. IBON Philippines.

Maylor, U. (2012). Key Pedagogic Thinkers: Paulo Friere. Journal of Pedagogic Development. 2 (3). Retrived from: https://www.beds.ac.uk/jpd/journal-of-pedagogic-development-volume-2-issue-3/key-pedagogic-thinkers-paulo-friere/

Rose, M. (2017). The Idea of the “Banking Concept in Education”. Our Politics. Retrieved from: https://ourpolitics.net/the-idea-of-the-banking-concept-in-education/

Written by Allen John Dela Cruz on February 2022 for Disciplines and Ideas in the Applied Social Sciences (DIASS)

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