“This is a choice between our collective survival as a nation, and our collective death as a free country.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – In light of recent moves to make military training mandatory among students, groups are stressing that to promote nationalism, most especially among the youth, studying the Filipino language and literature is a must.
In a statement written in Filipino, lawmaker France Castro of ACT Teachers Partylist said that studying one’s own language and literature instead of the mandatory Reserve Officer Training Corps for senior high school students will be “our contribution to the world’s cultural education and to the development of our own language, culture, and identity.”
The fight against the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) decision to remove Filipino language as a mandatory subject has been ongoing since 2013, with the issuance of CHED Memorandum No. 20. Recently, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the CHED memorandum.
What is at stake, after all, the Concerned Artists of the Philippines said, is the Filipino consciousness.
Tanggol Wika, a broad group of educators, students, and advocates, said Filipinos’ long colonial past dictates that “we cannot be timid in propagating our own national language and literature.”
“The ravaging tides of globalization and cultural homogenization will surely wipe filipino and panitikan out, if we refuse to institutionalize their propagation in our while education system,” the group said.
Apart from the country’s long colonial past, the Philippines continue to face threats from “foreign powers,” said Tanggol Wika, citing the maritime dispute over West Philippine Sea, the allowing of foreign soldiers to stay in the country, and debts the government has incurred before foreign multilateral financial institutions.
Contrary to CHED’s position, the Department of Humanities of the UP Los Baños stressed that in the age of globalization, it does not mean that the country’s education system should do away with Filipino language and literature as mandatory subjects.
Instead, the Humanities department said, the current situation compels the need to further intensify one’s level of nationalism to promote independent stand on various transnational political and social issues confronting the country.
This also serves as an important instrument to guide students in upholding welfare of the country and their fellow Filipinos, the humanities department added.
On the other hand, poet and musician Juan Miguel Rivera Severo said that as culture is promoted through the use of language, the Supreme Court decision deprives students of the opportunity to better know and love the Filipino language and literature.
“Paano ka magmamahal ng ‘di mo kilala? Paano magmamahal kung walang pagkakataon?” he quipped.
In an earlier Bulatlat report, the progressive Makabayan bloc warned of the railroading of a proposed law, aimed to make ROTC mandatory among Filipino students.
Partylists belonging to the progressive bloc underlined the numerous cases of abuses, hazing, corruption, and even deaths related to its implementation. Just two months ago, a student from the Iloilo State College was allegedly killed by an ROTC cadet using a lead pipe.
“Mandatory ROTC will not teach the youth love of country, instead it would teach them how to be blind followers and discourage critical thinking,” ACT Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio earlier said.
In a statement, ACT Teachers Partylist pointed out that attempts to water down young people’s nationalism may also be seen on how the K+12 implementation has disregarded the Philippine History subject and the Philippine Government and Constitution in its curriculum.
Tanggol Wika is set to file a second petition before the Supreme Court, asking it to reinstate its earlier temporary restraining order against the implementation of the controversial CHED order.
“We are saddened by the Supreme Court’s refusal to give course to our motion for reconsideration. We believe that justice has not been served by their refusal to amply hear our arguments. We reiterate that they should have summoned petitioners to an oral argument, rather than issue a ruling on the basis of quick readings of tons of documents that we have submitted.” Tanggol Wika said in a statement.
In the House of Representatives, on the other hand, the ACT Teachers Partylist is pushing for the passing of House 8954, where they are proposing to make Filipino and Literature as mandatory subjects.