Tuesday, December 12, 2006

0 The Order of Kalantiaw? Haosiao!

Source: http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2006/sept/17/yehey/top_stories/20060917top3.html  (Link not working)

By Augusto V. de Viana

THE recording and writing of history is not an exact science. One’s perspective may also affect its writing. The Americans, for example, called the Filipino-American War the "Philippine Insurrection" as if they owned the country through the Treaty of Paris. The Filipino-American War was actually a continuation of the war for independence. It took years before the US Library of Congress renamed the Philippine Insurgent Paper the Philippine Revolutionary Records.

As the government agency for propagating Philippine history, the National Historical Institute corrects myths, misconceptions and factual mistakes. This is not an easy task, because it involves not only intensive research but diplomacy on touchy issues and sensitivity to local pride.

One such issue involved the authenticity of the Code of Kalantiaw. From its supposed discovery early in the 20th century, Rajah Bendahara Kalantiaw and his Code became a source of pride for Filipinos in general and the people of Aklan in particular. The Code seemed to show that the Filipinos had a lawgiver who was an equivalent of Hammurabi or Solon.

Kalantiaw was celebrated in Philippine textbooks. The President of the Philippines created a special award, the Order of Kalantiaw, for retiring members of the Supreme Court. A shrine in Aklan was built in Kalantiaw’s honor.

The dissertation of William Henry Scott, defended at the University of Santo Tomas Graduate School in 1968, cast doubt on Kalantiaw and his Code. An empiricist, Scott proved that the sources for Kalantiaw and his Code were faulty. His findings were adopted by the National Historical Institute, which asked the Office of the President to withdraw the Order of Kalantiaw. Aklan was not happy with the decision and its Sangguniang Panlalawigan proposed further studies involving Chinese, Japanese and Arabic sources.

The NHI convenes round- tables to settle some of these historical disputes, evaluate materials, invite the disputants to present evidence and come up with a conclusion. The institute has asked the services of lawyers, especially former members of the Supreme Court and the Office of the Solicitor General, to help resolve historical questions. A historian often advises the panels.

In 1996 a roundtable, chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Emilio Gancayco, met to determine the site of the first Mass in the Philippines. Gancayco was assisted by the lawyer Bartolome Fernandez and Dr. Ma. Luisa T. Camagay as history adviser. The site of the first Mass was a contentious matter between Limasawa and Butuan as both claimed having hosted the event.

In 1976 an earlier panel convened to settle the matter but politics intervened. The First Lady Imelda Marcos appeared at one of its meetings. The official position was that the first Mass took place on the island of Limasawa in southern Leyte. Actually Mrs. Marcos did not try to influence the decision of the panel which ruled in favor of Limasawa.

To dispel accusations that the NHI was forced to rule in favor of Limasawa, another panel was convened in 1996. It also gave the nod to Limasawa. The panel based its findings on the word-for-word translation and analysis of Antonio de Pigafetta’s chronicle of Magellan’s voyage. The Butuan side refused to accept the findings and vowed to present more evidence.

Other roundtables were convened to settle the issues of where and when the first cry of the Philippine Revolution took place, where the Philippine flag was first raised in Mindanao and where the blood compact between Sikatuna and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi took place. On the "first cry," the official stand was based on Teodoro Agoncillo’s research that it took place on August 23, 1896, at Pugad Lawin.

Other places that claimed the site were Balintawak, Kang-kong, Caloocan and Bahay Toro. The dates also conflicted: August 23, 24, 25 and 26, 1896. An earlier panel upheld August 23, 1896, and Pugad Lawin as the date and place of the "first cry" of the Revolution.

In 2001 Justice Gancayco again headed a panel to settle the place and date of the unang sigaw. The panel had Professors Bernard Karganilla and Doroteo Abaya of the University of the Philippines and Dr. Rene Escalante as adviser. After the resource persons, the group reaffirmed August 23, 1896, and Pugad Lawin.

In 1999 the National Centennial Commission proclaimed that Butuan was the site of the first flag-raising in Mindanao and that it took place on January 17, 1899. The flag was raised at the town square, attended by Filipino patriots led by Wenceslao Gonzales. To commemorate the centenary of the event the commission had the town square refurbished and built a hundred-foot flagpole.

The claim was contested by Surigao and Cagayan de Oro. To settle the matter a roundtable panel, headed by former Supreme Court Associate Justice Camilo D. Quiason, was convened. It heard the presentations by the three cities.

Representatives from Cagayan de Oro said that the Philippine flag was raised by Filipino patriots in their place on January 10, 1899. The spokesmen from Surigao presented evidence that the flag was raised there as early as December 26, 1898. Though it was said that the flag was observed flying "without any fanfare," the panel ruled in favor of Surigao. The National Historical Institute installed a marker recognizing Surigao.

The most recent panel was convened in 2003-05 to pinpoint the site of the blood compact between the Boholano chieftain Sikatuna and the Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. Tagbilaran City claimed the honor but this was contested by the municipality of Loay.

Judge Nestor Ballacillo of the Solicitor General’s Office headed the study. Its members were Solicitor Edgardo Sison of the Office of the Solicitor General, Manila Times Publisher Fred de la Rosa and Dr. Ricardo T. Jose as adviser.

The panel heard the representatives from Tagbilaran and Loay, both claiming to be the site of the compact. The panel continued its work in 2005 with the help of experts from the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority and the UP Department of Geography who could talk about geography and cartography.

By comparing historical documents with archival and modern maps and by going personally to Tagbilaran and Loay, the panel concluded that the Blood Compact took place at sea at Hinawanan Bay off Loay in March 1565. The NHI installed a historical marker at the Hinawanan Bay shore in March 2006 to commemorate the site of the compact.

Another historical error corrected by the National Historical Institute was the site of the first shot of the Filipino-American War. Traditionally it was believed that the shot was fired by the American sentry, Private William W. Grayson, on February 4, 1899, at the San Juan or Pinaglabanan Bridge.

Dr. Benito J. Legarda’s research, however, showed that the first shot of the war took place not in San Juan but in Santa Mesa, Manila, at the corner of what is now Silencio and Sociego streets.

Dr. Legarda based his findings on the Philippine Revolutionary Records which mention the vicinity of Blockhouse No. 7 in Santa Mesa, one of the Filipino outposts before the American lines, as the site that heard the first shot. The old water main mentioned in the Records is found nearby. After adopting Legarda’s findings, the institute installed a new marker at the corner of the two streets and removed the old one at San Juan Bridge.

Various issues have yet to be resolved by the National Historical Institute. Among these are the first Mass in Luzon; the question of Miguel Malvar being the second President of the Philippines; and whether Rizal’s celebrated retraction was genuine or a forgery.

Not all people and places are pleased with the correction of history. Education officials, teachers, textbook writers and publishers have to be informed. It is expensive to rewrite textbooks, change addresses and build new markers. Local officials are offended when they lose the place of honor. There could be resistance from parties who bristle at the findings. At one time the Institute was asked to show more sensitivity when rewriting history.

The issue of who and what is first and last, i.e. first Mass, first cry, last general to surrender etc. is fluid. Historical research may turn up information that could debunk conventional fact. Admittedly the Institute has solved only the "what’s" of history. Though historical accuracy and correction are desirable, what is more important is the overall impact or importance of a singular event to history.

The author is chief history researcher, National Historical Institute.

0 History is not teacher’s pet

From: http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2006/sept/17/yehey/top_stories/20060917top1.html (Link no longer working)

Sunday, September 17, 2006
By Jonathan M. Hicap, Reporter

IN THE 1990s, the Philippine government had to retailor most of its policies in order to adapt to the concept of globalization.

The overhaul was not limited to the economic field. Education authorities, noticing the steady decline in the level of competencies of Filipino students and extrapolating their prospects, concluded that the root of the problem lay in the curriculum—from the elementary to the high-school level. Retool the curriculum they did.

A casualty of these efforts was the subject of history.

So, what if a student can rattle off the dates of the rediscovery of the islands and give a background on what happened during the revolution against Spain? If he can’t do algebraic exercises and write in grammatically correct English, his chances of future employment in the face of stiff competition against his peers were practically zilch.

The education authorities concluded that algebra, chemistry and English were more relevant to the country’s global competitiveness.

Up until 2002, the subject Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies), which included history, used to enjoy top priority in the Philippine education curriculum. The subject was allotted equal time along with math, science and English subjects.

But with the worsening level of competencies of Filipino students, the Department of Education made a drastic move by overhauling the curriculum for elementary and high-school levels.

16-year study

A product of 16 years of studies and seven years of consultations, the Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) was carried out in all public elementary and high schools starting school year 2002.

"We were concerned about the low performance of students in subjects that were needed for us to compete globally," explains Dr. Eugenia Moraleda, chief of the Curriculum Development Division of the department’s Bureau of Secondary Education.

The 2002 BEC, implemented during the time of Education Secretary Raul Roco, aimed to improve the quality of education in public schools. A report by the Presidential Commission on Educational Reform said the elementary curriculum was overcrowded with too many subjects. This was also said of the high-school curriculum. "It should be streamlined to provide for greater concept understanding, mastery of skills, i.e. critical thinking and other scientific skills, and appreciation of science and technology as applied to daily life."

"An overcrowded curriculum can hinder or delay the development of lifelong learning skills as coverage of the subject matter tends to take priority over in-depth learning," said Education Undersecretary Fe Hidalgo in a paper presented in 2002 during a training of teachers for the new curriculum.

In the 1999 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, the Philippines ranked 36th out of 38 countries in math and science, an indication that the quality of education in the country was on a steady downward spiral.

Hidalgo said studies recommended the revision of the curriculum by reclustering components into fewer subjects and giving more time to essential learning competencies.

"In short, a restructured, upgraded and more integrated curriculum," she said in her paper.

Moraleda explains that the 2002 curriculum was created under an order issued by Education Secretary Roco.

Eight to five subjects

The 2002 revised curriculum drastically reduced the number of subjects from eight to five—English, Math, Science, Filipino and the controversial Makabayan.

According to the department’s Order 43, issued in 2002, the elementary curriculum "focuses on the tool learning areas for an adequate development of competencies for learning how-to-learn."

"The 2002 curriculum for formal basic education aims at raising the quality of the Filipino learners and graduates and empowering them for lifelong learning, which requires the attainment of functional literacy," the department said in an executive summary in 2002.

In the elementary and high-school levels, Araling Panlipunan was lumped together with other subjects under Makabayan.

In the elementary grades, Makabayan, which the department called the "laboratory of life," consists of Sibika at Kultura/Heograpiya, Kasaysayan at Sibika; Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan; Musika, Sining at Edukasyon sa Pagpapalakas ng Katawan.

(Loosely translated, the subjects are civics, culture/geography, history and civics; home economics; music, the arts and physical education.)

"The Makabayan learning area provides the balance as it addresses primarily societal needs. Thus, it emphasizes the development of self-reliant and patriotic citizens as well as the development of critical and creative thinking," the department’s memo said.

The department said this needs understanding of Philippine history, culture, arts, music and games.

"Makabayan entails the use of integrated units of learning tasks which will enable the learner to personally process, assimilate and systematically practice a wide range of values and life skills including work skills and a work ethic," the department said.

From Grades 1 to 3, only Sibika at Kultura is taught and from Grades 4 to 6, Kultura/Heograpiya, Kasaysayan at Sibika is taught 40 minutes daily.

High school

In high school, Makabayan, which "serves as a practice environment for holistic learning to develop a healthy personal and national self-identity," has four component subjects: Araling Panlipunan; Teknolohiya at Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan; Musika, Sining, Edukasyong Pangkatawan at Pangkalusugan; and Edukasyon sa Pagpapahalaga.

Araling Panlipunan covers Philippine History and Government in the first year, Asian Studies in the second year, World History in the third year, and Economics in the fourth year. Araling Panlipunan is taught in the classroom for 240 minutes a week or 48 minutes a day.

One criticism about the 2002 curriculum concerned the grading method for Makabayan. According to the department’s guidelines, there shall be only one grade for the Makabayan subject. This is done by adding all the grades of a student in the component subjects and dividing them by the number of subjects.

"If the average grade in Makabayan is passing, the student shall be considered "passed" in the learning area, regardless of whether the student has a failing grade in any of the component subjects," the 2002 department memo said on computing the Makabayan grade in high school."

This means that even if a student fails in Araling Panlipunan, he can still pass the Makabayan subject if he gets grades in the other component subjects high enough to pull his average.

In May 2003, however, then-Secretary Edilberto de Jesus changed the guidelines to say that "if the student incurs any failure, the grade for Makabayan shall be "incomplete." Failure in any of the component subjects shall mean repeating the subject which the student failed."

In the 2002 curriculum, clearly the government wanted to upgrade students’ knowledge in English, Math and Science, considered marketable skills. But did the government do it at the expense of other subjects?

Time reduction

Another criticism hurled against the new curriculum is the reduction of time allotted for Araling Panlipunan from one hour in the old curriculum to 40 to 48 minutes under the new setup.

In Grades 4 to 6, for example, English is allotted 80 minutes a day; Filipino, 60 minutes; Math, 60 minutes; Science and Health, 60 minutes; and HKS, 40 minutes.

In high school, Filipino is allotted 240 minutes a week, or 48 minutes a day; English and Math, 300 minutes a week, or an hour daily; Science, 400 minutes a week, or 80 minutes a day; and Araling Panlipunan, 200 minutes a week, or 40 minutes a day, which was later increased to 240 minutes a week.

Dr. Ronaldo Mactal, chairman of the History Department of the De La Salle University, said the 2002 curriculum had an adverse effect on how students and teachers perceived Araling Panlipunan as a subject.

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