The educational system in the Philippines is…lacking
I was born and raised in Manila and educated in two of its Catholic private institutions—each of which prides itself in its academe and character building. I’ve done the research (and they’ve announced it as much) and, to be fair, they are ranked among the country’s best schools.
Nevertheless, I constantly find myself thinking, “Why wasn’t I taught this in school?” when I learn or need to accomplish something new. Sometimes it’s just so frustrating how much the education system in the Philippines lacks—and the most recent catalyst of this was a documentary screening from director Rhadem Camlian Morados entitled In Paglayag.
In Paglayag is a short documentary on the “washed away history of Sulu, the kingdom that birthed the Filipino Moro nation.” It begins with a voyage story, headed by Sulu’s eastern King, to China some 600 years before foreign invaders came on by. At the time, there was so much respect, so many riches and an overflowing amount of courage from the people.
But, as we all ~should~ know, those glory days are over.
And when the lights came on that Saturday evening of a humble screening, all I kept thinking was: Why have I never heard of this before?
I cannot for the life of me relay the history of Sulu—at least, not with accuracy. But think a society that was a society before anyone intervened, before lands were claimed for the sake of claiming them. Think bodies lying in piles on the ground that was once peacefully lived on. Think Kings that protected the Philippine islands who are not only forgotten by history books, but whose people are now portrayed as the enemy.
Think a culture, an entire way of life, actual civilization, forgotten with too much brutality and some smoke and mirrors. Imagine decades of hard work washed away with the blood of a few thousand people.
There is a divide between those of us in the Metro and our countrymen in Mindanao—I understand that. I understand that their culture is different and that they live their lives differently from what I know and practice. What I cannot understand is why I spent weeks studying the different Chinese dynasties and maybe ten minutes learning about Sulu when they are apparently so incredibly intertwined. Why have a spent a good amount of my adult life reading headlines and being scared when it was never fair to assume?
Was I taught to think this way? Is it my fault or is it the education system in the Philippines? I think these things—this shared history—should be taught, should be highlighted, should be part of our damn standardized tests. But while I can’t actively do anything to change our curriculum, I ~can~ actively seek out what else is out there.
In Paglayag is only 30 minutes long and yet there is so much to take in from it; imagine what we could understand if we only paid more attention. Don’t they deserve that? We spend minutes of our time getting insulted over racist comments of virtual strangers; can’t we up it a notch from the people we share passport colors with?
Art Alexandra Lara