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Nationalism or Hungry Stomach?

NationalismThe Philippines was discovered by Magellan when he embarked to search for the Moluccas Spice Island on March 16, 1521 on behalf of the King of Spain. From that time on, the Philippines has been a colony of Spain and the United States of America and subjugated by the Japanese Empire. I can truthfully assert that from the moment we gained our “independence” from the Americans; we have lost all opportunities to regain our national identity. It is not because the Americans played us well but it is due to the inability of our government leaders to sustain what our former and nationalistic leaders started.

Perhaps, it is not the fault of the Filipino people that these events became useless except for its used in quiz bee competitions. We cannot blame the people for its lack of cooperation to government. I cannot fully understand what President Kennedy means when he said “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” when our country is run by government officials who capitalize on their position and clout to get their “return of investments” after spending millions of pesos during campaign.

Since the time of President Corazon C. Aquino until the rule of his son former President Benigno C. Aquino, we have not seen or feel the fruits of economic improvement as they have promised. As the treasures with which our government promised never reached the bottom of the society; people will continuously disregard the search for national identity for what is more important is that which satisfies the basic needs of the Filipino people. Nationalism as concept is almost untenable if people remain hungry, deprived of basic access to education, health and means to support a decent life. Nationalism will remain as a concept discussed within the halls of academic pursuit and subject matter of countless papers and news article but will not ring a bell among the common Filipino.


Solving the Problem through Accommodation

islamOne of the arguments forwarded by the author of this article that particularly touches me is the assertion that we have framed a rather monstrous image of a Muslim. This image we concocted due to their involvement in several disastrous activities such as the World Trade Center bombing, the presence of Al-Qaeda and the most recent uprising and barbarism of the ISIL have given rise to an almost devilish signification of the words Muslim and Islam. What is more demeaning and worrisome is the fact that we have predicated and applied this invented definition not only to some but to all Muslims in the world despite the fact that not all of them have imbibed the radical ideologies of some mischievous groups and despite the fact that not all of them have been harboring bad thoughts towards Western Nations and to Christianity.

Our image of a “Muslim” has not only affected the way we relate with them but also the manner we want them to be “like us.” Because of this outlook and because we have outnumbered them at least thinking that we have outnumbered them, we try to impose our beliefs and the ideals of our education to them not knowing or deciding to not recognize that in this group exists a different culture which needs to be respected and preserved. We have been trying our very best to make all Muslims think, feel and act like us. This is not possible even if we put all our effort and resources or even if we provide them the same type of education. Their cultural consciousness is deeply-rooted and if we try to uproot and kill that consciousness, it will only result to endless uprising with the new attacks dwarfing the rest in terms of scale of destruction.

The only possible way is to promote mutual respect for cultural differences and establish an education that will achieve mutual respect and dialogue. To educate them with the purpose of making them like us, think like us and act like us is futile if not expensive. We should promote dialogue among concerned individuals with the purpose of finding a common ground and not focusing on the historical uprising of Muslims and of the need for them to become like us. It is only through this kind of collaboration resulting to an education that is uniquely Islam or Muslim that can truly benefit them and at the same time advance their culture. Because the more we try to eradicate their culture the more we are instilling in them hate for all which, I suppose is the reason behind all these attacks.




Going back to the Basics

While I greatly support and believe on the idea that everyone deserves to be educated and that all government and learning institutions are obliged to make this happen; education for all is simply untenable at least attending and graduating in a formal school. Graduating in a formal school seems to be the only way towards greater social status. Alternative learning symoocsstems may have a good share of success stories but we still place premium importance on formal schooling. For example, one of the aims of this program is for the student to return back to formal schooling and get his diploma. Thus, alternative learning system only becomes a stepping stone serving formal schooling. As not everyone is capable of attending formal schools, then technically not all can have education based on this premise.

Other developments in the field of delivery of education such as MOOCS and Distance Education apparently are not designed to close the gap between those with access and those without access to education although these projects were conceived to be such. The author of the article argues that the existence of such delivery or mode of education can only be accessed by those who have own internet connections or the finances to support and majority of those who participate have already basic or even advanced education. This pre-requisite although not listed is among the many requirements which have to be fulfilled in order for these facilities to be successful. Without these means, it is impossible for one to access these modes of learning. This is just one of the reasons why the poor has no access to education.

What we truly need are modes of learning that can be accessed readily by the poor with the least amount of expenses without sacrificing the quality of learning. Further, the programs that we need to  develop should be simple as the intended users are those who have not had opportunities to attend a formal school or those with limited understanding or knowledge. These are the pre-requisites of such development in the delivery of learning. If these conditions are not met, then only those with resources and technical skills will benefit from these improvements in the field of education.


AIDS Education through Condom Distribution?

I was in oblivion and utterly aghast by the incompetence of the people leading the Department of Health when they announced its plan to distribute condoms to students as a response to the increasing number of new cases of HIV-AIDS inDOH the Philippines. According to a news article, infections of HIV-AIDS has been increasing in the last 5 years and new cases are found greatly among teenagers in the Philippines. Unprotected sex is one of the leading causes of this incident.

As this is the identified cause of the problem; the most practical solution would be to protect students from engaging into unprotected sex. The logic behind the action seems to be valid. To solve a problem, we attack its source to stop it from recurring. In this case, the source is unprotected sex and therefore the logical conclusion is to supply condom as a means of protection.

But in this case, offering free condoms to students is only detrimental to them as the use of condom does not necessarily guarantee to prevent HIV infection. Further, it can also send a wrong message that is it is okay to have sex as long as you have protection.  Condom distribution programs can be cost-effective structural interventions that provide communities with the resources they need to prevent the spread of HIV. However, it does not address the problem.

To achieve, it is essential to address the apparent ignorance of students as to the effects of engaging in sexual activity at their young age. Second, parents have to be involved in this campaign to ensure continuity of the education.  Third, the community must also be given appropriate orientation on the dangers of acquiring HIV-AIDS. Here, education has to be more than just imparting knowledge to students. It has to enable them to recognize the dangers of engaging into sexual contact with many people and to empower them to act appropriately. Without these form of learning through education be it in the classroom setting or in any modes, condom distribution will just result to more and more cases of HIV AIDS in the Philippines.


July 2018
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