Catholic schools to right Philippines history

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Thursday, September 22, 2011


THE Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (Ceap) has committed to right Philippine history in elementary and high school against the biases and dire lack of information about Mindanao, its people, and resources.

Initially, the group targets to produce a reference book to be provided to different schools for Hekasi (Heograpiya Kasaysayan Sibika) teachers.

Speaking at the press conference of the three-day CEAP National Convention being held at the Grand Men Seng Hotel, Fr. Antonio Moreno, SJ, vice president of CEAP and president of Ateneo de Zamboanga University (Adzu), said that the process of righting Philippine history is being done through the help of various sectors.

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In the initial stages of the project, a review of textbooks used for Grades 1 to 6 shows a strong bias for Luzon and have factual errors about Mindanao (like a consistent mention of Badjaos as Moslems), thus inculcating very early in the life of children all over the Philippines a lack of understanding about the so-called Mindanao conflict as well as the island’s major role in the Philippine economy.

"This was received with great confidence and we want it to be a part of the basic education but not as a text book but as reference materials for the subjects like Sibika at Kultura and be an acceptable reading material of Mindanao,” Moreno said.

Fr. Albert E. Alejo, SJ, a social anthropologist previously based in Ateneo de Davao University but now assigned in Adzu is the mind behind the project with Dr. Teresita Montano, head of the Ateneo Peace Center also in Adzu.

After consultations, conferences, researches, and dialogues one of the recurring reasons why conflict in Mindanao continues to exist is that “the lack of understanding of the different cultures, histories, problems, and aspirations of the diverse groups in Mindanao, and the persistence of mindsets that maintain colonial biases and discriminatory practices to a large extent committed by the Christian majority against the Muslim and indigenous peoples” is evident even within the classroom when children first formally learn about their country.

With CEAP's ethical way of preaching, Moreno would like to put into context not a history that is full of contentions but with recent data of what Mindanao really thrives to become.

"We want to publish a kind of history that is acceptable to the wider public," said Fr. Gregorio Bañaga, from Adamson University and the president of CEAP.

The project will take at least 18 months to be finished. It started in November 2010 and is in its final months of accomplishment.

Results of the Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) among teachers and parents in the cities of Zamboanga, Davao, and Cagayan de Oro cities were presented in a gathering of researchers at the High Ponds Resort in Binugao, Toril, last September 17-19.

Reviews of Hekasi textbooks prevalently used in schools in these three areas were also presented in the High Ponds gathering of researchers on the basis of substance, strategies and sensitivity.

“Muslim sectors and the indigenous people of Mindanao will also be consulted as they are a part of and the origin of Mindanao,” Bañaga added.

Attempts at re-writing history and righting the prevailing bias against Mindanao have been done before but have not taken flight. With Ceap fully supporting the project, there is a greater chance of finally coming up with a mainstream reference book for history teachers all over the country so that a better understanding of Mindanao will be generated.

Moreno said it is but timely to integrate the concept of justice and peace education in all aspects of school life.

Culture of peace

The reference book is but one part of the over-all advocacies of Ceap spearheaded by its National Advocacy Commission (NAC).

The NAC has been working on the following advocacies: Peace Issues/Mindanao Issues, Key Education Reform, General Education, Tax Issues and Environmental Issues; and has released statements on several urgent national issues in behalf of its more than 1,300 member-schools nationwide offering basic to tertiary education.

The NAC is chaired by Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ, President of the Ateneo de Davao University. The NAC has legal experts from member - institutions among its ranks.

With the theme “Building a Culture of Peace: Shaping the Vision, Living the Dream”, the plenary sessions Wednesday had Archbishop of Davao Fernando R. Capalla; Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President Nereo P. Odchimar, D.D.; CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education (ECCCE) Chair Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, D.D.; the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita “Ging” Q. Deles, who will give updates on the peace; with Keynote address delivered by Fr. Alejo.

The National Convention gathers almost 3,000 school administrators and academicians with Addu as the host university.

Concurrent session clusters on the second day are in the areas of Curriculum Instruction, School Administration and Operation, and Advocacy and Outreach.

Some of the invited speakers are award-winning director, Dr. Ricky Abad of Tanghalang Ateneo to give an interactive talk on “Peace through Music and the Arts”; Dr. Loreta Castro, Executive Director of Miriam College Center for Peace Education on “Building Schools of and for Peace”; Abp. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro and Chair of the CBCP Commission on Inter-Religious Dialogue to assist us in “Building Bridges of Interfaith and Intercultural Understanding”.

For “Engaging the Security Sector in Peace-building”, Lt.Gen. Raymundo B. Ferrer of Western Mindanao Command and Maj.Gen Emmanuel T. Bautista of the 3rd Infantry Division based in Capiz will be the speakers with Ms. Carolyn O. Arguillas, MindaNews Founder and Editor, and recipient of the 2011 Marshall McLuhan Fellowship as media resource person.

The peace-negotiating panel from government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will be in the session on “Waging Peace in Mindanao/Addressing the Rido Practice”. They are Dean Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Chair of the GPH Panel and Prof. Abhoud Syed M. Lingga, a member of the MILF Peace Panel. The convention ends Friday.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 22, 2011.

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