WE MAY laugh at a vice governor’s guffaw for posting praise for Magellan instead of LapuLapu as the hero of Mactan, and we may laugh more at one DDS influencer who shared the same post. We cringe when one official said LapuLapu is of Mindanao descent. But, this also shows a deeper problem that we all have -- our lack of sense of history.
I remember during the 30th anniversary of Ninoy Aquino’s assassination, a man on the street interview asked has anyone remember who Ninoy is. The funniest tragic answers included these: that he died during World War II. That he was a close ally of Marcos until he turned his back on him and he died.
We may joke these people must have slept during history class. But actually, school officials are the ones sleeping on their job.
This month being National Literature Month, we should look with concern that books are fading in our schools. With the implementation of K-12, subjects such as history, Filipino and English literature have been taken off the curriculum. So what are the kids studying in school? They may learn skills, but if they don’t learn values and lessons from the past, what guides them about their future?
Anthropologist and essayist Karl Gaspar remind us of the need to read to give us knowledge of things. Books were able to guide me more during my school years. Reading through Noli Me Tangere was tough, but I understand why that book was valuable to our sense of nationalism. Reading Teodoro Agoncillo’s History of the Filipino Nation in our college history class made us know history beyond the “who and when”, but also the answers to why and how our nation turned. Many books still guide me to this day.
But I guess this generation is tuning in to a different book, and that’s the book called Facebook. It shouldn’t be called Facebook, because books open for us windows to learn new knowledge, experiences, values, connections. Facebook nowadays draws us into diversions, disinformation, toxicity, and division.
A recent global survey showed that Filipinos are “confidently ignorant.” We can’t have this generation of people who will bluff their way in life, lead the country without knowing history, or be citizens who are blind and dull. Education needs to be given more focus, by educators, scholars, parents and national leaders. Internet must be harnessed well for citizens to connect. Most importantly, let’s get more books out there.
April 29, 2021
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