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Friday, July 19, 2019

Unanswered questions

I’ve developed a special liking for stories about the indigenous peoples. They fascinate me, and the surprises never end.

There’s so much left untold, many practices, beliefs and stories that never made it to the mainstream. We cannot help but wonder, how much has already been lost?

It has been a never-ending rant on my part talking with a very close friend a few years back, he who also writes a lot, scholarly stuff: why can’t all these writings be written in less scholarly fashion? Why can’t they be transformed into interesting Philippine history and Sibika textbooks? Why are our darn textbooks still made up of content that are error-filled, boring and shallow?

One single tribe, getting to know them beyond just describing their physical attributes as our textbooks are wont to do (Aetas are dark people with curly hair and short in stature, all textbooks would say. While one particular textbook, which I hope is no longer in use also describes the Yakan as such. Yes, short and dark. Them of the regal stance and bearing, tall with distinct Caucasian attributes are described by one textbook copyright 2000s as short and dark). No wonder the Facebook netizens from Metro Manila are ignorant about Mindanao and the Visayas.

All they know of the people outside their tiny congested barangays in Metro Manila are the physical attributes of the people in Mindanao, wrong physical attributes at that, and none of the epics and myths and royalties and kingdoms.

I’m a rabid Mindanao literature and research reader. Even with the very limited reading time I now have, I squeeze in these valuable publications and ask why.

Why were we never told about this when we still had to study up on Philippine History and Social Studies? Why did textbook writers persist with the Code of Kalantiaw myth as historical fact when it has already been exposed as just a made-up story in the 1960s, long before I even entered kindergarten? Why didn’t I meet the epic heroes of the Talaandig Tribe and Manobo hero Agyu and his son Dumiwata when their mere superpowers alone would have beaten the Justice League even with their eyes closed. Why didn’t we ever see a child dress up like Agyu and played with an imaginary flying sword and shield?

Why?

Because it’s easier to just pick out from an array of already published textbooks and just place your name with the matching PhD and other titles as the author. The children who will be the ultimate recipients will not know any better, anyway. much less their teachers who grew up and learned using similar textbooks. In so doing, they all become part of a mass mis-education that feeds the status quo and sustain the prejudices.

I haven’t even started on the PhDs at that.

There is something about the Academe that riles me. Pompous and focused on the Acronyms after one’s name, the learner is but a convenient audience. But then, I may be biased. There are very good teachers, it’s the airs, that thickens and becomes cloying the higher you go up.
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