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Philippine history in K to 12

MINI CRITIQUE - Isagani Cruz - The Philippine Star

What is the history of the Philippines as taught in the K to 12 curriculum?

Let us tell the story of our country based on the content standards that all basic education graduates should have met after going through the 13 years of pre-university education. (I have translated into English the standards written in Filipino.)

In the beginning, we alone inhabited the islands now known as the Philippines (Grade 5 standard: “theories on the origins of the Filipino race; the barangays; the sultanate; the classes in early society; education, courtship, marriage, and the family”).

Soon, however, Spanish imperialists arrived, egged on by Roman Catholic friars (Grade 5: “the role of the Catholic Church in the invasion by Spain of the country; colonialism; reduccion; encomienda; forced labor; friar rule; reaction of Filipinos to friar rule; centralization of government; the educational system”).

We fought against our Spanish rulers (Grade 5: “resistance of ethnic groups to colonial rule in the Cordilleras and Mindanao; the tobacco monopoly; agrarian movement; occupation of Manila [by the British]; first rebellions”) and staged the Philippine Revolution (Grade 6: “declaration of independence; national anthem; the flag; national heroes; Malolos Republic; Malolos Constitution; Simbahang Iglesia Filipina Independiente”).

Americans, however, invaded our country (Grade 6: “Mock Battle of Manila; Treaty of Paris; Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation; Philippine-American War; education; free trade; suppression of nationalism; Filipinization; Philippine Organic Act of 1902; Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916; Philippine Independence Act of 1934; the Commonwealth”).

Then the Japanese invaded our country (Grade 6: “Fall of Bataan; Fall of Corregidor; Death March; 1943 Constitution; Hukbalahap and the Guerrilla Movement; Makapili and Kempetai; Second Philippine Republic; KALIBAPI”).

Our country became nominally independent (Grade 6: “colonial mentality; US bases; parity rights; Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, Garcia, Macapagal, Marcos”).

But we still had/have to fight for real independence (Grade 6: “the Marcos dictatorship; Aquino assassination; snap election of 1985; EDSA People Power; Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo, Aquino III”).

In short, the story of our country, as told in the K to 12 curriculum, is a story of fighting for freedom, first against foreign invaders, then against local and foreign rulers.

Of course, it’s not the only way to tell our story, but it’s a good way to tell it to the current generation that has, sadly, forgotten what being Filipino is all about. It also, by the way, makes the key words of our national anthem more meaningful – “manlulupig, paglayang minamahal, mang-aapi, mamatay nang dahil sa iyo.”

When the history of the world is taught in K to 12, the same theme of fighting for freedom is echoed. In the lessons about Asia, for example, the focus is on the struggles of the various Asian countries against colonialism, imperialism, and neo-colonialism (Grade 7). The history of Europe is taught in the context of imperialism (Grade 8).

Various aspects of our history are also treated in K to 12. “The Filipino First Policy, the Oil Deregulation Law, Microfinancing, and Online Businesses” are discussed in Grade 9. “Waste management, mining, quarrying, deforestation, flash floods, sustainable development, political dynasties, and corruption” are discussed in Grade 10. “The Reproductive Health Law, same-sex marriage, prostitution, and child abuse” are also discussed in Grade 10.

Culture and the arts are discussed in every learning area from Kindergarten to Grade 10, culminating in a required core subject called “Contemporary Philippine Arts from the Regions.” This particular Senior High School subject summarizes all the learnings since Kindergarten and brings the learners to the 21st century, forcing them to take seriously the products of artists living in their own communities. Literature (which I discussed separately in an earlier column) is studied from Kindergarten to Grade 12.

Unfortunately, one of the reasons the K to 12 curriculum is not so well understood is its formidability. Because the curriculum is so comprehensive, it is very difficult for a casual reader to identify the various strands that unify the content and performance standards of the different learning areas and grade levels. All I am doing in my column is trying to show the general outlines. The details are all on the DepEd website (under “K to 12” and “Curriculum Guides”).

THANK YOU. Thank you to the medical staffs of the Emergency Departments of Makati Medical Center and St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City, who took care of me two weeks ago. At St. Luke’s, where I eventually ended up in a private room rather than the ICU that was originally recommended, I was treated very well by my doctors (Juliet Cervantes, Myrna Bañares, and Edmund Ang), as well as by nurses Angel Andrada, Erika Cruz, Paolo Diomo, Jebryl Javier, Joyce Mercurio, Beatrice Pamintuan, Raphael Reyes, Herald, Kiko, and others whose names I forgot to get.

CONDOLENCES. I worked closely with DepEd Usec Francis Varela, first in the K to 12 Steering Committee, then in the board of the National Book Development Board. Like so many others, I was shocked by the sudden death of this extremely competent and honest young man. Death indeed comes like a thief in the night. Lesson learned: We better be prepared all the time, because we don’t know when we will finally be called back to heaven. May he rest in peace!












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