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Philippine Education

Philippines, republic in the
western Pacific Ocean, made up of the Philippine Islands and forming in physical
geography a part of the Malay Archipelago. Situated about 1210 km (about 750
mi.) east of the coast of Vietnam, the Philippines is separated from Taiwan on
the north by the Bashi Channel. The republic is bounded on the east by the
Philippine Sea, on the south by the Celebes Sea, and on the west by the South
China Sea. The country comprises about 7100 islands, of which only about 460 are
more than 2.6 sq. km (more than 1 sq. mi.) in area. Eleven islands have an area
of more than 2590 sq. km (more than 1000 sq. mi.) each and contain the bulk of
the population. These islands are Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, Negros, Palawan, Panay,
Mindoro, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol, and Masbate. The total area of the Philippines is
about 300,000 sq. km (about 115,830 sq. mi.). Manila is the capital and largest
city of the Philippines. This geographical condition of the Philippines made it
very accessible and very easy to penetrate by foreign people. THE FILIPINO
CHARACTER It may be said that the Filipinos are intelligent, with retentive
memory, quick perception, and talents for art and science. They also are gentle,
friend] y, and cheerful people, noted for their courtesy and hospitality.

Filipinos are famous not only for their warm hospitality, but also for their
close family ties. The parents work hard and sacrifice much for their children;
in return, the children love and respect them and take good care of them in
their old age. Filipinos owing to their beautiful country are passionately
romantic. They are ardent in love, as they are fierce in battle. They are born
poets, musicians and artists. Filipinos are a liberty-loving and brave people.

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They valiantly resisted the Spanish, American and Japanese invaders of their
native land. They rank among the bravest people of the world. Filipino courage
has been proven in the Battle of Mactan (1521), in the Battle of Tirad Pass
(1899), in the battle of Bataan, Corregidor, Bessang Pass during World War II,
and in many other battlefields. Gratitude is another sterling trait of the
Filipinos. They are grateful to those who have granted them favors of who are
good to them. Their high sense of gratitude is expressed in the phrase Utang na
loob (debt of honor). Filipinos are cooperative. They value the virtue of
helping each other and other people. They cherish the ancestral trait of
bayanihan, which means cooperation. In rural areas, when a man is building,
repairing or transferring a house to another place, the neighbors come to help
him. Foreign writers assert that the Filipinos are indolent. In reality they
work hard in the face of very adverse conditions. They work on the farms from
sunrise to sunset, though not from noon to 3 p.m. due to the scorching heat.

They work hard in the sugarcane and pineapple plantations in Hawaii, the fruit
orchards of California, the fish canneries of Alaska, and in the oil wells of
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Arab countries of the Middle East. Finally, the
Filipinos are noted for their durability and resiliency. Through the ages they
have met all kinds of calamities–revolts, revolutions, wars, earthquakes,
volcanic eruptions, typhoons and epidemics. Unlike the Polynesians of Oceania
and the Indians of North Central and South Americas, they did not vanish by
contact with the white race. They can assimilate any civilization and thrive in
any climate. Against the adversities of life or nature, they merely bend, but
never break. They possess the formidable durability of the narra tree and the
EMERGENCE OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE: Philippine history has often been described as
an amalgam of regional developments and outside influences. Excavations in
archeological sites have proven that during prehistoric times, the native
Negritos came in contact with Malays and Indonesians who left their ancestral
home in Southeast Asia by crossing the seas in their sailboats (balangay), and
settled the Philippine archipelago. Inter-racial marriages took place among them
and out of these racial mixtures emerged the Filipino people. The early Filipino
Malay ancestors brought with them their culture–food and drinks, community
life, government and laws, language and literature, religion, customs and
traditions and arts and sciences. They left their cultures to their descendants,
as the Filipino Malayan inheritance. In the course of the centuries, long before
the Spaniards colonized the Philippines in the 16th century; the native
Filipinos came in contact (by commerce) with Hindus from India, the Chinese and
the Arabs whose civilizations were much older and more advanced than those of
Spain and other Western countries. As a result of these early contacts with
these great Asian people, the Filipino native culture and way of life (Malayan
Heritage) were enriched. The cultural influences of both India and Arabia came
indirectly to Philippine shores through Malaysia, while the Chinese cultural
influence came direct from China. In subsequent years, the Filipinos
intermarried, not only with the Indians, Chinese and Arabians, but also with the
Spaniards, the Americans, the Japanese, the British, the French, the Germans,
and other peoples of the world. Today, it may be said that the bloods of the
East and the West meet and blend in Filipino veins. It must be noted that during
the first two and a half centuries (1565-1828) Spain ruled the country through
Mexico. The viceroy of Mexico governed the country in the name of the Spanish
king. During this period the famous Manila-Acapulco trade existed. And many
Mexicans–colonial officials, missionaries, soldiers, and traders–came to the
Philippines. They introduced plants and animals, industries, songs and dances,
customs and traditions into the country. Moreover, many of them married Filipino
women. So it came to pass that Filipino acquired a Mexican heritage. After 333
years of Spanish rule, the Americans conquered the country and like Spain,
America imposed her culture upon the people. During four decades of U.S. rule
(1898-1935), the people acquired the American heritage, which included
democracy, popular education, the English language and Protestant Christianity.

Beneath the veneer of Hispanic, Mexican and American heritage, the people, in
heart and in spirit, are Asians. They are Asian in race and in geography with an
indestructible Asian heritage. The warmth and natural hospitality of the
nation’s 66,000,000 Filipinos today, is known throughout the world. The 11
cultural, linguistic and racial groups endow the Filipino people with varying
customs and traditions. In spite of their diversity, Filipinos have basically
two dominant traits: a love of family and a strong religious faith. SUMMARY OF
FILIPINO RACIAL ANCESTRY: Filipinos came from a mixture of Asian, European, and
American peoples–the Negritos, Indonesians, Malays, Chinese, Indians, Arabs and
other Asians; The Spaniards, British and other Europeans; the Mexicans and
Americans of South and North America. According to Dr. H. Otley Beyer, noted
American anthropologist, the racial ancestry of Filipinos is as follows: Malay –
40%; Indonesian – 30%; Chinese – 10%, Indian (Hindu) – 5%, European &
OCCUPATION When the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines, the indios (natives)
had reached different levels of political development, including simple communal
groups, debt peonage (often erroneously described as slavery) and proto-feudal
confederations. The Spaniards imposed a feudal system, concentrating populations
under their control into towns and estates. During the first two centuries of
their occupation, the Spaniards used the Philippines mainly as a connecting
point for their China-Acapulco (Mexico) trade. The country’s economic
backwardness was reinforced by Roman Catholicism, which was practiced in a form
that retained many pre-colonial elements such as animism while incorporating
feudal aspects of the colonizers’ religion such as dogmatism, authoritarianism
and patriarchial oppression. The Spaniards were never able to consolidate
political control over the entire archipelago, with Muslims and indigenous
resisting the colonizers most effectively. Among the groups that were
subjugated, there were numerous localized revolts throughout the Spanish
occupation. In the 19th century, the Philippines was opened to world trade,
allowing the limited entry of liberal ideas. By the late 19th century, there was
a distinct Filipino nationalist movement that erupted into a revolution in 1896,
culminating with the establishment of Asia’s first republican government in
1898. Spain laid the foundation for a feudal health care system. The religious
orders built charity hospitals, often next to churches, dispensing services to
the indio. Medical education was not extended to the indio until late in the
19th century, through the University of Santo Tomas. This feudal system of the
rich extending charity to the poor persists to this day among many church-run as
well as non-sectarian institutions. THE U.S. OCCUPATION (1898-1946) The first
Philippine Republic was short-lived. Spain had lost a war with the United
States. The Philippines was illegally ceded to the United States at the Treaty
of Paris for US$20 million, together with Cuba and Puerto Rico. A
Filipino-American War broke out as the United States attempted to establish
control over the islands. The war lasted for more than 10 years, resulting in
the death of more than 600,000 Filipinos. The little-known war has been
described by historians as the “first Vietnam”, where US troops first
used tactics such as strategic hamleting and scorched -earth policy to
“pacify” the natives. The United States established an economic system
giving the colonizers full rights to the country’s resources. The Spanish feudal
system was not dismantled; in fact, through the system of land registration that
favored the upper Filipino classes, tenancy became more widespread during the US
occupation. A native elite, including physicians trained in the United States,
was groomed to manage the economic and political system of the country. The U.S.

also introduced western models of educational and health-care systems that
reinforced elitism and a colonial mentality that persists to this day, mixed
with the Spanish feudal patron-client relationship. Militant peasant and
workers’ groups were formed during the U.S. occupation despite the repressive
situation. A movement for Philippine independence, involving diverse groups,
continued throughout the occupation. A Commonwealth government was established
in 1935 to allow limited self-rule but this was interrupted by the Second World
War and the Japanese occupation. The guerilla movement against Japanese fascism
was led mainly by Socialists and communists, known by their acronym, HUKS.

Shortly after the end of the Second World War, flag independence was regained
although the U.S. imposed certain conditions, including the disenfranchisement
of progressive political parties, the retention of U.S. military bases and the
signing of economic agreements allowing the U.S. continued control over the
Philippine economy. The Spanish and American colonization had instituted in our
minds the values and characteristics that we possess at the present time.

NATIONAL CHARACTERISTICS BAHALA NA Individuals regard their success or failure
as to luck, fate, God, or the spirits, expressed by the phrase Bahala na
(“What will be, will be”). HIYA Filipinos will go to great lengths to
avoid causing others shame (hiya). To be criticized as walang hiya (shameless,
insensitive) is a potent censure. UTANG NA LOOB A debt of gratitude, honor, or
blood, this term literally means “inner debt” or “heart
debt”. Filipinos live within a network of two-way obligations: requesting
and accepting a favor implies a willingness to repay it. PAKIKISAMA Closely
linked with the desire for social acceptance and approval, pakikisama
(conformity, camaraderie) manifests itself in-groups of all kinds and ages
regardless of class. To maintain pakikisama, Filipinos will yield to group
opinion, subjugate ill-feeling beneath a pleasant demeanor, avoid speaking
harshly or saying “No” directly, and will only criticize or reprimand
very tactfully. AMOR PROPIO Filipinos are very sensitive to criticism, insults,
and hurt feelings, whether real or imagined, and they can become implacable
enemies for reasons that Westerners would deem trivial. Hiya, utang na loob, and
pakikisama all affect an individual’s amor propio (self-esteem). It demands
conformity to approved behavior patterns. It can also lead to showing off,
especially in the presence of peers and subordinates. ORIGINAL FILIPINO LIFE
STYLES And because of the colonization of many countries in the Philippines, the
Filipino’s developed values that made them closer to their fellow-Filipinos and
made them a Nation-loving people. THE FAMILY Filipino families are much closer
than those of the West. The environment is highly personalized. Children are
brought up to be polite, cooperative, modest, and religious. Communal feeling is
encouraged. Upon marrying, newlyweds usually set up their own home, but family
ties remain strong. The husband is nominally head of the household, but the wife
runs the home and manages the finances. They make important decisions together.

FAMILY OBLIGATIONS Sharing both good fortune and crisis, the clan operates as
disciplinary mechanism, placement agency, and social assistance program. It
provides its members with tremendous security, so that to be poor in the
Philippines is somewhat different from poor in the West. In the absence of a
public welfare system, the clan eases the impact of illness or unemployment.

When a Filipino needs help, he can depend on his family; likewise, he can be
called upon to help others in need. There’s a great deal of sharing. Unlike
Westerners, who draw strength from independence, Filipinos like the security of
this interdependence existence, with its close bonds bred of mutual
responsibility. KINSHIP The family is enlarged through marriage. Filipinos count
blood relatives down to fourth cousins, and the relatives of in-laws are
considered family. SOCIAL ORGANIZATION Filipinos place great emphasis on
personal loyalty, and the network of allegiance and reciprocal obligation
extends to society as a whole. Powerful patrons provide material help,
employment, influence, and protection, and are repaid with personal services
ranging from specific tasks to political support. THE FILIPINA It has been
suggested that Filipino women are “more equal” within their society
than Western women are in theirs, a status which predates colonial times. Women
in the Philippines maintain a very high profile in public life, from the
president down to barangay level. GROUP ORIENTATION Filipinos by nature dislike
doing things alone, whether at work or leisure. Bayanihan is the communal spirit
that enables Filipinos to come together and help each other at a moment’s notice
in times of need. HIERARCHY Polite forms of address are used toward those of
higher social rank, elders, and strangers. In conversation, a Filipino
continually shifts from high to low status, depending on whom he’s talking to.

In Pilipino, it’s common for “my poor and insignificant self” to
address “your honored and exalted self”. Awareness of rank and status
is reflected in the universal use of titles, e.g. Attorney Anolin, Mayor Quilala,
Doctor Albino. PERSONALIZED APPROACH The Filipino way of doing things is heavily
centered on relationships. Trust (tiwala) is a key element of camaraderie.

Filipinos don’t feel comfortable in impersonal situations. In business and
politics, this personalized approach too often leads to nepotism, cronyism, and
favoritism; ability and merit are often secondary. Behavior depends on what
others will think, say, or do, whenever they’ll be pleased or displeased. It’s
aimed at maintaining “face,” smooth interpersonal relationships, group
affiliations, and a strong personal alliance network. Typical Western frankness
is considered tactless. In distasteful situations, they avoid confrontation by
using respectful language, soft voice, gentle manner, and indirect approaches
such as employing intermediaries, euphemisms, allusions, ambiguous expressions,
and oblique comments. GENERALIZATION In common with other peoples, acculturation
has marked the history of the Philippines. Our ancient cultural heritage is
result of the interplay and interpenetrating of diverse natural influences. To
the credit of our ancestors, they borrowed the cultures of other peoples but
improved on it as they adapted to their everyday life. They used the foreign
culture to enrich the existing one. Each generation made its own imprint, and
the resulting culture is uniquely our own. Jocano(1965), our leading
anthropologists, stated this idea that-“Each passing generation leaves part
of wisdom and experience for the succeeding generation to learn to use in
adjusting itself to the changing modes of time.” This is the reason why we
Filipinos embraced the cultures of the western colonizers such as the Spaniards
and the Americans, because it is like an instinct that we need to embrace their
culture in order to adapt and to survive along with their dominance over our
race. The three centuries of the Spanish occupation that contributed
Christianity, have affected all aspects of life. Spanish culture developed the
intellectual capacity of the Filipino and brought about the flowering of the
arts and sciences. Spanish influences were felt in literature and music, and the
sciences like pharmacy, medicine, and engineering. Spain established the first
university, the University of Sto. Tomas in 1911. She introduced the art of
printing in the country, brought to the Filipino the Castillan language, which
enabled young Filipinos to seek education in Europe, and make progress in the
technology available to them. Mass education and the Democratic way of life may
be considered America’s greatest contributions to the Philippines. Some critics,
political and social, view the American influence as resulting in the
development of American Imperialism, in the Filipino’s being trained to depend
on imported products and to view anything foreign as their own. In short, the
Filipino developed a colonial mentality. The Americanization of Pepe and Pilar
(peddled as modernization) transformed consumption habits towards a preference
for US products, or for that matter, anything imported. It re-oriented Filipino
aspirations towards the American way of life. Some symptoms of colonial
mentality: a bowl of plastic apples, grapes and pears on the dining room buffet
an imitation Louis Vuitton bag and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans plastic evergreen
trees laden with absorbent cotton-‘snow’ for Christmas the log cabin steakhouse
Broadway plays emoted in a studied New York cum British accent the search for
local counterparts to Hollywood stars or the rise and fall of Diomedes Maturan
as the Perry Como of the Philippines always saying ‘ang sarap parang mansanas!’
getting a nose lift and a bust lift carpets and upholstered sofas copied from
Better Homes and Gardens (for the dust and heat of the tropics) shopping trips
to Cash and Carry (and Dau and nepo Mart) for PX goods putting an American (or
Japanese) brand name on a local product so that it will sell following the
dictates of fashion magazines through spring, summer, fall and winter (thank
God, the air gets cooler around December) dyeing one’s hair with auburn streaks
insisting that the maid speak to the baby in English preferring to be an
American citizen (Hodel survey 1960) or wanting to have been born in another
country (UP survey of schoolchildren) hoping the US will intervene in ousting a
homegrown dictator This is a very limited and narrow point of view. This point
of view has led us into developing an image of ourselves as devoid of real
cultural tradition and values as a people. In short, the Filipino culture is a
well-bred culture, a mixture of world-class society that is capable and
competent to be even more superior than the world powers.

M. N. Francisco and F. M. C. Arriola 1987. The history of the Burgis. GFC
Books Quezon City Bong Barrameda’s Pinoy Trivia Vol. 1, Anvil Publishing, 1993
Manila Philippine History and Government by Gregorio F. Zaide and Sonia M. Zaide
A. Bustos and S. Espiritu. Psychological, Anthropological, and Social
Foundations of Education: Philippine Culture.Katha Publishing Co., Inc. 1996,
Quezon City M. L. Doronila ph.D.

Filipino Culture and Heritage. Publishers Inc. 1989 Quezon City


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