Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Zaide’s Life of Jose Rizal and R. G. Collingwood’s The Idea of History

Zaide’s Life of Jose Rizal and R. G. Collingwood’s The Idea of History

Gregorio Zaide’s book on Jose Rizal entitled “Jose Rizal: Life, works, and writings of a genuis, writer, scientist, and national hero” was probably Zaide’s finer works about our national hero. Zaide was known in the history circle as a meticulous and free-flowing writer of history. He doesn’t compromise his ideas in the mainstream historicism but this was also his downside. One example was on the issue of the infamous fraud of Jose E. Marco and the Code of Kalantiaw that was already proven a hoax; Zaide continued to believe in him and even included him in his textbooks! It will be only in 1998 when the National Historical Institute will accept the fraud of Jose E. Marco.

Nevertheless, Zaide is not all bad. In fact, his book about Rizal was so well written, as if he was telling a bedtime story, you can never help but be amazed by Rizal and Zaide’s presentation of Rizal. One thing I noticed on this work of Zaide is that as if he’s putting the shoes of Rizal. Zaide’s colorful description on each chapter and the mood of the chapter was very well captured and works your imagination.

If Zaide will be compared with another historian, that will be R. G. Collingwood. Collingwood is most famous for The Idea of History, a work collated soon after his death from various sources by his pupil, T. M. Knox. The book came to be a major inspiration for postwar philosophy of history in the English-speaking world. It is extensively cited in works on historiography. Someone remarked that Collingwood was one of the century's best-known "neglected" thinkers.

Collingwood held that historical understanding occurs when an Historian undergoes the very same thought processes as did the historical personage whom he or she is studying and that in some sense, "recollection" of past thought by an Historian is the very same "thinking" as that of the historical personage. This doctrine, presented in the section of "The Idea of History" entitled "History as the Recollection of Past Experience" invites examination of the act/object distinction for thought. That is, Collingwood considered whether two different people can have the same thought qua act of thinking and not just qua content, writing that "there is no tenable theory of personal identity" preventing such a doctrine.

Zaide and Collingwood have both something in common. One of which is they both sense and recollect their ideas and put their selves in the shoes of their subjects. Zaide’s fluidity in writing & his vivid descriptions and Collingwood’s idea on history make sense. However, Zaide keeps on standing his ground thus refusing any neither conformity nor compromise. This proves his undoing like in the example of the Kalantiaw Code and also a proof that Zaide lacks some rigid framework that will focus a specific main idea on his work. Collingwood stated that such subjects should be examined further so it can have distinction for such.

This comparison between Zaide and Collingwood doesn’t mean to compare who is greater between the two historians. This can help us on how historian’s mind on writing and their understanding on history. We can learn from both of them like Zaide’s “storytelling” method of history that makes history not a boring matter and that can be enjoyed. Collingwood suggest us that history should be taken into the shoes of the subject to a deeper and more critical historiography.

Three Philosophers, One Concept

Three Philosophers, One Concept: A comparison of St. Augustine, Arnold Toynbee and Oswald Spengler on their Philosophy of History

Saint Augustine, Arnold Toynbee and Oswald Spengler are 3 great philosophers of history who contributed to our better understanding of history. Although the 3 philosophers are different in their philosophical approach on history, they share the same common concept. The concept was the same: that history has a beginning and has an end. Saint Augustine’s concept of history was linear and comparative.

In his work, “City of God” he compared two developments of two cities; the city of Man and the city of God. The importance of history is largely in the cyclical patterns that forge the past, present, and future into a continuous whole, emphasizing what is repeated and common over what is idiosyncratic and unique. In Augustine, we find a conception of human history that in effect reverses this schema by providing a linear account that presents history as the dramatic unfolding of a morally decisive set of non-repeatable events.

Approached from this angle, what wants an explanation is why one would subordinate indispensable patterns and regularities in order to emphasize what is idiosyncratic and unique. Here, as in the case of the will, it is important to understand that Augustine is bringing together two quite disparate traditions, and here again one needs to take note of his efforts to capture the data of revelation he sees embedded in Judeo-Christian scripture.

Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler’s "The Decline of the West" focused on the cyclical theory of the rise and decline of civilizations. When Decline came out in 1917, it was a wild success because of the perceived national humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles and economic depression fueled by hyperinflation seemed to prove Spengler right (Spengler had in fact believed that Germany would win while he was writing the book).

It comforted Germans because it seemingly rationalized their downfall as part of larger world-historical processes. But it was widely successful outside of Germany as well, and by 1919 was translated into several other languages. He rejected a subsequent offer to become Professor of Philosophy at the University of Goettingen, saying he needed time to focus on writing. It is now a truism that Spengler's "pessimism" and "fatalism" was an unbearable shock to minds nurtured in the Nineteenth-century illusion that everything would get better and better forever and ever.

Spengler's cyclic interpretation of history stated that a civilization was an organism having a definite and fixed life span and moving from infancy to senescence and death by an internal necessity comparable to the biological necessity that decrees the development of the human organism from infantile imbecility to senile decrepitude. Napoleon, for example, was the counterpart of Alexander in the ancient world.

Lastly, Arnold Joseph Toynbee’s “A Study of History” was a synthesis of world history, a metahistory based on universal rhythms of rise, flowering and decline. This kind of philosophy of history was unheard of during Toynbee’s time. Toynbee was interested in the seeming repetition of patterns in history and, later, in the origins of civilization. It was in this context that he read Spengler’s Decline of the West and although there is some superficial similarity, both men describe the rise, flowering and decline of civilizations, their work moved in different directions.

Toynbee agreed with Spengler that there were strong parallels between their situation in Europe and the ancient Greco-Roman civilization. Toynbee saw his own views as being more scientific and empirical than Spengler's, he described himself as a "meta historian" whose "intelligible field of study" was civilization. In his “Study of History”, Toynbee describes the rise and decline of 23 civilizations. His over-arching analysis was the place of moral and religious challenge, and response to such challenge, as the reason for the robustness or decline of a civilization. He described parallel life cycles of growth, dissolution, a "time of troubles," a universal state, and a final collapse leading to a new genesis.

Although he found the uniformity of the patterns, particularly of disintegration, sufficiently regular to reduce to graphs, and even though he formulated definite laws of development such as "challenge and response," Toynbee insisted that the cyclical pattern could, and should, be broken. In conclusion, these three philosophers share common concept in their philosophy of history; a somewhat linear and a cycle of rise and fall of history. Yet in contrast, one is more spiritual, one is pessimistic and one saw an endless loop of patterns. Yet despite these, all are in synthesis of what history for them. All of them contributed to our deeper understanding and knowledge of history.

Monday, November 03, 2008

In Memoriam: Fr. Domingo Moraleda CMF (1942-2008)

We will miss you Fr. Moraleda. You will be missed dearly by the Claretian community and by the people you love so much.

Eternal rest grant unto Fr. Domingo Moraleda, Oh Lord. Let the perpetual light shines upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Rizaliana collection is book printer’s prized treasure - Sir Gus' new news article

Sir Gus Vibal is in the news again but for a good reason. Well done sir.


Rizaliana collection is book printer’s prized treasure
By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:27am (Mla time) 06/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Gaspar Vibal’s face lit up when he showed a five-inch thick compilation of articles either written by, for, or about Dr. Jose Rizal.

The Rizaliana—made thicker by dried up moisture, discolored by time and its edges eaten by termites—was Vibal’s latest treasure. “It was all covered with dust and termites,” Vibal mused proudly about his latest find—in a forgotten nook of a bookshop.

“My mother said that I should not bring this up here because my books will be eaten up by the termites as well,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer at the Vibal Foundation, the social arm of the 50-year-old publishing house founded by his father Hilarion and mother Esther.

The compilation has been placed inside a transparent and airtight plastic bag, Vibal said, “to kill the termites.”

However, no termite will eat up the material when Vibal and his staff digitize the articles and upload them on—the foundation’s “fully featured digital library and research portal.”

Sharing book

“I just wanted to share books. I collect old books. I tend to take them from oblivion,” Vibal said while showing off a modest sample of his wide collection of filipiniana, or printed works on Philippine history and culture.

Vibal picked up a volume of Ricardo Galang’s first Philippine Encyclopedia, published in 1939 until he ran out of funds.

“There must have been only 1,000 copies of the 20 volumes,” he said.

He has one of the early copies of the 1935 Constitution, its pages already yellow-brown with age as well as historian Esteban Ocampo’s 40-year-old Rizaliana collection which he rescued from the bugs at the Heritage Art Center in Cubao, Quezon City.

Vibal also has copies of first editions of Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. His page on shows that Vibal bought them from the Old Books Fair in Madrid in 2006. He wouldn’t say how much they went for. “It might put the prized items in danger,” the site said.

‘She thought I was mad’

Vibal first thought of making such historical resources available for free via the foundation’s websites and

“I told my mother about it in 2005. She thought I was mad,” Vibal said. “My mother thought it was crazy to give away free books. How does that sit well with our business model? Our business model is you can’t get this book until you give me your payment.”

He said he told her this was no longer in vogue.

Vibal said that all the books uploaded on are already 50 years old or older.

“As long as the book is already public domain, let’s put it there. Give it an audience,” Vibal said. went online in September 2006 with a modest collection of books and documents in English, Spanish and Filipino. Vibal and an associate, Jaime Marco, initiated the portal. They were later joined by Spanish historian Carlos Madrid.

Comprehensive collection

“Today, it has one of the widest and most comprehensive collection of hard-to-find Filipiniana books and documents categorized under history, geography, culture, government, and society,” said Kristine Mandigma, editorial director of the foundation.

The website also features photographs, maps, paintings and illustrations, the Virtual Philippine Revolutionary Records, 100 Nobelang Tagalog, Virtual Blair and Robertson, and the Master Union Bibliography of the Philippines, 100 Pinoy Komik Serials, Premio, and Archivo General de Filipinas.

“We want to create informed Filipino netizens,” Vibal said.

“Right now, when you go to the top ten sites visited by Filipinos you see gaming sites. That’s why we have these (, Filipino wikipedia site and the forthcoming,” he added.

The ‘in’ thing

Mandigma said some of Vibal’s partners were Jeroen Hellingman, the Dutch director of Project Gutenberg Philippines, the world’s first and biggest provider of free Philippine electronic books; Isaac Donoso, a young Spanish historian living in Manila; Dr. Lloyd Espiritu, former dean of the De La Salle College of Computer Studies; University of the Philippines-based historian Grace Mateo; and Georgina Padilla Zobel of Premio Zobel.

Vibal worked for two decades in the Philippine and American publishing industries. In 1983 Vibal moved to New York to study at the New York University Book and Magazine Publishing Institute.

He has a bachelor’s degree in business economics from the University of the Philippines.


“Free information. Free books. That’s the in thing. Free is the new economy,” Vibal said quoting Wired magazine editor in chief Chris Andersen.

“They think I’m mad. All the other publishers think I’m wacky,” Vibal said.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Teaching “Children from Hell”

I was watching National Geographic the other night. In their show, Show Real Asia, the episode was about a boot camp in China entitled Brat Camp China. In that episode, the boot camp was open to Chinese children from age 10-18 years old. Most of these children are rebellious, hardheaded and trouble-makers. Most of the children were brought there against their will or by force because their parents trick them that they’ll go into a resort, have a medical check-up and other excuses. Of course, the poor, unsuspecting children will either cry pleading to not send them their or try to be tough. The “teachers” will then subdue the stubborn children by force like body lock or by pinning them down the floor. The parents pay the boot camp roughly around $2,000 for a 6-months stay in the camp. The main task of the school is to reenact the march of the National Revolutionary Army that covers around 100 km worth of walk! To the children in the boot camp, it is worse than torture and corporal punishments strike not just fear but horror to those who receive it.

After watching this episode, I realized how different culture views education. It might seemed normal for a Chinese to punish a child using a bamboo stick, here in the Philippines, you might get a shock upon seeing one, or you will going to call Bantay Bata 163 immediately. That is why, I think, boot camps is not as popular here in our country unlike in the US or China. What interested me in that episode is that the founder of the boot camp was actually a middle school teacher (high school here in country) and he himself made the curriculum of the camp based on discipline, nationalism, patriotism and respect for the individual. It might sounds good enough but what does a child learn from marching 40 km a day, rain or shine? The child might learn how to feel not tired or carry a lot of water. Or better, they might learn to regret their ways why they landed up in the boot camp. But is it for the good or bad? In the episode, there are 3 cases; 1 young delinquent boy, 1 hard-headed girl, and 1 rebellious teenager. Only the delinquent boy seemed the only one to pass and changed while the hard-headed girl had a ningas-cogon, meaning after a few months, she reverts back to her old self. They rebellious teenager, outsmarted the school and escaped. He is now working as an employee in an internet café and was disowned by his father. I guess it is safe to say that the teaching method, unorthodox yet accepted in the Chinese society, is not as effective as the principal hope for.

The teachers in the boot camp also interested me. The teachers are all well-trained and screened vigorously. But why to some teachers there almost gets away with their erring ways like punishment without reason? The instructor’s defense was he’s doing it with good intentions. He is a product of the armed forces and like the children in the boot camp, was a trouble maker. But after receiving complaints and repeated warnings from his superiors, he was relieved from his post. The principal said that, although they allow corporal punishment, it should be just and fair. He also admits that as much as they hate punishing the children, they have no choice sometimes but to teach them that doing erring things does not do them any good. I see the logic of this one but in my experience, corporal punishment, little or severe, is not my cup of tea. I used to remember how my dad inflicts corporal punishment to me and my brother. It was terrible and whenever he strikes us with a bamboo or thin plywood stick, it is so hard, brutal and so fraternity-like that it bruises our thighs black and blue and we have to force to wear long khaki shorts going to school. Whenever neighbors see our bruises, they are shocked and shaken with what they see. That is why I am totally against severe corporal punishment because of its atrocious and barbaric way of discipline.

Going back to the episode, I noticed that there are a lot of children in the boot camp. As I found out, many parents put their children there because they are concerned with their children’s behaviors. This is very alarming according to Chinese psychologists and sociologists because of the rapid urbanization and westernization of China, it gradually destroying the once family-centered Chinese into a broken family once. Also, this broken families and possibly the rapid growth of China, children tend to rebel and became trouble-makers. But what is shocking is that parents tend to think that it is their children are at fault rather than them, the parents, itself. That is why some parents came to regret their decision to send their children to the boot camp after learning some brutalities and severe punishments being inflicted upon their children.

As I finished watching this episode, I cannot help but think about this in regards to educational psychology. For me, this Chinese boot camp is an excuse to inflict not just physical scars but also emotional and psychological trauma on the children. Also, the boot camp, in my opinion, is simply fronting as a legitimate school for discipline. Although I understand the principal’s and the teachers’ intention, we left with a question whether they are doing the right thing to motivate and instill a holistic personality among the children.

So now the question; how do we teach the so-called “children from hell”? Certainly it is like moving heaven and earth to achieve this. But one person in the class, Sir Danny, shared his late sister’s experience with the juvenile delinquents in the US. According to him, his sister educates these delinquents with something unconventional yet effective method; she used rap music to teach them education. In fact, it was so effective that many delinquents, from a black to a German immigrant, learned effectively and without any incident. When her sister died, many of her former students mourned and pay their last respect for their beloved teacher. I was touched and impressed with this inspirational story because working with juvenile delinquents in the US is as hazardous as working in a nuclear factory. The story of Sir Danny’s sister is similar to that of Jaime Escalante, a dedicated high school mathematics teacher in the US.

So inspiring even the hardest of all children isn’t enough to teach them and what better method we should use for these type of children. I noticed that Sir Danny’s sister used constructive method of teaching in her class. For me, constructivist approach is probably the easiest and the most effective method because it works on the principle that a child has prior knowledge and must achieve and actively engaged in the construction of knowledge rather than passively receiving it. My only concern in this type of method is the fact that a possible deterrent for this teaching method is that, due to the emphasis on group work, the ideas of the more active students may dominate the group’s conclusions. But this is due to the fact that not all students learn uniformly but at different phases. It is true that more active students may dominate a certain group; it doesn’t necessarily means that the more passive students cannot contribute. I believe that many have this thinking because how constructivist method is implemented and applied is either wrong or poorly-trained.

Can discovery learning be applied in delinquent children? It is said that practice in discovering for oneself teaches one to acquire information in a way that makes that information more readily viable in problem solving; it may or may not work with delinquent children. It may work because delinquent children have other abilities that can be considered useful like psychomotor skills, and physical strengths. This is useful especially when giving the problem solving exercises through these given skills like in art, mini-plays, music, and dance. It may not work, at the same time, because delinquents can be so stubborn that they won’t even cooperate nor wants to have anything to do with their education. The teacher will then use a lot of motivations and inspirations for these delinquents to finally relents and start their education, thus defeating the purpose of discovery learning theory.

In the case of the Philippines, this is also true. Many Filipinos are very meticulous and very assuring that no problem solving is gone amiss. But since problem solving takes a lot of efforts, many give up easily and, thus the saying of “Bahala na” comes in to play. This attitude is uniquely Filipino and has a long history. The term “Bahala na” came from the expression “Si Bathala na ang masusunod”. This is a manifestation of the Filipinos’ reliance on faith and the divine in solving problems, which in my opinion can be positive or negative. But in the case of giving up on a problem, “Bahala na” is not the final answer to the problem.

Leaving the question about “children from hell” for a while, let us now focus on whether we should assess how we are orienting the students when it comes to their school evaluation. Should it be based on the mastery of the lesson or it is their performance should matter? For me, it should be both that needs to be assessed. For the mastery evaluation, a student must master the lessons he is being taught and we must know how well they progressed. If we are using Bloom’s mastery theory, we can assess the students on their progress in molding their own knowledge through discussions, quizzes, research papers etc. For the performance evaluation, it is basically the same with mastery evaluation. Only that it focus more on the psychomotor performance of the student rather than the cognitive performance. Filipinos should stop measuring academic success simply with numbers and grades, like most parents and teachers believe, but rather on these evaluations. In my experience, numbers can be deceiving because most A1 students tend to be “intelligent” and “brilliant” by simply doing what is required. After getting their awards and/or citation, they forget what they learned, thus rendering them useless and ignorant once more.

As teachers, surely we have our own expectations with our students. But as the old saying goes; things don’t go according to plan. Teacher’s expectations can affect students’ learning that can be positive or negative. And sometimes, teacher’s expectations can be of extremes. A teacher that expects too much of her class that they tend to be so over-enthusiast or too strict that it over-excites or choke the students. On the other hand, a teacher that expects less that they feel bored or take for granted the students. But one way of solving this is by moderating or going to the middle ground of expectations. A better solution is by setting a more realistic expectation by first assessing what students will the teacher be having and then they can made an expectation well within reach.

In ending this paper, the episode about the boot camp is a reality of how education varies from one culture to another. We cannot say the Chinese were wrong or right in doing that kind of discipline and curriculum that calls for such strictness. For me, the success was really lies upon the individual and how well they’ll succeed in overcoming such challenges. In the case of the boot camp, even though it might be effective after all, is not my idea of a healthy and engaging environment especially to “children from hell”. For me, there is no tough shell for a very patient and caring teacher. In the case of Sir Danny’s sister, which is how education being taught even at the most dangerous persons in society. That is why there is no boot camps in the Philippines because I think we Filipinos find too much discipline based on corporal punishments is too much, especially for a child. Our society is based on compassion, patience, and faith in god. If our society isn’t build on these, then for sure boot camps are everywhere and we’ll be living in a strict disciplinarian way. If there is one thing we learn from the Chinese boot camp is that never leaves the child unguided and uninspired and don’t try to solve the problem through short-cuts and easy-way-outs like this. We should start by giving them more time and attention, counsel and help them in any ways we can, inspire and motivate them to do well, and teach them the goodness in them to be a better person living a better life.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Some Questions in Educational Psychology

In my humble opinion, psychology was one of the most complex subjects I ever studied since I was in high school. It is really hard to come by the very meaning of psychology and its importance to our understanding of life. This can be understood in simply understanding what is going on in the mind of a person when education comes in to their lives. This is why the study of educational psychology is ever important in our understanding of what is the ideal and real mode of education for a child.

Educational psychology can in part be understood through its relationship with other disciplines. It is informed primarily by psychology, bearing a relationship to that discipline analogous to the relationship between other multi-disciplinary fields like history, sociology, anthropology, humanities etc. This poses a challenge not just for the psychologists but also by educators, like parents, teachers and people surround the child. Also, even a simple person can ask these crucial questions; is it nature or nurture that molds a child? Can cognitive development be accelerated? Should it be mono-lingual or bilingual education in the early years? Should boys and girls study together or separately? What are the advantages and disadvantages of ability grouping? And many more questions to follow.

Is it nature or nurture that molds a child? These camps of thought, in my opinion, are not in opposition with one another but co-existing and dependent from each other. Nature is very important in the child’s growth since a child learns a lot from his/her environment just like the vision of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. According to Rousseau, a child should grow within nature and learn to use the bounty of it as an educational tool. But is nature solely responsible for a growing child? Certainly not or else we will raise a feral child similar to that of the famed novel, Jungle Book. Nurture is very crucial since it is the parent’s responsibility to teach and nourish the child with the knowledge he/she will need in order to survive, think, and gain wisdom from the world around them. Without the balance of nature and nurture, a child will grow up inadequate and might not survive the world they’ll live in.

Can cognitive development be accelerated? Yes and no is my answer in this question. Yes it is because a child’s growth is depending on the genetics of his/her parents, intellectual quotient and, more recently, emotional quotient. We sometimes call these children as “gifted” because of their ability to do something ahead of their years. I remember a classmate of mine in college. She is Shaira Luna, a well-known gifted child. We all know her vast knowledge and expertise in the field of science and we all oohs and ahhs on her. But when I found out that she kept on shifting and shifting from once course to another, she told me that she didn’t live d life she had when she was growing up. The last thing I heard, she is now in College of St. Benilde taking up photography. This is far from the “Promil Kid” we know. This is why cognitive development should not be accelerated.

But at the same time, cognitive can be accelerated if the child is showing maturity at the early age. I know some cases where children mature as early as 5 years old and have a high IQ at the age of 12. We can accelerate their cognitive development by nurturing their capabilities at this stage in their life. But we should be reminded never to push hard on the child that he/she will be expected to be like an adult wherein they are still young. Child psychology, in my opinion, is one of the most complex branches of psychology and many studies are being conducted to gain insights on this field.

Should it be mono-lingual or bilingual education in the early years? This is contentious when it comes to national identity and nationalism. But for me, it should be bilingual in the sense that knowledge is not confined in one language or culture but many. Taking the case of Japan, almost all subjects are taught in Japanese, even science and technology. But the problem of Japan right now is that they are now having a hard time coping with the demand of globalization, which English is the medium of communication. This is why bilingual education is crucial in the early years so that when a child grows up, he/she will be knowledgeable not just with their native tongue but also another language.

But the question is; what about the issue of nationalism? It is true that nationalism calls for national identity but that doesn’t mean we should not include other ideas. A good example is our own country. With the bilingual education, we are not only adept to the Filipino language but also, albeit not that strong, English. We can see this with the influx of foreign students from Korea and Middle East since it cheaper to study English here. And foreigners won’t be having a hard time communicating with Filipinos since we learn to speak English at the early age.

Should boys and girls study together or separately? I am neutral with this issue since both can have advantages and disadvantages. I for one is a product of an exclusive school so one advantage is that the friendship and camaraderie is built up as early as the primary level. Even at my age of 24, I still have friends dating back from our preparatory levels. At the same time the disadvantage I see is that it can trigger homosexuality since the lack of exposure with the other sex. This is a common stereotype from people coming from an exclusive school as a “breeding ground” for gays and lesbians. But this is a case-to-case basis and not all people who came from exclusive schools don’t turn being gays or lesbians.

A non-exclusive too has its advantage similar to an exclusive school. In fact, it can break barriers of machismo and “Maria Clara” stereotypes, which can be prevalent from an exclusive school. I find a non-exclusive school more engaging and a good learning process as a child grows up and in fact, I see no disadvantage at all.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of ability grouping? We cannot deny that every person has their own strengths and weaknesses. The advantage of ability grouping is harnessing and developing their potentials to the fullest. That is why schools have honor section for this example. They were taught more vigorously and more demanding subjects since they have potentials. But the disadvantage, and very negative, is that this can instill envy, self-doubt, self-pity and disunity in a classroom setting. I had that experience when I was in my grade school and high school days where the teachers favored more the honor section while “neglecting” the other classes. The honor class have the best teaches while the others have the not-so-good teachers that we end up learning nothing at all. Also, this grouping led to the mutual hate of the other sections to the honor section because of this so-called preferential treatment of the honor class.

But the negative view of ability grouping can be prevented if the child will be taught that they are grouped because of their strengths and should not expect special treatment but rather a more rigorous and demanding output expected from them. They should also be taught not to rest on their laurels but to prove others that what they are doing is no easy task but rather difficult.

To end my reflection, there are still questions I would like to answer. But as young as I am, I don’t have the necessary answers of the moment. The questions I tried to answer are just the tip of the iceberg of the many questions regarding education and psychology. And with more answers answered, more questions rises. But by trying to give my 2 cents on the questions, I hope that I can help contribute to our understanding of educational psychology.

History and Other Inter-disciplinary Approach

History is not just about history. In fact, history cannot stand alone that it cannot ignore the other disciplines in social sciences. Anthropology, sociology, psychology, literature, philosophy, economics etc. are some of the discipline the augment and enrich history as a discipline. History, in return, also augment these disciplines to further enrich and better understand social sciences.

Historians are finding out the great usefulness of a multi-disciplinary approach in historical writing. Other social sciences such as political science, economics, linguistics and literature are among the major contributing disciplines that contribute to the richness of history. You could imagine a historian writing history without even understanding the language of the people. This will be a fatal mistake for how can someone write a credible and authentic history ignoring this factor.

But how exactly can other social sciences contribute in history and vice-versa? For example, anthropology can fill in the gaps in the pre-historic studies of history thru the fossils and remains of the early people as they march in history. Political science can give history a good insight in the rise and fall of governance and politics. Literature can inspire a historian to write it down with solid and rigid frameworks of a literary writing. Psychology can give a historian a clear analysis the factors why such things happened in the first place thru the actions of a person. These lists are some of the few contributing social sciences to history on how they benefit from each other and further develop the inter-disciplinary approach in history.

The Current Problems in Philippine Education

I was watching a commercial in Knowledge Channel in SkyCable long time ago regarding the state of Philippine education. According to the commercial, the country is 2nd to the last in the South-East Asian region in terms of the quality of education. This is well shocking and embarrassing to think that some of the best educational institutions in the region are in the Philippines. But despite these, why is it that the Philippines is lagging behind its neighbors? Is their something wrong with our state of education?

I also remember a survey made by the University of the Philippines (UP) way back the early 1990s. The survey ask the students why is the UP education is deteriorating. The proponents of the survey expected the quality of education and professors are to blame while others are the dilapidated and outdated facilities of the university. When the result came out, the majority said it was the lack of parking space is to blame for the deteriorating cause of UP education! But the lack of parking space is not even at the tip of the iceberg when the question of the problems of Philippine education. There are more things to be considered the other possibilities of the questions of the problems of Philippine education.

Probably many will agree that it is really the quality of education is to blame. Many felt that the curriculum set by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is not enough for a more competitive in the modern world. Some said that some subjects are lacking in substance like Mathematics and Science, both are the bulk of most of the educational institution in different countries. Here in the Philippines, many said that these subjects should be taught comprehensively and intensively because is will be the backbone of the country’s development in the near future. This is why Thailand, Malaysia and China outpaced the Philippines in terms of economical and industrial growth because these countries invested in the fields of Mathematics and Sciences. In fact, the best institution in the South-East Asian region is the National University of Singapore (NUS) and their course offerings are in these fields that the Philippines should need to develop.

Another problem pestering the quality of Philippine education is the quality and proficiency of the teachers. According to a recent news article, Filipino teachers lack proficiency in English, Science and Mathematics. Many said that these areas should have been trained comprehensively since as teachers, they should be able to teach the students with a more quality for future growth. But with what I see, the teachers have problems of their own. One example, and the most obvious, is the low salary and terrible working condition. Many public school teachers opt to have “sidelines” during class that sometimes the teacher simply forgets to teach. But who can blame them if their salaries of around 6000-8000 pesos, plus deductible, who can a teacher provide for his/her family? And with the rising cost of living, these figures are not enough. Others cannot teach well in class because of the ratio of students to a teacher. In a typical public school, in every one teacher there are 50-60 students in a class! If I were the teacher working in these conditions, how can I teach properly taking in to consideration of ordering more than 50-60 students per class?

The school facilities can also be a factor of the problem. The Philippines, both in private and public, lacks sophisticated laboratories and facilities to cater the needs of the students. For example, many public schools are still lacking the basic computer laboratories and it is so ironic that computer nowadays, computer education is crucial for future Computer Studies student. Without proper training in computer, how can a student be competitive and computer literate? Jose Rizal reminds us how modern and latest technologies are important in a student’s development in his novel El Filibusterismo. Like in the novel, the laboratory equipments are stored shut in a cabinet and never to be used in class because of the insufficient number of equipments. And when it is shown in class, it is presented like a monstrance of a priest! And prophetic as it seems, Rizal’s time is happening all over again in our contemporary times.

Lastly, a common problem of our Philippine education is the rising cost of sending a child to school. Private schools charges skyrocketing tuition and miscellaneous fees to a student that parents are having a hard time to cope with the rising cost of education. Even sending a child in a public school doesn’t fare better since even the poorest of the poor cannot afford to send a child in school. I remember vividly a story of a public school teacher with a pupil of him. He said that this student was so poor that teachers pay for everything so she can go to school. The teachers don’t mind this sacrifice because the student is so bright and intelligent. She never went to college after high school since she cannot really afford it anymore. What saddened the teachers is that this student passed UP but with no scholarship. Right now, many see education not as necessity but a luxury they cannot afford.

The state of Philippine education is indeed sad and disheartening. We probably all asking who’s to blame for all this mess. But we cannot simply point finger since we all have responsibilities to solve these problem. The government tries its best to give the country and it seemed not enough. But we should not blame the government entirely since it is just not the government’s problems. It is the problem of each and every one of us. If we want the highest quality of education in the country, we should work together to solve this problem.

As a future teacher, these problems will be a big cross to bear. But if I can help solve this problem in my own little way, the cross can be lighter and easier to bear. This is the bitter cup of a teacher to bear. But we must remember that the teacher and every one of us will determine the course of our country’s development through education. Even Rizal said that for a country to progress, education is the key to that success. Solving the problems of Philippine education is a long way to go but if we work for the better, we can attain that quality education we all hope for the best.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A moment in Tribuna

The Espana-Filipinas Tribuna that was held last Nov. 27 to 28 at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila was a memorable one for me not only as a team member of, but also as a historian. On that day, Gaspar Vibal, founder of, exhibited the rare 1st editions of Noli Me Tangere & El Filibusterismo by our national hero, Jose Rizal. The crowd of both Spaniards and Filipinos were all “oohs” and “ahhs” as they saw the encased, well-guarded books of our national hero now once again, back to the Philippines were it belongs. Also one of the visitors who viewed and hold it with pride was none other than her Excellency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. She can’t hide her glee and delight upon seeing the books herself!

There was a short video presentation pertaining to the life and works of Jose Rizal with commentaries of his Spaniard contemporary, notable by Wenceslao Retana, who was once a critic of Rizal turned supporter after he saw the dignity and integrity of Rizal.

One irony of the situation is that, the honor guards, UST Golden Corp of Cadets, were guarding it with care, dignity and pride. Of course, the irony is that more than a century ago, UST was the same university that ordered the banning and burning of the said novels claiming that it was “heretical and scandalous” to the Spanish regime in the Philippines. More than a century later, they are now guarding it with pride while wearing their bearskin caps, red uniform and golden sash, a fitting honor to the national hero, who was also an alumnus of UST.

To view the story on how Gaspas Vibal got the book, visit under the blog section.

Monday, October 16, 2006

No way!!!

My goodness! Has our country’s politics gone mad? Would you like a model and a descendant of a Marcos to be the Mayor of Manila? Take note…he’s just right my age of 23! Yes…I’m talking to Borgy Manotoc, the son of Imee Marcos and the grandson of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.

I am 23 and I am not even qualified for such post of a mayor but Borgy? Please!!! I bet he doesn’t have the balls to run Manila without, of course, the domineering of the Marcoses! I’m getting a picture of Manila with Borgy as the Mayor…it’ going to be one hell of hells!

“The lawmaker expressed confidence that Borgy could easily win Manila's primary voting bloc, which are mostly composed of young voters.” --- err…Ms. Marcos, have you forgotten the old and middle-aged? And how many young people know your son very well?

Besides the former First Lady being the former governor of Metro Manila still has strong influence and charisma among the people in depressed areas in Manila, she said. “With Borgy, it's like having Imelda Marcos run as mayor of Manila,” the lawmaker said. --- I knew it!!! Borgy as a puppet of you and you mother’s evil scheme to rebuild your disgraced images!!!

Dear Filipinos…don’t let this “boy wonder” be the next mayor. It will be nothing more but a big joke. Be wise in choosing the next leaders of our country. Have mercy! Think about the next generations. Please! Borgy for Mayor of Manila...NO FREAKING WAY!

(Blogger's Note: read Congresswoman Marcos’ son to seek Manila mayoralty post at