Editorial: Righting history

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

THE past day, Moro and Mindanao scholars have been living in a state of disbelief as no less than President Benigno Aquino bumbled and mumbled his way roughshod through the Sabah issue that is now shedding the blood of Tausugs who have long regarded Sabah as part of their history.

But then, we can’t expect any better from the President if we were to look at what we are teaching out children. Then, we begin to realize that even the most intelligent child will not know any better, much less the regular student who is not inclined to study anything further than what his textbooks say.

On Page 28 of "Ang Lahing Pilipino, Dakila at Marangal", a worktext for Hekasi for sixth graders, authored by Lazelle Rose Pelingo, Ela Rose Sablaon and Laura Z. Mendoza, and published by Rex Book Store in a section subtitled: "Pangkat ng mga Muslim" or Muslim tribes, the work book reads:


"Ang sumusunod ay naniniwala sa Islam. Tinatawag silang mga Muslim na Pilipino.

"Maguindanao, Davao del Sur
"Tausug, Lanao del Norte
"Molbog, Basilan, Palawan
"Kalagan, Sultan Kudarat
"Kalibugan, Zamboanga
"Jama Mapun, Tawi-Tawi
"Yakan, Basilan
"Sangil, Zamboanga del Norte
"Samal, Palawan
"Palawani, Palawan
"Badjao, Cagayan de Sulu
"Maranao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi."

The Maranaos are from Lanao, being named such because they are the People of the Lake (Ranao). The Tausugs are from the southernmost tip of Mindanao like Jolo and Sulu. The Maguindanaos are from Maguindanao, not Davao del Sur. But then, our textbooks are telling our children something else.

As further pointed out in the study conducted on various still being used textbooks from all over Mindanao for the “Righting History” project adopted by the Catholic Educators Association of the Philippines which started in 2011, in the second grade series for Sibika at Kultura by the same authors and publisher under sub-section “Mga Bata sa Mindanao”, it reads:

"Sinasabing maraming batang lalaki ang nakukumbinsi ng mga teroristang Muslim na sumanib sa kanila. Marami sa kanila ay hindi nakapag-aral at nalalagay sa panganib. Ang iba ay nasasaktan at namamatay."

The project, “Righting History: Development of Modules on Mindanao History and Culture with Peace and Development Perspectives”, which is headed by Dr. Teresita Montano, head of the Ateneo Peace Center of the Ateneo de Zamboanga, and a brainchild of Fr. Alber E. Alejo SJ seeks to point out errors in history and social studies textbooks from first grade to fourth year and provide a means for teachers to correct their errors as well as input more information about Mindanao. It was supposed to have been completed last year but encountered some problems that required more re-writing and reviews and is now on its final phase before publication.

In the meantime, students all over the country are using the textbooks that have been found to be insufficient no information about Mindanao, and worse, giving the wrong information.

Ingrained into our education system, we can’t expect a President and his speech writers and advisers to know any better if our basic education system is already botching the job.

The effort to “right” history thus earns greater relevance today as we struggle with the little we know about Mindanao history and ending up more biased and prejudiced because we are taught that young boys in Mindanao are being recruited by terrorist Muslims to join their cause.

As we have posed earlier, the President could’ve admitted that claiming Sabah as Philippine territory is not in the present administration’s agenda and that would have sent a message loud and clear to both Malaysian government and the Sultanate of Sulu. But the degrading way by which he said it, which people understood as siding with Malaysia, would have been avoided had he had a better sense of history. There are many ways of saying no but winning the heart; what PNoy did with regards Sabah isn’t any of those ways.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 06, 2013.


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