Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Filipino as GEC (General Education Curriculum) Subject: Is it a thing of the Past?

 Students of Lyceum of Alabang
Photo grab from FB of Carmela Magsino

Filipino as GEC (General Education Curriculum) Subject: Is it a thing of the Past?

There has been a recent move in the House of Congress, initiated by a party-list lawmaker, Terry Ridon, to investigate the recent order by the Department of Education to remove the nine units of mandatory Filipino studies in all Philippine colleges. The argument given is that, the subjects are redundant since it will be taught under the K-11 to K-12 program which will take effect in 2016. 

This order was issued under Memorandum 20, which removes the study of Filipino in the tertiary level. Ridon has requested that further studies be made by the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education on why the study of Filipino should be removed from the General Education Curriculum (GEC).  The GEC subjects have been reduced to 36 units from the mandatory 51 to 63 units, depending on the course. 

The Need for the Study of Filipino

As someone who was brought up in the academe, with both parents a part of a university situated in southern Philippines, I was exposed to the rudimentary manner on how language was used most effectively in teaching.  A student must have the mastery of both English and Filipino language to communicate his thoughts well. No matter how intelligent a student is, if language skills are lacking, the said intelligence would amount to nothing – academically or in the social setting.

The Philippines have many dialects spoken by various groups from Luzon to Mindanao. Fluency in Filipino is a must if there ought to be a common tongue to unite all Filipinos. I grew up in a Visayan speaking region, and though we speak in Filipino, I have been used to thinking in Visayan. During my time, both my parents would talk to us, their children, in English.  More so if they are angry, everything that spewed out of their mouths were in English. We talked in Filipino (or Tagalog) to our house helps who were from Manila, and talked among ourselves in Visayan.  The use of Filipino (or Tagalog) is a recent phenomenon (the last 15 to 20 years) due to the rise of the mighty Manila as a center of all economic activity.

It is not unusual to see different groups more fluent in their own dialect – Cebuano, Bicolano, Waray, Ilocano, Pangalatok, Maranao, Tausog, Kankanaey and many others --- than Filipino. Studies in schools, both in elementary and in high school are not sufficient for the student to learn the intricacies of the language. College students should be exposed to Filipino literature and the works of contemporary writers like Nick Joaquin, Lualhati Bautista, F. Sionil Jose, and many others.  I believe, that basic Filipino is better taught in pre-collegiate levels; with Filipino literature and communications,  in college as part of GEC.

Students of Lyceum of Alabang
Photo grab from FB account Churchill Daleon

Filipino, as our Mother Tongue

It is often said that Filipino is our Mother tongue. But, this is not so,  since, even I experiences difficulties in the use of the Filipino language until now.  I am able to communicate well on an informal level, but would have great difficulty in writing and reading.  To be able to explain technical matters in Filipino, would entail --- me thinking it out in Visayan, then deciphering it in English—so I can talk about the subject matter in Filipino.  What comes out is a funny mix of English and Filipino, which my nationalistic daughter, frowns upon in disgust.

To be safe and avoid humiliation, I just do an exposition of what I want to say, in English.  But this looks comical if you talk to a group of farmers (which I belong) and to a group of people who I normally transact with.  They can’t seem to tie – up the notion, that this old, ordinary-looking woman in slippers and t-shirt could give them a blasting in the English tongue.

Why do I have these problems?

Even with the old GEC or academic curriculum, I still feel that the study of Filipino is lacking. A thorough study that would include the mastery of communications and deep understanding of the language should form part of the school curriculum.  CHED should realize that the Philippines is not one homogenous country that speaks in a single tongue. We are one country with different dialects. Doing away with the study of Filipino in college, would only result to graduates who would not know how to communicate in English, but of Filipino, as well.  
Woe to the Inang Bayan!


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