Schools to fight SC ruling removing Filipino as required college subject

Sofia Tomacruz
(UPDATED) University professors say the teaching of Filipino and Panitikan in college deepens knowledge that shapes Filipino culture and identity

PETITION. Education and language groups plan to petition the Supreme Court on its decision on the Filipino subject. Photo of students from Shutterstock

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Advocates of the Filipino language slammed the Supreme Court’s decision to lift a 2015 temporary restraining order on a higher education directive removing Filipino and Panitikan as required subjects in college.

They said it could lead to the erosion of the Filipino language and identity.

The SC held as valid the CHED’s order removing the subjects as they said these were done by the commission to make sure there was no duplication of subjects taught in Grades 1 to 10, senior high school, and college.

But instructors from several universities said the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) order issued in 2013 and the SC’s recent decision failed to fully understand the need to include the subjects in the required courses of general education curriculums in colleges.

University of the Philippines (UP)

In an interview with Rappler, University of the Philippines (UP) Sentro ng Wikang Fiipino director Rommel Rodriguez said the subjects were not “duplicates” of those taught in elementary and high school, but a continuation and deepening of knowledge similar to other courses taught at the college level.

Mas mapapalalim nito ang usapin ng pagbuo ng identidad ng kabataang mag-aaral na Pilipino. Nagiging batayan ito ng kanyang pagkatuto. At mas mauunawaan niya ang kanyang lipunan sa tulong ng pagkatuto ng wikang Filipino at panitikang Pilipinas,” Rodriguez said on Thursday, November 15.

(This deepens the discourse on forming the identity of Filipino student. It becomes his foundation of learning. And he understands his society more by learning the Filipino language and Philippine literature.)

He added, “Ang wikang Filipino at Panitikang Pilipinas ay bahagi sa pagbuo ng ating bayan, sa pagbuo ng ating bansa at lahi. ‘Pag nawala ‘yon sa kolehiyo, ay masasapawan tayo ng pangkanluraning kultura.”

(The Filipino language and Philippine literature are part of what shapes our nation, our country and our race. If that’s removed in college, our culture will be overtaken by Western culture.)

UP Department of Filipino Chairman Vlademeir Gonzales also said it was necessary to continue teaching the subjects as not all students who graduated from the K to 12 program had developed the skills necessary for higher Filipino and Panitikan subjects.

Teaching Filipino and Panitikan in college, he said, also played a role in allowing students to understand their history as well as other Filipinos.

Ang malalang krisis pang-ekonomiya na kinakaharap ng bansa ay kinokomunika gamit ang ating wika. Ang panawagan ng mga drayber at manininda sa unibersidad ay naririnig natin sa ating wika. Ang wika ng mga ordinaryong mamamayan ang wikang dapat inaaral at dinadalubhasa,” he said in a statement.

(The economic crisis our country faces is communicated using our language. The call of our jeepney drivers and vendors in the university is heard using our language. The language of the ordinary people is what needs to be studied and to be an expert on.)

Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU)

This was echoed by professors at the Ateneo de Manila University’s Filipino department who said Filipino was not just a medium of instruction but a discipline that studied the language as it would evolve.

Ang Filipino sa antas na tersiyaryo ay hindi pag-uulit ng Filipino sa mataas na paaralan. Sa halip, pagpapalawig ito ng mga batayang kasanayan na natutuhan ng mga mag-aaral sa mga nauna nilang pag-aaral, upang higit silang makaunawa at makapagtaya sa mga nagaganap sa ating bayan,” its chairman Gary Devilles said in a statement.

(Filipino at the college level is not a repetition of what is taught in high school. Instead, it deepens the practice learned by the students in their earlier years of studies, to be able to understand and to participate in events in our country.)

Because of this, they said it was necessary that the subjects be included and taught as an integral part of any professional education.

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De La Salle University (DLSU)

Meanwhile, DLSU Filipino department graduate studies coordinator David San Juan disagreed with the CHED’s response that universities could “easily add the subjects” if it wanted to as not all schools had the resources to do so.

San Juan said that there was nothing stopping CHED from including Filipino and Panitikan, as they also did for subjects such as English, Mathematics, Science, and Physical Education.

Puwede nilang gawin yung hiling namin kung gusto nila,” he told Rappler. (They can do what we are asking for if they wanted to.)

He added, “Pag nawala ang Filipino…(magiging) isang bansang walang komon na linguahe tayo at unti-unti ay maaring itungo iyon sa disintegrasyon ng ating Republika.”

(If Filipino is lost, we will be a nation without a common language, and gradually that can lead to the disintegration of our Republic.)

Philippine Normal University (PNU)

Teachers from the PNU also said that it was necessary for the subjects to be taught in college as it would be Filipino students who would later on lead the country.

Ang Filipino at Panitikan ay may mahalagang papel sa pagtataguyod ng nasyonalismo…. Dahil dito, hindi kailanman dapat mawala ang Filipino at Panitikan bilang aralin ng mga magiging guro at tagahubog ng kabataang pag-asa ng bayan,” they said.

(Filipino and literature play an important part in nationalism…. Because of this, they should never be removed as lessons for future teachers of our youth, the hope of the country.)

Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology

Naniniwala kami ngayon, higit sa lahat ng pagkakataon, [na] mas lalong nararapat palawigin ang pagtuturo ng wika at panitikang Filipino sa kolehiyo. Sa panahon ng pagkakawatak-watak at pagkakanya-kanya, higit lumalapad ang papel ng wika at panitikang magbibigkis at magpapatatag sa bayan,” teachers from the MSU-IIT Filipino department said.

(We believe now more than ever that we need to expand our teaching of the [Filipino] language and Philippine literate in college. In this time of great division and individualism, all the more language and literature play a crucial role in uniting and strengthening us as a nation.)

University of Santo Tomas

In a statement, the UST Filipino Department asked school officials to keep the subjects in the college’s required courses as these would make students better communicators and give them a competitive advantage in the workplace.

UST instructors also said it is only in college where Filipino and Panitikan are not just subjects but their own disciplines of study.

They sought to remind the university administration that the institution of Filipino as the country’s national language was a legacy of one of the school’s alumni, former president Manuel Quezon.

Lampas sa usaping pangkabuhyan, umaasa ang Departamento ng Filipino na patuloy na gagawin ng unibersidad ang tungkulin nitong magbunga ng susunod na henerasyon ng mga Pilipinong husto ang pag-unawa at pagmamalaki sa kanilang kaakuhan bilang mga Pilipino na ginagamit ang kanilang husay at talino sa anyong tunay na nagkapaglilingkod sa kanilang kapuwa-Pilipino,” its chair Alvin Reyes said.

(Beyond the concern with job security, the Department of Filipino hopes the university will do its duty to produce the next generation of Filipinos who understands and is proud of their identity as Filipinos who use their talents and knowledge in forms that will genuinely serve their countrymen.)

Meanwhile, the school’s Literature Department criticized the SC for its ruling, which they warned could turn universities into mere diploma mills.

Tinanggal ng Korte Suprema ang isang mabisang lunsaran ng pagkakaroon ng kiritkal na pag-iisip, ng maayos na pakikipag-ugnayan sa kapwa, ng marubdob na pag-unawa at pagpapahalaga sa buhay,” they said in a statement.

(The Supreme Court removed an effective launching pad for students to learn critical thinking, interaction, and have passionate understanding of and respect for life.)

In a statement Monday, November 19, Senator Risa Hontiveros urged the CHED to review its order.

“Filipino, as the national language, should be preserved not only as a tool for work, but also as a means of discourse, cultural expression, and a language for advanced research into our culture,” she said.

The CHED said they would hold the implementation of its order as education and language groups said they plan to appeal the Court’s decision. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.