No Filipino subjects in college? ‘Tanggol Wika’ opposes CHED memo

Jee Y. Geronimo
The newly-created alliance says it will bring its fight all the way to Malacañang
FIGHT CONTINUES. About 400 of supporters from 44 colleges and universities show their support for retaining the Filipino subject in the new general education curriculum. Photo by Jee Geronimo/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – A group of college professors introduced on Saturday, June 21, Tanggol Wika – an alliance of educators from more than 40 colleges and universities in the country opposed to “attacks against the national language.”

Tanggol Wika or Alyansa ng mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wikang Filipino (Alliance of Defenders of Filipino) is calling for the following:

  1. Panatilihin ang pagtuturo ng asignaturang Filipino sa bagong General Education Curriculum (GEC) sa kolehiyo (Retain the teaching of Filipino subjects in the new GEC in college)
  2. Rebisahin ang Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Memorandum Order 20 series of 2013 (Revise CHED Memorandum Order 20 series of 2013)
  3. Gamitin ang wikang Filipino sa pagtuturo ng iba’t ibang asignatura (Use Filipino as a medium of instruction in different subjects)
  4. Isulong ang makabayang edukasyon (Push for nationalistic education)

The alliance was formally introduced during a consultative assembly Saturday after weeks of public clamor over a 2013 CHED memo which introduced a new curriculum that will be implemented in school year 2018-2019.

Tanggol Wika spokesperson David Michael San Juan said the Commission has been silent on their concerns since they sent their first letter in May 2013, calling for the revision of the CHED memorandum.

The curriculum should include 3 to 9 units of Filipino subjects, San Juan said, especially if Filipino is to be widely-used as a medium of instruction.

But today, National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera lamented that more students will choose English over Filipino as a medium of instruction because of the “inferiority complex” brought about by the education system itself.

Laging nakayuko ang ating mga ulo dahil pinatanggap sa atin na mas mababang klase ang mga Filipino. Kailangang kilalanin na ang malaking dahilan bakit may [ganitong] problema ay ang ating kolonyal na pinanggalingan,” he added.

(Our heads are always bowed down because we were made to accept that Filipino is  inferior. We need to understand that the primary reason why we have this problem is because of our colonial history.)

Filipino in senior high school 

During the assembly, San Juan presented his paper which showed the memorandum “targets” the Filipino subject, and the senior high school curriculum will not include many topics previously taught in college. (READ: CHED is not targeting Filipino language instruction)

With the signing of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, two years have been added to the basic education system of the Philippines. The Department of Education (DepEd) recently completed the senior high school curriculum which provides students specializations for employment.

But San Juan pointed out the impracticality of teaching collegiate Filipino subjects in senior high school.

Kami na ‘yung nagtuturo ng mga ganyang subjects or components. Ngayon, anong gagawin nila [DepEd], gagastos sila ng pagkalaki-laki pagproduce ng materials, pag-mass training ng teachers,” San Juan told Rappler.

(We are already teaching these subjects or components. Now, what they will do is spend a lot to produce materials and mass-train teachers.)

While CHED has yet to issue a statement on the matter, Malacañang this week said the Commission is working closely with DepEd to rationalize Philippine education so that the focus in higher education will be on interdisciplinary courses. (READ: PH basic education: ‘Cramming’ toward ASEAN 2015)

Employment woes

About 400 people were present during the assembly, a bulk of them professors worried not only for their national language but also for their employment.

San Juan projected more than 10,000 professors will be affected by the memorandum.

FILIPINO. Professors and supporters of the national language show their support. Photo by Jee Geronimo/Rappler


“It’s safe to say more than 10,000 will either lose their jobs, get less number of loads, be transferred in another department or another school,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

In an informal survey conducted during the assembly, representatives from 19 higher education institutions (HEIs) said their schools have no definite plans yet for the Filipino subject under the new curriculum, while 24 HEIs have yet to come up with a plan for their Filipino teachers.

Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr earlier said general education teachers – including those who teach Filipino – can teach in senior high school.

If they do, they can be at ease especially with the Department of Labor and Employment’s “non-diminution of compensation and benefits,” where an employee cannot be stripped off benefits he/she has been receiving for a definite amount of time. 

General education teachers are also projected to bear the brunt of the nationwide implementation of senior high school in 2016. Starting school year 2016-2017 up to school year 2021-2022, HEIs expect a drop in enrollment because of the K to 12 program. (READ: 5 leaps in 2013 that make PH education promising)

Fight continues

Tanggol Wika will continue to lobby for the inclusion of Filipino subjects in the new general education curriculum, and San Juan said they’re ready to bring it to Malacañang if necessary.

‘Pag uminit lalo yung issue, mapipilitan yung gobyerno na mag-decide in our favor kasi kung walang public pressure ay tingin ko hindi kami magtatagumpay. Pinakamahalaga, pag-sustain ng public pressure,” he said.

(If the issue heats up further, the government will be forced to decide in our favor because without public pressure, I think we will not succeed. The most important thing is to sustain public pressure.)

San Juan, an associate professor of the De La Salle University-Manila, also started a petition which has gained 1,444 supporters as of this posting.

Tanggol Wika also plans to work on a set of syllabus they can present to CHED in future dialogues.

San Juan said the fight is just beginning, and Lumbera explained why their fight is necessary.

“[Ito ay] pagpapahalaga na ang buhay natin bilang isang bansa ay nakasanding sa pagkakaroon ng isang wika na siyang gagamitin upang hubugin ang isipan ng kabataan, hubugin ang isipan ng matatanda, lalo na ‘yung mga matatanda ang may kapangyarihan sa ating sistema ng edukasyon,” Lumbera said.

(This is giving importance to the fact that our life as a country depends on having one language which will be used to shape the minds of people, young and old – especially the old ones who wield power in our education system.) –

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.