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Political Dynasties in the Philippines: In My Opinion

Next year’s Philippine midterm elections are fast approaching and it paints an all too-familiar image once again: candidates that are ei...



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MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine national basketball team Gilas Pilipinas, wins against long-time nemesis South Korea, 86-79, in the semi-finals round of the 27th FIBA Asia Championships at the jam-packed Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, last night.

With the win, Gilas Pilipinas will be facing Iran for the finals and earns a secured slot in the FIBA World's Championship Cup in Spain next year.

In the past two decades, the country has fallen prey to the South Korean “curse”. In 1986 Seoul Asiad, the Samboy Lim and Allan Caidic-led national team has fallen to a 102-103 semifinal game to Korea. In the 2002 Asian Games battle for the bronze medal, with the Philippines on a slim two-point lead, Korean Lee Sang Min faked off two defenders to sink a buzzer-beating triple sealing the game at 69-68.

There are a few other losses to Korean basketball team and the last time the Philippines made an appearance in the FIBA Basketball World Cup was still in 1978. But this South Korean jinx was finally broken last night with the 12-man Philippine roster led by Coach Vincent "Chot" Reyes.
The game was opened with a double defensive stop by the Philippines, and Jeff Chan triple from the top of the arc. Korean Kim Joo-Sung replied with a layup and a short jumper, both over naturalized Filipino Marcus Douthit to give Korea a 4-3 lead.

It was a see-saw match where one team goes on top of the other. Marc Pingris scored down low to reclaim the lead for Gilas at the 7-minute mark, but Cho Sungmin scored his first three-point shot for a 7-5 lead. Larry Fonacier sends a floater at the 3:28 to put the home team ahead anew.

Jimmy Alapag nailed a triple at the 5:00 mark of the second to get to within 2 points, but Gilas had to replace Douthit out as he re-injured his left leg. Upon going back to the bench, Douthit can be seen disappointed as he would never return to play due to his badly-injured left leg. The second quarter was ended with a three-point lead in favor of S. Korea, 36-39.

In the third quarter, Jayson Castro (William) carried the country, transforming the 3-point halftime deficit to a nine-point edge. He scored on two straight layups to give the Philippines a 40-39 lead, before converting on another acrobatic drive at 7:35 to give Philippines a 3-point lead. Pingris then added a tip-in, followed by a Castro triple to bring the packed 18,631 MOA crowd into a frenzy. The NBA D-League draftee Japeth Aguilar slamdunks in front of the Korean giants to end the third quarter with Gilas ahead, 65-56.

But the resilient South Koreans bounced back in the early salvo of the final frame led by Mingoo Kim who shot from all angles. Showing a quick recovery, the Koreans brought the lead down to a single point at 4:40 as Mingoo Kim completed a devastating four-point play. It was quickly followed by a Seung Jun Lee slam at 4:18, for their lead, 76-73.
Team Captain Jimmy Alapag gave Gilas back the lead with a triple with 3:01 left in the game, but Tae-Sool Kim quickly jumped back with a jump shot to settle the score at 77-76 in favor of Koreans. Ranidel De Ocampo scored a layup to continue the pendulum battle. With the seconds dwindling down, Pingris stole the ball, which led to a De Ocampo trey for an 81-77 Gilas lead sending the Filipino crowd into frenzy once more.

Jimmy Alapag, shoots a double cold-blooded triples to secure wide lead over So. Korea to close the game, 86-79.

Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes cries in joy with the spectacular display of Filipino basketball prowess.

"Our motivation coming into this game was simple: get into the finals and make the Philippines proud. I told the boys, let's expect to win the game; and not talk about the past.", he said in a post-match interview.

Philippines vs. South Korea Scores:

Philippines (86) - Castro 17, Pingris 16, Alapag 14, De Ocampo 11, Tenorio 9, Aguilar 8, Chan 5, Fonacier 2, Norwood 2, Douthit 2, David 0, Fajardo 0.

Korea (79) - Kim M. 27, Yang 11, Kim JS. 11, Lee S. 10, Lee J. 10, Cho 6, Kim S. 2, Kim T. 2.

First Quarter: 15-19; Second Quarter: 36-39; Third Quarter: 65-56; Fourth Quarter: 86-79

Photo Credits:

The National Competitiveness Council Philippines, in cooperation with the USAID, has recently released the list of the most competitive cities in the Philippines based on:
  1. Developed a framework for local economic development and competitiveness (November 2012)
  2. Identified a set of indicators for the framework (December 2012)
  3. Validate the indicators at the city and municipal levels (INVEST and LGSP-LED areas) – December 2012
  4. Streamlined list of indicators validated by NCC/RCCs (February 2013)
  5. Data gathered by RCCs (April-June 2013)
  6. Data processed (June-July 2013)
Some huge cities failed to submit or had submitted incomplete data to the NCC so they were not included in the rankings. The submission of data from the LGUs was voluntary.

NCC co-chair Guillermo M. Luz told reporters that big cities like Cebu and Davao did not make it to the top 50 competitive cities because they submitted incomplete data. Makati also failed to submit any data at all.

“It’s a wake up call that if you want to know how competitive you are, you got to show the data,” Luz added.

So, here are the Top 10 Most Competitive Cities in the Philippines for 2013:

10 – Marikina, NCR, Luzon (59.73)

9 – Naga City, Camarines Sur, Luzon (60.53)

8 – Olongapo City, Zambales, Luzon (60.63)

7 – San Fernando, La Union, Luzon (61.17)

6 – Koronadal City, South Cotabato, Mindanao (61.27)

 5 – Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Visayas (61)

4 – Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Mindanao (63.89)

3 – San Fernando, Pampanga, Luzon (68.23)

2 – Iloilo City, Visayas (68.23)

1 – Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, Mindanao (72.09)

Runner-ups include the following:

Photo Credits:
Iloilo Picture
San Fernando La Union
Butuan City
San Fernando, Pampanga.
Olongapo City
In a lot of instances, I can say that Filipinos are one of the best English speakers in the world. In fact, according to this news article, we are the world’s best in Business English. Our Arab, European, and Asian neighbors never fail to appreciate to our intelligibility and fluency in the global language.

But I still pose this question: Are we really “that good” in conversing and understanding English?

Over the years since the language’s introduction to us more than a century ago, the Filipino developed this habit of being too critical on grammar or pronunciation. I can still remember this teacher I had which pronounces the word ‘paper’ as ‘peeper’. And that slip-up would draw some silent snorts and chuckles from the overly-critical students.

Preposterous as it is, we have this tendency to appreciate and thus equate one’s eloquence in English with a person’s intelligence. The more American twang (colloquially referred to by most Filipinos as ‘slang’) you have, the more people would refer to you as ‘sosyal’ (elite) or sophisticated.
Well, being a colony of the United States for close to five decades, I am proud of the Filipinos’ seemingly natural ability of being able to comprehend and speak the English language. I really am. This entire proclivity towards English perfection is but an evidence of how the American culture was intertwined in our roots.

And why would we not love the Americans for this gift? During the American Era, the Americans were able to accomplish the feat the Spaniards never did – make the Pinoys love their colonizers through education.
Unlike the Spanish strategy of Catholicism, the Americans presented us free public education which made us love them with open arms and legs. Among others, this paved the way for the modernity and global-readiness of the Filipino in the Pre-World War II Era.
Aside from an obvious economic rise of the Philippines in the 1920s, looking at the status of education in the Islands in that period would give us the idea how good we use to perform academically. In the field of linguistics, the Human Development Report states that the language skill of both the Filipinos and the Americans at school is identical. I theorize that is due to the public education system spearheaded by the Thomasites (the first American teachers in the Philippines who are actually American soldiers).

I am not against speaking English or the making of it as the medium of instruction together with Filipino (which is but actually a standardized Tagalog). I have to agree that Filpino education should place ample importance on it as it is the language of globalization. Without our distinct skill in the language, we’ll be dishing out all the BPO jobs to India. With the Pinoy’s English proficiency, we are one of the sought-after online tutors of our Asian friends.

English is the most used language in our mass media, both in the dailies and the TV stations. Both are replete with English words and phrase. Uncle Sam’s language is our language of business, trade, and politics. The lingua franca of our courses, especially Science and Mathematics are in English. It would surely be ridiculous if terms in specialized fields such as law are imprinted in say, Filipino or, for my case, be written in Ilonggo or Ilocano.
Please click here for the continuation of this article.

Author’s Note: This article, originally written in Filipino, was published in Banwag magazine, the publication of Saint Michael’s College of Iligan in 2010. The author decided to translate and refurbish the article to English.
If you missed the first part, please click here for the first segment of this two-part article.

A decade ago, the former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued the Executive Order 210 which aimed to strengthen English as the second language of the Filipinos. This is maybe also the reason for the pursuance of the bill in the lower house to strengthen English as the sole medium of instruction. According to this ‘English Bill’ sponsored by Representative Eduardo Gullas, the Philippine educational system is wrong for it needs a dynamic language which is English.
If this store doesn't convince you, I don't what else would.
Well, the gentleman from Cebu might have been right in saying that English is more of a static language than Filipino or other vernaculars for that matter. But I guess, we’ve been “too hasty” for globalization despite the fact that our tool for readiness, our educational system, is in decline. This is, for the most part, due to our present medium of instruction which is English.

To illustrate what I meant, let’s look at the figures:

According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), for the years 2006 to 2007, the number of dropouts rose from 8.6 to 9% - a number far from there supposed target of 5.5% and 4.3% (for 2009). In fact, for June 2010, 23 million Filipino students went back to school but two million of them are expected to drop out of school.
For every 100 Grade 1 students, only 65 reaches Grade 6. Eighteen (18) of these elementary dropouts are in between Grades 1 and 2. We can thus infer, that 1 in 3 elementary students stop from schooling.
The country’s net enrolment ration from 2003 to 2007, too, is in decline from 90.3% to 83.2%.
According to the National Education Support Strategy of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the poor quality of Filipino education is alarming. Only twenty-six (26%) of the graduating elementary students has “mastery” [1] in English. They also have thirty-one percent (31%) mastery in Mathematics, and fifteen percent (15%) in Science. Identical findings are seen for the secondary schools: seven percent (7%) in English, sixteen percent (16%) in Mathematics, and two percent (2%) in Science.
The figures in the tertiary education tell us the same: two to seven percent (2-7%) of the college graduates who aimed to enter to call center jobs have the necessary proficiency in English. And despite being hired, call center agent-aspirants still need to undergo the English Language training for three months.

And for the Filipino general population statistics, only twenty percent (20%) has the ability to converse in straight English.

According to Ricardo Nolasco of the Linguistics Department of the University of the Philippines, the number one reason for the huge dropout rates in primary school is the inability of the students to understand their teachers. In the cognitive aspect of mental development of a Filipino child, the use of English as the medium of instruction becomes a burden.
For example, an elementary student from Iloilo who grew up to Hiligaynon would surely have a hard time studying English. It becomes much arduous when a child’s first language is non-Tagalog considering that both English and Tagalog are the current media of instruction. It would be difficult to study both Filipino and English juxtaposed with Hiligaynon (regional dialect) he or she was used to.

The usual belief of many in studying foreign language is the assumption that one would get used to it due to a longer time of exposure to the language. Basing on the figures and (a little keenness in observing our schools), English as a medium of instruction is not as effective as we think it is. And the reason is right in front of us – it is not the ‘natural’ language of the child.
Filipino teachers are not native English speakers unlike the Thomasites during American Period. For this reason, we fail to fathom the historical depth and nuances that go with the language. We should put in mind that according to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the archipelago has 78 groups of language and 500 dialects. Add to that the fact that we can’t even form a “purely English-speaking community”, says Dr. Jovy Peregrino of the Center for Filipino Language at the University of the Philippines.

Language is the vehicle of the mind. It is the way through the heart of a person, and most importantly, the mirror of his culture and experiences as a people. Regarding this medium of instruction dilemma, I believe that the use of the native language together with the national language is the more effective medium in the early years of Filipino education.

It was just two years ago since the approval of the actual use of Multilingual Education (MLE) in the whole country on the virtue of Department Order No. 74 of the Department of Education (DepEd) but this has already been practiced in the Kalingan municipality of Lubuagan. For more than a decade, this 4th class municipality of Lubuagan has been the national model for Multilingual Education. For more than two decades, they consistently belong to the Top 10 non-performing schools in the entire Philippines.
In the said town, only the Libuagen dialect (a variety of the Kalingan dialect) is used in the town’s elementary school from Grades 1 to 3 which makes it easier for students to learn various subjects including English. For the two decades of teaching using their vernacular, the school has zero dropout rate. In 2006, the Lubuagan District attained the highest mark for the National Achievement Test for Grade 3 Reading Test both in English and Filipino with a mean score of 76.55% and 76.45%, respectively. With these achievements, Lubuagan Elementary School was awarded the “Best School for Kalinga” and “Model of Multilingual Education in the Philippines”.

The Lubuagan Elementary School is truly worth emulating; for us to reach maximum learning potential, we have to uphold the child’s first language as the cornerstone of our educational system. If France, Germany, China, Japan, and other countries were able to use their own language at schools, the Philippines can also do the same. One’s ability in the English language can never be the yardstick for one’s understanding of the world around.
Studying English is important, but true intelligence and skill should never be taken for granted. While the subject matter itself is of utmost importance, equally important is how it was served to the intellect of our youth.

The proposed transition from the dialect to the official language should be gradual and preferably be done in the later years of primary education. The main purpose of schools is obviously for students to learn. And the better way to have it is to have the means where they can easily comprehend.

[1] ‘Mastery’ meant having the grades 75% or better in the English subject.

This article, originally written in Filipino, was published in Banwag magazine, the publication of Saint Michael’s College of Iligan in 2010. The author decided to translate and refurbish the article to English.

Photo Credit:
"AL & J Convincing Store" courtesy of Alexis Chua.