Speech of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, recorded on February 12, 1944, and broadcast over Station PIAM, Manila, at 4:50 p. m., February 17, 1944.

FELLOW TEACHERS AND COUNTRYMEN:

I greet you all from the bottom of my heart and I wish, in behalf of our Government and our people, to express their deep appreciation and gratitude for the great services that you have rendered in the past in the educational field, that you are rendering at present, and that you may render in the future.

The educational objectives are clearly stated in our Constitution. All educational institutions are placed under the supervision and control of the State, for the State is vitally interested in education and consequently must determine the broad educational policies of our Republic.

In my inaugural speech, I said that, because our Government is now independent it would be in a better position to carry into effect certain changes and innovations that would correct the defects in our educational system, The Ministry of Education, the portfolio of which I hold for the present, will bring about some of these changes with the help and cooperation of the officials and employees of the Ministry of Education.

In the form of executive or administrative orders, I, as President of our young Republic, have outlined certain broad principles pertaining to education. I have emphasized the need of intense nationalism by requiring the teaching of, and by giving emphasis to, the national language. As Dr. Rizal said, the national language is the expression of the national soul. And. if we are to be an independent people, we must have our own vehicle of expression.

In consonance with this nationalistic policy, we shall give our teachers special technical and moral training. We are prohibiting foreigners from teaching certain subjects, like character education, Philippine history, and national language. This is not because of any hostility towards foreigners or strangers. I, as head of this young Government and Republic, believe in universality and in the brotherhood of man.

But more than that, I believe that the nationalistic spirit must be inculcated m the minds of our youth, not only for self-protection and self-preservation, but also for the purpose of intensifying love of country and of bringing about a type of citizenry after our great hero, Rizal. I would like to have developed in this country that type of Filipino who will be patriotic, honest, upright, and at the same time, simple and frugal in his way of living.

I believe that our educational system should be revised, to correct its defects. At the same time, we should acknowledge and preserve its desirable features.

There is perhaps no nobler profession than that of the teacher. Christ, who died on the Cross and redeemed humanity, was a great teacher. Buddha and Mohammed were great teachers; and Rizal taught his people to be true, loyal, honest and upright. While you, my fellow teachers—and I say “fellow-teachers” because I myself have been a teacher—while you, I repeat, in a humble and modest way, be teaching only in the provinces and municipalities and even in remote barrios, do not forget that while you may not receive the plaudits of the multitude, you are nevertheless performing a task as great and noble as that of Christ or of Rizal. You are helping to bring-up a generation of Filipinos who would do credit to the Philippines as an independent nation.

I realize, as the head of this Government, the plight of the teacher. I shall even admit that the teachers were not properly treated in the past. They have been ignored, they have been overlooked, particularly in the matter of monetary compensation. Many of you have been laid off. And many of you have waited in vain to practise your noble profession.

I have not forgotten you. I know the great work that you have done. I know that the country will have to call upon you, if we are to awaken the national soul, if we are to develop men and women who would be willing to sacrifice all for the fatherland.

I have touched upon what I consider the important role of the teachers in the formation of a new type of Filipino manhood and womanhood. I have referred to the great educational objectives embodied in our Constitution, because in our reforms, we must start from our organic laws. We must start from the realization of the fundamental basis of the educational system which we desire to establish in our country. Education is important and will always be important, because a Government that is not backed up by intelligent men and women, a country without self-sacrificing men and women, will never go very far.

The role of the teacher now is not confined to education. It is not enough for the teachers to attend to their classrooms and to try to mould the character and to awaken the souls of their pupils. The teachers, especially those who are assigned to the remote provinces and municipalities and barrios, should also preach the gospel of peace and order. They should also point out the need for national self-sufficiency, if the Filipinos are to survive.

Peace and order are the foundation stones of all governments. No educational system can function with productive results, unless our people live in contentment and security. By preaching the gospel of peace more than any other educational gospel, the teachers can, therefore, bring about the complete restoration of happiness amongst our people.

At the same time, however, the teachers should make our people realize the necessity of producing what they need. We should be self-sufficient. Thus alone can we maintain our freedom and independence.

In short, at this critical moment in the history of our country, the function and the duty of the teacher may be said to be three-fold: educational, in so far as he or she is a part of the governmental organization devoted to that important governmental activity of propagating knowledge and developing the character of our citizens. But since at the same time, he or she is over and above all, a Filipino, it is his or her duty to preserve this country for succeeding generations; to prevent the overthrow of traditional and time-honored institutions, which have been the result of the sacrifices and efforts of our great men; to preserve the political independence and freedom of the Philippines, which is the result of the sacrifices of the great men and heroes of our country; and, during this time of emergency, to help the Government in the solution of the food problem by preaching and bringing home to our people the necessity of cultivating idle lands, of planting what they can plant—so that our people can help themselves, so that our Republic can tide over this present emergency.

Before finishing these extemporaneous remarks which I am making from Malacañan, I desire to inform you of the proposed plan with reference to the new Ministry of Education. I am happy that in the task of reorganization, I can count on the very valuable help of Vice-Minister [Gabriel] Mañalac and of the technical men in that Ministry.

Aside from the Minister of Education, there shall be a Vice-Minister who will help the Minister perform his duties. Under these two officials, there shall be four administrative and technical divisions: the Administrative Division, the Curriculum and Textbook Division, the Division of Teacher Education, which is very important, and the Division of Planning, Research and Evaluation. The Ministry of Education has under it also several bureaus; namely, the Bureau of Public Instruction, the Bureau of Private Education, the Bureau of Physical Education, the Institute of National Language, the University of the Philippines, the National Library, and the newly-created Bureau of Oriental Culture.

You must have read in the newspapers of the creation of a National Education Board for the purpose of going over our entire educational system, comparing it with the systems in other parts of the globe and making recommendations to the Minister of Education as to what steps to be taken in its reorganization. This National Education Board, as I have indicated, will make appropriate recommendations to the Minister of Education in relation with the broad educational policies. That Board is composed of well-known educators. It is presided over by Dr. [Jorge] Bocobo, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and formerly President of the University of the Philippines; Dr. Francisco Benitez; and Dr. Mariano de los Santos. The National Education Board will be helped in the matter of planning, research, and other activities by the very important Division of Planning, Research and Evaluation.

In addition to the National Education Board, there will also be an Educational Council. This Educational Council is to be composed of the Minister of Education and the Vice-Minister, the members of the National Education Board and the directors of the different bureaus and educational institutions under the Ministry of Education. When an educational policy or reform is recommended by the National Education Board with the help and the technical advice of the Division of Planning, Research and Evaluation, it will be submitted to the Minister of Education, through the Vice-Minister. The Minister of Education, before carrying out any proposed educational reform, will, as a matter of prudence and propriety, call to session the members of the National Council of Education. This meeting is to be presided over by the Minister of Education.

You will see, therefore, that your government is making special efforts in the reorganization of the Ministry of Education for the purpose of rendering greater service to our people. I hope that, with this reorganization, we can carry into effect the fundamental principles already formulated, and which may be formulated in the future.

In this way, the government may be able to establish in our country a system of education that is not only adapted to our needs and to our condition, but also responsive to our ideals and to our aspirations. As long as I am the head of this Government, one of my policies will be to improve the lot of our teachers. I want to assure my friends and colleagues in the teaching profession that, while the Government may not now be in a position to help them in a substantial way because our Government and Republic are still young, and because our resources are meager, I hope that—as we advance and forge ahead, animated by a common desire for public service, and actuated by the same purpose and the same ideal of serving our people—I hope I shall be able to be of service not only to our country but also and particularly to the neglected group of teachers who have done so much and who have received so little for their efforts. Thank you.

Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library