Speech of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, before the Convention of Division Superintendents of Schools, at the Normal School Auditorium, Manila, on June 26, 1944.
MR. MINISTER, YOUR EXCELLENCY, COLLEAGUES IN THE GOVERNMENT. FELLOW-TEACHERS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
I am more than happy to come this morning and say a few words to the members of the convention in relation to the educational program of the Republic of the Philippines. But before touching upon some of the important points relating to education, I would like to make the following admonition or statement; and that is, that we cannot have proper educational orientation, our teachers and pupils in the Philippines will not be able to carry into effect the great educational objectives found in the Constitution, unless and until we are properly educated in the political field. The teachers, the pupils, the government officials—in fact, the whole Filipino people— must be oriented in these crucial days.
You cannot be a useful teacher unless you believe in the Republic of the Philippines. That is the starting point. You cannot be a teacher unless you believe in the capacity and in the ability of the Filipino people to run their own affairs, and you cannot be a teacher unless you believe that the Filipinos should be left alone to live a life of their own even in the midst of difficulties and shortcomings.
You cannot be a teacher unless you are determined to make this Republic live and survive. If you do not have this political objective and political orientation, you cannot be a teacher because you have nothing fundamental to impart to the Filipino youth.
We cannot have a Republic of the Philippines enjoy its blessings in the midst of hunger, starvation and difficulties unless we are determined to defend this Republic. This is essential. We cannot simply pretend to live these days in an artificial way or in a conventional way for the simple purpose of tiding over to better times, in the hope that there will be a government better than the government that we have established, in the hope that America may come back and give us a better freedom and a better government than the one we have already established. We must have faith and confidence in ourselves, in our potentiality as a people. We must not only love our freedom. We must also believe in that freedom. If we do not believe that that freedom is real, it is the duty of the Filipino teachers primarily, and it is the duty of all the Filipino people to make that freedom real.
The orientation of the President of the Republic, I hope, will merit the support of my people. The orientation that I would want the teachers in all schools, public and private, to have is that we want to have here a government of the Filipinos, for the Filipinos, and by the Filipinos, exclusively and alone. We want to have here a government that is responsive to the needs and idiosyncracies of our people. While foreigners may look with criticism upon the government that we have established because of its difficulties and perhaps because of its peculiarities, I still maintain that we are entitled to the government that is adapted and responsive to the needs and conditions of our people. We are entitled to the difficulties and—even, perhaps, if I might exaggerate, to the stupidity of our people, if they want to call it that—because I believe that the Filipinos can be happy only by being left alone. I believe that the Filipinos can be prosperous and contented only by being governed by themselves, by living a life that they like and which, they feel, is the life that they should live.
That is one of the great objectives embodied in one of the Articles of the Pacific Charter, predicated on the independent existence and sovereignty of the Philippines as a unit in the Federation of Asiatic Nations. That sovereignty, carried to its logical conclusion, means, as stated in paragraph 3 of that Charter, the complete freedom of the Filipinos to shape and adapt to their needs, not only their system of government, but also a system of education calculated to produce a type of citizenry that they believe is best for their country. That sovereignty is premised necessarily on the respect for the traditions and culture of the Filipinos and, without being narrow, on the interrelation of peoples to enable the Filipinos to contribute to the universal heritage of mankind, to the cultural upliftment and progress of the world.
It is for this reason that we have endeavored to cover as many fields as possible in our national life to prepare our Republic. After we have fixed definitely the orientation for us and for our people, we should not overlook this important phase of our national life and call upon the Filipinos to help us in this task of reconstruction, with that definite political orientation in view. Let me repeat that, particularly for the benefit of my fellow-teachers.
The aim of this Republic, the objective of this Republic, is to establish here a government of the Filipinos, for the Filipinos, and by the Filipinos. We are in the midst of a major war, a total war. But Japan is waging this war to vindicate, not only her right to live as an independent nation, but also the right of other peoples of Greater East Asia to lead a life of their own.
It may be, as I have said, that the reality of this Republic is not as yet fully attained, because of the difficulties incident to the war situation, the world conflagration; but the goal— the orientation—is there. We shall march onward and forward towards that goal of a government of the Filipinos, for the Filipinos and by the Filipinos alone. We may not have reached it yet, we may not reach it as long as the war lasts; but that is the orientation of the President of the Republic of the Philippines and of all his colleagues in the Government.
That is the orientation we are fixing for the Filipino people. When you make a trip, what is important is to know your point of destination. Where are you going? If you know where you are going, and you are determined to reach that point of destination, the means of transportation may be important but not essential. If we are determined to reach Baguio, because of difficulties of transportation, we may not reach it this day or tomorrow; there may be some debate amongst us whether to take the train or the truck or some other means of conveyance. But we are determined to reach Baguio by all means, because that is our point of destination. If we have the willpower, we will reach it—maybe not today or tomorrow, but next week or next month. But if you leave your house not knowing where to go, you go out without any definite orientation. You may land at a gambling house or some other dangerous place. That is not the administration of our government. This Republic has the definite orientation to reach that goal and in making that trip. And, if we have not reached our destination yet, we know we are on the way.
We must summon our vigor, we must summon our spirit, we must make use of the means at our command and within our power to reach that goal. That journey may be difficult; we cannot establish here a government of the Filipinos, for the Filipinos and by the Filipinos if, mentally and spiritually, there is a feeling in our inner selves that we must depend upon other people in order to reach that goal. We cannot reach that goal if in our inner selves we entertain the idea that we cannot establish without the help of others a government here that is really responsive to the needs of our people. We cannot reach that goal with the mental reservation that, unless and until America comes back and there is a return to material prosperity, we shall not be able to establish here a government of our own. We must be determined to depend exclusively on ourselves. And we must be determined to reach that goal in the midst of difficulties. We cannot abandon that goal.
In the same way, we cannot love freedom in the midst of material prosperity and comfort and then abandon that love in the midst of poverty and suffering. We cannot stop half-way because of difficulties. We must go on and on. We ourselves of this generation may not be able to reach it; but you teachers are preparing the Filipino youth, so that, in case you and we drop out in that cavalcade, our successors may take our place and continue that trip until the point of destination is safely reached.
It is with this definite orientation that this administration is carrying on its work. But orientation is not enough. We must also prepare our people, as I have indicated, for the many other aspects of our national life even before we reach that point of destination. Personally, I believe that we have reached it. But I am arguing on the hypothesis that we have not reached it—and I say hypothesis, because of what I have heard at the public plazas and in the streets, that our administration has many handicaps and shortcomings which do not speak well of the reality of our independence. While I believe that these difficulties and hardships are inherent difficulties because of the situation, and while I personally believe that these difficulties and these hardships exist, we must suffer out of sympathy with the just and legitimate aspirations of the Peoples of Greater East Asia to liberate themselves from Occidental domination.
We have a Pact of Alliance with the great Empire of Japan—an alliance to defend, not Japan, not the freedom and independence of the Japanese people, but the freedom and independence of the Philippines and its territorial integrity. We must live up to that alliance. We must sympathize with the divine and legitimate aspirations of the one billion peoples of East Asia to free themselves from Occidental domination.
Having accepted this Republic and determined to make this Republic real—if it is not real as yet—we cannot deceive ourselves and say that there is a Republic of the Philippines, that there are blessings it can give to the people and yet, in case of difficulties and danger, play the role of cowards, play the role of fence-sitters, play the role of hostile elements to the Republic—only trying to live and even accepting positions in the government just to tide over to better times in the hope that we shall be able to establish a better government than what we have already established.
As for me—and I know that my colleagues in the Government share my feelings—I am determined to make this Republic real, lasting, and enduring, not for me nor the other people in the Government, but for the children perhaps yet unborn. Not only that, I am willing to defend and fight for this Republic. We cannot, in beautiful and eloquent speeches and in articles published in the papers, openly say we are for this Republic; and yet, in the inner circle of our private or family life and amongst our friends, murmur against this Republic.
The orientation having been definitely fixed and even on the hypothesis that that orientation has not as yet been reached, as I said, we must prepare our people for the future. For this purpose, this Government has summoned the scientific men of the Philippines to study the difficult problems relating to food and medicine; so that, with their knowledge of science and their patriotism as Filipinos, they may, in some measure, contribute to the relief of the suffering of the great masses of our population. They have done well already, and they have made discoveries which are a credit not only to the Filipino mentality, but also to the scientific world.
I have summoned the Filipino economists so that they may help our Government in the solution of the vital problems in connection with food procurement, food production, and food distribution. And, while I realize that we have not solve these problems, there is nothing which the Government has not done and there is nothing that the Government will not do to meet that problem of food.
Having been governed for past centuries by foreign laws completely irresponsive to the customs and traditions of our peoples, I have summoned the Filipino jurists so that with their accumulated wisdom and experience they may evolve—without being narrow—a system of jurisprudence in the Philippines that would be adapted to the customs and traditions of our people. And I am confident that in a few more months, I shall be able to promulgate a portion of this Philippine legislation, or at least a part of it—the Family Law—so that we may, in our family relations, recognize the family as the fundamental unit and strength of any political organization. We may, if necessary, go back to the old virtues, to the old traditions of the family home, and develop or help develop, through education in the home in coordination with education in the school, that type of citizen who is not necessarily spectacular but humble, obedient without being-servile, frugal and simple but clean, and who in Rizal’s way, would love his country more than his own life.
We are taking care not only of Philippine legislation but also of the great needs of the suffering masses which were a problem even during the Commonwealth—the relationship betwen landlord and tenant, the acquisition of landed estates, the limitation on the extent of private agricultural lands which may be owned by private individuals—with the idea of giving every Filipino a home of his own. For I am committed to the policy I announced that I do not want the rich to become richer or the poor to get poorer. I believe in the creation of a middle class of Filipinos which is intelligent and courageous with—if necessary— an absolute fanaticism in the love for their country.
And last but not least, I have placed, with the advice of the members of my Cabinet, at the head of the Ministry of Education, a man who has devoted his life, his energy and his all to the cause of education. Through him and by him, we expect to bring about the desired renovation in the educational field—permitting, for instance, the establishment of the university of the masses in the primary grades, preparing children for citizenship and, at the same time, with vocational training. In this way, although they may not reach a higher school because of poverty or other circumstances they may leave school already prepared to assume the burden of citizenship. They will be, not only patriotic, but also useful, citizens.
At the same time, we are trying to expand, as much as our funds permit, the activities of the University of the Philippines. We need a higher center of education—a university which shall be, not necessarily the repository of human wisdom, but at least the directing and coordinating center of scientific research, so that, by devotion to research in all fields of sciences, we may not only help our people in the solution of many of our problems, but also contribute to science, contribute to the universal heritage of mankind, because we are part of it.
In that university also, no less than in the private and public schools, we shall develop our own national language. If I did not use it now, it is because when I came up, I was told that I would be understood better if I spoke to the teachers in this borrowed language. But henceforth, when the President makes his utterances and public speeches he will use the national language, not because we dislike foreign languages—in fact, the knowledge of foreign languages is an advantage but because we want our education to be intelligently nationalistic and Oriental. As we have had a culture of our own, we must adopt our own national language without discarding the experience of humanity at large. We must have a language of our own. We must develop that language of our own. We must develop that language and propagate it, not only because it is necessary, but also because that is the imperative mandate of our Constitution.
We have also, in the interest of self-protection, required all teachers before engaging in the teaching profession, to secure a license from the Republic of the Philippines through the Ministry of Education. It is not because we want to be over-nationalistic to the point of being exclusive, but because we realize that the Republic of the Philippines is entitled to mould its own youth; and nobody—Filipino or foreigner—should be allowed to teach in the Philippines unless the Government is satisfied that he will bring about or help bring about that type of citizenry that the Republic wants and needs.
That is the reason why foreigners cannot teach Philippine history. Although I love and respect foreigners, although I may even claim to be a citizen of the world, having been educated in practically all the universities of the world, although we do not want to discriminate, I maintain that no foreigner can love this country better and more than the Filipinos themselves. No foreigner can feel the thrill of events in the history of the Philippines more than the Filipinos themselves. Only the Filipinos must teach Philippine history, because they are in a better position to do so—by birth, by blood, by heart, and by everything that is dear to them. We shall no longer teach history making Andres Bonifacio a bandit and George Washington the greatest patriot in the world. Filipino historians, henceforth, will write Philippine history and appreciate historical events concerning the Filipino race, the emotions and the actions, the great achievements of our heroes and martyrs.
Character education like national history must be taught by Filipinos. That is the reason why our Constitution has placed all institutions of learning under the supervision and control of the State. In the interest of self-preservation and self-protection, the state is entitled to supervise and control the moulding of the necessary type of Filipino citizen, if not of today, then of tomorrow, in accordance with the definite orientation that I have indicated this morning.
Character training shall begin with the teacher. You cannot impart character unless you have it. And it is in view of that fact that the preparation of elementary teachers is undertaken primarily or is effected by the Government. These elementary school teachers are the ones who get in contact with the youth. These elementary school teachers must bring them up; and, unless arrangements could be made by which a definite mould is produced, we shall not be advancing very far. We may even retrogress if each and every institution is allowed to frame its own policies, so that, in the end, we do not want the type of citizen that is produced of multifarious and perhaps conflicting factors.
Character has to do with the production of the fundamental virtues as preached by Rizal. That is the reason why this Republic has established the youth integration movement under the name of KAPARIZ, picking Rizal as the model Filipino, realizing at the same time that while we cannot make a Rizal out of every pupil, we can at least approximate Rizal, who symbolizes everything that is great, patriotic, and self-sacrificing.
We shall make character education more objective and practical. We shall promulgate a civico-moral code, laying down the fundamental and basic principles of morality in its relationship with the Creator, recognizing Him, not only as the supreme law-giver, but also as the ordainer of men and nations. We shall emphasize integrity, honesty, industry, frugality and other virtues.
To dignify the teaching profession, as has been announced by the Minister of Education, we have set certain rules of professional ethics for its guidance; so that teaching may be undertaken, not for material gain or material prosperity, but as a sort of apostleship—Christ-like. Especially in these crucial days, teaching shall be undertaken and impressed as a profession for the purpose of helping the Republic bring about the result that is desired in the formation of future citizens of this Republic—as I have said, Filipinos, men and women, up-right and courageous in thought, determined in action, frugal and simple like Rizal, who would love their country more than their life, who would look to the welfare of their country more than to their own.
I may perhaps touch upon other matters pertaining to education in general, but I am glad to have noted from the program furnished me by the Minister of Education that you will deliberate and discuss many different important problems. My interest in education is great, because it is the starting point for the formation of a new citizenry, the starting point for the formation of a new nation. For unless we prepare the young people of this country, unless we train them in loyalty to the Government and to the Republic, unless we teach them the virtues of honesty, sincerity of purpose, and conviction, we would not be true to our trust. And we would, instead, have, as citizens of this Republic, materialistic men and women, men and women who will love their own welfare more than their country’s.
This is bound to happen unless our children imbibe right now through you, the teachers and the superintendents, these fundamental virtues preached by Rizal and other heroes. Unless you teachers inculcate in their minds the necessity of respecting constituted authorities, and of obeying lawful orders, we cannot go very far. We may succeed in other fields; but, without proper educational orientation— not necessarily discriminatory but nationalistic in the legitimate sense, without discarding the universality of human knowledge not only as an endowment and gift from Heaven but as a universal heritage of mankind, regardless of race or color, and without properly synchronizing our system of education with the needs, customs, and traditions of our people, we are going to fail. But I know we shall not fail. I am happy to have the support of the Minister of Education in the execution of our educational policies. And with him and with all of you, I am sure we shall succeed.
I thank you.
Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library