Speech of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, before Filipino educators at a tea tendered in their honor at Malacañan, Manila, April 17, 1944.

FELLOW-EDUCATORS, LADIES, AND GENTLEMEN:

I want to thank all of you very profoundly for having responded to my invitation to attend this gathering.

The other day, I had occasion to meet people well versed in economics and public finance. I appealed to them to help me and cur government in the solution of vital economic problems—particularly those which have to do with food production, food procurement, and food distribution. All of them responded enthusiastically—even General [Manuel] Roxas and others who probably had reasons for not joining our Government in the first days of its establishment. We organized the Economic Planning Board under the leadership of former Speaker Roxas; and we are looking forward if not to the complete solution of these problems, at least to the amelioration of the suffering of the great masses of our population.

On another day, I had the privilege of meeting some of the Filipino scientists. (I am happy to note that at least one of them is here this afternoon—the President of the University of the Philippines.) I told them that, in these crucial moments of our history, and regardless of the fate of the Philippines and of the Filipino people, we have to carry on intensively researches in the different fields of science— particularly those of nutrition, medicinal plants, medicine, agriculture, and industrial chemistry. I told them that the Government will be very glad to give them all assistance, both material and moral, in order that they may help it in the solution of its vital problems.

Two days from now. I shall meet the members of the Code Committee, in order to rush the enactment of laws adapted to the needs of our people and compatible with the customs and traditions of our native land.

I am calling upon the men and women whom I consider the most competent in their respective fields of activities, in all humility and full realization of my insufficiency. As I said in the beginning of my administration. I. alone and single-handed, cannot hope to solve the many difficult problems that are bound to confront the country, especially during these critical times. I need the help of my countrymen. therefore; even of those who are not my countrymen but who I knew have been here a long time and are familiar with local conditions; who have contributed to the welfare of the Filipinos; and who I knew, will not deny the appeal for help on the part of the head of the Government to bring about a more abundant life among the Filipinos.

And so, this afternoon. I have asked you to come, in order that we may discuss freely and fearlessly the broad educational policies which, in your opinion, should be adopted by the Republic of the Philippines. I would like particularly to hear your opinion on certain educational policies already embodied in the different executive orders and administrative circulars that I have already issued.

In the formation of these policies. I, both as Minister of Education and as President of the Republic, have been helped by the National Education Board, composed of Justice Bocobo, formerly President of the University of the Philippines as Chairman and of Dr. Mariano de los Santos and Dr. Francisco Benitez as members.

Most important of the executive orders that have something to do with the educational policy of the Republic is Executive Order No. 10 according to which all teachers in elementary and secondary schools, public or private must obtain a license after proper examination.

Executive Order No. 10 also provides that all teachers be of good moral character. There can be no debate, in my opinion, on this requirement. It should, in fact, precede others, not only in the teaching profession, out also in other fields of public service.

The teachers of religion in the public and private schools are required by Executive Order No. 10 to abide by the declared police of the State. This is not intended to meter with any religion or any religious belter the Constitution itself provides for the separation of Church and State. It recognizes freedom of thought and of religion.

But the State has a right to live. It should, therefore, have the necessary means to insure its continuity and to make its existence effective. In the execution of its avowed policies, it has the right to lay down the basic principles which, in its opinion, can produce the type of citizenry that will bring about the stability, the security, and the happiness of the nation. And it expects those engaged in the teaching of religion not to be so narrow-minded as to give the provisions of Executive Order No. 10 an interpretation that would arrest or prevent the execution of the Government’s educational policy.

You will notice also that, according to Executive Order No. 10, only Filipinos will be allowed to teach the national language, character education, and Philippine history. This does not mean that the Government distrusts foreigners. The Government has no intention to discriminate against foreigners. For the permanence—perhaps the greatness, if not the grandeur—of any country must necessarily be predicated on the friendship among nations, on the belief in the unity of the human race, regardless of race or color; and in the universal heritage of mankind.

We have not, however, even approached the Christian ideal of universal brotherhood. The fundamental weaknesses and defects of human nature still reveal themselves in the conquest of small nations, in the greed of rulers, in the absence of peace and concord among the peoples of the world.

Until and unless we reach that point in the evolutionary process in which the Christian ideal of society becomes a reality, the peoples of the world will continue to live on the theory that each nationality has its own problems peculiar to that nationality and quite distinct from those of any other nationality. No foreigner, for example, can love the Philippines and the Filipino people more than—or even as much as—the Filipinos themselves. Only Filipinos can have an intimate and sympathetic knowledge of their own national characteristics, their own idiosyncrasies, their own problems. Only Filipinos can thrill to the significant events of Philippine history. And only Filipinos can give a sensitive interpretation of these events.

It is logical, therefore, that only Filipinos should be allowed to teach the history of their own country to their own people. Thus alone can we hope to produce a type of citizenry that is truly Philippine, a type of Filipino who would venerate our heroes and love his native land unto death.

For the same reason, only Filipinos should be allowed to disseminate the national language among their own people, and to mould the character of the youth of the country. It would be queer for foreigners, instead of Filipinos, to teach Tagalog to Filipinos. And, since character has a great deal to do with citizenship, it follows that only Filipinos should be charged with the development of character that would conform with the Filipino ideal of citizenship.

Believing that Rizal typified the best traits of the Filipino people and that his life is worthy of emulation, I have issued Executive Order No. 22, providing for the use of an appropriate textbook about the greatest of our national heroes.

I hope you will read Executive Order No. 44, prescribing certain principles of higher education. I would like you to tell me what you think of it, and to offer some suggestions for its improvement.

The Textbook Examining Committee created by Administrative Order No. 12, is charged with weeding out the list of textbooks used in our public and private schools, and eliminating, not only those that have outgrown their usefulness, but also those that would have an adverse, if not dangerous, effect on the formation of character.

I wish also to call your attention to Administrative Order No. 15, creating a committee to draft a Filipino Civic Code, based on the lives and sayings of great Filipinos. The salient incidents in these lives and the wisdom embodied in the pronouncements of our heroes together form a pattern of thought and conduct and attitude of mind that every Filipino would do well to follow.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you of a pet project of mine. I refer to what I call the university of the masses. This means universal compulsory education. Every child should go through at least the primary or the elementary grades.

In this training, character education should be given emphasis. Children should be taught to be upright, honest in thought and indeed, simple, modest, and frugal. This training should be supplemented with religious instruction, not on controversial dogmas, but on the place of man in the scheme of creation. Children should, as early as possible, acquire a clear conception of their place in the universe, of their duties to the dumb creatures about them as well as to their fellow-beings, of the goodness of God. They should learn to respect their elders, love their parents, and worship the Creator.

The university for the masses should also make all the citizens self-sufficient. Their special aptitudes should be developed to the full. Everybody should have a trade or profession in which he can excel. A boy from the Ilocos regions should know weaving. A boy from Cavite or Batangas should know farming. Every girl should know something about home-making.

Higher education should be reserved for those with special talents—not only for those who can afford the tremendous financial outlay that it entails. Having been connected with every law school in the city, I have known a great many young men wasting their time and their money and their energy trying to study law, when they have neither the inclination nor the mental equipment. These young men would never make good lawyers. They might perhaps be good at something else. And there should be some means by which the aptitude of every person could be measured. Then there would be no misfits.

In the same way, not everybody can be a teacher. A man cannot be expected to mould the character of the young if he himself gambles and goes to the cockpit and otherwise does things not in conformity with the fundamental laws of morality. A teacher should have the qualities of leadership—the special qualifications that would enable him to bring out all the hidden possibilities in every child.

These, broadly speaking, are my ideas concerning the educational system that the Republic of the Philippines should establish. As specialists in the science and art of pedagogy, you are in a position to help me carry out these ideas—to modify them, if necessary, but always in conformity with the provisions of our Constitution.

This will be your particular contribution to the building of our nation. The scientists, the financiers, the economists, the jurists—each of these groups will have its own contribution. By pooling our resources, by integrating our efforts, we can tackle the great task of reconstruction for the happiness and the contentment of our people, for the peace and harmony of mankind, and for the glory of Him who rules the universe.

Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library