Lack of high school PH history subject causes ‘loss of identity’ – advocacy group

Advocacy group High School Philippine History Movement (HSPHM) in an online conference last Nov. 26 raised the alarm that the absence of the subject contributes to an “inadequate” level of knowledge and competence in secondary education curricula.

HSPHM Vice President for Professional Affairs Junier Inabangan pointed out that high school students’ social media posts were symptomatic of a “weak” historical foundation.

Inabangan referred to posts where users were unaware of why revolutionary leader Apolinario Mabini, who was struggling with paralysis from polio, could not stand up in the 2015 film “Heneral Luna” and how netizens greeted national hero Jose Rizal a “happy birthday” every December 30, his death anniversary.

Nakalulungkot at very alarming kasi pinapakita nito kung ano yung standard ng kaalaman ng general public, most especially yung kabataan,” Inabangan said.

HSPHM also claimed that, without a dedicated subject for it in high school, recent K-12 graduates struggled in their Philippine History readings in college.

In 2014, the Department of Education (DepEd) removed Philippine History from secondary education curricula and “integrated” it with other subjects such as Asian Studies.

The group added that, although Philippine History is taught at the elementary level, this measure is “insufficient” as high school students have a “more mature” level of understanding of the subject matter.

READ: From one generation to another: Students succumb to disinformation as result of PH history education dearth

“Parang saling pusa [ang Philippine history]… we are losing our identity, our historical foundation,” said Niño Maliban, the HSPHM’s Government Engagement Director.

The group reiterated calls for Philippine history to be taught in a way that enhances critical thinking instead of being a “memorization-based” subject, adding it “should promote historical knowledge, nationalism and critical thinking.”

Makabayan bloc representatives Arlene Brosas, France Castro and Raoul Manuel filed a bill in the House to mandate the inclusion of Philippine history as a subject in junior and senior high school curricula.

Meanwhile, Senator Robin Padilla filed a similar measure in Congress’ upper chamber, underlining that “there must be an independent and definitive subject that comprehensively focuses on the study of our nation’s own history.”

As of writing, the two bills are still pending in their respective committees. 

‘Threat to veracity’

During the conference, TikTok influencer and history enthusiast Mona Magno-Veluz said that with the democratization of information, more content creators are tackling the subject matter than experts, risking partisanship and the spread of disinformation.

Veluz, also known as “Mighty Magulang” on the platform, added that disinformation is a “threat to the veracity of digital knowledge.”

She said, “The regulatory powers are no longer with [the] government, but with the platform themselves. Many forego acting on these untruths in the name of freedom of expression.”

Meanwhile, Joane Serrano claimed that historical distortion was a practice even before the emergence of social media. Serrano is the Dean of the UP Open University Faculty of Management and Developmental Studies.

She stressed, however, that people now allot more time to social media thus its importance in teaching “cannot be overlooked,” adding that teachers must self-check their media literacy competencies, including their awareness of the prevalence of information disorder.

Veluz said, “Kahit anong side of the line you stand, I think one thing that is very important is we cannot become the monsters we are trying to slay. If we are trying to fight disinformation, then we cannot be deceiving [and] manipulative when it comes to our communication.”

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