The Great Filipino Dream

Or, Greed Over Education


(This is actually my response to attybenji’s comment on Teachers, Don’t Leave Us Kids Alone!)

You may recall that Mrs. Arroyo refers to college education as the ‘great Filipino dream’. Indeed she’s right this time considering that, as the DepEd says, out of 10 students entering Grade 1, six will complete the elementary course, four will get through high school and two will enter college. If these two would finish college and if they would get a job is another story, or another dream!

The country is “on the verge of take off” Arroyo told us during her  SONA 2005. And she talked about increased  government spending on education for “better trained teachers in more classrooms; 30,000 additional classrooms and computer access to more than 3,000 high schools in the past four years; and a “healthy start” breakfast program for young schoolchildren.”

The truth is, the education sector continues to suffer from yearly budget cuts. The results are poor state of classrooms and school facilities and the severe shortage of teachers in public elementary and high schools nationwide.This is the worst crisis in public education. According to Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), in this school year, “classroom shortage is pegged at 57,930; teachers, 49,699; and desks and chairs, 3.48 million. Until now, 445 barangays (villages) in the country still have no elementary schools. Six municipalities still have no high school.” Based on these facts, I would rather say that the country is on the verge of a crash.

Education is supposed to narrow down social divide, hence foster social equality and justice. But it seems that in our country, the present state of education widens the “social scissor” ever more. A good education fosters social mobility, the absence of which fosters poverty and social alienation. And many of those who have made it through college have already left the country and many who are left at home are contemplating to leave, on the “verge of take off.” This is probably what Mrs. Arroyo meant. For as she said in her visit to Singapore in 2001, the Philippine economy will remain heavily dependent on Filipino overseas workers sending home some eight billion US dollars annually (stand of 2001). Last 2007, the OFW’s remittances amounted to about 14.7 billion dollars. Today, she still promote labor-export policy. Though the Philippine economy profits from these remittances, this kind of labor- policy is a clear sign of defeat on the part of the government, of failed politics and poor national housekeeping. It’s a proof of our third-world status. According to The International Monetary Fund, the Philippines is the third largest recipient of remittances among developing countries next to India and Mexico (World Economic Outlook Report in 2005). For Ninoy Aquino it is elusive justice after 25 years, for millions of young Filipinos it remains an elusive dream after twenty-one years of 1987 Constitution  to go to college as unabated hikes in tuition- both in public and private colleges- continue to plague tertiary education due in part to the Education Act of 1982, particularly Sec. 42. Tuition and Other Fees.- “Each private school shall determine its rate of tuition and other school fees or charges. The rates and charges adopted by schools pursuant to this provision shall be collectible, and their application or use authorized, subject to rules and regulations promulgated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports”. This has led to continuous hikes in tuition.

The crisis in our public education is aggravated by the fact that the  Arroyo’s education budget amounts only to two percent of the GDP, which does not even meet the minimum standard prescribed by UNESCO which is six per cent of GDP. This is certainly not in accordance with Article 14 of the Constitution which mandates the state to provide for the highest budgetary allocation for education. Arroyo spends very little for education, yet brags of “coffers” in her SONA 2008 filled with monetary reserves to meet the food and fuel crises and insists on rice rationing to feed the poor and malnourished pupils with her breakfast program, capitalizing on and misusing the result of the Asian Development Bank study  that poor nutrition among children whittles down the IQ by 10 to 14 percent. This is nothing but deception of a bigger scale, opportunism and showmanship only, insulting the poor Filipino people and the OFW who send billions of dollars annually to the country. Arroyo is certainly not an educator but more of a politician from showbiz that brags than a graduate economist of reputable universities. This again is the logic of greed dominating education.

Given the present situation, it is indeed a great Filipino dream to study in college for millions of our young people. Arroyo is right this time. And for the tens of millions who are jobless, left alone without a future in their homeland and wanting to find a job abroad, the country is definitely on the “verge of a take-off” to Middle-East, Japan or the USA. Arroyo seems to be always right on things that should not be.


jun asuncion

Bulan Observer

One thought on “The Great Filipino Dream

  1. The “Great American Dream”, or the, “I have a Dream” – by Martin Luther King, Jr., – has relevance to this article, by way of comparison, from that of the “Great Filipino Dream” of Madam President GMA.

    Quoted hereunder are selected portions of MLK, Jr.’s speech to the American people:

    “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

    Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

    But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.”

    “I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.”

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

    I have a dream today.”

    … On the other hand, the “Great Filipino Dream” as envisioned by President Gloria M. Arroyo (sa larangan ng edukasyon) – To quote mr. Jun Asuncion:

    “You may recall that Mrs. Arroyo refers to college education as the ‘great Filipino dream’. Indeed she’s right this time considering that, as the DepEd says, out of 10 students entering Grade 1, six will complete the elementary course, four will get through high school and two will enter college. If these two would finish college and if they would get a job is another story, or another dream!”

    What’s the distinction or difference between the two great dreams?

    The great American dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks about freedom from slavery and liberty of the human race regardless of the color of the skin.

    Whereas, the great Filipino dream of PGMA speaks about freedom from the bondage of poverty and ignorance of the Filipino by strengthening and increasing the yearly budget for the education sector.

    Some say, the would-be election of Barack Obama, a black Kenyan-American, as the new President of the United Stated of America this coming November 2008 would be the realization of the great American dream as espoused by Martin Luther King, jr. in his “I Have a Dream” speech many years ago in America.

    In the Philippines, the resignation, and/or imprisonment of all corrupt public officials, whether elected or appointed, or thieves in government, including President Gloria M. Arroyo and his cohorts or conspirators would pave the way for the true realization of the great Filipino dream of prosperity, development and better opportunities of all the Filipino people, and in search for a lasting peace.

    Me, too, have a dream! I have dream for a better and brighter Philippines.


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