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Statement of the Philippine Hierarchy on the
Nationalization of  Schools

There is a movement these days to impose upon our schools, (a) the prohibition to appoint "persons who are not natural-born citizens of the Philippines to the positions of heads of schools, colleges and universities or teachers, instructors or professors in any social science subject"; (b) the prohibition to allow "any person who is not a citizen of the Philippines or any corporation or association, more than twenty-five per centum of the capital of which belong to persons who are not citizens of the Philippines to organize or engage directly or indirectly in the operation or management of any school or college in the Philippines"; (c) the requirement "that at least sixty percent of the members of the Board of Trustees or governing body of schools, colleges and universities shall be composed of Filipino citizens".  (Bills S. No. 38, H. No. 202, H. No. 222, and H. No. 381).

The objectives of the movement, as stated by its authors, are the following:

  1. To ensure adoption and execution of "more dynamic pro-Filipino policies in our educational institutions".  (S.No. 38 and H. No. 381).
  2. To ensure "impartiality and truthfulness" in the teaching of social science subjects ("history, customs, mores, traditions, culture and ideals of countries and people").  (S. No. 38.)
  3. To prevent communists from infiltrating our educational system."  (S. No. 38).
  4. "to prepare a type of citizenry trained" through our educational system, "to promote national unity and defend national independence".  (H. No. 202).
  5. To preserve "our democratic way of life" and conserve "our historical treasures, cultural or otherwise", "so that each may live in glory, abundance, peace and contentment."  (H. No. 222).

Since this movement affects a number of our catholic educational institutions, We, the Catholic Hierarchy of the Philippines, deem it our duty to express our concern not in regard to the objectives of the movement which are praiseworthy and commendable, but about the means proposed in order to attain said objectives and about the reasons advanced in favor of such means.

These are the reasons upon which We base our stand.

The facts

Let us consider the following facts:

    The American educators who came to this country after the change of regime at the beginning of the century immediately engaged the services of Filipino teachers  to help them in their educational work.  From the very start, then, our educational system in the Philippines had a majority of Filipino teachers.  After some years the administration of the system was entrusted to the hands of Filipinos.  The schools which remained in the hands of foreigners were, and are, relatively few.  We can therefore say, without fear of contradiction, that our people, under fifty years of age, except the relatively few who attended the schools run by foreigners, have been educated by Filipinos.

    Now, some of our national leaders, whose patriotism we have no reason to doubt, have accused our people of lack of nationalistic spirit, of colonial mentality, of deep-seated inclination to imitate whatever is foreign.  Is this accusation true?  If it is, then, since we have been educated by Filipinos, it cannot be true that our own countrymen have proved themselves to be the best teachers of nationalistic spirit.

    If the accusation is false, then we do possess that "nationalistic spirit".  So let us further ask:  Is the spirit a monopoly of those Filipinos who have been educated by Filipinos? Or to put it in another way, are those who have been educated in our "foreigner-run" schools utterly lacking in love of country and of things Filipino?

    The life history of the majority of our heroes and of our great men will answer that question.  Speaking only of the last fifty years of our history, are we going to say that Quezon, Osmeņa, Arellano, Mapa, and a host of others were imbued with anti-filipinism by the schools which educated them?  Furthermore, the names of those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom in the last war are still fresh in our memory.  Thousands of them received their education from the hands of alien Catholic mentors.

    Could it be that those heroes and leaders came to love their country in spite of the education they received in the schools managed by foreigners?  This is a serious indictment against a considerable number of our educated people.  It would imply that those heroes and leaders were the exceptional few who managed to learn love of country amidst the deleterious influence of their alien teachers, while the majority of the allumni and alumnae of our "foreigner-run" schools and colleges succumbed to the anti-Filipino teachings of these schools.

    Let these alumni and alumnae answer the indictment.  All We can say is that the religious, social and political life of these men and women is a clear proof that the Catholic foreigners who have charge of some of our schools are not anti-Filipino in their policies and in their teachings, as they are purported to be.

The Reasons

Let us now study the reasons advanced to justify the enactment of the proposed measures as they appear listed in our first paragraph.  We think that these reasons do not warrant the necessity of adopting such means to attain the objectives.

First, it has been said that natural-born Filipinos will adopt more dynamic pro-Filipino policies in our educational institutions as their heads.  On the other hand, "it is feared" that foreigners "may not care" about such policies.  (S. No. 38).

The policies to be followed by our schools, colleges and universities, as is the case with their curricula, are determined by the National Board of Education and the Department of Education.  If we want pro-Filipino policies, those are the government agencies that can shape such policies and make them effective.

Just because "it is feared" that some educators "may not care" about these policies, We do not think it is necessary to adopt such drastic measures as are now proposed.  The phrase "may not care" indicate that as yet there is no proven anti-Filipinism in "foreign-run" schools.  If there is sufficient ground for fear, would it not be better, after the competent government authorities have laid down the pro-Filipino policies to be followed by the schools, to investigate and punish these educators, Filipinos or foreigners, who neglect their duties in this regard?

In the second place, it alleged that natural-born Filipinos "will be impartial and truthful in teaching" social science subjects.   For alien teachers, "the temptation to slant their teaching in a manner more favorable to their fatherlands will be very great."  (S.N. 38).

In the teaching of any subject, either geometry, or biology or social science, what makes a teacher a good teacher, aside from his professional skill, is primarily his faithful and strict adherence to truth.  This quality does not depend upon the color of his skin nor upon other accidents of birth but upon the moral standards he has set unto himself in the performance of his duties as a teacher.  And it certainly would not be "impartial and truthful" to say that Filipinos have high moral standards and foreigners have low moral standards in this regard.

The test of objectivity and impartiality in any given lesson of any social science subject is factual evidence and right reasoning.  "Place of birth has nothing to do with it.  It would be highly unsound to adopt the criterion that in social sciences in the Philippines, if a Filipino says it, it is true and if a foreigner says it, it is false.

This is precisely the brand of nationalism against which We want to warn our faithful.  This is nothing but the old Nazi dogma of racism, the kind of nationalism that ignited the second World War.  We must realize that race and blood and the place where one was born have nothing to do with impartiality and truthfulness.  Truth and virtue have no country nor skin color.  If because of human frailty there is a "great temptation on the part of foreigners to slant their teaching in favor of their fatherlands", we Filipinos, not being angels, have the same human nature with the same human frailties and our temptation would be to exaggerate our national virtues and the achievements of our race.

It is further averred that natural-born Filipinos "could impart more effectively to our students" the social science subjects.  (H. No. 381).  But we must remember that effective teaching is not a product of one's nationality, but of one's training as a teacher.  While it is true that there are Filipino teachers who are professionally better than many alien teachers, it is also true that there are alien teachers who are professionally better than some Filipino teachers.  Efficiency in teaching depends upon professional training and proffessional growth.

We are not blind to the fact that when a teacher teaches, for example, the history of his own country, to the actual act of imparting knowledge to his pupils, there could be an added emotional glow of pride and love which can arouse in the hearts of the pupils a greater love for the Fatherland.  For this reason We favor in principle the idea that where it can be done, social sciences should be taught by Filipinos.  But We do not agree that a law is needed for this.  A mere directive from the Bureaus of Public and Private Schools will suffice.  At any rate, We believe that this fact cannot justify the condemnation of foreign teachers of social sciences as ineffective teachers, wanting in impartiality and truthfulness.

In the third place, it is said that foreigners "may teach communistic propaganda in our schools" and this filipinization-of-schools movement "will prevent this."  (S. No. 38).

That the measure cannot prevent communistic infiltration in our educational system hardly needs to be shown.  It is based on the assumption that non-Filipino school administrators and teachers, simply because they are non Filipino, are likely to be communists or communist sympathizers; whereas native-born Filipino school administrators and teachers, simply because they are native-born Filipinos, are not likely to be communists or communist sympathizers.  One merely has to bring this assumption into the open to see how absurd it is.  Communism follows no racial lines.  We all know who composed the Politburop in the Philippines and in what schools they were educated.

In this connection We recall with pride the words of the late President Magsaysay, delivered a few hours before his death in Cebu, when he lauded a University managed by foreign Catholic missionaries, as a bastion against communism in the Philippines.

In the fourth place, it is said that "it is very important and necessary to a nation's school system as chief agency for citizenship training that its schools and colleges should be controlled and directed by her citizens."  (H. No. 202).

Let us remember that the nation's school system is actually in the hands of Filipinos.  Our Department of Education and our Bureaus of Public and Private Schools are administered entirely by Filipinos.  The superintendents and  supervisors who periodically inspect the relatively few schools and colleges directed by foreigners are Filipinos and they have ample means to see that the nationalistic policies enunciated by our government are followed in these schools and that no anti-Filipino doctrines are taught in them.

Finally it is affirmed that "schools which are owned by aliens may, for example, teach or advocate doctrines which are inimical to our democratic way of life or against principles of our duly constituted government.  In order to prevent this unhappy situation", nationalization of heads of schools and of their Board of Trustees is proposed.  "The better cause of mankind needs guidance and govermental regimentation so that it may live the way people should live, unaffected by undesireable foreign influence."  "Time is now when we should have graduated from the idea that we cannot handle our educational institutions as effectively and fruitfully as others."  (H. No. 222).

In this contention, there is an obvious transition from the realm of mere possibility to the realm of accomplished fact, (from "may teach or advocate" to "this unhappy situation").  We think that a law of such far-reaching consequences cannot be based on a supposition "graduated" with no more ado into a situation.

As We said above, if there are reasons to believe that in school the "unhappy situation" exists and that there is an "undesirable foreign influence", that school should be duly investigated and the administrators duly penalized if found truly anti-Filipino.  But why should other schools be included in the measure when they have not committed the crime?

Our Stand

We want to go on record that We are not against this movement because We think that Filipinos "cannot handle our educational institutions as effectively and as fruitfully as others".  We are firmly convinced  that Filipinos can handle as fruitfully our educational institutions as the foreigners.  We are well aware of the fact that the majority of the colleges and universities of our country are operated by our countrymen and they are run most efficiently and effectively.  And We cannot admit that our Filipino Priests and Sisters will never be able to do what the other Filipino educators can do.

We sincerely believe that by the natural development of our religious Orders and Congregations, the day will surely come when our Catholic educational institutions will be in the hands of Filipinos.  But We cannot accept the idea that this process should be hastened by legislation.

As Catholic Bishops We would wish to point out that vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life may not be regarded in the same light as any other secular calling.  There is the supernatural element in every vocation to the priesthood, brotherhood or sisterhood which transcends all temporal considerations.  The grace of God is a necessary requirement in that vocation.  It cannot be calculated or regulated in accordance with natural or purely human standards.  So We cannot subscribe to any artificial acceleration in so sacred a matter whereby great harm could be done to souls.

Our religious Orders and Congregations have years  ago opened their doors to Filipino novices.  Their Filipino members are growing in number.  The fact that this growth has not been faster is to be lamented, but a vocation to priestly and religious life simply cannot be forced upon our young men and women.

But there is no reason to doubt that in the future our religious Orders and Congregations will have enough Filipino members to meet all the demands of our educational institutions.  This happened with the secular clergy in charge of parishes.  At the turn of the century they were few.  Now they administer the great majority of our parishes.  There are still foreign parish priests, to be sure, but they are mostly in those provinces and cities where Filipino priests are scarce or where the peculiar purposes of a Congregation are needed in a certain locality.

Besides, the Hierarchy, in its majority, is now composed of Filipinos.  In fact, only one, out of nine Archbishops, is a foreigner.  But his successor, already appointed, is a Filipino.  Of the Bishops, sixteen are Filipinos (one naturalized) and twelve are foreigners.  The foreigners administer those regions which are staffed by their own missionaries.

So the Catholic  Church in the Philippines, with the exceptions noted above, is now governed and administered by Filipinos.  Contrary to what has been said recently, religious Orders and Congregations are not the Church in the Philippines but only a part of the Church; a part which, God willing, following the course of our development, in due time will be composed too, in their majority of Filipino members.

The situation obtaining in this country where alien religious operated Catholic schools is by no means unique.  In the United States of America and in England, for example, there are schools which are operated and staffed exclusively by foreigners.

If nationalization of schools is imposed upon us by law, many of our schools will suffer.  In those places where there is still a scarcity of Filipino priests, our parochial schools are directed by foreign missionaries.  They are meeting financial difficulties in the maintenance of their schools.  If they are made to engage the services of Filipino lay directors, many of these schools will be forced to close for lack of funds.  It is also hard to persuade our Filipino teachers to teach in those remote, almost inaccessible places of our missions.

The Catholic Church believes that Catholic education of the youth is an essential part of her life.  To force her to close many of her schools by legislation is to do her a great harm.

We do not want to close this statement without paying our homage of gratitude to the missionaries, past and present, who have come  to our shores to bring to us the light of Christian faith and to help us live the life of that faith.  They spend the best years of their lives in the ardous task of helping us to be better Christians.  They go about that task in parishes and in schools silently, without fanfare, not seeking human applause, sometimes misunderstood, sometimes even persecuted.  But they endure the hardships of their work because they love God and for His sake they love the Filipinos entrusted to their care by God's Church.

They came to the Philippines not to enhance the prestige of their own country, not to promote trade relations to fill the coffers of their country's banks, not to seek personal glory and aggrandizement, but only to work for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.  Such truly dedicated men and women love us with genuine, Christian love.  May the Lord in His mercy, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, shower upon them His choicest blessings.

Manila, January 28, 1959.

For the Hierarchy of the Philippines:

(Sgd.)+JUAN C. SISON, D.D.
Catholic Welfare Organization

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