Backtracking towards a Transformative Rizal Curriculum, pp. 8 of 11

The Rizal curriculum as political text

Having analyzed its ability to bring about my transformation, I am convinced that Professor Dumol’s Rizal curriculum is a powerful form of critical education. In a society where an attitude of self-interest is the most deeply rooted obstacle to achieving justice, education that instils a sense of civic virtue, one individual at a time, is a powerful step towards a new social vision. How the curriculum functions as political text merits its own discussion.

According to Apple et al. (2009), one of the ways critical education targets injustice is to transform assumptions about what counts as “official” knowledge, for such knowledge forces the oppressed to adapt to a reality that retains the power of the oppressors (Freire, 2000). In accordance with this notion, Professor Dumol’s course challenges the official Philippine historical narrative taught in schools, which has encouraged superficial conceptualizations of Filipino nationhood and citizenship. At best, these conceptualizations do nothing to ameliorate existing relations of exploitation and domination in Philippine society; at worst, they aggravate and perpetuate injustice. By rectifying certain points in our national narrative, the Rizal course provides an alternative basis for the formation of new conceptualizations of Filipino nationhood and citizenship.

The dynamic between Philippine history education and societal injustice must first be explained further. Historians and sociologists have argued that our local communities are organized politically along patron-client lines, a remnant from our pre-Hispanic past (Dumol, 2004). This argument reveals the reality of Philippine political structure: a shell of a democratic national government (Dumol, 2004) imposed over a social structure that is highly hierarchical and essentially still segmented into families and tribalistic communities (David, 2018). In consequence of our social structure, sociologist Randy David (2013) writes that Filipinos have an “underdeveloped” concept of citizenship:

While we profess a strong attachment to our country, this is mainly emotional. It has not matured into a commitment to abide by the formal institutions of government. That is why our most basic loyalties and obligations are still reserved to members of our kin group and narrow circle of friends, patrons and dependents. (para. 3)

The patron-client dynamic fosters relations of exploitation and domination in Philippine society. The most glaring example is the mass poverty that compels ordinary people to view politicians as patrons who provide them with access to public services like healthcare, housing, and educational assistance (David, 2018). In their eyes, elections have become the opportunity to vote in personal protectors rather than public servants, allowing seemingly benevolent yet corrupt politicians to remain in power (David, 2018). Evidently, it is impossible to “erect a democracy on the foundations of feudalistic communities” (Dumol, 2004, p. 299).

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

Newsletter Subscription

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up-to-date with new journal issues!