Thursday, January 11, 2007

Humanizing the Curriculum


By Dr. Amalia Cullarin Rosales

Delivered at Letran College

February 17, 2006

Dean Villegas, fellow academicians, good morning!

Humanizing the academe through culture and the arts is one subject matter I love to talk about. It is because I have been in the academe for quite a number of years, and I have observed some kind of dehumanization in the very place where individuals are supposed to be exposed to humane environment, i.e., in the way some management people treat their subordinates, teachers treat their students, the kind of values imparted to the young people by, sad to say, some schools. Many schools too, do not give so much importance to the teaching of humanities and culture because of their bias to science and technology.

Thus, every time I am asked to talk about this particular subject matter, I see a little hope that somehow, the humanities will not really be overshadowed by science and technology. That somehow, in the future, in the not so distant future, most of our academic administrators will be able to realize that education, after all, is not only molding the individuals to be economically successful but more important still is, making each young person entering the portal of every school, a total person, one who is not only a thinking person but also a feeling one. That is the kind of person the world, in general, and the Philippines, our country, in particular, needs today.

In going about my presentation, I would like to present the following questions:

1. Why is there a need to humanize the academe?

2. How can culture and the arts be potent tools in humanizing the academe?

3. How does a humanized academe contribute to the well-being of an individual? Of the society?


There are four terms in this subject matter that I would like to define since they are very important terms which are found in the title of the topic you have given me to tackle this morning. These are humanize, culture, art, and academe.


· to develop the spirit of community among mankind;

· to cultivate/enrich humanist spirit; to civilize;

to make less harsh; to make more humane.


· comprises the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, intellectual and emotional

features that characterized a society or social group which includes not only the

arts and letters, but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of the human

beings, value systems, traditions and beliefs (UNESCO, 1982);

* ang pamana ng ating kagalingan at karangalan (NCCA, 1992);

* the total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values and knowledge which constitute

the shared bases of social action, the total range of activities and ideas of a

group of people with shared traditions, which are transmitted and re-enforced

by members of the group; the artistic and social pursuits, expressions and tastes

valued by a society or class, as in the arts, manners, dress, etc., and the

enlightenment or refinement resulting from these pursuits (Collins English

Dictionary, 1979).


· a creative expression of significant human experience;

· it is beauty, truth, immortality, order, harmony which enrich lives and encourage human beings to extend themselves beyond the limits of flesh and blood without which life would be a mean struggle for survival and the value of survival itself would be unclear. (Understanding Art, 1994).

Academe –

* an institutional group established for the training of artists. Most academies date from the Renaissance and after. They were particularly powerful state-run institutions in the 17th and 18th centuries. In general academies replaced the guild as the venue where students learned the craft of art and were also provided with a complete education including art theory and artistic rules.


Universities and learning institutions are tasked to mold the students into morally upright individuals. Thus, all academic programs must be geared towards the development of a total individual – a person who has excellent technical know-how and a perfectly delightful character. But has the academe succeeded in this task?

Let us take a look at the world today.

· Wars and violence, injustice, inequalities and double standards haunt the lives of millions of people all over the world.

· In Palestine, children, women, and the elderly are being massacred by the U.S.-backed Israeli Zionists.

· Communal conflict, ethnic conflict and diverse forms of violent conflict which challenge the fundamental values of humanity have become a common occurrence in many countries, such as Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Bosnia, Tajikistan, Chechnya, Kosovo, Indonesia and the southern Philippines.

· Today, Sri Lanka is trying to recover from a twenty-year old violent conflict which brought about major military battles, killings of civilians, severe human rights abuses and destruction of economic infrastructure with a total of approximately one million persons uprooted and displaced internally and with another half million leaving the country.

· Terrorist attacks have become a dreaded action which haunt many countries. Global war against terrorism, therefore, has been waged. And in the name of this war, the United States of America invaded Afghanistan in November 2001 and one-and-a-half later, it invaded Iraq.

· Since the 1980s, market-driven globalization destabilized societies and states. It has created “winners and losers with the big and powerful nations being winners and captors, while the small and the weak, losers and captives (Embong, 2004). This has widened the inequality between rich and poor nations, within nations between the rich and the poor, and the poor and vulnerable groups.

Embong, in his paper delivered before the ASAIHL International Conference stated:

If we look around us, we also have situations in various countries in which there is no war, but neither is there real peace or harmony. Prejudice, mistrust, misunderstanding, ignorance, ancient hatred as well as tension exist between people, often of different ethnic groups, religious groups, classes, tribes, regions, gender, and so on. Religious bigotry, ethnic and national chauvinism, injustices of various sorts, arrogance of power and status and so on have existed since ancient times and are still pervasive today in many societies.

In the Philippines, various economic, social and political problems beset the country. More and more Filipinos cannot cope up with the continuous increase of prices of basic commodities. Foreign debts servicing gets the biggest chunk of the national budget. Oil prices in the world rises to a point where the Philippine Deregulation Law proved to be inutile. Trade markets are going down the drain. More investors, foreign and local, are pulling their investments out for fear of unfavorable returns. Government agencies tasked to address economic problems proved to be inefficient and incompetent. Vital institutions like the PNP, AFP and the COMELEC are beset with controversies of corruption and partisan politicking. Election frauds are common occurrences. Allegations of graft and corruption, from the lowest unit of local government to the highest office of the land have become a daily headlines of newspapers and favorite topics of radio commentators and newspaper columnists. Sexual harassments in work places and learning institutions abound.

Flash floods occur due to denuded forests. Pollution of all sorts endanger the lives of people. Waste products are thrown anywhere. The environment is totally neglected.

With this picture of our world and society today, the need for humanizing the academe has become an important and crucial task which every academic administrator should look into. As the traditional symbol of championing the highest of human virtues and ideals, as a citadel of truth, an epitome of the courage of conviction as well as an institution that nurtures and promotes the culture of peace, of what is beautiful, good and true, pluralist tolerance and acceptance, the academe should not only favor science and technology, but the social science and the humanities must have to be strengthened if it is to successfully play its role in the reconstruction of a more humane society. And to quote Dr. Daisaku Ikeda of Soka Gakkai International, a victory of the spirit would also be a triumph of the logic of humanity over the logic of capital. In this way, injustice, inequality, and greed, fragmentation and dehumanization of life which engulf the minds of people will be lessened since what will triumph will be the heart that truly feels and a soul that truly cares.


Archibald Macleish said: Without the arts, how can the University teach the truth? For indeed, if the University is weak on the humanities, what kind of graduates will it produce? If its traditional function of transmitting cultural heritage is neglected, how can its students learn to love their country, their people? If the academe has failed to educate the heart, how can we have graduates who are socially concerned?

In the course of my preparation of this paper, I interviewed a literature professor and this is what she said:

In the four decades of my stay in the academe, I have personally witnessed the birth, growth and lately, the impending demise of culture and the arts in what was once-upon-a-time the center of activities geared towards the development of the human person–the university. Academics lament the almost nil scholarship their young wards display. The library used to be the favorite haunt of young scholars before the copying machine invaded the academe and its environs. Students consulted Socrates, Kant, Descartes for the whys and the wherefores of life. They listened to Bach, Beethoven, Wagner, and Verdi, as they learned the universal language that is music. Isadora Duncan and Margot Fonteyn pirouetted in their dreams.

But these artists are now buried in oblivion and have been replaced by pretenders to their thrones whose names will never make it to the classical list.

Cellphones, internets, chat rooms have usurped the once sacred grounds of the library. Young people in their text messages speak and write in cryptic codes that even the Rosetta stone will decipher to no avail.

The academe like the rest of the world is marching towards progress. In so doing it has to pay the price of moving forward - to give up being humanized and face the consequences of being automatized.

One cannot have his cake and eat it too. We, academics are asked to render an important decision: What would we rather have – Prospero or Harry Potter? The Habanera of Carmen or the “Bulaklak” of the Viva Hot Babes? Quasimodo or Kampanerang Kuba?

Your choice can make or unmake the humanizing process of the young whose minds, hearts and souls are ours to nourish or destroy. (Cañares, 2005).

As an academician, I chose to nourish the minds, the hearts and the souls of my young wards. Therefore, I give importance to culture and the arts in the practice of my profession for I believe in its power to make a difference in the life of a person. They are potent tools for the search for truth, beauty and good.

Art is a powerful tool in replicating reality in the finest detail, tricking the eyes into perceiving the truth in imitation. The ancient Greeks, the Renaissance artist, the contemporary photo-realist painter, pursued truth and attempted to reveal it. Artists have also reached outward to describe truth about humanity and have reached inward to describe truth about themselves. Sometimes, their pursuit has led them to beauty, at other times, to shame and outrage. But nevertheless, they pursued truth. The pursuit of truth is, therefore, an important role which the academe must have to play.

Our lives are made more beautiful by art. Our daily experiences have been enhanced by it. Everyone has been touched by it. When we want to brighten our homes, we turn to art. We need it in enhancing our interior, to beautify our cities, and adorn our places of worship.

Art has the power to make us think intensely and feel deeply. When we confront a work of art, we are, in a way affected by it. When we look at a landscape painting, we perhaps remember a place we spent a vacation past;, a beautiful family photograph evokes family ties and traditions; or a self-portrait that projects a suffering countenance, is almost truly impossible not to affect us. For example, if one is to look at the self-portrait of Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter, one can feel the loneliness and suffering of this woman. Injured at 18 when the bus on which she was riding was slammed by a streetcar, she was left with many serious wounds and chronic pain. Aside from her physical pain, she suffered an emotional pain brought about by the painter Diego Rivera, whom she married. Hers was a life that was full of anguish. In her portraits, she presents herself alone, with her face always painted with extreme realism and set within a compressed space requiring the viewer to confront the true Frida. When asked why she painted herself so often, her reply was because she was always alone. She painted her self-portrait in order to survive, to endure, to conquer death.

Art is a tool to protest injustice and raise social consciousness. Artists like other people have tried to persuade others to join themselves in their causes. The 19th century Spanish painter Goya is an example of an artist who used his art to satirize and condemn the horrors of war. The French painter Eugene Delacroix painted the Liberty Leading the People to keep the spirit of the French Revolution alive in 1830. In this painting, people of all classes united in rising up against injustice.

Since we live in an era of violence and terrorism, art has a major role to play. It is an antidote to violence; through it, frustrations can be avoided; through it, we can feel the soul of the people; through it, we can become a community.

Prof. Felipe M. De Leon Jr. In his paper, Arts as Unifiers of a Nation (2004) states that a serious impediment to the fullest development of Filipino artistic creativity is the persistence of a Western concept of art that still prevails in our academic institutions and in the minds of the so-called “educated class” that art is a separate human activity or the idea of art for art’s sake. This idea, continued Prof. De Leon reduces art to purely formal relations. According to him, a true work of art is always a delight to behold, with a vital charm that cannot be explained, with a life-enhancing qualities whose source lies deep in the mysteries of creative intuition and the human spirit.

The art plays a central importance in the process of human and cultural development. It is more than entertainment. It gives us fuller access to who we are, to our soul and spirit, thereby allowing us the possibility to be more human. Theater and drama for example, aims towards catharsis, which can transform our souls so that we become more compassionate and more committed to creating a better world (Perlas, 2003.).

Individuals who are exposed to the arts acquire the values of a good life. They play important role in the curriculum by humanizing and affirming the inter-connectedness of all forms of knowing. They are important means to improve general education.

Man’s condition is mirrored through art. Learning is deepened through it. The eyes and the mind, therefore, must be trained how to read it. Because the human spirit is central to the arts, man can confront reality in an artistic piece which was captured by another human being who lived in a particular space and time.

Culture on the other hand is an effective instrument of fostering national and international understanding. It is the best bridge between people and is the language of the soul, the heart and reason. It is the power which makes a man capable of appreciating the life around him and the power of making that life worth appreciating. Thus, a humanized academe will bring the richness of our culture to the world through its students, its faculty members, its administrators.

Culture and the arts can contribute in creating conditions that ensure political and social stability, foster social cohesiveness, mutual trust and adherence to social order. National Artist Virgilio Almario believes that culture and art serve as creative forces for renewal and change. Culture shapes economic and political discourse and practices and explores the concept of cultural power and how it shapes business and government practices (Perlas, 2003).

Since a culture of peace is of paramount importance and is the concern of the world, the academe must be able to give strong emphasis on it. How can this be effected? The answer is through culture and the arts. It is through culture and the arts that awareness of cultural diversity, development of respect for others, open-mindedness and concern for the human race will be developed not only among the teachers but also among the administrators and the students.


Let me share with you this story of five graduates from the same University who were already practicing different professions, cited by Dr. Garcia in her paper Humanizing Education through Literature. The five were a criminal lawyer, a surgeon, a judge, a businessman, and a writer.

The brilliant criminal lawyer said that his ambition is to defend a client successfully, whether he be innocent or guilty; the surgeon said that his ambition is to save every patient from death or at least from suffering; the judge said that all that he hoped for is to arrive at a correct verdict in every case; the businessman said that if he could make an honest million, he would be happy. The writer who was silently listening when asked what his ambition was, replied quickly: To become a complete human being.

To a great number of people, such a reply will be received with surprise and skepticism. But what is surprising about such an answer?

Dr. Carolina U. Garcia in the same article wrote that to be human is to master an art, the art of living. She further wrote that of all the art, it is the most demanding, the most challenging but the most rewarding; that to be human is to develop our potential, to create for ourselves, and our families, our neighbors, our nation, an atmosphere of sweetness and light, the sweetness of beauty, the light of truth!

How do we achieve this goal of developing our potentials not only for ourselves but for others? The answer is to begin with ourselves, with our education. According to Garcia, learning gleaned from books, from school, from teachers and fellowmen must have to be supplemented; that we have to exert efforts to raise ourselves above our environment in order to scale the heights of self-progress and advancement.

The acquisition of knowledge and wisdom for ourselves and to bask in the radiance of truth and beauty, however, are not enough to make one human, wrote Garcia further. To be human is to seek what is beautiful, what is good, what is true. It is the ability to illumine and sweeten the lives of others. To develop one’s humanity, one must be aflamed with the desire to spread the beauty and wisdom that he has garnered for himself. And how is this done? Of course, through the education that one gets from the schools, from the teachers, from experiences and from life itself.

Justice C. Vitug in a commencement address entitled The Role of Law is the Way of Peace (2004) advised the law graduates to strive not just to be lawyers but to become great lawyers. He said that to become a good lawyer, one has to be a good person with strength and integrity of character; practices prudence and self-denial and most importantly, moral courage, which will be his torch to light his way amidst darkness. Quoting Dr. Rizal, he said that the Filipino must think national and go beyond self. He added that what is needed are virtues such as selflessness, not avarice; frightfulness, not deceit; dignity, not pride; concern, not indifference; and most of all, a strong regard and love for country and people.

A humanized individual is one who is able to see beyond oneself. This is what the humanities seeks – the broadening of man’s vision and his behavior. The humanities although it prepares man to learn and enjoy the benefits of arts and the aesthetics, of fine and gracious living, also aims to develop an individual who can empathized with his fellowmen.

A humanized academe turns out graduates who yearn for beauty, whose idealism is fully nurtured, whose love for mankind has been strongly stimulated through the emphasis on the arts as opposed to activities geared towards the useful, the practical, the utilitarian. (Janaro and Altshuler, 1984).

An individual who is a product of a humanized academe is an individual who walks with God in his daily life; one who is endowed with the gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These gifts will help create a God-loving community where every one is secured, resources are shared by all, and everyone is empowered to seek to develop himself to be able to live productive lives. (Acuna, 1998).

A humanized academe provide enough time for the teachers to do something creative, trusting that such time will be used productively for them to continually grow, thus, empowering them to lead the students in becoming creative individuals.

A humanized academe produces individuals who are not only technically competent but also morally and ethically excellent; individuals who are not only prepared with the knowledge and skills to practice their professions with proficiency but also individuals who are possessed with moral and ethical frame of mind. (Pobre, 1998). Hence, a civil engineer who graduated with all the honors one can think of can be considered a total individual only if the structure he will build is made not of sub-standard construction materials. Likewise, one who tops the board examination for accountancy can only prove that he is an excellent thinker if he practices his profession with all integrity and honesty. Thus, a good university does not only produce topnotchers in board examinations but cultivate among its students the value of virtues.

As a wellspring of intellectuals, a humanized academe does not only turn out professionals who are capable of dissecting concepts like peace, tolerance, international understanding but it also have within its folds educators who can internalize values, appreciate the foregoing concepts and who can find ways to breathe life into them. (Romero, 2004).

A humanized academe produces individuals who have lively and alert minds, perceptive outlooks, lively imaginations to recognize the novelty, the color and the excitement of ordinary living. These characteristics are developed in the persons through their exposure to culture and the arts.

A humanized academe is capable of stimulating the intellect; it could appeal to the emotions; and it could energize the moral fiber in man. Thus, literary pieces which arouse and sustain delight in the heart and mind would be very powerful media in attaining this goal. Literature as a humanizing tool produces an enriched and refined feeling; it develops in man the tendency to feel the sentiments proper to man as an emotional but at the same time as an intelligent moral being; it makes man aware of feelings that elevate and purify the emotions; it heightened and enriched his personality through the sublimation of his natural feelings; his sympathies with truth and beauty are enlarged and extended with the corresponding growth of tolerance, kindness, goodwill and geniality; he feels in himself the stirring of emotion which are rightly human such as the love for the good, the delicate, the beautiful, the noble; he feels an awareness of and an admiration for the elements of life that enhance his stature as a human being. (Garcia, 1986).

A humanized individual does not exaggerate or distort reality. He is truthful and rational.


The inability of the academe to humanize will, therefore, redound to graduating students who are wanting in disciplined minds, insensitive to the problems and needs of society and unconcerned with the lives and welfare of their fellowmen. If the academe is dehumanized, the result will be a caravan of college and university graduates whose education is bereft of the indispensable ingredients of a truly refined education, wanting in the endowment of a disciplined mind, a rational mind and a concerned mind - human beings who are intelligent but unfeeling, heartless and soulless whose only desire is to work for money.

In closing, let me quote Pope John Paul II, an artist himself whose entire life has been spent working for the good of humanity:

Society needs artists, just it needs scientists, technicians, workers, professional people, witnesses of the faith, teachers, fathers, and mothers, who ensure the growth of the person and the development of the community by means of that supreme art form which is the “art of education”.

Within the vast cultural panorama of each nation, artists have their unique place. Obedient to their inspiration in creating works, both worthwhile and beautiful, they not only enrich the cultural heritage of each nation and of humanity, but they also render an exceptional social service in favor of the common good.

When we go back to our respective universities, therefore, let us be instruments in turning the academe into a humanized abode for our students. In this way, we can help produce individuals who feel and who care, thereby creating a peaceful society where everyone will live in harmony with each other.


Acuña, Jasmin E. "Issues Related to Teacher Empowerment." FUSION os 1 (1998): 24-31.

Cañares, Milagros. Written Interview. 16 September 2005.

De Leon, Felipe M. "The Arts as Unifiers of a Nation." Philippine Association of Teachers of Culture and the Arts. Annual Convention. Aloha Hotel, Manila. 29 Apr. 2004.

Embong, Abdul R. Proceedings of the International General Conference on the "Role of Universities in the Quest for Peace" 25 Nov. 2004, Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning. Manila: ASAIHL, 2005.

Garcia, Carolina U. "Humanizing Education Through Literature." UNITAS 4th ser. 59 (1986): 530-552.

Ikeda, Daisaku. In Pursuit of Peace: A Profile of Daisaku Ikeda. 10th ed. Tokyo: Soka Gakkai, 2001.

Janaro, Richard P., and Thelma Altshuler. The Art of Being Human. New York: Harper and Row, 1984.

Morris, Audrey S., comp. One Thousand Inspirational Things. Chicago: People's Book Club, 1948.

Perlas, Nicanor. “Arts and Governance As Situated in the Sustainable Development Framework” 2002.

Pobre, Hermogenes P. "Continuing Education of Professionals." FUSION 1.1 (1998): 113-119.

Rathus, Lois F. Understanding Art. 4th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1994.

Romero, Rene C. Proceedings of the International General Conference on the "Role of Universities in the Quest for Peace" 26 Nov. 2004, Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning. Manila: ASAIHL, 2005.

Moral Leadership and the Economic-Political Realities

Moral Leadership and the

Economic-Political Realities

of Philippine Development:

How to Move Forward

Dr. Amalia Cullarin Rosales[1]


Sir Jose Lina, Supreme Commander, Order of the Knights of Rizal, former Supreme Commander of the OKR and Member of the Council of Elders, Sir Carmelo Gempesaw, Sir Emmanuel Cabusao, Co-Chair of the Rizal Youth Leadership Institute, Sir Esguerra, students, faculty members, other members of the OKR, NRYL facilitators and members of the Secretariat, good evening.

The topic assigned to me is timely but very delicate. It is also broad. To talk of moral leadership at this time in our history as a country is difficult. If I will be asked if we have moral leadership today, the best thing that I can do perhaps, if I do not like to lie is to just look at the one asking the question and give him a mysterious ala-Mona Lisa smile.

But you have chosen me to talk on this topic. For what reason, I do not know. I am puzzled. For sure, the NRYLI Committee members are aware that I am not an economist. I am not also a political science major. As my bio-data reads, I am a major in History BSE graduate and a public administration doctorate degree holder. And so, the members of the Committee have done me an injustice. I have to do an extensive research on the topic and it took so much of my time as a public administrator. Did I cheat the government? I don’t think so. The product of my research is for you, my dear young people, and you are this country’s hope.

And so, let me start by presenting to you, the reflections of one of my students in the Rizal subject when I asked them to give the socio-economic-political situation of the Philippines. Let me read to you what Miss Catherine Javier, a BS Chemistry IV-1 student thinks about our present economic and political situation. She wrote:

Bilang isang mag-aaral ng kolehiyo, damang-dama ko ang kagipitang nararanasan ng ating bansa. Mula sa pang-araw-araw na pahayagan, nakalulunos na basahin at malaman ang katotohanan na ang Pilipinas ay bagsak. Sa pagpasok sa paaralan, sasalubong sa iyo ang kapwa mo mag-aaral na sumisigaw at may hawak na mga karatula na nagsassad ng pagkadismaya sa kalagayan ng bansa at sa pamamahala ng mga namumuno. Pag-uwi mo, pagsakay sa jeep, wala kang ibang maririnig kundi ang usapin tungkol sa nakaaawang kalagayan ng Pilipinas. Hay...pag-uwi ko sa bahay, akala ko ay makapagpapahinga na ako tungkol sa isyu ng ekonomiya at pulitika. Hindi pala. Ang tatay ko, pagbukas ng telebisyon, balita pa rin sa kaguluhang nagyayari sa bayan.

Nakaiinis! Paulit-ulit. Nakakairita! Pero ito ang katotohanan na pilit ko mang ipagwalang bahala ay hindi puwede dahil ako ay isang mamamayan sa Pilipinas. Apektado ako sa anumang kaganapan. Paglubog man, o pag-angat nito. Apektado ako sa maling pamamahala ng mga opisyales ng gobyeno. Apektado ako sa maling sistemang kanilang pinaiiral. Apektado ako sa milyun-milyong pisong naibubulsa at nawawala sa kaban ng bayan. Apektado ako sa imoralidad na umiiral sa pamahalaan. Apektado ako sa magiging tingin ng ibang basa sa aking bansang sinilangan.

Catherine Javier is just one of the millions of youth who are affected by the present realities in our society. She is irritated by the economic as well as political situation we are in at present. When she speaks of the imoralidad na nangyayari sa pamahalaan, how do we feel? How do we react to this? What can we do as adults? What can you do as Rizal’s fair hope of the Fatherland?

Now, let us take a look at the economic and political realities of our country today.


The Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development presented the following observations on the Philippine economy:

· has been the region’s under performer for far too long

· has become more vulnerable in recent years

· is headed for tough challenges given current trends and forces

· has inherent potentials waiting to be unleashed

Looking at the past forty five years, the Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development made comparison of the economic growth of the Philippines with those of other East Asian countries, i.e.:

· from 1960 to 2000, RP’s GNP grew 11 times but Malaysia grew 39 times, Thailand’s 48 times and Hong Kong’s 172 times;

· output per worker grew 1% annually since 1960, versus 4.4% average for East Asia and 1.4% for all developing countries of the world;

· output per worker grew 50% since 1960, but the rest of Asia grew 450%, which is 9 times faster

· the upper 50% of families took 82.4% of total income in 1961, which remains the same until today

· the gap between the rich and the poor widened

· forest cover has dramatically declined; coastal areas deteriorated, rivers and lakes polluted

· quality of education for the masses has continued to deteriorate

· health and nutrition of children from poor families have been worsening

The economic situation of the Philippines continues to be very serious. The latest survey conducted for the period August 26, 2005 to September 5, 2005 by the Social Weather Station revealed that hunger is rising to 15.5% or an estimated 2.6 million families going hungry, i.e., they experienced hunger without anything to eat at least once, in the past three months which is the second highest national proportion since 1998. The record high was 16.1% in March 2001.

Luzon has the highest record of families going hungry (18%); NCR, 16.7%; Visayas, 13.3%; and Mindanao 12.0%.

Severe hunger is experienced in Metro Manila. Mass starvation and severe malnutrition are emerging phenomena in several areas of the country.

IBON Foundation, Inc. reveals the following:

· Joblessness is increasing; incomes are shrinking; cost of living becoming higher; many look for jobs outside the country; one million Filipinos are expected to leave this year with thousands of our best teachers getting recruited to the US and elsewhere and 6,000 medical doctors now studying nursing in preparation for migration;

· Workers, peasants, odd-jobbers and low paid public and private employees are worse off now (2005) than four-and-a-half years ago;

· Unemployment has been rising. Average annual unemployment rate rose from 11.1% in 2001 to 11.8% in 2004 to 12.7% in April 2005. Unemployment figure is at 4.8 million ; Underemployed is at 8.4 million; It increased to 26.1% in April 2005 from 18.5% last year, which is the highest underemployment rate in two decades;

· Ranks of middle class are thinning and are threatened with shrinking incomes and inflation eating into their fixed salaries as evidenced by dramatic drop in enrollment in private schools and moving to public schools and dramatic drop in enrollment in medical schools with students favoring nursing course;

· Businessmen groan under the impact of globalization and foreign competition;

· Prices of basic commodities, petroleum products, water and power services have been inexorably rising in the last three-and-a-half years;

· Inflation rate has risen to over 8% in the first half of 2005 from a whole year average of 6% in 2004;

· Real spending on social services has been drastically falling with education share falling from 16.6% to 14.9%; health share from 1.5% to 1.4% and housing share from 0.3% to 0.2%;

· Public sector debt is at Php5.3 trillion

· Foreign debt has tripled over the past eight years to $US722B.

· Of the 2006 Php1.03 Trillion budget, 60% goes to debt service and principal payments. Only 40% remains with the government to work on its development programs. It shows that Php 931 Million goes to daily interest payments, Php1.045 million daily principal payments which is equivalent to Php1.97 Billion daily debt service which could reach the P2B mark, enough to spend for the following:

· 2,500 classrooms at Php400,000.00 each

· 1,333,333 armchairs at Php750.00 each

· 20 million textbooks at Php500.00 each

· 666 libraries at Php1.5 million each

· 33,333 computers at Php30,000.00 each

· Can feed 5 million school children with vitamin enriched noodles at Php200.0 per student per year

· Half billion pesos can build an overpass to decongest the worsening traffic in Manila

This is the picture of our economy today. And borrowing the description of another student in my Rizal class: ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas ay parang lobong may lamang maraming hangin...tama, lobong may hangin, pero may maraming butas! Mabilis ang pagbulusok tungo sa lalo pang kahirapan.

Need I say more?


The October 28, 2005 issue of THE PHILIPPINE STAR carries this headline: Luisita Slay: Palace tags NPA, left blames military. The other minor news include the following:

· Party-list groups funding anti-gov’t rallies?;

· Don’t blame media for bad news;

· One million signatures for R.I.Ps (Resign Immediately Peke);

· NPC won’t back Pichay in Speakership Bid;

· United Opposition rejects unity gov’t;

· DOJ chief to ‘people court’ convenors: File your case with CPP ‘kangaroo court’;

· Ex-DA usec not a fugitive, says lawyer; and

· Palace neighborhood declared a protected area.

If we analyze the titles of this headline and minor stories, they all point out to one direction – the volatile political situation of our country today brought about by disunity and lack of trust to our leaders.

Again, I will ask the perennial question, Why?

Because we have a weak and corrupt political system as evidenced by:

· a highly politicized COMELEC and other agencies of the government. PGMA handpicked her allies to head the COMELEC. She used the staff and resources of civilian agencies of the government for her campaign such as the PHILHEALT which issued millions of free health cards, the Department of Agriculture which released millions of pesos in fertilizer subsidies to win the support of local officials, the National Food Authority which gave out free rice as part of the efforts to win votes for PGMA, the Department of Public Works and Highways which implemented the road repair programs that oiled the administration’s patronage machine, and PAGCOR which released millions to fund various doleout projects;

· an insecure President who exerts every effort to win the allegiance of the military and the police by buying their loyalty through promotions, perks and special access to her (Shiela Coronel, The Unmaking of a President, I Report);

· corrupt politicians taking cuts from government contracts as well as relatives of top government officials dipping their fingers in the public coffers. In a survey conducted by IBON Foundation, Inc. last September 2005, 82.1% of 1,366 respondents described the corruption in the PGMA government as severe with only 0.51 % responding that there was no corruption. Transparency International’s latest corruption perception poll ranked the Philippines 117th out of 159 countries surveyed, giving it a score of 2.5 in a scale of 1-10 in which 10 is the cleanest;

· highly centralized, inefficient and ineffective government;

· election fraud as part of the Filipino life;

Just before this semester ended, I asked a simple question to my five classes in history and Rizal subjects composed of two hundred students, paano ninyo ilalarawan ang ating kalagayang pampulitka ngayon?

Most of the answers given are the following:

· magulo

· bastusan

· bangayan ng bangayan

· watak-watak

· mababang moralidad ng mga lider pulitiko

· bulok ang sistema ng pamahalaan

Why are the foregoing happening? Why do our youth entertain a very negative picture of our political situation? Let me give these simple answers:

· Philippine politics is based on opportunism and capitulationism. It is not based on principle;

· Philippine politics is dirty. It is corrupted;

· Philippine politics is not only a national past time but the biggest and the most popular industry in the country. It is an industry that impoverishes the Filipino, denying him of vital resources;

· the Philippines has a weak state which cannot strategically respond to pressing development challenges;

· enforcement of law is weak;

· political parties are weak;

· leadership decisions are compromised by overriding concern for political survival (Cielito Habito, Challenges for the Successor Generation of Filipino Leaders, 2005)

· civil service is undermined by lack of funds and corruption;

· the absence of moral leadership

Looking closely at these nine reasons why our society is in this present mess, then we would say that because these constitute the social cancer and the reign of greed that Rizal mentioned in his novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. And to quote Rev. Agustin Bello, S.J. of the Ateneo de Zamboanga, from the paper he read more than forty years ago,

... the social cancer, the reign of greed that Rizal condemned so severely are still with us, not in the form of haughty gobernadorcillos, not in the form of wicked friars… but in the form of retainers sitting idly in plushy law offices raking in money not thru practice in court but thru the glamour of a name. The social cancer is still with us in the form of Filipinos devoid of conscience subscribing to a double standard of morality. The reign of greed is still with us in the form of soldiers and policemen mulcting people on the highways, of firemen extorting money from fire victims, from fixers of ten-percenters and influence peddlers. The social cancer is still with us in the form of an itch for the last peso, for the irresponsible pleasure, for the short-cut to power; the reign of greed is still with us in the form of ‘filter mentality’, namely, have the fun, have the pleasure, have the profit, but avoid the responsibilities by pushing someone else out of the way, and become the guy who has got everything.

That was more than forty years ago. And yet, those observations of Rev. Bello are still very much true today. They are still in our midst.


Morality is a crisis that besets the government and society in general. This is the real crisis that lies at the root of graft and corruption. Thus, an urgent need for a moral renewal. Former Senator Francisco S. Tatad on January 22, 1996 made a privilege speech sounding a call for a moral revolution. He said: Everybody believes that the law is an ass, so everybody breaks the law and nobody minds it. This crisis of morality will not be solved by solemn pronouncements, empty exposes, or congressional inquiries but by a return to morality, to the sense of right or wrong, along with the sense of guilt. Today, almost a decade after Senator Tatad made that call, the country is beset with the crisis of moral leadership – a crisis which has brought chaos to our society, and divisiveness among our people.

Leaders are models. They model the way through personal example. As Mahatma Gandhi said, we must be the change we wish to see the world. Thus, leaders must be clear about their guiding principles and values and act in accordance with them. A wise man once said that reputation is what one does in public, character is what one does in private when no one is looking. This wisdom of that wise man and the core of integrity are best illustrated by the movie City Slickers when the lead character who is married was urged by his friends to have a one-night stand during an out-of-town trip which they were all going to have and he refused.. When he was told by his friends that no one would know, he replied that someone would know. He said, I will know.

This is integrity at its highest.

Albert Schweitzer, the gifted theologian and musician turned great humanitarian presented his three principles of bringing up children. These principles are: One, you teach by example, two, by example, and three, by example. Thus, the most effective way of teaching is by example. Our leaders must not only talk about integrity, they must be true to their words; they must model the way.

A leader to be able to practice moral leadership must be able to establish a set of ethical standards; he should clarify his own principles and values, which is not an easy work. But he must! This personal searching is very essential in becoming a moral leader. He must have to wrestle with his soul like what other great leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and our very own Dr. Jose Rizal.

Dr. Anna Miren G. Intal, Vice President for the Loyola Schools of the Ateneo de Manila University, in her paper Leadership Effectiveness: Contemporary Perspectives and a Model for Philippine Organizations cited three important qualities of a leader, i.e., integrity, servant hood and leadership by example. She wrote:

The leader of an organization cannot be truly effective if he or she is perceived as hindi mabuti ang pagkatao. Followers can only be inspired if the leader is someone they can look up to as a model of the kind of person who exemplifies the ideals of leadership: a person with integrity, whose motivation in leading is service and not personal aggrandizement, and who leads by example. People will follow and even sacrifice for leaders whom they perceive as authentic or mabuti ang pagkatao. While they may followa superior who is flawed, the behavior is more the consequence of a coercive power wielded by the leader or the instrumental gains they would obtain by so doing rather than an inspired following of an admired person. (Intal,2001)

What kind of leadership do we have in the country today? Does moral leadership exist?

I am not going to make my personal judgment of the kind of leadership we have in our country today. I believe you are intelligent enough to make your own judgment. However, let me point out the following concerning moral leadership:

Moral leadership enhances ability to attract, motivate and retain human capital which includes good people, commitment, and job satisfaction. It contributes to building a better business environment through community involvement.

Moral leaders possess the following habits:

· passion to do right

· morally proactive;

· consider all stakeholders;

· have strong ethical character

· have an obsession with fairness;

· undertake principled decision-making;

· integrate ethics wisdom with management wisdom

· Moral leaders observe and practices the following ethical principles:



respect and dignity



service and humility

· Moral leadership is developing the value of putting the welfare of others above one’s personal vulnerability to enrich. Moral leadership challenges us to resist the vulnerability of taking personal advantage, restraining the truth and losing the right values. Morally upright leaders transcend political allegiance toward working for national development.


I have presented to you the economic and political realities in our country today. Further, I have given you some ideas on what moral leadership should be. Given our economic and political scenario, do we have a chance of moving forward? How do we start? Where must we start? How strong-willed are we to move forward?

To the question if we have the chance to move forward, my response is YES! Why? Because the Filipino people is GREAT! We have weaknesses, but definitely, our strengths are more than our weaknesses. We are a sturdy race. Political turmoil, economic depression, natural disasters, name it, and the Philippines had experienced it and still, we have not been beaten. We are as pliant as the bamboo and as sturdy as the molave when it comes to our strength of character. This strength of character evoked the following glowing praises from former US Ambassador to the Philippines, Nicholas Platt:

In my four years of stay in the Philippines, I have proven that the character of the Filipinos cannot be weakened by any natural disaster like earthquake, typhoon or volcanic eruption or coup d ‘etat. They can easily adopt and are very flexible.

The story of Mario Jalla who was trapped for several days in the ruins of Hotel Nevada in Baguio City during the 1990 earthquake which hit the country is an example of how strong the Filipino character is. Jalla was found almost lifeless. However, he survived. One of his legs was amputated. After recuperating, he returned to his work and started to live a normal life. Another example is Ernesto “Jay Ar” Jasmin of Bula, Sorsogon whose guts and optimism are remarkable. When Jay Ar was a first year high school student, he lost his arms up to his shoulders due to an accident caused by a crazy truck driver. The loss of his two arms did not prevent him from continuing his studies. He operated a computer through his toes, thus, he was able to finish high school and enrolled in college. If we have Filipinos like them, it would not be impossible for us to move forward.

For this alone, we can and we must recover from our depressing economic and political situation. Fernando Zobel Ayala in his paper Education for Leadership and National Development delivered before the APCAS Conference in 2001 presented the results of the World Competitiveness Report which cited the sources of competitive strengths of the Philippines, as follows:

· availability of skilled labor -1st of 49 countries surveyed

· availability of senior managers - 3rd

· availability of qualified IT employees - 4th

· average working hours/year - 6th

· flexibility and adaptability- 6th of labor force

We have been weakened by the economic and political crises we re undergoing at present. But definitely, we are not beaten. We have all the chances to rise, given our strengths and positive traits as a people. We only have to accentuate our positive traits and turn our weaknesses into strengths. How do we do it?

Let me present to you some of the ways to do it:

We have our positive traits and strengths like we are talented, creative, innovative, industrious, patient, religious, caring, hospitable, helpful, understanding, respectful and so many other traits that will be to our advantage. Therefore, given these traits, let us appreciate and accentuate them in all areas of our life. In doing this, let us be guided by what Prof. Felipe De Leon wrote in his monograph entitled Cultural Awareness: Keystone to National Development:

We must foster images that depict our strengths.

We have to stop wallowing in negativity and banking on borrowed assets.

All cultures are equally gifted in one way or another.

We have to discover our own gifts and build the nation upon them.

We cannot erect anything on the shifting sands of weaknesses and limitations.

We are a highly spiritual people. This is one of our strengths which we can use to create a peaceful and caring Philippine society. Let us strengthen and preserve this trait. But let us not think along the line of what faith we believe in. For our country’s sake, let us not think as a Roman Catholic, an Iglesia ni Cristo, a Jehovah’s witness, a Protestant, an El Shaddai, an Islam believer or a Dating Daan follower. Let us think as a Filipino and that whatever God we believe in, He is a God who wants us to be people who are soldiers of peace and love.

The absence of unity has been cited by so many writers, politicians, economists, academicians and even students as one of the weaknesses of the Filipino people, thus, the present situation that we are in. Therefore, let us unite! Let us focus our attention on attaining oneness for the sake of our country. Again, De Leon has this to say on unity:

A nation is bound by the things it loves or identifies with. The essence of nationhood is thinking, feeling and caring for the nation as a whole not only for an elite minority, one’s region or sector but for the vast majority of our people – whether Christian, Muslim, Lumad, peasant, poor women, leftist, or loyalist. Only by thinking of what is good for the nation can we come up with a collective sense of purpose and the political will to carry out.

Granting that we have a problem on moral leadership, that moral leadership is absent in our society today, then let us focus our attention to the millions of young people who will be this country’s leaders tomorrow. Let us give them the best training on leadership. Let us inculcate in their minds the kind of leadership that Rizal exhibited - a leadership that is the exemplar of the highest morality; a leadership that is willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of the country and its people. If these young people who are in front of me this evening can become the moral leaders that this country thirst for, therefore, we can see a better Philippines, some years from now.

It has always been said that we are undisciplined. This is not very nice to hear but if we look around us, if we observe both our old and young people, for sure, we will realize that we are really undisciplined. Just observe the way our drivers violate traffic rules and regulations; the way our school policies are ignored; our wanton disregard for our environment and other manifestations of our disregard for laws, rules and regulations. This is a problem. Therefore, what must be done? The answer, strengthen the teaching of discipline among our young people. The home should start it since it is the foundation of character building. The school, the community and the government must reinforce character building if a disciplined citizenry is desired. This is so expressed under Article XV, Section 8, Sub-section 4 of the Philippine Constitution:

All educational institutions shall aim to inculcate love of country, teach the duties of citizenship, and develop moral character, personal discipline, and scientific and vocational efficiency.

Since the gap between the rich and the poor has widened, the government must be able to formulate clear programs that will benefit all sectors of society and these programs must be efficiently and effectively carried out. The government should avoid grandiose programs that are unattainable but instead present programs that are responsive to the needs of society.

Exposure to role models is very crucial in the life of our young people. Therefore, our leaders today should be able to present the highest example of what is good, truthful and beautiful. They should, therefore, live by a certain rule which will guide them in the conduct of their lives. Diligence, dedication and honesty should be observed by everyone serving the country.

We are a people of good virtues. However, centuries of colonization and exposure to western culture changed everything that was beautiful in us as a people. How do we revive our lost virtues? This is the challenge that Philippine education must address. The government should take the necessary steps to revive the old beautiful traits of honesty, integrity and respect for law and order. Education officials should stress the inclusion in the tertiary curriculum of the teaching of ethics. Schools should re-examine, revise or upgrade existing policies on values education and look into the merit and demerit system not only among students but also among teachers.

The Philippine is a democratic state. In fact, we are considered one of the freest in the world today. However, we are to consider the recent developments we would say without fear that our democratic system is on the verge of being destroyed. This is not a good sign, since people are motivated to work harder and to achieve more for the country if freedom exists. But too much freedom is also dangerous because there is a tendency for it to be abused by those who do not know how to make use of their freedom properly. Thus, activities that undermine the law should not be tolerated. The people should be made aware that civil rights should be exercised responsibly without disturbing peace and order. But the government should not also be too harsh on the people exercising their rights of peaceful assembly, of freedom of expression, of redress of grievances. They should be heard. It is also the duty of the government to listen to them and if necessary and in the name of national interest heed their call… and listen to the voice of the people.


Where do we really want to go and how do we go there?

No matter what our political affiliation is, no matter what faith we profess, no matter what our station in life is, we have one goal, one dream for our country. And that is to see it achieved national development.

When we speak of national development, we refer to the expansion of people’s choices towards sustained improvement in the quality of their lives. A development that is sustainable, which means that the needs of the present are addressed without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

And how do we go there?

We start by healing the divisions which permeate our nation today. We have to work toward the achievement of true nationhood; we have to be one nation, a nation which Rizal dreamt of -- compact, vigorous and homogenous (buo, malakas, at magkakauri). The gap between groups divided by ideology, religion or regional loyalties such as the NPA, the Muslim separatists and some tribes who are seeking autonomy must have to be closed.

We have to bring back stability in our political system through a leadership that is founded on good moral values, an ethical leadership that embodies the virtues of honesty, integrity, and fairness. Thus, survival or enrichment in office or the protection of vested social and economic interests should not take precedence over nation-building.


We have to work on a sustained and broad-based development with the countryside treated as an equal participant and beneficiary of development.


We have to build efficient, productive and competitive enterprises.

We have to produce well-educated, healthy and empowered citizens.

We have to maintain a clean and healthy environment.

In short, the government, the citizens, everybody must have to work for a holistic development – that is, a development which takes care of the social, economic, ecological, political, cultural, and spiritual needs of the people.

If this is achieved, then the dream of a young girl, which she expressed in simple language, will become a reality.

The young girl I am referring to, wrote:

Pangarap ko sa Pilipians ang pagkakaroon ng magandang kinabukasan ng lahat ng mamamayan. Nais kong magkaroon ng reproma na magmumula sa pamahalaan. Sana ay magkaroon na ng peace and order upang ang mga mamumuhunang dayuhan ay maganyak na maglagay ng puhunan.

Kapag ito ay nangyari, makababangon ang bansa, magkakaroon ng maraming trabaho. Maraming mga Pilipino ang magnanais na manatili na lamang sa bansa at maglingkod nang may sigla at kapayapaan sa sariling bayan. Nais ko ring sana’y may isang taong tulad ni Dr. Jose Rizal na makapupukaw ng damdamin ng bawa’t Pilipino upang muling mabuhay ang damdaming makabansa sa bawa’t isa, mabuhay ang pagmamalasakit sa bansa at gawin ang nararapatupang muling maibangon ang Pilipinas. Pangarap ko na sana ay makabangon ang bansa sa kahirapan at makaagapay sa mga mauunlad na bansa sa mundo. Sana mabawi muli ng Pilipinas ang kanyang ningning tulad ng isang bituing nagsasabog ng kagandahan sa dilim ng gabi o kaya’y isang perlas na napakaganda na matatagpuan sapusod ng karagatan na kapag ito ay nakuha ay magpapamalas ng kagandahan sa bawa’t matang titingin sa kanya.

Ang mga bagay na ito ay magaganap lamang kung ang bawa’t isa sa aming mga kabataan ay siyang magsisimula ng magagandang plano.Ang patuloy na paghubog ng aming mga kakayahan at ang pagtuturo sa amin ng mga bagay na makapagpapatatag ng aming nasyonalismo ay siyang magiging puhunan namin upang makagawa ng magagandang bagay para sa bansang Pilipinas.

Umaasa ang batang ito ng isang magandang bukas para sa bansang Pilipinas. Sa kanyang pag-asa, sa kanyang pangangarap, hindi niya nakalimutan na ipaalaala sa mga nakatatanda ang kanilang tungkulin – ang paghubog sa kanilang kakayahan at ang pagtuturo sa kanila ng kung paano patatatagin ang kanilang nasyonalismo.

Tunay na may napakalaki nga tayong tungkulin para sa mga kabataan! Sila nga ang pag-asa ng bayan, subali’t sila naman ay umaasa rin sa ating mga nakatatanda upang maging tunay silang pag-asa ng bayan. Di nila tayo bibiguin subali’t huwag din naman natin silang biguin. Maging tunay tayong ehemplo sa kanila upang magkaroon tayo ng isang moral leadership which will propel us to move forward.

Thank you and good evening!


IBON News and Features, Majority of Filipinos Say Arroyo Should Leave Office, IBON Foundation, Inc., July 22, 2005.

IBON Features Commentary. Look at Economic Features that Really Matter, IBON Foundation, Inc., August 30,2005.

IBON Survey, Most Filipinos Think Corruption in GMA Gov’t Severe, IBON Foundation, Inc., October 19, 2005.

_______________. The Task of Leadership, APCAS National Convention, October 18, 2001.

Ayala, Fernando Zobel. Education for Leadership and National Development, APCAS National Convention, October 18, 2001, Ateneo de Manila University, Q.C.

Bello, Agustin. (Quoted by Sir Jose T. Enriquez in his Rizal and Leadership Address) June 2, 1969.

Coronel, Shiela S. The Unmaking of a President, I Report, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, July 2005 Issue

Habito, Cielito F. Challenges for the Successor Generation of Filipino Leaders, October 23, 2005, Cebu City.

Intal, Anna Miren G. Leadership Effectiveness: Contemporary Perspectives and a Model for Philippine Organizations, APCAS National Convention, October 18, 2001, Ateneo de Manila University, Q.C.

Perlas, Nicanor. Socio-Political Condition of the Philippines Today: Do Filipinos Deserve Democracy?

Wallace, Peter. Moral Leadership in the Philippines Today: Morality Is’nt Grey

[1] Dr. Rosales is the Director of the Ninoy Aquino Learning Resource Center of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Association of Teachers of History and Rizal (PATHRI) and Association of Philippine Colleges of Arts and Sciences (APCAS)