Integration of Philippine history in high school pushed in Congress

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·4 min read
Rep. France Castro of ACT-Teachers Party-list at the House of the Peoples' Representatives of Ethiopia on June 22, 2022. Castro is pushing for the inclusion of Philippine history in the curriculum of higher K-12 grades. (Photo: France Castro/Facebook)
Rep. France Castro of ACT-Teachers Party-list at the House of the Peoples' Representatives of Ethiopia on June 22, 2022. Castro is pushing for the inclusion of Philippine history in the curriculum of higher K-12 grades. (Photo: France Castro/Facebook)

A lawmaker is pushing for the prioritization of a bill mandating the reintegration of Philippine history at higher K-12 levels in the 19th Congress.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Party-list Representative France Castro says that House Bill 207 seeks to to return Philippine history in high school as a separate subject.

"It is up to the government to ensure that education is a priority, that our educators have adequate support and that the curriculum does not aid historical revisionism and denialism for the sins against the Filipino people," the ACT representative said in a statement.

According to the lawmaker, Philippine history is currently taught and distributed in elementary grades 4 to 6, while Asian history, world history, economics, and contemporary issues are core social science subjects taught in junior high school.

Castro said that elementary teaching of history typically tackles individuals and figures, but lacks in the discussion of the importance of the events that shaped the country’s history.

"As part of the so-called 'educational reforms' under K to 12, the Department of Education through DepEd Order 20 removed Philippine History from the curriculum of high school students. In effect, discussions of events in Philippine history are only integrated in several subjects instead of an independent subject focused on teaching the narration of facts and ensuring that the students understand the implications of these events in our daily lives today," she added.

Last week, actress Ella Cruz made headlines by likening history to “tsismis” (gossip), which drew flak from educators and historians alike. Cruz plays Irene Araneta-Marcos in “Maid in Malacañang,” a film about the last few days of the deposed Marcos family in Manila in 1986.

Earlier, discussions about Philippine education and history also sparked after a segment from an episode of Pinoy Big Brother: Kumunity Season 10 Teen Edition circulated on social media. The episode showed “housemates” incorrect answers to common questions about Philippine history.

Castro hopes that discussion of key historical events will lead to a deeper appreciation of history, its lessons, and importance. The lawmaker argued that students at higher grade levels are equipped with skills for research which will complement their studies in history.

The teacher-lawmaker also underscored the importance of teaching the youth methods in verifying historical narratives and statements, highlighting the susceptibility of Filipinos in believing misinformation or historical distortions.

Hindi kwentong barbero ang pag-aaral ng kasaysayan dahil ito ay may siyentipikong paraan ng pagpapatunay (Studying history is not barber’s tales because it follows a scientific mode of validation,” Castro added.

Meanwhile, youth individuals and historians criticized Cruz for her “tsismis” remark, with some urging the actress to study history again.

Prominent historians have spoken to refute Cruz’ claims of history’s conflation with hearsay. Writer-Historian Ambeth Ocampo underscored that while history may have biases, it is still based on facts and not opinion. Historians Xiao Chua and Alvin Campomanes added that the study of history follows evidence-based methodologies to establish credibility and truthfulness.

Basti Evangelista is a news and opinion writer who focuses on Philippine national politics and sectoral issues. His personal advocacy includes press freedom and social justice.

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