The Importance of History
…and the Educated Youth of Today
by Apolinario Villalobos
Some educated youth of this generation do not seem to know or are familiar with the country’s history. Just imagine the consternation of a field TV reporter interviewing a student who was asked, who the first President of the Philippine Commonwealth was. The student was obviously caught by surprised and could not utter a word. The reporter asked her another question about Tandang Sora to which she finally replied as “a place in Quezon City…in Commonwealth Avenue”. When asked about her school, she proudly mentioned a university along Espaῆa St. in Sampaloc. Her current school has got nothing to do with her ignorance, but her previous schools, those she went to as an elementary pupil and the one she attended as a high school student. Still, on her own, she should have, at least, exercised a little diligence in enriching her knowledge about her country. The danger here is that, she may transfer this ignorance to her siblings, a cycle which is happening now.
That is the irony of the current educational system. Schools give attention to their need in developing with the time, referring to fast technological transformation of practically everything that influence life. So, schools are worried when their computer system is outdated or they do not have the latest modules for courses that they offer to be more competitive with other educational institutions. But sadly, these courses do not fit in any way to jobs that employers require. This lackadaisical approach in the current educational system shows well in how institutions seem to have disregarded the importance of basic knowledge in our country’s history, finally manifesting in the ignorance of some students who thought they have learned enough.
On the other hand, some students, themselves, may be blamed for their ignorance. At an early age they got fascinated with the games of the internet. Growing older, they got glued to its social webs….facebook, twitter, etc. They would rather browse for photos that they could share in their timelines or exchange messages about trending issues. They disregard sites that are just clicks away from the facebook or twitter pages. These are sites from which they could have gained insights on what the Philippines was years ago, and the people whose gallantry propelled the country towards democracy.
Worse is the discernible attitude of some students who are seem to be just proud about their ignorance of their country’s history, as if trying to give an impression that they belong to the modern hi-tech age. They give the impression that they are not interested in what happened before. During the latest May 1 Labor Day protest rallies, one young student was asked why he joined the march. Without any hesitation, he said, “there is no class anyway, and I am with my boardmates”. Obviously, he has no knowledge about the historical significance of the traditional May 1 celebration, and the historical issues behind the insufficient wage for which the different labor unions are fighting for. All he knew was that he was having fun, marching and shouting slogans with his boardmates.
There is a popular adage among the Filipinos which says, “one who does not look back to where he came from will not reach his destination”. This could be one of the reasons why graduates whose parents pawn properties and spend lifetime savings for their education, find it difficult to land a reputable job. They do not look back to historical information about the courses that they have chosen, courses that become useless as they do not fit the requirements of prevailing jobs. These are the young graduates who look forward to jobs in the airconditioned offices but come in trickles compared to the surge of good paying technical jobs, some of which require only two years of studies and on-the-job trainings.
A little looking back will not result to a stiff neck, but still, most of us, especially, some of the educated youth who believe they belong to a different realm, refuse to do it. We just refuse to learn some lessons from the past, lessons that could give us a push forward. For their failure to find a job, these ignorant youth blame the government for “not creating jobs”, insult the President for being a “slave” of America, blame employers for low wage, etc. They blame practically everybody, except themselves who wasted precious time playing internet games in cafes, aside from having all the choices for courses that could have landed them on ready jobs as soon as they have received their diplomas or certificate of vocational course completion.
Given a chance to rise from his grave and live again for even just a few minutes, I cannot imagine what Jose Rizal would say about the Filipino youth of today. Will he still say that “the youth are the hope of our nation”, when some of them may not even have an idea that it was he who uttered this hopeful statement? They who have no idea where Mt. Buntis is? They who do not know where Maragondon is? They who have not heard of Princess Tarhata? They who do not know how to pronounce the letter “R” properly when speaking in Filipino? They who shout obscenities in front of the US Embassy but toe the line for an American visa mark on their passport?
For the youth who may happen to view this discourse, don’t lose heart if you honestly think that you do not belong to the “some” whom I mentioned. Instead, extend a helping hand by admonishing those whom you think are concerned.