Dindo Donato


Dindo Donato


Those who belong to the People Power generation may still recall the popular article entitled “The Miseducation of the Filipino” by the late Renato Constantino. Although Constantino addressed his grievances against the American colonial government, I think his approach in analyzing the deep-seated problems of society remains valid until today. I do not necessarily agree with some of the assertions he made in his essay, but I do agree with his critical observations and emphasis on education.

I agree with the letter and spirit of his statements that:

  1. “Education is a vital weapon of a people striving for economic emancipation, political independence and cultural renaissance.” However, I would like to add that it is not only a “weapon” (that implies violence), but also a “tool” (that implies non-violence).
  1. Nationalism is about the “correction of iniquitous relations,” pursuit of “economic emancipation,” and “appreciation for our own culture.” However, I would like to caution that nationalism is not necessarily anti-foreign, but only against “iniquitous relations.” Nationalism does not absolutely rule out alliances with foreign states, if such alliance supports the national interest.
  1. “The most effective means of subjugating a people is to capture their minds. Military victory does not necessarily signify conquest. As long as feelings of resistance remain in the hearts of the vanquished, no conqueror is secure… The moulding of men’s minds is the best means of conquest. Education, therefore, serves as a weapon in wars of colonial conquest… The American military authorities had a job to do. They had to employ all means to pacify a people whose hopes for independence were being frustrated by the presence of another conqueror…

Are these statements still relevant today, specially to the People Power generation?

Literally, they are not. The American colonizers already withdrew from the country 75 years ago. However, if we apply Constantino’s statements to our situation today, mutatis mutandis or “by changing those things which need to be changed,” then they still are. Replace Constantino’s references to the “Americans colonizers” with “Filipino oligarchs,” and all his statements remain relevant, at least in spirit if not by the letter…