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Teaching in the vernacular

First Posted 14:17:00 07/28/2009

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Yesterday?s State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo should be her last as the Constitution only allows her to remain in Malacañang until the 30th day of June, 2010. Many people are wondering whether the President will end her career in public service once and for all or seek another office, as a member of Congress perhaps.

Arroyo?s critics and most Filipinos, as survey after survey indicate, welcome and celebrate the end of her term, while those who have benefited from her presidency politically and financially are saddened by it and would very much like her to stay, come hell or Charter change.

The SONA was an opportunity for us Filipinos to evaluate the nine-year performance of the President based on goals and objectives she had set in her first SONA in 2001. What is unfortunate is that the administration?s gains in the management of our economy are overshadowed by many controversies that hound the Arroyo government. So regardless of what she has done for the country, in the eyes of the majority, she is a bad president. But when she steps down, history will be the judge of her performance.

I wish she steps down in 2010 and no longer seeks a public position, for the sake of our country. I think people will stop pestering her so much when she becomes a private citizen. Some groups are expected to file lawsuits against her once she loses her presidential immunity, but that is part of the deal.

We must not forget that the people are partly responsible for the kind of government they have. The people should do an accounting of their own voting behavior if they want to come up with a better president and a lot better government that truly represents them, with the strict observance of honesty in governance.

* * *

Many Cebuanos are happy with the news that the Department of Education had just issued an executive order allowing the use of the mother tongue for instruction at grade schools in different places in the country.

The EO was based on an extensive study that showed that grade school students who were allowed to use their vernacular language performed a lot better than those who are taught in Filipino/Tagalog, a language that some misguided nationalists want imposed on pupils in non-Tagalog-speaking regions.

Finally, our struggle had produced a very positive result. Cebuanos, Ilocanos, Kapampangans, Ilonggos, etc. are no less nationalistic when they prefer using their own language in teaching their young.

The EO indeed promotes cultural diversity, at least in the linguistic aspect. This should give vernacular languages and literatures the respect they deserve.

It?s but proper to thank the brave souls at the DepEd who pushed for the creation and implementation of the policy, which is believed to allow children in many parts of the country to perform well academically and be prouder of their mother language.

* * *

After the dismal performance of the Philippine basketball team in the Jones Cup many are now worried about the slow rate of development of the sport in our country. While neighboring countries are doing very well in their own basketball programs, our own seems to have hit a plateau.

What seems to be bugging our hoops program while our neighbors? are growing by leaps and bounds? Politics, it seems. Our basketball officials are just jockeying for positions or fighting for recognition against one another.

I?m referring in particular to the officials of the Samahang Basketbolista ng Pilipinas (SBP) and the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP). While they are fighting, our young promising basketball players are not given all the opportunities they deserve.

Our sports programs have been plagued with so much politics and corruption, leading to our dismal performances in the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games and the Olympics. What is so frustrating is that these officials seem mindless of the ill effects of their infighting.

We have been left behind by countries that we used to beat in international competitions. That?s because these countries have developed long-term sports programs that are insulated from the very deadly politics among sports officials. Clearly their sports leaders are driven basically by their love of country in the development of the sports.

Moreover, they have concentrated on the kind of sports they have better chances of dominating, unlike the Philippines, which still dreams of lording it over the taller cage squads of its neighbors, like China, Japan and South Korea. So we need to refocus our sports initiatives. Boxing, golf, billiards, bowling, chess etc. are good options.

There should also be a grassroots sports program, where talents all over the country could be honed for international competitions. These should give us a formidable pool of young and able athletes, but the government and corporate sponsors should provide them with the proper training facilities, diet, education and incentives.

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