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Teaching the EDSA spirit a revolution by itself

HOW do students who were born when the 1986  People Power revolution celebrated its 15th anniversary learn about the crucial period of our nation’s history?

How do some teachers, who were about the same age as their students when the revolution broke out, impart the lessons of Edsa when many of them were probably not yet mature enough to understand what was happening in the country in the final years of the Marcos regime?

These among other questions cropped up at the Cebu Daily News newsroom ahead of the 27th anniversary of the People Power revolution.

“The events leading to February 25, 1986 is not  extensively discussed in elementary school textbooks, not even a chapter is devoted to make heads and tails of martial law, the 1983 assassination of Ninoy Aquino and the Feb. 7, 1986 snap elections . At most it merits only two to three paragraphs and a picture of people and nuns blocking a tank,” Tito Tan, CDN’s editorial assistant who was a college sophomore when Edsa broke out, shared as I, who was not even born at the time, listened.

Dr. Girlie Amarillo, a former commissioner of the National Youth Commission, was among those who heeded the call of Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin to go to Edsa and help shield the “rebels” holed up in Camps Aguinaldo and Crame from the Marines sent by President Marcos to annihilate them.

Now a university professor, Amarillo said that while discussions on the 1986 revolution are part of the modules for Grade 7 under the new K-12 basic education curriculum, teachers are only given a limited time – about six classroom hours – to discuss the subject matter.

“To keep the EDSA spirit alive, teachers should emphasize nationalism, love of country and the importance of national unity, but how do you effectively do that?” he asked.

Special modules

Education Secretary Armin Luistro said special learning modules on the lessons of the Edsa revolution would be introduced this week in all public elementary and secondary schools as the Department of Education’s contribution to the commemoration, an Inquirer report said.

“Edsa People Power is about freedom, democracy and unity which we should always protect and cherish,” Luistro said as he stressed the importance of teaching history to the next generation.

The modules were developed by the National Educators Academy of the Philippines.

The story about the People Power revolution is taught in Grade 5  during the third grading period. Students are taught what EDSA is and its significance in Philippine history and to Filipinos who have risked their lives in order to fight for democracy.

“We really teach the pupils the value of love of country, why these people do the things they’ve done for us, and if they’re not willing to shed their blood at that time, na-unsa na kaha ta karon?” Analie Lozano, coordinator of Makabayan at Lahug Elementary School in Cebu, said.

Lozano, who was in the elementary grades when the 1986 revolt struck, said she approaches the subject by initially discussing the declaration of Martial Law in 1972. She then tackles the death of Sen. Ninoy Aquino whom she refers to as the father of President Noynoy Aquino then introduces the personalities behind the revolution.

History as a subject from primary to tertiary level is quite unpopular among students as teachers tend to make them memorize dates, names and places.

Lozano said that in a class of 50 students, only 10 are interested in history.

In order to make the subject interesting to students, Lozano came up with co-curricular activities.

Last Thursday, they had a poster making contest for Grades 4 to 6 pupils who were made to visually interpret their impressions and thoughts on the Edsa revolution.

At last Friday’s flag-raising ceremony, students sang “Magkaisa”, the song composed by Sen. Tito Sotto immediately after the Marcoses fled on Feb. 25, 1986 and originally sung by Virna Lisa. “Magkaisa” was one of the songs associated with the EDSA revolt.

“I  remember  while watching it on television the fathers and sisters who were singing the song (Makaisa) while holding their hands. I can really feel that they love their country,” Lozano said.

Grade 6 students from all 17 sections were also made to watch a video documentary of the EDSA revolution. Grade 5 students will also be performing a drama skit on EDSA.

Lozano said they hope that through various non-classroom learning methods, they will be able to help enlighten their students on the significance of the historic event. /Christine Emily L. Pantaleon Correspondent with a report from Managing Editor Ares P. Gutierrez

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