What is an Educated Filipino? -Francisco Benitez
What is an educated Filipino and what qualities should distinguish him today? The conception of education and of what an educated man is varied in response to fundamental changes in the details and aims of society. In our country and during this transition stage in our national life, what are the qualities which an educated man should possess?
Alterations in Our Social Life
Great changes have taken place in the nature of our social life during the last forty years. The contact with Americans and their civilization has modified many of our own social customs, traditions, and practices, some for the worse and many for the better. The means of communication have improved and therefore better understanding exists among the different sections of our country. Religious freedom has developed religious tolerance in our people. The growth of public schools and the establishment of democratic institutions have developed our national consciousness both in strength and in solidarity.
Education Has Changed in Meaning
With this growth in national consciousness and national spirit among our people, we witness the corresponding rise of a new conception of education – the training of the individual for the duties and privileges of citizenship, not only for his own happiness and efficiency but also for national service and welfare. In the old days, education was a matter of private concern; now it is a public function, and the state not only has the duty but it has the right as well to educate every member of the community – the old as well as the young, women as well as men – not only for the good of the individual but also for the self-preservation and protection of the State itself. Our modern public school system has been established as a safeguard against the shortcomings and dangers of a democratic government and democratic institutions.
1. Practical Activity
In the light of social changes, we come again to the question: What qualities should distinguish the educated Filipino of today? I venture to suggest that the educated Filipino should first be distinguished by the power to do. The Oriental excels in reflective thinking; he is a philosopher. The Occidental is the doer; he manages things, men and affairs. The Filipino of today needs more of his power to translate reflection into action. I believe that we are coming more and more to the conviction that no Filipino has the right to be considered educated unless he is prepared and ready to take an active and useful part in the work, life, and progress of our country as well as in the progress of the world.
The power to do embraces the ability to produce enough to support oneself and to contribute to the economic development of the Philippines. Undoubtedly, a man may be, and often is, an efficient producer of economic goods and at the same time he may not be educated. But should we consider a man who is utterly unable to support himself and is an economic burden to the society in which he lives as educated merely because he possesses the superficial graces of culture? I hope that no one will understand me as saying that, the only sign of economic efficiency is the ability to produce material goods, for useful social participation may take the form of any of any of the valuable services rendered to society trough such institutions as the home, the school, the church and the government. The mother, for example, who prepares wholesome meals, takes good care of her children and trains them in morals and right conduct at home, renders efficient service to the country as well as the statesman or the captain of industry. I would not make the power to do the final and only test of the educated Filipino; but I believe that in our present situation, it is fundamental and basic.
2. Acquaintance with Native History and Culture
The educated Filipino, in the second place, should be distinguished not only by his knowledge of the past and of current events in the world’s progress but more especially by his knowledge of his race, hi people, and his country, and his love of the truths and ideals that our people have learned to cherish. Our character, our culture, and our national history are the core of national life and consequently, of our education. I would not have the educated Filipino ignore the culture and history of other lands, but can he afford to be ignorant of the history and culture of his own country and yet call himself educated?
3. Refinement in Speech and Conduct
The educated Filipino, in the third place, must have ingrained in his speech and conduct those elements that are everywhere recognized as accompaniments of culture and morality; so that, possessing the capacity for self – entertainment and study, he may not be at the mercy of the pleasure of the senses only or a burden to himself when alone.
There are, then, at least three characteristics which I believe to be the evidence of the educated Filipino – the power to do, to support himself and contribute to the wealth of our people; acquaintance with the world’s progress, especially with that of his race, people, and the community, together with love of our best ideals and traditions; and refined manners and moral conduct as well as the power of growth.