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Making Filipino Heroes Relevant When You Teach

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Making Filipino heroes relevant is a daunting but necessary task for social studies and history teachers.

If there's one commentary Filipino historians and columnists frequently say these days, it's that Filipinos have a short memory. We easily forget crimes against our country. We easily get distracted from an issue by another not-always-more-serious issue. From the broadsheet editors to Conrado de Quiros, the observation is consistent. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's win as congresswoman of Pampanga, the Maguindanao massacre, the Hello Garci issue, and even Ferdinand Marcos' burial… all these issues of the past few years might just be buried in our memories in the next decade.

With such "short memories" when it comes to events that transpired five, ten years ago, how can we keep alive events that took place over a hundred years ago? How can we prevent national amnesia so that names like Rizal and Bonifacio don't simply mean place-names and monuments? How can we pass on memories of Philippine heroes and revolutions to the youth and make sure the memories don't get erased by Hollywood superheroes? As an Araling Panlipunan teacher, you need to ask these questions and find creative answers.

Making our country's heroes relevant is a daunting but necessary task for social studies and history teachers. With various media and personalities competing for your students' attention and admiration, giving your lessons on heroes a "current" vibe can ensure that your classes take notice and remember. Maybe giving a modern makeover of our heroes' images can make them more relatable to young students. The following tips will give you ideas on making heroes more relevant to our youth.

Modern-day Comparisons. Perhaps the easiest way to make our heroes relevant to our students is to provide modern-day counterparts. If you haven't noticed, many of your students probably don shirts, bags and badges with the face of one rebel-hero called Che, or Che Guevarra. Che figured significantly in the Cuban revolution. Like our national hero Jose Rizal, Che was also a physician, author and intellectual. With such similarities, you can go on and explore commonalities and differences in their roles in revolutions and the ideas they espoused. What about Gabriela Silang? Who is her modern-day counterpart in the Philippines? Making modern-day comparison and contrasts emphasizes to your students that the problems of the past continue to the present and that the heroes needed in the past may or may not be the same kind needed today.


(Image from wophportal.blogspot.com)

Pop Culture Counterparts. Consider using the pop culture heroes your students watch in the movies or read in graphic novels and comics. They may be superheroes, ordinary people granted with superpowers, aliens helping the world or mutants with special abilities. Why are they considered heroes in their own right, even in the fictional world? If you aren't into these kinds of stuff, some research will be required of you. You can connect the dilemma of the mutants in X-Men with the dilemma of Rizal and Bonifacio's time. In both cases, the options were to establish an independent community and to assimilate into an existing social order. You can find out more about pop culture heroes and their qualities and compare and contrast with our revolutionary heroes. Here's a baffling question your students might consider: Among the heroes of the Philippine revolution, who can be considered as Superman? Or maybe Batman. Take nationalism a notch higher and use Filipino komiks characters and storylines.

Current Problems. What would Jose Rizal say about the RH Bill? What would Emilio Jacinto comment on corruption and plunder cases? How would Sultan Kudarat react to the Maguindanao massacre and the issue of autonomy for Mindanao? Show your students that our heroes then are not mere characters but people who thought and lived in a specific milieu. Based on how heroes reacted to the social problems of their time, discuss what their reaction will be if they were alive today. Ask your students to choose one hero, study that hero's writings and actions during his milieu, and to propose solutions to current problems and issues based on what they learned. You can also hold a panel discussion of a current social problem and have students play-act as the heroes. Ask them: What would Hero X do?

(Banner image from WikiPilipinas.Org)

Read the second part of the article.


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Posted on Jul 25, 2011
Posted on Jul 24, 2011

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Christine Gapuz

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