Statement On the Ilocos Times Story: Aug 21/09


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Statement on the Mark Limon news story, “University of Hawai’i prof calls Quezon ‘stupid’”, Ilocos Times, July 27-August 2, 2009

By Aurelio Solver Agcaoili, PhD

President, Nakem Conferences International

Trustee, 170+MLE Talaytayan

Program Coordinator for Ilokano, University of Hawai’i

The news story, bylined by a certain Mark R. Limon, who claims that he is representing the Department of Education of the Division of Ilocos Norte, is flawed, inaccurate, and lacking in good and acceptable journalistic exercise.

I ask that this author retract his news story by coming up with a public correction of his mistake and by apologizing for his inaccuracies.

Here are the glaring mistakes:

From the news account:

1. A professor of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa called president Manuel L. Quezon “stupid” for launching the Mother Language Education.

My response: The writer does not have his facts straight here. I never said that Quezon was stupid for launching Mother Language Education. Quezon did not know what MLE was all about so how could I attribute that to him?

What to do with this pretender of a writer? He should be taught how to write as factually as he should.

2. Speaking before an audience of officials and teachers from the Department of Education and the Mariano Marcos State University in Laoag City, Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili who is lobbying for the use of mother tongue in basic instruction in local schools said that the declaration of Filipino based from Tagalog language by Quezon as the national language fostered the decline of functional literary in the country.

First off the bat: the writer does not know how to write properly. Just check his sentence. Which one is modifying which? Is he supposed to be a teacher telling the right things to his students? If he is a teacher teaching students to write, he should get out of the classroom soonest.

Next point: if he knows all the government data—and these are empirical evidences—then he should know what he is talking about: that we have gone to the dogs because of the government’s bilingual education policy. This is a flawed philosophy and practice of equitable education. He should check TIMMS. He should read other publicly available data from Deped. He should check the BESRA document. He should check the premise of the Gunigundo Bill. He should check the premise of the Deped Order No. 74 S. 2009. He should understand by heart the intent of EFA of which we are a signatory. And if he does not know where to look because he is ignorant, he can always ask me. My email is:

3. Teachers who attended the occasion, while they approved the use of mother tongue in the basic instruction in schools (sic), consider the remarks of Agcaoili as a disrespect (sic) in the memory of Quezon as one of the greatest president (sic) of the country and a contempt (sic) on the Philippine Constitution.

First off the bat again: he should return to grammar school. Just look at the ‘sics’. There are so many. And we call him a writer?

Second: what ‘remarks’ is he talking about when his lead sentence is wrong?

He speaks of me as having “contempt of the Philippine Constitution.”

Is it contempt of the Philippine Constitution, to use his phrase, to fight for the constitutional and fundamental rights of students, their fundamental right to their languages and cultures, their fundamental right to get educated through their own languages? When a government deprives its citizens of their rights to their languages and cultures—and their right to get quality education because it is an education grounded in the language that they know—is this not a fundamental violation of human rights by the same government that makes pronouncements of its respect for these rights? Here is where the sense of citizenship is called for—a sense of citizenship this ‘writer’ does not have a full grasp of.

In following the logic of the ‘writer’, he commits so many fallacies, including a fallacy we call sweeping statement or hasty generalization or insufficient evidence. His use of the phrase, “Teachers who attended,” without a qualifying quantitative marker, is rather unfortunate. He has not learned enough from his argumentation class much less from his philosophical analysis course.

Here is his first lesson in the logic of statement making: an A-statement (which is a universal affirmative, really) is not the same as an I-statement (which is a particular affirmative). We should remind him: One swallow does not make a summer, dear teacher. His logic is convoluted. He writes incoherently as well. He will never make it in my philosophy class.

4. Agcaoili is in Laoag City to attend (sic) the Launching (sic) of the Mother Language Education (sic)…

Wrong: I was not in Laoag simply to attend. I was there to speak and to serve as one of the leaders and organizers of the forum.

If he cannot even grant me this role that I played to hold the forum, what does he know then?

The MLE Forum was a joint project of 170+MLE Talaytayan, the Nakem Conferences International, the Nakem Conferences Philippines, and Mariano Marcos State University.

In that forum, we purposely invited the three superintendents of the three divisions of schools in the province to serve as panel reactors. We involved the local governments units, which was why representatives from the Office of the Governor and from the Office of the City Mayor of Laoag came.

Meaning, the MLE Forum is an initiative drawn up from our concerted effort in the nationwide alliance and that I was not there simply to ‘attend’ that forum. Fact is fact.

We wanted all the members of the community to understand that it is our fundamental right to demand from the socially irresponsible government for what is due us.

We wanted the teachers to understand that we cannot take this wanton ‘lobotomization’ of our people sitting down any longer.

We wanted people to understand that there is plausibility and promise in a political imaginary we call cultural pluralism in education and in the performance of our public lives, a performance informed and guided by our celebration of our diversity as a nation-state.

We wanted to announce that there is hope in Philippine education, that sector that is in the top list of the corrupt government bureaucracy; that light is possible in this darkness that we are all going through and which has been our lot for so long and which we must now refuse and resist in a concerted way; and that social and educational redemption can be had if we all worked together to struggle for the pursuit of what has been denied of us for decades.

I am not sorry that this message fell on deaf ears (such as those of Limon’s) and that the ‘writer’ slanted the news story to suit his ill-conceived motives. I have only some pity for him. He is supposed to be a public school teacher and he should know better.

5. …and to launch the compilation (sic) of researches of the Nakem conferences 2007-2008 entitled SUKIMAT.

Wrong: this phrase does not make sense for its fuzzy ideas, as cloudy as the mind of Limon.


‘To anthologize’ is not the same as ‘to compile’.

Limon, certainly, can compile with his clear books and binders. But with the kind of writing that he displayed with this questionable news account that put me in a bad light, I doubt if he can anthologize.

Sukimat—if he has read it—is an anthology of conference papers Limon is not capable of writing or presenting in an international conference that gathers many of the best minds of the Ilocos and the Amianan, including one paper from abroad. Certainly, with his kind of writing and way of thinking, he cannot be included in this list of the best minds.

His knowledge of book writing and ‘compiling’ is as pedantic as his reasoning.

His use of that inappropriate term ‘compiling’ is rather crude and reveals his lack of knowledge of intellectual refereeing process, editorial work, and book publishing.

The book gathers 12 of the conference papers presented in the two Nakem international conferences; the papers form a unity that is beyond the mental capacity of this public school teacher who should be forced to go back to school and learn the basics of education to human freedom, to the ethics of writing, and to education to democracy and justice. He probably has not heard anything about liberatory education and emancipatory pedagogy.

In my critical introduction of Sukimat and in the foreword of MMSU President Miriam E. Pascua, the historical and thematic contexts—even the ideological perspectives deployed in our choice of articles as editors (Dr. Alegria Tan Visaya, Dr. Anabelle Castro Felipe, and myself)—the philosophy behind this anthology (a philosophy subsumed under a new category of epistemological perspective and engagement we are fighting for and which we tentatively call ‘Ilokano and Amianan Studies’) has been explained, expounded, elaborated. In his short-cut way of informing what the Sukimat is, he ended up telling a half-truth, which is the same as a half-lie.

Maasiak kadagiti adalan daytoy a maestro a din sa met nakasursuro.

And to think that we are paying for his public school teacher’s salary, his action is most abominable.

He is doing a public disservice. He should be held accountable, to say the least.

Honolulu, Hawaii/ August 21, 2009


Everything Bukidnon said...

I guess if I were Limon, I should banish right away. he should check if Fuga Island is still good enough for an indefinite exile.

At first, I though it was on overkill. But come to think of it, many 'aspiring writers' these days tend to write irresponsibly, if not, recklessly, and in total ignorance of the demands of a fair, honest, accurate, and therefore respectable journalism, if we can call it one. But who really does? Limon is a perfect example of an irresponsible media person who thrives in an environment fed and sustained by irresponsible media that thrives in an irresponsible democracy we called the Philippines.

We haven't gone to the dogs with this Limon; WE ARE DOGS already.

ariel said...

It really is an over-to-top kind of writing, with no sense of how to present the gist of what was spoken of in that gathering that was called for to fight for our rights.

And that writer heard only that word 'stupid' and that was what he wrote about? That is news?

The news is: we have been hoodwinked into believing that what the government is doing in public instruction to prepare our children to responsible citizenship is the right way to go.

It is not. The status quo is not the right way to go.

And to 'accent' something--that is a fallacy: the removal of something from its context.

That facts are clear. And writers like this one need to be told that they have the obligation to get their facts right.

Should we call our leaders worse names for their failure to lead?

This is called public accountabilty.

Ariel B. said...

As far as I know, there are only two DepEd Divisions in Ilocos Norte: Division of Ilocos Norte under Dr. Cecilia Pacis-Aribuabo and Division of Laoag City headed by Ms. Araceli Pastor.

You stated matter-of-factly that you invited THREE division superintendents in your affair. Who is the third division superintendent of Ilocos Norte, Doctor?

ariel said...

There is a fairly new Division of City Schools, apo Ariel B. This is Batac City. It is currently headed by Dr Fernando.

Thank you for asking.

Ariel B. said...

Pardon my ignorance, Doctor. Yup, I've heard about Batac having become a city. But then the Supreme Court had already decided with finality that the cityhood of Batac and 15 other municipalities has been rescinded.

Still, you were dead right when you talked about three division superintendents of Ilocos Norte.

Have you any updates about the fate of the Division of Batac?

FBLorenzana said...

Daytoy ti kunak a sistematiko a pannakapunas ti kinatao (no ilocano daytoy a limon) ta uray no kunam a nailillilika kadagiti apros ni Amian, ti naipisok (LOL, limon kunada ngamin ti sukatan ti buggoong ditoy Pangasinan, e) a kinatao daytoy a limon ket naiwawa nga ispiritu ni Abagat. No maiyemplementar daytoy MLE, ti kunak umuna daytoy a limon a maawanan ti obra gapu ta saanna nga ammo nga impateg ti bukodna a dila.

ariel said...

No, sir. On July 16, when we had the Nakem Board Meet, the Division of City Schools of Batac was intact.
I have no idea what happened after the SC ruling. I have heard about Batac having troubles with its cityhood. During the last couple of weeks or so, no, I have no idea.

ariel said...

Got ya, my dear, sir. We have to take back our souls, us people in the Amian and all over the islands. We have got to stop this hegemony once and for all.

ariel said...

Got ya, my dear, sir. We have to take back our souls, us people in the Amian and all over the islands. We have got to stop this hegemony once and for all.

ariel said...

Ariel B:
Siak a mismo ti formal a nangimbitar kadakuada, apo, kaduak ni Dr Ale Visaya a presidente ti Nakem Conferences Philippines. We know that we can never pull it off with this MLE thing if the community is not going to be involved. MLE requires a different philosophical approach to education. One of the aspects of this approach is ownership: we need to own the way to educating our young to prepare them for citizenship in the full sense of that word. There is no short-cut to MLE: the way to go is through the language/s the child knows--and knows best.

Ariel B. said...

This MLE thing should have been implemented in my time (many many moons back!)

If this were the case, the literacy rate of the Filipinos (which was quite high in my time) would not have degenerated to such a low, pitiful state as it stands now.

Carry on, Doctor. Godspeed!

ariel said...

Ariel B:
Yes, this is long in coming, to our regret. We did not realize that we end up like this one, with our literacy rate going so long. Many teachers (and many of them are well-meaning)are now also illiterate--illiterate in their own language (and culture) b/c only the culture and language of the center is being given all the entitlement and the privilege to used in the public sphere.

This situation has to go--this error has to be corrected and fast. Which is why we need this other in this struggle. We need each other so we can own up our own education and the education of our nation's children.

Ariel B. said...

I have just been talking to a Head Teacher III. Much to my dismay, I found out that the DepEd Memo of Sec. Jesli Lapus re MLE institutionalization has not yet been jumpstarted, so to speak.

When... oh when will the MLE get implemented?

Amangan no di pay nayus-ussuat ket naitabonen?

ariel said...

Ariel B: It is not going to be a walk in the park, that is for certain. The important thing is that we have created some kind of a critical awareness to this issue and to the urgency of doing something for our people.
Best to you always.