“Dear Sec Luistro: We have a disconnect here”

armin-luistro 01

DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro

Some statements cause me to sit up straight in my chair and pay attention. They clash with what I think or do.

One of these clashes came from Department of Education Secretary Armin Luistro during his recent speech to graduating students at the University of the Philippines. The speech was headlined in an Inquirer article that said “Luistro shows tougher side in UP speech“. The specific “sit up” statement came as he was encouraging young people to do constructive things and not just take the easy way.

I’ve not been able to locate a copy of the entire speech, but here’s an excerpt from the Inquirer article:

“It’s easier to run around naked with cloth covering one’s face than to advocate for solutions to help solve poverty,” Luistro said in his speech, referring to the university’s annual Oblation Run.

“It’s easier to shout on the streets and burn effigies than to sit down in talks to find long-lasting solutions to end hunger, ignorance and climate change.”

He said it was also a lot easier to spend time and energy on “pointless commentaries on social media, especially if one is not using his real name.”

Well, he got two birds with one stone on that one:

“pointless commentaries on social media, especially if one is not using his real name.”

Well, I personalized that right away.

Had he just read one of JoeAm’s periodic complaints that the Department of Education is just doing the same thing each year, rote education using paper textbooks? Is that criticism, to him, pointless? And is it offensive to him that I don’t use my real name?

Why? What does he want to do, come a’huntin’?

Then I got a little angry. I’ll replicate my thoughts here, most candidly. Anger does not always follow straight paths, nor is it always nice.

The arrogance of this Chief of Knowledge, to suggest that conversations on social media are pointless. Does he watch television? Go to the beach? Attend parties? Dine in fine restaurants?

In the context of doing important things, those activities are pointless as well. But they provide personal satisfaction and relief from the grind and frustrations of our daily encounters. And we common folks have a lot of grinds and frustrations to deal with, like the relentless nonsense imposed on us by the entitled. So we need to blow off a little steam now and then.

The Secretary of the Department of Education is one of the entitled. I’d guess he has a driver and a maid. He sets forth the rules that require that students assemble in the morning to cite the patriotic oath at the raising of the flag, an oath that, judging from how much law-breaking and cheating goes on in the Philippines, is detached from any sense of what that oath MEANS.

Did VP Jejomar Binay cite that oath, I wonder?

Does the good Secretary grasp that ordinary people deal with higher prices (students know them as fees), brownouts, congestion, lousy broadband speed and arrogant, absurd services at LTO (like those new plates we are forced to buy), Customs and about every government office? And a lot of retail outlets that take the view that we, the customer, should be thankful that they are willing to sell to us? Does the Secretary grasp that common people are treated rudely all about town and MAY HAVE A FRUSTRATION OR TWO TO WORK OUT in pointless commentary that is SAFEST to do behind a fake name?

Is he out of touch with life on the down side of a two-class society?

armin-luistro 02

Let’s discuss the CONCEPT of disenfranchisement of Muslims . . . and ordinary people, for that matter . . .

Then, as eventually happens, I cooled off.

I considered that, yes, the Department of Education is making great strides in building schools and hiring teachers. Thousands and thousands and thousands of new classrooms and new teachers. Efforts are also underway to get all out-of-school kids back into the classroom. So the department is not just sitting on its administrative hands. There is a lot going on.

Furthermore, the K-12 program is crucial if Philippine education is to compete with education programs of top nations around the world. It is not easy to implement. I think those who object are nearsighted and lack a basic understanding that any dramatic gain usually requires that some pay a price. Not all can gain. The term is “sacrifice for a greater cause”. I’m frankly very dismayed at Senator Trillanes for his opposition to the K-12 program.

But I digress.

Getting past the logistics and honorable achievements of DepEd, I started to wonder what it is that causes the Secretary and I to have different views, me to write commentaries on social media using a fake name, and him to find those aspects worthy of condemnation.

I wondered, does he at all understand the culture of impunity and how it favors the powerful? Does he realize how many journalists have been killed in the Philippines? Leaving families behind. Does he see the Philippines as occupied by the rich and the favored? Does he see the poor as disenfranchised, rather like the Moro indigenous people, but without a historical lever to pry? Does he understand that leaders have a choice to inspire a following . . . or to order it? Does he understand he has a choice, to praise young people who are literate on the internet . . . or condemn them? To uplift them . . . or tell them they are not passing muster?

I watched my son do his homework assignments when he was in the arithmetic stage at school. Page after page of problems, maybe 50 additions or subtractions to the page. What is this rigorous repetition designed to do? Once a child learns how to add his ones and tens and hundreds and thousands, he has learned the concept of addition.

Relentless repetition after knowledge is gained teaches nothing but obedience.

I wonder why they don’t just check whether or not he understands the concept, have him do five problems to prove he does, and move on to something deeper? Here was the dialogue between me and my son as I obeyed my wife and handled the kid’s arithmetic review.

Senior: “Is subtraction hard or easy?”

Junior: “It’s easy.”

Senior: “What’s 17 -9?”

Junior: “Ummm,” looking at the ceiling for a moment as he itemized the dots in his head, “it’s 8.”

Senior: “Okay, you are good to go.”

I wondered, does the Secretary understand the difference between concept and routine, knowledge and obedience?

I wondered, why is education focused on doing routines rather than firing up curiosity? And why aren’t high school kids all carrying tablet computers?

Okay, I get some of it. When there are 45 kids in a classroom, you can’t individualize instruction. But you can sure sort out the fast learners from the slow and challenge them instead of bore them into oblivion, stripping them of the joy of learning.

As far as I can tell, education in the Philippines is authoritarian. It teaches obedience. Rather like the Secretary’s speech, now that I think about it. Rather like that patriotic oath, put into place in 1955 and retained until today. It fits into the model for a culture that protects the empowered by making the masses compliant.

Well, the trouble is, this leaves untapped a huge potential, the one that says the Philippines will be a roaring success when Filipino kids are encouraged to be all that they can be. We want them to obey, yes, but not because we say so. We want them to obey because they understand that character counts, and so does discipline, fair dealing and an orderly society.

binay scout inquirer

[Photo credit: Inquirer]

These are messages that slipped past the Binay family, the Arroyo family, the Estrada family, and a lot of governors and sister city mayors. And Manny Pacquiao, evidently.

It seems to me that the ability . . . no, the POWER . . . for kids to be all that they can be is not unleashed in the Philippines. Instead, kids learn from the nightly news, and even some teachers who sell grades, that their elders cheat, they can get away with things, too, and it’s all downhill from there.

I wondered if the good Secretary recognizes that he is a part of the class that imposes the frustrations and sets the bad examples. Has he lectured his colleagues about the examples they set for children? Did he reprimanded the Senate for failing to chair an ethics committee to deal with three plundering senators, or the House for behaving like clowns at the first Mamasapano hearing?  Has he lectured the judges for taking a decade to resolve important cases, and for accepting payoffs and political favors? What does this professional negligence among the entitled say to youth?

It seems to me the activities of political leaders hereabouts ought to come with “parental guidance” warnings, or when Binay spokesmen talk, XXX ratings for all the lies and deceits and abuse of good people we can expect.

Perhaps Secretary Luisita should advocate for an “National Ethics Improvement Mandate” so that all the effort poured into teaching kids does not get wasted by pouring the kids into a wasteland of bad behavior from important people. Kindly include the media in that drive, talk about an ethical wasteland.

I also wondered, what happened to the uplift that ought to come from education, the recognition that the human animal is designed to discover? Curiosity exists. It is natural.

It can be encouraged. Or discouraged.

Imposed structures like authoritarian teaching, or cultural mechanisms that divide people into two classes, powerful and not, are unhealthy.

Just look around.

That’s the point of my criticisms.

If the good Secretary is unable to appreciate the point, then Filipino kids will never be unleashed to find their whole potential. And kids will forever be dumped into an ethical wasteland infested with people taking care of themselves . . .

ps, I’d be very happy to share my name in an orderly, fair and compassionate society where powerful people don’t connive, cheat, and demand that the powerless be compliant, under threat of punishment . . .


104 Responses to ““Dear Sec Luistro: We have a disconnect here””
  1. manuelbuencamino says:

    He was talking about trolls, Joe

    • Joe America says:

      I’d like to read the whole speech to understand the context, actually. The headline that he was “talking tough” may have misled me. The quote did not say trolling.

      • neo canjeca says:

        Joe Am, unless we or I as posterer here don’t know something went between you and the Educ Sec my opinion is you should slow down, calm down and relax. Sec Luistro’s audience was very clear to him, right in front of him: the graduates and guests in that commencement exercises. I was once a college marshall there and remembers the atmosphere. I guess the attack was more for those whom he perceived as students being lured and corrupted with ample monetary rewards to serve sinister political purpose using social media. He must have some intelligence.

        The first three paragraphs in quotes and italics Joe Am I suspect refers to what fraternal brothers in the UP SYSTEM consider with condescension as a pseudo fraternity that was born in 1958 in a UP college outside and far from Diliman. Probably it hurt the Educ Sec so much to see the youth under his wings are also being corrupted like what happened to a national boys organization. May be you also know about the Thomasites which many mainland Americans don’t even know. If we are to reform our educ system we need to know enough about miseducation in Britain, the USA and Canada, countries where most of our students had been sent for post graduate studies.

        As you know Joe Am there may be more than a thousand of us now who blogs incognito. I have no idea how many are students paid to do so in service of some evil schemes. All I know is that many are past their prime also earning good money or so honestly committed to defend and fight for the bad status quo because for generations that’s been theirs and their children’s way of life. As a forester Sec Luistro probably just does not like snakes poisonous or not in his forest.

        • Joe America says:

          Thanks for the shading on the speech, neo. I’ve calmed down, and basically used my over-reaction to get to a couple of points that are worth attending to, I think. The ethical wasteland into which kids are poured, and the method of rote or authoritarian instruction that strips enthusiasm from learning.

      • manuelbuencamino says:

        “pointless commentaries” “especially if one is not using his real name” is the common definition of a troll

        • neo canjeca says:

          “pointless commentaries” could also mean “more cheap butter to one’s bread” but
          Shake the Speare is always invoked in what’s in a name like good road, good work, and good trip, long names to write and sign but I haven’t met a bad one in person and in their writings.

  2. paid commenters and social media mob not you joe.

    • Joe America says:

      I didn’t read that distinction, and I know many find Facebook and selfies to be representative of a self-absorbed class that is not really out to do the kinds of things the Secretary is encouraging: make a difference. I think paid commenters are very rare, actually, so doubt he was referring to them. And even “mobs” are not prevalent.

      • Joe America says:

        But that is just a minor point in the context of what I’m driving at. What I’m driving at is the lack of accountability among the powerful, and what that means to kids. And a kind of education that restrains rather than unleashes potential.

        • There are certain issues that seem opposing in this struggle.

          How does one create leaders while also create good followers?
          How does one create people with good mechanical skills while also have good reasoning/logical skills.
          How to create painters/artist with excellent skills while not suppressing their creativity.

          Almost all the nations like Korea/Japan/Singapore are struggling with this on one extreme we have Korea/Japan/Singapore while on the other extreme we have the US.

          The question is where are we?

          I’d say we are in the not so good in mechanical and somewhat good in the creative but cannot be the best because of lack of mechanical skills.

          I could go on but the initial issue is that mechanical skills /rote memorization and the like are easier to teach, monitor and to grade. The high student to teacher ratio creates a scenario where the teacher can all but choose mechanical and not enough logical.

          The lack of accountability among the powerful starts with weak institutions that create personality based shortcuts on process. Repeated exposure to this creates perverse viewpoints that value who you know over what you know.

          • Joe America says:

            You and Orlando have exactly the same view of the perverse outcomes of going through motions instead of grasping why real education is important, and how people in power affect kids. Perverse, indeed.

          • sonny says:

            Great analysis, gianC. You have just laid where our goals should be at as nation and as a highly viable society.

          • neo canjeca says:

            The question is where are we?


            That’s the first lesson I learned in map reading in Advance ROTC.

            You don’t know you are in San Andres, How can you go to Quiapo?

            Leaders are not created like Adam was or born like Jesus Christ. They evolved as from the caveman to Sitting Bull, to Napoleon, to Lincoln to Magsaysay to PNoy. They are product of circumstances. They understood a little of the arts and the sciences (nature). They are ignorant of what is evil and knew only the good. Good leaders are products of evil; evils caused them. Unless you know where you are you can not go to Patriotism or Accountability.

            • neo canjeca says:

              here’s another one :


              • Joe America says:

                The sister city program is elegant, a masterwork, and it is clear that Mr. Binay believes the end justifies the means. I wish he could demonstrate similar capacity to excel in ways that do not undermine democratic ideals.

              • How can Makati afford to maintain sister city networks and yet cannot completely improve the poor people of his own city?

                The conclusion arrived to by the right thinking citizens – Binay want to keep Makati’s poor resident to be forever poor, who else will vote for them in a perpetual manner, who else will help his family in power over that pet goose that lay their unending golden eggs so his family will be the permanent resident of that opulent office/hotel in the 21st floor, where the office of the Vice Mayor was assigned to the congresswoman Abigail. The sister city networks made possible the election to national office of Nancy, the VP, and possibly their lifetime dream for which they have been preparing for since June 30, 2010 – the presidency.

              • Mary Grace P. gonzales says:

                Huh?…chempo, I am a bit dense tonight…didn’t get this one..

              • chempo says:

                Oops sorry…it’s passe. Just wanted to share a Greek mythology cartoon — “Makati can give people free stuff forever and ever”.

      • There are prostituted websites, and we know who they are. They get paid well.

  3. Yes, he could be talking about trolls.

    Still, it could not be denied that education today is not what it used to be or as Joe had pointed out, not geared to produce thinking students who can analyze a difficult situation and come up with solutions themselves.

    I remember when I was in grade school, each one of us were required to stand up in front of the class and recite the entire multiplication table by memory beginning from 1 x 1 is 1, up to 10 x 10.

    In algebra, we were made to solve the problems in the blackboard, with everyone encouraged to point out the error done by each of the one called to solve one particular problem.

    In biology, we were asked to volunteer to go and draw every single part of a given human anatomy, or any subject matter for the day – by memory, after which, we had to discuss the individual parts and functions. Of course not everyone volunteered, I did, because I liked to draw, sketch and doodle. The most difficult is the eye and the microscope.

    In literature, we were required to give book reports verbally, yeah, you got it right..in front to the class. You have to do your own research, and read the entire book. No help from the internet, then.

    Short exams were not announced, always surprise exams, just to see if everyone has studied. Periodical ones were long and difficult. Difficult to correct, too specially the essays, as I found out. (The teachers, even professors had a habit of dumping them on poor me)

    Needless to say, I enjoyed the challenges.

    Nowadays, the books have to be purchased from the schools which include assignment and tests, already in book forms!!! (in private schools)

    Nowadays, the annual cost of educating a toddler in the early stages (nursery on to kinder, to prep) in private schools – paging CHED) could cover the cost of studying medicine.

    In my mother’s time, you get enrolled directly in grade 1, (no nursery, kinder or prep) and they were able to produce a Recto, Aytona, Salonga, Laurel, Romulo, the little giant.

    I asked the parents, why not enroll them in public schools if it’s that financially challenging? I was a product of public schools and a rather mediocre university but I can express myself in English better than most from exclusive girls and boys’ schools and universities, orally and hand written too, but not typed ones (typos); not comparable with those from UP, St, Paul, Ateneo or San Beda, though. The usual answer – their kids won’t learn anything as public schools are so congested and teachers were not that good nor encouraging. I insisted that it depends on the student, not the schools, but hey, I guess they have money to burn. The status and prestige, you know. Just wishing they would pay me back for their loans….haha

    Now you have to have millions so your child can avail of an excellent education from start to finish. Why is excellent education so expensive?

    What happened?

    No time for edit review for typos, I expect I’ll be shouting in frustration again when I get to review this post at home….time to go… driver is already waiting.

    • Joe America says:

      I tend to think of each child as precious. To do anything less than build confidence and character, knowledge and discipline, is somehow sad. DepEd has huge, huge tasks, just keeping up with the flood of kids and the logistics. It would sure be nice if other agencies of government also took the kids under their wings. Set a better example. Set higher standards within their own agencies.

      • sonny says:

        Supporting K-12 is a good start. (TB/cont’d)

        • sonny says:

          And then send the best educators working for Sec Luistro to observe how 3 Illinois public high schools and 3 Catholic high schools administer their programs.

  4. karl garcia says:

    I have known Brother Armin since high school. He is a cool guy. That is beside the point, our way of educating children has to change more on reasoning,writing less on memorization.That did not happen during Luistro’s watch.ps the pointless discussion from anonymous commenters does not apply to you Joe. Except when you are joking, you never post anything pointless.

    • Joe America says:

      I’m glad he is a good guy, and I reckon I was a little harsh to make a point or two. Kids are amazingly resilient, I think. They can deal with adversity and come out fine on the other side. If they have a chance. But I think all the bad behavior surrounding them represents an almost impossible barrier when and the mindset one develops is that cutting corners is okay. How do you get a senate to develop a conscience, or an entire judiciary?

      When the bad behavior is cast against the impact on youth, maybe the message has meaning.

      Or maybe not, because the entitled get to put their kids on a favored track. So all is fine . . .

    • sonny says:

      “… more on reasoning,writing less on memorization.”

      I say all of the above, Karl.

    • Hi, I am not against K-12. But if there’s somebody here who can confirm on the accuracy of the reports on this link:


      > that we already have a 1:1 student to textbook ratio since December 2012
      > that we already have a 1:1 student to school seat ratio since December 2012

      I’m not really sure if this is true for all schools in the country.

  5. BenZayb says:

    Sec Lustro may think he is a good speaker, a critical thinker or a great leader in Education. But he definitely lacks eyes that sees the reality – for he is an elite himself. I pity him for uttering those words in front of the graduates because he just ridiculed himself in front of smarter-than-ever hopes of the fatherland who know better than what they hear especially from someone like him. Am sorry, Joe, for expressing these feelings, but I am truly dismayed over our elite Educ Secretary for his neglect of reality.

    I’ll find time to search for the entire speech and maybe I can share that to you and your readers, Joe. If I’m as lucky as the Bro. himself.

      • Joe America says:

        That one was earlier in the year for high school students. The one I referenced was in June to UP. It will probably eventually be put on .gov.

        • sonny says:

          As now I see. Thanks, Joe.

          My take/context on Bro. Armin’s speech, in addition to the many mentioned here, is the adversarial nature between UP the non-sectarian flagship and Bro. Armin’s membership among the Brothers of the Christian Schools, a catholic religious congregation and exacerbated by being head of a establishment department. Hence the soft yellow tack of the article.

          Your reaction gives pause to observe that the complementarity between blogs and anonymity is a mixed blessing, unfettered candidness on one hand and potential abusiveness on the other. That is part of the cost of access, I feel.

          The Society is on the high road, Joe.

  6. lawrence ingaran says:

    I remember what my college professor told us in teaching history why is there a need to let students memorize the exact time or date or the place where it happened? Why not focused on the entire essence of a certain event and make the students do analytical thinking.
    Rote learning was strongly discouraged during my collegiate days, looking back at all foundation of education books what was important is to understand the concept and use higher level thinking skills such as analytical and critical thinking.

    • Joe America says:

      Where did you go to college, lawrence? What you cite is the ideal.

    • sonny says:

      All of the above, Lawrence. Individual memory capacity, objective and methodology are all part of the mix.

    • From my experience, rote learning was encouraged in grade schools, gradually tapering off in high school, and completely gone in college. The ideal way is to read something and then explain it in your own words or analyze and find ways to improve upon them. When I got used to that method, I hated my law subjects which required me to memorize sections upon sections of the code. My favorite law professor was the one who regularly gave us open books examinations, to test us if we know how to apply law in given situations.

  7. Joe,
    I teach at a university, and generally the quality of the throughput (i.e., the raw material made of students) reflects not just the “authoritarian” system.

    There is something more insidious because often parents do the homework, so students learn to fake their learning. And many teachers just pretend to teach, often just reading out the textbook to kill time. Supposedly, it’s a fair way to deal with the low pay, etc.

    The sad process is not something that public officials can easily fix because the participants conspire in this “pretend” process. Even the employers down the road don’t care because they hire on “backer” and “bata-bata” rules. That’s true even for those who graduate from the so-called elite schools.

    And we wonder why human capital around here is thin, to use a tabloid-appropriate word. And we wonder why this country remains poor, except for the few self-taught entrepreneurs and the (we don’t know how many) plain-vanilla epal plunderers we see on silly tv everyday.

    • Joe America says:

      I can imagine, Orlando. Thanks for the explanation. I know parents are an important part of the education chain, and expedience is the rule, but I’m unclear on how to change that other than at the governmental level with some kind of social re-engineering program. But the government needs some self-re-engineering to get that done. Accountability seems missing in action at many levels.

  8. David Murphy says:

    First, I agree with Sec. Luistro’s point that it takes more courage to publish a controversial opinion under one’s own name than under a pseudonym. I do not know if there is increased risk but many people perceive that there is.
    Second, I support what I think is JoeAm’s position that the majority of the time and talent of elementary and secondary students in Philippine schools is wasted and the opinion of many commenters who cite faults in the system.
    I recently reviewed a science exam taken by my fourth grader. The subject involved biology and the classification of life forms. One of the questions concerned identification of an obscure flatworm by matching it with three characteristics, none of them related to classification. The kids were directed to learn trivia that they would forget the day after the exam. What a waste of opportunity to appreciate the broader perspective of Kingdoms, and Phyla, of Families and Genera; to gain a framework of understanding that could be a basis for future learning.
    When I checked the textbook it was obviously the source of the problem. No perspective, no broad view, not even a coherent presentation of data, only random facts, seemingly chosen without purpose. It would take an extraordinary teacher to overcome this handicap and the teachers, at one of the better private schools available here, are not really that extraordinary.
    Build as many classrooms as are necessary; train as many teachers as are needed. Nothing is going to change until the quality of the textbooks is greatly improved along with the training of the teachers. Certainly memorization is an important and necessary skill but an essential part of the training of the new (and re-training of existing) teachers is to wean them away from requiring rote memorization toward teaching of concepts and principles that can be retained and applied to future knowledge.
    I believe that in the process the innate curiosity and intelligence of the Filipino student will be aroused and the joy of learning will become no longer theoretical but reality.

    • Joe America says:

      Wonderful exclamation point.

    • Mary Grace P. gonzales says:

      Sometimes the teachers themselves are the authors of the text books..

    • Mary Grace P. gonzales says:

      Sometimes students have to comply with what are required of them as prescribed by the DECS and the CHED..some like me learned a lot more from books at the library, where the lure of books (other than the prescribed textbooks) kept me there for hours. You can say I learned more from other books than from those used in schools.

      Later, when I started working, I keep on thanking God for the life of whoever invented the excel program, it is truly a heaven sent tool for us accountants. I don’t use the accounting programs existing all around, I so like to create my own, to discover and challenge myself how far I can go to produce reports for stockholders, banks and government.

      Similarly, students today will somehow find their way to be creative, schools and homes are not the only source of learning and knowledge. It can be found in some other places, waiting to be discovered by those who wish to.

      In the old days, it was Good Manners and Right Conduct, years later, it was replaced by Values…I no longer am aware if the subject is given emphasis in today’s curriculum. The foundation starts from home, continues to be nurtured in schools, to be shaped by events and people around. It is said that it takes a village to raise a child, forgot who wrote that, but it has a grain of truth in the saying.

  9. Karl garcia says:

    Quite related.Military personnel get involved in conversion,gun running,private armies,election crimes and other crimes yet most of their officers come from an institution where you get kicked out for violating the honor code(lie,cheat,steal). So transformation can not happen in just one institution. It must be a chain of institutions with no weak links.

    • Mary Grace P. gonzales says:

      Yep, look at our PMA…lying can get you expelled, or not to be allowed to graduate, upon release from the academy, some gets to be coup plotters and actually execute the plot unmindful of hundreds of millions in destroyed properties and scores killed in the process, some became involved in plunder, and yes, you’re quite right, gun running, election crimes, etc.

      What a shame.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, which goes to suggest the breakdown is really outside the educational institution. Or else the educational institution is passing on rules and students shrug them off, just like they do endless repetitions as a substitute for knowledge. Somehow I think knowledge has to have an inner buy-in and that is what is being missed with authoritarian style education. You can’s order a kid to have a conscience.

  10. This is about Sec. Luistro. I agree with you Joe that discourse is important. It’s simply about separating the grain from the chaff if I were in his place. But you see some people get too emotional with their jobs and they feel slighted with criticism. It’s often associated with lack of maturity.

  11. NHerrera says:


    Re your Editor notes, “I wonder why Senator Cayetano has not been attending the Blue Ribbon Subcommittee hearings,” I wonder myself.

    I believe Senator Cayetano, one of the top, intelligent and high-caliber legal minds in the Senate has fully absorbed the trapo DNA of assessing actions in terms of a possible addition or subtraction from his electoral votes. He may have interpreted his probing at the Senate Blue Ribbon Subcommittee of Pimentel as a negative — intuitively equating his behavior at the Mamasapano Investigation, a net negative for him, as being associated with his probe at the SBR Investigation of Binay.

    I contrast this to Trillanes action, whose natural evolution of a trapo in a politician has not fully sipped into his mind yet.

    • Joe America says:

      Interesting take, NHerrera. For sure Senator Cayetano’s performances did not get him any kick in popularity. I think the hearings were watched too narrowly and did not get wide attention. Trillanes has been successful in getting his sound bites listened to (e.g., “Limlingan has fled the Philippines”). He gets the headlines. And I think he is personally committed to bringing the VP to justice, whereas Cayetano may lack that dedication.

  12. jameboy says:

    Not an education expert here so I’ll leave the formulation or theoretical angle of the issue to my betters. I’ll focus instead on the ‘disconnect’, the lighter side, of the story.

    On the Oblation run, I agree with the Ed. Sec. that it’s easier to run naked than help solve poverty. Only question is, was he speaking from experience? On the other hand, why put certain value on the foolish act of some stupid people and take it against the entire studentry? I mean, it’s not that the entire university are so engrossed running in all their glory for the secretary to even include it in his graduation speech.

    Yes, it’s a dumb act that, unfortunately, the state university allows. It’s dumb because why parade Vienna sausages to call attention to your cause when you can invite and have Totoy Mola to lead the run? With a jumbo longgonisa as a vehicle the message would have surely sank in. 😄

    On street shouting and effigies burning, the good secretary has forgotten that not all are authorized to “sit down in talks to find long-lasting solutions to hunger, ignorance and climate change.” Those in the streets are shouting because they want those people they put in power to do their job of problem-solving. They so badly want their government officials, like Sec. Luistro, to deliver and be of service that they’re willing to burn their effigies just to send home their message.

    On pointless commentaries, I think the secretary is again mistaken. A pointless commentary, with or without a real name, is pointless. Waste of time. The secretary doesn’t make sense. Why the interest in knowing the real names of pointless commentators? To be able to what the author implied (What does he want to do, come a’huntin’?)? I mean, if the comment is rubbish or pointless, what’s the need for the real name of the writer? To recruit the guy/gal to work for the government? Was that how Mr. Luistro got his job, writing garbage commentaries with his byline?

    Bottom line, Sec. Luistro should have focused his speech on the life’s challenges facing those who are about to graduate. He could have inspired them by giving a speech about doing something – regardless of how easy or hard it is or if whether it will solve or not a problem – that is relevant in the way they live and how they pursue the life they wanted.

    Pointless commentaries ha. It’s obvious the Ed. Sec. is not aware of the existence of this blog. 😎

    • Joe America says:

      He probably is by now. 🙂 Good analysis.

      One of the things I was reflecting on during my lengthy drive this morning is tangential to what you say. If the education program generated several million alert, capable, critically thinking graduates, there would be no place to put them. Already, college graduates are climbing coconut trees. The other thing is that most people in the Philippines work at JOBS, not careers. The careers are limited to the entitled, or within families. It would be an interesting puzzle to solve, how to build careers into a work force that basically labors.

      • sonny says:

        “Already, college graduates are climbing coconut trees. The other thing is that most people in the Philippines work at JOBS, not careers.”

        This cycle, in my opinion, will be broken by a K-12 structure in our education. Consider:
        *chronology: age 6 thru 17
        *nature of students: the whole gamut of intelligence
        *nature of must-learn skills: rote, creativity, art, science, language, Math
        *nature of pedagogy: the range of trainability among pupils will demand efficiency in transmitting and certifying syllabus from teacher and pupil and hopefully, parents
        *nature of demand from government and family and educators: finance, excellence, concern, direction and prescription, quality of citizenry (a mature individual at disengagement and who will demand more than climbing coconut trees and not-mere jobs, or ELSE …)

        • Joe America says:

          A most interesting assessment. Deeper graduates will seek and qualify for career path opportunities. I would add to that a half-formed idealism that government can do more to assure career paths by having proper laws in place to end nepotism and hiring for any basis other than aptitude and demonstrated ability among large companies (50 or more employees). I say half-formed because I have not researched laws that are in place now.

    • sonny says:

      Or maybe should have cited the case of Admiral Zheng He who brought the Ming dynasty’s hegemony to cover the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. He was a eunuch since childhood.

  13. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    This is very very very terribly incredible. Can’t Luistro know oblation run is to prime U.P. students to have thick Binay face when they graduate to rob the Filipino people from an elected office?

  14. Bing Garcia says:

    “Most probably, the Supreme Court will treat the arrest of an impeachable official as a violation of his status of impeachability,” De Lima said.

    That’s why Grace Poe has to run for president.

    • Joe America says:

      Because he can’t be arrested, and can’t be impeached (in time)? And you peg her as more electable than Roxas? And even in 8 months, Roxas can’t surpass Poe, and would split HER votes?

  15. chempo says:

    A bit on the lighter side.
    Joe, your conversation with your son reminded me of a conversation between my angry sister-in-law (who was once a teacher) and my lazy 12 year old nephew:
    Sis-in-law : Why did’nt you complete all the maths homework I set for you?
    Nephew: Mom, I already understand the concept. Even if you give me 100 questions, the answer is still the same, only the figures will be different.
    Same problem in Singapore.

  16. chempo says:

    “We want them to obey because they understand that character counts, and so does discipline, fair dealing and an orderly society.”

    In Singapore, we have often been criticised by liberals that our educational system and many other rules and regulations nurture a compliant society designed to keep the ruling party entrenched. But many of the “compliant” population will say that all those soft systems in place were meant to achieve the very critical objectives that you pointed out.

    In schools we too have flag raising ceremonies and we have a pledge. Our pledge was crafted right after independence and imbued with the qualities we want as a nation given the cultural divisiveness of the nation at the time (we went through a racial riot when we were a part of Malaysia). It goes like this :

    “We, the citizens of Singapore,
    pledge ourselves as one united people,
    regardless of race, language or religion,
    to build a democratic society
    based on justice and equality
    so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and
    progress for our nation.”

    (Interestingly, this pledge is completely in sync with the meanings or symbolism of our state flag.) We sing the national anthem and then make the pledge. Of course one can just go through the motion of mouthing the pledge meaningless everyday. Or starting from little kids, you are fired up as you make the pledge and take the meanings seriously.

    I do not know the context of the pledge in Philippines. But I guess, just like in any country, it is left to the authorities such as the teachers, to take it out of a mundane exercise into something that inspires.

    • Joe America says:

      Philippine Patriotic Oath (English):

      I love the Philippines, the land of my birth,
      The home of my people, it protects me and helps me
      Become strong, hardworking and honorable.
      Because I love the Philippines,
      I will heed the counsel of my parents,
      I will obey the rules of my school,
      I will perform the duties of a patriotic citizen,
      Serving, studying, and praying faithfully.
      I offer my life, dreams, successes
      To the Philippine nation.

      Pledge of Allegiance to the Philippine Flag (English):

      I am a Filipino
      I pledge my allegiance
      To the flag of the Philippines
      And to the country it represents
      With honor, justice and freedom
      Put in motion by one Nation
      For God
      for the People,
      for Nature and
      for the Country

      • Joe America says:

        To me, the Patriotic Oath is an oath of obedience and sacrifice. Not one of aspiration and growth and inspiration. I don’t have the audacity to try to pen anything different, however.

  17. edgar lores says:

    1. I struggle.

    2. I struggle about many things. But one of the hardest things I struggle with is not knowing when a person making a statement is uttering a realized truth or a mere platitude.

    3. What do I make of the statements of Armin Luistro, the Secretary of the Department of Education?

    3.1. I would like to disregard his last quoted statement because JoeAm has amply taken him to task and made a lengthy rebuttal. Perforce, I am impelled to say three things:

    3.1.1. One, he may be referring to trolls but by NOT making a qualification he belittles all commenters. Do trolls spend much “time and energy” in making commentaries? Time perhaps, but energy?

    3.1.2. Two, that in dismissing engagement on social media, the good Secretary reveals great ignorance of the powerful impact social media has had on our personal and national lives.

    3.1.3. Three, the good Secretary disregards the heart, care and thoughtfulness that go into (some, not all) commentaries. I would draw attention to his use of the word “commentary” instead of “comments”. If the good Secretary were more diligent and discerning, he would have used the latter instead of the former. Within the context of social media, a comment is a “written remark expressing an opinion or reaction. Whereas a commentary is an “expression of opinion or offering of explanations about an event or situation.” A commentary can be an opinion or something more. An “offering of explanations” is hardly pointless and indicates that a degree of thinking – and, yes, “time and energy” — have gone into it and is not merely an off-the-cuff reaction.

    3.2. From this alone, I would conclude that the good Secretary’s third statement is not only a thoughtless remark but a grievous one.

    4. Before I say why it is so, let us look at second quoted statement. Here the good Secretary says that it is easier “to shout on the streets and burn effigies than to sit down in talks to find long-lasting solutions to end hunger, ignorance and climate change.”

    4.1. There are two parts to the statement. The first part is a denigration of protest movements. And the second part is of the need to find solutions to the three of the greatest problems facing mankind.

    4.2. I will not dwell much on the second part. The problem of climate change is within our capacity to solve. If not, the earth will resolve it for us… although it may not be to our liking. But I daresay that the problems of poverty and ignorance — which are perennial and generational problems — will be with mankind… as long as mankind lives. (Why do I think so? Primarily because while we can try to mandate equality of opportunities, we cannot mandate equality of capacities and outcomes. Group and individual motivations and capabilities – even without consideration of other variables — will always alter outcomes in the quality of our thinking and in our lives.)

    4.3. As to the first part, I can only shake my head. In the third statement, we see the good Secretary belittling individual effort (in thinking and commenting), and here in the second statement we see him belittling group effort (in thinking and protesting). Both the belittled efforts are realizations and expressions of what is wrong with the world and, thereby, are drivers to change it for the better. Does not the good Secretary see this?

    4.3.1. Yes, there is a time to sit down and resolve matters, but there is also a time to stand up and raise our voices and banners in protest.

    5. Suddenly, the grievous thinking of the Secretary becomes obvious. Does he really want education to produce outliers? Certainly, not by his methods. By stifling individual and group dissent, he demonstrates a narrow perspective and shows every intention of perpetuating orthodoxy. (The prominent crucifix in the second photo reinforces this impression.) To my ears, the attempted call to a higher level of thinking and action is the exact opposite of toughness, is uninspiring and falls flat.

    • Joe America says:

      Thank you, Edgar. Once again, you took my three levels deep down to six, and you got the message of the photograph exactly. I left the photo at 1,000 words, and you added the 50 or so needed to put an exclamation point to it. Individuality, right to protest, right to self expression. They are attributes of a young person who thinks and acts critically and is willing to test the rigidity of his elders. I believe that is what makes for progress and change and provides the energy for development of higher values. My my my, you do inspire . . .

  18. J says:

    Hi Joe, I read your blog always but can’t always post comment because usually busy at the office, but right now I think I have to post a comment because I personally know Bro. Armin to be a visonary patriot and educator who understands what it takes to take Philippine education forward, and he has selflessly exerted a lot of efforts, believe me. He has implemented the most revolutionary of reforms in our education sector and you haven’t seen him take any credit for it. He is a selfless man. I think you miss he point of his speech. He wasn’t pontificating against social media– far from it. In fact he has utilized social media to make sure the state can track out-of-school youth and bring them back to school. He was merely decrying the fact that a lot of young talents are wasted because of misguided movements that seek not to contribute but to destroy. He was talking about students who rant but don’t do anything constructive, and believe me there’s a LOT of them. Cheers. Keep well. J

    • Joe America says:

      Well, you are the second personal testimony here as to the upstanding character of the Secretary. Do read Edgar Lores’ comment, as it is more elaborate about the Secretary’s comments. It would be very helpful to get a copy of the whole speech because we may be misreading the context from that simple Inquirer excerpt.

      But those points aside, we still have the issue of what an ethical wasteland does to kids, along with the danger of rote learning stripping inspiration and aspiration and personal commitment to learning from a child’s education. My reaction to the speech was just the vehicle to get into that discussion, and no doubt I was hard on a good man. But education is worth getting passionate about, I think.

      • Joe America says:

        By the way, I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I smiled at your tweet the other day about still being at the office whilst everyone else had left. But it was not a COMPLAINT. ahahahaha It was just a pointed observation. 🙂 🙂 Be well yourself.

  19. hackguhaseo says:

    LOL, you’ve been taken to task this time Joe. That’s fine though, we all lose our cool sometimes. Still, some of the context applies in this post in that Filipinos, or most Asians in general are encouraged to absorb and memorize information above all else.

    When we were in elementary and even HS for example, we were shown multiplication flash cards wherein we were supposed to answer within one second through simple memorization.

    It’s not 9×9=81 because multiplying 9 by 9 will lead to 81. Rather, 9×9=81 is because the cards say so and that’s what the students are told to memorize.

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t make an effort to memorize stuff though since even writing requires memorization of the alphabet.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, I agree memorization is a skill. Some brains seem better at it than others, but I know it can be developed. I’d rather see my son memorize bible versus than arithmetic tables because he already knows how to use a calculator. Moral lessons can be used for a lifetime. He will eventually figure out the role of faith in his life. Because he is already adept at critical thinking.

      It is the memorization detached from any lesson that I object to, because I think it stifles the desire to explore. Learning becomes a drudge rather than a joy.

      • Joe America says:

        ps, yes, it looks like I picked on the wrong guy. 🙂

        • sonny says:

          @ Joe, context on my comment about K-12 structure:

          I got below-C for all my Arithmetic multiplications: I carried remainders by adding to next order multiplicand BEF distributing multiplier. Should be AFT distributing multiplier. I carried this rote into grades 5 & 6. dumbo me!

          • Joe America says:

            Haha, that’s a good one. So you got lots of reps doing it the wrong way. Beautiful.

            • sonny says:

              Boy, did I ever. So there are many pitfalls no matter. That’s why I am partial to tracking in class sections or some methods of accelerating fast learners and helping slower ones keep pace.

      • I can relate to what you want for your son. In our church, we are required to have a memory verse everyday and that is a good source of wisdom, specially if the verse comes from the Book of Proverbs.

        I remember a chapter in the book, To kill a Mocking Bird, not sure if its, really the one, my memory is a bit rusty this morning…Atticus is walking through the village and each neighbor/acquaintance/friend greet and answer him and each other with such memory verses. I liked that.

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, indeed. I developed lazy memory habits because I could not get the importance of dates in early history classes. They had no relevance. I have a feeling if the instructors had spent time on the relevance, I might have tried harder. About the only verses I have lodged in my memory banks are the Pledge of Allegiance, the Lord’s Prayer, and the opening lines to “The Ballad of the Ice Worm Cocktail” by Robert Service.

          “To Dawson Town came Percy Brown from London on the Thames, a pane of glass was in his eye and stockings on his stems. Upon the shoulder of his coat a leather patch he wore, to rest his deadly rifle when it wasn’t seeking gore . . .” I think that is fairly close. It is a moral lesson on courage, and our inherent mental weaknesses. And humility, I suppose.

          • What a sharp memory! And what a lovely opening lines by Robert. Was a Percy Brown a soldier who got wounded and blinded in war? War is such a cruel business. I hope we will be successful in Hague, the world to declare China a rogue nation so she will leave us alone in the 200 mile EZ without war. Let us all pray for the sake of our youth who will be required to carry and “rest his deadly rifle on his shoulder when it wasn’t seeking gore”.

            I am a fan of poems that rhyme… tried it in my youth, alas.. no such luck!…didn’t have the gift of words much less words that rhyme… concentrated on drawing and sketching for a while (until now, I draw and doodle when bored and to rest my eyes from all that reading) ditched them as well, no money for an art course or course, nor in a course in medicine, my first love…Anyways, the arts, music and PE were my worst subjects when I was studying, the opposite of my sister who excelled in those three ….she is the star of the whole school, a great beauty and grace, a friend to all… I so miss her as she settled in Hong Kong with her family.

            • Joe America says:

              I think Percy Brown was a dilettante, the pane of glass in his eye being a monocle through which he looked down his nose at others, especially the rough men of the Arctic wilds. As the gang at the saloon proved, he was rather not all he pretended to be. I got an “A” in speech for reading that poem in class, a perfect 8 minutes long. A regular drama king was I in 11th grade. I also read it to our Alaska river rafting compadres as we were camped in the middle of nowhere for the night, amongst the bears and howling wolves, but protected by the blazing fire and the good humor of Robert Service.

              Hong Kong is an interesting place, I find. Modern and old, civil and uncivil, fun and a pain in the neck. I suspect your Sis can handle that town.

              • She surely can, I can only gape in awe of her facility to speak mandarin and cantonese, while arguing and debating with her Chinese mother-in-law and brothers-in-law. (Mind you, she was not able to finish even high school…) I was limited to chousan, sek pana & mmmcoi… heck couldn’t even write it down correctly) I found the old woman to be warm and caring, so protective of her family (it included me for the duration of my 2 weeks stay there). I could not eat some of her cooking as I was not accustomed to exotic dishes, had to say I had skin allergies when I tried them so I would not hurt her feelings. They visited their relatives in the mainland (whoa, they have palatial homes there, quite unlimited by space and all that) and they so love my sister as she can talk to them in their language, also they are partial to beautiful faces, I think… they were wild with awe of the twins..who looked like American babies…

                Not all of the HK residents are that warm and friendly though.. a few look down on Pinays who were mostly domestic helpers.

      • sonny says:

        Eavesdropping on your anecdotes, Mary G & Joe:

        I find myself reminiscing on my encounters with poems and ‘proses.’ The pressure of being graded and/or performing, viva voce, in class many times took the fun out of learning. What stuck is a scrapbook of impressions about the study agenda at hand and memorized lines especially the opening ones. A sampling for me:

        “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree …” — Coleridge

        “I fled him through the days and through the nights … I fled him down the labyrinthine ways of my mind …” — Thompson

        and my favorite:

        “This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and hemlocks, bearded with moss and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight” — Longfellow

        and of course:

        “Omnis Gallia divisa est in tres partes … ” — Julius Caesar’s The Gallic Wars

        Studying the last one (Latin) literally welds English grammar and spelling to one’s mind forever!

        • Joe America says:

          And yet, you can remember those lines, and I . . . missing the demanding memorizations . . . learned to be lazy of recollection. I might have to reverse myself . . .

          By the way, my son has near photographic recollection, which I blame on his mother. So maybe the repetitions gets infused into the genes as a skill and that advances the species.

          I might really have to reverse myself. . .

          • sonny says:

            Truly, the marvels of memory!!

            It comes in all shapes and forms literally. Just listening to the conversations of this blog is truly a delectable parade of personalities that memories bring, the myriad of content and extent and organization … Nurture your son’s particular configuration of memory and you’ll see the wonder that will unfold. Like you I ‘fault’ my wife’s genes, Joe. 🙂 we have only two sons, but the world’s they brought to us are incomparable. We watched the older one plod through music lessons till he played Chopin and Beethoven by rote. The younger one went to the other half of the brain as we watched him design algorithms for MRI programs for the beating heart, specifically. Life is indeed a boon! Would that our society sees and nourishes this.

  20. edgar lores says:

    1. I would like to thank those who have attested to the good Secretary’s competence.

    2. We are examining some of the ideas that the Secretary has put forward and, to the extent that these ideas indicate his inclinations, his life philosophy. On the basis of two or three ideas, we are NOT evaluating his character nor his job performance.

    2.1. The test of the Secretary’s cited ideas is this: Are you as a new graduate (or now as an adult) inspired to put aside your “pointless” pursuits and to sit down and work out solutions to poverty, ignorance and climate change?

    3. All of us have less than fully-developed ideas. All of us have gross thoughts. It would be a serious error to fully identify our thoughts as being us. In much the same way, the ideas under evaluation are NOT Secretary Luistro.

    4. I have posited that poverty and ignorance are “eternal” problems. (“You will always have the poor among you.”) They are intractable. This is not to say that we should not attempt to mitigate them.

    4.1. I understand that one of the Secretary’s objectives, part of his educational revolution, is to try to diminish the illiteracy rate. Figures are not current, but the literacy rate varies between 95.4% to 97.5%. Any attempt to improve on these rates is a worthy objective. It would be good if we can find the improvement rate under the good Secretary’s watch.

    5. As to poverty, government, in its duty of social justice, can construct a safety net to lessen its effects. Still, people will fall through the safety net through chance and circumstance — or by choice.

    5.1. The current spectacle in Greece, where one sees grown men crying, where the suicide rate is the highest in the European Union, and where government itself is largely responsible for the chasm opening beneath the feet of its citizens, is instructive. One may have money in the bank, but what if the banks are running out of money?

    • Joe America says:

      One may have good intentions in developing the literary rate, but if the students are dumped into an ethical wasteland, what is the effort really producing? And if graduates are not able to think on their feet . . . think critically . . . what chance is there of developing an economy or government that is centered on doing things well?

      Is the Secretary only responsible for what goes on in the school rooms, or is he obligated to think broader? To understand the waste of potential if the examples set before the students daily is rotten to the bone? Think of the change in character of the Philippines if students KNEW that their effort was going to be rewarded with fair and honest opportunity. Not stolen by the entitled, not used and abused by the empowered. Maybe the Secretary should be in the President’s ear and have him mention in his forthcoming SONA that “we in government” have to do a better job of behaving ethically and honestly as examples for our youth. Maybe he should be in Senator Drilon’s office asking for fair employment laws that end hiring and promotions at large companies for any reason but aptitude and experience. So that young people entering the job market can fairly search for careers, not just jobs.

      • sonny says:

        I agree, Joe. But as Karl has mentioned, NO weak links: e.g. erode Binay-effect on CDE + re-inforce Sen Bam’s AB SMEs + backstop Luistro’s ABCDE next generations + incentivize capitalists to ameliorate AB careerists + expose declare war on other Binay-wannabe’s

  21. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Luistro is a browned skin pigsnout Filipino graduate from la Salle telling his nemesis, University of the Philippines to stop running naked !!!!!

    Luistro has UNCOLONIZED MIND. Luistro has no COLONIAL MENTALITY.

  22. Christopher Fortinez Torres says:

    I was there when he gave the speech Joe (my sister is finally done with her undergrad) and he was definitely talking about mindless trolls.

    He’s been delivering the same string of words (+/- some lines) for 4 months now. I’ve heard him deliver an earlier version of the same speech last April. So, if the message intends to be an attack dog, the repetition of of delivering it knocked off most of its teeth. I wouldn’t describe the piece as “tough”, It was more like “let’s get this over with”.

    Overall, the piece gave a message of not selling out. Work hard. Work hard for your country. Better yet, work hard for the government. A bit cliche but I would be disappointed if this was not pointed out.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, thanks, Christopher. I appreciate the clarification as to his main message, to get involved. It’s a good one.

      • Christopher Fortinez Torres says:

        Its either that or he just wanted to speak in a university known for breeding activists. He did say that being interrupted by an angry mob made him feel like a rock star.

  23. Bill Gates is a man of values, he is a great philanthropist..It was reported that he funded UP Los Baños’ IRRI research (miracle rice) among other programs for the poor.

    Steve Jobs is another not outstanding student but we know how successful he was.

    My sister did not even finish high school, but is so smart, she is wealthier than me…ahahahaha!

    Life is ironic.

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