“Brains, ability, character, and drive”

Sen Angara: “Progressive teaching is key in improving the quality of education in the country. I think the traditions have to change.” [Source: bagongaurora.com]

By JoeAm

In my last article, I wrote that the Philippine’s average IQ is lower than its Asian neighbors. I wondered if the nation is smart enough to figure out how to get smarter.

Here is a check-list of possible reasons why the Philippines lags behind other Asian states in average IQ:

  • Nutrition (brains and bodies do not develop fully)
  • Poverty (families can’t afford nutrition and education)
  • Isolation (tribalism blocks worldly knowledge)
  • Colonization (colonizers want obedient subjects, not independent thinkers)
  • Suppression (dictators and those of impunity suppress ideas)
  • Oppression (society’s norms block information; for example, psychiatry is shunned and success is ridiculed)
  • Rote teaching (people learn to pass exams rather than solve problems and be precise)
  • The media are focused on sensationalism rather than information (very little knowledge gets passed around)
  • The elite claim all the opportunities (smart self-starters are blocked by the favored, who are often inept)
  • Most people work as order-takers (it is what bosses expect; they are threatened by assertive competence)
  • Lack of introspection (people blame and deny rather than accept accountability and improve)

Let me start with a dramatic assumption. I assume a leader is elected in 2022 who will set out to make the Philippines a whole lot smarter, for if he or she does not, Filipinos will suffer and the cycles of self-destructive acts will just repeat.

What can be done?

Let’s go way outside the box, and then consider in the discussion section what is practical or off the mark.

Step one. Commit.

To get smarter, one must accept first that there is a problem. If there is not, read no further. Don’t worry about this article. Things are fine.

But if there is a problem, don’t run from it, cast blames, or deny it. Set out to change things.

The nation’s leadership will have to establish an official commitment, of the highest priority: make the Philippines smarter and better at solving problems. Make it a national obsession, rather like the US commitment to space under President Kennedy in the 1970s. This is necessary to attain complete engagement across the nation. Businesses, schools, governments, families, and media will all have to participate. Essentially, every institution will have to set out to “be smarter”.

To do this quickly, the Philippines must create a flood of intelligence moving up from the schools and out into government and business. And that flood of intelligence must be the kind of thinking that does not just pass exams and get diplomas, but is able to solve problems and adhere to disciplines of ethical order. And it must be determined, competitive, results-oriented. And rewarded.

That is the vision.

Step two. Recast education.

Education will have have to be completely recast. No longer will education be designed to get everyone into college or put diplomas on the walls. It will be designed to identify, teach, and promote the smartest, most capable, most ethical, and most competitive people and move them into a national ‘human resources supply chain’. It will move Filipinos into NEEDED JOBS where they can be most productive, based on their knowledge and skills. College will be just one channel aimed at specific national needs for technical proficiency.

Look again at the qualifications for advancement in school: intelligence, capability, values, and competitiveness.

Brains, ability, character, and drive.

How might education change? Management and leadership academies might be located at key cities across the nation (convert the Science and Technology schools into Critical Thinking Academies). Staff them with high paid teachers. The rest of the school system will shift gears as well, always scanning for talent and directing it to highest and best need.

Throughout the Philippines, mindless work for students will be removed from lesson plans and replaced with: (1) proof of ability, and (2) application of knowledge. For instance, rather than a child working 20 pages of mindless multiplication problems and getting bored about education, the child will periodically be tested to identify when he or she has the CONCEPT mastered. Once the student has mastered the concept, and is properly celebrated for it, he or she will move forward to apply the knowledge on story problems (problem solving) or special developmental challenges (research reports), and then moved quickly on to the next stage of math.

The current grade-level system of advancement will be replaced with an achievement-level system of advancement. Grade levels are artificial and constrain a whole lot of students. The new system will open doors, not keep them closed. It will give every child a path to success. Every step forward will be celebrated. Everyone will be a winner. There will be no losers in education, except those not enrolled.

College will no longer be envisioned as “for everyone”, but for technical proficiency that is needed for the nation to progress rapidly. Rather than producing thousands of hotel/restaurant managers who can pass an exam but have no job prospects, the nation will produce oceanographers, computer scientists, robotics developers, experts at 3-d printing and lasers, and skilled brain surgeons. It will produce human-resources managers for businesses and high-skill teachers.

College enrollment levels will be adjusted to national need. It is the pipeline for talent that will enable the nation to organize, produce, and prosper.

The system will relentlessly search for the smartest, highest principled, most competitive students. They will be given advantages all along the path, directly into college, teaching, management, or leadership and eventually well-paid jobs. Impunity and favoritism is out. Showboating is out. Achievement is in. Not only will the nation become smarter, it will become more competitive and successful.

Step three. Required state service.

This is the area I have not totally figured out. But if the school system is producing millions of people with better problem-solving capacity, ethical foundations, and competitiveness, the nation needs an arena in which they can compete and thrive. And get paid.

The first filter to identify top caliber performers would be the school system. A few superstars would get channeled into specific business or government internship and advancement paths. Others would go to college, aiming at specific national needs for skilled technical people. But most would not yet have a career path.

A second filter might be mandated state service for those not going to college.

Opportunity for millions of high school graduates can best be nurtured and assured by requiring . . . and paying for . . . them to serve two years working for the state in military or civilian jobs, with the organization built to identify and develop smart, principled, competent people and give them managerial experience and technical skills. State service would be the launch pad for people entering large corporations or government agencies. TESDA would become an arm of State service for skill development in a variety of fields.

Step 4: All institutions must focus on intelligence

The kind of intelligence the nation needs is the problem-solving kind. The kind that demands and achieves perfection in all outputs.

All government agencies and large businesses (more than 50 employees) would be required to hire . . . for all new hires . . . certified people from universities or state service. The ramifications would be rather startling. The Senate, for example, would no longer employ actors or boxers because they would not qualify for the ballot. Your sales clerk at SM mall would understand the importance of putting the customer first and you’d get first-class treatment every visit. Government agencies would no longer run on paper, having hired skilled computer people to automate everything.

Each institution and large business would have to develop a certification program, and a human resources management framework, that would assure top people are hired, advanced, and paid well. This will require a National Human Resources Certification Board (NHRCB) to validate and approve HR plans of government agencies and large businesses.

Yes, there are certain to be rumples in the stiltskin, but the overall attitude MUST be to accept mistakes or bugs as a normal occurrence for such bold initiatives. The proper response is to commit to correcting them.

Blames are a waste of intellectual energy.

Step 5: Watch the nation grow rapidly in principle, achievement, and prosperity.


111 Responses to ““Brains, ability, character, and drive””
  1. Zen says:

    A very tall order indeed.

    • Yes, impossible, I would estimate. But if anyone ever asks, “did we lack a way to inspire Filipino youth”, the answer will be “no, we did not lack a way, we lacked the will.”

    • NHerrera says:

      It is a tall order, but …

      There is no question but to put priority to un-dumb the mass of Filipinos.

      A = Get economy going well with or without a authoritarian leader, preferably without
      B = Full scope and speed on the Intelligence Project

      A-B ~ Chicken-Egg

      It is not a question of which comes first. A multi-disciplinary group of experienced, critical thinking achievers can start to put together a framework with enough details [TSH’s article being one take off point] for implementation at a certain time, starting with the practical aspect of nutrition associated mainly with poverty. Studies have shown conclusively that children suffering from poor nutrition stunts not only the physical but the mental ability of these children growing into adults.

      The practical aspect of a capable labor force to fuel the economy beyond the BBB Program should be the interest of the Leader, authoritarian or not.

  2. Micha says:


    These are all policy proposals which in our current system of governance require concurrence, commitment and official acts of both congress and the executive. So unless you are amenable to a certain form of authoritarian rule to get these proposals done, the first thing we need to do is get the scoundrel out of Malacanang because the idiot-in-chief will definitely not welcome any of these.

    That means waiting up til 2022 and get somebody there who is more hospitable to these OR prematurely yank the current one out through popular democratic revolt.

    • Right, that is why I envision the nation being ready for something like this in 2022 because a whole lot of people are getting rather tired of the death and destruction of the current policies.

      • Micha says:

        Mexico, which is not unlike the Philippines in more ways than one, is most likely to elect a left of center President this coming July.

        A President Walden Bello or a President Satur Ocampo might be good too for the Philippines provided they do a lot of shaking up such as those in your proposal.

        • Yes, that could be a possible path, but there is the reality of the business community they would have to deal with. Well . . . in thinking about that, the approach I outline would also have to pass muster with oligarchs. They’d likely have to pay more taxes to fund the state work programs.

          • Francis says:

            A president with Duterte’s supposed sternness—but not his carelessness—while at the same time enjoying the trust and respect of both the Left and the Right, could do it. I think of the arrangements that the US and Europe had between labor and capital that helped formed the foundations for their welfare states.

            He would have to be a Solomonic figure who can ensure a grand compromise between the elite and the masses.

            • You will not have one character in the Philippines who can fill those shoes, not now.. Not because the race cannot produce it, but because character development isn’t that far.

              West Germany had Adenauer, “Der Alte”, stern, 73 years old, allegedly moved the capital of the West to Bonn, just across the river from his house.

              He ruled up to the age of 88, but because he knew his limits as an old man, went home and kept fit by playing boccia in his garden. Also, he invented what is known as “Kanzlerdemokratie” where the chancellor keeps ministers on a tight leash – saves time..

              With the help of a veteran bureacrat, he created mirror functions in the Chancellery which had experts for the work of what are called “cabinet clusters” in the Philippines. No single minister could ever fool him as his people had him briefed beforehand.

              He was a bit hated or ignored later on, a bit like Quezon in the Philippines, but for his time he was the right person – a liberal with the authoritarian sternness people STILL needed. He also absorbed parts of the old Nazi elite, made them work for democracy – also needed. Imagine what would have happened if they had fought democracy from within the system and outside it, like Marcos loyalists have done in the Philippines ever since 1986? The closest the Philippines had to Adenauer was FVR, but he was not sufficiently realistic..

            • Yes, that would help. Or an established person could shape himself/herself to be that kind of leader, and surprise us with it during the campaign.

          • Micha says:


            “They’d likely have to pay more taxes to fund the state work programs.”

            Ah and there’s the rub, no one need to pay more taxes to implement the national gov’t programs – not the oligarchs or the medium income earners. There’s a perfectly doable, perfectly rational mechanism available solely to the national gov’t called sovereign spending which circumvents and nullifies any need for tax revenue.

        • Francis says:

          Walden Bello as a potential president?

          Ah—but in the Pilipins, you get certain idiots like that idiot in DA who thinks that his biases and stereotypes against the poor count MORE than the agreement of the neoliberal World Bank and social democrat Lula on the benefits, on the potential of a wide-ranging CCT program. Imagine that. A successful and enormous welfare scheme that is actually both supported by parts of the Left and Right—essentially, the perfect bipartisan policy—and which has won international acclaim…

          …and there are people who don’t like the program because it makes the poor (?) lazy even though the whole point of CCT is to give a little breathing room, incentives towards the long term thinking we keep insisting the poor should have?

          Ay caramba!

          • Even the breathing space of “tambay” which for many poor is a relief from crowded and hot living quarters is being taken from them now. Florin Hilbay, who grew up in Tondo, describes that tambay was an essential part of his life then. Popoy who is a retired UP professor mentions that in his times, everybody was basically hung out, but I guess that was before the days of ubiquitous TV, Internet etc. – but it does fascinate me that he still walked all the way from Rembo to McKinley / Bonifacio. Mens sana in corpore sano, well I guess then you got more oxygen than fumes into your lungs in those days, the days when sonny’s mother still had to take a boat across to Marikina from Cubao to get pinakbet ingredients..

            Reduce fumes that make people stupid in the long run, make sure all big cities in the country have breathable air, oxygen is essential for the brain. Make sure public transport works so that people are not PERENIALLY SLEEP DEPRIVED. My experience is that lack of sleep makes you stupid, you need enough rest to stay smart in any practical sense.

            • NHerrera says:

              Ping Lacson is suspicious that instead of urging the Local Government Units — who must know better than the PNP their tambays — to do something about the problem if problem it is, considering local situations, the PNP itself is involved. That indeed raises suspicions.

            • sonny says:

              🙂 Addendum: the nectar & ambrosia ingredients at the end of our banca-ride across the Marikina River included the genuine after-stomach juices of sweet papait for our weekly Sunday repast of pinapaitan and jumping fresh shrimp (eaten raw with only salt & kalamansi squeeze and tomato slices on the side). Yes, Amorsolo’s “sa kabukiran” idyllic days were alive and well then. Nowadays only the butchers can enjoy such a dish worthy of Babette’s banquet table. sigh …

          • I think Bello is too old and temperamental to have the top job, based on his petulant resignation from Congress and statements that followed. Regarding my article, I imagine CCT funds being shifted to the state worker program where it can support known productive activities.

            • Micha says:

              If there’s a dearth of leftist candidates for the top job then the country might be doomed for more dumbness from here to eternity.

              Intelligence, as they would say, has a left wing bias.

              Jovito Salonga, Raul Rocco, Jose Diokno, Ninoy Aquino – all gone now. All would have been great presidents we never had.

              Who’s going to carry the torch?

              • The most ardent leftist is Senator Hontiveros, I think. She struggles with mainstream acceptance. Former Sol Gen Hilbay and VP Leni Robredo have very people-based principles. Hilbay’s following is growing fast. The VP is probably where most people would go for rational leadership. I don’t think former CJ Sereno has popular backing. I don’t see anyone from the churches emerging, or leftist organizations that are still protesting in front of the US Embassy (clearly not very intelligent leftists).

              • Micha says:

                Given the political temperament of Pinoys, Senator Hontiveros or Hilbay need to make a splash. He or she could, for example, declare on national TV that the highly regressive VAT should be abolished to give relief to struggling families.

                Or make a proposal for free quality tertiary education.

                It’s not enough to rile against the perfidy of the current regime. You need to create a rival credible narrative for voter consumption.

                The church is a spent force. It has contributed much to the decline of voter intelligence and the institutional dysfunction of the state.

              • You should expand this thinking into a blog article. It has some gems for debate. Creating a rival credible narrative is important. I’d say one is building now, and it might be called “Stop this cruel, uncivil nonsense NOW!”

                If a rival narrative is “Jail these people for their crimes!”, then Senators Trillanes and De Lima would move into the picture.

              • Micha says:

                Been thinking about it, if I can squeeze in one on the schedule.

          • Micha says:


            If you are referring to Manny Pinol I think he is a probinsyano conservative stuck in the old values of hard work and unfamiliar with the dynamics of a modern economy.

  3. Joe, the basic outline is excellent. Some comments:

    1. Commit. You need the likes of Florin Hilbay, Richard Heydarian, Miguel Syjuco, Dr. Gideon Lasco, Miyako Izabel, John Nery, Inday Espina-Varona, etc. in leadership/advisory positions. This is just a small, spontaneous selection, nothing final, just who I think of in terms of top-level thinkers.

    2. Recast education. Miyako Izabel twittered about a kind of top-flight technical university recently, also one of my ideas. I like the idea of training problem solving, either scenario based or with real projects. Filipino ingenuity needs to be unleashed. It is there but hides out of fear of punishment.

    3. Required state service. I think the state service needs to be reformed into a real civil service, similar to what the former British colonies have. Or like Germany (and Japan and South Korea which more or less copied the original Prussian model) where the civil service basically runs things, everything from USec downwards are career people who know by heart what is needed and do it, while the politicians can just give a new direction but not change the way the ship itself is run..

    4. Focus on intelligence. A truly competitive business environment and a focused state service would do that by itself. In state service, the “Palace eunuchs” (Chinese term for sowers of intrigue and mediocracy like Midas Marquez) must be removed. Have the likes of Trillanes/Alejano do that.

    5. Watch the nation grow. A majority will have to realize the need for excellence, must want it.

    Point 3) is where you mix the advantages of dictatorship and democracy. But avoid the palace eunuchs, the likes of Midas Marquez, Vitaliano Aguirre, Harry Roque, Alan Cayetano and more.

    Point 5) I guess you need to have those who constantly keep watch for any backsliding. Not in an inquisitional manner, no more wannabe Torquemadas like VACC, but watchful eyes are needed. Also, hidebound rules that block getting stuff done should be removed in favor of project thinking. That deeply annoyed me in the discussions about Ma. Lourdes Sereno was the eche-bucheche (c) Prof. Popoy needed to get simple things done, the Evil 8 focused on mindless rules, not results.

    • edgar lores says:

      Love the term.

      Harry Roque is a palace eunuch!

    • chemrock says:

      4. Eunuchs — absolutely befitting.
      These are the lowest of the lowly palade officials who bitch and thrive in palace intrigues. A little bit of power swells their head double size.
      The Chinese eunuchs were castrated as their roles were to administer to the ladies in the palace.
      Philippines eunuchs are castrated so they don’t have the courage to tell the boss off.

    • 1. Florin Hilbay could be the kind of inspirational leader who could point out the widespread promise that such an educational program would represent. He “been there, done that”.

      2. Perfect. Exactly what is needed, with the technical training pointed toward industries where the Philippines can emerge and thrive.

      3. Agree. Thanks for crystallizing what was in my mind.

      4. Indeed, intelligence would be sucked up from the top (businesses, government) more than driven from the bottom.

      5. The program would inspire that backing once parents started seeing their kids moving up in education, rather than sitting stagnant and bored.

      A LOT of work would have to be done to shape and manage programs, and eliminate bugs. Agree.

  4. edgar lores says:

    1. I am stuck at Step 1.

    2. I remember Kennedy’s great ambitious call to put men on the moon. This was in 1961. This was a hopeful time, the middle of the Beat Generation transitioning into the Hippie Revolution. De Gaulle ruled France and Adenauer Germany. This was the year Obama was born. And George Clooney.

    3. Now, the presidential ambition in America is to build a Wall. In the Philippines, to build casinos for the burgeoning intake of Chinese.

    4. Post-Duterte, it would take a leader of great vision and strength to start this counterrevolution against dumbness to intelligence. Four years from now, the complexion of Congress will not have changed much, I don’t think. Most of the seating SC justices will be gone, leaving only Leonen, Caguioa, and Gesmundo; most will be Duterte appointees. Leonen and Caguioa, the good guys, will be outgunned and outnumbered.

    5. The bright spots may be the ascendance of Robredo to the Executive, Sereno to the Senate, and the freeing of De Lima. If ever, this will be a time of recovery, like Cory’s time. Of undoing the Dictator’s work. Of re-cementing the foundations. Of institutionalizing resistance.

    • NHerrera says:

      Nice read.

      Fortunately, you are not stuck in Sotto’s Skul Bukol. 🙂

    • In my mind, there would be a complete moral rejection of the current approach, making progressive proposals very attractive to people if presented right and once people realize that, hey, education is my family’s hope now that there are avenues for success.

      Your point 5 expresses that soft revolution.

      You can move on to point 2 now. 🙂

  5. Francis says:

    @Joeam, @Irineo

    Thank you for your insights.

    I agree with many of the insights observed, but would wish to clarify the framing and content of some points made—from the perspective of a student whose present course is more on the “liberal arts” side of things. I observe that many of us here come from different varied backgrounds, but certain patterns can be surmised; the general background of us commentators leans towards STEM and Management.

    Hence—there is an enormous emphasis on this notion of “problem-solving” which I do think is important, but I feel is not enough.

    Which is why I am uncomfortable with the idea of focusing on technical universities and polytechnics (Irineo’s suggestion) without taking into account the poor state of liberal arts education—or rather, poor regard for the liberal arts that is palpable in Filipino society. I speak from very personal experience; it seems that the only point of a course in the social sciences or the liberal arts in this country, is to become an attorney.

    No one actually pauses to think that—maybe—study of this is worthwhile in itself, in how it simply broadens our minds.

    In the eyes of Filipino society—it seems that the Almighty Attorney is first, the manager and engineers are in the middle and the philosopers and artists and even professors for the “useless” courses are relegated to the trash heap ala crazy Pilosopo Tasio in Noli.

    (I do not mean to say that you engineers and managers are bad—let us all team up and overthrow the darned attorneys from their thrones—hahaha, I kid. ;P .)

    On a more serious note—I am not saying that being in STEM (i.e. an engineer, a scientist, etc.) or a manager is bad. These are all valuable roles in society that are essential to our daily lives; states both capitalist and communist required managers to insure that the complex systems that underpinned their societies functioned appropriately, and work in STEM fields is necessary in order for us to properly harness the natural world to our advantage.

    I also do not think I am better than people in STEM or those intense management courses; they are masters of the incomprehensible alien babble that is M A T H E M A T I C S compared to my humble self, and I am in awe of the fact that they have to memorize all these equations, all these models, and answer all these problems, all these puzzles—while my exams merely asked me to pick some of the questions and answer them via an essay. ;P

    Nevertheless, I feel that no one quite pays attention to us guys in the “useless” liberal arts courses. Everyone pays attention to the Attorney, and when the trapos feel like they want to show that they care: they “throw a few scraps” to the public and bring in a bright guy from the sciences or corporate management—and proceed to ignore said bright guy and forget said bright guy’s project right away. I am reminded of that person on Reddit who complained about how no one was paying attention to the good work done by the DOST regarding rail technologies.

    (I am sorry for digressing—this whole comment is long enough as it is—but our worship of Attorneys and the relationship of that to the state of our education in this country is worth mentioning. People might say, “Isn’t the reverence for lawyers proof that we value the liberal arts?” No. We value lawyers because people in power tend to be lawyers. In any case—law is a field that is generalist, that is inter-disciplinary by nature, that should be the one of epitomes or climaxes of the study of human nature, of the universe which is what liberal arts is. We must be firmly reminded though—that a mighty Acacia tree is only as good as the soil from it sprung; the huge shadow of the mighty tree that is Filipino law hides the sickness, the rottenness on the bark and the branches—the result of the soil [little regard for the philosophy, the social sciences which sustain the law] being filled with little nutrition.)

    (We value the final product, but not the processes behind the final product.)

    (If the Law in the Philippines was the climax, the summit of a robust appreciation for the liberal arts in this society—we wouldn’t have gotten a Supreme Court that seemed to value pedantic technicality over the vast social and political implications of their rulings on Sereno and the Marcoses.)

    Pardon the long digression.

    The meat of my comment is that merely focusing on “problem-solving” and “efficiency” is (forgive the bad pun) problematic. As many have pointed out—it is crucial to first ask “what is the problem” that we must solve? It is important to ask how should we “categorize” or how should we “systemize” in the most effective fashion?

    This, I think, is much easier in the natural sciences (i.e. STEM) because of the relative ease provided by experimentation and the existence of many consistent “laws of science” and models and much easier in corporate management because the organization is relatively small (compared to an entire nation), the goal is more clearly defined and more easily achievable (revenue, market share) and the major stakeholders are relatively few or don’t participate much in actual governance especially at a day-to-day level—on the other hand, when it comes to fixing society as a whole, you run into the hurdle that constantly changing humans are hard to model using “laws of behavior,” that human beings—unlike atoms—are self-interpreting beings, that nations have to deal with millions of stakeholders called citizens who all contradict each other at some point, that “what is effective” actually differs on the level of society depending on who you ask…

    To define “human” problems—the problems of “society” as it were—and craft their solutions requires the liberal arts, just as “nature” problems (the problems of our living in the universe, the natural world) and their solutions require mastery of the natural sciences and just as the delivery of solutions to these requires leadership skills that can be reliably aided via management.

    It is not that we are not producing enough scientists, enough engineers, enough managers. We produce a lot—and in some fields, like rice research, had a head-start over our neighbors. We had (in the days of elders here) one of the finest higher education systems in the colonial world, with a percentage of college graduates back then that was at par with major Western nations. We have always been good with the “how” of things—

    —but often hit a brick wall. The “how” isn’t enough to solve a huge problem like society. I am sorry to say this, but I have hunch that our history is littered with well-meaning attempts to solve the big problems with technology, with experts—but failed because we didn’t quite had a grasp on why we were doing this.

    You need a little more “why’s” going around. You need more people asking “why” in this society.

    Creativity is not just something that arises as a response to practical problems—that, to me, is just one half of what creativity is. We Filipinos have that by the boatloads. We are madiskarte as a people; to earn a living, we will do anything. But the reason we aren’t harnessing our full creative potential is because we are letting our over-practicality consume and devour the other half of what creativity is: an embrace of the unknown, a gleeful wonder at the vast expanse of what is yet to be learned, what is yet to be.

    We need more philosophers—or at least infuse a more philosophical sensibility in Filipino society. A shame that to be somebody who “asks too many questions” is pilosopo in this society—when you can’t literally move upwards if you don’t know how to ask a question, if you don’t ask questions at all. Was it Arendt who came up with the idea that conscience, that virtue stemmed from the fact that one can engage dialogue with oneself—that the moment you stop talking to yourself, is the moment things like totalitarianism seep in.

    I would add a few things to Joeam’s Step Two, with this in mind:

    I would pair Irineo’s suggestion of technical universities—with a far greater emphasis on the liberal arts and critical thinking in elementary and high school.

    We must realize we cannot overhaul the “rote teaching” of all subjects at once. Too much disruption will spoil people’s enthusiasm for change—will also lose the confidence of many stakeholders in society. When it comes to changing all other major subjects i.e. Maths, Sciences, Social Studies—change will probably be in the decades. I would focus less on the classrooms and more on the normal colleges that educate and train the teachers in the first place—win over the next generation of teachers with your values, ideas and principles, give them the funding they need when the times comes—and you won’t have to lift a finger.

    But in the hustle and bustle, where can we directly influence Filipinos towards critical thinking in a manner that is both deeper and faster? We may not be able to attack the entire area right away (address all major subjects immediately) but we can establish a beachead: that is—focus on one subject where young Filipinos can directly come into contact with critical thinking.

    I say, trash “Values Education” for it is stupid and futile.

    We assume that virtues like “honesty” and “discipline” have to be sermoned to us—that “good and upright behavior” is following these virtues by unquestioned rote. This is literally everything wrong with Filipino society; expect unquestioning obedience to something for no reason other than the fact that it came before you.

    I am inclined towards Plato’s view that we are virtuous because we know. We must be trained not to obey values—but to know values; obedience is a byproduct comes naturally, when you know. For the elementary kids—have them undertake “Critical Thinking” classes where they can have fun and solve puzzles to train their minds; it may be too early to make them contemplate the Great Philosophical Questions—but at this stage, drill it into kids’ heads that questions can and often have multiple answers, and that it’s great fun to run through all these different possibilities.

    When the kids are fully aware of the fact that questions can have multiple answers (a strange fact of reality that a lot of people tend to ignore)—then you can give them a comprehensible but still comprehensive introduction to philosophy and to the big philosophical ideas, with an emphasis on how this can connect to PH life.

    • karlgarcia says:

      To add steam to your insight insert A in STEM

      Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics.

    • One result of rote is this: “hindi ako dapat mapahuli, madadamay moral character ko” – meaning the Certificate of Good Moral Character you get from your school..

      Recent Twitter exchange between Florin Hilbay, Xiao Chua and me..

      Now if you want to fetch people from where they are, entertain questions about why you need laws, not just utos/utot ng Pangulo, why a Constitution not just weder-weder, why human rights not just kill-en-kill. Including historical examples.

      The book I am reading now, soon to be reviewed, shows that much great philosophy arose when the Iron Age (solid weapons, not soft like bronze) consolidated power in states. Maybe the same brutality as now in the Philippines inspired thinking about how can it be better.

      It has been proven that let us pray and democracy as a mantra alone is insufficient, just like the parroted slogans of most Filipino leftists. The sorry state of Filipino humanities, dominated by Lodis who expect people to repeat their preachings, is to blame for this.

    • Wonderful sequencing of ‘gressions and digressions. The “why” for me is that if the Supreme Court justices “value pedantic technicality over the vast social and political implications of their rulings” and the general public does much of the same, plus overlay it with vast reams of superstition, faith, and hope, then all the social vectors point everywhich way instead of the direction of surviving and thriving. If all there is to life is for Filipinos to be laborers to Chinese bosses, then just keep on with the way it is. The liberal arts contain much of the soul of any nation, and indeed ought to be admired for what it is, not the lawyers it produces.

      Let’s set “values education aside” until another blog next week when I do step three of this long-running dialogue, “Social Ethics”. If liberal arts are the soul, social ethics are the glue, or ligaments, or those parts that hold the thing called nation together. Without them, we have neurons running around colliding because, at the root, there is nowhere to go.

    • edgar lores says:

      Very generally:

      o STEM is HOW to make a living.

      o The Arts and Humanities are WHAT we live for.

      o Together they form the answer to WHY we want to live.

  6. karlgarcia says:

    People often complain that there was no information drive.
    Implementers often say, they had done enough to inform the people.

    This is what we want to eliminate, the excuses and casting blame.
    We must get everybody commited by making them aware, in the future no need for spoon feeding eveything, because people will be critical thinkers.

    2. Recasting Education.

    I agree with needs based education.

    The entrepreneurs here always go for food and beverage because they always say everybody needs to eat.
    They offer HRM because they say, we will never run out of tourists.

    Maybe if presented right we could get things going-and not like saying call centers will be extinct in three years, so enroll in these courses and get a discount.

    For the elementary level.
    Less multiple choice exams, more essays and worded problems.

    Required State Service-
    I like Irineo’s suggestion of a professional civil service where a politician only gives direction.

    2 years of military service to give back.

    Right now the free tuition scholars need to do school service.
    Not everyone can be library assistants, and school workers and not everyone can have free tuition,.

    • Never underestimate the natural intelligence of children:

      🎼 “teach them well and let them lead the way..” 🎶

    • I was for free college for everyone until I got into this article and realized that it ought not be for everyone, it ought to be for people who have the aptitude to do important jobs that the nation defines as essential. Like Oceanography. Every one of the 7,000 islands ought to have 1 to 500 oceanographers caretaking the coast and seas around that precious and unique piece of rock.

      • Micha says:


        If you agree on the premise that an educated citizenry is, on the whole, good for the country why exclude some in the free college program?

        • Because they could move directly into a career via state service. College would be recast as the avenue for the nation to develop deeper technical skills (and the arts) needed to power industry. Right now, I’d venture to say that college is a wasted four years for a whole lot of people (who then go to other lands as OFWs), or clerk at 7/11. Or bust heads as PNP gestapo. Meanwhile, there is no primary technology industry in the Philippines that I am aware of, as piece work is done in manufacturing plants. Raw products are shipped to China to be made into consumer goods, and shipped back to the Philippines for sale (citronella products, here locally). The nation makes cars, or has in the past, but can’t design them. All that should change.

          • For most of the nation . . . not for the elite or literate class . . . I think school here is a drudge that must be done, rather in rote style, because it must be done, for the resume. But the purpose is not really education or knowledge. I envision a lot more aware and well-read people coming out of high school and then moving directly into academies to ready them for a career. In police work, for instance.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Yes, I agree, College should be for those with the aptitude for what the country needs. We do need more oceanographers. I think UP produces some Maritime Science graduates, but how many?

        On a related note, speaking of oceans.
        I am also frustrated that the Navy said that their fleet of ships anchor in the sea with their engines running for 24 hours because there is no where to dock.
        I do not know what to make of it.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Oops, I made it sound like the whole Naval fleet has no port to dock in.

            They have problems with the five ships with deep drafts.


            “The Philippine Navy has been very aggressive in modernizing its fleet but one of its biggest problems was where to dock five ships “with deep drafts,” according to Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad, Navy flag officer in command.

            “They are always anchored at sea with their engines running,” Empedrad said in an interview with dwDD, the official radio station of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”

        • Francis says:

          We produce tons of seamen–and are an archipelagic nation—yet..?


          • Not weird. Filipinos are excellent when working for foreigners.

            Filipinos absolutely suck at working together, especially at home.

            One major aspect of that weakness is weak communication.

            Group-based problem solving requires total forthrightness from all participants.

            If some hold back for fear of blame and others look for culprits you already have lost.

      • Francis says:


        I understand the practical arguments against free college* in our society. It is an inescapable reality, a simple fact of life that we are all born with unique capacities; the resulting conclusion would be that some would thrive more in college while others would thrive more in vocational schooling. This natural inequality is something that just is—until gene-editing or whatnot makes some sort of “universal genetic baseline” possible, but that’s science fiction for now.

        However—to focus solely on the practical implications of free college* is to miss the point of why those who support free college are so insistent on it. A possible key reason is that free college* is symbolizes a profound, solemn promise of a nation to her citizens; that no one is slave among you, that in being given education that makes you the wisest citizens possible, your equality in dignity shall be affirmed. In short, free college is a commitment to egalitarian society.

        (It is also valued as a safeguard towards those who would pervert the natural fact of natural inequality into some artificial monster of an inequal society where inequality is not seen as something that is necessary but must be feared and thus used only when necessary i.e. like fire, for cavemen—but as something to be glorified. This shall be clearer in the later parts of this comment.)

        This is why the hard-nosed economists and perpetually-angry activists are so divided in their views towards free college* and all that; the economists are speaking the language of the hands, while the activists are speaking the language of the soul. Therefore—both cannot understand each other.

        I believe that the liberal arts—unlike the sciences—is only really discussed and taught in a meaningful manner during college. This is why activists are so stubborn when it comes to insisting on free college; the desire to seek out the “why’s” in the world, the “mental software” to not just use systems but be systems readers and systems builders, the languages required to undetstand the “why’s” and “first principles” (the “Big Ideas”) of the world, i.e. like their own ideology, but we should keep in mind that the same “mental software” that allows one to understand Marx, also allows one to understand Locke, Kant, Rizal, etc.—this can only be taught through a liberal arts education which is often only taught in college.

        What the activists fear (and what I fear) is a vision of the educational system as one big industrial assembly line where young people come in one end, and come out as “finished products” that can be slotted into “jobs” as it were; the logical conclusion of this is a society where the meaning of life is literally in your job.

        But I (and the activists, as well) would insist that the jobs are merely means to an end—ourselves. We (and not our jobs) are the ends-in-ourselves. Jobs are a way to develop our potential as human beings—not the endpoint of that potential. Who determines what jobs we should get? “Efficiency” says the Market. Yet, if the Market (composed of human beings) determines the ultimate fate of said human beings—isn’t that strange? It shows a Market that considers itself Society—rather than being merely a tool (and one among many, like the welfare state) of Society. This is what the activists on the Left mean when they shout against the “neoliberalization” of education; when we start aiming (market) efficiency at all costs for (market) efficiency’s sake and no longer for our on sake. A biblical passage comes to mind; the Sabbath (Market, Education) was made for Man and not Man for the Sabbath.

        We should have an education system that prepares us for life that where our human potential can be developed, where we are free in finding out the meaning of our own lives—not an education system that automatically equates “what the market needs” to what the meaning of our life means.

        Yet, I am aware that the argument still stands. It is still true that we all have unique capacities—and this uniqueness means that a certain degree of natural inequality is a fact of life. And I do not think that man is a lone individual being but a social being—and that his “meaning in life,” “his soul” is interwoven with the collective meaning, the collective soul of society; the logical implication of this is that we cannot expect everyone to automatically follow their “heart’s dream” just as we cannot expect everyone to automatically follow “what is good for society—as dictated by the market or otherwise” but rather that our “deepest good” and the “common good” of society must be in equal dialogue with each other, ideally to produce a synthesis that transcends both and is ultimately better than just following what the “I” alone wants or what the “society” alone wants without question.

        Why do I still cling on to free* college. It is worth bringing up what I meant by safeguard earlier. The other reason why I believe in free* college is that I believe that it is a safeguard—much like the constitutional rights of our liberal democracy, and the existence of free press—against far worse things. What do I mean?

        We must realize that human beings can be very cruel, especially to each other. Adam and Eve ate the Fruit, Christians might note—and thus all of mankind is with Original Sin; for the good that is inherently in us, there is evil that is also built-in.

        The fact of our natural inequality is just that: a fact. As Hume noted, an “ought” doesn’t automatically follow from an “is” and what this means is that just because something is this way, doesn’t mean it should be that way. The problem is that there are always human beings who seek to reify and glorify this natural inequality into something reprehensible and grotesque.

        IQ, for instance. It is not an intrinsically bad thing to measure IQ—but the reason social scientists are so wary of IQ is because the moment you start discussing IQ, the crazy racists and nazis come out of the woods and start lacing their lies of racial superiority with the seductive teaspoon of “all humans are inequal anyway” tidbit of natural inequality; as I have said many times on this blog—the best lies are those with truth mixed in.

        Without an appreciation for the liberal arts in society—I am wary when the “practical aspects” of education are always emphasized, especially against something like the free college* policy. If the economists don’t think we are financially-ready for a free college* society—I don’t think that we are morally ready for the moral responsibility of an “efficient” tiered educational system as implemented in Germany.

        What do I mean by this moral responsibility? Simply put—the moral responsibility to hold all citizens, all people as equal in dignity, despite the fact of natural inequality and despite the temptation that a “tiered” education systems offers (i.e. “Wow. This tiered education system means I, the college graduate, am superior to this chump from some lowly vocational institute!) to the elite and middle class.

        Yeah. I don’t trust Filipino society with that moral responsibility. Why? Would you trust a society where Con-Com openly contemplates limiting some elected positions to college graduates when it is worth noting that the likes of Marcos (the Elder) and Roque were quite smart-aleck college graduates? Would you trust society where biases against the poor count more than actual evidence of their behavior—as seen in the administration’s odd handling of CCT? Would you trust a society that is alright with the idea that all tambays should just go away?

        Yeah. Filipinos are snobs—and a “tiered education” system (given our collective moral character as a society) will have the unexpected ramification of making the snobs feel even more entitled. We are going to just inflate more hot air into the people who think that just because “Atty/Dr/Engr.” is besider their names, they’re God’s gift to the world.

        But the fact still stands: natural inequality does exist, by virtue of our individual uniqueness. And it is important to realize that our “heart’s desires” do not exist, ex nihilo and isolated from the world—society and our deepest “selves” are in constant communion, constant dialogue; we must equally consider the needs of society and the needs of our individual selves. The implication is that, in a relatively perfect world—the “tiered” education system would be ideal, in theory.

        In theory. I believe in a “tiered” educational system—but only if it does not injure the egalitarian “sense of equal human dignity” in society, only if we (as a society) have the moral character. That is what I understand as absolutely necessary for the good practice of this system. A “tiered” educational system where the “individual” soul (the self) and the “collective” soul (the market, society) are not dominant over the other—but in joyous, symphonic harmony where they become genuinely (and equally) one.

        We have the seeds for this. We should be reminded that the free tuition bill is not called the “Free College Tuition” Act but the “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education” Act. This is why I’ve been placing an asterisk besides the words “free college” in this comment. On paper—this includes not just universities, not just colleges but also technical-vocational institutes. What this can potentially represent is a firm promise of the state, of the nation to her dear citizens—that all Filipinos have the right to develop their human potential, to find meaning in their lives to the best of their abilities; the state guarantees that solemn right by providing free access to an important tool to achieve that potential: education.

        It makes me feel a certain degree of awe, knowing that this is my nation.

        The problem is we have a nation with little liberal arts (especially compared to the sciences) in the primary and secondary educational system, far too many colleges and universities, far too little technical-vocational institutes and too many college-focused people who look down (whether implicitly or explictly) on technical-vocational institutes.

        I would recommend the following policies, to fully harness the “free tuition” policy.

        1. A “Marshall Plan” intervention for the Liberal Arts in the Primary and Secondary Educational Systems. Since not everyone can go to college for a liberal arts education—make the liberal arts education go to them, in their younger years.

        2. Open More Technical-Vocational Institutes; per Irineo’s suggestion—have top-flight polytechnics as well.

        3. Don’t call Technical-Vocational Institutes “Institutes”—Call Them “Colleges” (and for the huge ones, “Universities” possibly). While some may complain about the meaning of “colleges” and “universities” being diluted—the point is linguistic and psychological: to make people realize that vocational centers (and the people within) are equal to their academic counterparts.

        4. Maintain an extremely brief (and adjusted for circumstances) “General Education” liberal arts package in the Technical-Vocational Colleges, Universities.

        1, 4 to ensure everyone gets exposure to the liberal arts—despite not everyone going into college. 3 to remove the stigma on “vocational” schooling. 2 to maximize the system as a whole.

        • edgar lores says:

          Perhaps we should change our vocabulary and use the term “diversity” or some other instead of “inequality?”

          When we use “inequality” we are ascribing qualities of superiority and inferiority to human capabilities. This inevitably leads to bigotry and injures the “egalitarian sense of equal human dignity.”

        • I like the way you circled through the concepts of free education through our innate unequal capabilities to a set of policies that would shape and advance the proposal contained in the article. I agree the wholeness of each of us as individuals does not require a traditional job, for poetry is beautiful and wholesome, but there is a functionality to having to eat, and one can certainly see a lot of Filipinos who are in no position to make any choices as to how to find their wholeness. An educated, functioning society is the way to broaden one’s options, and it takes a lot of mundane jobs to get there. The Philippines is not there and the objective of the proposed program is to get a lot closer. To me, the egalitarian purpose of education for all works against the pragmatics of needing skills on the job.

          Your policies advance the aim of developing quality education that equalizes the differences in a productive way. Thank you.

  7. caliphman says:

    I am not sure I agree with the premise that the low average IQ ranking of Filipinos from a survey should lead to the conclusion that making our countrymen smarter should be among the top national priorities.The article itself admits recognizing low intelligence as a problem is a necessary first step before trying to find a solution for it. Who would not admit to wanting to be less stupid and a little smarter and I am guilty of that as well.

    But the Philippines is in such a sordid mess and is prone to such reoccuring messes, not because of low mental capacity but more due to cultural, behavioral and moral problems. Lack of knowledge and education may even not be related though separate issues as literacy and educational attainment compares quite favorably with other third world countries.

    It is not the mental acuity of our leadership or our people which is the basic problem. That Philippine history includes presidents like the brillant Marcos and the UP dropout Magsaysay should be a testament to that.

    • The mental acuity of the educated class is one aspect, the other is the incredible following such leaders are able to retain through fake news and sensationalism. Another aspect is how poorly things run . . . everywhere . . . because of the lack of practical problem-solving skills.

      • caliphman says:

        The incredible following leaders have is only incredible because tthey cater to what their supporters consider important. Incredulous critics may understand why and what it is which causes the masses to continue trusting their leadership.It is tempting but mistaken to conclude these masses are just being fooled or mentally inferior instead of being radically different in their views, aspirations and needs.

        Its not unlike the polarization gripping wide swathes of the US populace which is reflected in the divide in its political be leadership. To simply dismiss smokestack Republican and Trump supporters as unthinking and uncaring voters is to ignore that there are fundamental if not irreconcilable differences in priorities and perspectives and not just a lack of cognition or enlightenment.

        it is the case that government bureaucracies are poorly run in the Philippines. That is probably the case in many first world countries including Italy if not the US. Its most instances, its not so much organizational mismanagement that an MPA or public management orogram might rectify, but rather its the embedded corruption going from the highest to the lowest levels of the government that is the root of the problem.

        • edgar lores says:

          “To simply dismiss smokestack Republican and Trump supporters as unthinking and uncaring voters is to ignore that there are fundamental if not irreconcilable differences in priorities and perspectives and not just a lack of cognition or enlightenment.”

          This is deep.

          But would not fundamental differences in perspectives be cured, not by a shared commonality of fundamentals, but by the recognition that fundamental differences are fundamental?

          Perhaps this is the fundamental cognition that each must realize and that would lead to acceptance and enlightenment.

          • caliphman says:

            Edgar, that is about the thrust of it and where it starts. Right now where it ends is the tendency for one camp to paint the other yellow and the other to also dismiss the other as intellectually insincere or incapacitated. The reality is its not only perspectives and views that differ between camps but fundamental differences that characterize the process in how events, actions, and situations are perceived and responded to. This may not be easy to make sense of. Here in the US, it takes but a TV remote to get an understanding of the alienation and polarization that is occurring by tuning to Fox and then CNN versions of political reality. When the switching stops then the danger is not only the opposing media being tuned out but also a big bulk of the populace whose perspectives and reasons for them are no less valid.

            • It takes a certain maturity to know that there are different ways of viewing things.

              If a country is large like the US and you can live there your entire life without ever going to another country, a certain parochialism like that of Trump supporters can indeed develop.

              If a country is composed of many islands and people tend to cluster in small groups, there can be a tendency to develop a certain insularity in viewpoint, one singular perspective.

              Those who live in guarded subdivisions can seldom comprehend or empathize with the troubles of the lower middle class who do not, and are directly affected by street crime. Kapag lagi kang binibingi-bingian, sa bandang huli mapapasigaw ka na talaga sa galit.

              Filipino communication across different groups is further hampered by the high context of expression in the culture. One group will say “on the ground you will know what happens” but are basically unable to describe it to fellow Filipinos. To those outside their own context.

              I found out more from some foreign sources about that aspect than from many Filipinos.

              One group seems to know only their own context of no issues with street crime, while the other will yell at you if asked, as if you were supposed to know their context just like that. Using Francis’ barangay model, the assumption is we all live in one barrio and should know.

              So some get mad when other Filipinos ask, but are forthright when a foreign reporter asks. All these high-context issues may also be the reason why only small groups manage to work together in the Filipino context. Bigger groups cannot find common ground, need bossing.

        • Okay, so you are fine with the way things are, and would merely correct the political values of the leaders in some way, in enduring fashion. That could be done with the right kind of leader, I agree. I don’t see that leader emerging today because of the overwhelming weight of amoral self-interest among the elite, a force likely to defeat moral competence at the next election cycle.

          I’d install opportunity across the population, among young people, to make that amoral self-interest unsustainable. But I concede, I don’t have the argument to say either way can or can’t work.

  8. madlanglupa says:

    Someone wrote “Old Man Yells at Cloud” after reading this:

    • trebor9 says:

      Dear Lord, give us leaders with discerning hearts, bold faith, and wise minds that model Your character. Deliver us from THIS STUPID DUTERTE.

  9. NHerrera says:

    Deep — to use edgar’s word in the blog. I mean the discussion here. Joe, “there’s definitely gold in them thar” blog articles of yours [the last two].

    On the note of Francis about the question of whether we are financially ready for free college, here is a rough number of the total Pesos needed from the Government:

    A High school graduates 2010 = 15,700,000
    B Cannot afford College = 70%
    C HS graduates needing gov fin = 10,990,000
    D Yearly coll tuition + Misc fees/books = 20,000
    E Assumed coll duration, years = 4
    F Daily subsistence, Pesos = 300
    G Subsistence government subsidy = 50%
    H 1 Billion = 1,000,000,000

    Total needed for an assumed 4-year = C*(D*E + F*G*365*E)/H

    Total for 4 years = P3,286 Billion
    Yearly average = P822 Billion

    Even if we de-scale the total by a factor of 4 (my numbers are debatable except the number I got online for the year 2010 for A),

    Total for 4 years = P822 Billion
    Yearly average = P205 Billion

    I will leave this post without further comment.

    • NHerrera says:


      The calculation is only the input for the initial HS needing financing outside of family. Every year, there will another batch of fresh HS graduates going into college, etc. So the numbers add up.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Right now only the best and the brightest that are enrolled in State Colleges and Universities are qualified for free tuition.
      Just like any other scholar, they lose it if they failed to maintain their GPAs

      51 billion is allocated for it.

      That 205 Billion is doable, I think

      The so called stigma for tech voc is forr the reason that when you fail the National Achievement Test, you will be told that you are only good for vocational schools.

      But I think, if we turn tech voch schools colleges as Francis suggested, then National achievement tests flunkers can not even enroll in tech voc Colleges.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Tech-Voc is also covered by the Universal access to…Free tuition law.
        For State Colleges and Universities. One must pass the admissions, and adhere to the retention policies and must not over-stay.

      • Francis says:

        To clarify, the suggestion is not to convert tech voch into colleges—but to keep them as they are: centers which can quickly and effectively give ready job-skill training to those who need it.

        (albeit with a very, very stripped down—and not graded, i.e. like NSTP—liberal arts GE component, centered on something practical, relatable, i.e. ethics)

        The change I suggested is mainly in the terms/labels/names we use referring to them: often as institutes, not as colleges, etc. I believe that if we start calling them colleges, universities—in essence, no different from their academic counterparts in dignity even if they perform rather different functions—we can help in removing the stigma. It’s just a small change though, I admit.

        The fact that our NAT scores too are low is also worrisome.

        That means our tertiary educational system—both academic and vocational—is built on some shaky foundations.

      • NHerrera says:

        karl, yes there are nuances to the concept of free college education. Even if we agree with the concept, there are phasing or scheduling of this in relation to the other issues equally pressing. The devil is in the details — that sort of thing.

    • edgar lores says:

      The DepEd budget for 2018 is P549.5B.

      This is smaller than the computed yearly average of P822B.

      The descaled figure of P205B is still 37.3% of the budget.

      • NHerrera says:

        Thanks. That puts the numbers in perspective.

      • NHerrera says:


        The number used for A = HS Graduates 2010 = 15,700,000 is wrong! It is the number of HS Graduates in the Household as of 2010. The calculation is still ok if we assume that these HS graduates — not all fresh — will still want to go college.

        I am still looking online but if we have to use the number for fresh HS graduates in 2017, we may use roughly the population growth rate of the HS graduates born about 15 years ago when the population growth rate is about 2% and the population was about 90 million, or HS graduates = roughly 1.8million. That should be the number used in the equation above for A, that is A = 1,800,000 if we are looking at fresh graduates.

        On that basis, we have for these fresh graduates:

        Total for 4 years = P377 Billion
        Yearly average = P94 Billion

        Numbers not de-scaled.

        • karlgarcia says:

          I finally found some numbers for SHS .

          There are 1.5 million enrollees for Senior High School for The 11th grade last 2016.
          Very close to your 1.8 million

        • edgar lores says:

          Good correction. Still 17% of budget.

        • NHerrera says:


          karl — for the better number on 11th grade enrollees ~ prospective HS graduates.

          edgar — for the generosity in spite of the blooper.

        • P94 billion to enroll all high school students in free college is a big number. I would argue that the return on investment is really bad because there is no place for hundrends of thousands of hotel/restaurant managers to work, and teacher pay will remain thin, thin, thin. It is an exercise in mindless dumbing down of the nation under the pretense of education, it seems to me. Maybe the OFW base will remain strong, so this is just the primping ground for remittances. But that is not my idea of how to run either a nation or education.

          • NHerrera says:

            Ah, yes. I now have a college degree thanks to the Government and the superhuman efforts of my poor parents still living in the slums. Now what? But that is another story, another discussion.

            • caliphman says:

              Manong, that your parents made your US graduate education inspite of living in the slums is an amazing accomplishment. Recalling comments about your age, that they are still living, slums or not, is no less a wonderful achievement!

              • NHerrera says:

                I am a product of luck, scholarship, and some funding from my parents — not quite living in slums — now both deceased. Also, my parents encouraged but has not funded my graduate studies abroad. Yes, my parents were proud of us: myself and my brothers, sister.

                Those were the days of relative calm, low population (20 million plus/minus half a decade), slow pace of living, respectful of people in general, and going to college was reasonably affordable. Days when visiting a girl friend at her home meant dressing up neatly with well pressed starched white shirt and khaki pants with shined shoes and talking to the GF’s parents were replete with “po.”

                (Can you imagine going from UP to Quiapo for five years with bus fare remaining at 15 centavos; when a peso meal at the school canteen will likely get the quip, “mucho dinero, birthday mo ba?”)

                Different environment, caliphman, unlike the period Francis and others have to contend with.


              • Very vivid picture, NH, of an earlier time.

              • NHerrera says:

                I indulged in a bit of nostalgia there. But there is no going back to that clime. Less exciting too for the young now. How can a teenager now imagine a life without the smartphone?

                In the 1950s, a radio with AM and FM was still something to own for music and news. The commercial black and white TV will come, and in the 1960s color TV, but usually a student gets to see this in a common area somewhere in the dormitory or canteen. I was in the US during some of the exciting days of TV news reporting — e.g. the Cuban Missile Crisis — as reported by Walter Cronkite of CBS Evening News and its rival, NBC The Huntley–Brinkley Report by Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. The latter news report ending with their signature: “Good night, Chet. Good night, David. And good night, for NBC News.”

                Ah, I am dragging the readers here so blatantly to my old recollections. Enough of that!

                Goodnight fellows.

              • There is surely no way back. Even to the times I experienced in youth – no mobile phones, no Internet, but the first fax machines, video recorders, cassette recorders, yes even CD players! And the first personal computers, from the C-64, early IBM PCs.. 286/386/486…

                Pentium was already around the time the first popularly available mobile phones got started, as well as first web pages and browsers. Suddenly, the iPhone. Nokia lost its market lead to smartphones. Facebook suddenly on the smartphone. Nothing has truly stayed the same.

                That the youth is more easily bored nowadays – in any country – is a product of the instant gratification that Internet and social media allow. Harder to build the patience needed to slog through the boring stuff one has to master to succeed. So many distractions in this world.

              • sonny says:

                I found this article apropos to the Internet Age and effects on our young and future generations:



                “Besides obvious moral risks, are there cognitive risks to those growing up in a personalized, voice-activated, high-speed, ever-changing, always “tweeting,” incessantly “following,” electronic environment? Neuroscientists speak of the neuroplasticity of the human brain, meaning the brain can undergo physiological changes as it adapts to circumstances in the environment, such as the development of a new tool. When a technology performs tasks previously performed by the brain, our brains gradually change accordingly as the need for certain neural functions becomes obsolete. We might consider the impact of calculators on American students’ ability (or willingness) to learn mathematics. Why bother using our brains when a device will do things for us?”

                “(the Internet) They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.” quoted from Nicolas Carr, of The Atlantic mag.

              • Love that last jet ski quote. Nails it.

          • Francis says:


            In theory—if one removes the societal bias towards academic colleges—it is possible to not have an over-abundance of college graduates (as observed in the case of some jurisdictions which pursued a free academic college tuition policy) if people are also willing to vocational tertiary education, and if there are enough eligible vocational centers to satisfy that demand.

            Ideally—a free tuition for both vocational and academic public tertiary education should allow citizens the equal opportunity to meet market demand; rich or poor, any citizen in theory would have roughly the equal opportunity to get the education most appropriate to current market conditions.

            If implemented correctly, it has the potential to be radically democratizing—like the GI Bill in the US.

            Which is what disappointments me about the rhetoric of the media and activists—all they emphasize are the “real” colleges being free. I am not surprised that many of us here are not as aware of the fact that public vocational centers are also covered; the media and the activists don’t have much words to say about that. I have barely heard the media (or any talking head) emphasize the vocational component of the free tuition policy. What you get a radical moonshot-in-ambition policy being unable to fulfill its full potential. It’s sexy to know that UP is free—it’s less sexy (actually unsexy) to know that vocational centers are also free.

            This clear bias may result in just strengthening the over-population of college graduates who picked college because they wanted to get a job that sells—only to find out there are too manh HRM graduates and not enough hotels, as you pointed out. College becomes only a preparation for becoming an OFW—which is quite sad.

            • Francis says:


              For “effective implementation,” I think it would be wiser to envision “free tuition” as a long term project.

              In the short-term, I would allocate way more funding towards the technical-vocational part of the tertiary education system and focus more on that and the basic educational (primary and secondary) system. It would also be advisable—I think—if the government were to pursue a massive publicity campaign to combat the stigma against non-academic tertiary education.

              When the economy is booming at some point in the medium term—the combined demands of technological advancement and increasing sophistication of the national economy will imply the necessity of upgrading society towards a knowledge society.

              At that point—using proceeds sourced from increased revenues due to economic growth and before automation and aging starts cutting into that—the free tuition policy can be genuinely expanded in the academic sector. It also helps that at that point—you would already have a thriving vocational system that would no longer be in the shadow of the likes of UP, etc., and thus would have nothing to fear.

              In short, a radical free tuition policy that is gradual and adjusts to the particular circumstances of the nation—never forgetting to aim towards full enlightenment of society in the future.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Remember that K to 12 was intended or envisioned to eventually let students work after graduating High School.

                I think the K to 12 especially with its tech voc track is already a way to remove the stigma of the Tech Voc schools.

                But the employers sad the Senior high school grads are not yet ready to join the work force.

                Radical change would not work abruptly, so gradual, slow burn cooking will give us “nilaga”.

                If those who enrolled in tech voc in senior high has the option to augment their knowledge in tech voc.

                Some Universities have this ladderized programs where they have a tech-voc institute and if they opt to continue schooling, they may do so.

            • It raises an interesting debate, which develops the most fulfilled and talented entry-level worker, a system where education is gifted or a system where people invest their own money and compete to get ahead. Yes, vocational workers are as necessary as attorneys. As to value, well, we should all aspire to be rock stars to have the public cherish us with their gilt.

              • sonny says:

                In my estimation it is not “either … or” but rather a “both … and”

                The US invests a lot on public education at the primary and secondary level and also channels tax money to the state-university system. It remains for private individuals and groups to endow their favorite private educational institutions.

                I understand that this kind of leveraging is only partially true in the Philippines.

              • True. I suppose people motivated by knowledge will do well if education is a gift, or if they have to pay for it.

              • sonny says:

                Joe, in many cases where the public enrolments thin out, the gov’t and the churches end up partnering and ‘incentivizing’ each other in order to avoid missing the opportunity to realize civic empowerment and benefits through cooperation.

        • NHerrera says:


          As a last elaboration on the calculation, the propagation of the budget requirements is shown in the chart below assuming 4-year college courses for all HS batches. If the first year requirement for the first batch is P90B, and all other parameters stay the same:

          First year requirement = P90B
          Second year requirement = P180B
          Third year requirement = P270B
          Fourth year requirement = P360B

          and from then on, the requirement stabilizes at P360B if the Program continues.

          • edgar lores says:

            Nice graphic. This is assuming the volume of graduates is steady?

            The volume go could go up — or down. The population growth rate is ~1.5%, so the incline would not be steep. The growth rate has, in fact, been declining from 3.35% in 1960. Duterte might cause the growth rate to fall — considerably.

  10. NHerrera says:

    Reading CNN’s Fareed Zakaria led me to the following article titled,

    “Democracy Perception Index 20.”


    It speaks of the mass of citizens not being heard in democracies and non-democracies.


    Perhaps most surprisingly, this public disillusionment is higher in democracies than in non-democracies.   1 Almost two thirds (64%) of people living in democracies thinks their government “rarely” or “never” acts in the  interest of the public, compared with 41% of people living in non-democracies.    

    When asked if they think their voice matters in politics, over half (54%) of citizens living in democracies say  their voices “rarely” or “never” matter in politics versus 46% in non-democracies. European democracies are  amongst the countries where the most people feel voiceless. Compared to the other democracies included in  the survey, South Korea scores the best, though with 42% of the population feeling like their voice doesn’t  matter.  

    No wonder then why we have Trump and Duterte.

  11. Sup says:

    Duterte: Economy in the doldrums

    DAVAO CITY — Economic activity is stagnating in the provinces and no less than President Duterte himself is worried that the rising prices of goods could prolong the period of gloom.

    Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1003556/duterte-economy-in-the-doldrums#ixzz5JIQlCSu1
    Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

    • Ach, to me he is just babbling and has no ideas at all about how to manage things. Things manage themselves and he manages peoples minds to keep them from rising up.

    • karlgarcia says:

      I do not know how it will help the Federalism proponents, if he keeps on saying that it will be and gloom in the provinces because there are no funds and there is no economic activity.

      Then he mentions jueteng, it is better have juteng so there would be economic activity.


  12. My weekly musical commentary..

    is NOT biblical in any way!

    ..Before my eyes was the promise of paradise
    Is she real, can she feel, is she a dream
    If you know what I mean..

    ..I knew I was captured
    By the rhythm of the magic flute
    Pulling and urging me
    To taste the forbidden fruit
    And though I felt naive
    I did not want to leave..

    ..I can’t tell you, what I saw
    Makes you wonder if it’s against the law..

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