Friday, September 2, 2011

What Is an Educated Filipino? (Francisco Benitez)

(From an address before the General Assembly of the University of the Philippines, 1923.)

The educated Filipino should, first, be distinguished by the power to do. The Oriental excels in reflective thinking: he is a philosopher. The Occidental is a doer; he manages things, men and affairs. The Filipino of today needs more of this power to translate reflection into action. I believe we are coming more and more to the conviction that no Filipino has the right to be considered educated unless he is prepared and ready to take an active and useful participation in the work, life, and progress of our country, as well as in the progress of the world.

The power to do embraces the ability to produce enough to support oneself and to contribute to the economic development of the Philippines. Undoubtedly, a man may be, and often is, an efficient producer of economic goods and at the same time he may not be educated; but on the other hand, should we consider a man who is utterly unable to support himself and is an economic burden to the society in which he lives as educated merely because he possesses the superficial graces of culture?

I hope no one will understand me as saying that the only sign of economic efficiency is the ability to produce material goods, for useful social participation may take the form of any of the valuable services rendered to society thru such institutions as the home, the school, the church, and the government. The mother, for example, who takes good care of her children, prepares wholesome meals, and trains them in morals and right conduct at home, renders efficient service to the country as well the statesman or the captain of industry. I would not make the power to do the final and only test of the educated Filipino; but I believe that in our present situation it is fundamental and basal.

The educated Filipino, in the second place, should be distinguished not only by his knowledge of the past and current events in the world's progress, but more especially by his knowledge of his race, his people, and his country, and his love of the truths and ideals that our people have learned to cherish. Our character, our culture, and our national history, are the core of our national life, and consequently, of our education. I would not have the educated Filipino ignore the culture and history of other lands, but can he afford to be ignorant of the history and culture of his own country and yet call himself educated?

The educated Filipino, in the third place, must have ingrained in his speech and conduct those elements that are everywhere recognized as accompaniments of culture and morality, so that, possessing the capacity for self-entertainment and study, he many not be at the mercy of the pleasures of the senses or a burden to himself when alone.

There are, then, at least, three characteristics which I believe to be the evidence of the educated Filipino—the power to do, to support himself and contribute to the wealth of our people; acquaintance with the world's progress, especially with that of his race, people and community, together with love of our best ideals and traditions; and refined manners and moral conduct, as well as the power of growth.