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Tag Archive | "Department of Education"

FF Podcast (Audio) 47: Secular DepEd, Catholic Bullies, and Ramon Bautista

FF Podcast 47: Secular DepEd, Catholic Bullies, and Ramon Bautista

In this week’s jam-packed episode, we talk about the Philippine government, for once, respecting secularism by removing “God-loving” from the Department of Education vision statement. Then, we talk about Pro-Life Philippines President Eric Manalang and his homophobic and violent comments against Carlos Celdran. We also talk a bit about Ramon Bautista and his being declared persona non grata by the Davao City local government.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in audio podcast, Education, Politics, Secularism, SocietyComments (0)

An Open Letter from the Filipino Freethinkers’ Parenting Chapter

Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC

Department of Education

DepEd Complex, Meralco Avenue, Pasig City


An Open Letter from the Parenting Chapter of the Filipino Freethinkers

While we respect and fully support the mission of the Department of Education, “to provide quality basic education that is equitably accessible to all and lay the foundation for life-long learning and service for the common good,” we believe that there is a need to review its mission, namely to be, “globally recognized for good governance and for developing functionally-literate and God-loving Filipinos,” and one of its core values, “Maka-Diyos,” as reflected in the current DepEd Mission and Core values in the following link,;

(Image source:

While the Philippines is a country whose population mostly belongs to or adheres to a certain religion and believe in the existence of a Higher Being, we believe that such a fact should not find its way nor bias the vision and core values of government offices, but should rather support the separation of church and state and consequently, should be secular in nature.

By contrast, there is still a minority of Filipinos who are neither Catholic, Christian, nor sectarian but subscribe to alternative beliefs or unbelief, including the irreligious, and even Indigenous Peoples (IPs) with their traditional beliefs.

There are some who may argue that the wording, “God-loving”, and “Maka-Diyos” is not a major matter as these are not policies that the DepEd is implementing, per se. It should be clear though that their presence in the vision and core values of the country’s primary government agency involved with primary and secondary education assumes and gives license to the DepEd to translate these motherhood concepts into policies which it can strictly implement in the basic education curriculum.

Moreover, the presence of these two phrases undermines this diverse but significant group of non-theistic Filipinos whose beliefs or lack thereof has been disregarded, overlooked, and not represented by a national agency like the DepEd.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to have an inclusive mission and core values that would value and represent the diversity of all Filipinos’ belief or non-belief.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution is explicit in the primacy of parents’ roles in bringing up their chldren, as expressed in article XIV, section 2.2, “The State shall establish and maintain a system of free public education in the elementary and high school levels. Without limiting the natural rights of parents to rear their children…”

Moreover, educating children about religion still falls under the authority and jurisdiction of parents as reflected in Section 3.3 of the same article, “at the option expressed in writing by the parents or guardians, religion shall be allowed to be taught to their children or wards in public elementary and high school…”

Thus, the law is clear, religion is still primarily the business of parents, and not the State (as represented by DepEd). If parents or legal guardians do not want the state to teach any kind of religion or belief to their children, they are well within their rights to do so.

We also do not think that it would be costly for DepEd to re-evaluate these concepts while keeping true to its goals and aims. And while we heard of some news that DepEd is doing just that (reviewing its VM and core values), the results remain to be seen.

This is our second earnest open letter on this matter to the DepEd, as our first one was already sent almost three weeks ago.

We expect much from the DepEd and we hope the department will not let us down.



Frederick A. Fabian

Miriam Tan-Fabian

Joselito D. Paderes

Clarissa Therese Jagunap-Soco

Andrew Mark S. Uyboco

Lyza Maria Viejo

Cecilia Deveza-Bonto

Josephine Tiongco

Philippe Batingal Schleinitz

Manolo Luis Del Rosario


Editor’s note: the signatures of Cecilia Deveza-Bonto, Philippe Batingal Schleinitz, Manolo Luis Del Rosario, and Josephine Tiongco were added after the publishing of this letter.

Posted in Advocacy, Politics, Religion, Secularism, SocietyComments (2)

Open Letter to the Department of Education

Updated on 5 February, 2013, 6:32PM


5 February 2013, MANILA  On the official website of the Philippine Department of Education, the following Vision is listed:

The DepEd Vision

By 2030, DepEd is globally recognized for good governance and for developing functionally-literate [sic] and God-loving Filipinos.

The following listing of Core Values can also be found:

Core Values

  • Culture of Excellence, Integrity and Accountability
  • Maka-Diyos
  • Makatao
  • Makabayan
  • Makalikasan [sic]

Screenshot of the said webpage

Filipino Freethinkers denounces these mentions of “God-loving” and “Maka-Diyos” as they are clear violations of the principle of secularism. They enshrine theism as a preferred belief system and imply that those who do not subscribe to belief in a deity are at best second-class citizens who have flawed or incomplete values.

We therefore call on the Department of Education to remove these or replace them with secular counterparts.

We are fully aware though that our government has long been negligent in honoring the separation clause. Similar mentions of god in our currency have been present for a long time (“Faith in our people and faith in God” on the 500-Peso bill and “PINAGPALA ANG BAYAN NA ANG DIYOS ANG PANGINOON” on the 100-Peso bill) and these are also violations of the separation of church and state. Unfortunately, our previous calls for the removal of these clauses seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

Our constitution clearly states that “the separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.” With this, we strongly urge the Department of Education to act on this matter through the omission or replacement of the said clauses with more universal values that apply to both theists and non-theists alike.




Pepe Bawagan, Secularism Advocacy Director
Filipino Freethinkers
[email protected]

Update: The Department of Education has replied via twitter that this is an old vision statement that they have reviewed and that a new vision statement will be released in the coming weeks. We look forward to having a more inclusive vision statement from the DepEd.

Posted in Press Releases, Secularism, SocietyComments (0)

DepEd “Drops” Science? What Science?

A recent report by the Manila Bulletin said that the Philippine Department of Education (DepEd) will be dropping science classes for public schools from the first and second grades. This was supposedly “in line with its efforts to decongest the Basic Education Curriculum and to make learning more enjoyable to young learners.” DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro says, however, that they will be integrating science topics “in other subjects to make the new curriculum more child-friendly.” This new curriculum will “mainly focus on oral fluency” for the first grade.

Time Allotment for Public Schools According to the Basic Education Curriculum

The Basic Education Curriculum was instituted under the late DepEd Secretary Raul Roco and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2002, which was “the product of 16 years of study under the various DepEd secretaries.” This 2002 curriculum removed “Science and Health” from the first and second grades.

Since the belated Manila Bulletin report, there has been a lot of outrage regarding this decision, leading Senator Pia Cayetano to discuss the matter with her constituents online. She said that she would discuss the curriculum with other senators “so [they] can act on it.”

The claim that science is too difficult for children is not controversial and it is commonly believed, though seldom backed up by evidence. And, to be fair, it can be quite hard to convey the rigor and chain of evidence employed by science to children. In this way, I can somehow understand (but not agree with) the secretary with his implication that science is not “enjoyable” or “child-friendly.” Even scientists themselves often have a difficult time grasping the more counter-intuitive discoveries of science.

While it is a shame that science is regarded by some sectors of the government as “congestion,” I do not think that this delaying of science will have as terrible an impact as people have been suggesting it will have. Rather, I think that scientific instruction in the Philippines regardless of age has been misguided for far longer than just the ten years since the curriculum revision. Given this, the removal of two years of bad scientific instruction isn’t too big a loss.

The position taken by the government towards science reflects the general attitude of the public—that it is conducive to practical skills and not much else. That’s why the state can afford removing science and replace it with the more economically useful “oral fluency.” Though the loss of even just practical science would still be worthy of outrage, the more noble value of science has long been lost (if it was ever held). The principles of science—critical thinking, skepticism, and reliance on evidence—are rarely ever instilled by educational institutions in the country, even upon science undergrads. We may have some really bright minds in the Philippines capable of unique scientific insight, but we would be hard-pressed to universalize this trait for as long as we have a workaday perspective of science.

Our society treats science as a behavior apart from normal life, which leads to some very interesting, though disturbing, juxtapositions of brilliance and outright nonsense. We have very intelligent doctors who fall prey to alternative medicine. We have scholarly lawyers who believe in feng shui. We have trained psychiatrists who believe that atheism is the cause of depression. New curriculum or not, as long as science is treated by our society as a body of knowledge to memorize and a set of equations that barfs out dissertations, and not as a way of going about the world, it wouldn’t matter even if we started teaching science at kindergarten.

Neil Degrasse Tyson once said, “If you’re scientifically literate, the world looks very different to you.” Beyond its practical utility, science provides an outlook that imbues the world around us with unending wonder, which will always be unavailable to those lacking the curiosity to investigate things deeper than face value. Science empowers one against the cognitive failures our brain is predisposed to (we call these “biases”). Scientific illiteracy is a sure way to getting swindled by liars, frauds, and superstitions but, more than that, scientific illiteracy makes an entire universe inaccessible.

Posted in Politics, Science, SocietyComments (13)