MANILA, Philippines — Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara has filed a bill that seeks to promote a culture of peace by including the history, culture and identity of the Bangsamoro in the curricula at all levels in the country’s schools.
“Peace roots from an understanding of the multi-cultural nature of Mindanaoans — of Christians, Muslims and Lumads (indigenous people) alike,” Angara said. “Improving such understanding of each other’s historical, social and cultural values lays the foundation for mutual respect and unity in Mindanao.”
Angara noted that the roots of the Christian-Muslim conflict in the Philippines can be traced to the 16th century, when Spanish colonizers were successful in using Christianity as a tool of conquest and reducing Muslims to a national minority.
“Some contend that this part of our history was where the seeds were planted for relentless biases against Muslim-Filipinos. Sadly, these biases persist today,” he pointed out.
Under Senate Bill No. 2474, the key contents of Bangsamoro studies will include an understanding of the roots of the conflict and its impact on the rest of the country, the appreciation of the various cultures and ethnic identities, and support for the broader Mindanao peace process and promotion of intercultural dialogue.
“Such a curriculum ought to recall and highlight the positive relations among the Muslims, Christians, Lumads and other indigenous peoples in Mindanao, as well as their common origins and other points of commonality,” the lawmaker said.
The measure mandates the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education to initiate and maintain the programs, and to consult recognized experts on Bangsamoro history, culture and identity in the formulation and creation of courses or subjects.
The DepEd and CHED will also allow the teaching of Arabic language as an elective course.
“Education is crucial to the peace process in Mindanao. Such a grassroots approach is effective in instilling consciousness and understanding of the Muslim culture, especially for the Christian majority of our country — to possibly eradicate certain biases instilled in the minds of individuals. It is our hope that through these efforts, long-lasting peace will be fully realized,” Angara said.