By Angelita B. Resurreccion
UP Diliman, 9 October 2013
Submitted To Dr Michael Tan
In Partial Fulfillment Of Requirements For The Course On Anthro 282,
Culture And Personality

  • Introduction

I remember reading this article one evening sometime in 1988 after I had put my two-year old boy to bed. My husband had brought home a photocopy from his graduate class at UP, and I remember the outrage I felt within me. How dare this Fallows guy kill my dream of a changed Philippines? Our family was away in the Netherlands during the People Power Revolution and we had come back full of enthusiasm to take part in rebuilding the nation. In fact, I had started a small school in Old Balara, an urban poor settlement across Tandang Sora behind the UP Campus, as an expression of our family’s romantic notions about helping the poor.

Today, 25 years later, I am glad I can read Fallows more soberly, having experienced a seesaw of feelings, from excitement to disappointment, within months after election of presidents who followed after Cory. Informed by formulations encountered in graduate courses in education, psychology, and anthropology over the past few years, I see that Fallows wrote from a perspective that viewed culture, power, history and education as discrete analytical categories. While his views seemed valid on the face of surface events he had written about, his article failed to help readers (particularly Filipinos) understand what was going on. Instead, he managed to infuriate Filipinos enough to be declared persona non grata. By laying the blame on culture, it was like him saying the problem with people was they were human. Fallows was like saying the problem with Filipinos was that they were brought up in the Philippines by Filipinos.
Why blame Filipinos for their culture? Is culture a cause? Or an effect? My thesis is that it is both a cause and an effect, just like much of life. It is produced, and reproduced, in all of life, particularly in schools. People like Fallows, and his country America, who introduced their brand of culture, were very much a part of the whole process.

All about Fallows

  • Fallows as author

I think Fallows, and any other author, is entitled to his own opinion. That is what makes democracy work, and that was the objective of our resistance to Marcos for a long long time during our youth. As President, Marcos declared he was the only one who had the right to say what was good for the country and everyone had to agree on the pain of disappearance from the face of the earth. In the Freedom Constitution of 1987, ratified shortly before Fallows wrote his article, opinions even of people such as those expressed by Fallows is guaranteed. As I engage myself in discourse with his article, I note two points about him.
First, I note that Fallows writes as an American. I believe those who want to know about our culture should read articles written by Filipinos. But if the reader wants to know what Americans think about our culture, then s/he should read one such as this one written by Fallows. For instance, Fallows’ understanding of the ethic of delicadeza seemed wanting from my emic perspective. I think his etic equivalents, which include saving face or vague sense of guilt, do not totally capture “delicadeza”. But if those were his understandings of the term, he should have applied them on himself, or at least apologized for his lack of kagandahang asal. In the context of Philippine culture, if you really need to say something bad, nagpapaalam ka muna, magpasintabi ka muna. As the saying goes, “Bato bato sa langit, ang tamaan wag sana magalit.” So he should have exercised delicadeza and asked permission from his Filipino readers that he was going to hurt their feelings, and whether that was all right.

But as I said, he writes as an American. So he did not seek permission. I wonder if he even informed his Filipino friends, or at least those he had bothered when he went about his data gathering, that he was going to write disparagingly about them. If he did not ask their permission, he could have suggested ways by which local readers could use what he wrote to improve their lives. So, again, he writes as an American. If his behavior is not even American, let me say that he definitely did not write like a Filipino would. We want to be of value to others, even by the way we give negative feedback. Ayaw natin makasakit ng kapwa, lalo na kung bisita lang tayo. May delicadeza tayo. As an American, Fallows probably wrote for Americans, not for Filipinos who I suspect were kind to him.
Second, as an American, he was an outsider writing about Filipinos. We were an Other, and expressed himself from a position of power. Given the historical events, it was the US that had unplucked the dictator from the country, it was their Senator Lugar whom the dictator had called by phone to consult about what to do when he was rammed into a corner by people in the streets outside his Palace. It seemed Cory Aquino was in power because of them. You immediately see Fallows’ positionality in his very first paragraph:

In the United States the coming of the Aquino government seemed to make the Philippines into a success story. The evil Marcos was out, the saintly Cory was in, the worldwide march of democracy went on. All that was left was to argue about why we stuck with our tawdry pet dictator for so long, and to support Corazon Aquino as she danced around coup attempts and worked her way out of the problems the Marcoses had caused (Emphasis mine).

and in his last :

America knows just what it will do to defend Corazon Aquino against usurpers, like those who planned the last attempted coup. We’ll say that we support a democratically chosen government, that this one is the country’s best hope, that we’ll use every tool from economic aid to public-relations pressure to help her serve out her term. But we might start thinking ahead, to what we’ll do if the anticoup campaign is successful–to what will happen when Aquino stays in, and the culture doesn’t change, and everything gets worse. (Emphasis mine)

His writings contrast to my view that the ouster of Marcos was the collective achievement of our people. America decided to benefit from our struggle by stepping in, rather than the other way around. America’s stepping in likely saved Marcos from being murdered by the people, not saving the people from Marcos. That is my opinion, and obviously, from where I write and who I am, mine is from a powerless position. In the corridors of world power, my voice and those of thousands who marched in EDSA, were probably not heard because America loomed large in Fallows’ article, and he saw events as an American accomplishment, in the global march of democracy. Of course, in 1987, America was still powerful. The democracy rhetoric, then and now, is what would appeal to an American reader (given their notions of being the greatest country on earth). Fallows chose to remain silent on the people of the Philippines rejecting Marcos as their democratic icon. I am not sure if he was ignorant of us, but as I said, we are powerless and so we did not matter. Instead, he and the US promoted the idea that the new icon Cory Aquino was theirs, after they rejected the previous one. Fallows was just being American. Every leader on the planet needed to blessed by America.

In writing about Filipinos, Fallows presented us as an Other. People like Fallows who come from a position of dominance consider it normal to take or give the right to determine what is valuable for a people, and label those in subordinate positions (Filipinos in the Philippines) as defective or substandard. Culture is a tool for making Other ( Abu-Lughod, 1991).

What Fallows may not realize is that an outsider never really stands outside, but is actually positioned within a larger political-historical context. What he has written about the Philippines are but partial pictures of Philippine society, and should be seen in the context of socio-cultural-political-historical forces which his own country and people helped produce.

Fallows’ perspectives

  • Static view of culture

In his article, Fallows’ view of culture seems to be static. Culture is reified, and made capable of causing underdevelopment, of bringing out the “the productive best in the Koreans (or the Japanese, or now even the Thais),” and in Filipinos, their “most self-destructive, self-defeating worst.” But culture is not static. Anthropologists view that culture as a social structure that powerfully impinges on people’s behaviors (for instance as a set of behaviors, customs, traditions, rules, plans, and programs, to name a few), it is nevertherless learned and can change (Abu-Lughod, 1991). Hence, it is dynamic rather than static (Hytten, 2011).

Ignoring role of history and power

Even as Fallows lays the blame for Philippine underdevelopment at the feet of culture, he could have interrogated the way history and power relations in society intersect in people’s everyday lives so that he might better understand Filipinos rather than resorting to moralizing or blaming. To do this, he could have examined how schools produce and transmit the damaged culture he wrote about. In this context, it is useful to refer to Nader’s (1997) conceptualization of the term “controlling processes” to understand why Filipinos seem to be behaving in ways that are contrary to their own interests, hence suggesting a damaged cultural frame. Controlling processes refer to the transformative nature of central ideas (such as Marcosian New Society ideology and development rhetorics) that emanate from institutions (the State, in the case of Marcos, and schools/industries, in the case of globalized US interests), operating as dynamic components of power.

Schools have been a favored site for the shaping of Philippine culture ever since the US sent the first batch of Thomasites to “educate” our people. In the case of Marcos, schools and teachers were favored intruments for implanting his ideologies for a New Society and imposing docility and acquiescence among the people.
When Fallows came to the country in 1987, a number of ideas had been encoded in the people as they went through life in or out of school, and these found their way into ways of thinking and behaving that came to be considered “natural” and “logical” as good for society (thereby creating consent). This way of thinking was described by Fallows as a damaged culture, as if there was a perfect one that was possible. Perhaps at this time, 2013, with America having a government shutdown, he knows for sure that he is not living in one. Theories of power indicate how ideologies and policies emanating from social institutions download ideas that are accepted by people (either by choice, persuasion or by coercion and compulsion).

Ignoring our agency

It was Giroux (1983) who wrote that social and cultural reproduction is never complete and always meet with partially realized elements of opposition. I think that was what Fallows should have realized. His views were particular for a time in history, when Filipinos were still discovering what it meant to exercise their freedoms in a suddenly equal but definitely unequal society. By the time Fallows wrote the article in November 1987, we were not work in progress, we were work warming up to start. The Freedom Constitution was just passed.
Being an outsider, Fallows had no way of knowing what Filipinos outside of the Marcos cronies and the favored Cory elite groups did in order to interpret their world and exercise their agencies to create a better culture. At the UP Psychology Department for example, psychologists were persistently working hard to cobble a Sikolohiyang Pilipino to benefit Filipinos so that we need not use outsider lenses to define who we were and what our future would be like. Dr Virgilio Enriquez said as much.

It was around 1985 when my husband and I, plus a group of like-minded young informal settlers in Old Balara, got together to find expressions for our own Community Revolution. We put up our own school, and established a Christian fellowship that would express our basis for resisting injustices brought about by Marcos, blind obedience to church interpretations of papal dogma, the dictates of market forces as to the language of education or for tracking young people in schools. We believe that culture is what we make it, and local communities should be the ones to define what is best for their own cultures, being aware of- our heritage, our strengths and weaknesses, our hopes as a people.

In our work with the community, we have time and again proven that it pays to listen to the people we write about. They have a voice, they know what works for them in their world. We need to write from a position of equality so that we understand them and be able to unpack what it is about their lived experience that has made it difficult to see why their behaviors are not beneficial to them. They need also to listen to others who can see, for having considered their oppressions as “natural”, they cannot or feel powerless to access knowledge available only to those in positions of dominance. Fallows failed to see that when he pointed out how newspapers were available only to the few millions closest to Manila.
Instead of moralizing or blaming the poor, the goal of writers should be to understand and empower the disadvantaged. Otherwise, writing like Fallows did about people from Smokey Mountain made them double victims of their poverty.


References Cited:

Abu-Lughod, L. (1991). Writing Against Culture. In Recapturing Anthropology: Working in the Present (pp. 466–479). Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.
Giroux, H. (1983). Theories of reproduction and resistance in the new sociology of education: a critical analysis. Harvard Educational Review, 53(3), 257–293.
Hytten, K. (2011). Cultural studies in education. In Handbook of research in the social foundations of education (pp. 206–218). New York: Routledge.
Nader, L. (1997, December). Controlling processes: Tracing the dynamic components of power – ProQuest Central – ProQuest. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/pqcentral/docview/237092130/fulltextPDF/137E080D7095D204928/10?accountid=141440


Anderson & Jack (2008) argue that the most appropriate way to view the concept of enterprise education is from a pedagogical viewpoint. They distinguish entrepreneurship education as very much about business start-up and the new venture creation process, while enterprise education is underpinned by experiential action learning that can be in, outside and away from the normal classroom environment and which can be delivered across the range of subject areas throughout different phases of education. Thus, to these authors, entrepreneurship education has to do with content; enterprise education has to do with method.

In their use of the term ‘enterprise’ in the context of economic development strategies Gibson et al.(2008); Ball & Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (1989) also came up with two definitions of the term. The first, and narrow one, regards enterprise as business entrepreneurialism, and sees its promotion and development within education and training systems as an issue of curriculum development which enables young people to learn, usually on an experiential basis, about business start-up and management. The second, and broad one, regards enterprise as a group of qualities and competencies that enable individuals, organizations, communities, societies and culture to be flexible, creative, adaptable in the face of, and so contributors to, rapid social and economic change. This definition has to do with life skills.

In practice, and as reported in literature, the narrow view fails to encompass the complexity behind a multifaceted concept such as entrepreneurship : someone does not have to create a business venture to behave like an entrepreneur (i.e., to perceive, evaluate and exploit opportunity). For instance, a broad definition of entrepreneur can be found in literature as referring to an “employee that applies entrepreneurial thinking to the various internal functions of existing business” (Kourilsky and Walstad, 2000 in Bridges, 2008).

One can be an employee in an organization and still be able to spot an opportunity such as an unexploited market niche, and fill it by developing a new product, devising a new service, discovering a new technology, or formulating a new organization” (Kent 1990, in Bridges, 2008). It has been argued that while these skills are essential in setting up a new business, they are just important expectations from the workforce in the 21st century (Bridges, 2008).
Other scholars (Bridges, 2008 ; Van der Kuip & Verheul, 2003) also note that activities or behaviors of enterprising individuals are not just limited to individually or collectively owned enterprises (entrepreneurship), and within large organizations (intrapreneurship) but also outside the business environment (such as in social entrepreneurship).

Given the nature and goal of education for young children, the broad view seems more appropriate for adoption as the meaning of enterprise education (EE). In addition, when enterprise is directed towards personal and social development, it is easier for teachers in the primary grades to embrace and implement (Van der Kuip & Verheul, 2003) EE.


Anderson, A. R., & Jack, S. L. (2008). Role typologies for enterprising education: the professional artisan? Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 15 (2): 259-273.
Bridges, C. M. (2008, May). Carla Bridges Entepreneurship Education and Economic Development: Preparing the Workforce for the Twenty-First Century Economy. Retrieved July 2, 2012, from etd.lib.clemson.edu: etd.lib.clemson.edu/…/umi-clemson-1666.pdf – I
OECD/CERI. (1989). Towards an enterprising culture – a challenge for education and training. Paris: OECD.
Pihkala, T., Ruskovaara, E., Seikkula-Leino, J., & Rytkola, T. (n.d.). Entrepreneurship Education – What is Really Happening in Classrooms. Lappeenranta University of Technology, The Centre for School Clubs.
Van der Kuip, I., & Verheul, I. (2003, June). Early Development of Entrepreneurial Qualities: the Role of Initial Education. Retrieved June 27, 2012, from www.entrepreneurship-sme.eu: www.entrepreneurship-sme.eu/pdf-ez/N200311.pdf


“Kung kaya ng iba, bakit hindi natin kaya?” Ito ang katanungang laging bumabagabag sa akin. Kung kayang umasenso ng mga dayuhan tulad ng mga Chino, Bumbay, Koreano, Hapon, Amerkano, at iba pa sa Pilipinas, bakit hindi kaya ng mga Pilipino? Bakit kailangang mag-ibang bansa pa ang maraming Pilipino? Bakit? Sadya bang inferior race ang mga Pilipino? Hindi ko matanggap ito. Kung kaya ng ibang katutubong Pilipino tulad ni Ferdie Gedalanga na dating isang street kid o ni Cris Sabarez na dating iskwater sa Old Balara at ngayon ay kapwa matagumpay na mga negosyante at may sarili nang bahay at lupa, e bakit hindi kaya ng ibang Pilipino?

Sa aking palagay, ang problema ng maraming OFW (gayon din ng marami pang Pilipino) ay kulang sila sa tamang mindset. Sa nakikita ko, may tatlong mindset na kailangang linangin ng mga OFW sa kanilang sarili para sila magkaroon ng pag-asa sa buhay at umunlad kahit na manatili lang sila sa sarili nilang bayang Pilipinas.

Ang unang mindset ay “Stewardship” o “isip-mabuting katiwala ng Dios.” Dapat tayong maging tapat at mahusay na katiwala ng Dios sa lahat ng yaman o ari-ariang binigay niya sa atin. Kasama riyan ang ating kaperahan, kalusugan, kaisipan, pamilya, tahanan, trabaho, negosyo, atbp. Isa sa pinakamahalagang yamang tinakda ng Dios sa sangkapilipinuhan para pangasiwaan ng mabuti ay ang ating bansang Pilipinas. Sabi ni Jesus sa isa niyang talinghaga, siya ang mabuting magsasaka na naghahasik ng binhi sa kanyang lupa. Ang lupa ay ang mundo at ang binhi ay ang mga tao. Si Jesus ang naghasik sa atin dito sa bayang Pilipinas. Hindi aksidente na tayo ay mga Pilipino, lahing kayumanggi, lahing maganda. Magbibigay sulit tayo sa Dios sa paraan ng ating pangangasiwa sa mga yamang binigay niya sa atin. Sa nakikita ko, napakasama ng pangangasiwa ng maraming Pilipino sa sarili nilang bayan. Maraming mga pinunong Pilipino ay magnanakaw sa kaban ng bayan. (Mabuti na lang na ang kasalukuyang Pangulo ay mukhang matapat sa tungkulin. Kasihan nawa siya ng Dios.)

Kung sisiryosohin natin ang ating pagiging “Katiwala ng Dios” sa Pilipinas, magiging mahusay tayo sa pangangalaga at pagpapaunlad ng ating bayan. Ang lahat ng pinunong Pilipino ay dapat maging tapat sa kanilang tungkulin. Lahat ng ordinaryong mamamayan ay dapat maging masipag, malinis, maayos, at tapat magbayad ng buwis. Magtatanim sila ng maraming punong-kahoy. Hindi sila magtatapon ng basura kung saan-saan. Susunod sila sa mga batas. Lahat ng ito ay gagawin nila alang-alang sa Dios na kanilang minamahal.

Naaawa ako sa mga OFW dahil nasa ibang bansa sila, kaya ibang bansa ang pinayayaman nila. At napapabayaan nila ang kanilang sariling asawa at mga anak. Kung ganyan ng ganyan, lalong hihirap ang Pilipinas at nanganganib na mawasak ang pamilyang Pilipino. Kikita nga sila ng pera, pero nagwawala naman ang asawa nila at nasisira ang pag-uugali ng kanilang mga anak. Sa aking palagay, hindi kalooban ng Dios na magkahiwalay ang mag-asawa at mapabayaan ang mga anak. Kung lalabag tayo sa kalooban ng Dios, tiyak na may masamang ibubunga iyan. Lagot tayo.

Ang pangalawang magandang kaisipan na dapat linangin ng mga OFW ay ang “isip pag-iipon.” Huwag dapat gagastusin ng OFW ang lahat ng kanyang kita. Dapat ay mayroong ipon. Hanggat hindi nag-iipon ang OFW, ang anumang sueldo niya ay di sasapat. Hindi ang sueldo ang nagpapayaman sa tao, kundi ang ipon na nanganganak ng husto. Ang karaniwang OFW ay tulad ng isang sisidlang (container) maraming butas. Gusto sana nilang punuin ng tubig ito, ngunit lahat ng kanilang ipinapasok ay lumalabas. Subalit hindi makita ni OFW ang sanhi ng kanyang problema. Ang kanyang iniisip, “Hindi ako nakakaipon dahil masyadong maliit ang pinagmumulan ko ng tubig.” Ngunit kahit bigyan mo pa siya ng malaking pagmumulan ng tubig (kahit pa kasing laki ng subdivision water tank), hindi pa rin mapupuno ng tubig ang kanyang sisidlan sapagkat butas-butas nga. Lahat ng pumapasok ay lumalabas. Kailangan magkaroon ang OFW ng “financial discipline.”

Ang aking paniwala ay ito: Ang marunong, maraming ipon; ang mangmang, maraming utang. Dapat praktisin ng OFW ang “10:10:80 formula.” Pagdating ng kanyang sueldo, ang unang 10% ay dapat ibigay niya sa Dios para lalo siyang pagpalain. Ang ikalawang 10% ay dapat niyang ipunin at paanakin nang paanakin. Ang ipon ay kutson na sumasalo sa mga dagok ng buhay. Ang huling 80% ay para sa kanyang pang-araw-araw na gastusin. Dapat pagkasyahin niya ang kanyang lifestyle sa 80% ng kanyang kita. Ang sabi ng isang salawikain, “Kung maigsi ang kumot, matutong mamaluktot.”

Ang pangatlong magandang kaisipan na dapat linangin ng OFW ay ang “isip-entrepinoy.” Ang Pilipino ay dapat maging mahusay sa pagnenegosyo. Ang pamamasukan ay maganda rin sapagkat malinis na trabaho iyan; pero iyan ay pagdadagdag (addition) lamang ng kita, samantalang ang pagnenegosyo ay pagpaparami (multiplication). Bakit ang batang Tsino, pagka-graduate sa High School, ang unang tanong ay, “Anong negosyo ang itatayo ko?” Samantala, ang batang Pinoy, pagka-graduate sa kolehiyo, ang unang tanong ay “Saan ako hahanap ng trabaho?” Bakit? Sadya bang pang-empleyado lang ang Pinoy? Talaga bang ang mga Pilipino ay pawang alila sa sarili nilang bansa at ang mga dayuhan lang ang may karapatang yumaman at mag-ari ng ating ekonomiya? Hindi tama ito! Ang Pilipinas ay para sa lahing Pilipino!

Tatlo ang uri ng negosyo: buy and sell o pangangalakal, manufacturing o paggawa ng produko, at service o pagbenta ng serbisyo. Ang pinakasimple ay ang una – pangangalakal. Bibili ka lang ng produkto kung saan mura ang benta nito, at dadalhin mo sa lugar na wala nitong produktong ito at ibenta mo ng may tubo. Kailangan pa bang i-memorize iyan? Kailangan mo ba ng college degree para gawin iyan? Sa totoo lang, wala naman talagang dapat maghirap sa atin kung magiging masipag, matiyaga at marunong lang tayo. May kahirapang bunga ng kaapihan; subalit may kahirapang sila ang may kagagawan.

Sana maraming OFW ang tumulad na lamang sa Matalinong Babae na tinutukoy sa Kawikaan 31: 10-31. Ang babaeng ito ay napakasipag at napakatalino. Hindi siya kailangang mag-OFW para umasenso. Hindi rin niya kailangang magtrabaho sa labas ng bahay. Sa loob ng bahay ay marami siyang produktibong gawain. Mayroon siyang at least 10 home-based enterprises:

1. May buy and sell siya ng wool and flax
2. May food importing business siya
3. May real estate business siya
4. May farming business siya
5. May trading business siya
6. May garments business siya
7. May social work enterprise siya
8. May interior design at fashion business siya
9. May sash exporting business siya
10. May school business siya

Hindi kataka-takang umaasenso siya at pinupuri ng lahat.

Bilang pagtatapos, gusto ko lang idiin na hindi kailangang mag-OFW ang isang Pinoy para umasenso sa buhay. Manatili na lang tayo sa bayang binigay ng Dios sa atin. Maging mabuting Katiwala ng Dios tayo sa lahat ng yaman at ari-ariang binigay niya sa atin. Matuto tayong mag-ipon at magpaanak ng ipon. At huli, pumasok tayo sa maraming home-based businesses. Hindi pa natin mapapabayaan ang ating asawa at mga anak. Iyan ang kapuri-puri sa Dios.


In the course of doing work with the International Organization for Migration and the Small Enterprises Research and Development Foundation, I reviewed literature on the impact of remittances in Philippine countryside development. My review suggested the following chain of causes and effects attendant to remittances:

a) Remittances alleviate poverty through increased incomes at the grassroots level in rural communities.
b) Increased incomes lead to increased savings and investments as well as demands for goods and services (for consumption) among migrant families, which stimulate local enterprises to produce more.
c) Increased economic activities create employment opportunities for non-migrant families, and improve the competitiveness of a locality.
d) As employment and investments increase in a locality, individual incomes increase as well, along with savings, which can be re-invested back into capital markets or the creation of new enterprises.
e) The outcome is better quality of life for families and households, and as the outcomes are sustained, will redound to migrant workers exercising real freedom to choose whether to return back to this country (reintegration) or continue with migration.
f) Interventions are needed to ensure that the above benefits of development do not perpetuate income inequalities as remittances are siphoned back to (a) developed, urban areas through consumption patterns in goods and services offered by outsider entrepreneurs and (b) non-rational investments in speculative and unproductive assets that in the long run work against the livelihood of poor, mostly agricultural, communities.
g) Interventions are also needed to address issues that suggest remittances may impact on values that lead to lack of development in families and communities, such as when it leads to the devaluation of child care among parents, lack of dignity in labor, of working in the country, and of living in the country.
The following important lessons are to be taken into account when designing interventions for channeling remittances.
a) Ensure that the primary beneficiaries (or the biggest gainers) of development are the poor, particularly the migrant families, as well as the communities where they come from.
b) Attend to the investment climate of localities being targeted for development as they are a determinant factor in whether remittances are spent by recipient families on consumption or profitable investments (Pernia & Salas, 2005).
c) Ensure that recipients of remittances (such as families left-behind, or donee recipients) utilize remittances in the best interest of the OFWs and long-term local economic development.

(Ideas collected from various IOM publications and materials by Anji Resurreccion for SERDEF, Philippines)


I am a licensed Business Management System (BMS) trainer.  The BMS paradigm says that competitiveness can be measured by answering the questions: Who dictates the price?  Who lines up begging to be patronized?  According to this view, something is said to be competitive when it approximates monopoly situation; that is, it has no competitors.  As such, the buyer has no choice but to line up, wait his turn, and pay whatever selling price is demanded.

 Given this point, it appears that the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) are not exactly that competitive.  Why?  Because there are more Filipino workers than jobs available.  Many Filipinos are precariously stranded in some remote Middle Eastern countries hoping to be given a work contract.  They unduly risk their lives.  To survive, many of them resort to fishing and begging alms from kind-hearted fellow Filipinos. Given their desperate situation, many of them have no choice but to accept whatever outrageously low salary rate is offered, thus further spoiling the labor market situation for OFWs.  It is the foreign employer who dictates the price. They exploit our seemingly hopeless situation.  Some of them are merciless. If we do not agree to their offer and if they say,  “Alright, if you don’t like to accept my rate, that’s up to you. I will just look for someone else.” The poor OFW would quickly say, “OK OK, I agree to your dirt cheap rate.”  If this is what’s happening, then we cannot be called competitive.

 On the other had, the OFW may also be considered competitive in a way.  Why? Because of the many nationalities willing to be virtual slaves in rich countries, Filipinos seem to be the “first preference” or the “customer’s first choice.”  Why are we their “first choice”?  Because we are said to be good English speakers; we have relatively good work attitudes (we are supposedly meek and submissive workers); and we are better educated than the workers of other nations.  The OFW is willing to accept a job that is way below his skill level and educational background.  In other words, he has no qualms about being under-employed.  For example, our doctors are willing to work as nurses; our nurses as care-givers; many of our engineers as utility or maintenance people; our licensed CPAs as mere bookkeepers; and our teachers who hold Master’s or PhD degrees as domestics helpers.

 In other words, the issue of competitiveness is not that simple. If the OFW is the “first choice” of foreign employers because they are clearly more skilled than the other nationalities, besides the fact that our people are willing to accept jobs that are lower than their educational qualifications and willing to receive salaries that are just 10% of their true worth, can we say that Filipinos are competitive?  Yes, they may be the employer’s first choice, but they are virtual slaves anyhow.

 Genuine competitiveness is when we have a rare, in-demand, unique ability that other peoples cannot copy and then the employers have no choice but to line up and compete with each other to hire us.  If the OFW says to the potential employer, “I will not accept a salary below 2,000 dollars a month. Take it or leave it!”  If they have no choice but to say, ”Sure, sure! I will give you whatever price you demand; just work for me.” That is being competitive!  Oh, when will this ever be?

 I am irritated by our present situation!  How low our self-image has fallen.  We are so demoralized and desperate.  This is so wrong.  The truth is, I really believe that we Filipinos are better skilled and more resourceful than the workers of many nations. It is hard to explain why, but for me, Filipinos are especially gifted by God.  Apart from our unique abilities, I think we are also one of the most attractive peoples on the face of the earth – not too large, not too small; not too pale, not too dark.  And we are vaunted to be excellent in relating with other nationalities, so much so that we are often labeled as “the ideal immigrant.” It is because we are able to easily adjust to the newly adopted home nation.

 However, if you ask me, I wish that we were not just competent workers or servants of foreigners; but more importantly, to become competent entrepreneurs, to be job-creators and not just job-seekers.  I pray that God’s promise in the Bible will come true for us:For the LORD your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.” (Deut. 15:6).  Amen!


In the course of studying social reconstructionist education, I have noted the following implications for our teachers if we want to appply this perspective.

1. The first step is to understand ourselves as educators. Van Gunten & Martin (2002) maintain that our work in shools is shaped by our understanding of who we are as educators, researchers and scholars. We have our conceptual frameworks for analyzing and deriving meanings from events in our personal and work lives as a result of our collective experiences as members of a multicultural (Tagalog, Ilocano, Cebuano, Ilonggo, or Christian, Muslim) society. What we take up and what is repressed by us in class is a particular, rather than a universal truth, and is a function of our positions in society (for me, it will be as a married woman with four children, from a middle class background, with a UP education, for example). Understanding the unique ways in which positionalities influence and transform pedagogy, which in turn influences the lives and experiences of students, is essential for effective education (Martin & Koppelman, 1991, in Van Gunten & Martin, 2002).

Many teachers are unaware of their positionality as privileged, class dominant, and heterosexually oriented or as advantaged (or disadvantaged) because of gender. The task of the OBCCS teacher is to awaken his or her own awareness, and where there may be an understanding of particularized oppressions or singular awareness, to create what Rich (1980) has called “disequilibrium,” thus altering the images they have of themselves and others that have been abstracted by the culture. Teachers need to ask of their views, “Whose knowledge is this particular to in society? Who has seen this as worth teaching and who has benefited? Whose knowledge should be taught and why?”

Miller (in Morgaine, 1994) has proposed that for students to learn to understand all forms of knowledge (and not just the instrumental or technical paradigms), teachers need to “excavate, reflect on, and analyze underlying assumptions, expectations and constructions” of everyday life in order to become insightful about the complexities involved.

Critical social science is based on the belief that individuals do not need an expert (ie., the teacher) to tell them what to do; they are capable of becoming enlightened about hidden influences in their own personal and social situations. It is assumed that praxis, or emancipative action toward making change, will occur once people are enlightened.

After a heightened awareness of one’s own positionality, a teacher can proceed with a process of critical inquiry. This process is a response to the experiences, desires, and needs of oppressed people to help them further on in the process cultural transformation. It focuses on fundamental contradictions which help dispossesses people how poorly their “ideological frozen understandings” serve their interests (Morgaine, 1994). The following steps are taken from Comstock’s framework of critical inquiry, as described by Morgaine (1994).

The second step is for teachers to truly understand their students. By this is meant an effort to identify them as an oppressed social group or a group of people whose interests and actions are constrained by social ideologies. For example, if the majority of students are female, teachers can explore if they were experiencing some form of gender-related oppression. Students at the OBCCS are somehow societally oppressed in one form or another : as residents of this urban poor community, or with parents being Muslims or unemployed, what forms of oppressive beliefs are they suffering from, and how might this influence their views of themselves? Teachers simply do not teach effectively when they hold inaccurate deficit visions of children, families, and communities.

Attainment of full understanding, includes observing, asking, acting and reflecting (just as Freire, 1968, described using a process of dialogue, where power between students and teacher is equalized. The dialogue can be oral or written, and is aimed to facilitate students’ reflections of their oppressive life experiences. It is important that teachers behave in a nonelitist and nonmanipulative manner with the students about their everyday experiences. As dialogue occurs, themes common to group members’ lives gradually emerge.

The third step is to identify themes and examine their historical aspects. Freire (in Morgaine, 1994) suggests that meanings, values and motives can be consolidated into themes. The aim at this stage is not to discover causal relationships, but rather to seek explanatory understandings (Bredo & Feinberg, 1982), or explanations regarding the intersections between historical underpinnings and contemporary perspectives of societal members (Fay, 1977, in Morgaine- 1994).

The teacher establishes the descriptive and interpretive validity of the themes as group members reflect on personal experiences relevant to the themes. Conditions for facilitating enlightenment must be preceded by new, nonblaming information (not moralizing, shaming or blaming).

This will give rise to understanding of societal ideologies surrounding power.

Feminist theory claims that dominant members of society create a world that blames subordinate members. When discrepancies are approached within the context of hierarchical relationships and asocial assumptions, shame is a likely outcome (for example, in some of the games at OBCCS, “families” may end up with plenty of children, and those with large families are “shamed” because they have to spend so much in order to live).

The fourth step is to look to students for curricular content, thereby trying to be more respectful of their diverse life experiences. The teacher pursues discourses based on student needs and interests. Teachers must acknowledge the skills and capacities that children bring with them to the classroom.

Lastly, the teacher integrates interpretive forms of knowledge(personal journals, films, novels, poetry) into the information disseminated in class.

The way we are implementing experiential learning at OBCCS may fall short of the standards for critical inquiry. We implement the experiential learning cycle, and go through experience-reflection-action inputs to produce knowledge without being conscious of our frameworks or paradigms as being positioned and privileged as members of a dominant group. This is an area that we in the faculty might have to discuss and work on together.



Morgaine, C. A. (1994). Enlightenment for emancipation : a critical theory of self-formation. Family Relations , 325- 350.
Van Gunten, D. M., & Martin, R. J. (2002). Reflected identities: applying positionality and multicultural social reconstrtuction in teacher education. Journeal of Teacher Education , Vol 53 (1)
Schutz, A. (2006). Home is a prison in the global city: the tragic failure of school-based community engagement strategies. Review of Educational Research , 76:691- 7443.


The role of experience

The relevance and value of using theory-dependent or traditional pedagogies in enterprise education have often been questioned in the light of entrepreneurship being a subject dealing almost exclusively with doing and learning from experience  (Anderson & Jack, 2009).  Good practices in the field favor strategies in the “enterprise mode” of teaching, referring to pedagogies that are more learner-centered.  In this perspective, knowledge (and meanings) are constructed by the learners themselves from what they do (or experience).    Literature in enterprise education is replete with examples where educators provide all sorts of “experiences” to produce entrepreneurship knowledge in their students. Experiential learning techniques feature in enterprise education for levels 2 to 4 (technician, artisanal and artist) in Anderson and Jack’s typology of entrepreneurial roles.

Limitations of experiential learning

            The term experiential learning has been used to designate a whole range of educational strategies from kinesthetic-directed instructional activities in the classroom to special workplace projects interspersed with critical dialogue led by a teacher-facilitator in enterprise education (i.e, the mix of strategies used to develop technician, artisanal and artist roles in the typology described above).  Experiential learning has also been used as a term to distinguish the ongoing meaning making from theoretical knowledge and nondirected informal life experience from formal education ( (Fenwick, 2000).  

            Many of the things we do at the OBCCS can be classified under the genre of experiential learning.  We use images, songs, field trips,  strategy games, structured learning experiences, simulation games and actual business ventures.  One of the games, for example, is EntrePower, which tackles the empowerment of the poor.  At the start of the game,  the class is divided into squatter families and are given the objective to rise from poverty.  Then they get to explore livelihood options: get employed, start a business, or just borrow money from a loan shark.  Based on their choice, they plan their families, budget their finances, and conceptualize their business.  They either exercise or ignore savings habits and are made to deal with dire situations like house demolitions and natural disasters.

             Considerable pains have been undergone to train OBCCS teachers in the pedagogy of experiential learning,  to equip them for engaging students in constructive reflections.  The Experiential Learning Cycle is used to help them students move from their personal experience,  publishing, analysis, generalizing, and application stages (Pfeiffer & Jones, 1973). 

             After examining what literature had to say about the philosophy of experiential learning, particularly as applied to enterprise education,  I am beginning to think deeply about the way we are implementing Experiential Learning at OBCCS .  For all our celebration of experiential learning as student-centered, we might actually have been implementing it in a teacher-oriented way, enacting hierarchies of epistemological authority that might be counterproductive to developing the enterprising spirit in our students.

             In experiential learning, the individual learner is viewed as able to independently reflect on lived experience and then interprets and generalizes this experience to form mental structures.  These mental structures are stored from memory as concepts that can be represented, expressed, and transferred to new situations. 

             Portraying learners as constructors of their own knowledge is from a constructivist perspective.  “Reflection as processing” relies on an old input-output metaphor of learning in which the system becomes input to itself.  It falsely presumes a cut universe in which a person is distinct from the environment and from their own experiences, and reflection is posited as an integrator, bridging such separations.    The constructivist view further considers the individual a primary actor in the process of knowledge construction, and in this dominant humanist view, the learner is assumed to be a stable, unitary self that is regulated by its own intellectual activity.  The constructivist views the learner as fundamentally autonomous from his or her environment.   Access to experience through rational reflection is assumed, as is the learner’s capacity, motivation, and power to mobilize the reflective process.  It is as if knowledge is a third substance that is created in the person’s head as it moves from one context to the next,  and it is supposed to stay constant in his or her head regardless of surroundings.  Social relations of power (such as defined by language and cultural practices) are not factored in as part of knowledge construction.  Viewed in this light, therefore,  experiential learning can actually be promoting ideas that reinforce knowledge as defined by the teacher.  Only the experience is student-centered,  the reflection part in the cycle is extracted, structured, given meaning by a facilitator /teacher who is in a position of power by virtue of language, class, gender, race, or class. 

             Contemporary theories emanating from post-modernist, feminist and anti-racist perspectives (Fenwick, 2000, calls themradical perspectives, Michelson (1996) calls them resistance theories)  have  challenged views of knowledge that promote transcendental rationality and individual cognition in line with dominant power structures.  According to these perspectives :

             Experience  is not transparent.  Far from giving us unmediated access to reality,  it is mediated by a host of social and discursive formulations that tell us what the world is like and who we are within it… Experience enters our consciousness already organized by ideology, language and material history.  This means, in turn, that experience and knowledge are neither chronologigally nor logically distinct…but are mutually determined (Michelson, 1996).  

             As an alternative view to personally constructed knowledge,  asituative perspective views knowledge as socially constructed andsituated.  This line of thinking maintains that learning is rooted in the situation in which a person participates (i.e., situated cognition), not in the head of the person as intellectual concepts produced by reflection.  Knowledge results as part of the very process of participation in the immediate situation.  The role of the educator is to help students participate meaningfully in the practices they choose to enter.  The goal is to improve participation in an activity, and students improve by becoming more attuned to constraints and affordances of different real situations.

             One can argue that the portrayal of a helping educator (in the situative perspective) contradicts certain premises of situated cognition, since the deliberate insertion of an actor with particular intentions changes the purpose and flow of the activity (trainers in the Philippines sometimes call it facipulation).  Educators cannot separate themselves (their own gender, cultures, class) from their answer to the question, “What constitutes meaningful participation in this group of students?”

             The situative perspective offers value to enterprise education in that it allows insights into how the different elements in a learning environment interact to produce particular actions and goals.  The participation metaphor also invokes themes of togetherness, solidarity, and collaboration, which could promote risk taking and inquiry, both important competencies in entrepreneurship.  Our teachers will do well to ask the questions proposed by BG Wilson and Myers (in (Fenwick, 2000, p. 255) ” Is the learning environment successful in accomplishing its learning goals?  How do the various participants, tools and objects interact together?  What meanings are constructed? How do the interactions and meanings help or hinder desired learning?” 

             Critical cultural perspectives, on the other hand, challenge the apolitical position of situated cognition.  Relations and practices related to dimensions of race, class, gender, and other personal complexities determine flows of power, which in turn determine different individuals’ ability to participate meaningfully in particular practices of systems ( (Fenwick, 2000).  The situative perspective needs to address the question of positionality, just as Ellworth (1997) put it:        

            Each time we address someone, we take up a position within knowledge, power, and desire in relation to them, and assign to them a position in relation to ourselves and to a context.” These positions are interconnected,  and in a constant flux, for they change whenever we turn to some new person or situation. 

             Critical cultural perspectives are more helpful than situative perspectives in prescribing teaching strategies in situations where relationships are unfair or dysfunctional, such as in  entrepreneurship among women, cultural minorities, or hacienda workers.

              Critical cultural perspectives  are classified under social reconstructionism  philosophy of education.  The perspective focuses on power as a core issue, and is concerned with the development ofcollective conscientization, praxis and action for social change.  This philosophical tradition addresses issues of social justice and oppression such as literacy, civil rights, labor rights, indigenous rights and gender rights, to name a few.  Built on the work of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed ,  it has been embodied in political and liberation struggles, including education.  As in progressive and humanistic thinking,  learners are seen as active creators of their own lives, histories and futures.   These three philosophies have a critical view of relations and systems of power and dominance.  They see systems of political, economic and social oppression as interlocking and symbiotic, and see the need for educational interventions to address the complex interconnections of social constructs such as race, class and gender. 

Illustration: Paying attention to gender issues as an instrument for social justice

             The social reconstructionist perspective offers tools for tracing complex power relations and their consequences.  The field has been peppered with theorizing on a variety of cross-cutting issues that affect learning in any field, including gender, ideology, race, identity, and many more.  In enterprise education,  gender and race have earned much attention.   

             A summary article entitled “Women Entrepreneurship Across Racial Lines:  Current Status, Critical Issues and Implications” (Smith-Hunter, 2004)  gives a good glimpse on the differential consequence of gender in entrepreneurship.  For example, Smith-Hunter found that among white men, the primary reason for entry into an entrepreneurial career had been the opportunity presenting itself and having the resources to undertake such an endeavor.  However, for women and minority groups (i.e., those with less power and dominance in US society), the primary reason was the systematic exclusion from lucrative, mainstream labor-market opportunities and the less than-proportionate compensation they receive for the same mainstream labor-market functions when compared to their White male counterparts.   The literature indicated that men, and in particular White men (in the case of the culture studied by Smith-Hunter), always enjoyed and continued to enjoy a favorable position not only in the labor market but also to entrepreneurial endeavors as well. 

             The situation might be different in the context of the Philippines, where it is generally believed and observed that women entrepreneurship is omnipresent (Madarang & Habito, 2007).  Compared to other Asian countries,  it appears that opportunities were equal for men and women in our country and that women entrepreneurship is socially acceptable here.  Madarang and Habito have also said that gender equality and the tradition that women supplement the family income were one of the contributing factors to entrepreneurship.  However, despite claims ofabsence of barriers to women engaging in businesses,  they said that social services available to them to continue work on their venture after starting a family were insufficient.  Apparently, when women do succeed in business, they go through new challenges that have to do with society’s expectations regarding masculine-feminine roles.  Consider this situation described by Madarang and Habito (2007):  among nascent (up to three months old) businesses, 69% were predominantly women, but the profile reverses (66% men) for established (3.5 years old) businesses.  Where did the women go?  The authors suggested that women tended to be relied upon to start a business while the husband may still be tied up in a regular job, until the business has established for the husband to take on full-time involvement.  The women in the study cited family time management as their single biggest obstacle.  Interestingly, Mindanao women appeared least impeded by any factor on their business activities,  suggesting a higher degree of independence among women in Mindanao compared to those elsewhere in the country.   Women in the lowest socio-economic segments found greatest difficulty in balancing family time management with setting up a business, with 35% citing it as a problem (against the 20% national average). 

               I n teaching entrepreneurship (or any subject for that matter) with a social reconstructionist perspective,  teachers can play a role in bringing to consciousness the unequal power relations between the sexes and the ways in which women and girls continue to be oppressed in society.  This requires more than just the challenging of sexism or sexist practices in schools.  Teachers also need to consider the dominant meanings and images of ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’, and how these gendered images and stereotypes relate to, and interact with, other masculinities and femininities which are unfair and unjust.  For example,  teachers need to be conscious of how they talk about sports – do they perpetuate gendered hierarchies of power and privilege (Richardson, 2010)?  Whenever they talk about certain businesses as suitable to women and others are suitable men,  who stands to benefit from such divisions of labor?

            I believe that critical social science offers a powerful frame on which to build our schools’ philosophy.  We share its assumption that contemporary society is oppressive in that it systematically encourages the development of certain societal groups at the expense of others.  We know that without reforms, teaching our young people the contents of the traditional curriculum will not, despite their best efforts, make them competitive with graduates from middle class or upper class neighborhoods.  Our departures from the usual DepEd curriculum with a slant for enterprise education have only meant more work for all of us at the OBCCS, work which have gone unpaid and unrecognized, but which we undertake anyway for the joy of liberating a few children to appropriate the fruits of education for themselves.   There is a twinge of discomfort in knowing that this perspective comes with feminist philosophical assumptions (Fay, 1977; Lather, 1991),  but nonetheless,  we recognize that even such a discomfort is part of the process of liberation. The end of critical social science is to expose the ways in which social and cultural realities may be hindering the human potential of all people.

                  Social reconstructionism is a philosophy that underscores the role of teachers in leading the young in programs of social engineering and reform.  Many social reconstructionists may difer on particulars (such as those described between situative and critical cultural theorists above) but they do agree on certain premises, namely :  (1) All philosophies, ideologies, and theories are culturally based and are conditioned by our living at a given time and in a particular place (thus, the concept of positional and situated identities in Martin and Gunten’s 2002 article).  (2) Culture is dynamic and therefore in a constant process of growth and change, (thus, Morgaine (1994) refers to fluidity of identities and meaningsand (3) people can refashion or reshape culture so that it promotes human growth and development (thus, the potential role of education for social change and activism as exemplified by Deuchar’s enterprise for life model (2008).

               Critical educators say that teachers’ and students’ identities are negotiated, contested and mediated in and through the process of schooling.  Because teachers are positioned by their gender, identity and social class, their biographical references are often reflected in their practice.  It is realistic to assume that teachers construct their voice as a function of position.  Van Gunten and Martin quote Maher and Tetrault (1994) as saying ” the concept of positionality points to the contextual and relational factors as crucial for defining not only our identities but also our knowledge as teachers and teacher educators and students in any given situation.”



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