Asked about his country’s culture, brief history, and other Frenchy stuff while on a drinking session somewhere in Alabang, this former French officemate of mine readily obliged and even gamely drew up a crude sketch of his country on a large piece of tissue paper!
Me and the rest of our Filipino coworkers drinking with him were amazed at how he did it. And by the look on his face, he was a bit puzzled at our admiration. It’s because drawing a sketch of their country was something normal to him, to all of them there in France. Probably the same thing with other countries. Which led me to think: how many schools here in our country do even care to teach our students how to draw our archipelago, or at least make a more or less accurate crude sketch of it?
It’s understandable, though, that in comparison, France is a bit easier to draw than the Filipino archipelago: it’s compact and a bit squarish despite the irregularities on the sides. Our country, of course, is composed of thousands of jigsaw-puzzle shaped islands and islets. Other than that, not everyone has the talent to draw (the only stuff I know to draw is a bamboo stick). But should this be an excuse? In my alma mater, all students, regardless of their course, are required to take up Basic Inorganic Chemistry even though all of them (especially in my case) never intended to build their careers inside a test-tube-filled laboratory. And all high school students (not sure if it’s still the same with college) are still required to undergo basic military training. The point of it all, of course, is to help shape a well-rounded and (hopefully) multifaceted Filipino student.
Will the skill to draw our archipelago help contribute to that? Yes, I believe so. It will inculcate in them not just a knowledge of their country’s visual representation but also a sense of ownership, if not nationalism. And following a sense of ownership is responsibility. Like what environmentalists usually say about our planet, Filipinas is our only home; we have to take care of it, guard it, and defend it at all times.
With all this senseless and bigoted Islamic claim of the entire island of Mindanáo (not to mention China’s nincompoopish claim over OUR Spratlys and the Scarborough Shoal), may our educational system not wait until our country is composed only of Luzón and Visayas before they thought of inculcating geographical awareness and pride among our students.