One of the classes I enjoyed the most during my practicum was about not one, but two children’s stories. The stories were written by Augie Rivera called Si Pitong Noong Panahon ng mga Hapon and Si Juanito Noong Panahon ng mga Amerikano. I used the stories to sum up our lessons on the Philippine experience under the Japanese and American imperialism as well as the neo-colonial relations between the Philippines and the U.S. that continued even after the country gained political independence. The stories for me, were good vehicles of revealing socio-historical realities to my students, and at the same time provided the class with a means to relate present social conditions with historical ones.
I wrote a review for a friend’s review blog here, and talked about the underlying ideas and symbolism in the stories that make them great teaching instruments.
Here are the PowerPoint slides I used for the pre-reading and post-reading activities:
At the end of the slides I indicated that the story about Pitong had a problematic end. As I have pointed out in the book review here, the story reinforces the popular notion of the American army and navy as saviors that emancipated the Philippines from Japanese occupation. From an anti-colonialist perspective of history, it is crucial that as teachers we must also point out the various groups that engaged in protracted warfare against the Japanese troops at the time when the American army had abandoned the Philippines. This is the reason why I bring up the Hukbalahap at the end as one of the more shining example of these guerrilla groups. This shortcoming is actually what makes this book quite valuable for me, and when taken together with Juanito’s story, especially when the symbol of sugar and imported chocolates are juxtaposed, make for a powerful teaching tool to sow that seed of critical thinking necessary to dispel the longstanding colonial mentality in our land.