PASIG CITY, August 21, 2019 – Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones welcomed Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz during a courtesy call on August 14 to discuss prospective areas of partnership in education.
The Israeli Ambassador proposed and requested the inclusion of the story of the Holocaust in the country’s basic education curriculum since not all Filipinos know about it. Such inclusion, according to the Ambassador, should contain the invaluable support that the Philippine government extended to the Israelis, through the efforts of then President Manuel Quezon.
Harpaz also stressed that the Philippines, under the administration of Quezon, was the only country in Asia that accepted Jewish refugees during World War II.
The Education chief regarded the request as timely and relevant: “This is very timely because right now, the Department of Education is in the process of reviewing the curriculum. I quite agree that the history books were heavily influenced by the American history, and this is a neglected aspect. Only in our generation and in certain places where there are Jewish families who know the story of Manuel Quezon’s humanitarian act.”
Briones further shared: “It is ironic that many Filipinos know about the Holocaust not only from books, not only from schools, but from films as well, because there are many beautiful films with the Holocaust as the theme, but not all of us are aware of what Quezon did, especially in this generation.”
The Education chief likewise emphasized the Filipino values of hospitality and kindness to foreign nationals as these are inherent tradition of Filipino people: “I always cite this incident in my speeches to illustrate how welcoming the Filipinos are because we also did it in the case of Vietnam. It is our tradition to welcome those who come to us.”
Other areas tackled during the meeting include distance education, training, technologies, DepEd’s challenges, and the Last Mile Schools. The Ambassador proposed to involve the private sector, through Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, so that the training of trainers will be easily facilitated.
Also present in the meeting were OIC-Assistant Secretary for Curriculum and Instruction Alma Ruby Torio, International Cooperation Office Director Margarita Consolacion Ballesteros, Bureau of Curriculum Development Director Jocelyn Andaya, Israel Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Yulia Rachinsky-Spivakov, and Mashav Officer Gladys Baniqued.