January 31, 2022 – In commemoration of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones on Thursday underscored the compassion and humane act of Filipinos in helping Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust.

“During that time, I knew about the arrival of the Jewish refugees because one family settled in our home island of Negros Oriental. I saw the film on how President Manuel L. Quezon made the decision to bring in and welcome Jewish refugees to the Philippines. I wept after watching that film,” Sec. Briones shared during a virtual memorial symposium hosted by DepEd.

The Education Chief was alluding to Quezon’s Game (2018), a historical drama film set during the pre-World War II era, narrating the story of President Manuel L. Quezon and his efforts to give Jewish refugees escaping Nazi persecution sanctuary in the Philippines.

“I wonder how many Filipinos, particularly young learners, know about the humane act of then-President Quezon. I thought that it is high time that we teach our learners these lesser-known stories of our history,” Sec. Briones said.

“I believe it is also appropriate for our children to be taught that one does not have to be the richest country in the world. One does not need so much to be able to help and to extend shelter, and we have done that on several occasions as a country,” she added.

Spearheaded by the External Partnerships Service (EPS), in cooperation with the Embassy of the State of Israel, the virtual symposium commemorated the victims of the Holocaust, the genocide of European Jews by Nazi Germany between 1941 and 1945 with the theme, “Memory, Dignity, and Justice.”

The said symposium allowed teachers and students to get a deeper understanding of what the holocaust is, how it began, and what were its tragic consequences. The activity reminded the human cost of ethnic discrimination and hate, and encouraged individuals to speak up and re-tell the stories of the victims and survivors of the holocaust.

“We see this as a strategic partnership because the only way to get the message out to the younger generation is together with the DepEd. What I would like to see is that this event is not the first and the last one, but from here we can continue either in the curriculum and find ways how to bring the message or issues discussed here today to the younger generation,” Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss said.

During the event, real-life survivors shared their testimonials. Film shows, lectures, panel discussions, and a virtual tour of the Yad Vashem Museum in Israel were also conducted.

“I am very sure that the teachers and students who participated today were able to learn some new things about the heroic deeds of our past leaders. I hope this will increase their awareness of this commemorative event, the lessons from the past, and learnings we can apply,” Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs and External Partnerships Service Tonisito M.C. Umali said.