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Commentary

The Eggie Apostol Foundation

/ 11:03 PM August 03, 2012

In 1996, Eugenia Duran Apostol, more affectionately known as Tita Eggie, put up the Foundation for Worldwide People Power (FWWPP) to help ensure that future generations would continue to be inspired by the heroism and selflessness manifested on Edsa in 1986. In her foreword for “Looking Back, Looking Forward,” Tita Eggie wrote that she and her fellow trustees, namely Fely Arroyo, the late Doreen Fernandez, Pepe Abueva, Edilberto de Jesus, Amando Doronila and Delfin Lazaro, were themselves inspired by the 1987 Freedom Constitution’s Preamble to “build a just and humane society” and establish a government that shall “secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality and peace.”

Under her leadership, the FWWPP produced landmark video documentaries like “Batas Militar,” “Lakas Sambayanan” and “Beyond Conspiracy,” all of which are referenced by local media organizations for their own productions on martial law and people power to this day. The FWWPP likewise underwrote and published Conrado de Quiros’ “Dead Aim: How Marcos Ambushed Philippine Democracy” and Angela Stuart-Santiago’s “Edsa, Walang Himala,” both much sought after reference material for historical and sociopolitical researchers.

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Tita Eggie’s stellar career in the media is informed by her almost preternatural ability to strip away distracting elements to get to the heart of the matter and the journalistic skill to get her point across as simply and as clearly as possible. This, together with her unflinching commitment to the truth, steadied her hand as she and her fellow journalists fought the Marcos dictatorship through publications like the special editions of Mr. & Ms. and the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Years later, she and the newspapers she published would earn rightful acclaim from such institutions as the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune and the University of the Philippines’ Gawad Plaridel.

This is also why Tita Eggie and her trustees at the FWWPP correctly saw that an education system in continuous decline is the key reason people power’s lessons in democracy and citizenship had not taken root and flourished in the consciousness of later generations.

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As such, in 2002, after several consultations with educators, academics, social and political scientists and business groups, the FWWPP launched the Education Revolution, a movement that envisions Philippine education as “one that goes beyond reading, ’riting and ’rithmetic and empowers citizens with purpose and vision.” A fortuitous meeting with the late former senator Raul Roco and Chinit Rufino of the Marie Eugenie Institute enabled the FWWPP to craft an education reform agenda that called for sustained community engagement on one end and continuous teacher formation activities through the very popular Mentoring the Mentors program. (Mentoring the Mentors is now fully managed by the Marie Eugenie Institute by virtue of a memorandum of agreement with the FWWPP.)

To move things forward as only somebody with Tita Eggie’s stature can, the FWWPP began a continuous stream of Education Revolution commentaries in the Inquirer and actively engaged in collaborative efforts with bigger groups like the League of Corporate Foundation’s 5775 Movement and the Philippine Business for Education.

In our interaction with these big organizations, the FWWPP now understands that working to bring about change in our education system requires a continuous examination of the goals we set out to do and the means by which we hope to reach these goals. Social scientists call this one’s “change theory.” In 2002, our change theory was anchored on mobilizing communities for various education projects like Adopt-A-School and energizing teachers through the Mentoring the Mentors program. We now know that there is a more fundamental learning aspect that needs everyone’s attention. It’s something that many of us take for granted, and it is the ability to read.

In its BASA Filipinas Project Statement of Work, the USAID says that “perhaps one of the greatest factors that determine the quality of education is reading skills: the foundation for other learning activities and a major determinant if a child continues to learn and stay in school. The point of reading is comprehension, and the point of comprehension is learning. Children who fail to learn to read in the first few grades of school are handicapped because they must absorb increasing amounts of instructional content in print form” (Gove and Cvelich: 2011).

In the context of the Education Revolution, improving literacy is now the new battleground. Fortunately, we are no longer in the dark: Educators all over the world say that the best and most efficient approach to quickly and significantly improve literacy is through Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education or MTBMLE. Just as fortunately, a few years ago Ricardo Ma. Nolasco, an MTBMLE expert, introduced us to the MLE movement and agreed to be our adviser in these matters. He has been helping us put together a team of MLE experts and advocates and a set of MLE training modules for public schools.

The FWWPP is now called The Eggie Apostol Foundation, because Tita Eggie continues to lead and inspire us.  People power still drives us, and improving literacy is the torch that now lights our way.

Butch Hernandez (butchhernandez@gmail.com) is the executive director of The Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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TAGS: Butch Hernandez, Eugenia duran apostol, foundation for worldwide people power
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