Two ways of education: traditional wisdom and modern knowledge 1

One of the most significant feature of the movie Manoro is the plot of seeking Jonalyn’s missing grandpa. As the first impression towards this movie, the tedious talking scene bored me a lot. However, the present of nature, traditional song, lunch shows the wisdom of traditional life style. However, television, vote as the symbol of modernization is seeping into the life of the villagers. The traditional wisdom and modern knowledge, respectively representing the two different ideology of the society, shows the conflict in this movie.

Apparently, differences exists between traditional wisdom and modern knowledge.

Modern knowledge is more about framework under the curriculum provided by educational institution. And share a feature that individuals are studying for themselves and by themselves “lonely”.

 “Education became limited to only that which could be ‘quantified’ within the four walls of the classroom; and, it became characterised by the hierarchical and routinized language of instruction, supervision, grades, tasks, marks, intelligence measurement, certification, etc. Scientific management certainly led to vastly increased productivity, but it effectively shattered the earlier seamless web of sustainable living, working and learning. ”

However, the wisdom cannot be acquired like knowledge. As it is mentioned in the “Ancient futures: Learning from Ladakh”, the idea of community is regarded as the sense of rootedness for people who are isolated from the modern society. Different from modern-styled education, wisdom of Aetas was give birth from the community and their beloved nature. The traditional knowledge is in a more philosophical meaning. It explain life, world, nature in a whole scale instead of analyses a specific event by statistics.



VIMUKT SHIKSHA(1999), Understanding Wisdom,


To be continued……

Insight from the truth in Philippines


Despite the fact that the movie Manoro was filmed in 2006, the quality as well as the setting of the movie made me think it is a movie about twenty years ago. Seeing the seemingly sad isolation from the rest of society, their seemingly quiet dignity and clinging to the tatters of their cultural identity, it is my interest to know what is the actual education received by indigenous peoples and as a whole in the Philippines.

Reviewing the assessment of education system in early times (Magno, 2010), formal assessment in the Philippines started as a mandate from the government to look into the educational status of the country (Elevazo, 1968). The first assessment called Monroe Survey was conducted through a survey authorized by the Philippine legislature in 1925. The legislature created the Board of Educational Survey headed by Paul Monroe, and later, this board appointed an Educational Survey Commission, who was also headed by Paul Monroe, possessed the following features:

According to the study by Fiagoy and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2000), adult education programs for indigenous peoples used to be the monopoly of the church, mainly the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches which provide basic literacy training so that at least they know how to write their names.

It is criticized that many local communities were adopting and imitating western mainstream educattion system which is certainly not suiting the actual situation hence serve no functional use (Carnoy, 1974; Norberg-Hodge, 2000). However, it is glad to read that the officials aimed to design the curriculum fitting Philippines life which is humanized and less mechanical. It is much appreciated that the government tried to internationalize the education system by exposing their future generations to English as the medium of instruction and learning subjects like pure sciences, commerce, while simultaneously, attempted to conserve the local cultures and identities through respecting the local wisdom (Magno, 2010). It does not contradict with the one featured by the movie. Jonalyn father can at least write his name in English though not good at handwriting at all. The local culture remains fairly intact as the elder generations are still gathering and go hunting. Unlike urban children, children in the movie show not many interests in the television even though it is out of order. In short, Manoro is retrieving the major characteristics of education system in Philippines quite accurately.


Carnoy , M. (1974). Education as Cultural Imperialism. NY: David McKay Company, Inc..

Elevazo, A. O. (1968). Educational research and national development. Manila: National Science Development Board.

Fiagoy, G. L., & United Nations Educational, S. n. (2000). Adult education and indigenous peoples in the philippines. International Survey on Adult Education for Indigenous Peoples. Country Study: The Philippines.

Magno. C. (2010). A brief history of educational assessment in the philippines. Educational Measurement and Evaluation Review, 1,140-149.

Norberg-Hodge, H. (2000). Ancient futures: learning form Ladakh. Revised edition. Sydney: Rider books.

Philippine and Korea’s Education

I’d like to introduce a differences between Philiphine and Korea’s education.  The educational system of the Philippines was patterned both from the educational system of Spain and the United States. However, after the liberation of the Philippines in 1946, the system changed radically. And the education system of the Korea was not even and they didn’t get a equal education. Korea under imperial Japanese rule was the culmination of a process that began with Japan-Korea Treaty of 1876, whereby a complex coalition of Meiji government, military, and business officials sought to subjugate Korea both politically and economically as a protected state after the fashion of international law at that time. Also most koreans at the time could access only a primary school education under restriction by Japanese, and this prevented the growth of an indigenous entrepreneural class.


The former educational system of the Philippines was composed of 6 years of elementary education starting at the age of 6, and 4 years of high school education starting at the age of 12. With this system, compulsory education is not enforced. In the Pre-spanish period, education was still decentralized. Children were provided more vocationial training but lesser academics, which were headed by their parents or by their tribal tutors. On the other hand, the korean public education structure is divided into three parts: six years of primary school, followed by three years of middle school and then three years of high school. In 1996 only about five percent of Korea’s high schools were coeducational. The proportion of coeducational high schools are still divided along gender lines. The curriculum is standardized so now both boys and girls study technology and domistic science.

The politics of Gender in Colonial Korea: Education, Labor, and Health, 1910-1945, Theodore Jun Yoo, University of California Press, 2008. 2.3 -330p

Damon L. Woods (2006), The Philippines: a global studies handbook, ABC-CLIO, p. 140

Manoro is incorporated in Philippine educational curriculum

Manoro – one of Brillante’s most famous documentary film is included in the K-12 program. It will be shown to and studied by Grade 8 students starting from 2013 (Aguilera, 2013).

This marks the very first time the Department of Education (or DepEd) will incorporate a Philippine film in its national education.

Delighted by the news, director Brillante Mendoza told TV Patrol that,

Isn’t it great that you’re part of something? You are not just a filmmaker, but a filmmaker that molds the consciousness of the youths and the following generations  (Aguilera, 2013).

With this, Brillante’s depiction of social realities surrounding the modern-life Filipinos is going to be shown to every Filipinos generation from now on (as long as Manoro is still a part of Philippine national curriculum). It could be expected that the film will bring out a new sense of identity awareness among the young Filipinos, as they learn to know their multi-ethnic society and try to understand their fellow-countryman. They are not going to learn just the “beharioral values and standard” from schooling, which are individualism and competition, feelings of inferiority, etc., as IDAC mentioned in its publication Danger! School (1993, p.76-83), but they also learn the unintended lessons being taught when watching the film.

The new K-12 program was implemented after president Benigno Aquino III signed a law institutionalizing the government’s K to 12 Program, adding two more years to basic education in the country. Before, Philippine educational curriculum consists of 10 years of compulsory education. However, in realization that the 10-year basic education cycle hinders the recognition of Filipino professionals abroad (as the world standard still prefers the universal 12-year basis education), the DepEd decided to switch to the K to 12 program which aims to improve basic education in Philippines (Department of Education, 2011).

Further information about the K to 12 basis education program can be found in here.


Aguilera, P. (2013). Brillante Mendoza’s “Manoro” in K to 12. Manila Bulleting. Retrieved July 6, 2013 from here

Department of Education (2011). K-12 Primer as of 20 December 2011. Retrieved July 16, 2013 from here 

What are you impressed? A collection of informal reviews about Manoro


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Manoro is indeed a famous film yet undoubtedly not for mainstream taste. There is too much bitterness in the way it narrates such an endless and gradually decaying mission of a young girl “trying to make a difference”. Such mission, as the film goes on, is beyond Jonalyn’s capability, despite her enthusiastic effort. It poses many questions along the way until the end, foremost out of which is why Brillante puts such mission onto a teenage girl’s shoulder. What are the implications of such metaphor?

Manoro is certainly not only about Jonaly’s story. Lamaxana (2009)’s blog review concluded “one of the subject matters of the Ayta film [is] democracy”. The film indeed connects itself to the conventional socio-cultural and political building blocks of the present: Democracy and Literacy. These themes were stripped off their unquestionable merits and brought into a context full of contestation:

But as Jonalyn’s day unfolds and the people in her community need her liitle know-how to write the candidate whom they wish to vote or whether voting is even necessary at all. (Bolisay, 2007)

At this stage, confronting the awkward adaptation of the Ayta to the changing situation–somewhat unfamiliar to their experiences, we start to wonder what is really necessary. Can we stubbornly insist on literacy as the key to democracy, when democracy is something that does not quite exist in the realm of Aeta value? Literacy then becomes a means to an unexpected goal, falling out of the “curriculum” of traditions. It is a bridge that connects the Aeta world with the modern world, a bridge so shaky that people standing there became hesitant and “unsure at a crucial crossroad, no longer simply hunter-gatherers but not fully absorbed into the modern society just yet” (Cine Filipinas, 2009).

Jonalyn’s mission–symbolized as Literacy, and the presidential election as Democracy, seem to contrast with a hidden yet emerging theme of Manoro–Culture, indeed culture on the verge of transformation. Literacy convinces that these people are poor and illiterate. Democracy reinforces that these people are uncivilized. A nostalgic and sad feeling pervades when we get to witness people living in half as a poor village, and half as a rich forest. Are they really that poor? Culture refutes it:

Even if most people consider this minority as backward and illiterate with the usual image of a tribesman clad in g-strings, with bow and arrows or as itinerant beggars across the metropolis, their culture and identity is rich!…The bayanihan spirit is very much alive and there is this sense of belongingness where sharing is a main element of the community. (Rough Groove, 2007)

It is the struggle between tradition and modernity (in terms of literacy and democracy) that signifies the value of Manoro. The film hence represents a problem-posing approach to the issue of minorities versus modernity. There is no direct narration of what is going on but mere depiction. Audience is then dragged into a process of defamiliarization that questions the root of their taken-for-granted faith in literacy and democracy. Likewise, the film took on the role of a facilitator, sparing space for audience’ reflectional and critical thinking rather than a direct yet shallow preach:

Mendoza and Jover seems to acknowledge that the traditions of wilderness survival, of ancient paganist religion, and of all those songs equating the Aetas with therest of the humanity…aren’t enough to keep the minority group from surviving against the 21st century reliance on Western-imposed literacy. (Cruz, 2006)

To conclude, the film suggests more than a mere propaganda for literacy or democracy. It suggests a notion of cultural appropriation toward the Aeta people in particular as well as minorities around the world in general: While we may assume that we are doing good deeds for a group of people, they may not necessarily feel so.


Bolisay, R. (2007). Ignorance is bliss in Brillante Mendoza’s Manoro. Lilok Pelikula. Retrieved July 14th, 2013 from here

Cine Filipinas (2009). Manoro (Brillante Mendoza, 2006). Cine Filipinas. Retrieved July 14th, 2013 from here

Cruz, O. (2006). Manoro (2006). Lessons from the School of the Inattention. Retrieved July 14th, 2013 from here

Lamaxana, J. P. (2009). Brillante Mendoza’s ‘Manoro’ and the captive audience. Kamaru. Retrieved July 14th, 2013 from here

Rough Groove (2007). Manoro–Brillante Mendoza, 2006. Rough Groove. Retrived July 14th, 2013 from here

The untypical role in Manoro: Who is the Teacher?


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What makes Brillante Mendoza’s Manoro (2006) interesting is its concept of “The Teacher”. It is obvious that a teacher needs to be trained and qualified enough to have a Teaching Degree in order to be recognized as “teacher”. It is also obvious that teacher should be a person wiser and older in terms of knowledge and experiences. The mainstream image of a teacher is broken and stripped off its usual positions by Mendoza in his making of Manoro.


Just like his other world-renown films, Mendoza strives to place ordinary personalities into extraordinary situations then let the twists narrate the insight of that story. For Manoro, Jonalyn–a ordinary Aeta girl who was just fresh from elementary graduation, was highly admired by the fellow Aetas for her literary skill, which was relatively competitive for the community’s average level of literacy. She seemed to be the only hope for the people to exercise their right to vote for the upcoming election. By participating in the literacy seminars, Jonalyn took on her mission to teach not only young children of the community but also the middle-aged and elderly the basic skills of writing and reading.

The film transcends the stereotypical contexts of teaching-learning by elevating itself from the site of classrooms into the poor village of the Aeta as well as the vast range of Mt. Pinatubo’s forests. While the film mainly focus on an inexperienced teenage girl trying her best to teach more experienced adults of the community how to read and write, as it goes on, Manoro starts to reveal a more complex net of meanings that govern the relationships between the young teacher and her “students”. By questioning who the teacher is in Manoro, we experienced the complex realities in every of Mendoza’s films:  At one layer, it seems to be Jonalyn with her ambition to educate her people in a semi-formal teaching method. At another layer, it seems to be the Aeta elderly to educate Jonalyn informally about their own cultures.

There’s a lot of honesty in my films…they [the audience] can see and they would know that I’m speaking the truth. I don’t cover up. (Mendoza, as cited in Paragas, 2013)

Without being in a classroom or possessing a Teaching Degree, Jonalyn pursued her mission as a proud young teacher whenever and wherever she could. At home, she taught her younger brothers numeracy during meals as well as got to be relied on by her parents to check on their writings. Outside the home, she also taught the village elderly with a handy blackboard. Although the content was very basic, just as her level, Jonalyn was very serious and urging in her job. She was particularly strict when her mother could not read the letters properly. What’s more, the young teacher constantly insisted on people practice to perfect their writing and attend the election. Jonalyn was even more determined, rather than upset, when she found out that her Abong Bisen (grandfather) had not returned home from hunting. She decided to walk to the mountain with his father to “fetch him home” for the election.

Jonalyn’s teaching method resembles the usual way of teaching we see in classes everywhere in the world–which is the reason why I call it semi-formal education. Jonalyn appeared to be the centre of knowledge, the only source of skills of which most people are considered lack. In the midst of new knowledge [literacy], the older Aeta generation began to stumble on such topic that is “completely alien to their existential experiences” (Freire, 1970, p.52) and count on Jonalyn as “teacher”. In this way of teaching, the teacher therefore does not need to be old and experienced as long as he/she can pass on his/her knowledge. This detachment between knowledge and social experiences created a feeling of “absolute ignorance” (p.53) among the community members and justified Jonalyn’s position as a teacher. Jonalyn suddenly became the representative of hope and new ideology in the midst of an emerging modern economic and political atmosphere of the Philippines. It is no doubt that, in her role as a teacher, Jonalyn considers literacy and her people’s capability to vote as of a matter of significance.

However, to some others, especially Jonalyn’s grandfather, this is not necessarily the case. To him, being able to hunt and throw a feast for his community members was more important. And in the end, by asserting that refusal to vote did not make him lesser a person, Abong Bisen seems to imply a lesson of whether what is more important to his community. Together with Abong Bisen, elderly appearing throughout the movie, symbolize a different class of “teachers”–as cultural conservers. They conducted their teaching through informal daily interactions. And what had been taught were the traditional songs as well as the respect for Apo Namalyari–in general, the traditional culture.

This way of teaching is different. It relies on social experiences as the core of teaching. People with more experiences informally educate younger people. This seemingly unconventional way of education is in fact not unfamiliar at all in many tribal societies like the Aeta. Paulo (as cited in Maybury-Lewis, 1992), member of the indigenous Xavante from Brazil, asserts that:

Now I’m one of the mature men but I’m not one of the elders. The elders are still teaching us. Later when the elders have passed on, we will be the elders and we will be the ones who will do the teaching. But we’re not ready for that yet. I’m still learning. (p.138)

Jonalyn is hence regarded as a student, an inheritor of Aeta tradition. The deeper she walks into the forest, the more she immerses herself into the cultural atmosphere of the community: Jonalyn enjoyed the melodies played by the elderly with their musical instruments, practiced praying and paying respect toward the God of Mountain, ate lunch with the people and communicated with them. These were all informal activities of learning to become an Aeta.

The answer is hardly satisfying when it comes to the question: Who is the teacher in Manoro? It all depends on what kind of content is taught, who is more knowledgeable and what method of teaching it is that we need to take into consideration. Nevertheless, a clear pattern we could deduce from this net of complexity is the opposition of two different kinds of existing knowledge systems–formal schooling and traditional wisdom.


Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Bloomsbury Academic: New York.

Mayburi-Lewis, D. (1992). Millennium: Tribal wisdom and the modern world. Viking Penguin: New York.

Paragas, D. (2013). The brilliance that is Brillante. Style RPA. Retrieved July 11, 2013 from here

Manoro: contrasting with Nihonjinron in Japan


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In the previous weblog entry titled “The Aeta people”, the indigenous people living in the Philippines are introduced. They are renowned for their survival skills inherited and taught form the elderly. They live by hunting and gathering. Thanks to the complete understanding to the environment around them, they perfectly adapt to the nature hence surviving without much external challenge. Thus in the movie of Manoro, we can see the relatively rural or “uncivilized” indigenous life styles of the Philippines people. For example, mother distributes the bread in her bare hands and the children do not have dishes to serve it. Jonalyn just drinks the unboiled water during the way to his grandfather who goes hunting.

So is globalization importing some foreign culture to the local community? It can be seen that Jonalyn tries to fix the broken television, one and the only one in the house, albeit no one seems to care about it or interest in watching television for information and entertainment like us. With respect to the previous weblog entry titled Manoro: education in local community, English is taught in the village because of the imperialism of the world greatest power – US.

In stark contrast, Japan behaves differently despite the unavoidable trend of globalization which defined by Altbach, Reisberg and Rubmley (2009) as “the reality shaped by an increasingly integrated world economy, new information and communications technology, the emergence of an international knowledge network, the role of the English language, and other forces beyond the control of academic institutions” while internationalization is “the variety of policies and programs that universities and governments implement to respond to globalization”. These points of view are similar to Miyoshi (1998) defining globalization as “theoretically transnational economy” and internationalization is the respond to the impact of globalization by Ishikawa (2011). With the basis of Nihonjinron in Japan, the education system is regenerated and local culture is kept contact.

Nihonjinron, the question of the Japanese people, is a major dimension of Japanese ideologies of identity (Liddicoat, 2007). It can be understood as an attempt to construct the parameters of a distinctive Japanese cultural and national identity by Kokasu (2002). Nihonjinron focuses on the core element that Japan is linguistically and culturally homogeneous; that is, the Japanese are of single ethnic – the Yamato race. It frames Japanese identity in terms of the distinctive characteristics that making Japaneseness unique. From isolationist perspective, a defensive argument is presented against hegemonic power centres, claiming that core value of Japaneseness should be sustained intact despite inevitable foreign influence. Hence culturally and linguistically, the nation remains at the periphery internationally (Sugimoto, 2009).

In 2009, 13 local universities were selected to participate the new “Project for Establishing Core Universities for Internationalization (Global 30)” publicly announced by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Mext) (Ishikawa, 2011). Measures are adopted in order to internationalize and open-up the nation to raise the English level by attracting foreign elites studying in Japan and increasing the number of English-based courses in local universities. Though challenges are faced including illusion of “international students” that actually comes from Asian countries and cutting budgets, the nation is transforming to accept the internationalization with the intact of Japanese core values because of Nihonjinron isolationist perspective in internationalization.

In my opinion, despite the lack of such a cultural background as Japan, Philippines local communities should consider conserving and respecting its own local wisdom with the encounter of globalization lest it would be colonized by the imperialism of knowledge sweeping the globe.


De Wit, H. (2011). Globalisation and internationalization of higher education. Revista de Universidad y Socieadad del Conocimiento, 8(2), 241-248.

Ishikawa, M. (2011). Redefining internationalization in japanese higher education. Oxford: Oxford Studies in Comparative Education.

Kosaku, Y. (2002) English and nationalism in Japan: The role of the intercultural communications industry. In S. Wilson (ed.) Nation and Nationalism in Japan (pp. 135-145). New York: Routledge Curzon.

Liddicoat, A. L. (2007). Internationalising japan: nihonjinron and the intercultural in japanese language-in-education policy. Journal Of Multicultural Discourses, 2(1), 32-46. doi:10.2167/md043.0

Miyoshi, M. (1998). “Globalization”, culture, and the university. In Jameson, F. & Miyoshi, M. (Eds.), The cultures of globalization (pp. 247-270). Durham: Duke University Press.

The Aeta people



The Aeta are an indigenous people who are believed to be one of the first inhabitants of the Philippines. They live in the northen part of the Philippines, especially in Luzon region (Manoro was filmed in Sapangbato, the largest district in Pampanga province, Central Luzon region) (Cinemanila, 2006).

The Aeta lived a peaceful life for thousands of years at Mount Pinatubo until a volcano eruption on June 1991 destroyed their home and forced them to re-settled in the urban areas of Luzon (Fr Santos Mena, 2012).

Aeta indigenous people are famous for their survival skill. Originally a hunting/gathering people, they are among the most skillfull one when it comes to jungle surviving (The Aeta people, n.d.).  A clear evidence for this renowned skill is when Jonalyn’s grandfather went on hunting in the jungle. He stayed there for more than two days, and still returned healthy with a boar as a hunting trophy.

Exposing to modern world leads to lots of “modern” influence in Aeta ways of life. There are basketball hoops in Aeta villages, despite their short-build (less than 5-feet tall). There are inter-marriages with Filipinos nowadays, although in the past the Aeta rarely married anyone other than their own kin. Aeta children can go to school these days and Filipinos government encourages them to go. Their curriculum is no different than that followed by their Filipinos peers. They are also taught English, culture and good manner (The Aeta people, n.d.).

Like many indigenous people, the Aeta were suffered greatly from natural disaster (Mount Pinatubo’s eruption) and outsider’s exploitation on their own lands after they discover there are natural resources in these areas. However, in February 22nd, 2001, the Philippines government had granted the Aetas back their ancestral land, which is a sign that the government had paid more attention on preserving Aeta culture and heritage (Herrera, 2007).


Cinemanila (2006, November 23). Aeta teacher in ‘Manoro’ says acting was a breeze [Web log message]. Retrieved July 9, 2013 from here

The Aeta people (n.d.). The peoples of the world foundation. Retrieved July 9, 2013 from here

Fr Santos Mena, S. J. (2012). The Aeta community of Porac, Pampanga. Xavier School Website. Retrieved July 9, 2013 from here

Herrera A. (2007). History and cultural background  of the Philippines. Retrieved July 9, 2013 from here

Manoro: Its birth and its father–Brillante Mendoza


Manoro is made within a simplistic intention, a depiction of social issues–just like any other films of Brillante Mendoza. It won the Cinema Avvenir Award at the Torino International Film Festival in 2006. At the same year, Manoro earned its Best Film, Best Director and Digital Lokal Awards at the Cinemanila International Film Festival (Flora, 2012). The film is also listed in the top 20 Filipino Films of 2007 by the Young Filmmakers of the Philippines (YFMP). Together with Brillante’s other undoubtedly brilliant titles–Kaleido, Foster Child, Lola, Manoro is the director’s another dedicated attempt to echo social issues surrounding the modern-life Filipinos while blending his Kampampangan experiences into visual cinematography.

Brillante Mendoza (born July 30, 1960) is a worldwide-recognized Filipino director whose name has been numerously entitled in a variety of international cinematography award platforms, e.g. the Cannes Film Festival, Dubai International Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, and so on. Born and raised in Saint Fernando, Pampanga, Mendoza is deeply influenced by the local Kampampangan culture and philosophy. In an interview, he expressed his gratitude to welcome his Kampampangan experiences into his cinematographic work as an expression of truthfulness. Most of the characters and events in Mendoza’s films are based on thus closely related with his real-life experiences.

For me, it’s easier to capture truth if you’re honest with yourself. Since I want to show truthfulness not only with my characters, but also with the stories in my films, I can’t think of any other ways except to start and talk about where and how I grew up.

There is a variety of personalities and situations featured in Mendoza’s films yet none of them could escape the interwoven tragedies of an urban Filipino life. Mendoza takes up his own conception of modern agony by projecting individuals’ daily struggles to a larger and overarching social magnitude. Intruding into even the most disturbing corners of an urban life, Mendoza reveals the darkest twists that draw out the extraordinariness of the ordinary poor and so-called petty people.

From first feature film Masahista (The Masseur, 2005) that depicts a homosexual relationship between a masseur and his clients, Kaleido (2006) with a motherless family’s life circle a decade after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, to Lola (2009)–a story of two poor and powerless grandmothers in their attempt to solicit money for their grandsons; Mendoza gradually establishes his “reputation” as an ultra-neorealism (see neorealism as a cinematography movement) filmmaker (Betsy Gazo, 2011). By which, Mendoza’s films are not well received by mainstream entertainment-searching audience for its rather straightforward and filthy depiction of social realities. Mendoza’s cinéma verité, also known as observational cinema–a documentary filmmaking style, is also a bitter taste for any glorious-effect-craving cinema goers. Regarding his own filmmaking style, Medoza comments:

Their (actors’) lines are spontaneous. I let the actors explore…I brought the actors to the scenes (the movie house). I interact with them. I don’t give them the script – just their characters. Even before the start of filming, the concept is clear…very clear, well-structured script. The actors understand the character [but] they do not know the whole story. I give them huge freedom on the set. I give them space. I tell them, ‘There’s no camera, there’s no director on the set’. (para 18)

Manoro is not an exception in Mendoza’s collection of social realities. It goes with the similar “Brillante” twist, yet it has its own touch. Resembling a documentary, Manoro is a fiction based on real life consequences. It features characters from the neighbouring Aeta community playing their own roles with their own names. As usual, real events are blended into the film, i.e. follow-up life transformation of the native Aeta and the 2004 presidential election in the Philippines.

The Aeta is the indigenous people of the mountainous area of Pampanga and Zambale that belongs to Mt. Pinatubo. Following its enormous eruption in June 1991, the Aeta have to flee from their original landscape down to the rural area. Here, they started to expose themselves more to civilization and its pacing process of urbanization. Most of the people are considered illiterate yet they took “pride in their freedom and in their communion with nature, and celebrated this communion in legends, songs and ritual dances” (Fr Santos Mena, 2-12, para 1). The exact situation is illustrated in Manoro, woven into the heated political atmosphere of the 2004 presidential election.

Mendoza does not speak much about the film. With its significant simplicity, he lets the film talk itself. Mendoza just strives to bridge the gap between audience and social realities by making it “realest” as he could. Following its awards, Manoro has recently been included in the Philippines’ K to 12 curriculums to be shown and studied by Grade 8 students (Aguilera, 2013).


Aguilera, P. (2013). Brillante Mendoza’s “Manoro” in K to 12. Manila Bulleting. Retrieved July 6, 2013 from here

Betsy Gazo. (2011). When Brillante came to town. Sun Star. Retrieved July 7, 2013 from here

Flora, I. O. (2012). Brilliante’s films on tour. Sun Star. Retrieved July 7, 2013 from here

Fr Santos Mena, S. J. (2012). The Aeta community of Porac, Pampanga. Xavier School Website. Retrieved July 7, 2013 from here

Manoro: education in local community

Manoro, which means teacher in English, is a Philippians movie featuring the story of a girl called Jonalyn Ablong who looks for her grandfather with her dad in a rural village in Philippines. It would be certainly a disappointment if you expect to watch scenes of teachers giving impressive speeches in front of a group of naughty and lazy students. Manoro is not a movie about how a great teacher corrects bad students but it focuses on the journey in which Jonalyn and her father pass through rivers and mountains to pick their grandfather up.

A few scenes have caught my attention. The first one is the introduction of democracy. In the primitive communities, democracy does not exist and it obviously a value created by western culture. Jonalyn keeps reminding the villagers she met in the journey to vote for the president but it seems that they show not much interest. At the end of the movie, there seems a scene of corruption or cheating in the election, telling that democracy is not the prime concern in the local community as in the west. This may be further discussed on how the so-called universal values are being imported for the sake of colonization of knowledge in light of imperialism with respect the “superior” western culture (Carnoy, 1974).

Secondly there was a Korean on a car asking father to fill in the job application form. It is quite interesting to see a Korean in the rural area “ordering” the indigenous people to find a job. The form is English-based so father need to assistance of her daughter for the hand writing. I believe that there may be some historical background for a Korean there that seems to be more superior. It is also said to see that the indigenous people have to give up the agricultural work and work in the city like the case of Ladakh (Norberg-Hodge, 2000). In Ladakh, more and more youngsters are moving out to city to earn a living, hence leaving the farmland to the past generations.

Manoro is an interesting movie that we can discuss the relationship between education and society. There might be further and more in-sdepth discussion of the above points in the coming future.


Carnoy , M. (1974). Education as Cultural Imperialism. NY: David McKay Company, Inc..

Norberg-Hodge, H. (2000). Ancient futures: learning form Ladakh. Revised edition. Sydney: Rider books.


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