HIGHLIGHTS

  • His first successful trial in 1938, using the public schools to persuade a community of Capiz to plant two rice crops instead of one, encouraged him to test his theories on a wider scale when he became Division Superintendent of Public Schools in Iloilo.
  • While in Iloilo, he was the first superintendent to take the initiative of requesting an evaluation of his school system, indicating the progressive spirit of the teachers and his own high sense of educational leadership.
  • The RMAF board of trustees recognizes “their exemplary performance in the service of their respective governments. As our late President regarded government office as a public trust, so has this ideal characterized the careers of the one in India and the other in the Philippines.”

 CITATION

JOSE VASQUEZ AGUILAR, believing inspiration may come from the leaders but the force that makes a nation strong and free must come from the people themselves, has pioneered in making the education offered through our public schools come alive for the “forgotten masses.” From the year he first taught in the one-teacher school of his home barrio, as only an intermediate school graduate, he has devoted his energies to this work.

His first successful trial in 1938, using the public schools to persuade a community of Capiz to plant two rice crops instead of one, encouraged him to test his theories on a wider scale when he became Division Superintendent of Public Schools in Iloilo. There he developed his community school concept. An integral part of his Iloilo experiment was the use of the vernacular as the medium of instruction in the first primary grades, as a natural and firm link between the schools and the people. The Bureau of Public Schools supported his effort. Other superintendents adopted some of his methods and evolved new ones of their own and, subsequently, the Bureau incorporated the community school scheme and the use of the vernacular in its national program.

While in Iloilo, he was the first superintendent to take the initiative of requesting an evaluation of his school system, indicating the progressive spirit of the teachers and his own high sense of educational leadership. He had the courage to depart from established practices and then to have his work put to the test.

The name of CHINTAMAN DWARKANATH DESHMUKH has come to be synonymous in India with integrity in government service. His distinguished career began at the age of 24 as a member of the Indian CiviI Service. It was as Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, his country’s premier financial institution, that he became well known as an independent-minded stabilizing force. He introduced basic reforms, instituted the salutary practice of giving annually a complete picture of the national economy, and also played a prominent role in international finance as India’s delegate to a series of monetary conferences.

Shri DESHMUKH’s greatest test came with his appointment in 1950 as Union Finance Minister. Now in politics, he continued to express his opinions frankly and honestly irrespective of whether such advice might adversely affect his political future. In this position during the expansive period of the First Five-Year Plan, he was again a steadying influence and succeeded in maintaining strict financial control over expenditures of public funds.

When he resigned in 1956 over a difference of opinion on policy, he retained the confidence of both Government and the Congress Party and became Chairman of the University Grants Commission, responsible for coordinating and maintaining standards of teaching and education in universities throughout India. The quality of scholarly competence and sound reason that he has brought to this work is being felt in the universities.

Adhering personally to Spartan discipline and holding sensitive posts at a critical time in India’s development, he has set, by his example, a standard to follow. In the tradition of Ramon Magsaysay, who, in the realm of public policy, initiated bold and untried measures, Dr. AGUILAR has been a farsighted innovator. And as a dedicated educator he has set a standard to emulate.

In electing CHINTAMAN DWARKANATH DESHMUKH and JOSE VASQUEZ AGUILAR, to share the 1959 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the Board of Trustees recognizes their exemplary performance in the service of their respective governments. As our late President regarded government office as a public trust, so has this ideal characterized the careers of the one in India and the other in the Philippines.

 RESPONSE

The Ramon Magsaysay Award, which it has been my honor to receive, is testimony to the common man’s potential to find himself in our democratic society. In the Philippines and in Asia generally, the common man is legion. If he stands a little taller today, it is because of the magic of man’s love for his fellow. This is exemplified by the labor of the man whose name graces this Foundation and by the humanitarianism that makes the perpetuation of his labor possible. For the recognition of my humble contribution to the task, I feel deeply grateful.

Our educational search for the common man’s mainsprings of action has led us to believe that he harbors great hopes. He has hopes for the improvement of himself and his family. He realizes, perhaps obscurely, that the well-being of his family is entwined with the fortunes of the larger society. These hopes make him strategically able to work toward greater achievement, if society provides the incentives.

Fortunately, incentives in the form of legislation, financial credit, patterns of social organization, and the like tend not only to lift him but also to benefit upper income groups. Our evidence would indicate that in education this is so. Both motivation and purpose operate to lay the foundations of education in the context of the people’s culture. We might even say that this context is to be discovered in the culture of the community. That is the starting point. From that point on, it is an educational adventure in which change in the individual and in the community marks progress from guidepost to guidepost. Subsequently, society will be the beneficiary of well-circumstanced or gifted individuals for their contributions in various fields of human endeavor.

It is my belief that this thought, conceived in terms of education, has its counterpart in political action to which, sooner or later, currents of thought converge. The ground swells emerging from the sufferings of war had to be interpreted, and education developed the community-school idea to meet the new situation. Other social factors, on the basis of their own purposes, also played their part. Together, they resulted in the demand that some leader translates these crosscurrents into political action, or social explosion would inevitably follow.

The evolutionary process inherent in our democratic institutions is a guarantee of security in which the individual and his family may hope to labor for prosperity. If we hold as a tenet that the individual has worth and dignity, the evolutionary process cannot be eschewed, nor the democratic framework in which it operates.

Perhaps it may be said that man possesses internal compulsions that lead him to raise his sights in our social scheme. These compulsions continuously need to be discovered. It is my thought that the Ramon Magsaysay Award, of which I am a recipient this year for government service, underscores this basic assumption in education. For this Award, I wish to express my grateful appreciation.

 BIOGRAPHY

JOSE VASQUEZ AGUILAR was born March 23, 1900 in Barrio Caduhaan, Cadiz, Negros Occidental, the Philippines. After his graduation from Cadiz Central School in 1915, he taught for a year in the one-teacher barrio school of Caduhaan before entering Negros Occidental High School at Bacolod. Graduating in 1920, he left the next year for the United States where he worked his way through college, receiving his Bachelor of Philosophy degree from Denison University in Ohio in 1925. A member of the debating team, he participated in competitions with other colleges, and, in 1924, was elected to Tau Kappa Alpha debating fraternity. That year he also was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, a national scholastic honorary society.

On his return to the Philippines, he was appointed as a teacher of English at Negros Occidental High School. In 1926, he was promoted to Academic Supervisor of Masbate Division and the following year was transferred to Cebu in the same capacity. He stood first in the Division Superintendents’ Examination in December 1927 and became Division Superintendent for Camarines Norte in 1928, successively serving in this position in Antique, Samar, Capiz and Iloilo Divisions up to 1954.

Dr. AGUILAR was asked in 1948 to serve as Consultant on Elementary Education to the Joint Congressional Committee on Education and later to the UNESCO Consultative Education Mission to the Philippines. In 1954, he was invited by the Chinese Nationalist government as an advisor on community schools to work for several months with the Taiwan Provincial Department of Education and the U.S. Economic Mission on the community schools of Chutung and Tungshih, pilot projects of a new educational movement in Taiwan.

(For the complete biography, please email biographies@rmaf.org.ph)