“TODAY we may be free of military abuse but government remains abusive and so inefficient that suffering predominates among the poor and the future looks bleak and worrisome.”

These were the words of veteran Thomasian journalist Eugenia “Eggie” Duran Apostol which received a loud applause from the crowd at the 21st anniversary of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation held at the Bantayog Memorial Center in Diliman, Quezon City last November 30.

In its 21st year, the foundation immortalized modern-day heroes Aloysius “Ochie” Baes, a student activist in his younger years who fought the excesses of the Marcos dictatorship; Catalino “Lino” Brocka, a highly acclaimed film director who unraveled the harsh realities of society through his movies; Nicolas “Nick” Solana Jr., who embraced the cause of the poor and the oppressed in Davao; and Rizal Chang Ken Yuyitung, a Chinese journalist who was a staunch advocate of press freedom during Martial Law. Their names were engraved in the Wall of Remembrance which holds 165 names of heroes and martyrs honored previously.

The newest additions to the roster of heroes recognized by the foundation were all educated professionals. Baes was a doctor, Brocka was an internationally recognized film director, Solana finished law, and Yuyitung was a publisher.

Apostol firmly believes that amid the political, social and economic turmoil besetting the country, there is still hope if only Filipinos will take the extra step of becoming educated individuals.

“It is a fact that better opportunities await students who have had quality education. They get to land the choice jobs, pursue fulfilling careers and generally become assets to their communities,” Apostol said.

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She then lamented problems facing the Philippine education – the exodus of teachers to higher paying jobs overseas, overpopulated public schools, and deteriorating standards of education as evidenced by the poor scores of elementary and secondary students in the national assessment tests.

Apostol urged the government to put education on priority.

“We must push for (education) reform in order to bring the age of quality education at the forefront of national consciousness.”

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