Why we shouldn’t blame kids for not knowing ‘Gomburza’ 2
Art courtesy of @larawanngpilibustero

What Rizal might have thought of #MaJoHa, and why we shouldn’t blame the kids for not knowing their history

The viral PBB clip is a sign that educators, historians and students all have to step up their game
ANCX Staff | Apr 13 2022

The internet may not have made a big to-do two months ago about the 150th anniversary of the execution of martyred priests Mariano Gómes, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora but it’s surely making a big fuss about them today. 

Blame a now viral quiz segment from the ongoing Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition where quiz master Robi Domingo asks a series of questions many of us Filipinos can easily answer back in grade school. One of them questions involves the famous clergymen—and it’s not about how they died or what they died for. Simply what the three were collectively called. 

Watch more News on iWantTFC

Ang tatlong Catholic priests na sina Mariano Gomes, Jose Burgos, at Jacinto Zamora na hinatulan ng kamatayan noong panahon ng Kastila,” Domingo said, “ay mas kilala sa tawag na blank?”

PBB teen housemates Kai Espenido and Gabb Skribikin, their faces agonizing to come up with the right answer, blurted out “MaJoHa”—short for Mariano, Jose and Jacinto, a portmanteau of the priests’ given names. MaJoHa is now a trending hashtag, stealing the internet’s attention from the lovely couple behind #BinJin.

Grade school history tells us the correct answer is, of course, GomBurZa. “Bur-Go-Za would be their acronym if we followed alphabetical order,” the Filipino historian Ambeth Ocampo explained in his February column. “Gom-Za-Bur if we follow the order of their dispatch by the garrote in Bagumbayan now Rizal Park. Gom-Bur-Za is the order set by Jose Rizal when he dedicated his second novel, ‘El Filibusterismo,’ to the martyr priests.” 

As expected, the PBB clip set the Internet ablaze with hilarious comments, witty statuses, and funny memes. Like this one where Dr. Jose Rizal was imagined to have been visibly upset in heaven. 

Or did he just decide to come back to life? @alphahh posted a photo of a guy that’s a spitting image of the national hero captioned, “Sobrang nadisappoint si Rizal sa mga kabataan ngayon kinailangan nyang bumalik.” 

Jose Rizal

Meanwhile, Facebook account OGAG decided to ask its followers to comment their own Ma-Jo-Ha trios. The page started the party off with the rather unlikely trio of MArvin Agustin, JOlina Magdangal, and HArry Roque.

MArvin Agustin, JOlina Magdangal, and HArry Roque. From OGAG on Facebook

Melvin Victa might have gotten a few “he-hes” after saying  MaJoHa sounds like the title of Susan Roces’ horror film, the one that had a remake starring Carmina Villaroeal, “Gumising ka, #MaJoHa,” este Maruja. A friend of his tweeted back, “Maroja ka sa tingin.”

Finally, Jerrick Macasocol joked that Big Brother might finally decide to make entering the next edition of PBB Teens a little more difficult. 

Jerrick Macasocol

No laughing matter

Not knowing the answer to Robi’s simple question might sound like a funny matter to some but according to the quiz host himself, it reflects badly on the state of Philippine education. “Sa una, nakakatawa pero habang tumatagal, di na nakakatuwa,” he tweeted. “Sana maging daan ito para makita kung ano ang kakulangan sa sistema ng ating edukasyon.”

Palanca Award-winning screenwriter Jerry Gracio also tweeted his take on the matter, saying we can’t blame the teens for not knowing who or what GomBurZa is. “Sisihin ang matatanda na nagtanggal ng kasaysayan sa curriculum, ang DepEd na sablay ang pagtuturo sa kakarampot na kasaysayan sa mga paaralan, at ang buong sistema ng edukasyon na lumilikha ng automatons.”

The DepEd removed Philippine history as a high school subject back in 2014, following the implementation of the K-12 program. Last January, however, the department said it remains a separate subject in Grades 5 and 6, and is integrated in subjects like world history and Asian studies in the high school level. 

Gracio also said schools give more importance to superficial things such as uniforms and haircut during online classes, instead of giving more value to history lessons and critical thinking. “Dahil sa kasalukuyan, ang layunin lang ng edukasyon ay magkaroon ng mga manggagawa na susunod sa kanilang mga amo at hindi magrereklamo. Nagpo-prodyus ang sistema natin ng edukasyon ng mga mamamayan na sunod-sunuran, di lang sa kanilang mga amo, kundi sa gobyerno na umaastang amo ng mga tao,” he added.

The MaRoJa video was an eye-opener, said Kristoffer Pasion (@indiohistorian on Twitter), a Filipino historian. “We have so much work to do. It’s not just Martial Law. If we let things be w/ people never making sense of the whys of history, some troll will fill the gap for them.”

Berniemack Arellano (@habagatcentral on Twitter), an assistant Professor of History in UP Los Baños agrees. “The #MaJoHa is a call that we need to step up our game—as responsible historians, history enthusiasts, and students. Dahil sa gaps na ito nagiging vulnerable ang kabataan at taumbayan sa mali o binaluktot na content sa sinasabing “TikTok, CTTO, and Respect My Opinion University.”

Irish Fernandez Dalona, chairperson of the English Department at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, thinks that while there is a need to closely examine the problem, she finds it unfair to only point fingers at the teachers and the schools. “…I think it’s time to cease thinking that learning happens only in classrooms,” she wrote on Facebook. “Schooling only formalizes it - real knowledge springs from how the individual processes insights acquired from his/her experience, daily interactions, materials read, including the individual’s volition to actually learn.”

TikTok’s history geek Mona Veluz-Magno, better known as Mighty Magulang, was aghast at how little our teens know about Philippine history. “Nakakasikip ng dibdib,” she posted on Facebook. “The martyrs to whom Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo was dedicated is now a meme. My father, who was a grad school dean, always said: ‘If the students are asleep, wake up the teacher.’ That includes school instructors and parents. Clearly, students are stakeholders too.”

In the same post, she requested DepEd to bring back the history subjects in the grade school and high school curriculum. She also appealed to the parents: “Have genuine conversations about history and teach your children respect and appreciation for the sacrifices of the past. Parang awa niyo na po.”

To enlighten her young followers, Magno gave a short lecture on GomBurZa in her TikTok account. Check it out here. 

@mightymagulang Reply to @hindibasher Tama ka. Nakakasikip ng dibdib. Nakakatawang hindi. #kasaysayan #LearnOnTiktok #EduWow ♬ original sound - Mighty Magulang