School Uniform: The Philippines


Figure 1.--After the United States acquired the Philippines in the Spanish-American War (1898), American administrators began a major progrm of building schools throughout the country, including rural areas. Here we see a school in the countryside during 1911. This school was located at Cabayan Benguet.

We have very limited information on Philipino schools at this time. We have virtualy no information on the Spanish colonial era. We do have some information on the American colonial period. As a result of the American emphasis on public education, the Philippines has a subsyantial functioning public education system at the time of indepependemce following World War II. The Japanese after invading the Philippines found it very difficult to get parents to have their children study in Japanese. The Philippine educatiion system consists of elementary school (grades 1-6), secondary school or high school (4 years), and tertiary education (4 or 5 years for a BS degree). School uniforms in the modern Philippines are common in both elementary and high schools. Many elementary and most secondary schools require uniforms. Uniforms are particularly prevalent at private schools. The kind of school uniforms that are worn in the Philippines has different variety of colors and it depends on the school what color combination they use, normally they only use two colors.

Historical Trends

We have very limited information on Philipino schools at this time. We have no information on the Spanish colonial era. As far as we can tell, the Spanish gave very little attention to public education. We suspect that schooling in the Spanish Philippines was very limited. There were presumably schools in the major cities, but probably very few schools in the countryside. This changed with Spanish-American War (1898). After the United States acquired the Philippines in the Spanish-American War, American administrators began a major progrm to create a public education system. American officials organized the building of schools throughout the country, including rural areas. Here we see a newly built school in the countryside during 1911 (figure 1). The Japanese after invading the Philippines found it very difficult to get parents to have their children study in Japanese. As a result of the American emphasis on public education, the Philippines has a substantial functioning public education system at the time of indepependemce following World War II.

Education System

The Philippine educatiion system consists of elementary school (grades 1-6), secondary school or high school (4 years), and tertiary education (4 or 5 years for a BS degree). A Philippino contributor reports, "The Philippines is a poor country and that poverty hinders a huge percent of youths in pursuing their studies. The Philippines has a commercialized system of education; tuition fees & other related expenses are expensive & it's becoming normal to expect a 10 percent-20 percent annuall increase in the tuition fee. Sometimes we'd comment that education is no longer a right rather a luxury. Typically a Filipino parent's greatest dream is to give their children a good education (for it really is a wealth that cannot be taken away from us once we have it). It's the best legacy I believe."

School Uniforms

Philippino school children commonly wear school uniforms, especially at the secondary level and in private schools. The situatiion is more varied at state elementary schools vecause many families can not to buy uniforms for their children.

Elementary Schools

The elementary schools which are known as grammar schools in the Philippines have a variety of different school uniforms.
Public schools: Most of the public elementary schools don't require the kids to wear uniforms, in part because not all families can afford to buy them. Some do, especially in the cities. Elementary schools usually only have uniform shirts, generally the shirts have a badge of some kind, for both girls and boys. Some public schools have the girls wear a skirt to match their shirts. The colors most commonly used are blue for the skirts and white for the shirts. Some school use light green on their skirts.
Private schools: Uniforms are much more common at private schools.

Secondary Schools

Most high schools, both public and private, require school uniforms. The primary reason offered is to keep prices for school clothing low. The colors are generally the same as used for the elemantary pupils, although there is often a slight difference to identify the older high school students. Some schools requires the girls to wear a school tie with a seal on it. The boys wear long pants coordinating the color of the girls skirts. Commonly they wear a polo shirt with a seal on the pocket.

Tertiary Institutions

The situation in colleges vary. Some colleges require uniforms and some do not. Rhis is true both in private or public schools. Some do, especially if the are a medical students and that's a must. The rest are regular school uniforms. Universities and some college are often not very particular about uniforms.

Teachers

Philippine teachers are required to wear their uniforms at school. Public school teachers have four sets of uniform for each day of the week except either Wednesday or Friday which is referred to as a free-day.

Details

The students wear a uniform that the parents must buy. Most own two uniforms.

News Reports

A Muslim group calling itself Al Harukatul, led by rebel leader Abu Sayyaf, according to a March 2000 news report, is holding 33 hostages, including Filipino Father Rhoel Gallardo, 34, also a Claretian. The kidnapping took place on March 20 on Basilan island. The guerillas forced their way into the Claret School in Tumahubong village and then three other schools in the area, taking more than 50 hostages, including headmaster Father Rhoel Gallardo, who is also a parish priest. The separatists are part of Muslim guerilla groups fighting for independence in the southern Philippines. "I spoke to some of the teachers and students," Father Rivas said. "A group of Muslim children told me they saved a Christian teacher by giving him a school uniform to wear and mixing him up with the students, so the rebels didn't notice he was a teacher."

Japanese View

A Japanese aid worker, Hiro Kawashima, working with Philipino schools to help supply the necesities to poor children writes, "It's maybe true that wearing the same uniform will develop the healthy identity or unity among the members but it shall not disturb the poor economy of the parents. Uniform might even curb the schooling rate if it's forced. In some African countries uniform is abolished in the public schools and they found it effective to improve the attendance rate of schools or literacy because the majority of the population suffers from poverty and cannot afford to buy uniform. I suppose the Philippines too need this kind of drastic reform. Even in Japan uniform in the public school is not for the identity's sake but for keeping the students from being spoiled with running after fancy clothes. I will remind you that the Constitution of the Philippines sings a free education in the public school. I want to arouse the question: 'Is school uniform necessary?'" Some limited information about his experiences in Japan are available.

Individual Schools

We do not yet have much information on individual Filipino schools. Hopefully our Filipino readers will provide us some information about the schools they attended. One reader has sent us a photograph of a rural school built by the Americans at Anao in Ifugaos Province during the 1920s. This was one of many schools opened by American authorities throughtout the Phillipines. For most Filipinos these werre the first schools ever built in their communities.






Related Links: Careful this will exit you from the Boys' Historical Clothing web site, but both sites are highly recommended

Apertures Press New Zealand book: New book on New Zealand schools in progress
Boys' Preparatory SchoolsLovely photographic essay of British preparatory schools during the 1980s containing over 200 color and black and white photographs.



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Created: November 8, 1999
Last updated: 6:22 AM 11/9/2009