Philippine Physical Education in the Information Age: Major Upgrade Needed

By Erick Fabian, Sr.

Physical education (PE) in the Philippines has seen a significant decline, having taken a backseat when it comes to national priority, as well as being severely affected by the onset of a rapidly changing youth culture immersed in mobile technology and social media.

Necessary steps have been taken, but other countries have gone beyond the usual actions by integrating progressive physical education concepts into their curriculum as part of a holistic learning experience, rather than as a strictly separate course. For example in Finland, teachers are mandated by school administrators to integrate outdoor activity to their lessons, in contrast to forcing the students to bury their faces in textbooks and test papers most of the time.

Another progressive concept that local physical education could use as part of its reform is the concept of “gamification” that is being used by many educational institutions in the West. The recent popularity of mobile games like Ingress and Pokémon GO should give educators ideas on how to further exploit new technologies to improve school PE programs. Rather than look at video-gaming as a deterrent to physical activity, even to the point of banning them in some schools, administrators and teachers can consider integrating the use of devices like the Nintendo Wii to their school programs. And while this can never replace actual physical activity, it goes without saying that educators should take advantage of young people’s enthusiasm for technology to get them moving physically.

PE expert Dylan Blain from the University of Wales confirms the need for the integration of physical education with modern tech. In an interview with The Guardian’s Martin Williams, Mr. Blain notes, “Many children are living sedentary lives. At home they might spend lots of time playing on their games consoles, so an hour or two of physical education (PE) every week isn’t going to be enough to reach the recommended activity level. We need to try to get some kind of transference from PE so they do things outside school—and I think technology can play a role in that.”

All the recent analyses and research work done by fitness educators have produced overwhelming evidence that technology is very useful in making people get into physical activity by integrating it into familiar tools or objects rather than introducing them separately. Latest devices such as Kinect uses video, music, and motion sensors to attract people into a physically-engaging and fun activity, all while not aware that they are exercising. The challenge for educators is to make physical education current, relevant, technologically-savvy, inclusive, and globally-competitive.

And that is only one aspect of how physical education can be improved. Other issues that should be addressed may revolve around not just a curriculum upgrade, but also overall impact towards health and total well-being of individuals. A fine example is bringing to light the increasing cases of obesity and early occurrence of weight-related illnesses such as diabetes among young people. Such pressing issues need a proper venue, where parties directly involved can gather together, discuss, and come up with solutions to enhance the industry’s role in society.

This is where the role of the 1st International Conference on Sport Pedagogy, Health and Wellness (ICSPHW 2016) comes in. Held on November 18 to 20, at the Celebrity Sports Plaza and the University of the Philippines Diliman, in Quezon City, the conference addressed the aforementioned topics, and so much more.

Local and foreign speakers at the International Conference on Sport Pedagogy, Health and Wellness 2016, posing in front of the Oblation, UP Diliman, Quezon City
Local and foreign speakers at the International Conference on Sport Pedagogy, Health and Wellness 2016, posing in front of the Oblation, UP Diliman, Quezon City

Gathering sports educators, athletes, PE teachers, coaches, instructors, trainers, managers, students, sports aficionados and advocates, the conference was able to emphasize the importance of student development through games, physical fitness, and activity.

The conference highlighted lectures and teachings from sport scholars from across the globe. On Day 1, the likes of Dr. Govindasamy Balasekaran and Principal Kia Wang Phua presented lectures on how to use instructional technology in creating a modernized and effective PE program in schools, in response to the need to integrate PE with changing technological, educational, and social paradigms. This was again raised on Day 2, during the PE Plus forum, moderated by Prof. Dr. Ming-kai Chin, co-founder of the renowned Asian Council of Exercise and Sports Science (ACESS)—the international organizer of the event, and German Olympic Sports Confederation’s Prof. Dr. Gudrun Doll-Tepper.

Asian Council of Exercise and Sports Science Co-Founder Dr. Ming-kai Chin speaking in front of the participants
Asian Council of Exercise and Sports Science Co-Founder Dr. Ming-kai Chin speaking in front of the participants

Meanwhile, other highly-anticipated sessions were led by the local leaders, such as University of the Philippines’ College of Human Kinetics (UP-CHK) Dean Ronualdo Dizer, on issues in administration in P.E. classes, the Department of Education (DepEd), on PE and Health in the K-12 Program, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), on the master plan for Philippine sports, and the Department of Health, on the multi-disciplinary approach to promoting health and wellness in the country.

Aside from the latest breakthroughs, delegates also got the chance to delve deep into the other crucial aspects of PE and sports in schools with various workshops set on Day 3 of the conference. The Lecture Workshop Sessions showcased topics related to PE, sports science, and sport management, while the Movement Workshop Sessions offered clinics for various sports and activities, such as arnis, dodgeball, netball, high intensity interval training (HIIT) and yogilates, among others.

ICSPHW 2016 was spearheaded by the UP-CHK, in partnership with the Sport Management Council of the Philippines (SportPhil), and endorsed by DepEd, Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

ICSPHW 2016 was presented by MILO Philippines, co-presented PACE Magazine x freyo, with Mama Sita’s as official sponsor, and Wolfgang’s Steakhouse Manila, Cebuana Lhuillier, GoldToe, and Delos Santos Medical Center as assisting sponsors. ABS-CBN was the chief media partner, and the Philippine Star and MultiSport.ph were the official media partners.

About Wolfgang’s Steakhouse Manila
Wolfgang’s Steakhouse Manila gives you a perfect dining experience with its pride in serving USDA Prime dry-aged beef. It’s located at Resorts World Manila, Pasay. For reservations, call (02) 511 7009.

About UP College of Human Kinetics (UP-CHK)
The UP Diliman College of Human Kinetics (CHK) is one of the leading academic institutions in the  Philippines which offers undergraduate and graduate programs in Physical Education, Sports and Human  Movement Sciences. It has produced graduates who are now leaders and key administrators shaping the physical education, sports and exercise programs in various institutions nationwide. Currently it is composed of 33 full-time faculty members who specialize in sports coaching/officiating and instruction, strength and conditioning, dance and fitness instruction, outdoor recreation and management, and sports and exercise psychology.

About Sport Management Council of the Philippines (SportPhil)
SportPhil is an organization that assists and promotes excellence in sport management, science and  business – combining foreign and local expertise. Founded by Ms. Geraldine Bernardo, a one-time executive director of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and former national athlete herself, SportPhil is a recognized member of the Asian Association of Sport Management (AASM) and an affiliate of the Asian Council of Exercise and Sports Science (ACESS). To learn more visit www.sportphil.com, or call +63977 831 8749.

About MILO
The MILO brand is the world’s leading chocolate malt beverage that can be prepared with hot or cold milk or water. Given its popularity it is a “must have” product for food service operators particularly in Asia, Africa and Oceania.

MILO also promotes participation in sports through its Summer Sports Clinics, MILO-B.E.S.T. Center Training Program, MILO Marathon, and MILO Little Olympics. The leading beverage brand believes that these contribute to the holistic development of Filipino champions in sports and in life. 2014 marks MILO’s 50th year in the country.