REFLECTIONS FROM CHALLENGING CONTEXTS TO FILIPINO EDUCATORS (AND TO THOSE WHO ARE NOT ALSO)

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Some things, they say take time to process, and others say that it just needs for a generation to pass. I’m glad I’ve learned that wisdom in life through the academe and in the ground.  As much as this country’s not yet open to a lot of things and ideas, and some in power wanting to keep things the way as it is (as it would derail their self-seeking and self-serving interests), I would just hold stand to my ground, and hope for the best, while preparing for the worst.
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However, my heart goes out though to the victims and the conquered by the wayside: those who were, are and will be considered collateral damage being offered in this war waged in our political and social arena which is both idiotic and selfish. And this is not just on one side, but on both.  Many will be victimized either by atrocious means or by the ignorance of their actions as they will be played by the side they choose to support in holding to the promises their idols or backers made which are really illusory and usurious.
What sickens me in all this is the fact that while many are ignorant, educated people are not kind to talk to them, and rather belittle them and label them. Rather than educate them, they are being judged and labeled as good-for-nothings, and this galvanizes the ignorant in their support for what is not right in this world as they are fooled to take the stand of the selfish and the powerful who charade as their heroes . On the other hand, it also annoys me that people on the other fence, will let themselves be used and be made as instruments of division and the furthering of the ignorance of people for money and for self-seeking interests. And they will go to great lengths to revise, twist and fabricate lies towards a history that happened in fact and principle, taking to blame those who fought for what is right and true in the first place because they are either paid to do so, or that their fanaticism has blinded them because it would be inconceivable for them that the person or party they support can be a dubious character. Rather than face disillusionment which leads to humility and wisdom to accept that they can also make a mistake in trusting the wrong persons (which was the pattern in the last 40 years), they rather be blind and turn away focusing instead to defend the illusory life thinking that this what they’re asking for even at the price of their own humanity. After all, this is what their “Golden Age” is, like horses with blindfolds. And those who criticize even rightly armed with their education has taught them are branded as elitists and traitors. Even the other side is not at fault because rather than use their education to enlighten and build bridges, they consolidate their own arrogance, and belittle the ignorant majority. We are sick because we have allowed ourselves to be deluded by such patterns whether ignorant or educated.
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We haven’t changed from 40 years ago, and even for that one shining moment that we had proven that we can rise from tyranny and oppression against a dictatorship, we let it all slip away and go to waste as we just traded one evil for another in the name of a political culture that makes leaders into self-serving lords instead of becoming public servants. And anyone who seeks to affect change is eliminated no matter what side of the fence that person is on. This culture has and continues to be one of impunity as it makes people afraid, complacent and lazy destroying their potential and will to grow and develop into the nation and the values which made us unite in the first place.
And after saying this, many will say to my face again, “So what? You’re one of those self-styled analysts this FB culture has produced. Leave us alone and rather be one with the crowd! Know your place and let this government make its place.”
And this is where it has come down to. A culture of fear, of conformance, of “shut up or we will shut you up”, a democracy turned mafia-style. And that results into oligarchy and mobocracy. And it has become a cycle for us Filipinos. What we are was described aptly by Paolo Freire in his book, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed where in the class struggle when the oppressed usurps the oppressors, the change sometimes drastic that it compromises the ideals they stood for to conform to the trappings of power making them the new oppressors. And this sad analogy is what our country is right now.
My stand? It is simply this: I’m an educator, and it is my responsibility to educate no matter what side of the fence I am on. It doesn’t matter whose wrong or right as long as I can contribute into adding conversation in ways that are non-violent, non-judgmental, non-labeling, uplifting, empowering, peaceful and hopeful. I don’t care who is the right side or the wrong side, but I would want them to reflect to embrace what is right and shun what is wrong without belittling both as the labels we made for ourselves are just illusions that pit one against the other while it makes a few powerful.
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And this is what makes me and others who embrace this way and method dangerous in the eyes of the status quo for we liberate, destroy and change the perceptions of people that keep them in power. And this thing that we continue to do, it scares the powers-that-be and the lords who sold their souls to selfishness because it destroys their designs. Most of the time, they find ways to silence us, thinking it will hold us in check. But in the long run, they fail because balance always finds a way to make this world and the universe right.
It is not an easy vocation. Many people ridicule us, praise us, use us and even quote us for whatever reasons they have because we keep the ideas, the knowledge, the creativity and the fire of life going. We are like Prometheus who in giving fire to human beings is punished by the gods. We too are criticized, punished and even killed literally and figuratively in many ways by those in power whether they are persons consumed by power, selfishness and self-entitlement or even by ourselves through the work that we do.
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It is in the last analogy that galvanizes my stand as an educator and my whole point of being and continually striving to be an authentic Christian through ministry: we are but like wax candles that once catching fire, consumes us to the very end. Or be consumed by darkness when the fire is put off. In the same way, we have the fire of the Divine Presence whose spark enabled us to be agents lit by this fire. We are not the fire because at times, it is extinguished from us for whatever reasons or events life throws at us. Now we remain darkened candles, deformed and useless until the spark lights us up again. But no matter what life or the society throws at us, we move on forward until we are no more.
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Now more than ever, this is my call. I stand on my ground and convictions because I am an educator. I haven’t been here at this point in time nor have reached this stage by just mere hearsay and opinion or that someone or some others paid me or coerced me to support a red, yellow or whatever colors of the rainbow that powerful lords and parties had shamelessly dichotomize to justify their twisted and selfish propaganda and ideology. What people don’t realize is that the rainbow can only be appreciated for what is, when they are together and not apart. And this is why when we have eyes like the prism (a multi-layered) the black-and-white world we view becomes multi-layered and rich in colorful diversity. And when this is recognized, respected, appreciated and acknowledged as one and the same, then no matter what color you find yourself donning, you are the same as those who don’t wear yours. Amd as this diversity flourishes and develops, illusions are shattered, and we realize deep down, we are all one and the same despite the differences. And this is my call as with many others before me, with me and who will be with me as educators no matter where they are and what they are: to shatter walls and illusions, to bring light rather than curse the darkness, to build bridges, and to pass on to others what wisdom and intelligence the ages have left as legacy for us, not only for our fellow Filipinos and human beings, but also to our Common Home and the universe where it thrives.
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So let’s be more open, reflective and look the world differently. I side with no one yet would wish to side with those who seek the truth and what is good, and seek to empower and guide those who seek for it in return. EDUCATE: this is the call, the mission; this is what I am called to do as I take this identity; and this is what I stand for as many others who do so whether in the academe or on the ground. FOR WE ARE EDUCATORS, and God help those who stand in our way!
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