i was privileged to join a gathering of top leaders of the education sector of the country upon the invitation of Gawad Kalinga. I never had the inkling nor the idea of what was about to happen before the event but the moment i stepped into the venue, inspite of my being big, i felt small when i was introduced to presidents and top academic scholars (you know, those with D’s attached to their names) of state and private universities and colleges all over the country.
I finally understood what was the RTD all about when Mark Lawrence Cruz gave the orientation and further expanded by Tito Tony Meloto. The RTD will be focused on three areas: Instruction, Research and Extension.
Father Ben Nebres, President of the Ateneo De Manila, started the ball rolling showcasing the outstanding and trailblazing programs and instructional innovations introduced in integrating patriotism/love of country in the Ateneo system. It was indeed best expressed in the topnotch and young graduates of Ateneo who have redefined Social Entrepreneurship.
I was so amazed of Rags To Riches. the young atenista who started it gave up a potential life in the corporate by creating a business with women of a GK community. she trained them on quality control, branding, marketing, financial and business management. the typical rags selling probably at 5 pesos along the streets became a brand, RAGS TO RICHES, and are now patronized by many of course at a competitive price. their products have won accolades both here and abroad.
Another is Hapinoy Stores. Its an innovation of a sari sari store and the 7 – 11 convenience store. the difference is that it will be in the GK communities.
After Father Ben, it was my turn to share about GK as holistic social formation. i focused my sharing on my deep and personal story with GK, the need for strong administrative leadership to effect the necessary changes in an institutions and the individuals comprising it and finally, seeing the visible changes in both the institution and the individuals. the best with GK is it became a laboratory for learning, an extension from the classroom and innovating instruction.
I was so happy to see Sister Maria Marissa Rebosura, RVM, President of St. Mary’s College of Baluiag in Bulacan. in the crowd. currently they have 100 scholars of which they are required to serve in return in the GK communities. they will not simply be there to immerse or visit but there are concrete activiities and targets they have to accomplish. nice!
the first session was with Father Ben and i were focused on instruction. the next was very intellectual but very interesting. Dr. Jose Abueva, former UP President and now President of Kalayaan College discussed about transformational leadership, governance and nation – building. i felt it was powerful for him to say that we have been building our nation in the last 100 years and our leaders have miserably failed to inspire unity in a country with social and cultural diversity.
Nation – building is nothing new. it has been a historical journey. our nation, Ka Pepe pointed out, would have stand out at par if not better like Singapore if only our leaders have clear vision and that mandates of the Constitution are made real in the various policies, programs and projects of the government.
this was further affirmed by Dean Alex Brillantes of UP NCPAG who pointed out that the academe also failed to do its part. I think he was quoting Sen. Jovito Salonga that the academe is too focused on APPROACHES no wonder why they never reach destination.
Dean Alex pointed out that where the government failed, GK succeeded. He said all principles of public administration and good governance are so real and best expressed in its operations like its programs.
He also noted that GK is local and is working. The Filipino way and is working. Catholic way and is working. Practice and application ahead of theory.
Academic institutions must continue to research for more opportunities to “deconstruct unjust structures” of society.
in the last session, focused on extension, NCST of Cavite and CLSU in Nueva Ecija presented their extension programs for GK and for other communities.
A magna carta will be pursued collectively by the participating academic institutions in ensuring LOVE OF COUNTRY is really taught and practiced in schools.