My favorite teacher

ang-ladlad-at-dzmm

By Danton Remoto
Remote Control
http://www.abs-cbnNEWS.com

I was a Legal Management major who shifted to Interdisciplinary Studies in my third year at the Ateneo. I could not balance the accounting books even if my whole life depended on it. The only thing I wanted to do was to go to the Rizal Library every afternoon, stand in front of the books in the PS 9991 category, and read the books of the best Philippine writers. One day, I told myself, I will also publish my own book. One book would be enough.

That semester, I enrolled in a class on Modern Poetry. Our room was on the third floor of Bellarmine Building, 4:30-7:30. The teacher arrived in a brown jacket, his hair tousled by the wind. He was Professor Emmanuel Torres. Before this class, I had read books of essays and fiction, but rarely poetry. I found poems impenetrable.

But Professor Torres simply made me see. He had that quality that many English teachers lacked – passion. He was brilliant, of course, but he also had passion for the subject that he was teaching. It was the kind of passion that – if it were tapped by the authorities – could generate enough megawatts of electricty for the whole country. He reminded me of the words of Joseph Conrad, one of my favorite novelists, in his introduction to The Nigger of the Narcissus: “My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see.”

Professor Torres introduced me to a universe of words. It is a luminous world inhabited by Baudelaire and Rimbaud, Verlaine and Rilke, Eliot and Hopkins, cummings and Lorca, Pound and Moore. And do not forget The Beatles.

I was the class beadle, and I collected the coins for the stenciled copies of the poems and pooled them together in a beautiful blue bowl. We had by then transferred to the Ateneo Art Gallery. When I learned that the bowl must be a Ming, I just put all the coins in a rainbow-colored purse I bought in Baguio. That bowl must be more expensive than my parent’s house in the suburbs.

Not daunted

In my fourth year, moderator Joey Ocampo of the Filipino Department appointed me as the editor-in-chief of Heights. To further hone my sense of craft, I enrolled in the Creative Writing Class of Professor Torres. It was the first class offered by the Ateneo in many, many years. Professor Torres was in his element, tearing our juvenilia apart with singular wit and irony. His eyes would widen, his nostrils would flare, and the words iof criticism would blaze from his mouth like fire.

But I was not daunted. People were afraid of him, but I was not. I knew that he only wanted us to learn. And since my father was a military officer and I grew up in a military base, I knew that the steel of discipline was good for one’s soul.

And so every Monday morning, I would step into his office at the Ateneo Art Gallery to show him my latest poems. He would welcome me with a smile, get his red ballpoint pen, and then proceed to make his corrections. In the deadly silence of that beautiful room, his ballpoint pen slashed into my poems. I would just look at him, and the painting behind him – an Amorsolo dazzling with light. And then, he would hand me back my poems with his corrections. He called my poems “effusions,” and I would just laugh

But I think I was – and still am—stubborn. Persistence is my middle name. I went on and wrote poems and stories and essays for his Creative Writing class. One of the essays I wrote for his class was “A Quick Visit to Basa,” a narrative essay on one of my rare visits to Basa Air Base, Floridablanca, Pampanga, where I was born and where I stayed until I was 12 years old.

A writer!

In my mind’s eye I still remember that day I dropped by the Art Gallery one hour before class so I could consult with him on a one-on-one basis. He read it – and oh yes, he reads so fast! – said he liked my essay. But in the next breath, he picked up his red ballpoint pen and pointed out certain holes in the text.

We went through my essay sentence by sentence, punctuation mark by punctuation mark, the way he does it with our poems. He always told us to avoid stereotyped situations and words, to throw away “all those rusty razors.” The point, he said, quoting Ezra Pound, was “to make it new.”

During the class discussion, Professor Torres said: “This essay is written by somebody already on his way to becoming a writer!” For an apprentice who was supposed to finish a degree in Legal Management and take up Law after college, this was high praise – and I went home in such a daze that I almost stubbed my toe on a rock on the way out of the gallery.

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Silang Mga Bayaning Guro

BY Rep. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III
2nd District of Bukidnon
Privilege Speech, 29 September 2008
House of Representatives

Alas-kuwatro pa lang ng umaga gising na si Gng. Lolita Gonzales. Maaga dahil ipaghahanda pa niya ng almusal ang kaniyang mga anak na magsisipagpasok sa eskuwela. Mula nang mabiyuda siya, mag-isa na lang niyang itinataguyod ang kaniyang limang anak.

Pagsapit ng alas sais, nasa R.P. Cruz Elementary School (sa Taguig) na si Gng. Gonzales. Tatlumpung taon nang nagtuturo si ma’am. Ngayong anim na pung taong gulang na siya, inaasam na sana niya ang pagreretiro.

Hapon. Tapos na ang klase, uwian na. Ngunit hindi pa oras upang magpahinga si ma’am. Ihahanda pa niya ang ititinda niyang balut at penoy kinagabihan.

Sabado at Linggo, walang pasok sa eskuwelahan pero may pinagkakaabalahan si ma’am. Nagtitinda siya ng mga kakanin.

Lunes hanggang Biyernes, lesson plan, test papers, chalk at pisara ang pinagkakaabalahan ni ma’am sa umaga’t hapon. Balut at penoy naman sa gabi. Sabado, Linggo, mga kakanin naman.

Gustuhin mang magpahinga ni ma’am sa mga panahong hindi siya nagtuturo at wala na sa eskuwelahan ay hindi niya magawa. Paano kasi, kailangang may sideline siya dahil hindi sapat ang kaniyang suweldo para sa pangangailangan ng kaniyang mag-anak. Lahat na ng puwedeng utangan, nautangan na niya – GSIS, Pag-ibig, Teachers’ Coop. Pati ATM nga niya nakasanla sa inutangan niyang nagpapa-5/6. Barya na lang ang natatanggap niya mula sa kaniyang suweldo dahil nauubos na sa dami ng kinakaltas.

Hindi na bago ang ganitong kuwento ni ma’am. Kung tatanungin natin ang ating mga kasamang guro na pumuno sa ating bulwagan ngayong hapon, sila na mismo ang magkukuwento ng kani-kanilang mga karanasan. Iisa ang tema ng kanilang mga kuwento. Hindi sapat ang suweldo nila bilang mga guro kaya kailangang dumiskarte at magkaroon ng sideline.

Ang ganitong kalagayan ng ating mga guro ang nagbunsod sa akin at sa aking mga kasamang sina Congresswoman Cynthia Villar at Congresswoman Laarni Cayetano na ihain ang Panukalang Batas 4380 o House Bill 4380 – Additional Support and Compensation for Teachers in Basic Education. Nilalayon nitong mabigyan ng karagdagang sahod ang mga guro na aabot sa sampung libo na baha-bahaging ibibigay sa loob ng limang taon. Dalawang libo bawat buwan sa unang taon. Sa ikalawang taon, karagdagang dalawang libo, hanggang sa ikalimang taon kung kailan mabubuo na ang sampung libo. Layunin din ng panukalang batas na mabigyan ng allowances at iba pang benepisyo mula sa local school board funds ang ating mga guro. Gayundin ang pagkakaloob sa kanila ng P1,000 medical allowance. Pati productivity bonus, gaya ng nakasaad sa kanilang Magna Carta.

Ang dagdag na sahod at benepisyo para sa ating mga guro ay matagal nang dapat naipagkaloob sa kanila. Hindi biro ang hirap na dinaranas ng ating mga guro dahil sa liit ng kanilang suweldo. Patuloy na tumataas ang mga bilihin at patuloy na tumataas ang cost of living ngunit ang kanilang suweldo ay hindi naman tumataas. Nagkakahalaga lamang ng P12,026 ang basic pay ng Teacher 1 samantalang ayon sa NEDA, mahigit P21,000 ang monthly cost of living ng isang pamilya sa Metro Manila. Tahasang paglabag ito sa diwa ng kanilang Magna Carta at maging sa diwa ng ating Saligang Batas na nagsasaad na dapat mabigyan ng “adequate remuneration” ang lahat ng mga guro.

Taon-taon, dumarami ang student population kaya ang dapat sanang teacher-student ratio na 1:30 ay hindi na nasusunod. Sa mga lugar nga kung saan mataas ang populasyon, umaabot hanggang 1:70 ang ratio. Kinakailangang magkaroon pa ng multiple shifts ang mga guro.

Overworked, underpaid. Ganyan natin mailalarawan ang ating mga guro. Batid na nating lahat kung anong hirap ang pinapasan ng ating mga pampublikong guro.

Totoo ngang mayroon nang mga simulain sa kapulungang ito na amyendahan ang Magna Carta para sa mga pampublikong mga guro. Ngunit mukhang matatagalan pa bago ito maisakatuparan sapagkat masalimuot ang pag-aamyenda dito; maraming salik ang kailangang himayin at pag-aralan. Samantalang kagyat ang pangangailangan ng ating mga guro sa karagdagang sahod.

Mayroon ding panukalang batas hinggil sa Salary Standardization. Ngunit dahil komprehensibo ang sakop nito, maaaring matagalan ang pagpasa nito dito sa Mababang Kapulungan at maging sa Senado.

Matagal nang overworked at underpaid ang ating mga guro at patuloy ang pagtaas ng cost of living. Samakatuwid, makatuwiran lamang na ipagkaloob na sa kanila sa lalong madaling panahon ang dagdag na sahod.

Ang Magna Carta para sa Public School Teachers ay naisabatas mahigit apat na dekada na ang nakararaan. Layunin ng batas na maitaguyod at mapaunlad ang kalagayang ekonomiko, living and working conditions, kabuhayan at career prospects ng mga pampublikong guro. Ngunit hindi ito lubos na naipatutupad.

Ang pagpapatupad sa Magna Carta ay apektado ng patuloy na pagbaba ng appropriation para sa edukasyon sa taunang badyet. Dahil dito, hindi naipapatupad nang maayos ang Magna Carta. Hindi naibibigay sa ating mga guro ang benepisyong dapat sana ay natatanggap na nila, sang-ayon sa itinakda ng Magna Carta.

Kaya nga isinusulong ng Alternative Budget Initiatives, na maigting kong itinataguyod, na magkaroon ng karagdagang badyet na P17.5 bilyon sa badyet ng basic education. Walong bilyong piso (P8 B) dito ay para sa partial payment ng accumulated benefits para sa mga guro batay sa mga kaugnay na probisyon ng Magna Carta. Kung susumahin, P40 Bilyon ang kuwenta ng DepEd mismo sa unpaid benefits ng mga guro. Iminumungkahi ng ABI na bayaran ito sa loob ng limang taon, P8 bilyon bawat taon.

Isinusulong din ng ABI ang P500 milyon na karagdagang badyet para sa teacher training at scholarship. Mahalagang patuloy na mapaunlad ang kakayahan sa pagtuturo o teaching compentencies ng ating mga guro.

Naisabatas noong 1989 ang SSL o Salary Standardization Law (RA 6758). Ito sana ang batas na magbibigay ng makatarungang benepisyo sa mga kawani at guro. Subalit kabaligtaran ang nangyari. Ang batas na ito ang nagdulot ng malawak na demoralisasyon sa hanay ng mga manggagawa sa sektor ng edukasyon. Dahil dito, lumagpak ang sahod ng mga guro kompara sa ibang empleyado ng pamahalaan. Napako sa Salary Grade 10 ang benchmark position ng mga pampublikong guro.

Isipin na lamang nating napakalaki ng agwat ng sahod ng mga guro sa suweldo ng mga freshmen sa PMA o mga trainees ng PNPA. Ang Salary Grade 10 ay ang suweldo ng isang private sa military at PO1 na pulis. Kung ang batayan ay ang academic qualifications, ang katapat ng Teacher 1 sa military ay Second Lieutenant na may sahod na Salary Grade 16, dagdag pa ang iba pang allowances.

Kung tutuusin, mas mataas pa nga ang suweldo ng mga guwardiya sa ilang GFI’s at GOCC’s gaya ng GSIS at Bangko Sentral kung ihahambing sa sahod ng ating mga guro. Nang dahil sa SSL, nahuhuli ang kabuhayan ng mga guro kompara sa mga pulis at militar na pare-pareho lang namang empleyado ng ating pamahalaan.

Hindi tuloy maiwasang isipin na para bang mas kinakatigan ng gobyerno ang mga pulis at sundalo. Maaaring sa kadahilanang sila ang nakikipagdigma sa mga kaaway ng estado. Ngunit ano ba ang dinidigma ng ating mga guro sa araw-araw? Nakikipagdigma ang ating mga magigiting na guro sa mas matindi at mapamuksang kalaban — ang kamangmangan.

At kung sasabihing salapi, ginto, at pilak ang binabantayan at pinangangalagaan ng mga security guards sa Bangko Sentral, mas mahalagang yaman naman ang pinangangalagaan ng ating mga guro. Hindi lamang sila nagbabantay, kundi sila mismo ang pumapanday ng gintong bukas ng buong sambayanan.

Sa kasalukuyan, ang salary grade 10 ay katumbas lamang ng halagang P12,026. Ganito kaliit ang kitang pilit pinagkakasya sa lahat ng pangangailangan ng isang pamilya ng titser. Ganito kaliit ang sahod na babawasan pa ng napakaraming kaltas – buwis, Philhealth, Pag-ibig, GSIS, mga hulog sa private lending institutions, private insurances. Ganito kaliit ang sahod ng mga pampublikong guro na mula taong 2001 ay napako sa halagang P9,939. Sa bisa ng dalawang Executive Orders, nagkaroon ng tig-sasampung porsiyentong umento ang mga empleyado ng gobyerno, kabilang na ang mga guro, noong nakaraang taon at nito lamang Hulyo. Ngunit ang halagang ito, ayon sa ating mga guro ay napunta lamang sa withholding tax at premium contributions sa GSIS.

Kaya nga napipilitan ang mga guro na sumideline, para lang matugunan nila ang pangangailangan ng kanilang pamilya. Nakalulungkot isipin na dahil dito, naitataya ng ating mga guro ang dalawang bagay na napakahalaga sa kanila – ang kalidad ng edukasyon at ang kanilang dangal, ang kanilang dignidad. Masakit sa mga guro na gawin ang mga bagay na ito, subalit, wala silang magawa. Kadalasan, wala nang ibang mapagpipilian ang mga titser dahil kailangan nilang itaguyod ang kanilang pamilya. Matagal nang nagtitiis ang ating mga guro, patatagalin pa ba natin lalo ang kanilang paghihirap?

Ang isa pa palang pasanin ng mga guro ay ang mandated poll duties. Ang mga guro ang dumaranas ng lubhang pasakit at hirap masiguro lamang na malinis, maayos at mapayapa ang ating mga halalan. Sila ang masinop na bumibilang ng ating mga boto. Sila ang nagbubuwis ng buhay upang matiyak na ang demokratikong kapasiyahan ng mga mamamayan ay masunod. Hindi alintana ang puyat, pagod at panganib. Nais ko lamang ipagbigay-alam sa mga kasama nating guro ngayon na saklaw sa tinatalakay na amendments sa Magna Carta ang pagtanggal sa inyong mandatory election duties.

Kahit saang panig ng gallery tayo tumingin ay makikita natin ngayon ang napakaraming guro mula sa buong Metro Manila at mga kinatawan mula sa mga lalawigan. Mas marami pa ang nasa labas. Ngunit higit pa sa mga narito ngayon sa kongreso ang bilang ng mga gurong nais sanang tumungo ngayon dito. Baon ng mga gurong ito ang libo-libong lagda ng mga guro mula Hilagang Luzon hanggang sa Katimugan ng Mindanao. Ganyan kadeterminadong ipaglaban at ipagtagumpay ng mga guro natin ang kanilang kahilingan sa ating Kongreso, sa ating gobyerno.
Ang kinatawang ito, Mr. Speaker, ay buong-pusong nagpupugay sa mga pampublikong guro ng ating bansa; karapat-dapat kayong itanghal na mga bayani. Buong pagpapakumbaba akong nagpapasalamat at tumatanaw ng malaking utang na loob sa mga bayaning hindi gaanong napapansin. At buong-tapat na nangangakong ipaglalaban at itataguyod ang kanilang karapatan, kabuhayan, at dignidad.

Muli kong hinahamon ang bawat kasapi ng kapulungang ito, huwag sana nating biguin ang mga guro, ang ating mga bayaning guro. Ipasa natin ang House Bill 4380.

Maraming salamat
Mabuhay ang mga gurong Pilipino.

Adel Tamano is president of ALCU

Education Disconnect

I wanted to share this video with you because it demonstrates the disconnect that the current educational system has with the interests and perspectives of the youth. We have to find a way to make learning more relevant and interesting to students. The video focuses on the American educational system but since the Philippine system is more akin to the US system, the problems expressed in the video apply and resonate in the Philippine context as well. Food for thought.

4 Things I’m Doing to Make RP a Better Place


ATTY. ADEL TAMANO
PLM PRESIDENT

There is a common question from many of the comments on this blog, which is, essentially, what am I doing personally to make our country a better place. Put another way, some assert that all I do is engage in talk about “change” while not doing anything concrete to effect it. To address this directly, here are 4 things – there are actually more but let’s start with this number – I am doing personally and concretely to move this country forward:

1. Eliminating Corruption at PLM (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila). As president of the University I oversee a fund of 300 Million Pesos yearly for the benefit of nearly 12,000 students, staff, and faculty. Commission on Audit records will show the wastage and corruption that have occurred in past administrations. For those familiar with S.O.P.s (standard operating procedures, which is a codeword for corruption) of government, unfortunately, ten per cent of that fund, and this is a very conservative estimate, goes to the head of the organization. In my case it would be 30 million a year, at least. There are rumors that the past administrations in PLM stole even more than that. I do not – and will not – steal any money from PLM. That money should benefit the University, its students and staff. By utilizing the University’s money properly, I am building up our nation’s future leaders.

2. Lecturing on Youth Leadership and Empowerment. From invitations from organizations like the Jaycees and Rotarians to Student Organizations to High School and College graduations, I always make it a point to make my speeches or lectures center on youth leadership and a sense of hopefulness for our country’s future.

3. Establishing Programs for Adult Education and PLMAT review. We are currently working on an adult education program in PLM that will provide instruction to janitors and other low income earners such as small vendors, metro aides, etc. Also, seeing that those with higher income levels have an advantage at the entrance examinations for PLM, we are establishing a PLMAT – the University’s entrance exams – review course that will target the poorest Manila High School students to enable them to hurdle the highly competitive PLMAT. Bringing quality education to the poorer sectors of our community will always reap social dividends in the long run.

4. Advocating Muslim-Christian Dialogue Through Media, Articles, and Lectures. Muslim-Christian dialogue – inter-faith discussion – is very close to my heart, particularly being married to a Catholic. Through my numerous articles, media interviews and appearances, as well as lectures, I hope to open the lines of communication between Muslims and Christians in the Philippines, which is the essential pre-condition to overcoming distrust, discrimination, and finding peace in Mindanao.

Investing in Education

Atty. Adel Tamano at his investiture with his family

Atty. Adel A. Tamano taking his oath as President of PLM before Mayor Lim

INVESTING IN EDUCATION – THE GATEWAY TO NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Inaugural speech of ATTY. ADEL A. TAMANO
President
Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila

Good afternoon. We have a saying in Islam that the ink of a scholar is holier than the blood of a martyr. I cannot think of anything more emphatic than this to show what a high virtue education is in the Islamic faith. As the very first Filipino Muslim to head a major university in Manila, this is a core value that I bring to the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.

Education has been such a significant part of my life. I am 37 years old and almost half my life has been spent in the academe. I have taught subjects as varied as Economics, Human Resource Development, and Constitutional Law.

In my career in education, I have made the rounds of the universities from Mindanao to Luzon: from the Mindanao State University to the Ateneo de Manila University and, finally, to my new home here at PLM.

I am no stranger to the pleasure and pain of academic life. The often obscenely low compensation, checking dozen upon dozen of examination booklets, preparing for class lectures, conducting recitation, and the jolt of electricity that we get seeing the spark of recognition in the eyes of our students, which makes all the sacrifices of teaching worthwhile.

In fact, even in my position as the spokesman for the Genuine Opposition during the elections and until now, I have always perceived my role as an educator and not as a politician – as someone with the duty to enlighten the public by presenting the issues as fairly, honestly, and clearly as possible, adhering to the belief that an educated public is the greatest safeguard to democracy.
As one of the youngest university presidents in the Philippines, I hope to instill a sense of dynamism and purpose to PLM because I believe that education is not only a fundamental value but is also the gateway to our national development.

Today, I hope that you will see beyond this young man, looking absolutely ridiculous in his gown, trying pathetically to look wise and deserving of this great honor that the City of Manila, through the Honorable Mayor Alfredo Lim and the Board of Regents, is bestowing upon him. Instead, I hope you will see someone who embodies this institution, the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, an institution whose primary purpose is to transform and uplift the lives of the economically disadvantaged but bright and deserving students of Manila through the power of education.

I can now be the voice of the ten thousand students and educators who not only appeal to you, our national and local leaders, for support and guidance but who also want you to know their aspirations for their University, their city, and their country.

The PLM is a singular institution. It has been called a local university with a national character and reputation. What is more, it is a university with a unique history and legacy. PLM is situated within the historic walls of Intramuros in the great City of Manila. The country’s very first college was established right here at the grounds of PLM, the Colegio de Manila, which was founded in 1590 by the Jesuits. It may be said that the very roots of the modern educational system in the Philippines may be found here at PLM.

On a more dramatic note, PLM stands upon hallowed grounds: The 3 hectares where our university is situated was the military headquarters of the United States’ 31st infantry. During the Japanese Occupation, brave Filipino and American soldiers were slain here. Our own national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, was placed on trial for sedition within the grounds of the University.

As a matter of fact, Philippine history has a sense irony because the walls of Intramuros were precisely made to keep someone like me, a Moro, as well the other marginalized and oppressed people of that time outside, while the those in power – the Spaniards and their minions – enjoyed the safety, the power, and the luxury of the walled city. Intramuros was, at that time, a symbol of oppression, discrimination, and persecution.

However, today, with PLM giving opportunity to the poor and marginalized to have quality education that will enable them to break the cycle of poverty, the walls of Intramuros are a beacon of hope for our countrymen. The lesson of Intramuros and PLM is that things can change for the better. And here at PLM we are at the forefront of making that change.

Among others, we are giving our students the tools they need to compete in the 21st century. When I assumed the Presidency last August, the university’s offices did not even have Internet access, much less computers. Within four months we have equipped our University with computer and Wi-fi facilities. We now have over 30 computer stations with free Internet access for students and faculty as well as laser-printing facilities. It is a modest achievement and we hope that within two years, we will have at least 200 computer stations with free Internet access to equip our students with the technological skills that have become a prerequisite to obtaining good jobs in the modern workplace.

Earlier, I referred to Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero, deliberately because I believe that heroism and education in the Philippine context are intertwined. Some will scoff at the idea of an interrelation between education and heroism, but given the magnitude of the challenges that we face in the Philippines in education and the amount of work that is needed for us to address these problems, then the idea of the heroic nature of our endeavor does not seem so laughable. Moreover, the virtues of our national heroes of patriotism, industry, and courage are the very qualities that we must to instill in our students if our country is to prosper.

In fact, today, more than ever, we need new heroes. Our heroes of the past fought against the heavy yoke of colonialism and tyranny. Today, our challenges loom just as large as our nation is slowly being crushed by poverty, by corruption, and by bad governance. The present challenges us to be live with heroism, patriotism, and to have a real vision for the future of our nation.

Of course, poverty remains our primary problem. According to the latest SWS Survey, 11.9 per cent of our countrymen suffer daily the scourge of hunger. The Human Development Report states that 36.8 per cent of our population, more than 1 in every 3 Filipinos, live below the poverty line.

So what is the answer to the problem of poverty? I believe that given the highly competitive global economy and the fact that our population continues to grow at about 1.5 million new Filipinos year, a large part of the answer to poverty is providing skills and training to our youth that will enable them to find decent jobs, or could help them set up their own businesses.
Education must be a primary component to any poverty reduction plan. The adage is corny and over-used, but it is nevertheless true – Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a life time.

So where are we now in the realm of education?

In a recent test of English proficiency of our primary school teachers, 70% failed. In the secondary level, 80% failed. This is alarming. How do we maintain our competitive advantage, which is our facility with English, against the other growing economies in the region when our very own teachers cannot even speak or write English properly?

In the realm of Math and Science, in an examination taken by high-school students from 45 countries, ranking from the highest to the lowest, our country ranked 41st in Math and 42nd in Science.

These dismal statistics only considers those who actually have access to education, even a poor one. In the Philippines, of ten school age students, only six will graduate from the primary level. Of the six, only four will graduate from high school. Out of these four, only two will complete their college education.

If the Philippines were to develop and remain globally competitive, then we must focus on education. The value of education as the engine for national development is enshrined in our very own Constitution, which states emphatically that “(t)he State shall give priority to education, science and technology, arts, culture, and sports to foster patriotism and nationalism, accelerate social progress, and promote total human development. ”

This vital provision of our constitution perceives education as the gateway not only to personal intellectual and moral development but also, ultimately, to our nation’s economic and social development.

Art. XIV, Sec. 5 of the Constitution is even more categorical when it declares that “(t)he State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education…” Have we fulfilled the spirit of this constitutional mandate? If you believe the answer to this is in the affirmative, then why do we have a shortfall of 45,000 classrooms?

A former Undersecretary of Education puts this issue of budgetary prioritization in a clearer perspective when he wrote that “(w)e talk about education getting the largest share of our national budget. In truth, the real measure is how much we spend annually per child — which is around $150 . . . Thailand spends more than six times as much at $950; Malaysia (spends) 110 times more.”

Perhaps our Asian neighbors – who have sprinted ahead of us economically – realize much better than us the value of education in national development. We are fortunate here at the PLM that Mayor Lim and the City Council spends roughly four times the national amount per student, and that is why the PLM graduates have done so well both in industry and in their performance in competitive examinations.

Modesty aside, PLM is ranked by the Professional Regulatory Commission, in terms of passing the board exams, as third in Nursing, second in Accountancy, and second in Architecture. In Law, we are ranked number eight. The lesson here is simple: with adequate government support, our students can excel.

In fact, globally, spending for education is growing – the average is 6% of a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In the Philippines, spending for education is only 2.7% of GDP.

If we are to invest in our nation’s future, let us choose to give priority to investing in education. Now is the time to get our leaders on board to the constitutional mandate of giving budgetary priority to education.

When others talk about the great riches of this country, they point to our natural resources: our beaches, our tourist attractions, our mineral resources, and our marine resources. I disagree. I believe that in the Philippines, our greatest resource is the human one.

Our people are naturally intelligent, creative, inherently cheerful, and resilient. I see these qualities daily in the staff and students of PLM. This is the resource that we must cultivate, and we must shift our focus from investing in capital resources into prioritizing investment in our human capital. Our great people are our country’s real strength and the reason why our country moves forward despite the current lack of good leadership.

Before I end my speech, allow me to thank all the people who have helped me achieve whatever modicum of success I have reached in my short life. You all know who you are and there are just too many to mention. However, there is one man who could not be here today, a man who taught me the values that I try to live by – patriotism, discipline, integrity, and service for others. He also taught me something else – a passion for reading and studying. It takes a person who deeply believes in the importance of education to encourage a ten-year-old to read Shakespeare and Plato.

Certainly, not every father subjects his child to book reports and oral examinations. Well, my father did and I think that was a large part of why I am here today.

A few days before my father passed away almost 15 years ago, he told me – as if knowing that we would not meet again – that he would not be able to leave me riches, but he would leave me a good name. I am proud to carry his surname, Tamano. Actually, he was mistaken. He also left me another great legacy, education. Indeed, it is the best legacy we can leave to our children and the best investment that we can make for our nation’s future.

So let me end by sharing with you my simple vision for PLM: I envision this university as a haven where my students are provided quality education with decent facilities and modern technology; where the faculty and staff receive a fair wage as well as medical, health, and transportation benefits; where the resources of the university are used solely for the good of the students; and where the administration is transparent and accountable. My visions are not grand ones but if we are able to achieve this, then we will have set the conditions needed for our students to perform at their very best. In my own small way, I want to know that I am contributing my part for the development of the youth of the Philippines.

Previously, I referred to Dr. Jose Rizal for good reason. Dr. Jose Rizal became the voice of his generation and fought tyranny and oppression through the power of education. Having been educated in the best schools in the country at that time, Dr. Rizal was able to articulate forcefully and eloquently the ideas that nourished the Philippine Revolution. Now is the time for us to create a new generation of Dr. Jose Rizals who, like him, shall have the ideas that will transform this nation.

Truly, the future of this nation lies in the country’s youth. Let us invest in their future.

Adel Tamano’s Commencement Speech at HLS


ATTY. ADEL TAMANO DELIVERING THE COMMENCEMENT
SPEECH AT HARVARD LAW SCHOOL IN 2005

Salaam. Friends, this is Adel Tamano. I want to share with you my commencement speech at Harvard Law School. I graduated almost three years ago, time flies by so fast. It embodies a lot of what we are trying to do with this blog and in our own lives. JV, Danton, Gilbert, and all our web friends, I hope you find something useful in it –


Dean Kagan, the faculty and staff of Harvard Law School, the Graduating Class of 2005, our family and friends – Good Afternoon:

We begin with a caveat: If you believe that the praise and celebration are the only remarks that are appropriate for a graduation ceremony, then what I have to say will be a big disappointment.

This is not to belittle the hard work and sacrifice that we have undergone in order to be here today. For all of this and more, we deserve the warmest congratulations.

However, it would not serve us well to focus solely on our personal achievements: that would merely serve our vanity. What is more, it would be untruthful. Today’s graduation belongs as much to us as it does to our parents, spouses, relatives, and loved ones. They have sacrificed as much as we have, if not more so. They deserve equal praise for their support, love, and encouragement.

Furthermore, we must remember that our education is a great privilege. For someone like myself, a Filipino-Muslim, studying at Harvard was an unbelievable opportunity. In the predominantly Muslim areas of the Philippines, out of 10 grade-school students, only 2 will be able to complete high-school. Those in the developing world know, firsthand, that education is a truly precious commodity.

This is why our commencement today should not only be a time for self-congratulation but, more importantly, a moment for deep and sincere reflection. We must ask the essential questions of a graduate: 1) What have we learned?; and 2) Where do we go from here?

Today, we leave the comfortable and secure confines of Harvard Law School and enter the real world. It is a world of growing unilateralism, of heightened volatility in the Middle East, of mounting threats to security, of unrelenting degradation of the environment, and an ever widening gap, in economic terms, between the developed and developing nations.

What is more, we depart knowing that we have a responsibility to address these global issues. It should be emphasized that we, the members of the LL.M. Class of 2005, were not chosen from the thousands of applicants to the Graduate Program solely because of our academic or professional achievements. Instead, the choice was made with the prospect that a Harvard education would enable us to become future leaders and policymakers. Very simply, much is expected of us.

Accordingly, in order to address these global issues we must ask: what have we learned? Certainly, from the 250 courses available in the Law School, we have learned much in terms of legal theory and the substance of the Law. However, the most valuable source of education was our exposure to the diverse beliefs and cultures of men and women from over 60 nations. Indeed, the real genius of the Graduate Program is its embrace of multiculturalism and diversity.

In fact, it is this multiculturalism that will prove to be of the most benefit not only to each of us but more so to the Law School itself. This is a vital point: the very existence of the Graduate Program and the presence of legal scholars from over 60 nations is a powerful symbol and a clear reminder that no single country, race, or religion has a monopoly on good will, knowledge, or wisdom.

So where do we go from here? This is a question that each one of us, the 162 members of the LL.M. Class of 2005, will have to answer on our own and in our own time. We all desire to succeed and success itself can be defined and achieved in myriad ways. But one thing is certain – if your graduation becomes the high-water mark of your life, then you have failed to achieve the hopes of this institution. More importantly, you will have failed yourself. Again, we must never forget that much is expected of us.

I must confess that there is a personal reason for framing this speech in terms of poverty, terrorism, pollution, and world peace. I am a husband and a father of a two-year old son and when I think about the enormity of the global problems that we face, frankly, I am filled with fear and doubt. This is why I have such a personal stake in the success of our class and of the LL.M. Program itself.

Ultimately, the real value of our education will be assessed in terms of our making the world a more just, peaceful, equitable, environmentally sustainable, and tolerant place for our children.

Finally, in this world that, at times, seems so determined to destroy itself on the basis of differences in ideology, race, religion, or ethnicity, I have, nevertheless, witnessed 162 people from over 60 nations meet, initially, as strangers, then come together as classmates – who argued, debated, and, at times, vehemently disagreed – and, ultimately, become united as genuine friends. In this I find my optimism, hopefulness, and confidence. It is upon this bond of friendship and the spirit of understanding and humanity that I entrust my hopes for our future. I am truly proud to be a member of the LL.M. Class of 2005.

I thank you. I honor you. Congratulations.