Time and again, the road ahead is both uncertain and unpredictable. Philosophy of Man has always emphasized that that man comes into this world like a question mark – more than the love that gave him reason for being he is left with a whole lifetime to put meaning to his existence.
I also clearly remember what Philosophy explained about fallen-ness and historicity. I came into this world with certain things that were not of my free choice – my family and my name, among others. I never had choice of the family I was to be born into, I never chose my name, and neither did I have choice of the way I would be raised nor the place I grew up in. However, Philosophy likewise explained that I have choice of freedom – that from the things that I have been “fallen” into, I am left with the space to chart my life and make it whole – the way I want and the way I realize it must be.
Looking back at my own historicity, I have the least regret of the experiences that have made me who I am now. The sunsets of my years have been well lightened by the many significant sunrises that provided the needed rays of light that could have easily eclipsed my many plans and dreams. All have made me who I am now and who I will be in the future. Time and experience have certainly fixed my sight on the journey I have to take.
School and education have certainly molded me to who I have become. Like many other simple families, my parents have toiled hard to send me to school and provided me with the opportunities to learn life with others and outside the confines of the home. I take pride in my modest beginnings – a simple family, an ordinary community in Basilan – but I take greater pride in big dreams and my efforts to work for them. School was going to be my vehicle, I was convinced. From then on, I took education as seriously as I could: my teachers were my models and every word they uttered was Qur-anic truth. I took them with no jest and thought that if I did, I was well on the road to a bright future.
True enough, after college, determination and firmness of conviction ushered me on to the most noble of professions – teaching. Certainly, I knew that I had what it takes to lead students to where they must be and what they must learn. Seeing myself in the students I taught, I envisioned every single one of them as an “empty jar” that needed to be filled – filled with knowledge and values that would be enough armor for them to weave their own dreams and futures. Their expressions of wonderment fascinated me no end and the same were to be my very own inspiration to strive more and do better. In my hands were part of their future and in passion to teach lies their capacities to appreciate both life and education.
The classrooms of the Western Mindanao State University were my home for some of the most significant years of my professional life. While the classrooms transfused in me the life that I must have for the young, the push to learn more for them was to be my continuing passion. I counted not the hours but the change I effected in the minds of the young. I counted not the days but the gradual transformation the young manifest in the way they act and the words they say. Then I knew that I have found my niche – school. With a keen interest in culture, I was an easy choice to help run the university’s Culture and Arts Office that, during my stint, launched some of the most significant events in the university including the publication of the first-ever Culture and Arts Journal.
The merits of my dedication then opened new opportunities for me – the chance to share in the “burden” of administration. A beginning academic I was, I became Assistant to the Vice President for Corporate Affairs – poking into every detail of corporate management and learning the ropes of fiscal work. None could be more significant in my academic professional career than those that my administrative work provided – a glimpse into middle management work operations and the skill of dealing with people.
With both education and my consciousness, I moved＂ on to pursue higher education. Starting out with learning the essential rudiments of Public Administration, I decided to complete studies in the area that I have the greatest interest in: Industrial Psychology. People have always been my greatest interest and, I thought, that expanding my knowledge base in human behavioral studies would make me understand the Bangsamoro people better – their hurts, their sentiments, their aspirations, and their dreams. The De La Salle University in Manila was to be my choice to pursue Graduate work. The significant years I have spent in the university have been the most memorable and challenging, bar none. To this day, when memories stream back, they are never without the experiences of hardships that went along the struggle to survive if only to make bigger dreams come true.
Fresh from graduate school in 2011, I took on to what is yet to be the biggest pivot in my professional life: I joined the transitional team that was tasked to effect change in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. With a trailing uncertainty, I committed with a team of idealists to institute reforms in the ARMM. Nothing more than courage pushed me to take the radical choice to shift to governance work in an arena unknown to me and an area strange. But I knew it was what I have always wished for: to work with and for the Bangsamoro people. Finally, the many words of idealism uttered within the confines of the classroom will be tested in the real world. As an old adage says: “…dream dreams and be willing to pay the price to make them come true.” Then was my time to make them come true. There was my crucible to test my words.
My brief stint as Regional Chief of Staff laid before me the challenges I never expected but none could have been more significant in magnitude of work I had to complete. “Chief-ing the Chief” was to be my personal mantra for excellence. After all, coping with the Chief’s standards was an endless work – every hour was a surprise, every minute was a dare to do better, every second was a reminder to responsibility. More importantly, I have to constantly remind myself that it was the people who mattered most.
The short period I took for myself was going to be a long leave for sincere introspection. While options to move over to new areas came, I was too slow to accept any. Like a constant whisper that deafens, the lure to serve is far too strong to resist. Finally, I have chosen to return and serve Muslim Mindanao and its people.
The task of education is never a bit less than to shape a people’s future. Time and again, even at the beginning of formal education and the establishment of schools, education is the very springboard of development.
Sadly, to this day, very few have come to terms with the reality that nothing could be more viable for change to happen than building the base of any nation – the people. When census reports show that literacy rates dwindle, it is not unusual to infer that progress will come at snail pace. The very reason for a dragging economy and a sluggish society is the quality of its human resource. It is from people that development spurs because it is people who will benefit from it. The very genesis of change must be continually enhanced.
The paradigms of learning should never neglect the fact that when people resist change, none could ever be done. It is this fact that schools should never lose sight of. Schools are products of a dynamic social system and reflections of it. And if schools are too far to reach, then schools must go to the people.
The dream of a literate ARMM is never impossible. From us it must start.
My dream lives on. My dream is in my hands. I must TREAD ON.