December 30, 2008

Images of Hugpong 2008

Hugpong 2008 was an all-batches get-together organized by the Mindanao State University-GSC High School Alumni Federation "to celebrate 41 years of dedicated community service of the MSU-GSC High School Department". It was held last Saturday, December 27th and featured many activities highlighted by a convention of the alumni federation and a tribute to all high school teachers.

December 29, 2008

Parang Kailan Lang

I recorded this video during the Hugpong 2008 celebration two nights ago. The subject was one of the highlights of the whole-day (and night) affair held at the MSU-GSC High School campus: the alumni paying tribute to their teachers.

Prior to this scene, all teachers young and old (at least those who are still breathing) of the then Mindanao State University-GSC High School (now MSU-CETD) since the late 60's, were called on stage one by one to be awarded a simple memento from the alumni; after which all the alumni were given the chance to personally thank their mentors.

To say that it was a very touching scene is an understatement. People were thanking, hugging and cheek-kissing their teachers; some were giving flowers; and some (teachers and alumni) hardly holding back their tears (of joy, I am almost sure).

The mass singing of Florante's Handog (more famously known as Parang Kailan Lang) did not help restrain the deep sentimentality of the moment. I myself did not shed tears, but I have to admit the awesome feeling I felt raised my body hair all throughout. I did not hug and kiss my teachers, but truly I was moved so much I wanted to put my teachers in my pocket and take them home. I did not give any flower to any one; there was not a material thing that could even approximate the immensity of gratitude I wanted to reward my teachers.

Well, I did hold my camera and capture them and the moment on video! Forgive me if this was not enough.

Parang kailan lang. It did seem to feel like only yesterday when I last faced our teachers in class. Yes, they were not perfect teachers. Some made us sell food and softdrinks at the cafeteria in exchange for grades in our electives. Some made us read Rizal's Noli and Fili without teaching what these novels were all about. Some played favorites (i.e. you just felt they dislike you more than your other classmates for no apparent reason).

But these shortcomings easily become negligible when one views the sacrifices of our teachers -- working in a not so well-endowed time and environment, MSU being a public school -- as collective testimony of their genuine desire to be our main sources of information and molders of good values outside the household.

I have always regarded all teachers as second parents; and parents are hardly perfect. There might not be another opportune time to say 'Thank You'... Daghang salamat kaninyo, Mam ug Ser.

December 12, 2008

Sprite in can

This restaurant in Gensan famous for its pancit malabon was about to close down for the night when I and my wife went in. Needless to say, there were no more dine-in and its specialty was not available anymore so my partner had to settle for one order of the common arroz caldo, take out. Fine.

I just had my full dinner so for myself I went for a softdrink (soda) and specifically asked for Sprite. The cashier loudly asked her staff if Sprite was still available and got a equally loud "wala na" ("no more") from one of the ladies at the food counter. So I asked what other sodas are available. A resounding "Coke lang" ("just Coke") was heard all over the place. Good enough.

I got my Coke while we waited for our arroz caldo; and was halfway through it when I noticed a phalanx of glistening ice cold Sprites-in-can inside the glass-paneled fridge. I naturally asked the charming (sic) lady who a while ago had just declared all Sprites "dead", "Bakit sabi mo wala nang Sprite?" at the same time nose-pointing the row of green cans inside the ref.

To which, with all natural grace, she fabulously replied, "Hindi nyo naman sinabing 'in can'..."

[canned laughter]

December 1, 2008

An engineer for a moment

I was an engineer for a moment; and it felt wonderful. This happened a little more than a week ago when I got to present the DReAM Children project during the annual congress of the Philippine Librarians' Association, Inc. (PLAI) held at the Grand Men Seng Hotel in Davao City.

DReAM Children was presented within Prof. Corazon M. Nera’s lecture on Promoters of Multi-cultural Librarianship. Prof. Nera is the current chair of the PRC’s Board for Librarians. She was the chief examiner for the latest licensure examination for professional librarians where some 23% of examinees passed. I heard it is the lowest passing percentage in the history of the said examination. This development, I know, will have its implications but I leave it to the experts and professionals to discuss them.

Prior to my presentation, Prof. Nera introduced me to the audience as a "librarian by affinity" -- my ex-girlfriend Fraulein being a professional librarian -- and titled me an "Engineer". The first tag was 100% true; the title of "Engineer" was off but nonetheless very complimentary. Perhaps to the professor I sounded like one when we first met just a couple of months before; when I initially described how we were able to assemble local stakeholders to build a strong partnership in reader development.

I remember I did once flirt with the idea of becoming an engineer for one semester in college when I took some Math electives in my hasty decision to shift course. I wound up dropping a subject (imposingly described then as Algebra with Trigonometry made meaner by a very impersonal teacher) and ended up taking a course in community development. The rest of the story is now part of a very fulfilling history. I did not turn out to be an engineer but have since “re-engineered” myself to becoming an instrument for "social progress".

In a way, community development is like engineering, it also "builds structures". Its strong adherence to the philosophical concept of praxis can be likened to engineering's constant blending of scientific knowledge, natural laws and physical resources to produce structures and processes for the ultimate benefit of humankind.