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.

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