The Many People who Delved into my Thoughts

Visitor Map

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Being different

I come from a categorically conservative culture that regards the positions and decisions of the elderly law that only they can break. I remember my high school classmate boldly asking our teacher one day about why teachers are prioritized by the canteen staff despite the long line of hungry students. Her answer was: “Mag-teacher ka muna.” [Be a teacher first.] And so, I did. 

However, the training I received to become a teacher, coupled with the values my family has strongly nurtured me with, taught me to become a good example to my students. I felt that what happened back then was utterly unfair.

I was reminded again of the same incident when I was waiting in line for my name to be called in the Registrar’s office of the University where I am teaching. One of my former students saw me and in a surprised tone, she asked me why I was waiting outside when I could step inside the office to personally get what I want without the hassle of waiting, just like others do. I told her that I don’t want to use my position to bypass the standard procedure. It seemed like she didn’t get the point, so I simply told her: "Iba ako e." [I’m different]. She continued walking, seemingly satisfied with the smile she let out before turning her back.

Despite being a young educator, I learned to believe that there is a dire need for social transformation in my country to happen. Unfortunately, we are usually discouraged with the cliché: change cannot happen overnight. But as I see it, it is true enough that we cannot expect change to happen overnight, especially when no one initiates to move mountains in order to overturn something that is considered a "norm".

I am not a perfect person, but at the time I have chosen this profession, I have similarly accepted the lifelong responsibility of augmenting efforts for the much needed reforms in my land. How could I do it on my own, you ask? Well, I have a growing army of people to promote and practice my cause. They are the would-be nurses, educators, engineers, agriculturists, accountants, psychologists and artists who may have learned more of my idealisms in class than what the standard syllabus dictates. In fact, some of them are already in the field practicing their professions.

In the 54 hours that we are together in one semester, I might have preached half of the time about what present society badly needs and what I expect them to become, which always boil down to doing simple things and hoping for a domino effect.

I tell them: The time you chose to enter the premises of this University to hone your potentials as professionals in your fields is the same moment when you chose to selflessly serve as an instrument of change for our nation. I continue by saying that they are some of the privileged few who are given the rare opportunity to pursue a college degree and earn a decent living in the long run, while a major portion of the population is dragged down to the sinkhole of poverty because of lack of access to education. It is but fitting that they give back what their country has spent so much for by simply doing a thing as simple as setting a good example to their younger counterparts.

I may be young and inexperienced, but I know that I have the energy and idealism to drive genuine development through the profession I consider a vocation. It’s all because I, together with my army of young change-makers, choose to be different.