Monday, March 26, 2012

Chipping Off in Leadership

I was asked by our Municipal Administrator, Mr. Alfredo R. Ventura last Thursday to give an inspirational message in behalf of our town’s local chief executive in the opening program of the Department of Education (DepEd) Division Leadership Training for Supreme Student Government/Supreme Pupils' Government (SSG/SPG). Mayor Ed Gadiano was in Manila that day and on an official business travel. Participants composed of more than 200 student leaders and their respective advisers from different campuses in mainland Occidental Mindoro. Being a good soldier and a good follower, I did not hesitate to follow my immediate superior. But what would my talk be consists of? Matters concerning DepEd are above my paycheck as the designate Indigenous Peoples Affairs Officer (IPAO). IPAO’s immediate counterpart, by the way, among national government agencies is the National Commission of the Indigenous Peoples or NCIP. Suddenly I have decided to share with these young leaders the important lessons I have learned from Mangyan leaders and their leadership style. And it became a wonderful, balanced opportunity to learn and… unlearn. I also emphasized that under Gadiano's administration, the IPs are greatly considered.

I told them a story about a Taobuid chieftain who once told me that effective leadership is a simple as carving wood. We are seated near a big block of wood and he told me what true leadership is made of : “Parang pag-gawa lang yan ng lusong.” Indeed because to make a "lusong", all you have to do is to chip off the pieces that doesn’t look like a “lusong”. A “lusong” by the way is a mortar conventionally made of carved wood and is used for pounding rice so as to remove the hull from the grains. In leadership of course there are a lot of things that we have to learn but we also have things to be chipped off, to forget, to unlearn. That’s the main thought I have shared with the group headed by Ma’am Raquel P. Girao, Education Program Supervisor of Division of Occidental Mindoro and Mr. Arnie Ventura, Principal IV of Sablayan Comprehensive High School, when we were at the Sablayan Astrodome last March 22.

The Taobuid and his mortar and leaning to unlearn reminds me of Lao Tsu’s, “To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, subtract things everyday.” In Occidental Mindoro and elsewhere in the world the biggest challenge today is unlearning, which is not easy or even much harder. In Reader’s Digest October 1997 issue, in its regular feature called “Points to Ponder”, John Seely Brown has this to say : “Before any of us can learn new things, we have to make our current assumptions explicit and find ways to challenge them … In fact, the harder you to fight to hold on to specific assumption, the more likely there’s gold in letting go..”

That’s Mangyan Wood Carving 101 I have shared to our future leaders that day…

(Photo : Courtesy of I Love Mindoro Blog)

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