Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Investiture at OMSC

I traveled back to memory lane while inside the Occidental Mindoro State College (OMSC) campus attending the Student Teachers’ Investiture and Pinning Ceremony last Friday, October 25, 2013. My eldest daughter belongs to Section A of the college’s Teacher Education Batch 2014. Dr. Arnold N. Venturina, the SCC President II together with the TED faculty are all there to grace the occasion, so supportive of their students. Getting a cue from the inspirational message rendered by Dr. Rosalinda C. Gomez, the soon-to-retire Vice President for academic affairs, I am into thinking that the symbolic event is the donning of the mantle of responsibility with a pledge coming from the student teachers to dispense their duties to the best of their abilities. Ma’am Gomez compared them to sprinters who are already on the last lap of their scholastic race.

During the invocation, I said a little prayer for the student teachers that may they truly find an ever cooperative cooperating teacher that would thoroughly orient them to the new environment, plan with them for the teaching experience, review and provide feedback, evaluate their performance, among others.

While watching the whole ceremony unfolds before my very eyes noticing how misty were the eyes of many of the parents, during the candle lighting ceremony and the reciting of the pledge of commitment and the rest of the program, I came to know that it is indeed the most significant phase of life of a college student. It represents the bridge between professional preparation and professional practice. Student teaching is a period of guided teaching when the teacher candidate takes increasing responsibility for leading the school experiences of a group of learners over a period of consecutive weeks. 

The major goal of student teaching, I just realized, is to provide an opportunity for the student teacher to make practical applications of knowledge, learning principles, and techniques of teaching. They need the opportunity to experience the pressures of full-time teaching and the corresponding rewards (or even punishment) resulting from it. And in the end, the community will judge them. 

Yes, I took the same route way back in the late 80s but I nearly failed due to my involvement in student activism coupled with gallivanting. Without the intervention of my former English mentor, Ma'am Vicky G. Madayag, my adviser in our school paper, and my former girlfriend (also nicknamed Vicky) asking my instructor in Practice Teaching or Education 10 to give me a chance and rectify my errors (?), I could not gotten my diploma and was not able to get my licensure exam!

I got the biggest surprise of the night when Dr. Venturina before his speech mentioned my name, asked me to stand up along with a couple of alumni sitting behind our children. He referred to me as a “prolific writer”. By the way, Dr. Venturina, is my junior way back in high school, circa late 70s. People around us gave us a round of applause to which I feel a certain awkwardness. But it warmed my heart, nevertheless. The good President reminded the students of his 6Rs: Read, Recite, Recall, Rewind, Re-envigorate and and Renew. For him, the sum total of all these is renewal. He said, “When we renew ourselves, God gives us authority to share.”

But all her through her college life, I have only imparted a single “R” to my daughter, Rashida Anawim, pertaining to her studies. Read. Read up on teaching. While your training may introduce you to many good things, there is always more to learn. Since your father is always away, do not rely much on me with your lessons and assignments. That’s why whenever I travel to Manila, I always buy books and other reading materials for my children.

Saint Catherine, Patron Saint of Teachers, please do not bring their cooperating teacher into temptation of just treating these future teachers as errand boys and girls.….

(Photo by: Yobhel Novio)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Little Things

The race is on for Barangay Elections on Monday and the candidates are all campaigning, doing little offenses that are against the rule and the Commission on Elections or COMELEC can do nothing much about it except giving stern warnings. Generally, people do not see it harmful or they simply do not pay attention to small things, come election or not. Giving liquors with election paraphernalia stuck on its bottle is an election offense but the people in general, especially those who love to wine and sing, see nothing wrong about it. They let it pass. Anyway, it is just a small thing, they say.

When I was a teenager, I was caught by my classmate peeing under a mango tree inside the campus and being the OD (Officer of the Day) she reprimanded me right after I am done. She rushed to another lady officer nearby and said, “Nahuli ko Ma’am, umiihi sa pader.” The latter just ignored her gesturing her to join her platoon and said, “Wala ‘yan. Maliit na bagay lang ‘yan.” Then I left the scene fuming mad and whispered to myself, “Yan and akala ninyo!” 

Those were the days when I still do not know who Benjamin Franklin was. He who said, “A small leak can sink a great ship.” (All pun intended!) But seriously, what we call small or little things are merely the causes of great things. When we accept or not that bottle of brandy from a politician bearing his or her sticker, is the point of departure which, in general, decides the future of our electoral culture and mindsets.

This reminds me of a story written by Vincent Barry which appeared in page 7 of the June 1999 issue of Readers Digest which I read while resting on a hammock tied under the mango tree (again?) in my mother’s backyard in Bubog one lazy Saturday morning.

According to the article “No Harm, No Foul?”, the author witnessed an argument between a shopper and a produce manager. While the shopper (a mother) was carefully selecting grapes, her son was also eating some of the fruits.  The manager gently informed the child that the grapes were for sale, not sampling.  The mother sprang to her child’s defense.  “Oh, for heaven’s sake,” she said indignantly.  “It’s such a small thing.”

Barry wrote his observation: “I wondered where she’d draw the line between ‘small’ and ‘big.’ The only distinction the child made was between what he wanted and what he didn’t.  And he wanted those grapes.”

Whether the mother corrected her son in private, no one knew.  “But her public message was clear and direct: stealing ‘small stuff’ is OK; indeed, it’s not really stealing at all,” Barry concluded.

In the context of elections this Monday, if we allow such “little” infraction with the law, we are sending the same message to our children: such election offenses are not offenses at all. The drunkards only wanted wine but do not want electoral reform.

Re-reading that issue of Readers Digest made understand another quote from Benjamin Franklin, “A little neglect may breed a great mischief.” Now I only pee outside of the toilet during unavoidable circumstances or force majuere situations. Like while riding on a bus and my urinary bladder is about to burst, full with Red Horse. There are small things indeed that breeds great, big, gigantic things.

But on the reverse, there are truly little things coming out of big things. Both literally and figuratively. 

Remember the two lady cadets?...
(Photo : Wikipedia)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I, Caveman

Two of the most prominent, exotic and majestic caves in the province are Cansubong Cave in Iling Island, San Jose and Purnaga Cave in Magsaysay. The latter’s interior portion, according to a certain story I stumbled upon, contains several compartments of stalactites and stalagmites with the size of a small cargo container or as big as cathedral. It is also found to have guano deposits and water pools and believed to be extended adjacent to Oriental Mindoro. Iling Island is so rich with underwater caves they say and those caves became burial place of ancient Chinese traders centuries ago. To tell you frankly, I haven’t been to any of those two wonderful creations of nature. Even in Sablayan’s prominent Matingkay, Carungcaban and Agsuli caves, I haven’t been to. Not that I am a claustrophobic but I do not have a chance and that’s all.

I was wondering, during pre-historic times, the walls of cave were the modern day “blog sites”. Stone Age “bloggers” “post” their entries through its walls (Now I know the origin of the word “wall” in Facebook!). Our caves must be protected and conserved no doubt, more than our cyber sites. Caves indeed are considered natural and non-renewable resources with important scientific, economic, educational, cultural, historical, and aesthetic values.  They are also home to specialized mineral formations with unique and diverse flora and fauna.

The protection and conservation of caves is mandated under Republic Act 9072 passed on April 08, 2001 otherwise known as the “National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act”.  Under this Act, the DENR is tasked to formulate, develop and implement a national program for the management, protection and conservation of caves and cave resources. As of today, over 1,500 caves have been recorded since the start of the implementation of the Caves Management and Conservation Program in 1994, with still a significant number of caves yet to be discovered and mapped, even here in our province.

On June 13-17, 2012 there was an orientation-workshop on caves and cave resources conservation and management and that training resulted to the commitment of forming the Provincial Cave Committee (PCC) who will act as a legislative body and the Provincial Cave Assessment Team (PCAT) who will conduct the actual assessment of caves in the entire province of Occidental Mindoro. In his letter to the 11 LCEs of the province, Conrado A. Espejo, Jr., our Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer or PENRO, said that the PCC is chaired by the PENR Officer, vice chaired by the mayors where the caves are located and members are consist of the towns MENRO, Municipal Tourism Officers, including security personnel and school administrators. Here in Sablayan, I was nominated by our LCE to be part of the PCAT. It's not yet final, mind you.


Well, the following are threatening our caves and making them in great danger: increased demand for recreational sites, vandalism, treasure hunting, mining, pollution, illegal collection of cave resources and rapid urbanization. In social networking sites, on the other hand, dangers are posed by senseless posts, cyber bullying, shameless spamming coming from what other netizens are referring to as megalomaniacs and sociopaths.

Well, if experts believe that the cave paintings sent messages, like my blog site, to other people passing through or living in them in the future, and in that case, I am a caveman…


(Photo: TMCNET.Com)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

100 Days

It is expected that in the following weeks, many of our newly-elected local chief executives, mayors and governors from all over the land, would go public and report their accomplishments on first 100 days of office. Though not mandated by the Department of the Interior and Local Government or DILG, mayors and governors are not precluded to do their own version of the State of the Nation Address or SONA. The Local Government Code of 1991 is silent on the matter but some people from DILG are encouraging them to have their own state of the province, city or municipal address. This way, their respective constituents will know what their leaders are doing.

If ever, with great enthusiasm, I am wondering what would be the salient points and gist of our new provincial governor’s State of the Province Address (SOPA). What were his major achievements in the past four months? When and where it will be held? Aside from his achievements or accomplishments as the new governor, presumably the people are eager to know what are his administration’s plans and what we would expect for the next 3 years, until the end of his term come 2016. That’s what we want to hear so we pray he will render his widely covered SOPA before us.

Our governor, though he have been into politics and public service for quite a long time, has to prove his critics wrong that he is just living in the shadow of his predecessor. There are people, in their wildest and malicious imagination, who consider him as a mere follower, if not only a loyal double of the province’s current representative to Congress, his political patroness. For his critics, without her, he’s nothing. So, now is the best time for him to independently deliver using his own decisions, prerogative and choices, including his very elusive smile especially during photo-ops.  

Now as a governor, I am looking forward to see more from the man. We, people of Occidental Mindoro deserve more. We deserve not only information but bright future too. He deserves not only to prove his worth but cooperation as well from the people, friend or foe, political affiliation-wise.

But being an experienced local chief executive, our governor would not have a hard time doing his responsibility for the general supervision and control over all program, project, services and activities for the province. Our governor hopefully would bring about, effectively and efficiently, concrete and lasting changes to Occidental Mindoro, our beautiful province with its equally beautiful citizens.

As a resident and a taxpayer, I want to be enlightened on what are the important and essential legislative measures he initiated or about to initiate, proposed or about to propose to the Provincial Board, among others.

During the first 100 days, every local chief executive like a governor, especially those who are new to their current position, has to do some staffing changes based on her/his initial analysis of the LGUs staffing pattern. Determine, too, its fiscal status and the Budget Call. Source of support and resistance must be identified and ultimately call for cooperation with the local bureaucracy. Start to interface with the local legislative board, strengthen the linkages with every municipality and if possible, every barangay, be it his political turf or not. It is also essential at this early phase of leadership to re-organize the local special bodies along with the review of the progress of the year’s Annual Investment Program or AIP and finalize the preparation of the following year’s Executive Budget.

Our governor is aware of all of these and he’s open for suggestions coming from opinion shapers like this lowly blogger. I am 100% sure of this.

And in case you do not know, we are now celebrating the 22nd Anniversary of the Local Government Code of the Philippines. Through Presidential Proclamation No. 63, October was declared as the Local Government Month, with the second week of October as the Local Government Week and the 10th day of October as Local Government Day in the country, in line with the signing of the Local Government Code of 1991, the bible of local governance, with the theme, “Kilos Progreso, Makilahok sa Pag-asenso” that embodies a call for united and concerted action for national progress.

Going back to our topic, the first 100 days is a period when one LCE implement doable commitments to the people, especially during the campaigns and those things that are found in their Social Contract with the people. The LCE and the people under each department should and must document, disseminate and celebrate small wins.

The first 100 days mark is the end of the beginning. Let us see if he fell from this early stage (no pun intended!). Knowing the early goings of all the LGUs present administration is important and the transition period matters so much.

By the way, in the absence of the state of the province, city or municipal address, local leaders can report their accomplishments to their constituents by submitting their local governance report to the DILG or by posting it at the bulletin board of the provincial, city or municipal buildings or at their respective websites. That is acceptable already, says DILG.

Posting them on Facebook, too, would be cool...

(Photo grabbed without permission from Gov. Mario Gene J. Mendiola's Facebook account)