The Filipino’s Love Affair With Learning

For years, Filipino parents were the iconic figures for “why education is important”. They would give whatever’s needed to make sure that their child would, at the end of the day, hold in her hands, with great triumph, a college diploma.

Parenting wears a heroic face and it is the face of a Filipino parent.

They will beg, steal, borrow, risk life and limb as OFWs, sell banana cue, life insurance, tocino, Avon panties—heck, they’d even gladly sell their own souls- when they run this race with their child, making sure she has whatever she needs to just focus on her studies and not worry about the financial aspects of it.

They understand, as we all do, that education is as important as the air we breathe, the water we drink, the love and care of a family. That indeed, education is a human right—fundamental, basic, inalienable–for everyone, regardless of sex, race, religion, ethnic origin, language or any other status.

Education levels a most uneven playing field. It is a mighty weapon in stamping out social inequity—that obscene gap between those who have and those who have nothing. And the lack of it, a mighty weapon of oppression.

Beyond the basic skills of literacy and numeracy, education uplifts. It helps us become better human beings, makes us more nuanced, no longer the over simplistic oaf others can manipulate because you now have the confidence to think your own thoughts and measure them against other thoughts presented to you.

So yes, education is not a privilege but a fundamental human right. Not something the state gives us out of the goodness of their hearts but because it is OWED us.

And yet what did the State do but be the mighty hand of oppression that burdened an already overburdened populace?

They were the added challenge we, parents, had to hurdle as we attempted to put our children on higher ground. They were our enemies, not our partners.

We had to fight tooth and nail for every small concession to this basic human right.

They oversaw the ever-tightening noose of slashed budgets for SUCs, cut down scholarships, were in cahoots with big business in leasing state land to these greedy bastards whose only contribution to society, despite the billions they already have, is the building of malls and more malls.

There was no mistaking the message: the government was the enemy, not your partner where your children’s education was concerned. You’re on your own, bud and good luck to you on the high seas.

Sana wag ka magkasakit, mawalan ng trabaho, mamatay bago maka graduate ang mga anak mo or else they will roam the earth naked and vulnerable with no diploma. And nothing speaks of tragedy more to a Filipino parent than her child without a college diploma.

And quite suddenly, Rodrigo Duterte became president (I know, I know, this is becoming a familiar refrain right?), all together now, JUST LIKE THAT – education is free in SUCs for EVERYONE—doesn’t matter who your daddy is, if you’re a girl, boy, bakla, tomboy.

WHEW. A-MA-ZING! Digongmylabs, you hit this one right out of the ballpark!

I close my eyes and I remember my stash of sob stories (and I bet you remember yours too) – how I saw my own father claw his way to providing my siblings and I the best education he could afford.

And I remember the thirst for knowledge that I have seen in children of Samar and then I’d worry for them—elementary and high school is free but how about college?

And I remember the stoic faces of the severely impoverished–yung may far away look– when others talk about enrolment and books, and school supplies because they had accepted that education is for everyone but them and their children.

Excluded, always excluded.

Well today, I will go to them and I will tell them loud and clear the good news: you may enroll your children now. You will have a college graduate. You will have as many college graduates as children. It is now all up to them.

And I will tell these kids: Go. Choose education. Claw your way out of that dark hole of poverty your family has been stuck in for ages. Make this poverty end with you. You’ve now been given a most tremendous leg up by a government that really and truly cares. Go rock it!

Not only has Change come, my friends.

It is in my kitchen scouring through the pantry for eggs to cook and bread to toast and coffee to brew –in just his jammies. Bare footed. And when he has found all that, he will whip us a fluffy omelet and he will brew us a wicked pot of coffee and he will put his feet up as he reads the papers.

At-home na at-home sha.

And here I must insert my favorite Bible passage. (I know. Shocking. Sit down before you break your neck, it’s from the sensuous Song of Solomon, hello. How else? Haha..)

“…For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone.
The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. The fig tree has ripened its figs,
And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.
Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along!”

~~Song of Solomon 2:10-12.

*FIST PUMP!*

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