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Reflecting on my Private Education

I’ve been blessed with a Green mind and Blue Blood – not literally of course. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to sharpen my mind and hone my skills with the “high-class” education and facilitites of LSGH and ADMU. From 1993 to 2010 , I whiled my time in classrooms, in the football field and in organizations absorbing lessons and information like a sponge and spending hours on end preparing for tests and exams just to get good enough grades to impress my parents, my teachers, friends, and ultimately, my employers.

Almost 2 years removed from the educational system, I’ve had a “rude awakening” of sorts as I observed my friends tread different paths and as I took steps to carve a path of my own.

I have always been told that we were being prepared for the real world; honestly, the educational system from which I sprung is nothing like the real world which I was led to believe.

Rude Awakening # 1: On falling in-line

My being in those schools afforded me with privileges such as having no need to fall-in-line. My parents fell in line for me to register when I was in elementary and in high school, I had a someone help me when I first got my driver’s licence and the online registration in college allowed me to choose my classes from the comforts of my own home (but at the mercy of our internet connection).

So imagine my shock when I first registered to vote (when I didn’t join Ateneo’s group registration), when I went to get my first NBI clearance, when I got my SSS number, medical exams and other pre-employment requirements.

The first thing is that, I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. I wasn’t prepared for this. I wasn’t used to the long lines, and I certainly wasn’t used to going to government offices to get things done for myself.

I wasn’t taught how to get my NBI clearance and fall in line for 6 hours straight in scorching heat. I wasn’t taught the value of getting my SSS, Philhealth and HMDF and Cedulas, I had to find out for myself how to register a corporation, get business permits and such.  Hell, I wasn’t even taught how to fall in line to get my licence back from the LGU’s when I decided to stop paying the traffic enforcers and do the right thing. From the hours I spent falling in line, talking to people I didn’t know to pass my time and humbly asking them how to go about things, I learned a lot.

School conditioned me to think that my education allowed me privileges that no other person could have.  The real world exposed to me to the unfair reality that those with “money” have shortcuts and can get away with almost everything while those who have less have to go through the “normal process.”

What gave me the right to skip lines, to bypass procedures, to pay my way out of the law?  The reality is that we must learn to go through things the way normal people do in order for us to understand the hardships that others go through on a daily basis and hopefully be smart enough to do something about it.

Rude Awakening # 2: On School Pride

For 17 years, my mind was being formed to think that “I am in the best school, therefore I am one of the best if not the best.” Can you imagine what that would do to one’s ego? It bloats to an extent that encountering someone who’s more brilliant but who comes from a “lesser known school” is a kick in the groin.

I left college full of pride and confidence knowing that I received the “best education available”. 2 years removed, I sit here humbled as I recall people I encountered  and worked with who have done greater things and have achieved more despite graduating from a different school. (or having not graduated at all)

We just have to accept the fact that there are more brilliant students out there regardless of their educational background.

I was taught to be proud. Now I wish I was taught to be humble instead.

Rude Awakening # 3:  On being “Christian Gentlemen” and “Men and Women for Others”

Yes I’ve been told to lead a life in the service of others. I’ve written many a paper and delivered just as much reports on how I am to serve others – especially the less fortunate. Yet, despite the A’s and recognition I’ve garnered, my soul is left wanting.

The reality that set in was that I did all those to get the grade, to ensure my “future” with a multinational corporation or whatever dream job I envisioned to have back then.

“Christian service” and being a “Man for others”, for the most part, is limited to NSTP, JEEP and a weekend immersion. (For others who are  more enlightened, it also involves weekly trips to areas). I’m sure if you go through all the papers and reports submitted over the years, you’ll see thousands of “solutions” to help our less fortunate countrymen. Brilliant ideas that remain as such – concepts and plans waiting to be put into action.

Painful as it is to hear that Ateneans and Lasallians are so far removed from the harsh realities of our country and the unimaginable daily plight of the impoverished, these are all true. It’s about time we do something about it

The day we’ll become real men and women for others is the day we go beyond writing papers and giving reports – it’s when we step out of our comfort zones to really reach out to the people who have been knocking on our doors far too long. We’ll become men and women for others when we stop doing it for the grade. When we hope to be measured not by letters, but by impact.

Rude Awakening # 4: On being ignorant

When I graduated I thought I knew a lot and I had the whole world in my hands. The brutal truth? What I knew would barely help me survive in the real world.

I realized how ignorant I was to not know about things that are seemingly trivial, but essential. Things like commuter routes, like government office SOP’s, like paying taxes, like registering vehicles, like living on a tight budget and many more.

I wish I paid as much attention to life in the real world as I did my classes and lectures.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for being given the chance to study in those schools, much thanks to my parents and grandparents for making that happen. It’s just that the perpetuation of the current system results to our being disconnected from the world so much so that we already deserve to be called selfish, snobbish and without a care for the world. Being educated in the top schools was a privilege – yet we are entitled to nothing unless we make sure that we who have been given much will serve those who received less and not the other way around.

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