With smiles as happy as theirs, any journey is worth taking. Our journey, involved a plane, a bus, a barge and a two hour long trek through steep dirt roads, treacherous hillsides and amazing sites all on our way through Pigasaan on the Island Garden City of Samal. Though it was only the first day of our 7 day long immersion in Davao, exhausted was the one best word to describe how we felt once we got to Pigasaan, exhaustion and yet it was only 4 in the afternoon. We pitted that small children had to travel along these treacherous dirt roads everyday for their education, that for them life was hard, but then I remembered the concept of different social realities existing in one world, that is, for the people living here this is the life they know and for them the things we find hard doing, is for them relatively easy.
From the moment we arrived, I wondered if this community had strong family ties and close relationships between their fellow neighbor as well as a balanced division of labor all in the context of simple social institutions, in one word ‘Gemeinschaft’. It was through observation and questioning that my suspicions were proven to be correct, right after the task of selecting a foster parent with which we were going to spend our three amazing days in their humble village. Conversations with our foster family gave us a better insight of their way of living cloaked with simplicity, a cloak which was soon to be taken away, a simple life, which will soon become much more complicated. Demolitions were set to take place and the residents were to be relocated to hazardous relocation sites, a sad truth which they have no choice but to accept.
Our very first day proved to be a great one once the three of us were asked to join the men of Nanay Clarita Hermosilla’s family. We hopped on the boat along with Tatay Santos Hermosilla and their two sons. There is this Filipino saying that goes: “Mag tanim ay di biro.” Fishing seemed to me to be the more difficult task to accomplish. In Manila, dinner is served right in front of you all cooked and ready, here you have to catch your dinner before you can eat, and the effort was well worth it, eating this fresh was a delight. The absence of electricity made it tough for us to move around at night, but adapting to the situation was not that difficult. Our first morning at Pigasaan, “Piga sa kahirapan” as Nanay Clarita likes to say, was a beautiful morning with the sea just right beside your doorstep accompanied by the a rising sun. On our second day at Pigasaan, we learned a lot more about their way of living through the different groups that were assigned to gather data to be presented to the people of Pigasaan, however prior to the said activities we were reminded not to treat Pigasaan as if our own home, that we should remember to always respect the people living here because the previous day proved that we were in need of a bit of reminding. On our last day, each group finalized their data and at around 6pm we presented the data to the residents of Pigasaan, the short presentation was followed by a feast on the beach with the moon shining over us. We weren’t planning on sleeping that night and so we had a long chat with Nanay Clraita’s nephews who brought us coconut to eat while we talked. At around 12am we went to bed only to wake up four hours later to get ready to depart from Samal. We all cherished our last sunrise by the sea and then we all said our brief but very emotional farewells to our respective foster parents, complete strangers who accepted us into their homes like we were their own children, complete strangers at first to whom I owe an incredible experience, one that I will never forget.
Lamdag sa Kabataan
Straight from Samal, we now journeyed back to Davao City to meet the twenty five boys at Lamdag sa Kabataan, a boys home where minors who were charged with committing acts against the law are rehabilitated in order for them to become respectful members of society. It is a place where second chances are given; a place where hope in today’s troubled youth is restored.
Upon arrival we were briefly oriented on what the institution is and what are their goals, problems and the process these minors undergo in order for them to completely change and turn away from their previous wrong doings. The place itself was small compared to other similar institutions in Metro Manila. After a short tour of the place we sat down with our partner and discussed his life inside Lamdag and the life he left behind outside. The boy to whom I owe a lot thanks for sharing his life along with his regrets to us, his name was Nelo, a 15-year old boy who was a former drug addict and akyat bahay. For Nelo, the thing that really helped him change while inside Lamdag was religion. The Bible he says is his biggest inspiration for change and that the programs and procedures they undergo everyday help him to become a more responsible person. Nelo says that if it weren’t for Lamdag giving him a second chance to change himself, he would probably be in the streets today sniffing rugby or worse, he would probably be dead.
Goodbyes were said and we now headed off to the nearby museum to get the historical background of Davao City. After an hour or so we headed to the dorms to get settled in.
Davao Penal Colony
The bus to ride to Dapecol took much longer than as I had expected, we knew we were there when we noticed that our surroundings were filled with Banana trees because Dapecol itself earned much of its income from growing Bananas and the selling them in various locations across the country. At first look, you wouldn’t notice or even suspect that the place itself was once hailed as the most violent prison in all of the Philippines, as told to us by Superintendent Tesoro. After the brief introduction and explanation that it be better for us to interact with the inmates outside of the main prison itself because inside the prison walls was a different community from the outside world for it was a marginal community where actions or gestures outside are very much different in meaning inside.
After a short solidarity exercise conducted by our professors the interaction with our partner inmate followed, accompanied by a comforting meal which lightened up the mood of our conversation, kuya Roy explained to us why he was here, his story tells us that he was from Manila and was originally imprisoned in the Manila City Jail wherein he became affiliated with a gang for protection and help while inside. Shortly after being sent to prison, his wife and two children were in an accident which took the lives of his two daughters, he felt powerless and ashamed for not being able to do anything to help his family. His wife left for another man and because of this he almost lost hope if it weren’t for God and the Holy Bible he might have committed suicide. It interests me to have been able to interact with two different people in terms of age and the place they are from and yet they both have a life of crime behind them, these two people are kuya Roy (Dapecol) and Nelo (Lamdag) who both found religion in a time of need for change. Religion is indeed a force that shapes an individual, and therefore it shapes society as a whole.
The interaction was followed by a couple of games to fully mold the dynamics of each group. After that, each group was asked to share each other’s points of view in regards to the system in which Dapecol seeks to rehabilitate the inmates, recommendations to a better life in prison and also opinions on how to voice out and carry out some of the suggestions made during the group discussion.
We left Dapecol at around 4 in the afternoon, although goodbyes were said, a lasting memory not only for us, but also for those inside Dapecol, was made.
Correctional Institute for Women
It was Saturday, our second to the last day in Davao and once again the early morning wake up calls made me feel uneasy as I wasn’t really used to waking up early but nevertheless I felt a rush of excitement when I think about visiting the CIW here in Davao and get a chance to illuminate by pre-judged imagination or expectations of how their way of life is there in CIW. The bus ride took more than 2 hours for it was even farther away from Dapecol however it was still surrounded by endless rows of Banana trees. When we arrived, we were greeted not only with smiles and good mornings from the inmates but also to the music of their very own band composed of inmates who were pretty talented when it comes to music. The brief but very much appreciated welcome was followed by a group activity which again, seeks to enhance or to explore further the dynamics of each group. The four groups were asked to compose a cheer which should be accompanied by the appropriate actions or gestures, my groups cheer and action was pretty simple, it was made up of one word and one action, the word being “Hallelujah!” and the action was raising both our arms into the air as if praising something. The inmates told us that religion was a big part of their life here and so that is why we decided to make our cheer according to their ever enduring faith in God.
A friendly but very competitive exercise followed, each group was tasked to perform their cheer or action according to the gesture that was pointed to them, if one member failed to do the right action or cheer, the group was given one point of mistake and three points of mistakes would eliminate you from the competition. Our group was eliminated second.
After the exercise, we counted one to fifteen, one by one to see if which group we were going to belong to for the group interaction with the inmates. I was a part of group number eight and so the interaction with the three inmates in our group ensued after telling the inmates our names. I noticed that most of the inmates or a great number of the inmates here in CIW were women whom have reached a very significant age; I couldn’t help but remember my grandmother. The stories of the inmates involved being away from their families too long and that the justice system or the government should allow inmates who are very old, to get a chance to be with their families before their dying breath. Nanay Myrna, one of the inmates who we were talking too expressed her feeling or absolute regret for she will not be able to attend her youngest child’s wedding, a really tormenting thought for a mother.
Each member of the group was asked to draw on a manila paper, anything that comes to their mind or is related to the interaction today. I draw a box that represented the lives of the inmates who are not only boxed or contained within a physical structure, but they are also bound by their situation emotionally, being away from their loved ones causes a great deal of pain. After lunch, volunteer groups were asked to explain their drawings on the stage, our group, group number eight volunteered. After that the facilitators from CIW and our professors were asked to sing a song of their choice along with the band from CIW, it was our first immersion and to hear our professors sing was truly memorable. After the short on stage performances, we were given a tour of the sleeping quarters and other facilities of the CIW, while walking we were surrounded by the inmates, most of whom participated during that day’s interaction. Goodbyes were said but again, the memory of a truly one of a kind experience will forever stain our minds and our hearts.
Pio Benedicto, University of Santo Tomas, Manila
The semester’s over and we’re back! Sorry for not updating the blog for months, we’ve been busy with our studies and other things. Sophomore year’s over, and we’ve been itching to update this blog! So watch out for our updates, we’ll be posting more articles SOON!
Background of the Paper
The facets of education reflect from the methodology that a certain system employs to educate their students. It may have a causal relation, but it is more likely an implied one. However, this discussion will take more than a hundred words to explain. Thus, this paper will simply discuss certain points on the manifestation of the facets of education and the kind of relation that each has with regard to the methodology.
In this sense, the paper will be presented in this manner: presentation of the facets of education with some relations to the film watched; the structural differences and issues between the facets, and the theoretical uncertainties of the relations that exist between them. The paper will actually project parallel, contrasting points. Moreover, that is the most basic thought of the facets of education. These are two paralleled ideologies which can either be found in a certain educational institution or a certain social group.
The Two Facets of Education
In my opinion, there are two facets of education. However, it is not limited to this certain dichotomy. It is simply the two obvious facets that I have noticed in the Philippine educational system and have read in some books. The first facet is the alienating education; the second facet is the liberating education. There is nothing wrong with either facets being institutionalized in the educational systems. But, it is rather obvious that the former is being enforced in many educational institutions, and majority of these institutions project a propensity of disregarding, if not at all rejecting, the latter. However, let me distinguish the two concepts before presenting the issues being confronted by both.
Firstly, alienating education is what you and I are experiencing. It refers to the facet of education that appears in a “banking system”. (Freire, 1970) It is the most common and traditional facet that is employed by many educational institutions. The basic goal of this facet is the production of knowledgeable and proficient individuals in the different fields of specialization who can be readily exploited by the different companies. The common methodology of this facet is the banking system. The students listen to the teacher; then, the teacher gauges the grasp of students on the lesson. In this sense, I will present my personal views on this facet. In the film, this is represented by the teacher who stays in the school to continuously teach the students. Truly, the state, the market, and the society need individuals to continue the function of each. However, this method implicitly manifests the “commodifcation” (Marx, 1848) of learning itself. Learning is being limited to a score, and a failing mark may mean non-learning
Consequently, liberating education is what you and I rarely see and experience. It refers to the unconventional and non-traditional facet that aims to educate the students through opening their eyes and ears to the real situation and voices of the marginalized individuals. Learning here is only gauged through one’s understanding of the situations. It is not graded through quizzes and paperworks, but through organizing strategies and the degree of persuasion. It is represented by the teacher who resigned from the school in the film. Personally, I prefer this kind of facet. It tries to seek the repression of the present system and challenges the system to adopt the kind of orientation with regard to educating the students. However, here are some uncertainties with regard to the challenge to the system. How can one student fight for what he thinks is ideologically correct if people around him belittle the depth of his understanding on the social phenomenon? What can the student do if he wants exposure to the harsh realities of life but the system forces him to do otherwise? This is truly pathetic.
Structural Differences and Issues
There is a great hullabaloo when discussing the two facets of education. It posits two conflicting interests which are both essential for the survival of the society. However, it is not realized because the developers of the facets cannot also compromise. The first facet confronts the harsh method of the other facet. The liberating facet requires students to join movement, mobilizations, and even organizations that can help open their minds to the even harsher realities of life.
Consequently, liberating education also confronts the systemic and structural barricades. The system, when deviated from or violated by students, can mean expulsion, suspension, non-graduation, failure to the course, and worse blacklisting. It also posits structural barricades like University rules and regulations and even the conventional faculty members who would not approve of such kind of learning and teaching style.
In Marx’s and Hegel’s terms, this is the dialectic process. The alienating facet serves as the thesis; the liberating facet serves as the antithesis. The synthesis is very obvious. With the innumerable educational institutions according grades to their students and awarding them with diplomas for a job well done, alienating education always triumphs. However, what can we do if the vision and mission of the school is to fashion robots that can operate the continuity of societal survival? What can we do if the Imperialist minds have manifested as a gruesome by-product of colonization? There can only be resistance, but eventually people will still blend with the single vision of homogeneity and conformity.
Theoretical-Practical Uncertainties of Relations
Alienating education can be found everywhere, from public to private schools. It is open to all minds who would eventually want to venture the exploitative market. However, if it is present everywhere, how is it that there are still children on streets not studying? Is this facet of education only a privilege to the few?
If alienating education is confronted with such uncertainties, liberating facet cannot escape this confrontation as well. If it serves as an eye opener to the situations of the low profile classes, to who is this facet applicable? If it targets the middle and upper classes, would it also be tantamount to alienating the minds of the lower class? The institutionalization of this facet in some educational structures may mean harm to target beneficiaries as it only builds on the strategies and ideologies learned in the classroom.
Overall, the facets face a conflict even within the domain of their ideologies. However, it is a reconcilable issue because the developers of it always find a way to resolve it. But the conflict between the supposed facet for implementation is irreconcilable already as every institution employ the alienating methodology of the colonizers.
Corrupt minds = Corrupt products
(c) Marc Ignacio, University of Sto. Tomas, Philippines