A Formula for Rising from the Nadir of the Times

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(Part 2)

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Then after getting married I had the experience of a sojourn in Korea, a war-torn country split artificially into the Communist North and the supposedly Democratic South. Korea in 1958 was as depressing as its coal-blackened buildings and the suicidal look on the faces of the people. The tyranny and corruption of the Syngman Rhee government was a byword and when a student revolution swept his government away overnight, he and his foreign wife fled to Honolulu but his adopted son and heir following Korean custom lay the blame on his father by family suicide within the President’s Palace. An attempt at democracy followed but the military became impatient with the slowness of democratic process and a military coup d’ etat brought back dictatorship. I believe the dictatorship of President Park Sung Hee ended only with his assassination after a lengthy Marcos-like term. When I revisited Korea in 1978, 20 years after my sojourn there, I saw tremendous progress, unusual change from an individualistic, pushy way of life to one of order and organization; from corruption as way of life to a disciplined society. A Korean professor of history gives the credit to a real Christianization of Korea that had transformed itself into an argo-industrialized country. Instead of their importing finished products, Koreans have successfully competed with Japanese and Taiwanese and made a bid for standards acceptable in Western Countries. I saw samples of Korean products all over the US: something the Filipinos must learn—making the product equal the sample.

My experience in education – teaching at what was then the Mindanao Colleges, and then the Armed Forces School of the University of Maryland, the University of Mindanao, and the Ateneo de Davao University and finally setting up the Learning Center of the Arts in 1980, now the Ford Academy of the Arts, Inc. I learned that teaching by example is still a very effective way in education. One can never inculcate a work ethic or a creative way of life by standing in the sidelines giving instructions. I learned that some enjoy working alone and some enjoy working in groups. But joy makes work light, whatever the obstructions are.

On that note, we enter the experience in Marcos time, of the Philippines being “martialized”. More and more, joy became an alien experience, but suddenly a new awesome phenomenon confronted us – the phenomenon of the parliament of the streets imposing its own discipline – a parliament or professionals and students and housewives and workers standing up for principle in peaceful manifestation of the worth of the human being – that is indeed beautiful. It was a fearsome thing to us because someone could break the chain of peace. Today, the parliament of the street is highly suspect because it is often manipulated by unprincipled elements.

To be continued

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