“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends a tiny ripple of hope, crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, these ripples will build a current that will sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
—Attorney General and Senator
Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy
2016 is a year of decision for me. I have decided to quit the practice of law, except for a very few important cases which do not go beyond five and will not take so much of my time. I am abandoning one of the loves of my life which Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes described as his mistress—the law. I have finally decided to pursue the first love of my life, which is the country, which has grown in intensity since my years at the Misamis Oriental High School at Cagayan de Oro through the wonderful and magical portals of the University of the Philippines and up to this day and beyond.
I am afraid I have had enough of the system in the country. Everyday in this country is a painful experience of injustice, oppression and inequality. Thus, in the spirit of the above quoted statement of courage, hope and daring, from my friend on the level of the heart and of the mind, Bobby Kennedy, I have decided to “stand up for my ideals to improve the lot of others and strike out against injustice” in our land. And in so doing, send “a tiny ripple of hope” that could, together with other ripples from others, “build a current that will sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance” in this country.
A program devoutly to be wished
I am not a candidate for President of the Philippines. I am just a dreamer who has been dreaming dreams for our country. But I am not the Man of La Mancha who dreams of impossible dreams. A number of people of this country whom I have known for sometime – Doy Laurel and Ninoy Aquino – who loved listening to the song “The Impossible Dream,” died without realizing their dreams. Since I have never heard them defining their dreams in terms of a vision for the country, their defined programs to render reality their vision, consistent with the perception of others on them, I supposed that their dream was to become president.
One does not have to dream to become president of the Philippines. That should be a given for every Filipino who has gifts of leadership – real or imagined. During my time at the University of the Philippines, and that was not long ago, if long ago is defined in terms of my energy, my dreams and my looks, the graduating class used to vote informally on who among the members of the graduating would become president of the Philippines. In my class, I was not present when the voting took place but the late columnist Art Borjal of the Philippine Star documented the vote. The man who won the vote is still alive and kicking. For as long as he kicks right to the point, he might just become the national leader, not necessarily the president because by then we may have shifted to the parliamentary system and the national leader is the prime minister, not the president.
So what should be the agenda of the national leader? With a great degree of immodesty, what comes after this sentence should be the start of the agenda of the ideal national leader.
In a developing country like the Philippines, the fundamental element in the approach to the problem of poverty is education. It is the greatest leveler. A man who goes through the correct school and gets a well-designed appropriate education will very likely earn a gainful profession or work. He will develop a sense of pride in himself, not by just finding his field of expertise but imbibing the correct human values – primarily the inviolable character of the human person; that he is his brother’s keeper; that he has an indelible commitment to his God, country and people; that whatever is his line of work, he is to care for his fellowman because he is a part of mankind, not just being a citizen of the Philippines but as citizen of the world.
To achieve these, the following program must be established and institutionalized.
1. Free education from the elementary school up to the university level, especially for the poor and the middle class, who do not have the opportunity to acquire the desired education simply because the price of education is beyond their reach.
2. Totally reform the current curriculum by doing the following: design a curriculum that is proposition-oriented with stresses on the development of human values, character, love of country emphasizing the greatness of this country in terms of its natural resources and the achievements of outstanding personalities in the past and of the present.
3. Limit the number of years for the students to stay in schools, instead of lengthening the period of their stay.
a. Five years for elementary school with the first two years devoted only to character training, formation of the correct human values and developing a deep love of country and her people as they do it in Japan and look how Japan has developed to be a power in the world – highly nationalistic citizens; very inventive population by what is described by CNN as make, create and innovate.
In the olden days, seventh grade graduates were teaching in the first three years of elementary school. They produced good citizen students who had developed expertise in their own field of choice. I should know. My father, Pedro Adaza, Jr. was a legendary mayor of our town – Catarman, Misamis Oriental (now Camiguin) for about twenty years. He only finished grade seven. He taught in the grade schools after graduation. He was also sanitary inspector, chief of police, provincial motor vehicles registrar, chief of staff of Congressman Fausto Dugenio, the lone congressman in the whole country from the Nationalist Citizens Party of outstanding senators Claro Recto and Lorenzo Tañada.
b. For high school, limit to three years with stresses on skills, humanities and world developments and having languages as electives. There is no use staying for four years in high school. In my experience in my public high school in Cagayan de Oro, the content of the curriculum was excellent that my two years of preparatory law in the UP College of Liberal Arts was virtually a review of my high school subjects. I breezed through my subjects in UP like a walk in the park. So why spend four years what you could learn in three years – an additional year is a waste.
c. In the university, preparatory courses like in law should be brought back to two years. Four years is too long for a preparatory course – it is a waste of time and a waste of opportunity. There are more bum lawyers produced by the four-year preparatory course than those produced by two. It is again an issue of the content of the curriculum and to a certain extent, the excellence of the teachers. There is absolutely something wrong with the orientation of teachers these days. Like in the other professions, they teach for money not for the love of educating students and training them to be exemplary citizens and good human beings with the correct values and orientation.
d. The content of the curriculum in all schools from the elementary to the university, public or private, should be the same – the text books and the prescribed readings except for the electives. Other countries have done this successfully, why could we not do it here.
e. Elevate the salaries of teachers, professors, directors and those who work in schools to make them focus on their work.
Limit of time and space need a series on the agenda. The rest will come in subsequent columns.