In celebration of Teacher’s Day
(The following speech was given in honor of teachers and Confucius by George Siy, Chairman Emeritus of the Anvil Business Club.)
Often where the home is lacking, the teacher makes up for the lack. On the other hand, sometimes where there are no schools, the parent is the teacher. Honoring the teacher is like honoring our parent. One gives us life; the other gives us the light and the way to make that life have meaning, means and dignity.
Many of the most venerated figures in Chinese history are teachers who had no political, military or economic exploits. They are remembered and respected on the level of importance of kings and heroes. Few people remember the names of the emperors, or the wealthiest people of the day, but people remember their great teachers… in much of Asia, these include Lao Tzu, Confucius, even Sun Tzu, a teacher of what one would call the darker side of life; and many others who are less popularly known in the West.
Confucius, or “Master Kung,” is generally considered “the First” among teachers from China — having the greatest influence on the largest number of people over time — in a positive, practical way. While some later interpretations of his philosophy became rigid, you can see in the sayings posted in the pillars lining the “Wisdom Walk” of the Chinese Garden in Rizal Park, how practical his teachings were in their original form and when taken as a whole.
In one story, Confucius was asked what he would do first if he became a public official. After some thought, Confucius replied that his first act would be to “Name everything by its proper name.” That is, to know the actual circumstances, first in any project — one of his simplest, and most powerful principles in life. In another of his sayings, you can see the famous golden rule of Jesus, but stated in the negative: “Do not do unto others what you do not wish them to do unto you.”
As we honor Confucius, on this Teacher’s Day, we honor all teachers, who have devoted their lives to this most valuable of tasks, even as it is known to often be economically unrewarding, and, in many cases, even hazardous.
Throughout Asia, from Korea to Vietnam, Japan, Indonesia, temples to Confucius have been put up as temples to literacy or knowledge, responsibility to family and society. We now proudly have a monument here amid a lush and peaceful garden, to remember our teachers and mentors in, in an old but beautiful section of Rizal Park.
Rizal Park is very appropriate for putting a place for this monument, for the teachers — for Rizal and Confucius — each famed teacher does the other honor. Rizal, together with medicine and writing, loved teaching as one of his major vocations, an activity he deemed worth his time and dedication. Rizal fought for what he considered to be necessary for a just society, the way Confucius devoted his life to advocating what made a responsible and orderly individual, society and government. They both dreamed of a greater good.
The teachings of Confucius had to do with balance, purpose, one’s role in society. He considered being worthy of a position as more important than having a position, hierarchies in society are to be respected; but as in everything, the responsibilities are mutual. Even for rulers, there is a “Mandate of Heaven” that needs to be respected, or the mandate is given to others.
Rizal not only wrote about how the world should be, embellished with humor and human frailties, he lived life as a filial and loving son, loved with passion, and gave his life to keep faithful to his country and the truths he saw. Our wonderful Rizal Park is a residence for both today.
For the nation to thrive, education has no equal as the best return for investment. In working for education, a large part of it must be working with the teacher. They must not be subject to the hardships, indignities and even dangers they are subject to at times; they must be respected and nurtured, just as they must connect the links in knowledge and society toward the greater good.
Teaching is not an ordinary profession, but should be treated as sacred. We need to give planning, organization and support… on individual, family and national levels. It should be a priority and not a residual item in our plans.
A very important lesson in the recent worldwide economic meltdown is: don’t build your framework entirely on Western models, based on systems. The human component, both as an individual and collective spirit, with the values of hard work, saving, working towards harmony, with mutual responsibilities… is always relevant, and Confucianism is among the philosophies that has been at the heart of such productivity for centuries.
A Prayer for the Teacher’s Garden in Rizal Park
Let God be in this place. Let the spirit of enlightenment, the spirit of calm, of wisdom, make a home, a haven, a wellspring here. Let this park today and tomorrow, fill with the spirit of giving that teachers teach our children with, flow with the spirit of thankfulness for those who have learned and whose lives have ever benefited with their rightful attention. Let this garden and ourselves be a center for the appreciation that this process of learning; and teaching that must be protected, nurtured, and grown. Let the teachers be God’s instruments, and we students, people, business, and the government treat them with rightful attention, as part of the foundations of knowledge and wisdom, of our children’s and society’s futures.
The Confucius Monument Project in Rizal Park was the fruit of support from the Department of Tourism, the National Parks Authority and the City of Manila, in cooperation with the Anvil Business Club, launched in 2009. The Teacher’s Day celebration takes place each year in September in conjunction with Confucius’s birthday (September 28), a tradition in many parts of Asia spanning centuries.
The emphasis on education by assisting in the development and welfare of teachers has been chosen to be one of the focuses of the Anvil Business Club’s community programs (http://www.anvil.org.ph/).
New Worlds by IDSI (Integrated Development Studies Institute) aims to present frameworks based on a balance of economic theory, historical realities, ground success in real business and communities, and attempt for common good, culture, and spirituality. We welcome logical feedback and possibly working together with compatible frameworks ([email protected]).