Hoisting the Philippines from its Sinkhole. Aquino’s Herculean Task Begins

by Yoly Tumangan Tubalinal.

June 25,  2010

“Being world class doesn’t mean going international and showing our best out there. Being world-class is passion and commitment to our profession. Being world-class is giving our best to our country and our people. For teachers, being world-class starts right inside the classroom.” 1 — Dr. Josette Biyo

Poised to help and lend support to the newly elected Philippine President, Benigno Simeon Aquino III, the almost 170 Filipino Americans originally belonging to US Pinoys 4 Noy- Mar led by Attty. Loida Nicolas Lewis, chartered a plane to attend their President’s inauguration on June 30. Moved by the initial success of their efforts to elect the president they hope can and will do what is best for their beloved country of birth, the group continued on its proactive mission to get involved in this new administration.

Now known as the US Pinoys 4 Good Government, they have set this movement in motion, believing each member can contribute something toward instituting badly needed reforms in the government.

I truly hope that what this group has started successfully here in the U.S. will catch on with the rest of us Filipino Americans. It is important that we don’t lose hope in finding good men and women who will redeem our country from poverty and corruption and rehabilitate it until it is well again and ready to soar.

For what awaits Noynoy Aquino is an overwhelming task of nation rebuilding. From the ruins of Arroyo’s corruption and culture of impunity, his country has to rise again. His people look up to him to be the man to help them pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. He must rise to the occasion and face the challenge of good and effective governance with a sharp mind, a good heart and a daring spirit.

He must have the gift of discernment that will help him tell the good and honest leaders from the bad and dishonest ones. He must be wise and firm and can be capable of independent but responsible thinking. Surrounded by friends and party members who could ask for favors in return for their help in the past elections, he must know how to say “no” to them when saying “yes” to the other is the right thing to do.

There are a million and one important and pressing issues to tackle in his presidency. I pray that he be guided by the Holy Spirit to determine which ones must be dealt with first and ahead of the rest.

Appointing the best people for the job is a key to starting off on the right track. There’s too much politics going on behind the scene in this process of vetting the candidates/applicants for the job. May Noynoy muster the courage to fight for what and who is right. I hope he picks Among Ed Panlilio, Grace Padaca, Tony Meloto, Jun Yasay, and the likes of them, to hold key government agencies that will usher in a new age of bribe-free agencies.

Noynoy must attend with urgency to victims of human rights abuses. He must free all political prisoners, labor leaders and students, especially the Morong 43 whose noble desire to bring medical help and treatment to people of little or no means ironically got them into trouble with Arroyo’s military. The sufferings of these people must not last a day longer. It must end on the first day after he is sworn into office. “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Once and for all, I hope Noynoy settles the farmers’ claims on Hacienda Luisita. He must unload this baggage and find for the “small people” to whom this land rightfully belongs.

I am all for his educational agenda. As a top priority in his list of programs, this impetus on raising the standard of education in all levels will serve the people and his country well. An investment in our youth’s education is an investment in the brighter future of the Philippines.

A study conducted by the Ibon Foundation recorded an increase in the number of out-of-school children and youth by 2.45 million between school year 2000-2001 and 2008-2009 – consisting of an additional 1.62 million children 7-12 years old and an additional 822,097 children 13-16 years old – to reach a total of 4.69 million.

Surprisingly, of the past three presidents, the one that gave the most money to education was Estrada, who allotted 18.7% of the national budget to education, compared to Arroyo’s 15.1% and Ramos’s 15.5%. The worst was under Cory Aquino when it dropped to a record low of 12.3%. It was possible though that the circumstances after the Marcos regime that left the government coffers dry could have accounted for Cory’s poor support of the social programs, one of which was education.

But President Noynoy ought to be careful where the money for education goes. Raising the standard of education takes a lot of work. Programs must be geared toward encouraging teacher efficiency and competence, improving conditions of learning by investing on books, computers and educational materials to inspire and motivate both the teachers and the students.

Seminars and in-service training for teachers must be encouraged as a regular program to keep educators abreast with the latest information and knowledge in their field.

Teachers must also be made accountable for the kind of learning that takes place in their classrooms. A school wide periodic examination must be given to test the progress of their students in comparison with those in other classes under another teacher. Competition for highest performance and incentives must be given to determine competency and make learning a dynamic and fun-filled experience both for the teachers and the students.

Absenteeism both among teachers and students should be monitored. In many public schools, elementary or high school, teachers are in the habit of ‘getting sick’ or simply getting absent for no valid reason but laziness. This is a conduct that should not be tolerated. There must be a corresponding penalty for educators who are found absent without a valid reason.

I think that it isn’t too hard to get our educational system back on track as long as there’s a genuine desire and effort on both the teachers and the government to making it better for our youth’s sake.

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