Full text of my July 12 Parents’ Assembly Welcome Remarks

[NOTE: This was delivered more than half a month ago. I can’t think of any explanation for the delay save for the fact that I wasn’t planning to post this until I felt that I should. For me. So I will always remember.]

It has been a month since the school year began. Sa ngayon, mukhang nagkakatotoo ang mga sinasabi nila. Second year is the heaviest year. Just yesterday, most students submitted a geometry project, took a Filipino long test, and had quizzes galore. And just the day before, we went to the ASTW exhibits at the World Trade Center, Roxas Blvd which, while it was a welcome break, only reminded us of how much work had to be done. And before that, well, marami pang iba. As for me, it has been a month since I’ve been batch adviser and already, nagkakatotoo ang mga sinasabi nila – second year is the heaviest year.

My official time is from 7:30 to 12:30. Sarap no? But for the past two weeks, I have been unofficial. I would often leave for home at 6:00pm already, and considering that I live in Paranaque, I reach home at around 7pm. From the time I should leave school to the time I actually leave for home, I run a marathon of meetings, whether it be with students, co-teachers, school administrators, parents or support groups. When I’m not meeting them, I am e-mailing, texting or calling them. And all this work in between my other duties as the club adviser of AKSIS, the social science club of the school, and social studies teacher of half of the second year. Nonetheless, I believe that all this hard work is worth it. There is so much more that needs to be done in this school and becoming batch adviser is a job I’ve wanted for a long time.

I am aware that I have large shoes to fill. The previous batch adviser, Engr. Amalia Buenafe, did a very good job. She was incredibly hands on and got a lot of things done. She was able to mobilize parents and keep their support. There is even a legend going around that she dropped on her knees just to get the batch shirt done. How will I top that? I don’t think I could. But I’m not here to put on her shoes. For one, my feet are a bigger size and I don’t think I’ll do well with heels. Moreover, second year is a different race and to survive, I’ll have to put on a different pair of shoes.

Perhaps, what will make me different from the previous batch adviser is that while she is a mother, I am a son. She was nurturing, hands on, and incredibly involved. She is the person you would run to, the person who would keep you safe. She is someone you would obey; someone you would love. I, the son, am more rebellious. I have an independent mind and while that is a tough thing to have for a bureaucrat, it is necessary. I will always have that view of how we can do things differently, and I will not hesitate to challenge existing paradigms and world views if only to make things even better. As a son, I can relate to my students in an extraordinary way. I can feel their needs, their fears, their hopes and their dreams. I can be one of them and one with them, and they know that I will be their champion.

The other day I was speaking to a group of parents who felt that as a batch adviser, I should do differently. They felt that our students today are not capable of articulating exactly what they need, and that I should be careful of listening too much to what they want. With all due respect, I think they are misled. For who are we to tell our students, our children, what they need if we don’t even listen to them? So as a son, what I offer my students is the promise that I would listen. The mandate of the batch adviser is to be the voice of his students, and I begin that by talking to them as one child to another.

But parents, don’t worry. If you think I will spoil your children, rest assured that I won’t. I may be a son but I am also a brother. I am the eldest of three children. I have an eighteen year old brother who is in college preparing for med school, and an eleven year old sister who seems on track to becoming a dancer and a performing artist. Our parents have raised us to always pursue what is just, right and makes us happy, and that we should never stop for people who tell us that our dreams can never happen. As the eldest, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way and it is this that I teach my students now.

On the first meeting of the officers of the 2011 Batch Council, I told them that they can have everything they want. Party? Check. Class and batch bonding activities? Check. Another party? Check. Field trip? Check. They can have everything they want and as their batch adviser I’ll support them 200% but there is one catch: they’ll have to work for it. Early on I taught them that they have to plan right. There has to be a strong concept and a powerful hook. We must be able to convince and tap our support groups to pitch in, or be able to work without them if they won’t. Get ready to raise funds, I would tell them, and make sure that everything we do is worth everyone’s time and money. Pursuing what we want in life entails a lot of hard work, sacrifice and responsibility. It won’t be easy, there will be a lot of people who say that we can’t, but it will be worth it.

This is why we are here today. Last June 13, the PTA officers from last year gave me a courtesy call and expressed support for me and the plans of our batch. I would like to thank them here once more. They convinced me to share my vision with all of you today so that we’re all one direction moving forward. I know that through working together, nothing will be impossible. We owe it to our students – our children – that their heaviest year will also be their best. For me, it already is.

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